Esme Atcastle was born to Martha and Gus Atcastle. Martha was a charwoman, and Gus worked in the fields cultivating the crops that fed the castle and particular Barnabas, Duke of Field.
The Duke was a good man and treated his workers well. His wife, Agnes, was a caring woman who too loved to spend time among the workers. Once per month a castle dinner was held at which all the inhabitants of the castle would come together.
Esme grew up in this idyllic atmosphere but was taught from an early age what to do if the castle ever came under threat of an attack.
These were tough times, and the countryside was beset with thieves and villains, and so the castle inhabitants were not naïve enough to think they might be spared some sort of incursion.
In the early hours of the morning, Esme was woken by her mother telling her to get ready as there were men outside the castle demanding entry and she should be ready to hide in the well when and if the time came.
Esme could hear the noise outside, the shouting back and forward of the guards, the oaths and curses of the intruders.
Her mother suddenly grabbed her and hurried Esme down the corridor, through the archway and into the yard outside the castle kitchen. Lifting the lid on the well, she lowered Esme in telling her to wait there until she back to rescue her.
At the bottom of the well, Esme stood waist deep in the water listening to the noises coming from on top.
The shouts of the men were littered with the screams of women, the cries of pain from men obviously injured, the clash of steel on steel as the warriors came into combat with each other.
On top of that, there was the smell of burning, with whiffs of smoke seeping down into the well, Esme terrified by now cringed against the wall of the well praying she would not be discovered.
After a while, the noise of conflict died down and was replaced by the celebration of voices she did not recognise.
She could hear the strange voices of men, a language that was unfamiliar and the occasional cry of a woman, one of which she was sure was her mother.
After a time Esme realised how cold she was. She hoped that soon the lid would be opened and she would be rescued.
As time went by, she became more and more desperate. Here was no way she could climb out of her own. She was so cold she began to cry out.
Her cries went unanswered, as there was no one left to hear her cries of desperation. Most of the castle occupants were either dead or had fled into the countryside.
The castle was deserted, save for the cries of the forgotten child: “Help me?”