They reached the town square just as the first raindrops hit the gallows looming over the expectant crowd, and by then it was too late. Their captain only had time to meet their eyes, and as ever before there was no regret, no resignation, just simple acceptance of the fate awaiting him.
"NO!" someone screamed - Zoro was fairly certain it wasn't himself; surely he wouldn't have such a girly shriek. But Nami's hands were clapped over her mouth so tight no squeak could escape, her eyes bright with coming tears; and Sanji was out of breath from the run - those years of chain-smoking were catching up, he really should cut back; and Usopp and Chopper--where the hell were Usopp and Chopper?
Too late, anyway; the trapdoor opened, and the Pirate King plummeted, crimson coat flaring around him like a bullfighter's cape as the rope snapped taut. No saving give in that tight cord.
Except of course said pirate king kept falling with the momentum, his neck stretching out until his feet hit the cobblestone and bounced him up to smack into the scaffold and be slammed down again, in a remarkable simulation of a ball and paddle game.
The mob was roaring, no one so loud as the marine lieutenant to his men. "Who the HELL didn't check on what devil fruit he actually ate!?"
Nami finally lost it, laughing so hard she couldn't stand up straight. Sanji shook his head, groaning, "Not again..." and Zoro only rolled his eyes, not bothering with swords when these guys were so obviously idiots.
Meanwhile the Pirate King bounced up and down on his noose, shouting, "WHEEEE!! You guys gotta try this!!" until a long-nosed sniper, riding a galloping reindeer in a top hat, burned through the rope with a well-aimed firestar and caught Luffy on the downswing. Chopper carried them both off, his antlers better for forcing through the crowd than any number of elbows.
The rest of the crew followed. Most of the mob pounded after them all the way to the harbor, still carrying on with wild cheers and whistles. Zoro almost tripped over a long streamer which read, "Hooray for the Pirate King!", stumbling into a plushie seller. (He did draw two katana to dismember all the freakish miniature stuffed versions of himself, reducing them to cotton dust in a split second without breaking stride in their mad dash for freedom.)
Small wonder the marines kept trying; there were few events better attended than a Pirate King execution. Admittedly, it did cut into their schedule of treasure-hunting and kingdom-saving, but such was the price of fame.