End of the line

It seemed that it would be the rope in the end.

As the sun surged above the horizon they hauled him from his cell and up to the ramparts, where the scaffold was prepared. There was no need for the chains, though they used them anyway, for his legend had become too well known and this navy man had been determined he would not become another footnote in another chapter of it. The wounds had been quite minor, on the scale of what they might have done to him, but they were enough to ensure that he would not be forging an escape from thin air this time.

Jack knew that finally his only choice was to die with or without dignity, for the legend's sake if nothing else he chose to do it with. At least dying this way he was beyond the reach of the locker, and as they put the rope around his neck he wondered briefly who filled William's job on land

XXX

The cry of 'sail' from a lookout as they brought the pirate up from the cells to stand blinking in the early morning light had caused him no worry, for there had not been any chance of rescue for Captain Sparrow this time, and he was too incapacitated to escape unaided.

In later years he would wonder where they came from nearly as often as he would wonder who they were. Though there was strange similarity of look and demeanour between them and the prisoner it seemed unlikely that they were pirates. Not that it mattered, not when his lumbering, red coated marines could do little against them; and they were quick and strong, as elegant as an arrow in flight, yet even the slightest of them seemed as powerful as a plough horse.

They had wasted no time in pointless affray, moving efficiently to subdue the surrounding troops, dodging the ball from the few muskets that were fired with little apparent effort. The swords were avoided with similar skill. Then one of them, a female, sent a flaming arrow to sever the rope that was slowly and painfully squeezing the life from the pirate. He had no idea how he would hold them but in the end it seemed that the pirate was all they wanted, for which he thanked god, and as two of them took hold of the limp form, with no apparent effort, the others fell back.

For a moment the archers stood on the ramparts watching as the others disappeared over the edge; then one of them, their leader perhaps, put back his hood and gave a small polite bow, his long pale hair glinting in the sun as a faint smile curved his lips. He spoke briefly in words they did not understand, then bowed again before he turned and followed his comrades over the side.

They were out of range before the soldiers reached the wall, and their strange ship, graceful as a swan, was disappearing over the horizon with their prize before his men made it to the dockside.

XXX

The mists had been left behind and the sun was riding high in the western sky before he left the prow, and his thoughts and doubts, and went to the great cabin to face his questions. As he entered the other two rose from their seats beside the bed and bowed in greeting. He returned their greeting but spoke with some reluctance,
"You are sure he is the one? I would not have risked so much for any other."
The lady stepped forward.
"We are my Lord. But judge for yourself, for surely it is written in his person."

One more step took him to the bedside.

For a moment the stars whirled around him and time and space vibrated with his uncertainty, then all was still and he knew that an ending had indeed been made. Slowly Elrond reached out a hand to touch the sleeping face, feeling his blood sing within him as the touch brought the final knowing. He let his finger skim across the line of the pirate's cheek and the tangle of dark hair before his hand fell to his side.
"The last of the line of Arwen," he breathed, his face sombre, "after all these centuries her blood holds true."
He stepped back and raised glowing eyes to the fair haired captain,
"Her final remain is brought home, Legolas. Now we may quit the world of men, our time here is done."