Bird Of The Sea

48 Time's Up

Jemima sat, he back against the wall, staring blankly out into the prison from her cell. Her belly was empty, too soon, her baby girl never drew breath.

She was just too small.

They took her away. They took her little girl away from her. She never even opened her eyes.

As the guards stepped towards the cell, Jemima didn't even blink, remaining still as ever.

"Come on, it's time." One said gruffly and then Jemima stirred.

"No... No!" She cried as Mary and Anne began shaking the bars.

"Leave her be!" Anne yelled. "Have you no mercy?!"

"That's not up to us." The other snapped back kicking the bars, causing Anne to fall back.

"Don't take her away!" Mary roared. "Not yet, not-"

She was cut off by a fit of coughs, slumping to her knees. As Jemima reached for her, she saw the beads of sweat on her brow.

"Mary!" Jemima breathed. "You've caught it! I'm so sorry!"

"Don't be." She whispered. "But I'd hoped you'd be here to take care of me."

"Oh, Mary..."

The two young women held each other as Jemima was dragged out, kicking weakly. Since Anne and Mary's time was not yet up, they remained in the cells whereas Jemima left them, for an even worse fate.

"No, Jemima!" Anne cried.

"Anne! Mary!" Jemima wept as she was yanked away from them, staggering along the cold stone floor.

The drums thundered, their rumbling beats like thunder as Jemima stumbled into the light. She grimaced in the daylight and held up her shackled hands to block the glare. Her heart plunged as she matched the sound with the sight, her eyes now adjusted. A scaffold, decorated with a single noose stood before her.

"God, please, no." She whimpered.

"Move!" The soldier ordered, shoving her on.

With weak, trembling legs, Jemima stepped up the scaffold. She shook, tears streaming down her cheeks as the noose was drawn around her neck.

An announcer stepped forward, holding up a scroll.

"I hereby declare, that you, Jemima Thatch, now that your term is up, are accused of piracy and are therefore sentenced to death."

At the word 'death', she broke down, sobbing and shaking, unable to control herself.

And then, she heard his voice.

As soon as he feet touched the shore, he was running.

Thomas thundered on, heart leaping whether from anticipation or fear, he didn't know. He was so near to her. All he had to was free her, and they'd be together.

But that was easier said than done.

On reaching the outside of the prisons, he slowed, switching to Eagle Vision as he analysed the area in an attempt to find an escape route. But something caught his eye.

Thomas returned to his normal sight and stepped towards the roaring crowd, surrounding a scaffold.

He pushed through the crowd. His heart thudded with the beat of the drums as the figure came into sight. Her dishevelled form walked up the scaffold, trembling as she went, tears glistening on her face.

He reached the front of the spectators, just as the pirate woman had the rope pulled over her head.

The announcement struck him to the core, her fate decided by the law.

Well, it wasn't decided by him.

"Jemima!" He roared.

All eyes turned to him as he drew his pistol. As it fired, screams rang through the air, followed by the thundering of feet as panicked civilians bolted from the scene.

The rope snapped, the bullet soaring straight through. Jemima fell to her knees, weakly sagging, then collapsing on her side.

Soldiers drew their weapons, snarling orders to one another as they set upon the one man. Thomas fought with a vicious brutality, moving like a wild animal as he swung his cutlass, all the time seeing Jemima, lying there, still.

"Ah, just kill 'er now!" Ordered the captain as a brute drew his axe, thumping along the scaffold to the shivering young woman.

"No!" Thomas yelled and leapt up to protect her, blocking the axe with his sword.

The brute growled, pressing how weight down on the axe, but Thomas was strong. The brute gave in and stepped back, raising it again to take a other shot. As he swung his axe, Thomas rolled, slicing his back as he stood before spinning, sending his sword straight through another soldiers neck. Reinforcements were called, but none survived under the sword of the assassin.

Before the last body hit the floor, Thomas was by Jemima's side.

"Jemima! Wake up, come on!" He cried, gently shaking her.

As she grumbled, wincing at his touch, he breathed a sigh of relief.

"Thank God," he whispered as he gathered her up in his arms.

Thomas turned to the sound of thundering feet, soldiers, more reinforcements arriving. Before they came into sight, he already had Jemima in his arms, running as fast as he could from the scene.

He cut through the crowd, shoving civilians out of his way as the torrent of soldiers chased after him. The market was bustling with people and while it slowed down the guards, it slowed Thomas's escape. He eventually burst from the other side, racing in any direction his feet decided to take him. As she heard his feet thump against the damp wood of the docks, Jemima wearily opened her eyes.

"Thomas..." She warned, the water getting ever closer.

"I'm sorry!" He yelled before jumping off the docks.

She screamed, her voice cut off by the choking sea. They let themselves sink for a moment, and Jemima found enough strength to silently shout at Thomas, bubbles floating to the surface. He gripped to the dock's structure as he made a motion for her to hold her breath and watched the shadows of the soldiers above them, inspecting the ripples on the water.

When the shadows gave up, Thomas put his arm around Jemima and pulled her up to the surface. He swam to a small boat and pushed her up onto it before dragging himself up. The dripping forms coughed and spat sea water, exhausted, collapsed on their backs, their chests heaving.

"You... You came back..." Jemima whispered.

"Aye. I wish we could have been reunited over better circumstances."

"Why? You have everything back in England."

"Not everything."

"What happened?"

"They'll be time for stories later, but now, we need to find Ah Tabai."

Jemima nodded and lay back in the boat as Thomas found the oars and began to row to the other shore. She shivered, but it was no longer from fear. He was with her now, she would never be afraid again.

As she gazed up at the cloudless sky, she smiled peacefully.

She was free.

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