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Old April 7th, 2008, 07:11 AM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth

Title: Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth
Author: Telcontar Rulz
Disclaimer:I don’t own anything you recognize. I wish I did.
Category: LotR/KoH/PotC/Troy crossover
Type: Action, Adventure, Drama, Humour
Rating: PG13
Characters: Legolas, Balian, Aragorn, Faramir, Eomer, Eowyn, Merry, Pippin, Will, Jack, Barbossa, Paris, Achilles, Helen, Briseis, Jack the Monkey, Ragetti, Pintel, Cassandra (from the Iliad), Original Characters, Hector (cameo)
Warnings: Violence, torture
Brief Summary: 3rd part of Chance Encounter series. A new evil rises in Middle Earth. Legolas, Balian and their friends both old and new must unite to fight it. But the enemy has plans for one of them... (LotR,KoH,Troy,PotC Xover.)

Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth


Disclaimer: I don’t own Balian, Imad, Legolas, Aragorn, Will, Jack, Paris, Hector, Merry, Pippin... you get the idea. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of returning them, savvy?

Chapter 1: Separated

In the distance, the sun was setting, casting its golden glow across the ocean. The waves tossed bits of driftwood and seaweed onto the white sand of the beach. A little boy, wearing a small tri-cornered hat skipped along the edge of the sea, singing to himself. His mother followed behind him more slowly, letting the waves caress her bare feet. The sea breezes blew her hair back as she looked out across the sea, deep in thought. Crabs scuttled into their sandy holes as she passed. Elizabeth Swann-Turner breathed in deeply the briny smell of the ocean, thinking of its steward and guardian, her husband Will Turner.

Blissfully unaware of his mother’s wistful thoughts, William James Turner, son of the captain of the Flying Dutchman and the King of the Brethren Court, ran along the shore, exploring everything in his path. He’d just turned six, a big boy by his standards. His birthday had been a simple affair, although his mother had tried her best to make it special. It just hadn’t been the same. Both Captain Barbossa and his Uncle Jack-Jack had promised to be there, not at the same time of course, —Willie wondered curiously about what would happen if they did meet each other— but neither of them had turned up. It was not unusual for Jack to be late, but Captain Barbossa had never missed a single birthday of his, and he always brought the most wonderful presents and stories. His mother often told him about his Grandpa Weatherby, and Willie was certain that his grandfather was just like the Captain.

A glint of gold caught his eye. It didn’t look like seaweed. Cautiously, Willie crept closer. A man lay on the sand. A man with pointed ears. “Mama!” he shouted. “Mama, come quickly! There’s a man on the beach!”

Elizabeth heard her son and she ran up to where he was, not caring if she wet her skirts or not. Willie was right to be surprised, for the man on the beach looked ethereal, even when soaked.

And he had Will’s face.

“Oh God,” breathed Elizabeth, suddenly feeling lightheaded. It wasn’t possible, was it? Why did this man, if he could indeed be called that, have Will’s face?

“What do we do, Mama?” asked Willie. Elizabeth bit her lip.

“We can’t leave him out here,” she said at last. Between the two of them, mother and son managed to drag the unconscious stranger back to their cottage overlooking the sea. Averting her gaze as much as possible, Elizabeth removed the stranger’s outlandish wet clothing and dressed him in some of Will’s old clothes. She set aside his quiver, bow and knives, putting them out of reach, in case he meant her or her son any harm. Once he was dressed, she settled him on a mattress in their small sitting room and then sent Willie off to bed. She would keep watch tonight, in case the stranger was liable to cause any mischief.

***

The first thing Legolas saw when he woke up was a dying fire in the hearth. The last thing he remembered was jumping from the Black Pearl into the dark bottomless ocean in a desperate attempt to help his friend, a mad blacksmith by the name of Balian. The thought of his friend made him sit up abruptly, and then he wished he hadn’t. His head swam and dizziness swamped him. He groaned. The next thing he knew was that there was a click and the cold muzzle of a gun was placed against his temple. As his vision settled, he saw from the corner of his eye that it was a woman who was pointing a gun to his head.

“Who are you?” she demanded.

“My name is Legolas,” he told her truthfully. There was no point in hiding it. She probably wouldn’t recognize the name.

“What is your purpose here?”

Legolas pondered this for a moment. “I have no idea,” he said finally.

***

Andromache opened her eyes. Her face felt stiff and dry. She was caked with salt and lying on hot sand. Balian stood with his back facing her, rocking Astyanax in his arms and humming softly. Some palm trees beside her shielded them from the sun. There was a tiny pond with scum on the surface, a couple of rocks and not much else except sand all around. The last thing she remembered was a storm on the sea, and a huge wave which had thrown her from the ship. Cassandra lay on her back, not yet awake. Slowly, Andromache sat up. “Balian,” she said softly. He turned a regarded her with his liquid brown eyes. “Where are we?”

“I’m not absolutely certain,” he said “but I can guess.”

“Where?” repeated Andromache.

“Somewhere in the Holy Land, close to Jerusalem. I’ve been here before, I think, the first time I was shipwrecked.”

“This is the Holy Land...?”

“I know.” Balian smiled wryly. “Ridiculous, isn’t it, why men are fighting over this.”

“I’m just surprised,” said Andromache. “What are we doing here? I mean, I know why you’re here, but Cassandra, Astyanax, and me... we don’t belong here.”

“I suppose you and Astyanax are here because you two fell into the ocean, and I jumped in to save you, or tried to save you. I’m not sure how Cassandra ended up here with us. I guess I’ll have to ask her when she wakes. It’s lucky that there’s an oasis here.”

Astyanax decided that Balian’s attention had been diverted for long enough. He reached up with a fat little hand, caught hold of some of the man’s dark hair and yanked.

“Hey, little one, play nicely,” protested Balian gently. Astyanax crooned.

Andromache watched the man play with her baby. He really would’ve made a wonderful father, if the fates had not been cruel enough to tear that chance from him. “Is he all right?” she asked.

“He’s fine,” said Balian. “I washed the salt off him. Babies have awfully delicate skin, and I have been told that it’s absolutely necessary to keep them clean.”

“I see why they call you Nanny Balian,” said Andromache with a smile.

“No you don’t,” said Balian quickly. “Christ! I have done nothing to warrant such name-calling.”

“No, that’s right. You don’t deserve it. You are a nothing like a nanny, Balian.” Andromache chuckled to herself as she brushed the scum off the surface of the pond and took a drink. Men were just like children. Her Hector had been no exception. “Do you have something to store water with, Balian?” she asked after she had finished. “I don’t suppose we are staying here, and we will need water for our journey to wherever it is that you want to take us.”

Balian handed Astyanax to his mother. “I have a leather flask,” he said “but it’s not big.” He unhooked it from his belt and filled it.

“Where are we?” It seemed that Cassandra had finally woken up. “Balian! Andromache! Thank goodness you’re both all right!”

“How did you get here?” said Andromache.

“I jumped in after you,” said Cassandra, looking slightly embarrassed. “So where are we?”

“We’re in Balian’s world, Cassandra,” said Andromache.

“This is Ibelin?” asked Cassandra incredulously. She looked around her, but she could see nothing save for endless stretches of yellow desert and an empty blue sky. “I thought it would be a little less...sandy.”

“No, this is the desert,” said Balian. “Ibelin is quite far away.” He glanced up. “If I remember correctly, Jerusalem is rather close. It may be under Muslim control, but I don’t think they’ll hassle us. Salah-al-Din is an honourable man.”

They waited until dusk before setting off. From his previous experience, Balian knew that it was better to travel at night while in the desert. After two hours of walking, however, the women were exhausted. They were hungry and not used to travelling so much. Balian allowed them to rest for a while before continuing on their journey. His sweat soaked shirt was cooling rapidly in the cold of the desert night. Andromache shielded Astyanax from the wind as best she could, all the while shivering violently. Balian hesitated, it seemed so inappropriate, but he did not want anyone to catch their death of cold. Awkwardly, he reached out for both Andromache and Cassandra. “It’ll be warmer this way,” he said. Cassandra gladly snuggled up to him.

***

Balian hadn’t meant to fall asleep. He opened his heavy eyes. It was morning, and it was beginning to get hot. On a sand dune in the near distance was a lone rider. He called out in Arabic. The words were indistinct and Balian’s inexperienced ear could not interpret them. He stood up, hoping that the rider did not perceive him as a threat. The rider urged his horse into a gallop and neared them.

“What business do you have on my master’s land?” he demanded in accented French.

Balian would recognize that man anywhere. “Imad?” he said. “Thank God!”

Imad’s eyes widened as he recognized his Frankish friend. “Allahu akbar!” he cried. “Balian! You’re alive! We all thought you’d died in that shipwreck. God really must love you.” He glanced down at Andromache, Cassandra and baby Astyanax, and then back at Balian. “You have been productive, my friend,” he said with a grin.

“I beg your pardon?” said Balian, looking confused. Was he too tired and hearing Imad wrongly? “What are you talking about?”

“The ladies, they are your wives, no?”

“No!” protested Balian. “They are my friend’s wives, I mean, wife and sister...”

Imad frowned. “And what are you doing with your friend’s wife and sister, Balian?” he asked. Many Franks had loose morals, but he had not thought that Balian was one of those, even though the Frankish knight had had a not–so-subtle affair with the former queen of Jerusalem.

Andromache decided to speak before the misunderstanding went too far. Balian, she had found, was not a very prolific speaker, being a man of action rather than words. If she let him explain, he would probably make his friend even more confused. “I am a widow,” she said “and in Balian’s care.” It was true enough. Hector wasn’t exactly in the world of the living at the moment. “My husband entrusted us to him. He is our protector and friend, nothing more.”

“That is much more comprehensible,” said Imad. “Trust Balian to make such an honourable thing sound like a scandal.”

“I’m tired,” protested Balian, grinning.

Imad dismounted. “My ladies, it is only proper that you ride,” he said. “We men can walk. Jerusalem is near.”

Balian cupped his hands and stood beside the horse so that Andromache and Cassandra could use him as a sort of step to get onto the animal. Imad held Astyanax as Andromache mounted. “A strong boy,” he said, handing the baby back to its mother once she was securely seated in the saddle.

“He is like his father,” said Andromache proudly, cradling Astyanax lovingly in her arms.

“Speaking of sons and fathers,” said Imad “I have something to discuss with you, Balian.”

“What is it?” asked Balian. All that was on his mind at the moment was a drink of cool clean water, some food and then maybe a long nap on a soft mattress.

“Sibylla gave birth to a son almost two years ago. She claims he is yours.”

***

Will was certain that he was in a nightmare. First, the Black Pearl had been sucked down into dark watery depths by a whirlpool. Now, she was once again stuck. Instead of a high barren island, this time it was a tiny pond in a quaint little village with tiny cottages and grassy mounds that had windows and doors.

“What the bloody hell is going on?’ demanded Jack as he pushed Ragetti and Pintel off him. “Where are we? How did we get here? Why is the rum always gone?”

No, this was worse than Will’s most terrible nightmare. He was stuck in a tiny pond on board the Black Pearl with Jack Sparrow and no rum...

“Where be my gun?”

...and Barbossa...

“Where’s Balian...and Legolas and Andromache? Where’s Cassandra? Oh Apollo save us! Where’s Astyanax?!”

...without his two most sensible friends to help him deal with this antagonistic rabble of pirates and princes. Will climbed to the crow’s nest where he could have a little quiet to help him think. He put his spyglass to his eye. Nothing looked familiar. He could see the faint outlines of snow-covered mountains in the distance. Will hadn’t seen such mountains before, apart from in paintings. He hadn’t seen much snow before either. As a child in England, he’d lived in a place where there hadn’t been much snowing. Usually it was raining.

He pulled himself back to the present. Where were they? By now, the inhabitants of this queer little place were coming out to investigate. They did not seem pleased to see a barnacle encrusted seagoing ship in their pond. And they were small, about half the size of a full grown man. They were advancing on the Black Pearl with miniature pitchforks, shovels, and scythes.

“This don’t look good,” said Pintel. Beside him, Achilles’ hand strayed to the hilt of his sword.

“Wait!” called Will from the crow’s nest. “We don’t need any bloodshed. These, uh, people have nothing against us. I do not believe us if we explain why we’re here.”

“So why are we here?” said Paris.

“I have no idea,” said Will “but it must be the will of some deity or another.”

“Pardon me, whelp, but I don’t think they’ll buy that,” said Jack.

Will climbed down from the crow’s nest. The little being in the lead suddenly stopped. His eyes widened in delighted surprise. “Balian?” he said in a high, almost childlike voice.

“Oh, good; he thinks you’re Balian,” said Jack. “It seems that the nanny is well-known and well-loved.”

“I’m not Balian,” said Will “but I do know him.”

“Oh.” The little being’s hostile expression was back. “How can we prove that you’re Balian’s friend?”

“Well, he is a good man...” began Will. “He lost his wife and child, and Legolas calls him Nanny Balian. He hates it.”

“You know Legolas too?” said the little being.

“Sure do,” said Jack. “Tall skinny fella who glows in the dark? Of course we know ‘im.”

“You could be their enemies for all I know,” challenged the little being.

“I don’t think that Master Balian would be lettin’ his enemies know that he can’t hold his drink,” drawled Barbossa.

“And he’s always fine despite the fact he isn’t,” added Paris.

“And wounds always look worse than they feel,” finished Will.

“That sounds like Balian,” said the little being, smiling as he recalled fond memories. “Well, since you’re his friends, you’re my friends too. Welcome to the Shire. My name is Meriadoc Brandybuck, and I’m a hobbit. We’re all hobbits.”

On seeing that their leader had addressed the strangers as friends, the other hobbits lowered their weapons, muttering amongst themselves. They did not trust the Big Folk, especially not ones who appear mysteriously in the communal pond in a big ship with black sails flying a flag which had a skull on it.

Barbossa and Will lowered the gangplank and all of them got off the ship, although Jack lingered at the helm of his beloved Pearl.

There were murmurs as the hobbits saw Barbossa’s monkey.

“What’s that?” said Meriadoc.

“That, Mr. Brandybuck, is a monkey,” said Will.

“Just Merry will be fine,” said the hobbit. “ ‘Mr.’ Makes me feel old.”

“Mary?” said Jack. “That’s me mum’s name.”

Merry scowled. He didn’t appreciate being compared to someone’s mother. Balian really did have an odd choice of friends. He didn’t mind Will, who was civilized, but the other one with black paint around his eyes, he was not so sure about.

“Jack, can you please act like a civilized, mature and sober adult for once in your life?” said Will with an almost pleading tone in his voice.

“I don’t like any of those words,” said Jack. “Especially not the last adjective.” But he kept quiet after that.

The newcomers introduced themselves. Merry thought they were a strange bunch, and he’d seen some pretty strange things in his life, Pippin being one of them. He decided that he liked Will Turner and Jack the monkey. He did not know what to make of Paris, who was perpetually scowling at the big tawny man called Achilles. The hobbit liked the ladies too. None of them could be compared with Lady Éowyn, but they at least did not curse of make obscene gestures. He could ill imagine Balian and Legolas being friends with Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbossa.

Since they were all too big to fit inside a hobbit hole—Frodo’s to be precise—Will suggested that all the humans, and the monkey, should sleep on the ship. Merry agreed. It was a good idea and many of Hobbiton’s inhabitants were uncomfortable about the Big Folk’s presence. Merry knew that they could not stay in the Shire for long. Together with Sam, Frodo, and Pippin, he decided to take them to Gondor. Aragorn would be glad to know that Legolas and Balian were alive, and the High King would definitely know what to do about the newcomers.

***

A/N: Here’s the first chapter. They will all eventually end up in Middle Earth; they just all have some potentially problematic situations to deal with.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 11:27 AM
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KiwiGirl KiwiGirl is offline
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Great start, lots of threads there and lots of interesting meetings. It was particularly nice to see Elizabeth and young William and to hear of Barbossa's visits. Made me smile.

Looking forward to the next chapter!!!
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Old April 7th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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I have so much to wade through first, but I will get here eventually...looking forward to it.

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Old April 12th, 2008, 05:45 AM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth


Disclaimer: I do not own Balian, Imad, Legolas, Aragorn, Will, Jack, Paris, Hector, Merry, Pippin... you get the idea. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of returning them, savvy?

Chapter 2: Each to His Own Problem

Legolas observed the woman from the corner of his eye — he could not turn for she still had the muzzle of her gun against his temple. She was fierce, he could tell, and seemed to have no qualms about blowing someone’s brains out. Her pink lips would’ve been alluring if they had not been pressed in a hard determined line. Altogether, she was too hard and sharp for his taste, like a rose with too many thorns.

“I mean you no harm, lady,” he said softly in the most soothing tone he could muster under these circumstances.

“Forgive me if I find it difficult to trust you,” she said sarcastically. There was something in her sarcasm that was familiar, but he could not place it. The elf tried to shift into a more comfortable position. The woman reacted immediately, by pushing the muzzle of her pistol further against his head. “Don’t move,” she said. “If you do, I’ll shoot. Tell me who you are.”

“I’ve already told you my name,” said Legolas.

“And how do I know it’s the truth?”

“You’ll have to trust me on that, I’m afraid.”

“Who do you work for? Where do you come from? Your accent is not English, nor is it French.”

“That’s because I am neither English nor French, and glad of it. I’m an elf.”

“I hardly believe in fairy stories anymore, Master Legolas.”

Legolas was losing his patience. This woman was impossible, and her rude manner irritated him too. She spoke as if she’d been giving orders her entire life. “Whether you believe it or not is your business. I stand by what I said.” The elf’s tone was curt. “And what do you think these pointed ears are? I am not human.”

The woman peered at his ears .That momentary diversion was all that Legolas needed to snatch the gun from her. He threw it aside and grabbed her wrist as she dived to retrieve her weapon. “It is time you answered a couple of questions, my lady,” said Legolas. She tried to struggle, but even in his weakened state, he was still stronger than her. She stuck out her chin at him defiantly.

“Who are you?” said Legolas.

“Well, if you must know,” she said through clenched teeth “the name’s Elizabeth Swann Turner. Mrs. Turner to you.”

Elizabeth Swann Turner. Mrs. Turner.

Will Turner.

Legolas let her go in surprise. “Valar!” he breathed. “You’re Will’s wife!”

Elizabeth, who had been about to dash for her pistol, stopped in her tracks and cocked her head at Legolas. “You know Will?” she asked with a frown.

“Oh, I know him,” said Legolas, trying to keep himself from laughing about this absurd coincidence. “Captain of the Flying Dutchman, sometimes friend of Captain Jack Sparrow, has some sort of history with Hector Barbossa; I know him well. We fought a war together — lost it, but that’s beside the point. Will was the one who taught me how to use a gun. Actually, he was the first to explain the idea of a gun to me.”

“You know Jack and Barbossa as well?” said Elizabeth, her spirits rising. Perhaps they hadn’t gotten into as much trouble as she had thought when they had not appeared for Willie’s birthday.

“I do. Barbossa has an undead monkey called Jack, and Barbossa and Jack —the man, that is— are still fighting over the captaincy of the Black Pearl.”

“So you were telling the truth.” Elizabeth was embarrassed now. “I’m so sorry about the misunderstanding, but a woman in my position has to take every precaution. Better safe than sorry.”

“I understand,” said Legolas. “Will’s told me about your situation, and what he didn’t tell, Barbossa did.”

“The East India Trading Company has resumed the hunt for pirates,” said Elizabeth, sitting down tiredly. “The operation is led by a man with a vendetta; Jonathan Beckett. He’s Cutler Beckett’s younger brother. I am the Pirate King, and I know there is a huge price tag on my head, and on Willie’s as well. I’ve just been so frightened. If they find us...”

“Mrs. Turner...” began Legolas.

“Just Elizabeth will do. Barbossa’s the only one who calls me Mrs. Turner.”

“Elizabeth,” said Legolas. “Will is my friend. That means I will protect all that he holds dear. I swear, I will let them harm neither you nor your son.”

“I just don’t want to think about what will happen if he comes back after his ten years to find that we are gone,” said Elizabeth. The fear brought a lump to her throat, and she desperately wanted to cry, but she had promised that she would be strong for her family.

“I forgot to tell you, Elizabeth, that Calypso has released Will from the Dutchman. I think your husband will come for you sooner than you think.”

“How is that possible?”

“Deities are volatile at the very best.” Bit by bit, Legolas told Elizabeth about their misadventures in Troy.

“I can just imagine how nervous Will was when you and he pretended to be gods,” said Elizabeth with a fond smile. “He did hate drawing attention to himself, and he isn’t a great liar.”

“He’s better than Balian at any rate,” said Legolas. “Now that is one hopeless liar, and drinker. You’d do better, I think, Elizabeth.”

“I out-drank Jack once,” said Elizabeth, glad to be able to talk to someone from whom she did not need to hide her past.

“I don’t know what to say to that,” said Legolas. His expression was unreadable.

***

Balian gaped at Imad. “You mean...Sibylla...I...we...” he stammered.

“God works in mysterious ways, Balian,” said Imad. His Frankish friend hadn’t changed. He was still that awkward blacksmith underneath. “Don’t ask me about it.”

“Where are they?” Balian demanded. A son. God had finally answered his prayers and given him a child. He thought Abraham must have felt that way when God had given him and Sarah the good news.

“Sibylla’s still in Tripoli,” said Imad “and therein lies the problem. She is all but imprisoned by Richard.”

“Why would Richard imprison her?”

“It’s a long story, Balian.” Imad sighed and patted his young Frankish friend on the shoulder. “I will tell you as we journey. For certain the ladies are fatigued, even if you aren’t, and I’m sure they would like to reach civilisation as soon as possible.”

***

Sibylla, as it seemed, had refused to relinquish her throne to the newcomer from England. “No son of some Aquitaine harlot shall ever sit upon the throne of Jerusalem,” she had said. So Richard had imprisoned her in the hope that she might break and either marry him or abdicate. And then it had been revealed that the queen had been with child; a child who, she had insisted, had been sired by the former baron of Ibelin. Many searches had been launched, seeking the whereabouts of the elusive defender of Jerusalem. There had been many aims for finding Balian. Sibylla, of course, had wanted Balian to act as Prince Regent, king in all but name. Richard’s aims had been less than beneficial to Balian.

“That sounds like my Sibylla,” said Balian as he listened to Imad’s rendition of the story; it was probably the most balanced one he would get. “Headstrong and stubborn.” A ghost of a smile graced his tired face.

“So where have you been?” Imad asked him. “We all thought you’d died.”

“That’s an even longer story, and so confusing that I doubt you’d believe it,” said Balian.

“I always believe what you say, Balian,” insisted Imad.

“Even if I tell you I met a walking, talking tree who is in fact not a tree but an ent?”

“Well...I...”

“And what about a man who’s had his heart cut out and had been doomed to ferry the souls of those who died at sea to the other side, not to mention he could also walk through walls?”

Imad stared at Balian, wondering if his friend had gone mad. Balian smiled wryly. “See?” he said. “I won’t even mention the other things that happened.”

“I don’t know about the walking talking tree,” said Andromache “but the man who’s had his heart cut out is real.”

“You must tell me everything in detail once we get to Jerusalem,” said Imad, shaking his head.

They reached Jerusalem the next morning. There were murmurs as people recognized the Christian defender of the city. Balian felt uncomfortable under their scrutiny. “You fame, my friend, stretches from Syria to Egypt and from the Jerusalem to Constantinople to Aquitaine and beyond,” Imad told him. “Your name is known to even in the barbaric isle of England, or so I’m told. I’m not certain whether they bless it or spit on it.”

“I’m certain it’s spoken like a curse in Rome,” said Balian.

“Why would they hate you, Balian?” asked Cassandra. “You saved the city, didn’t you?”

“I saved the people,” said Balian “but to the lords in Europe, I have betrayed my religion and the kingdom, not to mention the Pope in Rome.” He glanced up at the confused princess and smiled. “It’s exactly like when I committed sacrilege in your father’s court by touching that statuette with my bloody hands.”

The familiar smell of spices, sweat, offal and dung wafted through the streets. Balian remembered it well, this scent of Jerusalem. It brought him mixed emotions. It had been in this city that he had found love and hate, sin and redemption. It was here, on the hill where Christ had been crucified, that he had let Jocelyn go and accepted her death. It was here that he had lost and found the grace of God.

Jerusalem was the chessboard on which he had begun his own game.

The city filled Andromache with awe. Troy was nothing compared to this. The high walls of Troy, which had seemed so grand and imposing, were mere fences compared to these fortifications. And there were so many people. Andromache had never seen such big crowds in her life. Their dress was strange to her. It was as if they were afraid of showing too much skin. Now that she had glimpsed Balian’s world, it did not seem so odd that the man was so shy about his body.

“So this is your city, Balian,” said Andromache.

“This isn’t my city,” said Balian with a smile. He understood how she felt. He had been intimidated when he had first entered those gates all those years ago. “This is Jerusalem. It’s everybody’s city.”

“Actually, according to your religion, it’s God’s city,” corrected Imad.

“And according to your religion, Lord Imad?” asked Cassandra curiously.

“According to Islam, this is the city where the prophet Mohammed first ascended to Heaven on his white horse,” replied Imad. He stopped before a very familiar looking house.

“Imad,” began Balian, pointing at the house. “This...”

“Yes, Balian, this was your house,” said Imad with a smile. “I gave you a horse, so I took your house. You didn’t seem to want it at the time. I see you lost the horse.”

“In another shipwreck.”

“My advice to you: Stay on land.”

***

Hobbits knew how to enjoy life, Barbossa decided as he washed down the last of the pork roast with a mug of ale. It tasted much better than anything else he’d eaten before. Will was still describing their adventures to Merry and another hobbit called Pippin. He skipped out the part about his heart.

“So when you’re at World’s End, you just flip the boat and you’re back in the normal world,” said Merry.”

“Only when it’s sunset at World’s End,” said Will.

“So World’s End is under our feet,” said Pippin with a frown. “When you dig, you just get a hole. You don’t go to another world.”

Will fumbled around for an answer but he couldn’t find one. “It’s not quite like that. I don’t know how to explain it,” he said.

“No one can,” said Paris, coming over to join them. “Tell us more about Middle Earth, Masters Merry and Pippin.”

They spent the whole afternoon simply talking, eating and drinking. Will somehow felt slightly ill, but he did not mention it to any of the others. Without Balian and Legolas, he was their leader, even though Jack and Barbossa didn’t recognize his authority, yet. He finished the little bit of ale left in his mug. Talking so much made him thirsty. It was good ale too.

Merry grinned. “Ale from the Green Dragon,” explained the hobbit. “It’s the best ale in all of Middle Earth.”

“Except for ole Butterbur’s,” said Pippin “but that’s because Gandalf put a charm on it.” He poured more into Will’s mug. Will downed it in one go.

“Hey, Pip,” said Merry. “I think Will might be very good at one of them drinking games.”

‘Oh right, drinking games,’ thought Will as he remembered the aftermath of one of those which had involved Legolas, Achilles, Balian, Bootstrap and three mugs of rum. “Tell me about Minas Tirith,” he said hurriedly before Merry and Pippin’s plans for a drinking game went too far ahead.

“It’s the most beautiful city,” said Pippin who was almost bouncing with enthusiasm. “There’s seven layers, see, and it’s all built out of white stone. Gimli’s just made a lovely new gate for it and now that everything’s settled, people are doing business on the streets again. Queen Arwen is the most gracious and noble lady...”

“No, Lady Éowyn is the most gracious and noble lady,” interjected Merry.

“She is nice, but she’s not as gracious and noble as Queen Arwen. Ask Aragorn.”

“Aragorn is biased. He married Queen Arwen, remember?”

“We should let Will decide when he meets them.” Pippin turned to Will.

“Forgive me, gentlemen,” said Will “but no matter how gracious or noble the two ladies may be, the most gracious and noble lady, in my eyes, goes by the name of Elizabeth Swann Turner.” The pirate looked dreamy and unfocused. Whenever he thought about Elizabeth, all his discomfort faded away. He could hardly wait until he saw her again.

“That’s his sweetheart, ain’t it?” said Pippin.

“No, she’s his wife,” corrected Merry.

“That’s right,” said Jack, sauntering past. “And she’s a charming murderess.”

“Jack, Elizabeth is not a murderess,” said Will with a scowl.

“Oh yeah? Just like you’re not a eunuch, William?”

Pippin looked at Merry. His eyes were as large and round as banquet platters. “Is Will a eunuch?” he asked.

“Of course he isn’t, idiot,” said Merry. Will was not listening. He was too busy wrestling Jack to the deck. Barbossa raised his —twelfth— mug of ale and cheered. “Cap’n Turner!” he shouted.

Ragetti and Pintel peered at Barbossa and then looked at each other. “Yeah! Go Turner!” they chorused.

“Wait, wait,” said Jack. “I yield!” Will stopped pushing him against the wooden deck.

“You do?’ said Will, panting. There was a burning pain in his chest, caused by the exertion. Something was not quite right. Usually he could exert himself a lot more without feeling a thing.

Not,” said Jack, using the moment’s distraction to shove Will away.

“I wonder if we should introduce Jack to Aragorn,” Merry whispered to Pippin.

“Why not? I like Jack,” said Pippin. “Besides, it’ll be interesting.”

***

Merry climbed up the gangplank of the Black Pearl. He’d never seen such a big ship before, and he thought it must have been exciting to go on daring adventures on the high seas, although Will had said they were more misadventures than adventures. Jack had made it sound as if they’d had gotten into even more trouble than the Fellowship of the Ring.

“Good morning...uh...afternoon, Master Mary,” said Jack cheerily. He was sitting on the steps with a mug of ale in one hand and a chunk of salted pork in the other. It seemed that Pippin had gotten to the Pearl first. The pirate still had not learnt how to pronounce Merry’s name properly.

“Good afternoon, Jack,” said Merry. “Where’s Will?”

“The whelp’s in me cabin,” said Jack. “He ain’t feelin’ too well. Chest wound, y’know. Nasty business, that whole thing with the thump-thump. Of course, if it hadn’t been for me, he would’ve died. In fact, I was jes’ tellin’ Pip ‘bout it, eh?”

Pippin nodded. His mouth was too full.

“Well, now that dear William is released from the Dutchman — should be renamed the Flying Trojan by now, seeing as a Trojan is her captain— he needs his thump-thump back, savvy? So we really need to find a way to get to his bonnie lass and get it back to him, the thump-thump, I mean, although he would like his distressing damsel back, I’d imagine.”

“Yeah, poor Will,” said Pippin. “He really does look quite ill.”

“Sparra’s makin’ ye think that he’s dyin’,” drawled Barbossa “but I know Turner. He’s tougher than he looks.”

“So I can go and see him?” said Merry.

“Aye, but I wouldn’t disturb him unless it be absolutely necessary,” said the old pirate.

“Well, it is, in a way,” said Merry. He didn’t want to admit it, but Barbossa frightened him. “I wanted to tell him that we’re setting off for Gondor in three days, the lot of us.”

“Gondor?” spluttered Jack. “Why? I like the Shire.”

“Well, the Shire doesn’t like you,” said Merry. “No offense, but hobbits don’t like Big Folk much.”

“Oh, don’t worry, Jack,” said Pippin. “Gondor’s a great place, especially Minas Tirith, and I presume that’s where we’re going. I daresay they’ll even have rum, and it’s close to the sea.”

Jack’s eyes lit up at once. “I love the sea,” he said brightly “and rum. Rum’s good.” He stood up and dusted his pants. “Well then mateys,” he said, sauntering to the helm. “To Gondor it is then.”

“So how far is Gondor?” asked Paris.

“Not too far by horseback. Gandalf once made it in fifteen days, I heard,” said Merry. “and this time, we can go by the Gap of Rohan. No more Saruman.”

“That’s always a bonus,” said Pippin, swallowing the last of his salted pork and burping contentedly.

“At least we won’t have to go through that Korea...I mean...Moira...I mean...” Jack trailed off, trying to think of the right word and trying out different combinations of syllables which sounded similar.

“Moria?” suggested Pippin.

“That’s the one! Moria! At least we won’t have to go through Moria!

“And Aragorn is the King of Gondor, isn’t he?” asked Achilles.

“Yes,” said Pippin proudly. “He’s the first king Gondor’s had for over a thousand years!”

“A king who fights his own battles, at last,” said Achilles softly. He couldn’t wait to meet this king. He would certainly be a sight to behold.

After this unforeseen delay, Merry went to knock on the cabin door, and then turned around. “What’s a thump-thump?” he asked quizzically.

***

A/N: Still an introductory thing, I’m afraid. I hope I didn’t bore anyone. Bad guys should appear soon.

Thanks, Kiwi. Barbossa seemed to have some hidden fondness for Elizabeth, so I thought he might visit the Turners from time to time. More chaos will ensue

Take your time, Luna.
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Old April 13th, 2008, 07:14 AM
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Not boring at all and I love the detail that you have with the conversations. You are really good at dialogue and you have captured them all well.

I am really enjoying this..
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Old April 18th, 2008, 03:06 AM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth


Disclaimer: I don’t own Balian, Imad, Legolas, Aragorn, Will, Jack, Paris, Hector, Merry, Pippin...you get the idea. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of returning them, savvy?

Note: I’ve compiled a list of who is where.

Pirates’ world: Legolas

Holy Land: Balian, Cassandra, Astyanax, Andromache

Middle Earth: Achilles, Barbossa, Briseis, Helen, Jack, Paris, Pintel, Polyxena (Paris’ younger sister), Ragetti, Will

Chapter 3: Matters of the Heart

Waves lapped the beach and the fronds of the ‘palm trees’ moved gently in the wind. Legolas had never seen such trees before. They had brown hairy fruits. Elizabeth had called them ‘coconuts’. The elf remembered Jack mentioning something about coconuts being useful projectiles. He was on the roof, mending a leak which had developed after a storm. ‘How did Elizabeth manage on her own?’ he wondered. Will’s wife was a strong woman; there was no doubt about that.

“Legolas!” came Willie’s voice. The elf glanced up from his work. Will’s young son was staring up at him. “Mama says lunch is ready.”

Legolas set down his tools and leapt from the roof, landing neatly on his feet. Willie’s eyes were wide with awe. “Can you teach me how to do that?” he asked.

“Sorry, little one,” said the elf, smiling down at the boy. “It’s too dangerous for humans. Your mother would break my neck if anything happened to you. And your father...I don’t want to think about what he’d do.”

“Is Papa a very scary person?” asked Willie as he walked inside with Legolas. He’d been trying to glean information about his father from the elf ever since Elizabeth had introduced him to their guest.

“Not particularly,” said Legolas “but he can be if he wants to be.”

“Is he scarier than Uncle Jack-Jack?”

“I wouldn’t call Jack scary, Willie. Strange, maybe, but not scary.”

“Jack scares me sometimes, with his madness,” said Elizabeth as she set the table. “He tried to woo me once.”

“That, my lady Elizabeth, is something I could’ve gone without knowing,” said Legolas. He shuddered at the thought of a love-struck Jack Sparrow.

***

The night was clear. Legolas settled himself in the branches of a palm tree. The moon cast specks of silver on the glassy water. There was a gun in his belt; a comfortable weight resting against his hip. He’d left his bow and arrows inside the house, but he had his knives.

Splashing reached his ears. It sounded like oars in the sea. He peered out across the ocean. There. A little boat bobbed on the water’s surface, being rowed by a round man. The elf drew his pistol from his belt and cocked it. The man in the boat reached the beach. He splashed through the water and began running towards the little cottage where Elizabeth and Willie slept, peacefully unaware of this potential threat. Legolas leapt down from the tree and raced for the cottage. He planted himself in front of the door just as the man reached the porch.

“Who the...” said the man, fumbling for his pistol, but the elf was too quick. In one swift movement, he’d hooked his arm around the man’s neck and put his pistol to the man’s temple.

“Bastard!” shouted the man. “What’ve you done to ‘er? Mrs. Turner! Elizabeth!”

The front door burst open. Elizabeth stood there in her dressing gown, sword in hand. Her fierce expression became one of confusion. “Mr. Gibbs?” she said, lowering her sword.

“You know him, Elizabeth?” said Legolas.

“Of course she bloody knows me, you son of a wh0re!” said Gibbs, who was irritated that a stranger was threatening him before the Pirate King.

“Be careful with what you say,” warned Legolas “or I’ll ‘bloody nose’ you and more.”

“Gentlemen, enough!” said Elizabeth. “Legolas, please let go of Mr. Gibbs. He’s harmless. Let me introduce you. Mr. Gibbs, this is Legolas Greenleaf. He’s a friend of Will’s. Legolas, this is Joshamee Gibbs, formerly Jack’s first mate.”

“Turner’s friend, eh?” said Gibbs eyeing Legolas up and down as the elf released him. “Bit young, aren’t you?”

“He’s immortal,” interjected Elizabeth. Gibbs whipped around to look at her.

“Slap me thrice and hand me to me mama!” he exclaimed. Legolas raised his eyebrow at that. “He’s found it! Jack’s found the Fountain of Youth!”

“Actually, I was born immortal,” said Legolas dryly.

“What brings you here, Mr. Gibbs?” asked Elizabeth. Gibbs face became grim.

“Beckett knows you’re here,” he said. “He’s coming for you.”

***

Cassandra thought Balian’s old house was beautiful. The window frames were exquisitely carved, and there were colourful hangings everywhere. And the rugs...she couldn’t even describe how beautiful she found them. There were so many complex patterns, made with exotic dyes. They felt so soft beneath her feet. Camel hair, Imad had told her. The servant girls had dressed her in billowing robes of pastel colours. Her eyes had been lined with kohl. They’d washed and anointed her hair also. For once, she was certain that she looked like a princess.

She sat still and allowed the servant girls to put henna on her hands. What would Balian think when he saw her? Would he be pleasantly surprised?

Andromache came in. Astyanax was asleep in her arms, sucking his thumb. “Are you ready yet, Cassandra?” she asked. “We’re waiting for you. The meal is ready.”

Cassandra felt her face getting hot. What would they all think of her now? She was late for her first meal in this place. She hurried to her feet and followed Andromache to the dining room. To her surprise, there were no tables or chairs. Instead, Balian and Imad had both settled themselves on embroidered silken cushions with golden tassels hanging from the corners. The food was laid out in bowls in the middle of the rug in the centre of the room. The last rays of sun bathed the room with golden light.

“Ah, the princess is here,” said Imad, smiling. “And the little prince is tired from his journey, I see. Balian has been telling me about his adventures. I must say I am still very confused.”

“I find them a bit hard to accept myself,” said Balian. His stomach chose that moment to rumble loudly.

“Maybe we should eat before you launch into yet another complex and broken explanation which will probably make me even more confused,” said Imad.

***

Despite his exhaustion, Balian lay awake that night. His mind was far away in Tripoli, with Sibylla...and their son. What was his name? What did he look like? He closed his eyes and sighed. They were so close, but a giant obstacle stood between him and them. The obstacle’s name was Richard. From Imad, he had learnt that Richard was a prestigious man and a powerful warrior. With his flaming hair and beard, his great stature and his lion insignia, he was a supposedly impressive figure, both on the battlefield and off it. He was he, Balian, a common-born blacksmith, going to contend with this colossus to secure Sibylla’s safety and freedom?

The King of England had the support of the Pope and the religious military orders. Balian had the love of the common people and a queen. Richard had an army. Balian had armies who wanted his head for surrendering Jerusalem. Richard had political influence. Balian had immortality. All in all, it seemed that the odds were in Richard’s favour.

***

Andromache noticed that Cassandra seemed more sullen than usual. “What’s the matter?” she asked. “Are you well?”

Astyanax lay sleeping peacefully in a cradle which Imad and Balian had miraculously procured. Cassandra sighed. He would make such a wonderful father, this man whom she loved, and she wanted to be the mother of his children, except someone else had beaten her to it. The princess could not help but be jealous of Balian’s former lover. Sibylla did not deserve him. Dared she tell Andromache about her anguish?

“What if,” she began slowly “a woman loves a man, but he does not love her back because there is another in his heart?”

“Then that first woman ought to give up,” said Andromache. “No good will com of her obsession.”

Cassandra decided not to tell Andromache. She would never understand.

***

Imad ibn Baybar, being the Spymaster of the Ayyubid dynasty, was not one who lacked information. With Jerusalem under the sultan’s control, he now turned his attention to the other cities in the remnants of the crusader state. Tripoli was just one of those cities. Plans of the city’s fortification were spread out his desk. He regarded them thoughtfully. There were marks on the plans, showing entrances and exits, and where Sibylla and her son were being kept. Richard was ruthless. He was trying to use the child as leverage against his mother. Nothing much was known about Sibylla’s son. The little boy was shrouded in mystery and hidden from the world. Intelligence reports had it that Richard intended to make the child a puppet king if the barons and noblemen refused the make Richard the King of the Crusader state.

‘Balian, my friend, you’d never thought that your affair would influence Crusader politics for so long, did you?’ he thought. No doubt the stubborn Frankish knight would be determined to rescue his lover and child. Imad knew he had to get ahead and form a plan before the Frank made some heroic charge into Tripoli and got himself killed. The ideal way, of course, was to have Richard release Sibylla and the child, but that would never happen. The child was the key to Richard’s success.

That left one other way, and Imad hoped that the not-so-subtle Balian would learn enough subtlety to let his plan work.

***

Merry had to admit, Will did look awful. His face was pale and sweaty, and his brow was furrowed with pain. His chest was wrapped in swaths of white bandages, but blood still seeped sluggishly through.

“What happened?” asked the hobbit, full of sincere concern.

“Merry, I guess I owe you an explanation,” said Will. He tried to push himself up, but he gasped in pain as he aggravated the deep wound. “I have no heart, literally.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” said Merry.

“I am a cursed man, doomed to ferry the souls of those who die at sea to the other side. I have told you that before. Do you remember it?”

“Of course,” said Merry indignantly. “But what does that have to do with your illness?”

“I didn’t always used to be cursed. Not so long ago, I was a normal man, like Jack...well, maybe not like Jack, more like Balian and Paris...” Will told merry about how he’d had his heart cut out and placed in the Dead Man’s Chest. “Now that I am no longer the captain of the Dutchman, I need my heart back. It is very possible that if I do not get it back soon, I might die.”

“So how long do you have?” asked Merry.

“I don’t know. The pain comes in bursts. For moments, I feel fine, and then it cripples me.” The young pirate closed his eyes. “Calypso has always enjoyed toying with men and tormenting them until they no longer wish to live.”

At that, Merry looked alarmed, so Will quickly tried to reassure the hobbit. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I have no desire to die. Elizabeth will bring me my heart in time, somehow. I have faith in her. Even if Calypso is cruel enough to kill me because she cannot have me to herself, the other gods will not let her do it.”

“I hope you’re right,” said Merry. “Listen, are you well enough to travel? I was planning for us to go to Minas Tirith in three days.”

“Don’t worry about me, Merry,” said Will. “I’ll be fine.” He lay back down again. The young pirate looked so tired. Merry left him in there to rest.

To his surprise, the Brandybuck found Paris waiting for him outside. The hobbit had only ever spoken to him once or twice. “He tries to hide it,” said the Trojan prince “but I know it’s bad. Did he tell you anything? He wouldn’t tell us.”

“He said he might die if he’s left without a heart for too long,” said Merry.

“I’d come to think of him as invincible,” said Paris. “The thought of him dying is too terrible to contemplate. I’ve already lost one brother. I don’t want to lose another.” He glared over at where Achilles and Briseis were having a romantic moment.

“You know, you have to forgive him sometime,” said Merry. “Your brother isn’t dead. He’s just...”

“Not living,” finished Paris. “My brother was in his prime when Achilles killed him. Hector should be with his wife and child, not ferrying souls.”

“At least he’ll see them again,” said Merry. “Be reasonable. It could’ve been a lot worse. Will needs you to forget you grudge against Achilles. He’s very ill, and he needs all the help he can get to keep the others in order, especially now that my Tookish cousin has become friends with Jack.”

Paris nodded. “All right,” he said. “For Will’s sake, I will try.”

***

Three days later, a strange company set off for Minas Tirith. Somehow, Merry had managed to procure some horses instead of ponies. Will was glad that he was not being attacked by spasms of pain that morning, so he was actually able to ride. Jack took a lot of persuasion but Pairs finally manage to cajole him onto a horse. “This one ain’t gonna let me fall an’ then walk off, it it?” he asked suspiciously.

“I’m sure she’s perfectly trained,” said Paris.

“If you think you’ll fall, just hold onto the pommel,” said Pippin. He demonstrated on his own pony. “See?”

“I really like the footholds,” said Achilles, bending down to examine the stirrups.

“Those are stirrups,” explained Merry, looking at the warrior strangely. It seemed that Achilles had a lot to learn about horses. He could probably do with a prolonged stay in Rohan.

***

A/N: And now, to other parts of Middle Earth. And Balian’s off to rescue his distressing damsel...I mean, damsel in distress...either or. Sorry, hunger makes me do strange things.

Thanks, Kiwi, for your kind comment. Sometimes my writing gets dialogue ridden because the characters simply won't shut up. Glad you're enjoying it.
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Old April 21st, 2008, 01:26 AM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Return to Middle Earth


Disclaimer: I don’t own Balian, Imad, Legolas, Aragorn, Will, Jack, Paris, Achilles, Merry, Pippin...you get the idea. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of returning them, savvy?

Chapter 4: The Beginning of Trouble

Elizabeth dug around in her pantry and finally found what she was looking for; a bottle of rum to go with Gibbs’ hastily put together meal. Upstairs, Willie was still sound asleep. She’d had Legolas check on him.

As the old rotund pirate wolfed down his food, he recounted the situation to Elizabeth and her elven guest. “Jonathan Beckett has taken over the other Beckett’s place in the East India Trading company,” said Gibbs before taking a greedy gulp of rum. “Rumour has it he’s even more ruthless than his brother, if that’s even possible.” He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “They caught poor ole Cotton and hanged him, even though he ain’t never harmed nobody.”

“We must leave, then, Elizabeth,” said Legolas. “If that man knows where you and Willie are, there’s no doubt as to what will happen to you both if he finds you.”

“But Will...” began Elizabeth, and then she remembered. “I’ll go get the Chest,” she said. “Legolas, you wake Willie and get him ready. Mr. Gibbs, pack everything that we might need.” She thought for a moment. “Actually, Mr. Gibbs, you go and get Willie ready. Legolas, you come with me.”

The elf followed her down to the cellar. She tried out several floorboards before removing one. Below was a space, and Legolas’ keen ears caught the faint sound of a beating heart. Elizabeth hoisted up the chest by its handles and then shoved it into Legolas’ arms. “Hold this carefully,” she said, and then she proceeded to pull out guns from the hole in the floor, piling them on top of the chest. She picked up an armful of guns herself, as well as a few strange round things which looked like diminished versions of Balian’s catapult missiles with strings hanging out of them.

They went back up, and dumped the weapons onto the dining table. Willie was already up and dressed, with a leather pack on his back containing his most precious belongings. His hat, of course, was on his head. He was never without it.

“Blimey, Miss Elizabeth!” said Gibbs. His eyes were as round as cannon balls. “You’ve got a whole bloody arsenal here!”

“There’s more, on the ship,” said Elizabeth, grabbing her sword off the mantelpiece and going upstairs to change into more practical fighting clothes. Willie’s mouth opened and he stared at his mother. She was behaving more or less the same as Captain Barbossa. He’d never seen so many guns in his life.

Elizabeth came down dressed in trousers, shirt and boots. She even had a tri-corner hat and a long leather coat was slung over her arm.

“Right,” she said. “Who wants what?”

Legolas chose eight fine pistols and strapped them to his belt. He still had his bow and quiver, as well as his numerous knives.

Elizabeth somehow managed to hide what Legolas considered to be half the arsenal all over her body. He even caught sight of her tucking on enormous gun up her back. She had two belts criss-crossing on her front, and on that alone there were eight pistols. There were eight more on the belt at her waist, and two in her boots. Over that, she put a vest, hiding all the weapons, and then she covered everything that was peeking out with her coat. There were numerous spacious pockets in her coat where she put extra shots, powder, as well as those miniature catapult missiles.

Not to be outdone, the elf put two more pistols on the strap which tied his quiver to his back.

While his mother was too busy arming herself to watch him, Willie sneaked two small pistols off the table and hid them in the band of his trousers, under his jacket.

When they were finished, Elizabeth looked unarmed except for her sword, and Legolas resembled a walking weapons’ store.

“How do you do that?” he asked. Will’s wife seemed to be full of hidden and impressive skills, some of them not at all becoming of a woman of the aristocracy.

“Practice,” she said “and a really big coat.” She regarded Legolas for a moment. “Wait a minute,” she said, going back upstairs. She opened a large dusty coffer which had not been touched for many a year. Inside were a few shirts, and another long weather-beaten leather coat. She lifted the coat out of the coffer and smoothed her hand over its surface. It was Will’s. She smiled a little smile and then went downstairs.

“Here,” she said, handing Legolas the coat. “This is Will’s, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind you borrowing it. I think it will do the trick.”

“Thank you,” said Legolas. The coat did cover up his weapons, but it also meant he had to hold his quiver in his hand. After some more fiddling, they managed to fit the quiver over the coat.

“You look like a monster-hunter,” said Gibbs.

“You need a hat,” said Willie. “Your hair looks odd with that coat.”

“Will didn’t have any hats,” said Elizabeth. She thought for a while. “But my father did have a lot of them.”

Moments later, Legolas couldn’t recognize himself. ‘Balian would wet himself laughing if he saw me now,’ he thought. He grabbed the supplies and followed Elizabeth. In the end, he’d added one of Will’s swords to his collection of weapons. They went down a steep narrow track going down the side of the cliff, which eventually led them to a hidden cove where Elizabeth kept a decent-sized boat in a partially submerged cave. She got on first, and the others handed her the cargo.

Legolas lifted Willie into the boat before lightly leaping in himself. Gibbs was the last to get in. For some reason, the old sailor seemed nervous.

Gibbs might have been older and more experienced, but it was Elizabeth who gave the orders. “There ain’t never been a better natural sailor than our Miss Elizabeth,” said the rotund pirate when Legolas asked him about it. “Aye, she was born with the sea in her blood.”

***

“Balian,” said Imad. “I have a plan.” He pushed the map of Tripoli’s fortifications towards his Frankish friend. “You will see I have marked out all the important locations, including where Richard is keeping Sibylla and the child. They are heavily guarded, but that works well for us.”

“Why?” asked Balian with a frown. He would’ve thought that more guards meant more trouble.

“It means you can pretend to be one of them, and no one would be able to tell the difference,” said Imad smugly. He grinned when he saw the expression on Balian’s face as understanding dawned on him. “Surely you were not intending to charge in as yourself?”

“No...well...yes,” said Balian, reprimanding himself for his stupidity. Hadn’t he used exactly the same plan when they had rescued Paris and Cassandra from the Greeks?

“It’s not a problem getting in,” said Imad. “It’s getting out.”

***

The day was clear when Balian and Imad set out for Tripoli. Cassandra watched from the doorway as Balian checked the girth of the saddle and made certain that the horse’s shoes were secure. She didn’t want him to go and save Sibylla. It sounded so dangerous, and she couldn’t bear the thought of losing him. The princess stepped out into the sunlight and took a deep breath. ‘Gods, grant me courage,’ she prayed. “Balian,” she called. “May I have a private word with you?”

Both Balian and Imad looked up. “I must go and leave some more instructions with my steward,” said Imad quickly. He walked back into the house, leaving Balian and Cassandra alone in the courtyard. The man inwardly cursed. Why did Imad have to be so ‘proper’? He was awfully uncomfortable as Cassandra approached him.

“You don’t have to go, Balian,” said Cassandra. “You know you don’t. Lord Imad is the Spymaster. He has many men under him whom he could send.

“It would be unfair to send anyone else,” said Balian. “This is my burden to bear. What man would I be if I cannot even save my own child and ...lover?

“I don’t want you to go. I can’t lose you.”

“Cassandra...”

The princess stepped right up to him so that her body was only inches away from his. He could feel the heat of her passion. It shone bright in her eyes. “Balian, I love you,” said Cassandra. “I never wish to be parted from you. I will bear your sons and daughters. I will make you the happiest man alive.”

Balian looked away. His heart hammered in his chest. He had been expecting to hear this for a while, but nevertheless, her overt words shocked him. He knew that if he tried to speak now, his lips and tongue would refuse to form words. ‘Calm down,’ he told himself. He took a few deep breaths and tried to soothe his rapid heartbeat. When he deemed he was calm enough, he looked back at Cassandra and placed his hands gently on her shoulders.

“Cassandra,” he began. “I am honoured, and grateful for your affections. I must admit that I have been aware of your feelings for some time now.” He took a deep breath. He couldn’t afford to get this part wrong. “Cassandra...I am fond of you; I truly am. I know what it is that you ask of me but I cannot give you what you seek. My heart already belongs to another.”

The words came out with more finality than he had expected. Cassandra stiffened as if he’d slapped her. “But Balian, I love you,” she said in a small voice.

“You are young, Cassandra,” said Balian. “I wish you joy and I know you’ll find it, but not in me. Heavens, Cassandra! You’re fifteen and I’m almost thirty-one, more than twice your age! It’s just not right. Besides, I love Sibylla. I have never stopped loving her.”

“She doesn’t deserve you!” said Cassandra in frustration. Why could he not see that? Was the man really so blind in love? The difference in their ages had never presented itself as a problem to her. What did age matter if it was truly love? “Balian, she abandoned you for her throne! She really doesn’t deserve you!”

“Jealousy is unbecoming, Cassandra,” said Balian. “That is one thing that I cannot love.” His voice was cold and courteous, and he seemed to be looking through her instead of at her. Suddenly, everything fell into place. Images of her time at the Greek camp flashed before her eyes. He thought her unworthy, and maybe even mad, as everyone else did. She could not contain herself. Her hand shot out and her palm impacted with his cheek, making his head snap to the side.

“You think I’m not good enough for you, don’t you, Balian of Ibelin, lover to a queen?” she demanded, even though deep down, her subconscious self knew that this was not how Balian felt. He was an honourable man. “You’ve had a queen and now you won’t have anything less than a queen!” Balian did not say anything. That only served to fuel her anger. He wasn’t even responding to her. It was obvious that he did not care at all. “I hate you, Balian,” she spat. “I wish Calchas had killed you. I wish I’d never met you!”

“Cassandra!” came Andromache’s sharp and reprimanding voice. She’d come to see the men off, only to see Cassandra slap Balian. The princess paid no heed to her. She pushed past the older woman. Tears blurred her vision. She simply ran. Anywhere far from the man who’d broken her heart was good enough for her.

Balian was about to follow Cassandra, but he decided against it. He was probably the last person she’d want to see at the moment.

“She probably doesn’t mean it, foolish girl,” said Andromache. “She’s very emotional.”

“Andromache,” said Balian “will you tell her for me that I’m sorry?”

“I definitely will not,” said Andromache. “If there’s anyone who should be apologizing, it’s Cassandra. You have done nothing wrong.”

“Are you ready yet?’ asked Imad, returning to the courtyard. He’d seen and heard everything from a window upstairs. “Balian, you’ve got a red handprint on your face. I know it’s none of my business and I won’t make you tell me anything you don’t want me to know, but it will be strange if you go out looking like that, so maybe we can wait until it fades.”

“No, we should leave now,” said Balian. “I’ll cover it with a scarf.” He turned to Andromache. “Farewell,” he said. “I won’t be gone for long, I hope. Look after yourself and Astyanax, and Cassandra.”

Andromache hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. “Take care,” she said. “We’ll miss you, and Astyanax will miss the games you play with him.”

As they rode out, Imad glanced at Balian with pity. One woman was hard enough to deal with. Balian had two.

***

Every now and then, Jack glanced back at Will. The young man’s face was ashen as he fought the pain of his otherworldly illness. Not once did the former captain of the Flying Dutchman complain. Usually it was Jack or Paris who suggested that they stop for rests. They usually made lame excuses for these breaks. If the real reason was revealed, Will’s pride would make him insist that they go on.

Middle Earth was a wondrous place. Achilles had never seen so much green. When their adventures were all over, he decided that he and Briseis would settle and raise their children here, perhaps in the country of the king who fought his own battles.

Paris had never thought that Legolas’ world would be so beautiful, and yet, sad. The elf had said that his people were leaving Middle Earth, never to return. The prince was certain that without elves, the power and majesty of Middle Earth would fade and dim. All the wondrous stories of heroes and battles would be lost along with the elves, for there would be no one left to remember them. Despite being a stranger here, he felt as if he belonged. Every note of birdsong touched his heart. In Troy, he’d always felt isolated. He’d never been the ideal Trojan prince, as Hector had been. Because of that, he’d often been overlooked, even though he was loved. Here, it didn’t seem to matter if he wasn’t a brave and noble warrior.

During their time in the Shire, Merry’s cousin Frodo had shown them a heavy red book which he’d helped to write. Paris hadn’t been able to read it, for it had been written in something that looked like a corrupted form of Greek. So Frodo’s gardener Sam had read it to them. It had been then that Paris had realized that the greatest heroes in Middle Earth had not been noble warriors, but humble little hobbits called Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee.

***

They reached Bree in three days. The sleepy little town had not changed. The Prancing Pony was more popular than ever, now that the High King himself had endorsed it. “This is where we first met Longshanks...uh...I mean, Aragorn,” explained Pippin as they filed into the inn.

“Good evening and welcome!’ cried a jolly fat man with a ruddy face and balding head. “If you’re looking for lodging, we’ve got both hobbit and man sized rooms available...”

“Hullo, Mr. Butterbur,” said Pippin cheerfully.

Butterbur frowned for a while, and then his eyes widened in recognition. “Mr. Took!” he said. “Bless me! I almost didn’t recognize you there, with all yer fine friends.”

Jack stood a little straighter and tried to look indifferent, although the effect was that he looked like a cockerel that had just finished preening.

“And Mr. Brandybuck is here as well!” continued Butterbur.

“We were missin’ your fine ale,” said Merry with a grin.

“And where’s your cousin, Mr. Underhill?”

“It’s Baggins, actually,” said Pippin.

“Ah, yes, Baggins. ‘Scuse my memory. I’m getting on in my years.”

“We’re going to need rooms for seven men, three women, two hobbits and a...uh...monkey,” said Merry.

“Hmm,” said Butterbur. He thought for a moment. “We have four rooms available. Will that do?”

Merry did some quick calculations. The ladies could have one room. Jack and Barbossa needed to be separate, as did Paris and Achilles. If Paris, Will and Jack took one room, Barbossa, Furry Jack —the monkey— and Achilles took another, it would leave Pintel and Ragetti to share a room with the two hobbits. They could live with that.

“Four rooms will be fine, thank you,” said Merry.

“So who’s sharing with who?” asked Jack as they followed Butterbur to their rooms.

“Don’t worry, I’ve worked it all out,” said Merry. “Jack, you’re with Will and Paris. The ladies get one room. Achilles is with Barbossa and Furry Jack. Rag and Pin are with Pip and me.”

“That sounds all right,” said Paris “as long as Jack isn’t drunk.”

“When is he ever sober?” said Barbossa, raising an eyebrow.

“I says we share a room wif the ladies,” whispered Ragetti suggestively to Pintel. Pintel cackled. Unfortunately, they were overheard by Achilles and Paris. The lord of the Myrmidon flexed his hands menacingly and glared at the two pirates, while Paris seemed ready to strangle anyone who dared to touch his Helen, his sister, or his cousin. Ragetti and Pintel shrank back.

“Eunuchy, snip snip,” said Jack. Will gave him a weary look. He was tired, ill and hurting, and in no mood for more bad eunuch jokes. Jack immediately swallowed the joke that he’d been about to tell. It was about Will, of course, but the whelp seemed to need some decent rest.

***

“You all right, whelp?” asked Jack once they were all settled in their rooms. “You’re not going to die on good ole Jack, are you?”

“I’m fine, Jack,” said Will, surprised by the pirate’s genuine concern.

“Will, if you’re fine, then I’m a great warrior,” said Paris. “You should lie down. We’ll have the evening meal brought up.”

***

Meanwhile, Barbossa and Achilles were downstairs, sitting in a corner and listening to everything that was going on. What they heard disturbed them. The men were talking about a new power rising in the east, strong enough to challenge Gondor’s sovereignty. It seemed that they’d arrived just in time for another war.

***

A/N: The action ought to begin soon.
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Old May 7th, 2008, 09:36 PM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth


Disclaimer: I don’t own Balian, Imad, Legolas, Aragorn, Will, Jack, Paris, Achilles, Merry, Pippin... you get the idea. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of returning them, savvy?

Chapter 5: One Step Closer

Willie pulled out his spyglass and put it to his eye, feeling very important. The spyglass had been a gift from the Captain. Barbossa had also promised him a pistol and a sword. When Elizabeth had frowned and said that Willie was too little to play with such dangerous things, the old pirate had given the boy a conspiratorial wink. Willie knew he would be getting his pistol and sword whether his mother liked it or not.

“Do you see anything interesting?” asked Legolas.

“Nope,” said Willie. “Is that good or bad?”

“It can meant two things,” said the elf. “One; no one’s found us yet, which is a good thing. Two; we’re lost, which isn’t so good.” He shielded his eyes with his hand and peered out across the ocean. Was that land in the distance? He couldn’t be sure. It was so far away.

“The Cap’n said that if you get lost, you can go to World’s End, which is where my Papa is,” said Willie.

“He was there,” said Legolas “but he’s not there anymore. You see, I think he’s coming to look for you.”

“Do you think he’ll find us?” asked Willie.

“Of course he will,” said Legolas, ruffling the boy’s hair. “He’s Captain Will Turner. That has to mean something. So, where are we going?”

“Tortuga,” said Willie, brightening up. He grinned. “Uncle Jack-Jack’s told me all about it. He said that if every place in the world was like Tortuga, no man would ever be lonely. He was about to say more, but Mama got mad at him and he had to keep quiet. I tried to get the Cap’n to tell me more, but he said there were things that little boys weren’t supposed to know about.”

“You know what, Willie?” said Legolas. “I think I agree with Barbossa. But I guess you’ll find out anyway, once we get there.” Whatever awaited them there, the elf suspected that he was in for a rather not-so-educational lesson.

***

Tortuga could be smelled before it could be heard or seen. Legolas tried to find some reprieve from the stench. Jack had made it sound like Heaven. Of course the elf had suspected long before that Tortuga was nothing like Balian’s Paradise, but the resemblance to Hell was uncanny.

Drunken men lay in their own filth —or someone else’s— at the sides, and in the middle, of the road. Women of ill-repute lifted their petticoats in full view of the public, to the cheers of the drunken men who were still lucid enough to appreciate the lewdness of the spectacle. Elizabeth quickly steered Willie away.

“Ain’t seen nuthin’ like this before, ‘ave ya?” asked Gibbs gleefully, clapping Legolas on the shoulder. Inside, he was not feeling half as gleeful as he sounded. Tortuga was no longer the Tortuga of Jack’s memories. Something else had come here, tainting its pure pirate-ness. Legolas mutely shook his head. Men were such a diverse lot.

“Tortuga was established two hundred years ago by the pirates Morgan and Bartholomew —they’re the same fellas who set forth the Pirates’ Code— and it hasn’t changed to this day,” continued Gibbs. “Now, with the Empire takin’ over everythin’, Tortuga remains the last free port, a haven for every mother’s son who calls hisself a pirate. Any questions?”

“Yes,” said Legolas, who’d recovered somewhat by now. “When are we leaving?”

Gibbs seemed to be at a loss for words. He turned to Elizabeth, who smile apologetically at Legolas. “I...uh...thought it best if we stayed for a while,” she said. “As Mr. Gibbs said, this is a safe haven for pirates.”

A drunk sailor, who’d had a bottle broken on his head, fell into the muck at their feet. Gunshots rang out, and nearby, a fight had broken out, and men were trying to stab each other.

Legolas arched an eyebrow. “Safe?” he said.

“It’s shelter for us,” said Elizabeth defensively.

The elf snorted. “If this is shelter, then one wall and no roof make a house,” he said, quoting Sam.

“You exaggerate, Master Legolas,” said Elizabeth. “Tortuga is actually very safe, if you know what to do. Just keep a weather eye open for fellows with debatable trustworthiness.”

“That’s everyone here,” muttered Legolas as he followed Will’s wife into a rowdy tavern, where all the patrons were drunk and fighting.

“The Two Hornpipes,” said Gibbs. “The best tavern in all the Caribbean.” He looked down at Willie. “It’s here that I first met your Pa. Oh, he was an awkward kid. He stood out from a mile off, did young Will Turner. I had trouble believin’ he was ole Bootstrap’s boy.” He smiled as he remembered those days. “Ne’er would’ve thought he’d turn out to be the captain of the Dutchman, but that’s a Turner for you. He always does the thing that you least expect him to do.”

Willie took in everything around him with fascination. His father had been here. He was following his father’s footsteps. A thought suddenly came to him. “Did Cap’n Barbossa and Uncle Jack-Jack come here too?”

“Aye!” said Gibbs. He loved telling stories, whether they were true or false. “’Twas Jack who first brought your Pa here, an’ ole Jack loved the Two Hornpipes —said they had the best rum and salty wenches. Dunno ‘bout Barbossa though. He and I were never that close, considering what he’d done to Jack an’ ole Bootstrap."

“Mama, what are salty wenches?” Willie asked.

“William James Turner!” said Elizabeth, aghast at what her son was saying. She only heard the last two words over the din. “Wash your mouth out! I will not have not have you using such language!”

“But...”

“No buts. When you’re as old as Barbossa, you can speak as you please, but for now, you listen to me young man.”

Willie was utterly confused. It had been a simple question. Why was his mother so angry? He knew that it was best not to aggravate his mother further when she was in such a mood. She could be scarier than Captain Barbossa and his Uncle Jack-Jack when she wanted to be. ‘No wonder they made her Pirate King,’ he thought.

***

Tripoli was a city much like Jerusalem, save for the much smaller number of pilgrims. Flying from the ramparts were Richard’s standards; a rearing golden lion on a red background. They reminded everyone in the city about who was in charge. As per the plan, Imad set up a spice stall. Balian went to investigate, putting aside his honour to venture into all sorts of places, even a house of ill-repute. God must have been smiling down on him because there, he became acquainted with one of Sibylla’s guards, a man of loose morals, coincidentally called Jacques. Through drunken banter — acting on Balian’s part — the blacksmith discovered the Jacques was a Norman whose family was in England. Jacques was a younger son, and was rather bitter about the fact that he did not inherit the family estate when his father died. Balian bought him drinks and coaxed more information out of him.

Already, a plan was forming in Balian’s mind. It just seemed a little too dishonourable. Then again, if he was to save Sibylla and their son, he might just have to sacrifice honour, just this once.

***

In another part of the palace, a tall man with flaming red hair and a closely cropped ginger beard stretched himself out lazily on a couch. Richard, called Coeur de Lion, the king of England, sipped from a cup of cider with honey and cinnamon. The elusive defender of Jerusalem had been sighted, and in Tripoli of all places, in the company of a Saracen merchant. “No doubt he has come for his lover,” said Richard. “Men like this Balian are loyal and steadfast to the point of folly.”

“If you can get him on your side, Sire, he would be very useful,” said Gerard de Ridefort, Grand Master of the Templars.

“Indeed, he would be. At the moment he is an arrowhead in my side. Keep an eye on him, my lord of Ridefort. I want to know his every move.”

***

The next time he met with Jacques, Balian was ready with a little package of inconspicuous powder. It was a powerful drug which induced sleep, Imad had told him. When Jacques was too busy ogling a woman in a scanty tight dress to pay attention to Balian, he slipped the powder into Jacques’ drink. When Jacques succumbed to the drug, Balian half-dragged, half-carried him through the backstreets and alleyways to the house which Imad was renting. In the dim light, they looked like two drunks.

The unfortunate guard was bound, gagged and hidden, while Balian put on Jacques clothes. Now the only thing that would give him away was his sword. He’d done that on purpose. It was to allow Sibylla to recognize him.

He waited for the next shift of guards to go into the palace, and easily blended in. The helmet was very good at hiding men’s faces. Now he was inside the palace. It was nothing compared to the one in Jerusalem. It was much darker and shabbier, and it even smelt stale. He situated himself close to the inner chambers. Soon, he glimpsed Sibylla for the first time in almost three years. How she’d changed. There were dark shadows under her eyes, and her skin was sallow. Her cheeks were gaunt and sunken with worry. She was even frailer than she’d been before, if that was even possible. Behind her was a serving girl who held a small dark-haired child in her arms. The sight of the child brought a lump to Balian’s throat. Tears prickled the back of his eyes. There was no mistaking it. This was his son. His eyes were blue like his mother’s but everything else, from his dark curls to his bone structure, resembled Balian.

He bowed to the deposed queen. “Any orders from my lord Richard?” Sibylla asked sarcastically.

“The same as always, my lady,” replied Balian, trying to keep his voice neutral. He found it very difficult.

“Is that right?” she said. She still hadn’t recognized him. Fighting to keep his face indifferent, he discreetly touched the hilt of his sword, turning it a little so that she might see the ruby in the hilt and recognize him. The light reflecting off the polished metal caught her attention. She turned her eyes to the hilt of the sword, and her eyes stayed there, as if she was unable to believe what she was seeing. And then her gaze travelled upwards, to the face of the man who owned the sword. Balian put a gloved finger to his lips.

Sibylla began to rub her finger where there used to be a ring; the ring that she had bought on the day she had first seen Balian. She’d later given it to him as a token of her love. If this man truly was Balian, he would know the meaning of her gesture. The man looked around. Seeing that no one was paying any attention, he reached up to his neck and pulled out a small ring on a chain.

Sibylla quickly covered her mouth with her hand to keep herself from crying out with joy. She swallowed rapidly, and she could see tears shining in Balian’s eyes, as they were probably in her own. Her knight, despite everything including abandonment and his supposed death by drowning, was here to save her, their son; his family.

Her little boy started fussing. Sibylla hurriedly took him from her maid Youmna. Barisian was a sickly child, and small for his age. She blamed it on Richard, for she was so certain that if she and her son were not forever trapped in this place, he would be a much healthier little boy. “Barisian,” she murmured. “It’s all right. Everything will be fine, just fine, mon petit bonhomme.”

And that was how Balian learnt his son’s name.

***

“So he has infiltrated into the midst of my soldiers,” mused Richard when Ridefort’s spy reported back to him. “How very efficient. You can’t help but admire that man’s determination. Why, he behaves as if he is a knight in a tale.”

“Sire, I believe he will try and steal the queen out,” said Ridefort.

“Well, we can’t let him succeed, can we? What worries me the most are Sibylla’s visits to the Cathedral each Sunday. If Ibelin wants to steal her out, that is the best time to do it.”

Richard smiled, fingering his sword. He relished in the feel of its weight, and the elation as it cut through his enemies. “In fact, Gerard, I would very much like to meet this Balian of Ibelin. He sounds like quite a character. I wonder if he really as impressive as they say, or if he will, like everyone else, fall to my sword.”

***

Grass. In all his travels, Jack had never seen so much grass. The stuff grew everywhere in Middle Earth. If it wasn’t grass then it was trees. Or bushes. Greenery. Unfortunately, one could not make rum out of such things.

“We’ll be at Rivendell soon,” said Merry. Will looked even worse. The pain had prevented him from resting properly, and there were dark shadows under his eyes. His skin gleamed dully with cold sweat. “A pity Lord Elrond has left for Valinor, He would’ve been able to help.”

“You jes hang in there, Whelp,” said Jack quietly to Will. “We’ll get you to this Ara-something-rather-what’s-his-name. Pippin talks about him as if he’s the god of healing.”

Will nodded, touched by Jack’s concern. He’d always known that the pirate cared, but very rarely did Jack show it. “You think very highly of Pippin, don’t you?” he asked.

“Little hobbit has good judgement,” said Jack with a shrug. “Better than yours anyway. Now, you hold on for the Whelplet and your charming murderess.”

“Jack, my son and wife have names,” said Will with a wan smile.

“Whatever,” said Jack, rolling his eyes.

Merry led them into a lush valley. As they travelled further into it, the air seemed to become more wholesome. It refreshed them and even Will’s tight features relaxed. “The magic of elves,” whispered Paris to no one in particular. He could feel it in his bones, like some nameless tune resonating through his entire being.

The light mellowed so that everything seemed golden. “It’s so beautiful,” breathed Helen in awe.

“This place is sacred,” said Briseis. “I can feel it. The gods live here.”

“I don’t know about your gods,” said Merry “but elves live here.”

“And my dear, by saying that the gods live here, you are implying that Legolas is a god,” said Achilles playfully. Briseis leaned over and slapped him on the arm.

Elrond’s house came into sight, a haven nestled close against protective mountains. A waterfall cascaded down into the river below, sending up a fine spray of water droplets which sparkled like a thousand diamonds. The light refracting through the water created a rainbow.

“This must be as beautiful as the top of Mount Olympus,” said Briseis.

“Nay,” said Paris. “I think this surpasses even Zeus’ palace. I for one have decided that I like elves more than I like the gods.”

“That is hubris, Paris. The gods will punish you.”

“As if they care. Legolas has done more for us than the gods have done in hundreds of years, dear cousin. It was not Apollo who saved me but one elf and a lot of men.”

“Well, it’s an eye opener. There’s no mistaking that,” drawled Barbossa. Jack the monkey chirped in agreement.

“I wonder where they keep the shiny things?” whispered Pintel to Ragetti.

An elven sentry stepped into their path, with his bow drawn. “Who goes there?” he asked. “What is your business in Imladris?” Merry knew that there were many more elves remaining hidden, with their arrows trained on the strangers.

“My name is Meriadoc Brandybuck,” he began. “I am...”

“A hero of the War,” someone else finished for him. The speaker had a decidedly elvish accent. “Welcome back to Rivendell, Merry, Pippin.”

“Hullo, Lord Elladan,” said Pippin brightly.

“Actually, it’s Elrohir,” said the dark-haired elf.

“Sorry,” said Pippin. “My bad.”

“No offence taken, Master Took,” said Elrohir. “Who are all these people?”

“These are Legolas and Balian’s friends,” said Merry. “You have heard of Balian, haven’t you?”

“I have, and his name is all I know,” said Elrohir. “That, and the story of him head butting an orc with a helmet. Legolas...I know him, all right. Partners in crime, we were. He is always befriending people of every denomination, so I really should have ceased being surprised a long time ago. King Thranduil was incensed when he heard that Legolas had named the dwarf Gimli elf-friend.”

“Yes, yes,” interrupted Jack. “That’s very nice and all but the Whelp here needs medical attention, savvy?”

Elrohir looked at Jack, and his expression became rather strained —one of incredulity, curiosity and utter confusion. He raised his eyebrow as regally as he could. Somehow, he’d never managed to perfect that motion the way Legolas had done. This rude outlandish stranger had the oddest looking array of clothes he’d ever seen. Was it tribal war paint around his eyes? Elrohir would’ve liked to say that he was a haradrim, but he didn’t exactly resemble a haradrim anymore than he resembled a Numenorean.

“Erm...” began Merry “this is Jack...”

Captain!”

Captain Jack Sparrow. This here is Captain Barbossa, and Captain Will Turner.” One by one, Merry introduced the strangers until Elrohir’s head was reeling with long foreign names. He welcomed them dutifully, wondering how his father would’ve reacted. He could only gape at Will Turner and the one called Paris, for they looked the way Legolas would if the prince of Greenwood the Great had been dunked in brown dye.

“Your house is beautiful, Lord Elrohir,” said Paris, bowing formally as only a prince knew how. Merry heaved an inner sigh of relief. At least one person knew how to behave appropriately in such situations. “On behalf of my companions, I thank you for your hospitality.”

“You look so much like Legolas, it’s unnatural,” Elrohir blurted out before he could stop himself.

“Surprising isn’t it?” said Pippin. “Maybe we should explain, but later though. I’m starving.”

“The kitchens are at your disposal, Master Took,” said Elrohir. He thanked the Valar that Rivendell was well-stocked enough to last through a three month siege. At this rate, he wouldn’t have to worry about running out of food for at least four weeks.

***

A/N: So at last we meet Richard. Paris, Will and company meet some more elves other than Legolas. Legolas in Tortuga... What a mess
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Old May 8th, 2008, 10:06 AM
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He was about to say more, but Mama got mad at him and he had to keep quiet. I tried to get the Cap’n to tell me more, but he said there were things that little boys weren’t supposed to know about.”
heee. I am enjoying reading this Telcontar, the interplay between the characters is great. I really am struggling to imagine legolas in Tortuga but am willing to be persuaded.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 10:11 AM
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More....I will get caught up soon I promise but wanted to say that I am glad that you have kept on with this. Legolas in Tortuga does sound rather intriguing...
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Old May 9th, 2008, 10:04 AM
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Caught up....love the dialogue as usual. I laugh out loud at times, you catch Jack so well and Elizabeth is fantastic..salty wenches...snicker!!

Another very carefully woven tale that I am really enjoying. Looking forward to the next bit
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Old May 16th, 2008, 10:55 AM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth


Warning: Violence in this chapter


Disclaimer: I don’t own Balian, Imad, Legolas, Aragorn, Will, Jack, Paris, Achilles, Merry, Pippin... you get the idea. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of returning them, savvy?

Chapter 6: Betrayal, Scheming and Ambushes.

Gibbs was feeling uncomfortable, for the first time, in Tortuga. He’d lied to the ‘elf’. Tortuga was no longer a haven for pirates. Unknown to Elizabeth, the East India Trading Company had ships anchored just off-shore. They had been there for a while now, awaiting his signal. Jack’s former first mate sighed. It wasn’t as if he’d chosen to betray Elizabeth and Willie Turner. Jonathan Beckett had left him with no choice. It was either Elizabeth, or Marty and Anna-Maria. Willie was out of the equation, since Beckett didn’t know about the child. Thank the deities for small mercies.

He paid for the fireworks.

***

The noise of the Two Hornpipes was giving Legolas a headache. Never in his long life had he seen or heard such rowdiness. Secretly, he was grateful that Balian was not here, even though he might just be useful. The uptight man would’ve had a seizure if he could see such immorality. Elizabeth was asking about the availability of rooms. Willie stayed close to Legolas. “Blimey, I ain’t never seen anythin’ like this,” he said in awe, forgetting all the grammar lessons that Elizabeth had given him in the hopes that he would not grow up sounding like Jack Sparrow or Hector Barbossa.

“I have never seen anything like this,” corrected Legolas. “Double negatives cancel each other out, and ‘ain’t’ is not a word. Your father would have a fit if he heard you talking like Jack.” Personally, Legolas had no idea if Will cared about grammatical correctness at all, but incorrect usage of language irked the elf. Besides, it was probably a good idea to teach the boy how to talk properly.

“Oh, shut it, will you?” said Willie absently, sounding like a shrunken version of Jack Sparrow.

Elizabeth whipped around. “William James Turner!” she said. “Apologize at once! Your father would be ashamed of you!” She turned to Legolas. “By the bloody locker, I think Jack and Barbossa have been influencing him too much.”

Legolas felt inclined to agree. “I think he needs a proper fatherly presence, that’s all.”

“Don’t I know it,” said Elizabeth, rolling her eyes. She took Willie’s hand. “Come on, Mister. Let’s get you to bed. It is far too late for little men to be up. I managed to get us a room with three beds. Someone will have to share, or sleep on the floor, I’m afraid.”

“You could share with Legolas, Mama,” suggested Willie innocently.

“Willie!” said both adults, aghast.

“What? Adults sleep in the same bed, don’t they? And Mr. Gibbs is too old and fat to share with anyone.”

“Willie, I think you’ve done quite enough talking for one day,” said Elizabeth. Her face was abnormally flushed. Legolas’ was the same.

***

The sound of screams and gunshots woke Elizabeth. She sat up, her hand flying to the handle of her sword. With her other hand, she fumbled for her gun. “What’s happening?” she demanded.

“I’m not sure,” said Legolas. He seemed to glow in the darkness, although that could be attributed to the orange of the fires outside. “But, Elizabeth, I must say that Tortuga doesn’t seem to be the safe haven you thought it was. We’re under attack.”

Elizabeth peered out the window. “Redcoats,” she said, in the same tone that Legolas would use to declare the presence of orcs. “Beckett’s here. Get Willie and Mr. Gibbs. We’re leaving.” She hoisted the Dead Man’s Chest into her arms.

Legolas quickly shook Willie awake. “Stay close to me,” he told Will’s wife and son.

“Where’s Mr. Gibbs?” asked Willie. Just then, the door burst open.

“She’s here!” shouted Gibbs. Redcoats poured into the room, surrounding the trio. At their lead was a man who just reached Legolas’ chin, although his pompous air belonged to someone of a much greater stature.

“Miss Swann,” he said in a falsely genial tone. “At last, we meet. I have heard so much about you.”

Instinctively, Legolas put himself in front of Elizabeth and Willie.

“Who on earth are you?” demanded the short man with a frown.

“No one,” said Elizabeth. “He’s a distant cousin of my aunt’s nephew, twice removed. He and his son are just visiting.” She touched Willie deliberately on the shoulder.

Legolas glanced at back Elizabeth with alarm. What was she playing at? He saw the desperation in her eyes, and he knew that she was asking him to take care of her son. He nodded slightly and turned back to the enemy. Many long guns, with blades attached to their muzzles, were pointed at the trio.

“That is most unfortunate then,” said Beckett with a smirk. “They are standing in between you and me.”

“Leave them out of this, Beckett,” snarled Elizabeth. She pushed in front of Legolas and as she did so, conveniently dumped the chest in his arms. The Pirate King pulled out two guns —big ones— and pointed them at Beckett.

“How valiant of you,” said Jonathan Beckett. He was not the least bit intimidated. “As you can see, as soon as you shoot me, all of you will be dead before you can say ‘pirate’. I’ll strike a deal with you. You come with me quietly, and I’ll leave them alone. How does that sound?”

Elizabeth thought for a moment. How she longed for Will, to be safe in his arms. But if she resisted, they would all die. She put her guns down on the floor. “Done,” she said.

“What?” said Legolas. “Not done!”

“I said done!” With that, she stepped right in front of Beckett and held out her wrists to have irons clapped on them. Not once did she turn back. The redcoats filed out of the door, leaving behind Legolas, Gibbs, and a very shocked Willie.

“No!” he cried. “Ma—” He was cut off as Gibbs clapped a hand over his mouth.

“Quiet, Willie,” hissed the old fat pirate. “You don’t want them to get you too.” Legolas flew into action. For a second time, he had his arm around Gibbs’ throat and was pointing a gun to his temple.

“I believe you owe us an explanation, Master Gibbs,” he hissed.

“No, don’t shoot me,” wheezed Gibbs. The elf’s grip was strong, and his breath was being cut off.

“Give me a good reason not to,” said Legolas through gritted teeth.

“I had no choice!” choked Gibbs.

“No choice?”

“They made me do it!”

“A king may move a man, but the soul belongs to the man,” said Legolas coldly, quoting Balian.

“I couldn’t watch them hang Marty and Anna-Maria.”

“So you’d rather watch Elizabeth hang with them?!”

“What...?” Legolas released Gibbs. The man gasped for breath.

“Look, I don’t care why you betrayed us,” said Legolas. “I’m giving you two choices, and you’d better make the right one this time. You can come with me and rescue Elizabeth, or you could not come with me, and I shoot you right now. Which is it?”

“I’m going to save Mama!” said Willie stubbornly. “You’re not going without me!”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, mellon-nin,” said Legolas. “Mr. Gibbs?”

“I’m with ye, lad,” said Gibbs, rubbing his sore neck. “You sound like Cap’n Turner.”

“Right,” said Legolas, picking up the Dead Man’s Chest. He’d dropped it when he’d attacked Gibbs. “Where are they going to take her?”

“Port Royal’s the closest decent port ‘round these parts. They’ve got gallows, and that’s where they’re keeping Marty and Anna-Maria.”

“To Port Royal it is then, and it had better be the right place. If I find that you’ve tricked me again...” the elf’s eyes gleamed menacingly.

“I won’t be trickin’ you again, Cap’n,” said Gibbs. In his mind, the authoritative elf automatically changed from ‘lad’ to Captain. “You’re more fiery than the damned Dutchman’s cannons.”

***

Sibylla couldn’t believe what she was seeing. He was supposed to be dead and yet, here was Balian, her Perfect Knight, in disguise and trying to tell her something without alerting the guards. Balian looked very pointedly at both her and the boy, and then jerked his head in the direction of the gardens. He wanted her to take their son out for a walk, with him acting as their escort.

“I’m sick of being cooped up here all day,” she declared. “Come, Youmna, we’re going outside for some air.” She handed Barisian to her maid without another glance at Balian and wrapped a silken shawl around her shoulders. She walked out, knowing that Balian would be following. The other guards ignored her, seeing as she already had an escort.

Balian was careful not to act differently from the other guards. He kept himself a few paces behind Sibylla and Youmna, until they were in the gardens and out of the other men’s line of sight. The blacksmith sent a swift prayer of thanks to God for the dense trees which hid them.

Sibylla finally stopped, and turned around to face him. “Balian...” she breathed. Within moments, he had swept her into his arms and she was crying into his shoulder. “I’m so sorry...” she whispered.

“Don’t be,” said Balian. “I’m the one who should be apologizing. I should have been here to protect you...you and our son.” He removed his helmet and dropped it, revealing a head of long tousled dark curls, so similar to little Barisian’s. Sibylla took the little boy from Youmna and handed him to his father. For the first time, Balian was holding his child, his own flesh and blood, warm and pulsing in his arms. Emotion clogged up his throat and blurred his vision. He could speak. He blinked, and a tear of joy and intense love slipped down his cheek. Moisture clung to his eyelashes like tiny diamonds. He grinned — an expression of untold delight.

Barisian, however, was not so enthusiastic. Who was this man? He wanted his mother. The child reached out with a tiny hand which resembled a starfish. He started making little distress calls as only very small children could make them.

“Oh, Barisian,” said Sibylla, taking him back from Balian. “That’s your father. He is a very good man; the best man.” The little boy stared at Balian with large blue eyes, not sure of what to make of him. She turned to her knight. “I wish you could’ve seen him when he was a baby.”

“He is still a baby, isn’t he?” said Balian.

“I meant a really little baby.”

“He’s still a really little baby to me.” He pulled Sibylla up against him and held his tiny family close. “We’re together again. That’s all that matters.” He glanced down at the two of them. “I’ve come to help you escape, but Richard guards you like a hawk. Is there any time when you are allowed out of the palace grounds?”

Sibylla thought for a while. “Sunday,” she said. “I’m allowed to go an attend mass at the Cathedral.”

“When you return from the Cathedral, take your time, and say you want to look at the wares on the streets, or something,” said Balian. “Richard cannot deny you that, surely.”

“What have you planned?”

“At the moment, nothing, but from my experience, it is at times such as those that it is easiest to make an escape.” He gripped her shoulders and looked her in the eye. “Wait for me, Sibylla. There is still too much that I don’t know. I swear, I will get both you and our son out of this godforsaken place. I’ll find a way to get us back to France, and we’ll never have to see war or politics ever again.”

“Of course I’ll wait for you, my Perfect Knight.”

***

Balian found Imad pretending to be an apothecary. “We strike on Sunday,” said Balian to his Muslim friend “when she’s going back to the palace from the Cathedral. I need to know where it is best to strike.”

“Come with me,” said Imad. “Yusuf, my spy, knows all the alleyways and backstreets of Tripoli. He’d drawn some wonderful maps.”

“What about the shop?” asked Balian. “If you and I go and look at maps, a thief can come and steal everything, and we’d be none the wiser. That doesn’t do much for your disguise.”

“We close the shop,” said Imad. “You Franks have something called a siesta, no?”

“Only in summer,” said Balian “and not where I come from.”

“It is always summer in Tripoli. Besides, Yusuf is next door. He’s a physician.”

***

The place was decided upon. Imad and Yusuf would be waiting in an alleyway close to the Cathedral. Balian, of course, would be in Sibylla’s entourage, as close to her and Barisian as possible. When they passed the alley, Balian would take his family directly into the alleyway and Imad intended to lead them out by the secret tunnel which only spies and smugglers knew about. Balian told Sibylla about the plan, and she agreed.

“You only get one chance, Balian,” said Imad. “If you fail, we’re all dead.”

Balian nodded. His muscles were tense. He was doing this for Sibylla and his little son. “Allah huba’ana,” murmured Yusuf. May God be with us.

***

Although Rivendell was beautiful with a soothing atmosphere, Will could not find it in himself to enjoy it. The pain and discomfort of his ‘illness’ overwhelmed his senses. Sometimes he couldn’t even eat, for the pain made his stomach purge itself of all its contents. There was always someone with him. More often than not, it was either Jack or Paris. Barbossa and Achilles also volunteered to help, the former feeling like he owed it to Elizabeth and little Willie. If he hadn’t been feeling so bad, Will would’ve laughed at the sight of these antagonistic people cooperating for his sake. He supposed they had fought —and lost— a war together, although Achilles had been on the winning side before he changed allegiances.

“It’s no good,” said Elrohir —or it could’ve been Elladan. “I would that my father was still in Middle Earth, but he passed through the Grey Havens a month before. We must get Will to Gondor. The hands of a king are the hands of a healer, and that is particularly true of Estel.”

“Can he make it to Gondor?’ asked Paris. The young pirate looked like a macabre spectre of his former self. He’d lost weight, and his colour was greyish in tone.

“He’ll have to,” said the half-elf.

***

Will, Paris and the rest of the rabble of pirates, Greeks and Trojans stayed in Rivendell for a grand total of three days, mainly to let Will rest and recuperate a little before continuing on to Rohan. “We’ll have to miss Lothlorien, I’m afraid,” said Merry. “With Lady Galadriel gone, the magic of the Golden Woods is fading.”

“I wish I could’ve had a chance to glimpse the Lady,” said Paris with a sigh. “Both Balian and Legolas spoke highly of her. Besides, she would’ve been able to help Will.”

“Who is this lady?” asked Achilles as he clumsily tightened the girth on his horse. “If Legolas speaks well of her then she must be mighty indeed.”

“She is,” said Merry. “One of the greatest elves Middle Earth has ever seen. Frodo and Balian are the only people I know who’ve been allowed to look into her mirror. They wouldn’t tell us what they saw, but I doubt it was their own reflections.”

“Balian talked about it,” said Paris. “He said he saw Hector and Troy, and the Wooden Horse, and Captain Barbossa’s ship...”

“Oi!” said Jack. “She’s my ship.”

“She was your ship,” drawled Barbossa.

“Right, so you can see the future in this magic mirror,” said Achilles.

“I guess so,” said Merry.

“I wonder how much it’s worth,” Ragetti whispered to Pintel. The other pirate shrugged.

“Must be worth quite a bit, seein’ as it’s magic an all,” said the fat pirate.

“Best not to play with it then,” said Achilles. “I don’t trust things that have minds of their own.”

“You are boring,” said Jack. Achilles glowered at him but did not further pursue the argument. After all, Jack had not accused him of being a eunuch...yet.

***

He was hungry, very hungry. There’d not been much food except for the occasional scrawny rodent. He wanted fresh meat; tender man flesh with its hot salty blood. Urgakh opened one eye and glanced out of the cave. The sun was setting, at last. Ever since the fall of Mordor, the remaining orcs had not fared well, even though now, there were rumours that the Dark Lord’s old minions were gathering in the East, under a new power.

The orc sniffed the air. There, he could smell it. It was only a faint whiff, but it was there nonetheless. “Wake up, scum,” he hissed to his fellow orcs. “Man-flesh. Tonight, we feast.”

***

The darkness closed in around them as they sat around a small crackling campfire. Something was not quite right. Barbossa could feel it. There was a cold spot between his shoulder blades where he expected to feel a knife any moment. He whipped around and saw Achilles slowly polishing his sword. The tawny warrior’s eyes were narrowed, as if he too suspected something. They weren’t the only ones.

“There’s something out there,” said Paris. His hand went to the bow which the lords of Rivendell had given him.

“What?” whispered Pippin, edging closer to the fire and to Merry.

“I don’t know,” said Paris, putting an arrow to his bow. “Be on your guard. Take Will to the centre. Helen, Briseis, you go to the centre too. Jack, Achilles, you stay close to them. I’m putting you in charge of their safety. The rest of you, encircle them, and face away from the fire. Merry, Pippin, stay close to Barbossa. Ragetti and Pintel, get away from the fire and take your positions.”

“Who died and made him boss?” grumbled Pintel as they all did as they were told.

“His brother, Prince Hector, I fink,” said Ragetti.

“I don’t want no one shootin’ me in the chest,” said Pintel.

“Will you two shut it?’ hissed Jack. “It’s a secret operation.”

“It’s a wot?” asked Ragetti. No one answered him. Paris wished more than anything that Legolas was with them now, or that he didn’t have to be the leader.

Briseis’ hand moved to the short sword she’d taken from Rivendell. ‘Borrowed,’ she thought. ‘Borrowed without permission.’ She was not going to let anyone capture her as Eudoras had done. Achilles glanced back at her and nodded slightly. She gave him a small smile. The warrior turned back to the darkness. He itched to be on the frontline. Why was he, Achilles of the Myrmidon, being assigned as Will’s nurse? He felt that it would be better if he and Paris changed positions.

Helen kept her gaze fixed on Paris. He’d changed so much since Hector’s death. She could see his brother’s shadow on him. ‘Gods, protect us,’ she prayed. She’d never been in an ambush before. Menelaus had made it sound like the most exciting thing that could ever happen to anyone, but she knew better than to trust his judgement.

Jack, Barbossa, Will and Achilles had their swords drawn, even though Will was swaying slightly on his feet. “Sit down!” Barbossa hissed at him. “It won’t be doin’ us any good if you get yourself killed, Captain Turner.”

“Let us do the fighting, eh, Whelp?”

“We’re a team, Jack Sparrow, Barbossa,” said Will, determined to do his part. Just because his heart was missing didn’t mean that he was totally helpless, not in his opinion anyway.

“It’s Cap—” Before Jack could finish, he almost got skewered by a thrown spear. “Bloody spear-chuckers!” he cried.

“Orcs!” shouted Merry and Pippin.

Achilles didn’t know what orcs were and he didn’t care to ask. All he knew was that they were under attack. No one attacked Achilles and got away with it, maybe with the exception of Briseis. He blocked a blow and with a circular move, disarmed and decapitated his attacker. Foul thick black blood spurted onto him. He had no time to be disgusted. The orcs, whatever they were, were coming like a flood of black seething bodies, or so it seemed. The lack of light made it difficult to see properly.

Paris was barely managing to fend off his attackers. He, Merry and Pippin worked as a team, guarding each others’ backs.

“I’ll nail yer gizzards to the mast you poxy curs!” roared Barbossa. “Come ‘ere! Come to the Captain!”

“Hey, they isn’t undead,” said Pintel as he stabbed one of the black monsters with his sword. It fell dead at his feet.

“It don’t matter, do it?” demanded Ragetti. “There are too many.”

“I says it matters,” said Pintel. “If they’re not undead, then they can be killed. The more you kill, the less there are.”

“Oh shut it!” said Jack, shoving an orc into the fire and then dousing it with his precious elven liquor. The dark creature burst into flames and ran screaming back to his companions, creating even more chaos. Helen screamed and lashed out wildly when a dark leathery hand with yellowed fingernails grabbed her arm. Jack immediately lunged in to rescue her and cut off the offending hand from the offending orc. “It’s rude to grab,” he told his enemy.

Another orc snatched the half-empty flask of liquor from his hand. “Bugger!” cried Jack. It wasn’t rum, but something alcoholic was better than nothing at all. He picked up a fiery brand and lobbed it at the orc. The burning wood hit the flask, smashing it and then setting the liquid contents ablaze. The orc screamed as burning alcohol landed on his skin. “That’ll teach you to rob Ole Jack of his drink.” He forgot about drinks when he heard Will cry out in pain. An orc had run him through the belly. Still being decidedly undead, the wound was not fatal, but it definitely hurt.

“Forward, scum!” shouted Urgakh. His voice was cut off when Jack the monkey launched himself at the orc’s face and tried his best to smother him. Paris saw his chance.

“Watch my back!” he shouted to Merry and Pippin as he aimed an arrow at Urgakh. The arrow pierced the orc’s chest, just slightly left of the centre. He fell with a gurgle, and Jack the monkey leapt off unscathed.

“Thank you, Jack,” said Paris.

“You’re welcome,” said Jack the pirate, who was busy helping Will.

The other orcs saw their leader fall. None of them wanted to be the next one to die. They sneaked back to their cave. Hopefully next time, there would be some less prickly prey.

Will collapsed to the ground. There was a sword stuck in him. “Ow,” muttered Pippin.

“He should be dead,” said Achilles.

“Technically, he’s not alive, so he can’t die,” explained Jack. “Not yet anyway.”

“We’ll have to remove the sword,” said Paris. “He can’t travel like this.”

“Oh, right, I didn’t know that,” said Jack sarcastically. “But how do you remove it without hurting him? That’s the question.”

“Just do it,” said Will through gritted teeth. “We need to get to Gondor. Those things might return.”

“All right, Whelp. Hold tight,” said Jack, pressing down his young friend. “Barbossa, you do the pullin’.”

Will arched his back and screamed in pain as Barbossa extracted the sword with an utter lack of expertise. Blood oozed out from the wound, even as the wound began to slowly close.

“Now that is one handy trick,” said Jack. “Well done, Whelp. I suppose you’ll have something to tell your bonnie lass when you next see her.”

“It’s just the remnants of the curse,” whispered Will hoarsely. “Soon, it won’t help.”

***

Nuit, Legolas in Tortuga was just a bit of fun I hope I was able to conjure up interesting images.

Thanks, Kiwi. Writing Elizabeth and Legolas together was fun. The salty wench issue will crop up again somewhere in the future
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Old May 16th, 2008, 11:13 AM
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KiwiGirl KiwiGirl is offline
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Fantastic chapter. You have their voices perfectly, can see them and hear them speaking in my head.

I am really enjoying this, the dialogue is just fantastic and the action sequences balance it perfectly. Pace, tension and humour. Wonderful writing
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Old May 18th, 2008, 07:49 PM
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*cheers* ya ya ! a new chapter* grins and twirls* I am seriously loving this and am waiting patiently for Beckett to get his.. ( preferbly through Will) can't wait for the next chapter!
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Old May 18th, 2008, 08:56 PM
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Nuit, Legolas in Tortuga was just a bit of fun I hope I was able to conjure up interesting images.
hhaah always...it is a challenge and also a thing not to get too hung up about i always think, putting these characters in odd places. A test of writing skill and a sense of fun- and you have both, is well done!
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 01:26 PM
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Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth


Warning: Violence in this chapter

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the characters. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of returning them, savvy?

Chapter 7: Gallant Rescues and More Confusion

Port Royal. It had been her home for so many years and now, she was going to die there. Civilians lined the streets to watch the Pirate King, under heavy guard, being escorted to the courthouse for a brief trial which was to be more of a show than a real trial where she would be undoubtedly sentenced to hang. Jack had been so lucky. Will had been there to save him. She wished she could see her dear husband one last time, but as fate would have it, they were soon to be forever sundered, he, somewhere alive and she, in the world of the dead. She wondered what it was like. Yes, she’d seen World’s End but no doubt purgatory was not the endless ocean where those who died at sea went.

They passed Will’s old abode and she caught a glimpse of the boarded up blacksmith’s shop. In her mind, she could see Will, with sweat gleaming on his brow, hammering on a piece of hot metal to shape it into something elegant; a sword perhaps. It was a sweet image. “I’m sorry Will,” she whispered. “I meant to wait for you.”

Will would take care of their son, when the two of them finally met; of that she was certain. And he’d get his heart back. She trusted Legolas.

She was shoved into a dark cell with dirty straw lining the floor. The door was closed and the lock clicked into place. They left her alone to be with her thoughts and bittersweet memories.

————

From the distance, Port Royal seemed like a harmless sleepy little place, with quaint looking houses and a not-so-menacing port. Through Willie’s spyglass, Legolas could see men setting up the gallows. Three nooses. It seemed that Gibbs had been wrong and Legolas had been right. That aristocrat Beckett had no intention of letting any pirate live. As far as he was concerned, any deal made with a less-than-honourable pirate was as good as no deal. His deal with Elizabeth had been different. Elizabeth was of aristocratic blood. It was strange how the mindsets of men worked.

“Mr. Gibbs,” said Legolas. “I think you’re in for a spot of trouble.”

“Why d’ya say that, Cap’n?” asked Gibbs. This elf had a certain quality about him which made men hasten to obey him.

“Your friend Beckett has no intention of honouring your deal.”

“Whaddya mean?”

Legolas sighed and lowered the spyglass. Gibbs was definitely not the brightest man he’d ever met. He trained weary eyes on the old fat pirate. “In simpler terms, he lied to you.”

“But...but...the code...honour.”

“You’re a pirate; you have no honour. Take all you can—give nothing back. And since when did your authorities make deals with pirates?”

“How are we going to save Mama?” demanded Willie, getting more and more desperate. It sounded serious.

“Simple,” answered Legolas. “The same way your father saved Jack, but with a dash of style and my own personal secret ingredient.”

“What’s that?” asked Gibbs.

“Chaos.” Without further explanation, Legolas jumped into the water. He had a favour to ask of Hector.

————

The day of the hanging arrived. Crowds gathered on the fort. Poets sold ballads about the Pirate King and her lawless adventures on the high seas. Others, less educated, sold snacks. It wasn’t hard for a disguised Legolas to infiltrate into the midst of the common people of Port Royal. They were all too excited to notice this suspicious stranger. Willie, along with the not-so-courageous Gibbs, had been left in the boat. The other two didn’t know it, but Legolas had an unseen ally.

Hector Assaracus, the new Captain of the Flying Dutchman — he knew everything that went on in the seas, and he’d promised to watch Willie and Gibbs for as long as Legolas needed. If Gibbs tried anything that might harm Willie, Hector would be there.

Elizabeth was surprised to see three nooses dangling menacingly from the gallows instead of one. Who were these other unfortunates?

“Stop pushing me, you poxy cur!” came a woman’s voice with a familiar Haitian accent.

“Anna-Maria!” said Elizabeth. “What are you doing here?” All right. So that was a stupid question. It was obvious why Anna-Maria was here. ‘How’ would’ve been a more appropriate thing to ask.

“No talking, prisoners!” shouted the guard, giving Elizabeth a shove. She stumbled forward and then shook him off, glaring at him.

“Get your filthy hands off me, soldier,” she said coldly. “I am of the peerage, and you will always be only a cur to me.” She stuck her chin in the air and put on all the arrogance befitting of a governor’s daughter. She looked braver than she felt, but Beckett would not get the satisfaction of seeing her courage fail. If she was to die, she would at least die with dignity. Elizabeth stepped onto the wooden platform, not allowing her fear to show.

The hangman slipped the noose over her head and tightened it. Then he moved onto the other two. Marty, the other unfortunate, had to stand on a barrel in order to reach the noose. They’d all accepted it, even if they weren’t ready. The hangman got ready to pull the lever which would open the trapdoors beneath their feet, but he never got the chance. A gunshot rang out, hitting the big man in the chest. He fell with a gurgle. At the same time, a silver blur flew out of nowhere; it was an elegant little knife. Its sharp edge cut the nooses free. More gunshots rang out. Elizabeth recognized the sound of her favourite guns. Whoever the shooter was, he was good. Not a single shot missed. The redcoats looked around fearfully. The shots were coming so rapidly that they were certain there was more than one gunman. People scattered, screaming and trampling one another in their haste to escape the rampage, thus increasing the severity of the situation.

From the boat, Willie peered through his spyglass, and then dropped it frantically. “Mr. Gibbs!” he cried. “We gotta do somethin’. They’re gonna kill her! Bring the boat closer!”

“Now, lad, I don’t know for sure if it be a good idea...”

“She’s me ma!” Without waiting for Gibbs to take action, Willie took over the steering. Thank goodness Captain Barbossa had taught him something. “Hoist the colours, men!” he cried. “They will hear the roar of our swords and the ring of our guns and they will know what we can do!”

“I’m pretty sure you got it all wrong, but by the locker, there’s no mistakin’ your parentage, my boy!” said Gibbs. Adrenaline coursed through his veins. He was a pirate, and it wasn’t fitting for a pirate to die except by flashing guns.

“Why won’t little boys and old men ever listen to instructions?” said Hector out loud to his crew. From beneath the waves, he could see everything. Will’s boy and Jack’s former first mate were going to get themselves killed.

“I know you’re not supposed to interfere, Cap’n,” said Bootstrap “but I’m going to save me grandson, whether you like it or not.”

“Not just save him,” said Hector. “We’re going to help him get his mother back. To the surface!”

————

The domed roof of the Cathedral was covered in reliefs of flowers and fruits and chubby cherubs. Balian wondered what Michael would think of this interpretation. The archangel was anything but chubby. He turned his attention to the tapestries and paintings. All the saints and angels seemed to be blonde. Now, Balian only knew one saint and one angel personally, but neither of them was blonde. The dome magnified the droning of the bishop. After the magnificence of Moria and Minas Tirith, the Cathedral was an inferior structure. It made Balian feel strange to be here, listening to prayers in Latin. It had been years since he’d been inside a church.

Sibylla was in front of him, with a shawl covering her hair piously. In Youmna’s arms, Barisian was beginning to fuss. He was bored. He made strange noises, as only babies could. “Down,” he demanded, utilizing his very limited vocabulary. “Me down.” His little face was growing red as he got ready to bawl. How Balian longed to play with him and hold him in his arms, maybe even sing a few songs to his baby boy.

He could see Richard in the very front row. It was impossible not to. The king of England had a head of hair the colour of flames, and it had been carefully styled and oiled. He was also taller than everyone else by half a head. Decked out in luscious gold and purple silks, he looked like some sort of big exotic bird. Perhaps a dyed peacock.

‘Achilles would’ve liked to fight him,’ thought Balian. He wondered where the others were. For certain they would’ve been able to help him in this. If Will walked through a wall, all the Christians would be terrified out of their wits. And Jack was rather good at —unintentional— diversions.

The blacksmith snapped out of his daydream and brought his mind back to the present. He couldn’t afford to dream. The bishop was now raising the host, all the time praying to God to accept this sacrifice and forgive their sins.

‘God, help me,’ Balian thought. Surely God would not be so cruel to offer him another chance of having a family and then rip them away from him again.

————

It took all of Sibylla’s willpower to stop herself from glancing back at Balian. Every few moments, she felt the need to convince herself that he really was here to rescue her and Little Barisian from imprisonment. It felt like a dream. The bishop’s sermon made little impact on her. In fact, she did not hear a single word of it. All her attention was focused on trying to stop Barisian from squirming and on the prospect of sailing to France with Balian.

Mass seemed to drag on for longer than usual. ‘God,’ Sibylla prayed ‘protect us.’ She kissed her little son to calm him down.

“Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” the bishop finally intoned. The deposed queen felt her excitement building. This was their chance for freedom.

People began to file out of the Cathedral, murmuring amongst themselves as they did so. The huge domed roof magnified their voices. Richard was amongst one of the first to leave. “We should go, milady,” said voice close to her ear. It sent a delightful shiver up her spine. The rough accent of one accustomed to speaking the Langue d’Oïl contrasted with and yet suited the beautiful soft and slightly husky voice.

“Indeed,” said Sibylla, feigning aloofness. “I wish to look at the wares at the market before returning to the palace.”

“As you wish, milady,” he said.

‘Since when did Balian adopt the mannerisms of a courtier?’ she wondered as she followed the other people out of the sacred building. She had to admit, it was quite charming when he did that but she preferred the blunt unforgiving honesty of her Perfect Knight.

Unbeknownst to Balian, Richard was prepared for any attempt to rescue Sibylla and Barisian. There were disguised soldiers watching the deposed queen and her lover. The King of England was no fool. He wanted the elusive knight caught alive if possible.

Balian’s grip on the hilt of his sword tightened as they neared the place where Imad was waiting. There were only three other men guarding Sibylla, but Richard and his entourage were only about a hundred paces ahead of them. He needed to be very quick.

Sibylla glanced back at him for reassurance. She clutched little Barisian tightly. Balian gave her a small mile and tried to show more confidence than he was feeling. They needed him to be strong. He saw Imad leaning against the side of a building and pretending to smoke hashish. Balian nodded at Sibylla and then whipped out his blade, immediately decapitating one of Sibylla’s guards. Blood splashed onto his face. The disguised soldiers as well as the other two guards leapt into action. The alarm was raised. People scattered to avoid being caught in this quickly escalating skirmish.

Imad joined in the melee just as Richard and his entourage launched an attack. Barisian began to cry. His high thin wailing was drowned out by the din of battle. Youmna screamed, but her voice was quickly cut off when someone slashed her throat. A soldier managed to take Barisian from Sibylla, but he was promptly stabbed in the stomach when Balian snatched his son back.

Imad and Balian were on either side of Sibylla. She could only watch with her heart knocking against her ribs as Balian blocked a blow that would have otherwise bitten deep into his side. Everything was a blur of silver and red. She wasn’t sure but it seemed that Balian’s skill with the blade had improved. He moved faster and smoother than he had done so in previous battles, and he seemed to have learnt some new tricks. With a cyclic move, he disarmed his opponent and sent the other man’s sword spinning into the air, narrowly missing another soldier. All the while, he was clutching a terrified Barisian close to him with his left arm.

Richard decided that the skirmish had gone on for long enough. Balian did not seem as if he would stop fighting anytime soon. No one knight was worth so much trouble, surely. He signalled to a man beside him who was waiting with a loaded crossbow.

————

Éomer had to admit he was surprised when Gamling announced that the two hobbits, Merry and Pippin, were waiting on the steps of Meduseld with an outlandish entourage. “Where do they hail from?” asked Éomer.

“You’d better come and see for yourself,” said Gamling “for I cannot tell, Sire.”

“I wasn’t expecting Merry and Pippin so soon,” said the young king of Rohan. He still felt uncomfortable being addressed as ‘Sire’. Any moment, he expected his uncle to stride out. He got off his seat. It was so uncomfortable. How could Théoden have tolerated sitting here for so long? Personally, he was pleased that the hobbits were here. Their arrival had just coincided with a particularly long, boring and pointless meeting with his counsellors. They’d been arguing about who would be the most appropriate person to write the history of the late King Théoden. If it had been up to Éomer, he would’ve asked Faramir, the most scholarly and poetic person he knew, barring Gandalf, with Merry as an assistant. The hobbit had some skill with poetry and no doubt his uncle would’ve enjoyed what the little hobbit would say about him. They’d been fond of each other.

————

Middle Earth was a wondrous and diverse place, but it was also cold—too cold for Briseis’ liking. She snuggled up closer to Achilles as they stood outside the palace, trying to warm herself. He felt good—warm and solid, as a man should be. “Here’s another king who fights his own battles,” Pippin whispered to Achilles as they waited for the doors to open. “Éomer’s a really good warrior. His spear-throwing is amazing — of course, no one can beat Legolas when it comes to aim, but he’s pretty good for a man.”

“So this is the Edoras where our friend Balian became famous as a nanny,” said Jack. “I must say I prefer Tortuga. This place looks too dour, as if rum doesn’t exist.”

“I for one hope they have some decent port,” said Barbossa, dreaming. “And don’t forget green apples. There be a serious lack of those in Troy.”

Helen had never seen anything like this, and she’d seen a lot of things, for a Spartan woman. Although Edoras did not have the beauty and elegance of Rivendell, it had a solid and reliable feel to it, just like her absent brother-in-law. Dear Hector would not have seemed out of place here. They all missed him.

“Hang in there, Whelp,” Jack murmured to Will. “Gondor’s close by, savvy? Ole Legless said Gondor’s right next to Roman.”

“Jack, it’s Rohan,” said Paris. “And stop leaning over so much. You’ll fall off your horse, again.”

“I am not going to fall off, Paris,” said Jack. “Who am I?”

Paris looked confused. Had Jack forgotten who he was?

Jack misunderstood Paris’ confusion. “I’m Captain Jack Sparrow,” he said indignantly.

“Yes, I know that,” said Paris. “Why did you ask?”

“Rhetorical question. Ever heard of those, Paris me lad?”

“Jack, I am not your lad.”

The doors opened, and a young man with a long dark flaxen hair strode out. He had the regal bearing of a bird of prey. His eyes were sharp and piercing like a hawk’s. In fact, everything about him was hawkish. Achilles knew a man of war when he saw one. This man was without doubt a warrior.

Merry bowed. “Your majesty,” he said.

“Esquire Meriadoc,” said the King of Rohan, indicating for Merry to straighten himself “welcome back to Edoras.”

“It’s good to be back, Lord Éomer,” said Pippin, grinning. “We brought friends. Hope you don’t mind.”

Merry would have told Pippin that Éomer didn’t have much of a choice anyway, but that seemed to inappropriate to say during such a formal situation.

Éomer’s eyes roamed over the group and came to a rest on Will, who really could’ve been Balian’s identical twin. Even the styles of their beards were similar. “Can it really be you, my friend?” said the king of Rohan. “Balian... We thought you were dead, by the horn of Helm Hammerhand!”

“Actually, Will and Paris are Balian’s friends,” said Pippin. “They just look like Balian and Legolas and they’re Legolas’ friends too, savvy—I mean, do you get the logic of it?”

“It’s such an odd coincidence that three men and one elf can look so alike,” said Éomer. “If you are friends of my friends, then you may count yourselves among my friends. Welcome to Rohan.” The King led them inside.

“These people are awfully trusting,” Paris said to Jack quietly. “What if we’re holding Merry and Pippin hostage and making them say what they just said?”

Éomer whipped around, sword drawn. “Are you?” he said dangerously.

“No!” said Merry and Pippin

“Decidedly not!” said Jack indignantly. “This whelp here is just talking nonsense.”

“I thought young Mr. Turner was the whelp,” commented Barbossa dryly.
Will would’ve said that he’d gladly trade nicknames with Paris, but speaking took too much effort.

Éomer ordered the kitchens to prepare a feast. They all looked exhausted, especially the man called Will Turner, who seemed to be dying. He said so. Like Balian, subtlety was not a strong point of the young king.

Everyone, no matter how hungry they’d been, promptly lost their appetite. “What’s the matter?” asked Éomer. It had been a little joke. Surely he’d not offended them? What could make Merry and Pippin lose their appetite? It must be serious indeed. The man with long tangled hair and too much kohl—Captain Jack Sparrow; he’d been very specific about it— cleared his throat.

“The thing is, King of the Romans, the Whelp is dyin’ savvy?” That’s why we needs to get ‘im to this Ara-something-something with all haste.”

If Will had been strong enough, he would’ve groaned. For one, Jack had once again mistaken the word ‘Rohan’ with ‘Roman’, and one did not address kings like that.

“I see,” said Éomer. He was fascinated by this Jack character. How did Balian and Legolas become involved with a ruffian like this? “Well, you will rest here tonight, and come morning, my men and I will escort you to Gondor personally.”

————

A/N: Dang; still unable to get Jack and company to Gondor, but they’ll get there. Don’t kill me

Thanks, Kiwi. I hope you continue to enjoy the rest of the story. This chaos is mild compared to what I have coming.

Casakit, sorry to disappoint you, but Beckett's just a wee sideplot in this story. I'll have more of him in another sequel, and then he can meet the whole gang, not just a few select members.

I'm glad you find it amusing, Nuit. The whole point of this story is to make people, including me, laugh.
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Old May 24th, 2008, 02:39 AM
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KiwiGirl KiwiGirl is offline
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A very detailed chapter, all these different threads that we are following makes it very entertaining with out being to many words. I love Jack...and while I laugh out loud at times all the important things come through strongly, love, loyalty, trust...is a great story
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Old May 30th, 2008, 12:28 PM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth


Disclaimer: I don’t own Balian, Imad, Legolas, Aragorn, Will, Jack, Paris, Achilles, Merry, Pippin ...you get the idea. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of returning them, savvy?

Chapter 8: Rescues Gone Wrong

Beckett was about to give orders to his men to shoot the prisoners, but his jaws went slack as the Flying Dutchman burst through the surface of the sea, dripping water from its sails. At her prow was a handsome man who seemed to be wearing some sort of ancient Greek armour.

Legolas took his chance. He made a flying leap, hurtling above the heads of the soldiers to land on the wooden platform. His movements were too fast for the redcoats who were guarding Elizabeth, Anna-Maria, and Marty. He tossed Elizabeth a gun, all the while fending off two men who were trying to stab him with their bayonets.

“Merci!” cried Elizabeth as she began firing. Legolas tossed another gun. Anna-Maria caught this one. Then Marty managed to get himself a bayonet. The four of them formed a circle, facing outwards. The redcoats surrounded them, but no one wanted to advance. Who was this gravity defying stranger? Beckett was sure that Elizabeth had lied to him. This angel of vengeance could not possibly be only a distant cousin of her aunt’s nephew, twice removed.

“I don’t know who you are, man,” said Anna-Maria to Legolas “but I think I’m in love with ya,”

“That’s very flattering, thank you,” said Legolas. “Tell me when we get out of this mess.”

Hector was looking through his spyglass. He couldn’t see a thing. The port was so far away and Willie and Gibbs were a tiny little spot in the blue of the ocean. Bootstrap kindly went over to the captain and reversed the spyglass for him so that he was looking through the right end. The new captain gave a start. “Thank you, Mr. Turner,” he said. “Now, fire those can...can...things, and try and miss, but don’t miss too much. And hoist the colours.”

The Trojan prince felt that he was doing a horrible job of being a captain of the Dutchman. He didn’t know anything about sailing, or advanced navigational equipment, or artillery. Iron was an entirely new concept.

“Why do you want to miss, Cap’n?” said Bootstrap.

“I just want to cause enough of a diversion to allow Legolas and his company to escape, not kill anyone.”

“Fair enough.”

Beckett paled when he heard cannon fire from the Flying Dutchman. His men panicked and scattered. They knew what the ghostly ship could do. There hadn’t been anything left of the Endeavour, except for a few bits of splintered wood. What if the Black Pearl, that other ghastly ship, was hiding just out of sight, waiting for the chance to close in on them, like that other battle?

“Jump into the sea!” shouted Legolas.

“What?!” said Elizabeth. “Are you crazy?”

“Trust me!”

“I do! That’s how big a fool I am!” With that, Elizabeth leapt off the edge of the fort, miraculously missing the rocks. Marty followed suit. This left Anna-Maria. She’d always put on a brave face but the one thing that she could not stand was heights.

“Go on,” urged Legolas. “There’s no time. It’ll be fine.”

“I...I can’t,” said Anna-Maria, hating her own weakness.

Legolas sighed, and then shoved his guns into her arms before sweeping her off her feet.

“What are you doing?” screeched the female pirate.

“Jumping,” said the elf. And what a jump it was. Anna-Maria felt herself and this stranger turning somersaults in the air before everything came into focus again. Legolas had landed neatly on his feet on a rock, much like a cat. He quickly set her down. Anna-Maria was speechless with wonder. To her mortification, she was blushing. No man had ever carried her like that before, not even her fickle Jack Sparrow, although Jack had been nothing but gentlemanly, to her face anyway.

“Swim to the boat,” said Legolas. The water was warm and the seas were calm. No one came out to give chase. They were all too afraid of the presence of the Dutchman. Gibbs pulled them all up onto the deck of Elizabeth’s vessel. The first thing Elizabeth did was slap him. Then she hugged Willie, although her tears of joy and relief made her unable to see properly, and she hugged Marty instead. Legolas waved to Hector, who grinned. “Thank you, brother!” called Legolas.

“Anytime!” shouted Hector. The Dutchman began descending serenely beneath the waves. They all watched her go down.

“So that’s Will’s successor,” said Elizabeth. “He seems a right gentleman.”

“A good man in every sense,” agreed Legolas. He turned to the grinning Willie. “Still got the chest?”

“It’s safe, just like you asked me to keep it,” said the little boy.

“Good man,” said Legolas.

Beckett, having mostly recovered from the unexpected shock, was now ordering ships to go out after the fugitives.

“Now what do we do?” said Anna-Maria as she eyed the ships with white sails.

“We run away,” said Gibbs.

“Technically, we sail away,” said Marty. The near hanging and escape had left him giddy with excitement.

“Where to?” said Elizabeth. “Tortuga’s no longer safe.”

“Run first, think later,” said Legolas, who had no solution. The sky above them was growing dark. The clouds formed a most unusual pattern. They swirled, as if there was a cyclone forming somewhere up there in the atmosphere. Lightning flashed. Thunder roared like the sound of a thousand cannons. Then the rain started to fall, pelting down like hundreds of cold watery bullets. Waves started rising, beginning to rampage. A chute formed, reaching down into the dark depths.

“What in the Valar’s name?” said Legolas. The little boat could not fight against the current, and it was being sucked down into the whirlpool.

‘Oh, right,’ thought the elf. He wondered where he was going to end up, if he was going to end up anywhere at all. He took a deep breath just before the water closed over his head. The salt water stung his eyes. It was dark. He reached out wildly and grabbed the back of Willie’s shirt, preventing him from being washed away by the current. And then as suddenly as they had been dragged under water, they were in dry air again. Legolas opened his eyes. He was somewhere very familiar, but seeing that place from a totally new perspective.

————

Sibylla saw the crossbow bolt flying towards Balian and their son. Balian did not. “Look out!” she screamed, flinging herself at him to knock him out of the projectile’s path and at the same time, putting herself directly before the bolt. The arrow slammed into her chest, missing her heart and striking her rib. A jolt of pain shot through her and she gasped.

“Sibylla!” cried Balian. His voice seemed distant and it echoed inside her head, as if he was far away. She didn’t respond to him.

He rushed to her, forgetting about everything. The sounds of the fight faded away, even though Imad was frantically calling out to him. This momentary lapse was all that Richard’s men needed to surround them. The soldiers kept their weapons pointed at the fugitives, even as they parted ranks to let Richard through. Balian immediately levelled his weapon at the king of England.

“Balian of Ibelin,” said Richard, smiling like a satisfied lion. “At last we meet. It is such an honour, although I must say I expected someone slightly more impressive.”

“What do you want, Richard?” snarled Balian.

“I will tell you what I don’t want,” said Richard. “I don’t want to be your enemy, Balian, but at the moment you are leaving me very little choice.”

“You could’ve chosen to fight me like a man, instead of using your petty little tricks.”

“I don’t see the need to take such risks. Put away your sword, Balian. You’re surrounded. Your attempt to rescue your queen was valiant, but a failure.”

Balian was furious, but he was not a fool. He handed Barisian to Imad and sheathed his sword. As he did so, his fingers brushed the cold hard muzzle of Jack’s gun. He kept it with him at all times, although he hadn’t had many occasions to use it. His nose caught the noxious stench of sulphur, and his eyes scanned his surroundings until he found the source. Someone had been selling fireworks when the fight had broken out. The vendor had abandoned his precious merchandise from the Far East in his haste to avoid being caught in the middle of two feuding noblemen. ‘Gunpowder is the stuff which people use to make fireworks,’ he remembered Will saying. Balian held Sibylla steady with his left hand while his right one wandered down to the pistol. Sibylla leaned against him for support. He drew her closer to him.

“Get ready to run,” he murmured in his less-than-passable Arabic.

“What did you say?” said Richard who had not bothered to learn the tongue of the Saracens. He thought it beneath him, and he was soon to regret that.

“Goodbye, Richard,” said Balian, even as he pulled out the pistol and fired at the pile of explosives.

The roar of the explosion reverberated through the streets of Tripoli. Balian wasted no time. Shoving the gun back into his belt and reminding himself to thank Jack the next time he saw the pirate, he scooped Sibylla into his arms and followed Imad into the maze of Tripoli’s backstreets and alleyways. “Stay with me, Sibylla,” he whispered as he ran. “It’s not your time...not yet.”

Debris and dust rained down on Richard and his men. They had no idea as to what had just happened. Somehow, Balian had caused that explosion. Richard just didn’t know exactly how. Was that knight more than just a man?

“He’s a sorcerer!” cried one of the soldiers. For the moment, the king of England felt inclined to agree. It didn’t really matter. No sorcerer was going to defeat a king who’d been appointed by God.

Or so Richard thought.

————

Imad led them through a series of tunnels until they were outside the city. The spy Yusuf was waiting for them with five horses and some civilian clothing. Exhausted, Balian’s little son had fallen asleep in Imad’s arms. Sibylla was weak with blood loss and pain. “Balian,” she whispered, “am I going to die?”

“No, Sibylla, no,” said Balian in a trembling voice. Why, God? Why? “You’re going to be fine. I’ll take you back to Jerusalem, and you can recuperate there. When you’re well again, we’ll go back to France. No more palaces, no more politics, no more wars.” He settled Sibylla before him in the saddle. The arrow’s shaft still protruded from her chest. This was the third time someone had taken an arrow for him. The previous two, Godfrey and Boromir, had died. He prayed to God that this would not be the third time that someone would die for him.

“I’ve never been to France,” Sibylla murmured as she pressed closer to Balian. He was so solid and warm, smelling of sweat, just the way she liked him. She felt so tired. All she wanted to do was sleep in the arms of the man she loved. “What’s it like?”

“It’s beautiful,” said Balian. He nudged the horse with his heels and urged it into a walk. “It’s always green there, and in winter when it snows, everything gleams silver.”

“Sounds like Heaven.”

“France is far from Heaven, but it’s good enough for me. You won’t have seen anything like it. We’ll be happy there, with a home, and raising a family in peace. I’ll make you happy, I promise you that.”

————

The next morning, Will could not ride on his own. He felt so weak that simply nodding or shaking his head was a huge effort. Jack, no matter how determined he was, did not have the skill to take a passenger, and a wagon would make the going too slow. In the end, it was the king of Rohan himself who bore Will before him in the saddle, just as he’d done for his cousin Théodred. He prayed that Will would be more fortunate than his cousin.

Achilles watched Éomer closely, even though he knew that he ought to be concentrating on his riding. It was so different from the riding style he was used to in Greece. Paris seemed to have adapted to it better than he had. The king of Rohan was a warrior if there ever was one. It was the first time Achilles had ever seen a true warrior king, and he could feel excitement welling up inside him. Middle Earth must be special indeed if it could boast so many men who were worthy of the title of king. Éomer had spoken well of Aragorn. The king of Gondor must be truly awesome to behold.

Helen clung on grimly to the saddle and the reins. Her thighs were chafed from so much riding and her muscles were tight and stiff. She didn’t tell Paris though. He had enough to worry about, with Will’s condition deteriorating so quickly. She knew they were close, like brothers.

Despite his concern for Will, Paris felt invigorated as he urged his horse into a canter. He’d always been a good rider, and the stirrups steadied him even more. His horse understood him. It only needed the slightest nudges to make it go where he wanted.

Barbossa was glad that his horse was somewhat like a sheep. It followed all the other horses. All he had to do was hold onto a handful of mane and the pommel and hope that his teeth and eyes would not be shaken out of his skull. He knew that he ought to be worried for young Turner, seeing as he was Willie’s father, but he was too busy worrying about falling off and breaking his neck.

Mountains and forests gave way to wide open plains. In the centre of the scene before them was a huge tiered white stone structure. Will vaguely registered that it resembled the wedding cake that he and Elizabeth never got to touch.

“That’s Minas Tirith!” called Éomer. Paris and Achilles could only gape. Compared to this, Troy looked like a sandcastle.

‘I wish Agamemnon could see this,’ thought Achilles. ‘I’d hire a painter to capture the look on his face.’

“Is this the city of the gods?” squeaked Briseis. Unlike Helen, she’d often ridden with her two older cousins when she’d been a little girl. With her oldest cousin being known as the ‘Tamer of Horses’, she felt as comfortable on horseback as she was when on her feet.

“Darling, the gods don’t exist,” said Achilles. “At least, most of them don’t, although I must admit I believe in Calypso’s existence.”

Horse’s hooves clattered on white stone paved streets as they entered the city. Éomer led them up. Level after level they rode, leaping up steps and through arches, barely missing civilians going about their everyday business. Children leapt out of their way and then chased after them, but stopped when they got onto the sixth level. This continued until they were at the very top, and could see for miles without anything obstructing their view.

Barbossa tumbled out of the saddle, and promised himself that he was never ever going to ride again. If he had to walk the distance from France to China, then he would do just that.

“Blimey,” said Ragetti, sliding off his horse. He peered out across the plains. “Look at that.”

“I feel I can almost touch the sky, if I stands on a chair,” said Pintel excitedly. “I wonder what clouds feel like.”

“Take Will to the Houses of Healing,” said Éomer, forgetting that these were not natives to Middle Earth. “I will go and inform Aragorn that we have arrived.”

“The what?” asked Jack and Paris.

“The infirmary,” translated Merry. “Come on, Pip, we’ll take them.”

Carried between Jack and Paris, Will was half carried to the Houses of Healing.

“Everythin’ is white,” commented Jack. “Not a practical colour, that; shows dirt too easily.”

“This is the infirmary,” said Pippin. “No one’s going to let it get dirty.”

“It’s so big,” said Polyxena to no one in particular. The youngest princess of Troy was overwhelmed by all the new things. They passed a sculpture which depicted a man surrounded by children and an elf standing on a tall crag of rock, taking aim with his bow and arrow. There was also another man, standing tall and proud, bearing a horn on his hip.

“Who are they?” asked the girl.

“That’s Balian and Legolas and Boromir,” explained Pippin. “Strider’s going to have to change the inscription when he finds that they’re still alive...Legolas and Balian, I mean.”

“Good likeness,” said Barbossa. “They forgot the ruby in Balian’s sword.” He went for a closer inspection. “In memory of the heroes of the war who fell,” he read.

“As I said, Strider will definitely have to think of a new inscription,” said Pippin. “From my experience, live people don’t like to be thought of as dead.”

At last they reached the inside of the Houses of Healing. Merry spoke to a healer, and they quickly prepared a bed for Will. The young man’s complexion was waxy, almost translucent. They could almost see him fading before their eyes.

“Ye jest have a l’il rest,” said Jack. “Éomer’s gone to get that Ara-something.”

“My name is Aragorn, stranger from the distant lands,” came a low melodious voice full of authority.

“Strider!” cried Merry, forgetting that the ranger whom they’d met in Bree was now the king of Gondor and ought to be addressed as the king. “You’ve got to help Will. He’s very sick.”

“Éomer has told me about this man, although I do not fully understand him.” said Aragorn. Achilles looked him up and down. The king’s face was weathered from spending so many years in the wild, but his grey eyes still sparkled with inner youth even though he was weighed down by the responsibility of running a nation. His hair was dishevelled and most un-king-like. All the kings which the lord of the Myrmidon had known had well-styled hair, not including himself or Éomer of course.

Aragorn went to Will’s bedside. “Valar,” he whispered to Éomer. “You were right. He does look exactly like Balian.” He laid his fingers on Will’s wrist to find his pulse, and then frowned when he could feel none.

“This is odd,” he said. Disturbing was more like it. “How can anyone be alive and breathing, and yet not have a pulse?”

“It’s a long story, your nibs,” said Jack. Aragorn raised an eyebrow at the strange man who wore kohl. And what sort of title for a king was ‘your nibs’, not that he minded. ‘Your majesty’ was such a huge mouthful and absolutely unnecessary. He didn’t know what to make of him. His skin was the colour of a Haradrim’s and yet he looked nothing like a Haradrim. He was decked with colourful and flamboyant, albeit tattered, fabrics. And that hat...why would anyone wear a triangular hat?

“And your name, good sir?” asked Aragorn.

“He be Jack Sparrow,” drawled Barbossa.

Captain!” insisted both Jack and Pippin.

“It’s Captain Jack Sparrow, your nibs,” said Jack “but you may call me Jack.”

“Jack,” said Aragorn “why doesn’t Will Turner here have a pulse?”

“Well, for one, he’s undead, savvy?”

“Excuse me?” said Aragorn, not sure he’d heard that correctly.

“Undead, as in not fully alive but not dead either,” explained Jack. “You see, your...”

“Just Aragorn will do,” said the king. “My friends do not address me by my title, and neither should the friends of my friends.”

“All right, Ara—Aragorn, is it? You see, Will had his heart cut out. Well, it’s a curse, savvy? He has to—well, had to— ferry souls across to the other side and to do that, he had to have his heart cut out, by the decree of the heathen goddess Calypso, otherwise known as Tia Dalma, the Sea Witch of the Caribbean, who fell in love with Davy Jones, that tentacle beleaguered cretin ...”

“The thing is,” cut in Barbossa, seeing that Jack was going into a rather convoluted version of the story and wasting precious time “young Turner here was fine without a heart as long he remained on the ocean, but now that he can walk on land, he be needin’ his heart back, and he’s dyin’ without it.”

“Can you help him, please?” said Pippin.

“I don’t see what I can do,” said Aragorn. He’d never seen such a situation before.

“You have to do something!” said Paris.

Just then, outside from the direction of the courtyard where the White Tree of Gondor stood, there was a splash, a crash, and a lot of cursing.

“What in Mandos’ halls is going on?!” came Faramir’s perplexed and angry shout. “There’s a boat in the White Tree!”

————

A/N: No prizes for guessing who just arrived.

The more I write about these characters, Kiwi, the more I come to realize how deep and individual they are. Jack is absolutely wonderful to write. I've had some of my best moments while doing his dialogue.
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Old June 3rd, 2008, 09:13 PM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth


Disclaimer: I don’t own Balian, Imad, Legolas, Aragorn, Will, Jack, Paris, Achilles, Merry, Pippin... you get the idea. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of returning them, savvy?

Chapter 9: Boats in Odd Places

Legolas grimaced as he realized that their boat was in the White Tree. Well, partially, at least. He picked a pale leaf out of his wet hair. Wasn’t it sacrilege to harm the tree? The elf had a feeling they were in for a spot of trouble.

“Legolas?” said Faramir. “Can it really be you?”

“No, it’s Balian” the elf managed to retort dryly, jumping out of the boat with a metal chest under his arm.

Legolas turned back to the boat. “It’s safe to jump, everyone!” he called. “Actually, Willie, I’ll catch you.”

Two women, one fair and one dark lowered themselves from the boat. A fat man followed, with much less grace, and landed on his behind. Another man, this one tiny, landed on the fat man. That left a little dark haired boy. “You sure you won’t miss?” he asked nervously. Now that he was required to jump from a great height, it didn’t look so exciting anymore.

“Trust me, little one,” said Legolas. “I never miss.” The boy looked doubtful. Faramir decided to intervene.

“How about we steal some of the king’s cushions?” he suggested. “Then we can set them on the ground and it won’t matter if Legolas misses or not.”

The boy’s eyes were wide. “Steal the king’s cushions?’ he asked. “Won’t she be mad?”

Faramir frowned while Legolas disguised his laugh as a series of unconvincing coughs. Why in the world would the boy assume that a king was female? “Why would the king be a she?” asked Faramir.

“Well, Mama’s the Pirate King, and she gets mad when I use her cushions to build forts.”

“Well, of course,” said Elizabeth impatiently. “But this is safety we’re talking about, not play. If you used my cushions to save someone’s life, I definitely would not get mad.”

Faramir raised an eyebrow. ‘I’ll explain later,’ Legolas mouthed. He handed the chest to Elizabeth

“Well, he won’t be mad,” said Faramir. “He’s a very kind man.”

‘The queen might not like it though,’ he thought. Women were...well...women. They didn’t like dirt, in general. How they could tolerate marrying men who were prone to attracting dirt — was beyond his comprehension. He got his men to bring out the stacks of plump fluffy cushions.

“Ready?” said Legolas.

“Ready, set, jump!” shouted the boy. He bunched up his leg muscles and leapt.

Legolas did catch the boy, but because of the boy’s enthusiastic jump, the momentum knocked him onto his back. Thank the Valar for Arwen’s beautiful cushions.

“That was awesome!” declared the boy. “Can we do it again? Please?”

“Uh, Willie, no,” wheezed Legolas. “You are a very big boy, and I think I’m too old to take these rough and tumble games.”

At Faramir’s shout, Aragorn simply had to go out to investigate, followed closely by Barbossa, Achilles, Paris, Éomer, Pintel, Ragetti, Merry and Pippin. “I’ll just be a moment, Whelp,” said Jack, before he too joined the others. The men, having much longer legs than the hobbits, raced ahead. Pippin noticed with some interest that Jack’s body tilted backwards when he ran, and the pirate was waving his arms like a panicking lass.

“Wouldn’t that make it awfully difficult to run?” he commented to Merry.

“More difficult than getting a boat to the seventh level of Minas Tirith and in the White Tree of all places?” asked Merry.

“I guess not,” said Pippin.

A small crowd of elite guards and noblemen had gathered around the White Tree, or rather, what remained of it. “Let me through!” came a deep rich roar. Paris stood on the tips of his toes to look over the heads of the other spectators and glimpsed what he thought was a small moving mountain with masses of red hair.

“That’s Gimli,” puffed Pippin, who’d finally caught up with the rest of the Big Folk. “You can tell by his voice.”

“You mean this is the Gimli, as in Legolas’ friend the dwarf?”

“The one and only,” said Merry. “This should be interesting.”

The crowd had parted to let the king and his company through. A boat, about twenty five feet in length, had its hull caught in the white branches of the tree. Its prow rested on the flagstones below. A familiar looking being with a head of long golden hair and pointy ears was looking about him in bewilderment. If his national sacred icon hadn’t just been destroyed by a ship, Aragorn would’ve laughed. He’d never seen Legolas looking so dishevelled before.

“How the blazes did you get a boat in this tree?” demanded Barbossa.

Elizabeth whipped around. Barbossa was here? How the blazes did he get here?

“It’s nice to see you too, Barbossa,” said Legolas sarcastically.

“You villain!” Anna-Maria screeched as she lunged at Barbossa. Elizabeth and Gibbs managed to pull her back. “You took Jack’s ship and left him on Tortuga to rot!”

“I knew you’d warm up to me,” said Jack, smiling brilliantly.

“And you!” snarled the Haitian woman, breaking free of Elizabeth and Gibbs. In two strides she was before Jack, and her hand connected soundly with his cheek.

“Did you deserve that, Uncle Jack-Jack?” asked Willie.

“Not really,” said Jack, rubbing his face gingerly. Anna-Maria glared at him, fire blazing in her coffee-coloured eyes. She stuck out her chin, and she seemed to be preparing to slap Jack again. Jack quickly took a step backwards. That woman had a very strong arm. “Well, possibly, maybe, a little,” admitted the charming pirate.

“Of course you did!” spat Anna-Maria. “You stole my boat, again!”

“Was that leaky trash your...”

Thwack. Anna-Maria had slapped Jack again, on the other cheek.

“You definitely deserved that,” said Willie knowingly. If someone called his ship trash, he would slap him too.

“All right, I confess,” said Jack dramatically, holding up his hands. “I borrowed your boat, without permission but with every intention of returning it, savvy?”

“That’s what you said seven years ago!” screamed Anna-Maria, spraying Jack’s face with spittle.

“Well that ship sank,” said Jack with a grimace. “I did mean to give you the Interceptor, honest.” He placed his hands on her shoulders. “Anna-Maria, darling,” he said solemnly. “I swear, on me honour, that I, Captain Jack Sparrow, will give you your promised boat, all right?”

“You will?” Anna-Maria was so surprised and pleased by his gentlemanly ways and courtly language that she forgot to be angry with him. That rogue was really very charming, despite all his faults and fickleness. And he would be a beautiful man, if he would only wash sometimes and not be drunk all the time.

“Of course, luv,” said Jack, spreading his hands. “Who am I?”

Anna-Maria grinned. “You’re Captain Jack Sparrow,” she said.

“Exactly,” said Jack in satisfaction. At least someone knew the answer. He glanced up at the boat in the tree with interest. Its messiness contrasted nicely with the order of Minas Tirith, or so he thought.

“So, I guess our vessels tend to end up in odd places, eh?” said Jack. “First, it’s the Pearl and the Dutchman on a rock, then it’s the Pearl in a wee pond, and now...” He spotted the Dead man’s chest in Elizabeth’s arms.

“Thump — I mean, the heart!” cried Jack, pointing excitedly at the chest. “That’s Will’s heart!”

“Did I hear wrongly or did you just call Will by his real name?” said Legolas. Everyone looked at him strangely. “Never mind,” he added.

Jack snatched the chest from Elizabeth and raced back to the Houses of Healing. Elizabeth chased after him, shouting at him to return the chest to her.

“Mahal’s beard!” cried Gimli. “Where have you been, you pointy-eared elvish princeling? I’m going to kill you! And Faramir wasn’t joking. There really is a boat in the tree! Was it raining cushions?”

“It’s good to see you too, Gimli,” said Legolas, who’d regained his breath by now. The two friends hugged each other, laughing.

Then Aragorn and Faramir decided to join in welcoming Legolas back to Middle Earth. In amongst this impromptu celebration, Willie, Gibbs, Marty and Anna-Maria felt left out and awkward. That was when Jack came running back. “Aragorn!” he shouted. “Get yer sorry self in the infirmary! Will needs you! And Barbossa, Lizzie listens to you. You get her away before she drives herself mad with worry, savvy?”

Willie turned to Gibbs. “Are they talking about my papa, Mr. Gibbs?” he asked.

“I should think so,” said Anna-Maria, who still had not forgiven Gibbs for falling for Beckett’s trick. “I only know one Will Turner, and that’s your old man.”

Faramir gaped at the strange dark man who was wearing as much kohl as a Haradrim princess. Didn’t he know that Aragorn was the High King of Gondor? How could anyone address a king like that?

“How’s Will?” asked Legolas as he and Aragorn ran to the infirmary, followed closely by the others.

“Not well,” said Aragorn. “Whoever named him named him well. If not for his will to live, he would’ve been dead by now.”

“Just as well,” said Legolas. “They have waited so long for each other.”

They were in such a hurry that they did not bother knocking before barging into Will’s room. Elizabeth was kneeling by his bedside, holding his hand to her lips. She was crying. Will, on the other hand, seemed more content than Legolas had ever seen him. “Where’s my son?” he managed to say. “I want to see him before...”

“There’ll be plenty of time later,” said Aragorn in a no-nonsense tone. “Right now, we need to get your heart back to you.”

The king of Gondor thought that he was hiding his nervousness quite effectively. He had no idea how anyone was supposed to put a heart back inside a man’s chest. ‘May the Valar give me guidance,’ he thought. ‘I’m going to need it.’

————

“Send out a hundred knights!” Richard ordered. “They cannot have gone far. I want Ibelin here, dead or alive! Preferably alive. I want to kill him myself!”

“As you wish, milord,” said Gerard de Ridefort, getting up. After seeing from a distance what Balian was capable of, he doubted that Richard had the prowess needed to kill such a man. However, he did as Richard commanded. Richard was Henry and Eleanor’s son after all. One did not cross Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Gerard sighed. He had a feeling that Balian was a difficult one to catch, dead or alive. Dead would certainly make things easier. He reminded himself to bring a few crossbowmen, just in case.

————

Balian cradled Sibylla in his arms. Her blood soaked his surcoat. He’d never felt so much fear. It wrapped itself around his bones, seeping into his mind like a dark poisonous mist. They could not ride fast, for fear of further aggravating Sibylla’s wound. She drifted in and out of consciousness as he bore her away from Tripoli. Sometimes, she called out to him from her fever induced nightmares. At other times, she wept, losing precious moisture.

“Balian, we cannot tarry,” said Imad. “We must get out of enemy territory by tonight, for the...for your son’s sake.” He’d been about to say ‘for the little prince’s sake’, for that was what Barisian was. He was the heir to a precarious throne, and it was best for both the Christians and the Muslims, as well as Balian and his family, if the little boy never sat on it.

“But Sibylla can’t...” began Balian.

“Listen,” said Yusuf, who was a physician by trade, and had no time for romantic sentiments. “The sooner she gets to Jerusalem, the sooner she can get help. She has lost too much blood, and the desert djinn are drawn to sickness.”

“Hold on, my love,” whispered Balian to the unconscious woman in his arms as he urged his horse into the smoothest canter possible. He glanced backwards, and swore loudly in Greek, Elvish, Pelagostos, French, and any other language he remotely knew. Imad and Yusuf both turned to him with confused expressions, and then they both swore along with him. Well, Yusuf swore. Imad was too well brought up to use any vulgar words.

“Templars,” spat Balian. They were the bane of his existence, with the possible exception of orcs. He had no choice but to kick his horse into a gallop. However, the horse accidentally plunged its hoof into some desert creature’s burrow, and with a trilling scream it tripped, snapping its leg and throwing its riders into the sand. The rough landing drove the breath from Balian’s lungs. Sibylla cried out as the impact broke the arrow. Her cry made Balian scramble to her side. “No, no, no,” he was saying, as he lifted her into his arms. Her face was ashen and waxy, like that of a corpse. The horse was struggling to its feet. One of its legs was bent in an impossible angle.

Yusuf turned his horse around and rode back. He didn’t know who the most important person was in this game of life and death, but he definitely wasn’t it. The Templars were approaching swiftly. He dismounted. “Get on!” he shouted at Balian.

“The horse can’t carry all of us!” said Balian. “Here, take Sibylla! Take her to safety!” He was ready to die defending his family if need be.

“Get on, Frank!” said Yusuf. He shoved Balian towards the horse, pushed him into the saddle and then handed the unconscious Sibylla to him. “Ride to safety! Yalla!” The realization dawned on Balian.

“I can’t let anyone else die for me!” he insisted.

“Allah save us!” said Imad. He pulled his sash off his waist and tied Barisian to his front. “Your father is the most stubborn man I know,” he said to the child. “Yusuf is the second most stubborn man.” With that, he rode back to where the two men were arguing about who should die for whom.

“Balian, ride!” said Imad in his most authoritative tone. “Yusuf, you ride with me!” Thus rearranged, they rode on.

“Have hope!” called Imad. “The border is in sight!” The Templars were slowly but surely gaining on them. Their horses were tired. At the lead was Gerard de Ridefort himself. He’d been in Guy’s faction and he blamed all the bad fortune of the Latin Kingdom on Balian. Making a blacksmith the Marshal of Jerusalem had broken the Great Chain of Being, and they were paying for this transgression of God’s laws. Seeing that Balian would soon cross the border and be out of their reach, Gerard ordered his crossbowmen to fire armour piercing bolts.

It was difficult to aim properly with crossbows while being seated on galloping horses, but one bolt hit Balian in the shoulder, piercing chain mail, skin and flesh to lodge its head deeply in his muscle. He uttered a short cry of pain. God, these crossbow bolts hurt. Only stubborn determination kept him from falling out of the saddle. The horse’s hooves flew over the boundary and out of reach of Gerard’s crossbows. Finally, they were safe.

Gerard watched them disappear. He cursed. Why did that commoner have to be so damned lucky? He didn’t want to be the one who had to tell Richard that Balian had escaped yet again.

————

Balian, Imad, Yusuf, Sibylla and Barisian rode into Jerusalem. They were all exhausted, and two of their company had been shot. Underneath his mask of dirt, Balian was pale from pain and fatigue. He could not even dismount without help. Andromache rushed out to receive them. ‘By Zeus’ beard,’ she thought. Was it even possible for Balian to return from one of his ventures unscathed?

Andromache took the little boy from Imad. The child was hungry and tired. Maybe it was because Andromache was a woman and a mother as well, but Barisian immediately took to her and settled quietly into her arms. She took him down the kitchens to find him something to eat. Later, she would introduce him to her own son. It would be good for him to have some company while his parents were occupied with matters of life and death.

“Sibylla,” croaked Balian, as he was half carried to his bed.

“Yusuf’s looking after her,” she heard Imad say. The spymaster then proceeded to use all his powers of persuasion to convince Balian that he was not all right and needed to rest.

“You poor darling,” Andromache murmured to the child whom she took to be Balian’s son. The familial resemblance was too much for him to be anyone else’s child. Barisian devoured the soft vegetables and the bread in goat’s milk that Andromache was feeding him. When he’d had enough, he began to fuss. Andromache carried him up to the room where Astyanax was napping under the watchful eye of a maid. Within moments, Balian’s heir was asleep, next to Hector’s. Andromache waited for a while before getting up to pay a visit to the boy’s father.

————

Balian was sitting up in bed. His shoulder had been bound, but he had not bothered to put on his shirt. It was far too warm for him to need it.

“How are you?” she asked, sitting in a chair beside the bed.

“I’ve been better,” he admitted. “How’s Sibylla?”

Worry had etched itself onto his face. There was so much anguish in those brown eyes. Andromache suddenly felt the need to comfort him as if he was her brother, a younger brother, to be exact, even though he was older than her. He was so vulnerable, especially in matters of the heart.

“I don’t know,” she said. “But I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

“She was fevered when I last saw her, Andromache,” said Balian. “That was how it started for my father. He became weaker and weaker. The bad humours overwhelmed him, and as strong as my father was, he couldn’t defeat them. How can Sibylla fight the fever?”

“I am so sorry,” said Andromache. She understood his pain. She too had been widowed, in a sense. Why did good people have to suffer this sort of agony? Balian was the last man who deserved it. Well, Balian and Hector, and maybe Will Turner.

“How’s my son?” Balian’s voice broke through her thoughts.

“He’s fine,” said Andromache, relieved that she could at least give him one piece of good news. “I fed him. He’s asleep in Astyanax’s room right now. I thought he needed rest more than a bath. And you, Balian; you need sleep too. Don’t tell me you don’t, because I won’t have any of this ‘I’m fine’ nonsense.”

“I can’t sleep, Andromache. She could be dying. I need to be there beside her.”

“You won’t do her any good if you die of exhaustion. Now listen to me, Balian. Close your eyes.”

Balian gave up trying to argue with her and did as he was told. Within moments, he was asleep.

————

Elizabeth paced outside Will’s room impatiently. She’d been chased out, and so had Jack, since the pirate had proved to be a very big distraction with his incessant talking. Anna-Maria was also outside keeping Elizabeth and Willie company. “He’ll be fine,” said the Haitian woman. “Will Turner is a strong man, and Legolas did say that this Aragrog or Aragon or Ara-something is a very good healer.”

Will’s wife rubbed her upper arms nervously. “Does he know how to replace a heart?”

Anna-Maria couldn’t think of any answer to that, so she kept silent. Willie watched his mother with some concern. He’d never seen her so vulnerable and frightened. He wished he was a big strong pirate like his papa or the Captain, able to send away all her worries. It seemed to take hours, but Legolas finally came out with a smile.

“Will’s going to be fine,” he said.

“Can I see him?” asked Elizabeth.

“He’s asleep at the moment, but you can go in and watch him sleep if you want. You’re his wife. I have no right to stop you.”

Aragorn came out. “I am never going to cut open anyone’s chest or handle live warm beating hearts ever again,” he declared. Elizabeth was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude for this man, this king, who’d saved her husband’s life. She threw her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek, startling everyone who was there.

“Thank you so much!” she said. “You’ve given me back my husband, and my son his father. How can we ever repay you?”

Before Aragorn could reply, someone else answered for him. “It’s his pleasure, believe me,” said a low melodious female voice.

“Arwen,” said Aragorn, going over to kiss his wife. “What took you so long? Didn’t you hear about the boat in the tree...”

“And my cushions?” said the Queen of Gondor. “Of course I heard about it all. However, Estel, you left me to fend off thirteen of your councillors while you played healer. Did you forget that you had a meeting scheduled for today? Truly, I have no desire to discuss the appointment of the court historian.”

“Are you dealing with that too?” said Éomer. “Why do these councillors all seem to think that writing the history of the War is important? Anyway, isn’t Frodo already doing it? We could always borrow his and then add little bits of our own.”

Jack stared at the Queen of Gondor. He’d never seen anything so beautiful in his life. If the Black Pearl was suddenly transformed into a living being, she’d look like Arwen. No wonder Aragorn could stay with her for the rest of his life. He was a very lucky man; very lucky indeed. ‘And she gave up immortality for him?’ thought the pirate. Did women have different priorities to men, or was it the difference between pirates and aristocracy?

Arwen greeted Elizabeth with all the grace befitting of elven royalty. “Welcome to Gondor,” she said. “You must be tired, considering how you arrived. Since your husband is not yet awake, maybe you and your son would like to rest and refresh yourselves, so to be ready for him when he does wake.”

Elizabeth had to admit that she did crave for a nice decent hot bath with scented oils and bubbles...lots and lots of bubbles. “That would be lovely, milady,” she said, curtseying as she’d been taught when she’d been a little girl. Maybe all this aristocratic etiquette might just come in handy after all.

Mother and son followed Arwen as she glided through the many corridors. Normal people walked, there was no other way to describe the Queen’s movements. She was so graceful, as if her feet did not touch the ground at all. Elizabeth decided that her stay in Gondor would be interesting, to say the least.


————

Aragorn downed his third glass of wine to calm his nerves. His blood was still roaring in his ears and he continued to perspire. Never in his life had he done something so risky, and he’d done a lot of risky things in his time. It wasn’t hard to admit that he never wanted to see anyone’s beating heart again.

They were all gathered in the king’s study, well, almost all. After Arwen had stopped berating the men —males, rather— for the sorry state of her cushions, she’d taken Elizabeth and Willie to see Will. The other women were resting in the Queen’s quarters, having bathed and eaten. Aragorn had left a healer there with the young pirate, just in case he displayed some of Legolas’ and Balian’s tendencies to escape from the sickbed when he was not ready. Aragorn liked to think that he was the epitome of an ideal patient.

“You did well, laddie,” said Gimli. “That wee lad wouldn’t have lived without you.”

“The hands of a king really are the hands of a healer,” said Achilles in genuine admiration. Legolas, who was back to his normal meticulous self, raised an eyebrow when he heard the brawny Greek. The lord of the Myrmidon sounded like a boy speaking of his idol. Now that was an amusing thought.

There came an urgent but polite knock on the door. “Come in,” said Aragorn. It was Beregond, the captain of the elite guard. “A messenger from the border, milord,” he said.

“Send him in,” said Aragorn.

A ragged man with blood streaking his face stumbled in, almost toppling over before the king. “Haradrim raiders, Sire,” he croaked. “Raiders and pirates. They came from both land and the river to attack us on two fronts. We did not know of it until they were upon us. My captain sent me to tell you, and it wasn’t easy to break through the enemy ranks, milord.”

“What of your contingent?” demanded Aragorn. The man shook his head.

“The captain told me to ride to Minas Tirith with all haste, and to tell you of our situation.” Then the man broke down into tears. “He was my brother! I told him to go, but he wouldn’t listen, and he wouldn’t let me stay and fight beside him either...”

“What is your name, soldier?” asked Aragorn.

“Minalcar, son of Mardil, Sire,” replied the man.

“Take him to the Houses of Healing,” Aragorn said to Beregond. He turned back to the soldier. “If your brother is still alive and not in the hands of the enemy, we’ll find him.”

Minalcar nodded and followed Beregond out.

“What is going on?” asked Legolas. “Why are there still raids?”

“I don’t know,” said Aragorn “but these raids at the borders have been going on for some time now. Whenever we send out more men to fight the raiders, they simply...disappear, as if they’ve merged themselves with the elements. We’ve guessed that they were Haradrim, but only today have we had that assumption confirmed. They leave almost no clues at all. At the site of each raid, only one or two bodies were found, and they were all Gondorian, but stripped of their armour and livery.”

“What about the rest of the men?’ asked Paris. Aragorn shook his head.

“Like the raiders, they’ve simply disappeared. No one knows what happened.”

“We’ve managed to keep it a secret so far,” said Faramir “but I don’t know how much longer we can keep the truth from the people. This is the last thing Gondor needs, especially so soon after the War of the Ring. I fear that another war is at hand, and Gondor has yet to recover her full strength. And those pirates are proving to be much more of a problem than we’d initially thought.”

“If I may have a word, your nibs,” cut in Jack. “Who knows how to fight pirates better than other pirates?”

————


A/N: Not much action in this chapter. At least one party’s back in Middle Earth. I’ll have to think up ways to get the other party in somehow. The team’s not complete without the sometimes-too-honourable Balian
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Old June 4th, 2008, 10:50 AM
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KiwiGirl KiwiGirl is offline
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I missed a chapter sorry.....

They were great chapters and I really enjoyed the dialogue between all the characters. Jack is wonderful isn't he.

And you have to get Balian back with the rest of them, you have too!!!
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Old June 4th, 2008, 03:38 PM
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*grins* I agree 100 and 10 percent with Jack on this.. pirates fight pirates.. oh man I cn't wait to see Liz go to work lol

lol I just do hope Beckett doesn't pop up in Middle Earth.. wait tht could be a good thing since Liz or Will could off him no problems.... * evil grin*

More more more!!
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  #22  
Old June 12th, 2008, 09:49 PM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: New Zealand
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Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth


Disclaimer: I don’t own Balian, Imad, Legolas, Aragorn, Will, Jack, Paris, Achilles, Merry, Pippin... you get the idea. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of returning them, savvy?

Chapter 10: Pirates of Gondor

Everyone turned their eyes to Jack. The pirate looked absolutely serious. This was not some sort of trick. He truly wanted to repay the king of Gondor for saving a dear friend of his. What better way was there than helping him to win a war?

“That’s a very good point,” said Éomer, looking thoughtful.

“We don’t even have proper fleet,” said Faramir.

“It’s a pity that the Pearl is still stuck in a pond somewhere in the Shire,” said Barbossa, thinking wistfully of his beloved ship.

“Hobbiton,” volunteered Pippin. “The Black Pearl is stuck in a pond in Hobbiton.”

“Can we, say, commandeer a ship?” said Jack.

“Commandeer?” said Aragorn.

“It means stealing some ships, to put it more bluntly,” muttered Legolas loudly from the side of his mouth, rolling his eyes meaningfully. The elf seemed rather amused by the whole idea of Gondorians commandeering ships.

“It’s a nautical term,” retorted Jack. “Real sailors don’t steal; they commandeer.”

“Steal ships from whom?” said Faramir. All of a sudden, the idea didn’t seem so appealing. Stealing went against everything that the young Steward of Gondor stood for. It simply wasn’t right.

“Why, they who be stealin’ from us, of course,” said Barbossa. The old pirate’s eyes gleamed. He plucked a green apple from the fruit bowl and sank his yellowed teeth into its waxy skin. Juice ran down his chin and into his scraggly beard. “Jack, I must say that this be the best idea you’ve had in twenty years.”

“I’ve always had great ideas,” said Jack indignantly, “and you ain’t known me fer twenty years, savvy?”

“No,” agreed Barbossa. “I just be assumin’ that you never had any good ideas before I came along either.”

“So we’re going to turn pirate to fight pirates?” said the ever honourable Faramir. It sounded so ignoble.

“The ends justify the means,” said Éomer with a shrug. “I don’t suppose I have a say in this, but if we can stop a war from breaking out, a little piracy seems reasonable enough. It’s a good plan.”

“More than good,” muttered Jack. “It’s bloody brilliant.”

————

Sibylla had opened her eyes when she heard someone opening the door of her room. It was dark, and the air smelt of incense. She was sweating, but at the same time, she felt cold. As her eyes adjusted to the lack of light, she could make out the familiar shape of Balian coming towards her. In his arms was little Barisian. She had to smile at the sight of their son snuggling up to his long absent father.

After the boy’s initial reaction to Balian, he seemed to have accepted this strange man. For certain he was kind, and he had a nice voice that rumbled when Barisian put his ear against his chest. The little boy liked that. This newly arrived big person made him feel safe, and he was nicer than the other men who wore cold hard clothes. However, this man was not his lovely mother, and he didn’t understand why she had to stay in bed all the time. In his mind, his mother could never get sick. His mother was his invincible defender.

When Barisian saw Sibylla, he stretched out his arms for her. “Mama,” he said, as he began twisting in his father’s arms, struggling to get to his mother. Sibylla tried to sit up, but she felt so weak. There was no strength left in her. It was as if she was already halfway out of this world and into the next.

“Sibylla,” said Balian softly. “Lie down. You need to rest.” He sat down in the chair beside her bed. She reached out with a frail shaking hand. He caught it in his own rough one. She was so delicate. Her skin was cold, papery and almost translucent. He could feel every one of her bones.

Barisian freed himself from his father’s grasp and toddled on unsteady feet to his mother. He tugged at her sleeve. “Up,” he said. “Mama play?”

“Oh darling,” said Sibylla. Her voice was almost inaudible. A tear slipped from her eye. Moisture clung to her eyelashes like tiny diamonds. How could she bear to leave her vulnerable little boy behind? He was so young. He still needed her. “Not right now.” She turned to Balian. “I’ll have plenty of time to sleep later. I want to be awake to enjoy these moments.”

“Sibylla, you can’t die,” said Balian. His voice broke and he was swallowing rapidly. “I need you. Barisian needs you. It wasn’t meant to be like this.”

“Things hardly ever happen the way we meant for them to happen, my Perfect Knight,” said Sibylla with a sad smile. “Everything is in God’s hands. I used to think that I could control my own fate but now, I know better.”

“I don’t believe that our fates are entirely out of our hands,” said Balian stubbornly.

“Maybe not,” agreed Sibylla. “But I chose this fate when I chose to stay behind in the Holy Land instead of going to France with you.” She gave a small sigh. “I wish I’d made a wiser choice. I’m so sorry, Balian, I really am.”

Balian bent down to kiss her damp forehead. “I love you,” he murmured. “You can make all the worst choices in the world and I would still love you.”

She felt his hot tears fall onto her skin. For a moment, she could forget her pain as she basked in his love.

————

The Houses of Healing seemed to be a labyrinth of white carved stone. Elizabeth held tightly onto Willie’s hand as they followed Arwen through arches and around turns. The dying sunlight cast long shadows over them. Birds were singing their evening songs as they readied to roost for the night.

Elizabeth wished she’d thought of asking Jack to lend her his compass. Her borrowed dress fit snugly, but it was not uncomfortable. She’d been relieved to find that aristocratic ladies in Gondor were not required to wear corsets to be fashionable. The Queen had made sure of that. At any rate, Arwen did not need a corset. She had a perfect figure.

Willie was wearing his beloved tri-corn hat with his new Gondorian clothes. Well, they weren’t his. Like his mother, he’d borrowed clothes. Faramir, it seemed, was prone to keeping everything that he’d ever owned, and from a dusty coffer, he’d found some clothes which he’d worn as a boy. Considering what little boys usually got up to, these clothes were in an extraordinarily good condition, with only a few stray patches. The Steward had smiled when he’d seen Willie with those clothes. “My mother made them for me, just before she died,” he’d said. “You’re taller than I was, but I was only five years old at that time.”

With his strange array of clothing, Willie looked odd, but piratical in a ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’ sort of way. The little boy was nervous about meeting his father for the first time. He’d heard so much about Will that in his mind, his father was almost a demigod.

Arwen stopped before a plain wooden door. “In here,” she said. “A healer will be out here waiting if you need anything.”

“Thank you, milady,” said Elizabeth, curtseying. She felt as if she was an aristocrat again. She hadn’t felt that way for a long time. She and her son stepped into the dim room. On the bed and sandwiched between starched white sheets was Will. His chest was wrapped with white linen bandages and he wasn’t wearing a shirt. His long dark curly hair was loose, and he’d lost the bandanna. Elizabeth let go of Willie’s hand and strode to her husband’s bedside. He’d lost weight, and he looked pale, but at least he was breathing easily. She sank to her knees beside his bed and kissed him on the forehead.

“Hello, Mr. Turner,” she said fondly.

“Mrs. Turner,” said Will, opening his eyes with a smile on his lips. “How lovely to see you.” His voice was still weak, but there was a lively light in his eyes.

“Oh Will,” breathed Elizabeth, clasping his hand and bringing it to her lips. He was pale and thin from his illness, but at least he was alive and lucid. And he had a pulse. Her eyes grew blurry with joyous tears. “I missed you.” It didn’t sound right, but it was the only thing she could think of to say. Her joy robbed her of all coherent thought.

“I missed you too,” said Will, reaching up with his other hand to tuck a wisp of stray hair behind her ear. “Not a moment went by when you were not at the very centre of my thoughts.”

Willie stood awkwardly to the side. His parents seemed to have forgotten he was there, and they were sounding so ‘mushy’ as his Uncle Jack-Jack would say. He scuffed his shoe on the floor, catching his parents’ attention.

“Will,” said Elizabeth, pulling the boy towards the bed. “This is William James Turner.”

“Hello Papa,” said Willie shyly, holding out his hand to his father. There was something very solemn about the boy’s manner. Will shook his son’s hand.

“Hello William,” he said, not sure of how a father was supposed to speak to his son. “Barbossa spoke of you.”

“He did?” said Willie, brightening up. “What did he say?”

“Willie here idolizes Captain Barbossa,” said Elizabeth dryly. “He is in desperate need of a positive paternal presence.”

“Why are you using all those big words, Mama?” said Willie. “What don’t you want me to know? Did you know it’s rude to talk about other people behind their backs?”

Will chuckled, and then winced as the movement hurt his wound. His hand flew over his heart. Elizabeth was instantly concerned. “Will?” she said. “Are you all right? Will? Talk to me! Look at me!”

“I’m fine, Elizabeth, truly,” said Will. “Chest wounds are supposed to hurt.”

“How long are you going to be in bed for, Papa?” asked Willie. “I broke my wrist once, and Mama made me stay in bed for years!”

“It was only three months, Willie, until your wrist was fine,” said Elizabeth.

“No one said I had to stay in bed,” began Will.

“William Turner!” scolded Elizabeth. “You will stay in bed until Aragorn says you’re allowed to get up, and I don’t want any ‘buts’ from you; do I make myself clear?”

“Inescapably clear,” replied both Willie and Will together. Father and son glanced at each other, and then burst out laughing.

‘Oh dear God,’ thought Elizabeth fondly as she pretended to put on an angry expression. ‘They are so alike. They even both quote Jack Sparrow at exactly the same time.’ She wasn’t able to maintain her composure for long and she was soon laughing with them as they told each other about their various misadventures.

————

“All right,” said Faramir, who was acting as the scribe for their impromptu war council. He suspended his quill above his sheet of paper. “Let’s have a look at the smaller picture. How in Arda are we to steal a fleet of ships from underneath the corsairs’ noses?”

“Commandeer,” corrected Jack.

“Either way, he does have a point,” said Paris.

“We’ll get to that when we come to it,” said Jack casually, waving his hand about in a drunken manner. Actually, he probably was drunk. He’d had several cups of the Dorwinian wine which Aragorn had imported.

Jack’s words alarmed Aragorn very much indeed. Were they going to attack the Eastern pirates with no plan whatsoever and improvise as they go along? He would never do something so risky. Plans were essential for him — granted, they weren’t always very good, considering the number of potentially problematic situations he and Legolas had gotten themselves into in the past. However, he was of the opinion that bad plans were better than no plans at all.

“How did you commandeer the Interceptor, Jack?” asked Legolas.

“Well, if you must know...” slurred the pirate. In a very drunken and not very comprehensible manner, he told them about how he and Will had sneaked up from under the water by using the air trapped beneath an upturned boat.

“Won’t it look a bit suspicious if we have, say, ten walking boats?” said Faramir. How the British Navy didn’t notice that single walking boat was beyond his comprehension, unless of course, the navy really was as useless as Jack made it out to be.

“So what do you suggest, Lord I-know-everything?” said Jack. He tried to pour himself some more wine but missed his cup. Aragorn hastily moved all the priceless maps and important documents out of harm’s way. He gave Legolas a perplexed look. How in the Valar’s name did his meticulous elven friend get entangled with this man’s affairs? Legolas shook his head tiredly. Coincidences, he decided, were not that amusing after a while.

Faramir pursed his lips and tried not to be offended. The man was a pirate, and an intoxicated one at that. Surely his bad manners could be excused.

“Well, for one, we need men,” said Paris.

“We need men who do not fear death,” elaborated Achilles.

“Gondorians are not cowards,” said Aragorn.

“I mean men who have nothing to lose and the world to gain,” said Paris. “These ought to be men who have no other choice but fight and advance.”

“And where do we find such men?” said the king.

“The criminals who be sentenced to death who are sittin’ in yer dungeons rottin’ away, perhaps?” suggested Barbossa. He fed Jack the monkey a sugared almond.

Jack belched and almost toppled over, and he would’ve done so if Gibbs had not caught him.

“Why don’t I feel this is a very good idea?” said Legolas. “We have criminals fighting for us. Think about it. These are murderers and robbers and rapists.”

“At least we know they’re not going to hesitate to kill,” said Paris with a shrug, “and we need pirates to fight pirates. All we need to do is secure their allegiance, and I think I know what to do.”

————

Balian watched his son play with Astyanax. Barisian was more or less the same size as the younger boy, although there must have been a year’s age difference between them. His son was quiet for a child of his age, while Astyanax made lots of noises to himself. The younger boy held out a wooden figurine —wet with drool— to Barisian. The dark haired child eyed the other boy, not sure of how to react. Then he took the toy. “Fank you,” he said in his high voice. Astyanax cooed and giggled.

“They seem to be getting along quite well,” said Andromache, coming in with a tray of food for the two boys.

“I’m glad,” said Balian. He was haggard with worry for his beloved. There were shadows under his eyes and although he smiled when his son toddled over to him and invited him to play, the smile seemed slightly forced. Sibylla’s condition was deteriorating quickly. There was no hope left. That hurt more than any wound of the flesh.

Barisian seemed to know something was wrong, but he didn’t know how to ask about it. He tugged at his father’s sleeve and looked up at him with the innocent wisdom which only children possessed. Balian scooped up his son. “Mama?” said Barisian.

“We’re going to see her this afternoon,” said Balian, bouncing the child on his knee. “Would you like that?”

The little boy nodded. Then he noticed Andromache and the food. “Auntie,” he said. “Hungry.”

Andromache took him from Balian. Her heart ached for this little child who was soon to lose one of the most important people in his life.

————

It was night. Neither the moon nor the stars were shining. Yusuf had told him to be ready. Sibylla would soon set off on her journey, and they would be separated forever. It was so difficult to accept. Barisian had fallen asleep in a chair. Balian wanted Sibylla to have her family around her during the last moments of her life. He cradled her in his arms.

She opened her eyes. They were unfocused, but she seemed contented. “Don’t grieve for me, Balian,” Sibylla whispered, smiling. There was nothing coy about her now, nothing seductive. All that he could see in her blue eyes was pure untainted love. “I won’t be alone. Jocelyn can keep me company. We’ll gossip about you. It seems years since I’ve gossiped about a handsome man.”

“It’s not polite to talk about a man behind his back,” said Balian with a watery smile. “I’d rather you made fun of me before my face.”

“That’s not gossip then. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. Godfrey’s in Purgatory, isn’t he? He’ll look after me, the way he did before you came along.”

“Don’t leave us all alone, Sibylla,” said Balian, choking on the lump in his throat.

“Look after our son, Balian,” said Sibylla earnestly. “He’s never been a very strong child...and I fear for him.”

“I would lay down my life for him, and for you.” And Balian wished that he could trade his health and immortality for Sibylla’s life, but it seemed that God would not have it. Sibylla reached up with a shaking hand to cup his face tenderly. His beard was prickly beneath her palm. She could feel the hot wetness of his tears. He was so beautiful and perfect in every way. What had she done to deserve him? He’d given her light, and after her first son’s death, a reason to live. Then he’d given her Barisian. It was so unfair of her to abandon him now, especially since he’d risked torture and death to save her, but God was calling her home. No one defied the Almighty, not even a headstrong queen of Jerusalem.

“Bring Barisian here,” she said. “I want us to be close together.”

Gently, Balian picked up the sleeping child. He woke up, making groggy noises and rubbing his eyes. “Sleepy,” he said. “Want Mama.”

Sibylla held out her arms for her little son. He willingly snuggled up to her. Balian held them both against him. She’d never felt so satisfied, with her child in her arms and the man she loved holding her.

“I love you, husband mine,” she whispered, leaning against him so that she could hear his strong steady heart, pulsating with love and passion. He gave a start.

“You call me your husband?” he whispered.

“If you will have me as your wife.”

Balian was totally dazed. “We need a priest...” he said to no one in particular. Then he snapped back into focus. They didn’t need a priest. There was not enough time to find one. Will and Elizabeth had been married in the middle of a battle on a ship by Barbossa. Why couldn’t he have God and the angels as witnesses? He reached up to his neck to where he wore Sibylla’s ring on a chain. He yanked off the chain and slipped the ring off it.

“Sibylla,” he said, “with this ring, I take you as my wife, and bind myself to you forever.” He put the little gold circlet onto her thin finger.

Sibylla was weeping tears of joy. “Balian of Ibelin,” she said, mustering all her remaining strength “I have no ring with which to bind myself to you, but with God and the angels as witnesses, I take you as my husband and I will remain faithful to you for all eternity.”

Balian kissed the top of her head tenderly. His beautiful Sibylla—his wife. He drew them even closer to him, wishing that this moment would never end.

“I’m tired, Balian my husband,” said Sibylla with a contented little sigh. “Can you hold me whilst I sleep?”

“Of course,” said Balian softly. In his heart, he knew what was coming next. Sibylla’s breathing grew fainter. She closed her eyes.

And never opened them again.

————

They buried Sibylla next to her brother and her son, Baldwin the younger. At least in death, she would be surrounded by people who loved her. Balian felt as if he’d run out of tears, and Barisian simply didn’t understand that his mother was never going to wake up again. The little boy kept on asking about her, and Balian did not know how to explain the idea of death to a two-year-old.

In the man’s mind, a plan was forming. He knew he could not stay in the Holy Land. This place held too much pain and bitter memories, and it wasn’t safe. Richard was still hunting for them. It was time for Balian to go home.

Imad could guess what was on his Frankish friend’s mind, and he had every intention of thwarting that plan. Through some obscure investigation, he’d discovered that through his paternal grandmother, Balian was a distant cousin of King Philippe of France. Barisian now had something else to back his claim to the throne of Jerusalem. From a personal point of view, this was bad, but Balian’s presence in the Holy Land meant that there would be continuous turmoil amongst the Crusaders. For the Muslims, this was a great political advantage. Imad was, above all, a subject of the Sultan. He would put his master before everything, including the bonds of friendship. The spymaster would do his best to convince Balian to stay. He couldn’t guarantee success, but at least he would’ve tried to do what was best for his people and his faith.

————

A/N: Now, Balian wants to go back to France, and he can only do that by crossing the ocean. Each time he’s gone on any sort of voyage in a seagoing vessel, he has gotten into trouble. Any guesses as to where he’ll end up this time? (Hint: It’s not France)

Anyway, it’s mostly dialogue this time — it’s one of those in between chapter which need to be written to prepare for the excitement to come. Hope I didn’t bore anyone.

Kiwi: Oh, Balian will join his friends some time in the near future. You don't have to worry about that.

Casakit: Um, unfortunately, that is Beckett's only cameo. However, they are going to encounter enough trouble in Middle Earth.

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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  #23  
Old June 13th, 2008, 01:35 AM
Casakit
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lol sorry I couldn't help but ask.. believe me I have some charcters who utterly despise Beckett myself( starts ticking off charcters on fingers)uhm I think about 10 or more lol * sniffles* poor Balian..* gives balian a hug and Barisian too* yeah I'm sappy what else is new? lol
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  #24  
Old June 13th, 2008, 10:11 AM
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KiwiGirl KiwiGirl is offline
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Oh....am very sad here. Poor Balian I really hope that he can find some happiness in his life. This was a very full chapter. Jack in all his glory and this awful loss.
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  #25  
Old June 21st, 2008, 06:20 AM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Casakit: Cutler Beckett definitely was despicable. I'm a bit sappy too

Kiwi: Balian will find happiness in time, just...not right now.

Thanks everyone for reading and for the comments!

Chance Encounter: Return to Middle Earth


Disclaimer: I don’t own Balian, Imad, Legolas, Aragorn, Paris, Achilles, Will, Jack, Merry, Pippin... you get the idea. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of returning them, savvy?

Chapter 11: A Plan of Action

With more than just a little doubt, Faramir led Paris down to the dungeons where the condemned and the soon–to-be-condemned awaited death. There was an ominous aura around these men. Their dark predatory eyes gleamed with malicious curiosity.

“Do you trust me?” Paris murmured to Faramir.

“Not really,” replied the Steward, “but the King and Legolas seemed to think you are the right man for this task, and I trust them, so by logic, I ought to trust you.”

“That’s comforting to know.” Paris took a deep breath, very much aware of the risk he was taking. “You, listen up!” he said loudly to catch the convicts’ attention. “You are men doomed to die, and the world knows that you don’t deserve to live, but the King is a kind a merciful man, and he is giving you a second chance.”

“That’s a novelty,” drawled someone in the shadows. “Merciful kings —I’ve yet to encounter one.”

“Why do you say that?” said Paris, taken aback by the man’s calm and civilized tone. This was no common criminal, the prince could tell.

“Why?” The man’s laugh was as dry as the dead branches of the White Tree. “Because there has never been a king in history who has looked kindly upon wretches like me. We’re criminals, lordling; the scum of the world. Kings would rather hang us than pity us.”

“He’s the most dangerous of all the men here,” whispered Faramir to Paris. “He’s robbed three towns, and killed seventeen elite guards while attempting to break into the treasury. He didn’t even blink when he was sentenced to death. I think we ought to leave him well alone.”

“I think there’s more to him under that killer’s facade,” said Paris. “He’s the type of man we need.” He turned back to the condemned men, who were now rather interested. If anything, this was interesting. They hardly had any entertainment down here.

“The King has agreed to spare your lives, on one condition. You must fight for Gondor. For the past year, corsairs have been menacing her shores. You are going to help us build a fleet to fight these pirates. If we succeed and defeat the pirates, your lives will be spared, and you will be free to go.”

“Build a fleet?” said the man in the shadows. “How would you do that, lordling? The world knows that Gondor has no respectable ship to speak of. Gondorians are not sailors. You have good ideals, but they in turn are full of holes.”

“We’re going to commandeer a fleet,” said Paris coldly. He’d had enough of being called a ‘lordling’, which was derogatory at the very least. “If you’re not interested, you’re free to stay here and wait for death.”

The man got up and walked to the bars. Judging from his features, he was definitely not a Gondorian. “Commandeer, as in steal?” said the man. He had a strong nose with flared nostrils, and lips which would be called sensuous. His hair was cropped, and there were tattoos on both of his bearded cheeks.

“He’s Haradrim,” said Faramir. “Prince Paris, I do not think it is a good idea to let him join this venture. He can easily run back to his master.”

“Master?” The man seemed incensed. He spat on the floor. “I have no master, and I will fight anyone who insists that I do.”

“And are we supposed to believe that you tried to raid the treasury of your own accord?’ said Faramir. “What thief would take such a risk?”

“Believe what you will, but yes, I decided that I wanted your gold. That usurper on the throne of Harad has never commanded me, he does not command me and he will never command me!” That was spoken with such fervour that Faramir had little reason to doubt the man’s hate towards this ‘usurper’, whoever he might be.

“Faramir,” said Paris, still eyeing the man. “He is the epitome of what we need.”

The prisoners were released, and they followed the two lords out of the dungeons, escorted by a contingent of elite guards. Their shackles were not removed until they swore on the pain of eternal damnation that they would not betray the King’s trust. Paris seemed to be taking the risk of assuming that these men’s oaths were worth something. It was little comfort for Faramir.

The Haradrim, out in the light of day, did not seem so menacing anymore. Paris deemed himself a good judge of men, and he could see a certain sort of sadness in the man’s eyes. “What’s your name?” he asked him.

“I have no name,” said the man “and I shall have none until the usurper is dead.”

“I must be able to call you something other than Haradrim,” said Paris.

The man thought for a while. “You may call me Xerxes,” he said.

————

Despite Imad’s impressive powers of persuasion, Balian refused to change his mind about returning to France. “That is where I belong,” said the Frank. “There is nothing more for me in the Holy Land, Imad. It’s too big for a man like me.”

“Balian,” said Imad, deciding to try the truth and appeal to Balian’s selfless nature “forgive me, but you can make this place into the paradise it ought to be. Your son is the rightful heir to the Crusader throne. You are his father, so by right, you ought to be his regent. Think about it, my friend. You can stop this mindless conflict and bring peace as Baldwin did.”

‘And even if you don’t manage that, you will still weaken the Crusaders considerably,’ he thought.

“My son is the reason why I am reluctant to stay here,” said Balian. “It is too dangerous for him. He is but a little boy. To put him on the throne would be to cast him into a sea of flames and on a mountain of blades. Be honest with me, Imad. Would you do this to an innocent child? If Barisian was your son, would you cast him into suffering while he is naught but a babe?”

“As a man, I would say no,” said Imad quietly, “but as the Sultan’s subject and a servant of my faith and my people, I would force myself to say yes, even though it makes my heart bleed.”

Balian’s face grew hard and he set his chin. His brown eyes were fiery with a father’s protective love. “I would never let anyone sacrifice my son on the altar of politics,” said the Frank, “not unless all life has left my body and my flesh is stripped from my bones.”

Imad knew defeat when he saw it, and he did not further press the matter. Why lose the man’s friendship when it would gain him nothing?

“If that is your decision, then I will help you, my friend,” he said. “Ashkelon is the only Christian port that you can go to. It is far enough from Jerusalem for you to be simply another Frank. From there, you can get a safe passage back to France, but I must say, Balian, you must ride through the desert to avoid detection. Are you certain you want to brave the desert sands?”

“I’m sure I prefer the desert to politics,” said Balian. “I’ll tell Andromache and Cassandra. The sooner we can leave, the better.”

Imad sighed. “I’ll see to it, Balian,” said the Saracen. “You go and prepare yourself for your journey.”

————

Cassandra had known that they would not stay in Jerusalem and live off Imad’s hospitality forever, but the thought of going to Balian’s homeland and living with him alarmed her. Despite her anger, love had not loosened its grip on her. It would be torment to be so close to Balian and at the same time so far from him. However, she had no choice. Their fate lay in his hands, and the hands of the gods.

Andromache understood Balian’s need to leave Jerusalem. The man was haunted by grief. He’d laid one wife to rest and then he’d promptly lost another. Such pain must be like knives on his heart. “Of course we’ll go to France with you,” she said when he asked her about it. “Hector entrusted us into your care, and we certainly can’t live off Lord Imad’s hospitality for the rest of our lives.” She placed a hand on his shoulder. “You need to leave your sorrow behind, my dear friend.”

“I hope I can,” he said. “Do you think going to France will help?”

“I don’t know,” said Andromache honestly. “We’ll have to wait and see, won’t we?”

————

The day was overcast when they left the city, disguised as traders. Andromache was glad that the clouds hid the sun’s glare. The clothes which Imad had procured for the women’s disguises —hijab, he’d called them— were voluminous, heat absorbing, and stifling. Only their eyes, hands and feet were seen. Balian was wearing a black turban. He looked odd, in an adorable way, or so Cassandra thought. His face was red with the heat and sweat trickled down from his brow. Only Imad and the children seemed comfortable. The former was used to the climate, and the latter was not required to wear as many clothes as the adults.

As young as they were, Astyanax and Barisian seemed to know that something was going on. Barisian wondered why they were leaving his mother behind. Yes, he knew that she was asleep, but couldn’t his Papa wake her up or carry her? He was so big and strong. It shouldn’t be that hard for him.

The women and children were riding in a closed wagon. There were barrels of spices and wine to support their guises as traders, and within the folds of their clothes, they had hidden gold. That was always useful, no matter where you were.

“Auntie,” said Barisian, looking up at Andromache. “Where Mama?”

“Hush, darling,” said Andromache, pulling the child into her lap, where Astyanax was sitting, playing with the wooden lion that Hector had carved for him. “Your mother is with the gods.” She still could not see the difference between deities and angels. Cassandra did not even endeavour to explain that there was a difference. She wanted no part in a conversation which concerned Sibylla, the dead woman who’d snared Balian’s heart. The girl could not even bear to look at Barisian for long knowing that he was the fruit of Balian and Sibylla’s love.

“God?” said Barisian in confusion. That was a word that he did not know, and the last part of the word was awfully hard to say, so he had left it out. Andromache grimaced as she realized she would now have to explain religious matter to a two year old, and moreover, she knew nothing about his father’s religion. No doubt Balian would not approve of his son adopting a religion which he did not believe in.

“Your papa will teach you,” she said finally, giving the boy a kiss on his cheek. Barisian did not seem satisfied by that answer. Rescue came in the form of Astyanax, who’d decided that it was his turn to be in the centre of attention. He growled and shoved his lion at Barisian, who squealed. Soon the two little boys were immersed in their games. The issue of gods and death had been set aside in favour of wooden animals.

————

Imad shielded his eyes from the sun. There was a cloud of dust, nay, a wall of dust in the distance, and it was coming straight towards them. “Allah have mercy on us!” he said in rapid Arabic. “Do the desert djinn really exist?” He’d thought that the stories of djinn were all products of heathen superstition, but now he wasn’t so sure. “Sandstorm!” he cried, reverting back to the Frankish tongue. “Get inside the wagon!”

Balian scrambled in after Imad. The sandstorm hit them like a missile from an otherworldly catapult. They could feel the wagon being lifted off the ground and thrown about like a leaf in the wind. “Hold on!” cried Imad, grabbing Cassandra as she was about to slide out of the wagon. The roaring of the storm drowned out his words, but they didn’t need anyone to tell them that.

Andromache held the two frightened children against her bosom, and Balian held her to protect all three as well as he could, shielding them with his own body. He winced as a barrel full of wine hit his back, most likely leaving the beginnings of what would later be a huge bruise. The wine burst out from the barrel and soaked him.

As suddenly as it had manifested, the storm died down. The wagon landed with a splintering crash. Balian let out a breathless ‘oomph’ as he landed on his back, with Andromache and the children on top of him. The two little boys were crying with fear. Barisian clambered out of Andromache’s hold and wrapped his arms around his father’s neck. The little boy buried his face into Balian’s shoulder. And then he sneezed as he breathed in some of the spilled spices.

Imad climbed to his feet, spitting, coughing and sneezing. His eyes were shut and watering. He’d been lucky enough to get chilli powder all over him.

Andromache scrambled off Balian. She too, was soaked, but not just in wine. Frightened children had a way of having unfortunate accidents. She grimaced as she realized she smelled like a midden. There was some spicy yellow powder in her hair. She vaguely remembered Imad saying something about ‘curry’ from a place called ‘India’.

By some miracle, no one was seriously hurt. They were a bit bruised, but no one was bleeding, unless Balian’s reopened shoulder wound was counted. The blacksmith got to his feet with his son still clinging to him like a climbing pea plant. “It’s all right, little one,” he said to the child, rubbing his back soothingly. “I’m here. Nothing’s going to hurt you.”

One by one, they got out of the broken wagon, pushing aside barrels and getting covered in spices. The blacksmith found himself looking at a strangely familiar green plain dotted with tussocks, and a menacing dark forest rising just behind him. The trees groaned. Imad leapt in fright.

Despite their unfortunate and problematic situation, Balian began to laugh. Everyone looked at him as if he’d gone mad. “Welcome to Fangorn Forest, my friends,” he said.

“And I suppose we’ll get to see the walking talking trees,” said Imad, only half doubting his friend’s story.

“Actually, Imad, they’re ents.”

Just as well they were at the edge.

————

Elizabeth rested her head on Will’s shoulder as they strolled side by side in the gardens. Due to Aragorn’s expertise, Will was well on his way to becoming fully recovered. Willie was skipping ahead, examining every new plant. She sighed contentedly as she led Will over to a stone bench. They both sat down. She put her hand on the warm stone and leaned backwards, letting the sun bathe her face. Will was admiring her. She knew it and she was enjoying every moment. And then she felt something tickling the back of her hand. The former Pirate King glanced down nonchalantly, then she leapt up and shrieked in a manner which was most unbefitting of a pirate, let alone the King of the Brethren Court.

“What’s wrong, Elizabeth?” said Will in alarm, afraid that his wife was hurt.

“Kill it!” screamed Elizabeth, jumping and shaking her hand until the unfortunate little creature with eight legs fell off in a daze.

Will was speechless as he stared at Elizabeth’s attacker, which was busy crawling away as far as possible from the relatively big screaming being. He finally found his voice. “Elizabeth, sweetheart,” he said. “It’s a spider. Aren’t you...overreacting just a bit?”

“That’s exactly the point!” said Elizabeth as she wiped her hand furiously. “It’s a spider.”

Willie came over and picked up the spider. Elizabeth shrank back nervously. Little boys were prone to playing pranks. As much as she loved her son, she knew that he’d been influenced by Jack and Barbossa. Who knew what he would do with that disgusting creepy eight-legged thing? “Well, it is almost a quarter of an inch long,” said Willie, peering at the spider closely. He poked it. “You know, Mama, it’s actually very interesting. Did you know that spiders have eight eyes? Well, that’s what Uncle Jack-Jack said...Papa, you don’t know her. Mama is very very scared of spiders. There was this spider once, and it was the size of an ant, and Mama...”

Will chuckled as he imagined his brave Elizabeth screeching at the sight of a miniscule spider.

“All right, William Turner,” said Elizabeth. Both the men in her life glanced at her with mischievous guilt. They didn’t know exactly which William she meant. “That’s enough. Didn’t I ever tell you it is not polite to laugh at a lady?”

“The Cap’n laughs at you all the time, Mama,” said Willie indignantly.

“Barbossa isn’t exactly the best role model for a respectable young man,” said Elizabeth. She’d forgotten how many times she’d said that.

“But I don’t wanna be a respectacle young man,” said Willie. “I wanna be a pirate, and spectacles are for granddads.”

Will clutched his stomach. He was hurting from laughing so much.

————

Down in the practise yards, the newly recruited convict-turned-sailors were pretending to practise their knot-tying skills whilst they watched the two commanders —a certain Captain Sparrow and a Captain Barbossa— cursing at each other and almost coming to blows. The man called Xerxes shook his head. If the King of Gondor wanted to build a navy with those two men in charge, he was disillusioned.

Paris was attempting to mediate, but he feared that too much involvement might end up with him losing a piece of himself.

I am captain!” said Jack. “I always have been!”

“You forget, Jack Sparrow, that we deposed of you last time we made you governor of that little island in the middle of nowhere!” snarled Barbossa, shaking a half-eaten apple at the other pirate and spraying Jack’s face with spittle and juice. Jack the monkey eyed the apple hopefully. His master didn’t seem to want it anymore, and he was wondering if he could have it instead.

“Well, that shows you’re a mutinous cretin but I’m still captain, and it’s Captain Jack Sparrow, you...you with the scraggly beard!”

Gibbs had long since despaired of this idea ever working and had gone to find a tavern with good beverages. Achilles was joining in with the shouting even though he knew nothing about naval warfare. Anna-Maria was sulking because she had not been included when the sailors had been recruited. Let the King see what a bad idea it had been commissioning these two men.

Ragetti and Pintel were standing to the side, laying bets. “Who do you think will win this?” asked Ragetti gleefully.

“Oh, I’m puttin’ five pieces o’ eight on Barbossa,” said Pintel.

“Don’t be too sure of it, Pin,” said Ragetti. “I’m rootin’ for Cap’n Jack.”

“Barbossa’s got the brains.”

“Jack’s got the luck.”

“I knew it would be interesting,” said Pippin with a wry smile. Merry was not so amused.

“We don’t need entertainment...” said the Brandybuck “well, maybe we do, but not from two naval commanders!”

“This is hopeless!” said Paris. He stalked off to find Aragorn. The King needed to appoint a new commander, and the prince of Troy knew just who he would recommend. There was only one reasonable choice after all.

————

Aragorn, flanked by Legolas, Paris and Faramir, strode into the gardens of the Houses of Healing. Will was surprised to see them. Aragorn was a king after all. What time did a king have for a man like him?

“Will?” said Aragorn. “How are you feeling?”

Will bowed awkwardly. “I feel fine, sir, thanks to you,” he said.

“Don’t mention it,” said Aragorn. He licked his lip nervously. “Will, I would like to ask a favour of you.”

“A favour, Sire?” said Will with a blank look.

————

Legolas, acting as the King’s herald, marched into the practise yards, with Will, Paris, Elizabeth, Anna-Maria, Gibbs, Achilles, Merry and Pippin behind him. Barbossa and Jack had finally come to blows with each other. “Stop this madness!” commanded the elf in his best ‘prince’ tone. The two pirates stopped hacking at each other and looked at him as if he was insane.

“By the order of the King,” began Legolas, “this naval force is to have an Admiral. His Majesty King Elessar, High King of Gondor and Arnor, has appointed—”

Every sailor held their breath. Barbossa was looking smug with certainty and Jack was grinning with confidence. Both were so sure that they would be Admiral.

“—William Turner, as the new Admiral of the Gondorian Navy. The entire navy is to submit to his command, and he shall be answerable only to the King and the Steward.”

There was a wave of protest, well, from two of the men. “What sort of nonsense are you talkin’ about?” demanded Jack. “The Whelp can’t be Admiral! He ain’t got no experience...an’....an’ he’s still recoverin’, savvy?”

“Master Turner can make a decent First Mate at the very best!” said Barbossa in exactly the same time.

“If you have any problems, take it up with the King,” said Paris, stepping out from behind Legolas.

“It’s obvious that the only man who can be appointed is Will Turner,” said Anna-Maria acidly. “Look at you two! Barbossa, you’re a villain with an addiction to apples, and Jack is...well, Captain Jack Sparrow.”

“Exactly,” said Elizabeth. “He can’t very well be Admiral Jack Sparrow if he’s Captain Jack Sparrow.”

“Sometimes, I wish I’d let Barbossa cut your throat,” muttered Jack.

“This all be your doin’, isn’t it, Prince Paris?” said Barbossa with a grim smile.

“I might’ve mentioned it,” said Paris innocently. His heart was thudding wildly, like the hooves of a galloping horse. Barbossa was not a man one would like to cross.

And he’d added Jack to the explosive mixture.

————

A/N: Darn. Still unable to get started on the raids. At least everyone who’s meant to be in Middle Earth is there now, and the Gondorian Navy has an Admiral.
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