The sound of battle was long gone and it seemed as if nobody was fighting, the silence was deafening in their ears as they trotted back to the place where hours before a battle did take place. The only sound that was heard was the horses as they moved about the field, the men riding the horses were dead silent as they searched around the dead bodies, searching for the wounded that were fortunate or unfortunate to be alive. Monsieur de Tréville was a part of this company of soldiers as they went to their grim duties of going through their dead, searching for anybody that was alive. In a bloody battle such as the one fought in this farmer's field, there was no hope for many of the men who lay on the battlefield dead. For others who remained alive but were near death's door, Monsieur de Tréville knew that there was no hope for these men either.
Aramis and Porthos remained at their Captain's side as he searched through the hundred's dead and wounded, he was searching for two men that he knew to be alive... at least Monsieur de Tréville hoped that Athos and D'Artagnan were alive. He couldn't bear the thought of losing so many men in one day but the thought that he'd lost two of his best Musketeers pained him to the very core.
He paused at one Musketeer's dead body, his face pale in death; arm outstretched at his side, a sword within reach. Beside the Musketeer an English soldier's body lay nearby, a sword wound to the chest. Monsieur de Tréville gave a collected sigh as he gave the dead Musketeer a salute. This man had died fighting and had remained loyal to his king... he died an honourable death and had remained brave to the very end. He continued on, his face composed as he searched the many faces of his dead company... bent on finding two that he hoped were still alive.
"Hélène de l'eau Clair will have to be notified of her son's death." The old Captain said softly to Aramis and Porthos, their faces remained composed though the old Captain could see the battle waging in their eyes. They didn't know if they could continue on with the search for their two friends, the only thing that prevented them from leaving the search was their loyalty and friendship to Athos and D'Artagnan. "His young wife Babette should also be notified."
"The blasted English met us here, with those La Rochelle soldiers." Porthos said heatedly as they passed by two Musketeers, one was wounded and his breath became raspy. The other, his comrade was busily tying his Musketeer tunic around the man's wound which appeared to be caused by the pike that lay nearby.
"Dlancey, how is Fasset holding up?" Monsieur de Tréville asked the Musketeer that had looked up to see who had stopped near him, his hand was on his sword and the moment that Dlancey saw that it was his Captain and two of his comrades he relaxed his hold.
"He's not doing too well, sir." Dlancey said as he once again busied himself with tending to the wounds of his fallen comrade. "Fasset's wound is deep and his breath is beginning to leave him, I am worried that he will not make it back to camp."
"He will, Fasset is strong and he knows that giving in is the wrong answer." Monsieur de Tréville was pleased to find at least two of his Musketeers alive and he smiled down at his two men before he addressed Dlancey again. "Once you are done tending to Fasset, Dlancey, I expect that you get some treatment for that head wound."
They moved on, leaving the two men alone in the field. Aramis turned in the seat of his saddle and saw Dlancey pick up Fasset and carry him over his shoulder to the safety of the others that were drawing closer.
"This was where D'Artagnan fell." Aramis said softly as he pointed to a dead horse nearby, a sword and a body lay close to the horse that carried D'Artagnan to battle and all three of them held their breath as they dismounted to take a closer look. The body of the Musketeer was faced in a different direction and made it difficult for the three of them to properly identify his body. Monsieur de Tréville reached the body first and paused to collect himself before he reached his hand down to turn the body over, his heart was beating wildly in his chest and he felt faint.
Beside him Aramis and Porthos were pale as their Captain finally managed to turn the dead Musketeer on his back so that they could see his face. The man was young, perhaps twenty five years of age... too old for D'Artagnan who had turned nineteen the previous year. All three men sighed in relief and Monsieur de Tréville soon hurried to the dead horse that lay just in front of them. The horse had been D'Artagnan's and the old Captain could see a gaping hole in the chest, the horse had collapsed, taking with it D'Artagnan who would have been at the mercy of the English.
"Athos had dismounted after Brave Heart had fallen, D'Artagnan was not moving which scared us because usually he bounces right back up." Porthos was quietly speaking; he was relieved that the body of the man was not that of D'Artagnan's but that still did not mean he was not sorry for the death of another man. "The English pikemen were advancing, they were going to take advantage of D'Artagnan but Athos dismounted and raced to his side before they reached him."
"We lost them when we were attacked by a second company of soldiers." Aramis stated as he looked around him at the men who were dead. "We don't know if they are alive or dead. We raced over the moment the battle was lost. The English gained ground and the Rochellese won back their ground and the bastion beyond this field."
"We will gain it all back." Monsieur de Tréville assured Aramis and Porthos as he scanned the field where so many lives were lost. "Right now we have to focus on finding Athos and D'Artagnan, we have already lost a lot of time and it may be too late for them."
They went back to their waiting horses in silence, each man deep in his own thoughts. They all thought of Athos and D'Artagnan who were lost among the many men who lost their lives in a farmer's wheat field. With heavy hearts they continued their search for their friends and felt hopeful that they would soon be found.
"Athos' horse is not anywhere to be found." Porthos frowned as he thought of the black horse that proudly carried his rider wherever he went, today had been no different. Syndod had carried Athos as majestically as if they were parading through Paris, going at a casual trot with Athos sitting in the saddle straight and proud. Porthos was sure that it made many an Englishman envious of such French nobility-for Athos was just that a French nobleman though he did try to hide his noble heritage as much as possible.
"There is some hope for them yet!" Monsieur de Tréville exclaimed as he pushed his horse into a trot, more hopeful than before at finding Athos and D'Artagnan alive, the Captain began to search ahead for any signs of the sleek black animal that carried Athos, hoping that the English did not take the animal away as one of theirs. "We will search near the site of the battlefield and will go as far as the bastion beyond this field for any signs of the others. Though I fear that they were taken by the English."
"What would the English want with Athos and D'Artagnan?" Porthos scoffed at the idea. "Athos wouldn't be of much use to them and if D'Artagnan was conscious he wouldn't be able to answer their questions."
"The English would know by the tunics that both Athos and D'Artagnan are Musketeers." Aramis thought out loud. "The English are not stupid; they know how much the Musketeers mean to the king. They would ransom them off and would either want money or the prisoners that we have captured in battles to be returned to them."
Porthos snorted at what Aramis said. "If they are even alive, Aramis; we don't know if they made it out of the battle and who knows how injured D'Artagnan is. What if Athos is injured as well?"
Silence met with Porthos' statement and question and soon they became solemn. Thirty minutes of battle and forty five to return back to camp to tell their captain news of what had happened might have been too late for both Athos and D'Artagnan; it sure was already too late for the men who were killed in battle. Aramis, Porthos, and Monsieur de Tréville hoped that it was not already late for Athos and D'Artagnan who were nowhere to be found.
The question that Porthos asked echoed in Aramis' mind and he soon found himself asking the same question. He already knew that D'Artagnan had been injured, that had occurred when his horse had collapsed on him. What he did not know was whether or not Athos was also injured; the last he saw of Athos was when he was fighting the crowd of pikemen that had their swords and pikes out. After the second company burst through the woods Aramis and Porthos had lost sight of Athos and D'Artagnan in the battle that ensued between this company and the remaining French and Swiss soldiers. The retreat had been called twenty minutes later and soon the remainder of the musketeers had called for a retreat, something that greatly pained the lieutenant as he called the command that normally had many of them cringe when they thought of what their Captain back at camp would say if he ever found out about it. Monsieur de Tréville always heard about what had happened during a battle and had taken to yelling at them when he found out that his company had retreated, today had been no different though he was far more concerned about the welfare of his musketeers.
When he found out about what had happened to D'Artagnan and Athos he had ordered a search party right away, though he also hoped that a few more of his men survived the battle, so far he only saw the survival of a few men he sent to the bastion to prevent it from going back into English hands; then two more that had remained on the battlefield. To Monsieur de Tréville it appeared as if his men and the other French and Swiss troops had been ambushed before they had gotten to the place they were ordered to protect.
Of course Monsieur de Tréville blamed himself for what happened here, if it were not for him ordering these men to go to a bastion under heavy attack by the English; then they would all be alive. He would not have to wince at the sight of so many lives lost and he would not have the grim task of confirming his worst fear... that two of his other Musketeers who were missing were also dead. He closed his eyes at the very thought and tried to block out their faces as he rode by another dead Musketeer and a French guard lying side by side. Of course D'Artagnan was a Musketeer now, had been one for nearly a week as he had gotten his commission just the past Tuesday. He did not know what he'd do if he found D'Artagnan dead as it would have been a tragedy to see such a young man with such promise to die before he had a chance to achieve his dream fully. The same he supposed would be for Athos, of course Monsieur de Tréville held such high regard for Athos and he would not be able to accept that Athos was dead.
"Sir!" A voice called out behind them and Monsieur de Tréville stopped his horse and turned around. A French guard was hurrying toward them, an excited look on his face.
"What is it Bénaud?" The Captain asked.
Bénaud stopped in front of them, the same excited expression on his face. It was this look that had Aramis and Porthos glance at each other as they listened with impatience at what the guard had to say.
"We have a few English prisoners sir. A few of them are not in good shape and we have reason to fear that one will not make it but sir, the English soldiers that are in good enough shape to talk told us some very good news." Bénaud told them with an expressive face.
Monsieur de Tréville looked towards Aramis and Porthos who now were paying close attention to what the guard had to say. He urged the man to continue and soon found out the good news that Bénaud was most anxious to say.
"The Englishman we were speaking to said that a patrol of English soldiers went looking for their wounded and to search for those of us that were still alive on the battlefield." The guard spoke fast and paused for a moment so that he could gain breath to speak again. "They found a handful of Musketeers alive and gathered them up; there was still a group of them fighting sir. Then there was a big group of our guards and soldiers that were still fighting and they were collected as well, they were taken in the direction of the bastion."
"What about Athos and D'Artagnan?" Aramis and Porthos shouted at once. The guard looked at them and blinked, his gaze dropped.
"I wish I can tell you that bit of news." The guard said his tone disappointed. "However one of the wounded English soldiers said D'Artagnan's name; which was why I was sent to find you."
Monsieur de Tréville was pleased with this bit of news. The hope that more of his men were still alive had returned and he asked the guard where he could find the prisoners.
"You will find the others in the safety of the trees where we came out of on our way to the battlefield." The guard pointed his finger in the direction that they came in. "There is a fear that the English will come back for the men that they missed, that is why the others have taken refuge in the tree line."
The Musketeer Captain thanked Bénaud and kicked his horse into a gallop and took off, Porthos and Aramis right behind him. They moved quickly, jumping over the bodies that lay in their way. Everything around them was a blur and they hoped that they would come across the tree line that held the others and the prisoners that they were so happy to have captured. They all were hopeful that the English soldiers knew what happened to their friends and comrades, but talking to them wouldn't be so easy, as there was not much trust for many men in war.
"Aramis, Porthos when we get to the others and to the prisoners you are to remain silent, do you understand?" Monsieur de Tréville called out over his shoulder to the two men in question. "You allow me to do all the talking; I do not want to hear so much as a word from the two of you while I am getting information."
Porthos and Aramis shared a look, they were unhappy with their Captain's sudden order of keeping silent. Aramis had a look of understanding on his face; he knew that Monsieur de Tréville would be a much better man to speak to the English soldiers. Aramis remembered a time when Monsieur de Tréville had refused to become violent with the prisoners that they captured and instead chose to treat them as if they were one of his Musketeers. The Cardinal had been furious when Monsieur de Tréville had harshly reprimanded both him and the guards that were with him; Aramis remembered how he and Porthos had been on duty that night and had been guarding the hallway that led up to the prison chambers, the voice of their Captain had carried out into the hallway and both Aramis and Porthos could hear the anger and open hostility in his words.
"I will not allow these men to be harmed while they are here Cardinal Richelieu! I will not permit it!" Their Captain had shouted out and for a few moments there had been nothing but silence as the Cardinal said something to which Monsieur de Tréville had angrily retorted. "There are more ways to get men to speak than to have them tortured! Do you really expect them to answer your questions when they are being brutally beaten by men who should take pity on them?"
It seemed that Porthos also remembered that day as well because he leaned in his saddle towards Aramis and said in a voice hardly more than a whisper. "I think that he wants those English soldiers to open up with us instead of feeling afraid that the only way we get them to talk is by inflicting more suffering."
Aramis looked around at Porthos with surprise etched on his face. "I have never known our Captain to become violent with a prisoner Porthos; he usually treats them with as much respect as he treats one of us or His Majesty."
Up ahead their Captain slowed down as the tree line became visible. Now that their Captain had slowed his horse's pace to a trot, both Porthos and Aramis became silent as they caught him up. The silence around them as they rode through the carnage of battle was almost as if somebody had built a wall between them and soon the silence became almost unbearable as the three of them lapsed into their own thoughts.
The ground was littered with bodies as they got closer to the spot where they had come out of, it seemed as if the entire battle was waged in that tiny spot... closer to the tree line because it had offered a chance for survival and escape. It was here that Monsieur de Tréville had found that there were more French and Swiss soldiers lying dead, scattered about near the trees where they had fallen than the English. His eyes travelled to a dead lieutenant guardsman who lay near one of the many Musketeers that decided to leave the safety of the French camps beyond and join in the battle. From somewhere behind him he heard Aramis breathe in and knew at once that he had seen his dead comrade. Porthos was silent and Monsieur de Tréville knew that he had seen the many dead near the tree line and knew what it had meant; he pictured Porthos staring straight ahead of him; hands clutching the reins of his horse tightly as he refused to look at the many dead men that had died in battle.
Monsieur de Tréville confirmed what he had suspected because he heard Aramis scold Porthos soon afterwards. "They are dead men Porthos; they fought the battle with us and obviously paid the price for their loyalty and dedication. Will it hurt for you to at least show that you do care about their sacrifices?"
"I do care." Porthos retorted he was angry now. "These men were alive only hours before. It is hard for me to look at the many lives that once were and now are gone. Look there is Gaston de le Montblanc, he was one of us and he was one of my friends. He took a musket ball to the face; I fought alongside him every chance I got when he suddenly fell beside me. How do you expect me to look at all our fallen when I have been friends with many of them?" Porthos took a deep breath and continued on with his angry speech; beside him Aramis had flushed and had looked away. "Now two of our friends are gone, we have no idea where they are. For all we know they could be dead! The English play by a different set of rules on the battlefield Aramis, you saw that when the pikemen tried to get at D'Artagnan when his horse was shot down!"
For a few moments nobody spoke; unable to find any words to say. Aramis remained silent, his face still flushed with what Porthos had said. Up ahead Monsieur de Tréville abruptly turned his horse onto a well hidden trail that led into the woods, silence met them as they rode quietly along the trail. It was this silence that had them all unnerved and soon both Porthos and Aramis had taken out their swords as Monsieur de Tréville led the way through the trees, searching for the regiment of soldiers that had taken refuge in the trees when they found survivors and prisoners. A crow gave a raucous cry nearby and forced Porthos to grab the reins of his horse more tightly as the horse half reared with its ears laid back against its head. The crow cawed again and Porthos soon took out a pistol and shot a round towards the noise, the crow took off from a tall tree nearby with Porthos cursing wildly at it as it took flight with another loud caw.
"Who goes there?" A voice called out suddenly, this forced Porthos and Aramis to ditch their swords and go for their pistols instead. Both aimed in the direction of the voice which happened to be a large willow tree whose branches hid the man who called out the question.
"Stand down." Monsieur de Tréville ordered harshly and his eyes refused to leave Aramis and Porthos until they had put away their pistols. He brought his gaze to the willow tree and called out in a loud voice so that the man hiding within the safety of the trees could hear him. "Comte de Sancy it is Monsieur de Tréville, Bénaud sent us here with news that you have captured some prisoners."
There was a rustle of movement within the long and flexible branches of the willow tree and soon a man appeared, backed up by two other soldiers as he stepped out of the safe hiding place and approached Monsieur de Tréville. His eyes went from Monsieur de Tréville to Aramis and Porthos who were both behind their Captain; for a moment nobody spoke but then Comte de Sancy smiled and bowed to their Captain and then to Aramis and Porthos.
"Did Bénaud tell you about the Englishman who said D'Artagnan's name?"
"Yes he did, which is why we came." Monsieur de Tréville said as he dismounted from his horse and handed the reins to one of the guardsmen behind the Comte. "How is the man?"
"He is not doing very well." Comte de Sancy said as he dipped his head. "I am surprised that he lasted this long, he is in very bad condition. The physician that came with us says there is not a lot of time until he dies."
Monsieur de Tréville was silent as he hurried after Comte de Sancy; he turned to Aramis and Porthos who were both looking at one another. "Come on you two, we have to hurry if we want to speak to this man."
Aramis and Porthos did not need to be told twice, they left their horses on the trail and followed their Captain into the safety of the willow tree's thick branches and blinked in surprise. The willow tree was a lot bigger than either of them had first thought, for it hid a company of Musketeers, a platoon of Monsieur des Essarts guards, twenty of their wounded and five or six wounded English soldiers. The willow tree was an ideal hiding place for these men who sought refuge as many were wounded and were being tended to by the camp physician who was currently tending to a Swiss guard who had been shot in the leg. The tree was thick and large, big enough to have five men go around the trunk and not touch each other and the branches touched the ground which provided the safety of not being seen by any person who happened along the trail.
Comte de Sancy led Monsieur de Tréville, Porthos, and Aramis to the base of the enormous willow tree and nodded to the men who were keeping sentry before he indicated to the five English soldiers that had been wounded in battle only to find themselves surrounded by the enemy. A blond Englishman who had been shot in the shoulder with a musket tried to get to his feet but soon found himself surrounded by French guards. The man shouted out in pain when one of the French guards struck him in his wounded shoulder with the broken end of a halberd.
"Sebestian that is enough!" Roared Monsieur de Tréville. "I will be informing Monsieur des Essarts of your actions against an unarmed soldier! I have never seen such cowardly behaviour in all my years as Captain of the Musketeers, to actually attack an unarmed man goes against everything that I have taught my men and I am sure also goes against Monsieur des Essarts as well."
Sebestian cursed but backed away from the blond Englishman, the rest of the guards looked unfriendly as they followed Sebestian back to their posts as sentries. Comte de Sancy looked from the blond Englishman back to Monsieur de Tréville who still looked livid at what he had just witnessed, he turned back to the Englishman and spoke in words that Aramis and Porthos could not understand, though they both recognized a few of the words as English. The blond Englishman looked towards Monsieur de Tréville and nodded his head in acknowledgement but one of his comrades spoke up in anger; this one with dark hair and blue eyes, they saw him wince as he brought his hand to a nasty gash to the side of his head.
Comte de Sancy hesitated as he looked towards Monsieur de Tréville and looked nervous as though he was debating on whether or not he should translate what this man had said. In the end he decided to speak the words to the Musketeer Captain as both the latter and the Englishman were glaring at him.
"He asks why they must suffer the humiliation of being treated like common criminals." Comte de Sancy translated with an expressive shrug.
"It is because they are the enemies of France." Porthos growled as he glared at the Englishman. "Ask him if he knows who D'Artagnan is."
Comte de Sancy asked the Englishman the question, choosing to not say what had been said about them being the enemies of France. The Englishman said some words and turned his back on them, a sign that they may have just lost the chance to make this man trust them enough to speak to them again; the Englishman had decided to speak to his comrades instead. Monsieur de Tréville and Aramis glared at Porthos as the Comte turned his attention back to them with the man's answer.
"He says that he has never heard of such a name." Comte de Sancy told them. "He says that Sir Byron Mullanmer knows the answer to that one."
"Which one is he?" Monsieur de Tréville asked as he studied the five English soldiers closely. His eyes landed on the blond soldier as one of his comrades began to wrap a uniform tunic around his wounded shoulder. The man had lost a lot of blood and Monsieur de Tréville could see the red blood stain on the blond man's white shirt; the blond man had turned a ghastly shade of white and began to tremble. He felt Aramis move beside him and knew that Aramis did not want to see a man suffer this much pain, no matter if he was an enemy or not. Like their own dead or wounded, Aramis felt that no matter what country a man was from that they do not deserve the suffering of wounds inflicted in battle. He felt sorry for the man in front of him who was suffering of wounds that were inflicted in battle and made a move to help him when the man, whom had been previously speaking to them, cursed at him in English and tried to get up.
"The man in the middle, the one that has a sword wound to his chest." Comte de Sancy told them as he pointed to a dark haired man that had his uniform soiled with blood and dirt. The comte's eyes were on the Englishman who was now being held back by a few French guards who had heard what was going on and decided to intervene. The man was in his early thirties and every now and then would gasp in pain. "It is a miracle that he is still alive but the doctor feels that death is coming soon... to be quite honest with you I think that he is very near death's door."
Monsieur de Tréville moved forward and knelt down in front of Sir Byron Mullanmer, his eyes went to the sword wound in the man's chest and he sighed when he saw how deep the wound was. He judged by how the man was rasping when he breathed and how there was blood in the man's mouth that the sword tip had managed to slip through the ribs and into one of the lungs. Monsieur de Tréville marvelled at the thought of how the man managed to remain alive after so many hours of lying on the battlefield with a wound so bad. It was looking at the wound to his chest that Monsieur de Tréville knew that Mullanmer did not have long to live and decided to ask his questions before it was too late for the man to speak to him. Behind him Aramis had moved towards the grievously wounded man and had also knelt down so that he and Monsieur de Tréville were beside each other once more.
"Your wound is deep my friend." Monsieur de Tréville said softly. "I am afraid that it is already too late for you to be saved. I am sure that if D'Artagnan were here with us that he would have that ointment that could cure any wound no matter how deep."
The man's eyes had fluttered closed but when he heard D'Artagnan's name, his eyes snapped open and he attempted to sit up. Aramis prevented Sir Byron from moving and gently eased the man's head back down onto the mossy ground. The English soldiers that were around Sir Byron Mullanmer were silent as they watched what was happening with watchful attention, the Englishman that was still being held back by Monsieur des Essarts guards yelled something out and attempted to push the men aside only to find himself knocked to the ground and forcefully held there by Porthos and two other Musketeers as he attempted to get up again.
"Except for wounds of the heart." Sir Byron Mullanmer rasped out in an accented voice. Aramis and Monsieur de Tréville gave each other a look of shock, they had not expected the man to say something like that and they wondered for a moment as to how the Englishman had come to know about the famous ointment that D'Artagnan was known to have on him. In response to the shock that was obvious on their faces the Englishman sighed and began to speak again. "He told me when I was fighting him at another... battle. One... that we lost... the bastion behind... us."
Realization dawned on Aramis' face. "This was the battle that took place a month ago. D'Artagnan made reference to it when he saw somebody he recognized on today's battle, he said something about it being more about revenge than..." He fell silent when he caught sight of his Captain's face.
The man winced as Aramis lightly touched the wound on his chest. "I saw him before he fell, before that horse was shot down. I saw the way he saved some of my men's lives before he went down, it is only fair... that I repay back the favour."
Porthos wandered over to them and stood behind Aramis, he was silent when he heard the last part of what the Englishman said. Aramis opened his mouth to speak but was cut off when the Englishman spoke again, his eyes were closed at this point and Aramis feared that the man would die before he could say anything more. That the man would not be able to tell them what had happened to D'Artagnan and to Athos.
"D'Artagnan is still alive, I saw him before I was wounded." The man was fighting for air now and it took him several minutes to gain back his breath to talk. "He was fighting like a cornered panther when his friend was injured by our pikemen. I am not sure about his survival but I can say that D'Artagnan was one of the men that were forced to surrender."
"Probably nearly killed him to surrender." Porthos muttered and Aramis shot Porthos a reproachful look.
"What about the other man?" Monsieur de Tréville asked desperately when he thought of a wounded Athos, the last time he was wounded Athos nearly died and Monsieur de Tréville could hardly bear the thought that Athos was injured somewhere.
Another man, this one a young man the same age as D'Artagnan spoke up, with reddish blond hair and a boyish face. It pained Monsieur de Tréville to see a boy so young with a wound to the side of the head and a bullet in the leg. "I saw my officers with a stretcher, sir. Your friend, this man named D'Artagnan refused to leave without his friend coming with him. I heard him yelling as he was led away but Sir Leon Garriston and Sir Tristian Andrews came back to the battlefield and had with them the doctors. I lost consciousness soon afterwards sir, but from what I heard the doctor say how concerned he was over the wound and he voiced the concern that he would not survive the trip to the Bastion."
Aramis lost the remaining of the colour to his face at what the young man said, behind him Porthos was silent but when Aramis turned his head he could see that his friend was pale and was at danger of falling over. Porthos tried to say something but the only thing that he managed to do was utter a few incoherent words and went towards the trunk of the willow tree, he leaned heavily against it and both Aramis and Monsieur de Tréville saw him close his eyes.
"Did you hear anything else?" Monsieur de Tréville asked, his face bloodless; Comte de Sancy looked sickened and he soon went over to Porthos and laid a reassuring hand on his shoulders... though the man had to nearly stand on his toes in order to do so.
"I heard Sir Tristian Andrews yell out something about the man's name." The young man responded as Sir Byron Mullanmer began to shudder and began to get a death rattle in his chest. "Athos is the name of a mountain is what he yelled out." Is Sir Byron Mullanmer going to die now?"
Monsieur de Tréville held up a hand as Comte de Sancy rushed forward. "There is no use in trying to help the man, he is dying."
At these words Aramis laid a comforting hand on the Englishman's shoulder as the man opened his mouth and said his last words: "I hope I am forgiven..." before he gave one last shudder and the death rattle ceased until there was nothing but silence. Sir Byron Mullanmer was dead and as Aramis bent over the man to close his eyes for one last time Monsieur de Tréville heard him mutter "You are forgiven" under his breath. Porthos cursed and kicked the tree as Comte de Sancy lowered his hand to his side as he looked at the dead English soldier. For a few moments nobody spoke, not the English soldiers who had lost a comrade and a friend, Monsieur de Tréville who was paying his last respects to what seemed like a great soldier, Comte de Sancy who was wondering why he could not save the man earlier, and the Musketeers and French guards who had caught on that a death had happened and had their heads bowed as a sign of respect; for even though they viewed the English as enemies none of them were disrespectful to the dead.
At long last Monsieur de Tréville got to his feet and turned to look at the men that were standing around. "Let's get back to camp and tell the king that some of our men are being held as prisoners at the bastion, we will have to act quickly if we want to get them out safely."
As it just so happened King Louis was in a horrible temper when they returned back to camp with the wounded and the remainder of the English prisoners. The king had been worried about his men and the fact that the search party had not returned made the king go into a fit of despair about the return of his search party in one piece. His bad mood did not lighten as he marched over to Monsieur de Tréville who was dismounting from his horse and with Cardinal Richelieu right behind him; he approached Monsieur de Tréville with a dark expression on his face.
"I have been waiting for this patrol to come back for two hours." He raged when Monsieur de Tréville spotted him. Behind his Captain he saw Aramis and Porthos looking apprehensive, he chose to ignore them as he glared at Monsieur de Tréville.
"It has been most eventful here with your absence, Monsieur de Tréville." The Cardinal stated smugly as if to answer a question that Monsieur de Tréville had not thought to ask. "The English generals came to the French camp and spoke with the king and myself."
Monsieur de Tréville smiled but it had none of its usual warmth in it, he had heard the bait that the Cardinal was using and refused to bite. "Really Monseigneur? I was also speaking to an Englishman and I am sure that what I found out is a lot more important than the conversation that you had with a group of English Generals; as it regards a group of my Musketeers and Monsieur de Essarts guards and their current situation."
"They are currently held at the bastion just beyond this camp." The king stated as Cardinal Richelieu opened his mouth to retort. "Yes, yes I am very aware of their current situation. As a matter of fact the English Generals want all of their men back, the ones that we have as prisoners for the safe return of our own men."
Monsieur de Tréville raised an eyebrow. "Did you tell them that some have died from typhus, Your Majesty?"
It was Cardinal Richelieu who answered the question. "Of course the king has mentioned it to them! The English want the men that remain alive." He cast a disgusted look in the direction of the four English prisoners that they brought with them. "Including the ones that were captured in today's battle."
Monsieur de Tréville ignored the Cardinal and asked another question to the king. "Your Majesty, did you get word on the welfare of the men captured today?"
"They said some pretty interesting names." The king replied with a wave of his hand. "Am I right to assume that D'Artagnan and Monsieur Athos were amongst those that were wounded and captured in battle?"
Both Aramis and Porthos who were paying attention to everything that was being said stiffened at the sound of their friends' names. Both concerned for a moment that the king had heard some bad news through the English Generals that had come to the camp to speak to him.
Monsieur de Tréville nodded his head. "Yes, the search yielded nothing. However an English soldier told us that he saw D'Artagnan and Athos being taken towards bastion with the others."
"From what I heard D'Artagnan put up some fight as he was taken to the bastion." The king said and Monsieur de Tréville, Aramis, and Porthos could hear the admiration in the king's tone as he spoke about D'Artagnan. "But I am assuming that you want word on the other men that they captured Monsieur de Tréville?"
"Yes Sire, I do want to know about the welfare of my men." Monsieur de Tréville said and everyone present knew that he treated his Musketeers as if they were his sons. "I would like to hear news of my men and how they are faring."
"I do not know too many details as the English are very reluctant to speak to us." The king told Monsieur de Tréville as they walked towards the privacy of the king's tents. "However they assured me that the men that they captured are safe and they are in no way being harmed."
"They are being questioned." Cardinal Richelieu flushed with anger at the words he had spoken; he turned to the king and said in a cold voice. "We have to stop the English from breaching further into La Rochelle; if they get any further the war will be lost."
The king made an impatient gesture with his hand and looked towards Monsieur de Tréville. "The English want to make negotiations at the bastion they recaptured."
"Then let us go into the General's tent and discuss what we are to do at the negotiation for our men's safe return back to camp." Monsieur de Tréville said but the Cardinal spoke up.
"The king has made up a decision to not make these negotiations." He said and as Monsieur de Tréville opened his mouth to argue that decision, Aramis and Porthos too looked as if they wanted to say something but when they opened their mouths to speak he cut them off. "The only way that we are to get our men back and the bastion, is through battle and that is just what we are going to do."
"Aramis, Porthos leave us." Monsieur de Tréville ordered the two friends and his voice sounded so angry and hostile that the two did not even utter a word of protest as they left their Captain in the company of an equally angry king and Cardinal. The angry voices of all three carried out after them and it was when the king yelled out in an angry voice "I am the king, Tréville!" that forced Aramis and Porthos to hurry in their pace before they could hear the heated words that came afterward.
It was only when they could no longer hear the angry voices that Aramis deemed it a safe place to stop and discuss what had happened and to also discuss the troubling news that the king had ordered for another battle.
"We have barely recovered from today's battle." Porthos replied worriedly as he glanced about him. "Our numbers are shorter now that we have lost over half of the company today, either to death or they were captured. How are we to reclaim the bastion that has soldiers armed to the teeth when we lost so many of our own men to battle today?"
"We still have the rest of the company that did not go to battle today," Aramis replied with a twinge in his heart as he thought about the many men that died in the battle. There was another reason as to why his heart had tightened and it was because he realized that this battle would be the first one without Athos at their side... and because D'Artagnan was now a close friend there was a bit of grief that he was not with them either. "We have Monsieur des Essarts' guards and the rest of the soldiers; we also have the Swiss guards and the other allies of the king."
Porthos remained silent for a long time as he looked around the French camp for a bit; Aramis had a feeling that he was expecting to see Athos or D'Artagnan in the distance and join them in their discussion. Aramis could hardly blame Porthos as he was currently doing the same thing, he found it difficult to accept the fact that they might never see their two friends again and he felt his heart drop when he had the thought.
"It is different don't you think?" Porthos suddenly asked, unable to bear the silence anymore. "To not have our two friends with us as we have this discussion or as we plan for battle."
"It is." Aramis agreed as he reached over to place a comforting hand on Porthos' shoulder, the fact that the much larger man was leaning against a tree made it easier for Aramis to reach his shoulder. "But we will have them here with us soon enough."
"What if the English decide to kill them before we have a chance to make up these battle plans?" Porthos asked, distressed at the thought of his friends being held in a bastion and were at the mercy of the English. "You know how D'Artagnan is with his words; he most likely would have challenged the English soldiers by now. Athos is no better; he most likely would have lost his temper and said some things... Aramis what if we don't get there on time?"
It was worry for his friends that prevented Aramis from answering the question but when he realized that Porthos was now more distressed over his silence he found that he had to say something. "We will know what happened to them soon enough. I am sure that they are alive and well, the others would prevent them from doing or saying anything that will get them killed."
For the first time since the battle Porthos smiled. "I would not be too sure about Comte de l'Hillaire, that man has the worst temper out of all of them. I saw him get captured by the English when we were in battle, he put up a nasty fight with them before he was knocked unconscious. I am actually sure that it would be Comte de l'Hillaire that will need the restraining."
Aramis laughed, it was well known that Comte de l'Hillaire had a temper but he could not imagine a weakened Athos preventing the Comte from expressing his hatred of the English. Their humour was short-lived however when both thought of Athos and how wounded he must have been, one of the Englishmen had heard a doctor express concern over the survival of Athos. D'Artagnan's fall from his horse would have stunned him but they did not know his condition and the underlying worry on D'Artagnan's condition made their hearts heavy. Their moods now darkened once again over the loss of their friends and comrades, Porthos and Aramis lapsed into another unbearable silence once more.
"Do you think that Athos would have made it alive to the bastion?" Porthos questioned Aramis and both his eyes and his voice held worry in them.
Aramis' eyes darkened at the question. "Athos is strong, we know that. Porthos, the English are not heartless men. They came back for Athos when they took the others away, they would have given attention to the wound that he received."
Porthos was about to respond when they noticed their Captain as he stormed towards them, his face tightened with fury and his angry gaze swept over them briefly. Aramis and Porthos immediately quieted before he approached them; Porthos straightened and no longer leaned against the tree, his arms were tight at his side as Aramis also straightened. Even the birds that once were singing happily in the trees had stopped their chirping; everything was silent now as their Captain finally reached them.
"We ride out tomorrow for the bastion." Monsieur de Tréville snapped at them making them both flush with the rage that was directed at them. "I want you two to make sure that your weapons are in working condition and your swords as well. I will inspect them all before I retire for the night."
Their Captain's voice carried out to the other Musketeers sitting outside a tent with a table between them as they played dice, the men collected the dice and hastily went to their duties. A man with a head wound stood up and picked up his musket.
"Dlancey you are not going anywhere tomorrow with that head wound!" Monsieur de Tréville raged and as the man opened his mouth to protest he interrupted. "No I will not have it Dlancey! You got wounded and there is no way you are going with us tomorrow unless you make a speedy recovery! Where is Comte de Sancy when you need him?"
Aramis and Porthos did not bother to remind their Captain that he had told Comte de Sancy to give a proper burial to Sir Byron Mullanmer and soon the Gascon Captain went off to find Comte de Sancy himself.
"I would hate to be Comte de Sancy right about now." Porthos whispered to Aramis as they watched their Captain march off. "Our Captain is very angry right now."
"He will calm down before he reaches Comte de Sancy." Aramis countered. "He always does when he is in a temper like this. But come Porthos, we need to clean our weapons so that Monsieur de Tréville can inspect them later."
With the thought of their angry Captain foremost on their mind, they both headed to their lodgings and set to work on readying their weapons for the approaching battle the next day.