Cringewriting Part 2

This piece was more recent but it is one of the only short stories I have actually completed. It’s no way copying or claiming credit of the three musketeers. It was just a little bit of fan fiction fun as I was and am obsessed with Porthos. I wanted to try writing something to do with action and as you can tell it was a theme I enjoyed. This piece was the door opening for Lone Swift and Cover Girl. So in someways it was a gate way short story. Enjoy….

 

 

 

The musketeer and the Scarlett highwayman

Three men walked down the street, the night heavy in the air, wind fluttering the rags and flags hanging from the balconies. The street was going to reach the main road to the louvre, but the back streets were a perfect location for an ambush. The men walked silently, taking in their surroundings as they went. They all wore thick leather jackets with a thick Pauldron, emblazoned with the golden crest of the musketeer infantry. Each man carried a musket and carried long rapiers, harnessed to their belts. The smaller of the men was Aramis, a holy man, protector of the poor, hopeless romantic but a dead shot with a musket. Amaris had thick curly brown hair, which was slicked back slender underneath his splendid hat. The next man was called athos, he was one of the most skilled swordsmen in all of Paris and lead the musketeers. Athos was a man of honour and sought to see that justice was done under his command. Athos had short brown hair and a full beard, he was not the strongest of men but this was made up for in is agility in combat. The third and tallest of the men was Porthos, he was a strong, built man, with the strength to rival many wrong doers. He was skilled with the sword and the musket. His hard exterior gave a false impression for a warm heart, he sought to fight for what he thought was right. His handsome features were hidden beneath his thick black curly hair. The three of them together were leaders of the musketeer regiments, answering directly to King Louis XI himself.

Tonight’s envoy was a mission in which the queen herself was involved. As not to stir up attention, the musketeers were joining the guard from the back roads, horseless and on foot. The mist was rolling in on the chilly autumn air and a hint of dawn approaching was tinting the sky light blue. The musketeers finally rounded the end of the street and stood in the shadows to await the royal carriage.

“Athos,” murmured Porthos from the shadow of house on the corner of the street. “How far is the queen traveling this morning.” There was a flutter and thump from further down the street as Porthos spoke, but after a glance in the direction of the noise revealed nothing, so Porthos turned his attention back to Athos.
“Her Majesty is to reach the other side of Paris before dawn,” replied Athos, pulling his dagger from its sheath in his belt and polishing it with a piece of ragged cloth.
“How is she going to reach the other side of Paris in two hours?” asked Amaris, peering up the street with his hands on his hips. “She would have to travel through the back streets” and with one glance at Athos’s raised eyebrows, he groaned silently. “This is not going to be an easy morning” he groaned.
“If it were easy then there would be no fun” grinned Porthos, placing his hands on the top of his rapier.

“I assured the king myself that this would be seem less mission, so the less fun the better I say” said Athos, finishing the polishing of his dagger and stowing it back in his sheath. As he did the faint rattling of carriage wheels and the clipping of horse’s hooves came into ear shot. The three musketeers emerged from the shadows and walked onto the road as the carriage came to a halt at their meeting point.

Athos walked round to the side of the carriage and opened the door. A beautiful, young lady was sat in the carriage clutching a small mahogany box. She was barely twenty years old but she was married to the king of France after an arrangement between the two great monarchies. Athos bowed slightly and removed his hat from his head, Amaris and Porthos stood slightly behind him. They caught a glimpse at the contents of the box as the queen opened it a fraction to show Athos and then hastily closed it again. She murmured something to Athos and he replied and closed the carriage door.
Athos turned to the other two musketeers and spoke in a low voice.
“We are to escort her majesty to the jewellers at the bottom of cheveun. This is to be complete discrepancy, the necklace is of great value and the clasp is very tricky. We need to get her there and back without wind of this breakage news reaching the palace.” Said Athos in a serious voice.
“Why is this such a secret excursion, for only  a necklace?” asked Amaris wearily.
“The necklace was a gift from her brother the king of Spain” explain Athos, Porthos laughed as compression dawned suddenly on him.
“She is not supposed to be in contact with her brother is she?” smirked Porthos, grinning broadly.
“No so it is of the utmost importance that we return before breakfast is served” said Athos sternly.
“Whatever you say” said Porthos, and he moved to the opposite side of the carriage and they continued on the procession.

Dawn was breaking above Paris and before long the streets would be coming to life with markets and the citizens going about their daily business. After another half an hour they finally reached the jewellers. The queen got out of the carriage escorted by Athos and entered the house while Amaris and Porthos stood outside the main door. Porthos kept his hand on his pistol but after a full hour of nothing to do expect watch the crows fight over scraps of waste, he was starting to fall asleep where he stood.
Eventually two hours after they had arrived and the sun had fully risen, basking Paris in a brilliant red light, the queen emerged from the jewellers, smiling broadly and clutching the mahogany box tightly to her chest. Athos emerged wearily from the jewellers and help her majesty back in to the carriage. As they set off back toward the Louvre they rounded the corner onto the chensay levre, when Porthos notice that black shrouded figure in the shadows. He grasped the handle of his pistol and looked around carefully as they continued walking.
“Somethings not right,” Porthos called softly to Athos, “It’s too quiet.” Athos and Amaris looked around too, for the main street in Paris it was very quiet for this time of the morning, the sun was growing ever higher in the sky, surely the city was waking up by now. Then Porthos heard something, he turned and pulled out his pistol, on the roof of the building closest to them was a figure covered head to toe. They had a pistol raised and fire at Porthos, narrowly missing him.
“Protect the queen!” yelled Athos as shots were fired from all sides. Porthos dived for the carriage and pulled out his pistol firing at the cloaked figures on the roof, however there was more than one pistol firing from above. As Porthos ducked for cover, five figures ran out from the side streets, swords and rapiers raised, charging towards the carriage.

Porthos threw his pistol aside and drew his own sword and began to duel with the men. Athos and Amaris managed to shoot the remaining men on the roof and rushed round the side of the carriage to Porthos’s aid. Together they fought blades flashing and slashing. Porthos took down the largest of the men and threw him into a second.
“Now this is what I call a morning work out!” yelled Porthos, the joy in his voice. He threw a punch in the direction of another assailant and grimaced as his hand throbbed with pain.
“This is a little too much fun for this early in the morning” Commented Athos, as he struck down another of the attackers. Amaris was left duelling the last two attackers and but he was not managing to fight both at once, Athos sprung to his aid.

Just as Porthos was about to join the fray he hears a scream come from inside the carriage. Porthos turned on the spot, vaulted over the breaching and swerved to the carriage door. A small figure in a long Scarlett cloak and black hat was standing in the carriage entrance, pointing a pistol at the queen and grasping the mahogany box in the other. Porthos sprang forward, but the scarlet clad assailant turned the pistol on him and he stopped, the man was masked but a pair of blue eyes glinted from under the mask. Porthos stopped in his tracks, a second figure appeared and pointed a second pistol at the queen.
“On your knees now” hissed the scarlet man. Porthos mad a lunge for the second man pointing the pistol at the queen but the scarlet man saw him move and reacted, smashing the hilt of the pistol into the side of Porthos’s head. Dazed Porthos crumpled to the ground, the queen let out a cry of fear as he fell, eyes streaming from the blow. He tried to catch himself but he could not quite get the coordination.

Porthos watched from the ground as the Scarlett man and his assailants mounted horses standing nearby and took off up the street as Athos and Amaris came round the side of the carriage and fired shots at the two retreating figures.
Porthos came too as Amaris was pulling him up off the ground. Athos entered the carriage with the queen and they set off hastily toward the palace in case the attackers came back.

“I’m fine get off me! Said Porthos, steadying himself against a wooden pillar and pushing Amaris out of the way. “I went for the wrong bloody person”

“You are duty bound to protect the queen’s life above your own” said Amaris, gripping Porthoses shoulder firmly, “You made the right choice” Porthos grunted wearily, fuming at himself for getting knocked down and the two of them made their way back to the garrison. When they arrived, news had spread that the queen had been robbed by a highway man and the red guard would be conducting searches to recover the stolen property.
Porthos’s head was still hurting from the blow so he excused himself for the morning and headed to the tavern down the street to find some wine to numb the pain. The garrison was in a poorer part of town so wine was a lot cheaper and more readily available here than at the palace. Porthos marched himself in and drank for a full hour until the pain had somewhat subsided. The tavern was a gloomy place to be during the day full of drunken men and soldiers, drinking their problems into oblivion.

Porthos finished his cup and stepped outside, he was about to head back toward the garrison when he heard to a loud voice coming from down the street by the market.

“Remove that necklace at once” ordered a thick voice. Poethoses looked at the source of the voice and noticed four men of the red guard standing around a girl, rather intimidatingly. The girl was splendidly dressed and definitely not a resident of this part of Paris. “That is the property of the queen you have stolen!” stated the leader of the group.
“This was a gift from my husband” she said back to him, not seeming intimidated by their presence. “I have had it for over five years, now if you will excuse me I have business to attend to sir!” The girl made to move past them, but the leader of the red guard drew a dagger from his sheath and pointed it at her chest.
“I would hand it over if I were you, it is of great value” he leered at her with yellow teeth. The three other men laughed, leaning toward her as well.
“it’s of the highest sentimental value to me, now lower your dagger before I do it for you” she spat at the leader threateningly. Porthos approached the small group.
“You heard her” he said menacingly from behind the red guard. “Let her past” The red guards spun round and scoffed at Porthos, the leader eyed him up. His bulking shoulder, tall build and weaponry strapped to his waist and then to the strong bruised present on his forehead.
“We are on official business for the queen musketeer, thanks to you debarkel this morning.” Said the leader turning back to the girl. Porthos peered round the leader’s head at her, the necklace around her neck was a long sleek silver chain set with a ruby in the centre.
“The queen’s necklace had sapphires in it your idiot!” stated Porthos, snorting with laughter, “Are you colour blind as well as missing some common sense!” The girl laughed and this infuriated the leader.
“You are under arrest” he said at the girl gripping her wrist, the other three men reaching out toward her.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you” said Porthos threateningly but as the leader’s fingers closed around the girl’s wrist. She drew back her free hand and punched him in the jaw, pulling the dagger out of his grip. She turned to the second man who was standing in shock and kicked him hard between the legs, he buckled in front of her. She turned and slashed the dagger at a rope and a cascade of crates came loose from the stall next to her, trampling the last two men. Porthos stood dumbfounded looking at the three men on the ground.

The leader who was gripping his face, lunged at her as she had her back to him. Porthos saw out of the corner of his eye, he grabbed the leader by the scruff off his neck and spun him round, using his own momentum against him. Porthos propelled him head first into the wall with all his strength, which was quite a considerable amount. The leader smashed into it face first and crumpled next to the other red guards on the floor as the girl turned back to Porthos. She still had the dagger in her hand. Porthos smiled but she glared angrily at him.
“You did not need to do that” she said obviously annoyed. “I had everything under control.” Porthos raised his eyebrows and smiled. He noticed even though she was frowning and had a small blade in her hand, she was exceptionally beautiful. Her eyes flashed a deep blue under long dark curls which cascaded down to her waist. Her skin was fair and her face was very kind looking even when it was contorted with irritation. She was obviously incredibly strong for her size but she wore an elegant dress with a tight corset which showed of her figure.
“I was only trying to help, most girl would be afraid in that situation” said Porthos laughing slightly, but stopped abruptly as her expression grew sharper. She dropped the dagger and stepped over the unconscious and groaning red guard.

“I am not most women” she said over her shoulder as she marched off down the street. Porthos stood, blinking for a second and then strode after her. Catching up with her in a few long strides, which he had to shorten considerably to match hers, he was over a foot taller than her. He hair bounced gentle as she walked purposefully down the street.

“I can see that, however, would you allow me to escort you home?” he asked politely, “there may be more idiotic read guards trying to take your jewellery.” He stuck out his arm and she stop and looked up at him.
“I’m sure if anymore idiotic red guards come along I will be perfectly capable of handling them” she said with raised eyebrows. He inhaled deeply and bowed slightly to her.

“I am not saying you won’t, but this early in the morning, it is a troublesome task” he stated, looking directly into her eyes, “If any guard approaches I will ensure that you do not have to handle them.” She did not respond and he continued. “This is more for my thought of mind then yours, I would not be doing my duty if I did not escort you home” She glared for a moment and then her expression softened into almost a smile.
“Your duty sir is to protect the king and his domain, I am neither.” She said, the corners of her mouth twitching before an actual smile formed on her lips. Porthos was taken aback by how beautiful she was when she smiled.
“You live in his domain so it is my duty” pointed out Porthos and she finally gave in accepting his arm and they walked down the street. The walked in silence for a few minutes, Porthos allowing her to guide him through the street. There were a few red guards searching the street, however they dared not to approach the girl when Porthos was accompanying her. Their eyes glanced over the musketeer symbol on his shoulder as they walked past them.
“What were you in the market for?” asked Porthos curiously after they rounded a corner into a richer part of Paris.
“I was looking for a particular stall which deals in silk but I am afraid I took a wrong turn and followed some terrible directions. ” she laughed lightly, he voices soft and pleasant now.
“Couldn’t your husband accompany you?” asked Porthos, glancing down at her hand and he saw that it bore no ring on her finger. His stomach lurched slightly and he didn’t know why.
“I am not married, my father died recently and I inherited the house,” she said matter of factly. “I only say that to idiotic men who think they are dealing with a penniless spinster.” She paused for a second, “well the spinster thing is right for being 23 at least.” She laughed and they approached a grand house and the door opened at her call and a butler stood in the entrance.
“I am truly sorry for your loss” said Porthos,
“well thank you for the escort, sir” she said turning in the doorway, leaving him at the steps “ I do hope that I am not in need of your valiant services again soon!” She turned to enter the house.
“One moment, “said Porthos and she paused closing the door. “May I ask your name madamuizle?”
“Alexandra, Lady Alexandra de la Rose” and with that she closed the door.

“Porthos, PORTHOS!” Porthos jolted out of his day dream, “Where is your head at today Porthos, the queen will be arriving at any moment!” said Athos. Porthos had just been picturing Lady Alexandra closing her front door. The three of them were waiting for the queen to arrive in the captain’s office at the garrison. Porthos straightened himself up and looked at Athos, who was pulling on his coat. Amaris was standing leisurely at the side of the room, polishing his dagger. “We need to discuss the raid on the store shed close to where the incident happened yesterday.”

“Are you sure that is the most likely place to find the necklace, surely the thief would have sold it on by now?” said Amaris, stowing hid dagger in its sheath and approaching the table in the centre of the room.
“I have direct intel from one of the witnesses of the attack” said Athos, pulling out a map and placing it on the table. Just at that second, there was a knock on the door. Amaris strode across the room and the queen entered, the musketeers all bowed respectively as she approached the table. Two more people followed her in before Amaris shut the door. They stood at the back of the room, one of them laden with a heavy box.
“Athos, I do not have much time!” stated the queen anxiously, “I want a full report if you please.”
“Your Majesty, can I speak freely here?” asked Athos, nodding gently towards the two ladies in waiting in the corner of the room.
“Oh yes” said the queen, smiling, “Lady Catherine and Lady Alexandra are some of my most trusted friends.” Athos nodded and began to brief the queen on the daring raid they planned for tonight. At the mention of Alexandra name Porthos looked sharply at the two ladies in waiting. One was blonde and tall, stood elegantly, enraptured by the plans. The other struggling slightly under the awkward box stood lady Alexandra, looking pretty in a green satin dress. However, she looked very uncomfortable to be in the presence of the musketeers. Amaris smirked as Porthos smiled at Lady Alexandra and she looked away hastily with a pained look on her face.
After another 15 minutes off which Porthos struggled to pay attention and Lady Alexandra continued to avoid his gaze, Athos completed the plan with the queen.
“Is there any chance that the necklace may not be here?” she asked Athos anxiously.
“I trust my sources and I take care in protecting their animosity.” Said Athos reassuringly.

“In that case, I await the good news” said the queen, there was still a hint of anxiety in her voice. “Send word to one of my Ladies not directly to me as soon as the task as been complete.” She asked and smiled. Athos and the other musketeers bowed once more as she turned to leave. Amaris opened the door for her as Lady Catherine followed her briskly and Lady Alexandra eyes fixed on the floor bringing up the rear. Porthos made for the door as Lady Alexandra dress disappeared round the corner. Amaris slapped him on the shoulder and laughed.
“You were giving that poor girl the eyes!” said Amaris, “is there a beating heart in there after all?”

“Behave yourself!” smiled Porthos, as he pushed past the door behind Lady Alexandra. He caught up with her on the steps down to the yard where the queen’s carriage was waiting. The queen had already reached the carriage. Lady Alexandra was struggling on the steps, simultaneously trying to hold up her dress and struggling to hold the box at the same time.
“Here let me help you with that!” said Porthos, catching up with her down the stairs and reaching out his arms to help her.
“I can have managed just fine thank your sir” said Lady Alexandra, a little too harshly. She did not manage to raise her dress high enough and her foot got caught on the seem, causing her to wobble precariously. Porthos reached out and grabbed her upper arms, easily steadying her with his strong hand. “Please sir, her majesty is waiting for me” said Lady Alexandra frustrated, trying to pull her arm out of Porthos’s grip. He released her at once and in one swift movement, vaulted over the rail of the steps the ground and held out his hands to hold the box for her.
“All the more reason to let me help you” said Porthos, grinning widely arms outstretched and he was blocking the exit to the bottom of the steps. Lady Alexandra sighed and her annoyed expression returned, of which she had faced Porthos with yesterday and pushed the box a little roughly into his arms. Porthos placed the box under an arm and stretched out a hand to Lady Alexandra. However, she made her way safely down the steps and strode toward the carriage with her outstretched hand.
“I can walk perfectly well without you holding my hand sir!” she stated. Porthos rolled his eyes behind her as she marched off. Porthos heard a snigger from behind him and turned to see Amaris and Athos, watching the whole charade from the window of the captains quarters.
Porthos walked over to the back of the carriage and secured the box next to the footmen and walked round to the side of the carriage.
“Are you sure you want to walk?” asked the queen to Lady Alexandra, “It would take no time to drop you off at your house”
“You are very kind your majesty, but on a beautiful evening like this, I would much prefer to walk” said Lady Alexandra curtseying to the queen. The queen nodded and Porthos assisted to close the door of the carriage and secure it. Lady Alexandra disappeared out of the garrison and by the time the carriage had moved off, ratting loudly down the street, she was out of sight.
“Go after her!” called Amaris from the window, “You need all the practice with the Ladies you can get!” Athos and Amaris laughed loudly and retreated back into the captain’s quarters. Porthos gripped his sword to his hip to enable him to move faster without it getting in the way and hurried down the street in the direction he had hoped Lady Alexandra had gone. He sprinted down the main street and then down the side street they had taken to her house the previous day, but there was no sight of her. This was odd, she had moved quickly, but there was no way that she could have walked this far. Just as he was considering to double back and try another of the side streets he heard some harsh voices coming from a side alley.

“Alex, where is the rest of money you owe us?” a male voice was saying threateningly, “You know what we will do if we do not get it soon!” Porthos moved closer to the voice.
“I will not steal anything for you” said a strong female voice which Porthos recognised as Lady Alexandra’s, he reached for his pistol as he moved Forward toward the sound. “I have done enough for you; you need to let him go!” There was a sound of a slight scuffle and a thump and scrapping. Porthos glanced round the edge of the alley to see a man dressed in black with thick hair and a beard perturbing beneath a black eye mask. He was pushing Lady Alexandra up against the alley wall, pistol close to her face. However, she did not seem slightly bothered by this. “Did you remember to put ammunition in it this time” she laughed at him. The man raised his fist to her face and Porthos with a surge of anger stepped out from the corner, pistol raised at the masked man.
The masked man lowered his hand from Lady Alexandra’s face and moved away slowly from her as Porthos moved closer. The masked man seemed to take in Porthos size and weaponry accessing the damage that he could inflict on him. Porthos looked over at Lady Alexandra, who looked very relieved by his presence.
“Now I think you should get out of my sight” growled Porthos, looking extremely menacing, towering over the masked man and pistol held out close to him. The masked man released Lady Alexandra and took a step back raising his hands up in a sign of surrender.
“It’s your lucky day, but you better watch your back Alex!” said the masked man, backing down the side street. “You better watch your back, you can’t always have your body guard and we will take full payment or you know what will happen to your brother!” Porthos pointed the gun at the masked man’s feet and fired a warning shot. It missed him by inches cause the man to run down the end of the alley and out of sight. Porthos started in disgust after the masked man and stowed his pistol away.
Porthos turned round to face Lady Alexandra but she had already walked out the alley and down the street. Her head was bowed and she marched through the busy crowd, one hand up to her face. Porthos griped his sword to his belt and hurried after her.  He caught up with her but she was moving a lot easier through the crowd than he was.
“Do you want to tell me what that was all about?” asked Porthos, struggling to remain close behind Lady Alexandra. “Who was that man and why do they have your brother?”
“I can’t say!” gasped Lady Alexandra, she was holding back a sob, he could hear it in her voice. They reached a side street which was close to her house which was less busy, Lady Alexandra marched down it as fast as she could. “Just leave me alone” she said, nearly breaking into a run. Porthos took several strides to catch up with her and grabbed her under the shoulder to stop her running away from him and pushed her up against the wall, one hand remaining on her shoulder, the other blocking her exit.
“Look, that is the second time in two days which you have been threatened.” Said Porthos, leaning down to look her in the eye but she was purposefully avoiding his gaze. “Let me help you, who has your brother?” he asked. Lady Alexandra stifled a sob with her hand, her eyes glazing up and she shook her head vigorously not saying a word. Porthos put both hands on her shoulders and squeezed her gently.
“If I tell you they will kill him.” cried Alexandra, trying shake herself out of Porthos grip. “My father gambled and they killed him for owing a lot of money, after the estate passed to me and my brother” she continued. “They came demanding the outstanding amount and when my brother refused they beat him and took him away and I don’t know where!” She put a hand on Porthos chest to try and push him out the way but he wouldn’t move. “I paid them all I had but they keep coming back for the interest and if I don’t they will kill him too.” Lady Alexandra broke down, tears streaming down her face and her whole body shaking. She gave up trying to push Porthos out of the way and simply cried into her hands. Porthos released her shoulders and enwrapped the poor girl in his arms. He was utterly speechless at her confession and bravery. This was not the place for this conversation.
As Lady Alexandra continued to cry, Porthos lead her down the street and across the road to the entrance of her house, the door did not open this time, but they stood in the secluded foyer. Porthoses heart beat hard against his chest as he held Lady Alexandra to him. He felt his blood boil at the thought of the men which had caused her and her family so much pain. It was all he could do to go and track down the masked man and beat the location of her brother out of the man with his own fists. But right now his heart was overpowering his head and he held her close, wiping the tear from her eye as she began to regain composure.
“Hey, look at me” said Porthos gripping her face with both his large hands to make her look him in
the eye, she seemed to relax at his touch, her breathing getting deeper. “Don’t let fear get the better of you, it can come in waves some greater than the last but you have to keep fighting and you know you can overcome it.” He whispered, pulling the hair out of her face with his thumb. “You have to fight it and not let it over power you!” Lady Alexandra was calming to the sound of his voice, his presence was soothing her from her fear. However, he could still see it plain behind her eyes. “Let me help you get your brother back.” Then her eyes glazed over again and she pushed him roughly off of her, he let her go this time without a fuss.
“I’m sorry, you can’t!” she said, reaching for the door handle. “This is not something that I can fight my way out of” Her hand found the handle and she turned it and slipped through the door before he could say another word.
“Lady Alexandra!” yelled Porthos, hammering on the door, he heard the bolt slide across it. “ALEX!” but there was no answer. Swearing under his breathe, Porthos turned from the door after a few minutes of silence and started to walk back to the garrison. But from a side street, he saw a flash of scarlet and a person running. Before he had realised it was there, the scarlet figure had gone and he continued back to the garrison without a second thought.

**********************

“That girl knows where the necklace is I am sure of It!” said Amaris back at the garrison. Night had fallen once again, the three of them were alone in the captains’ office, the crackling fire carving out the silence as the musketeers absorbed Lady Alexandra’s situation. Athos leant against the fireplace deep in thought. Porthos was sitting on a chair by the desk with his head in his hands. “We cannot arrest her or her brother will be put in harm’s way” Amaris pondered while the other two remained silent. “We must help her but we have to be subtle about it or the gamblers will notice it.”
“Act now.” said Athos, moving away from the fireplace and gripping Porthos firmly on the shoulder. “And they these gamblers may put Lady Alexandra in further harm’s way, if we tell the queen, we make the situation worse.” Athos continued to think out loud. “But there must be a link, this can’t be a coincidence, Lady Alexandra would have known that the necklace was being moved and its value.”
Porthos stood up abruptly, pushing Athos’s hand off of his shoulder.

“You have no proof of that” said Porthos defensively, squaring up menacingly to Athos, “If she is involved, it is not for personal gain” Athos looked calmly into Porthos’s eyes and raised his hands slightly.
“I understand the situation Porthos,” he said reassuringly. “If she has been involved I assume that it is out of desperation to save her brother, I highly doubt she physically stole the necklace and managed to knock you out. Porthos’s expression softened slightly.
“I will admit that she is resourceful in defending herself” smile Porthos, he had explained to the other two about how she had managed to rid herself of the need for a rescue the day before. “I very much doubt that she would very skilled in real fight.”
“Very well” said Athos, “continue the store shed raid tonight and continue on to Lady Alexandra’s house afterwards. If we acquire the necklace, her brother may be put in further danger” Athos finished. The three of them left the captains’ office to prepare for the raid.
Within an hour the three musketeers along with several cadets were ready for the raid. They mounted their horses and left the garrison. Porthos rode at the back of the group as they walked quietly through the streets of Paris, the horse’s hooves echoing dimly on the stone streets. As they reached the market areas Porthos slowed his horse away from the group and walked down a side street which lead him past Lady Alexandra’s grand house. He remained at a distance from the house but gazed up at the windows, which he guessed were her bedrooms. Porthos did not expect to see her or indeed that she would be awake at this hour but there was a dim light maybe from a fire place in the window which stood ajar. He could only tell in the dark as the curtain was rippling through the open gap, illuminated by the fire light. Porthos halted his horse, feeling concerned but at this point the group would be too far ahead before they would notice that he was gone. He jabbed his ankles into his horse’s sides and quietly trotted away into the night. A strong feeling of anxiety took a hold of him though as he re-joined the group.

The musketeers dismounted their horses about two blocks away from the store shed and continued silently on foot. The cadets set up a perimeter with pistols ready. Athos, Amaris and Porthos walked straight up to the store shed door and quietly loaded their pistols.

“On the count of three then, nice and quietly!” said Athos, standing behind the side of the door and Amaris behind the opposite side. “Three”

“Two” breathed Amaris, grasping the handle of his sword.
“One” shouted Porthos, raising both pistols at once and kicking the door wide open with his foot. However, he kicked a little harder than he intended too and the door shattered and sprang open in pieces with a large bang. All hell broke the peaceful tranquil silence of the night.

There whole barn was built for an ambush, tables were upturned all around and the rafters were teaming with man with pistols. They opened fire as Porthos and the other musketeers burst through the door and ducked for cover. The three of them dived behind up turned tables and behind pillars. Amaris was on point as always and instantaneously shot down two gunners from the rafters. With two large yells they fell and landed with a horrible crunch.
“This is my kind of fight!” said Porthos as he jumped up and fire his pistols and took down two more mercenaries. Athos was fully loaded and ready again while Athos was unleashing his pistols into the last of the mercenaries in the rafters.  The cadets stormed in to take the musketeers places, as Athos and Amaris went back to back, firing at those around them to the next point, Porthos covering then from behind. There was a scuffle and yells coming from behind the banging, a few of the mercenaries seemed to be arguing amongst themselves through all the havoc.

“Should we go past the bakery on the way home and get some fresh baguettes for breakfast?” asked Amaris, bending out of sight to reload his pistol. “I feel guilty getting a delivery from Constance when we are already up at this hour!” Amaris finished as he jumped up again and took down two men in a single shot.
“Only if we go past champs Ely see and get some for the good stuff” said Porthos, scanning the rafters for any more shooter, hiding behind a beam.

“I feel we should first visit the palace to return the crown jewels and then we can ask Martha for something from the kitchen!” said Athos, the three off them moved in unison to shoot a man who had lost his head and ran straight at them.
“Who is Martha?” laughed Amaris, stowing his pistol in his belt and reaching for his sword, as the gun fires cut out. “Is this why you have been skulking off to the kitchens for food, getting something extra sweet on the side?” Porthos roared with laughter, as Athos kicked Amaris in the back so that he faced the oncoming fighters. However, Amaris simply par rayed the first few fighters and propelled them into the path of Athos and Porthos behind him.
With the cadets covering them and the fighters lacking any skill in the duels, it looked like they were going to have the jewels back before breakfast. However, with the sound of a loud pistol and a cry of pain, everything changed. One of the cadets fell to the floor, blood gushing out of a bullet wound on his shoulder. The musketeers turned at the sound to look, as the cadets surrounded the injured and tried to stop the bleeding. There was a bang of a door at the back of the barn and through it entered reinforcements, including a person dressed in scarlet. The reinforcements raised their swords and charged at the musketeers who turned their attention to them just in time to block their advance. Porthos knocked aside two men with his blade and kicking one into the other, sending them flying across the cold stone floor. He kept his eyes on the scarlet musketeer, who had not entered the fray but was holding back, until one of the large reinforcements shoved them toward the fray, but this time pointing his pistol at the person in scarlet. Porthos recognised the person in scarlet as the man who had stolen the necklace in the first place.
The musketeers were no longer joking between themselves but fighting in earnest. Porthos saw the reinforcement who was pushing the man in scarlet toward the fight, turn his pistol toward Amaris who was closest and obviously winning against the fighters and prepare to pull the trigger. Porthos dived to the side to push Amaris out of the way, but the scarlet man slammed his shoulder in to the reinforcement whose hand was knocked to the side and instead of shooting Amaris, the pistol fired a bullet into the leg of one the attackers.

Porthos pushed himself back on to his feet, at his side Amaris sprung up too, pulling out his sword and lunged straight for the man with the fired the pistol. The man was equal to Amaris in skill and was a tough challenge. Porthos had seen out of the corner of his eye as he had knocked Amaris to the floor what the man in scarlet had done. However, the scarlet man was rushing toward him, sword in hand which cause Porthos to draw his own to defend himself.

Porthos would not let this scarlet man gain the upper hand in this duel so he moved first, slashing his blade through the air until it collided hard with the blade of the scarlet man. The scarlet man who was small in stature compared to Porthos struggled against Porthos’s strength but showed unexpected skill when he used Porthos’s strength against him. With a simple side step and change of angle, Porthos was knocked to the side and par rayed the scarlets man’s counter. Porthos and the scarlet man fought as the scene around them drew ever worse.

Amaris was still battling the shooter, and Athos was defending some cadets who had been injured. Amaris yelled out that they were being pushed into the centre of the barn. However, there were no pistols being fired now, all the fighting was either been carried out by fist or by sword. Porthos was still fighting with the scarlet man, however, he noticed that the scarlet man was not making any moves to hurt him but to simply knock with sword from out of his hand.

Something shimmered in the light out of the scarlet man’s pocket. Porthos realised and in a second he opened himself up to the scarlet man’s move and while the blade was finally knocked out of his hand the other reached behind him to the back of his belt and his hand closed around his dagger. With his sword and strong hand now free, he grabbed the wrist of the scarlet man’s outstretch arm and in one fluid motion, twisted it and pulled the scarlet man to his chest. The scarlet man has considerably lighter than he had thought but he still held the man firmly to him and raised the dagger to his throat. The scarlet man struggled against Porthos’s powerful grip, but Porthos held him tighter, feeling the painful pull of the arm in its socket under his grip, and tightened slightly, causing enough pain to make the man stop.
“I bet you thought you were clever” Porthos whispered into the scarlet man’s ear menacingly, keeping his tight grip and calling out to Athos who started to pull the cadets towards them. He pushed the dagger hard against the scarlet man’s throat, so he could feel the contractions of his breathing beneath the blade. “This time you will not make a foul off me”

“Run” gasped the scarlet man, in a breathy yet higher pitched voice than Porthos expected, he even though it sounded vaguely familiar. “Get out of here now!”
“ENOUGH” yelled Amaris, slashing and finally knocking his opponent down. “This ends now, we have your leader!” Amaris turned and walked toward Porthos, and noticing the pocket, pulled out the queen necklace in all of its glory. “Now give us the boy and you can leave here with your lives!”

The whole barn filled with the roars of laughter of the assailants. Amaris raised his sword to the scarlet man menacingly, but the laughter contained.
“You show your arrogance, musketeers” said the man who had knocked down a moment ago. “But your stupidity is demonstrated by your mere presence here.” He jeered, to continued laughter from the assailants who were surrounding the musketeers and cadets, a dozens of them in total. He stood up and walked closer to the musketeers and picked up Porthos’s sword from where it lay abandoned and started to examine it. “That flower boy was useless and not skilled to pay off his father’s debt, he was weak!” he said, stabbing the sword into the air.
“Give us him and you can have your leader back right now!” said Athos, drawing his last pistol out and pointing it at the scarlet man, still held firmly by Porthos. Porthos felt the scarlet man not struggling against his grip, but nudging firmly into his side with their free elbow, but not an obvious move to draw attention from the crowd.
“Once again musketeer, you act without getting all the facts, that girl is not our leader.” He sneered, “I am” The musketeers stared at him dumbfounded and glanced back at the scarlet man, well girl who was secured in Porthos’s arms. The scarlet girl yelled “run” in Porthos’s arms. “You have everything so we shall just kill you now, goodbye, musketeers.”

Before anyone could react there was a huge explosion above their heads a dynamite was set off and the rafters shook and started to fall directly on top of them. Athos pulled the trigger of his pistol at the assailant’s leader, as the roof came crashing down. Time seemed to slow down as everyone dived for cover. The scarlet girl twisted herself out of Porthos’s arm and pushed him hard to the ground. The hood of the scarlet girl fell and Porthos saw her face, he recognised her instantly. Porthos was still gripping the dagger in his arm, and heard a yell of pain and something warm seep onto his hand as the roof fell on top of everyone. Everything went silent and dust shot up into the air as the roof finally hit the ground.
********************************************************************************

The dust settled and the morning light suddenly illuminated the scene of the collapsed roof. The assailants had fled and had left their injured and dead leader, who Athos had shot in the wreckage of the barn. A loud coughing came from below a thick wooden beam. Amaris and Athos emerged, gasping for air, covered in dust, ears ringing, bruised but uninjured.

“That was one of the worst planned explosions I have ever seen” coughed Amaris as the two of them hastily set to work, freeing the rest of the cadets. The was loud grunting coming from underneath a heavy beam, Porthos was there alive and well, but his face was screwed up in considerable pain, and it was revealed that his leg was trapped under one of the largest of beams. “Hang on Porthos, we will get you out!” Porthos reached out an arm and gripped Amaris’s collar and pulled him toward him. Through clenched teeth he gasped with considerable effort”
“Find Alex, it was her!” He released Amaris’s collar and put his arm back on the ground breathing heavily from the pain. Bewildered Amaris started to search around Porthos as Athos and the uninjured cadets set out to raise the beam off of Porthos’s leg. Amaris pushed aside several beams and slate and then saw to his horror a pool of blood seeping out of a pile of rubble. “Talk to me Amaris, where is she?” yelled Porthos, as the others started to lift the beam. Amaris pushed the wreckage out of the way and underneath it, he pulled a dusty Lady Alexandra, wearing scarlet, which didn’t hide the dagger skewed into her side, seeping blood and the horribly broken leg as he pulled her out of the remainder of the wreckage. Amaris sprang into action, pulling off his leather coat and taking off his shirt to press against the wound to stem the bleeding.
“I found her” yelled Amaris, he pushed firmly on the wound and looked down at Lady Alexandra and to his horror saw that she was still conscious but he didn’t know how much longer for. “Lady Alexandra it is ok, Porthos is here” he muttered to her. Her eyelids flickered slightly in response but her eyes were still glassy and her breathing was growing shallower. “We need to get her to a doctor” cried out Amaris, inspecting the wound further, it looked pretty deep, maybe even hitting one of her vital organs.
There was a loud commotion as finally Porthos was freed and despite the pain in his leg, hurried over and flung himself down next to Lady Alexandra. “Alex, I am here” he said softly, taking her head into his lap and reaching for one of her hands. “You are going to be ok” he said reassuringly but he looked up at Amaris and his eyes conveyed something completely different, of which Amaris had never seen from Porthos before, true fear. Before Porthos hand could grasp Alexandra’s her eyes opened wide to his voice and she reached up with a mighty effort to his face, he grasped her hand and held it to his cheek.
“I tried to warn you!” she said in an inaudible whisper, tears streaming from her eyes, Porthos, griped her hand and kissed it.

“I know my love, I know.” He said, Alexandra’s hand loosened and fell to the floor and her eyes rolled up into her head, she began to shake violently. “Amaris, what is happening?” asked Porthos, his voice pinched with fear.
“She’s going into shock, we do not have a lot of time “said Amaris, looking around desperately. “We need to move her to, there!” nodding in the direction of a tavern. “I need to operate if we are going to help her.” Athos hurried off to get the saddle bag with the medical supplies and Porthos reached under lady Alexandra’s body and lifted her easily, as Amaris continued to apply pressure to the wound.
“Porthos, you cannot carry her with your injured leg” said Amaris, as the moved closer to the tavern.
“Watch me,” said Porthos, his eyes screwed up in concentration as they approached the door. The cadets had ridden off to get aid from the castle, one with the necklace sent to be return to the queen before breakfast. With one might kick, Porthos broke down the tavern door and they hurried in and lay Lady Alexandra on the bar.
Athos followed them in and opened the medical bag, with scissors, sewing kit and dressings. He grabbed some spirits and handed them to Porthos. Amaris paused a moment before he was about to start and looked at Porthos.
“This is not going to be pleasant, are you sure you want to stay?” he asked firmly.
“I am not leaving her” said Porthos firmly.

“well I am afraid you are going to have to hold her down.” Said Amaris. Porthos’s eyes widened and his heart thumped hard against his chest. He swallowed hard and nodded, moving his hands to Lady Alexandra’s shoulders as Amaris cut into the side of her clothes.

“One, two, three” he breathed and wrenched out Porthos’s dagger from her side. Alexandra’s eyes flew open and she let out a pained scream, squirming against Porthos’s restraint. Athos moved to hold her legs down as tear spilled from her eyes. Amaris covered the area in spirit and started to operate to close up the wound. Alexandra fell in and out of conscious as Amaris worked on her side. Porthos could imagine the pain she was going through as Amaris had saved his life several times this way, but he had been force fed a flagon of wine and knocked out as he was harder to restrain. Amaris moved her onto her side and Porthos put his coat under Alexandra’s head. She was sweating, eyes screwed tight and she managed to move her hand out from under her coat, blindly searching for Porthos’s hand, which he took, now no longer restraining her. Finally, Amaris set to sewing up the wound and setting her leg in a splint.
“Will my brother be safe now?” asked Alexandra, squeezing Porthos’s hand each time the needle pierced her skin.
“I will protect him myself!” said Porthos, stroking the hair out of her face, which had fallen out of the bun it had been held back out of sight in. She let out a heavy sigh and seemed to drift out of consciousness again. Amaris took this moment to pull her leg back into place while she couldn’t feel it and then braced it together with two pieces of wood.
“We need to get her back to the barracks now to get clean dressing” said Amaris, finishing his make shift splint and washing off the closed wound with more spirit. The three of them hurried out of the tavern and carefully mounted up onto their horses a couple of streets down. Porthos road with Lady Alexandra supported in his arms.  They arrived back at the barracks and Amaris dismounted quickly and took Lady Alexandra inside to attend to her wound. Porthos dismounted but Athos grabbed him by the shoulder.
“I am sorry Porthos, but the queen must be informed of her actions” Athos said, as Porthos rounded on him, “She was the primary source of information for this heist and a had a key role in its involvement” Porthos felt the anger bubbling inside him.
“She was being threatened with her and her brother’s life” snarled Porthos, trying to keep his voice slightly rational. “She had no choice or pleasure in the matter.”
“She had a choice and she chose not to seek help” said Athos, I cannot allow this to go unreported, as an act of treason. Porthos took a step closer to him, menacingly.
“She looked for help but no one could help her, she obviously risked her life to return the necklace and saved a life of a musketeer right under the nose of that man!” Porthos growled. “I would say is a failure on our part as musketeers, defenders of the royal house to have let the situation to have gotten this far.”
“Alexandra is not a member of the royal house hold!” snapped Athos, turning to go. Porthos grabbed his arm and turned him back to face him.
“LADY Alexandra resides and works under the royal house hold and so falls under our protection.” Stated Porthos.
“Do you mean your protection?!” asked Athos with raised eyebrows.
“YES” said Porthos, “I have nearly lost her once already today and I do not intend to repeat that experience again. For the first time in my life I have something worth fighting and staying alive for and I will be dammed if that is taken away from me.”
“You love her don’t you” asked Athos, Porthos did not have to speak to give him the answer. The two of them looked at each other and then finally Athos said
“I will report to the queen but advise Lady Alexandra be allowed time to recover from a family ordeal and I will not mention her involvement,” he said causing Porthos to smile. “But you must ensure that she is not involved in anything like this again. A yell came from inside the barracks Porthos and Athos turned and ran into the quarters. Amaris was pressing hard repeatedly against Lady Alexandra’s chest, pausing to blow into her nose. Time seemed to slow down again as Amaris tried to restart her heart and Porthos’s pounded hard against his ribs, surely strong enough for the two of them to live.

Amaris continued for several minutes which felt like hours, until one moment he paused and pressed his fingers to her neck. After a second he removed them and bowed his head, there was blood on the bed and the closer wood was covered in thick red stained bandages.
“Why are you stopping?” asked Porthos, “Help her” his voice was filled with panic and fear.
“I cannot help her where she has gone now” said Amaris, “She is in god’s hands now”
“Well he had better give her back then!” shouted Porthos, he shook Amaris hard. “Keep trying or I will” Athos places a hand on Porthos’s shoulder. Porthos tried to bend down to continue the compressions. But both Amaris and Athos pushed him back against the wall.
“it won’t help!” said Amaris, but Porthos pushed them both out of the way and bent down the press his hands on her ribs. A loud crack occurred instantly and Porthos stopped abruptly, Amaris pulled him back. “You will turn her ribs to powder if you continue to compress her chest” said Athos.
Porthos collapsed onto the floor beside the bed and breathed heavily his eyes filled with tears, grief washing over him.
“She was going to be my wife” he whispered. The room was silent and still. Porthos stared at Alexandra’s face, taking in all off her beauty. Her long hair draped around her shoulders, her red lips and slight lines from where she would frown disapprovingly at Porthos. Amaris reached over and pulled a sheet over her body to cover her from view. The three of them left the barracks to report to the castle, Porthos stood in the fore ground not saying a word. After all the adrenaline, his crushed leg was beginning to pain him. After a few hours they returned to the barracks. Porthos returned to the room to attend to Lady Alexandra body, but there stood an empty bed. She was gone….
A year later Porthos had been promoted to captain of the musketeers, leading the defences of the Paris under the command of the general Athos and prime minister Amaris. When a young women approach the entrance of the barrack and watched Porthos mount up for the royal inspection. She had her hair covered, but long curly brown strands fell from beneath her shall and her red lips caught his eye as he rode past. She turned and left walking up the road to the market. Porthos turned his horse away from the guard and watched her walk away, something around her waist caught his eye, a musketeer dagger handle. He told his second in command to continue and dismounted. He walked quickly through the crowd and caught up behind her, he recognised that blade handle in an instant. The woman turned and walked down a quieter street and then eventually turned into an empty alleyway. This was all too familiar.
Porthos reached out to her shoulder turned her and pushed her up against the alley wall , arms on either side of her so she could not escape. The face looking up at him was that of Lady Alexandra’s, alive and well. He pulled down her head shall and her brown hair fell down to her shoulders, brown curls bouncing to her shoulders. Without a moment’s thought, she leaned down and kissed her hard on her soft red lips….

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