"What do you mean?" Porthos shouted angrily as he roughly grabbed hold of the man by his shirt and shoved him back hard, pinning his body down against the cold ground using his own weight. "What have you done to our friend? Answer me!"
"Porthos, take it easy," Athos said sternly when their larger friend began to tighten his grip as his anger grew when he began to smile smugly. "I suggest you tell us what we want to know, or I won't try to stop our friend here any longer."
The stranger continued to smile, but finally he spoke again as he answered, "You four really are protective of each other. That's good, because Aramis will need your help before he dies, a slow and agonizing death."
Porthos moved one of his hands to around the man's throat as he growled, "You must really want me to strangle you."
"Kill me and you will become a murderer, just like me," the man responded cruelly. "Do you really want to know what I've done?"
"Tell us," d'Artagnan replied curtly.
Elias smiled as he finally answered, "I poisoned my own people, because I knew how. It wasn't out of revenge or because they treated me like they treated the scum that live beneath these streets. I did it, because I wanted to. I am a monster and when your friend, Aramis came in and tried to help them, I had to make sure that he couldn't, so I poisoned him too."
Porthos punched him across his face and was about to again when Athos finally pulled him off of the man, at no easy task, then d'Artagnan spoke up saying, "I have a feeling that you're still not telling us everything. Someone hired you to do this for them. Tell us who."
"Go and find Aramis," Athos stated as he looked at Porthos sternly, giving his friend something to do other than beating their killer to death. "Break down the barriers if you have to. We'll deal with the consequences later."
"It was my choice," Charlie responded smugly after Porthos walked off, as he wiped away the blood that began to leak from his lip from being punched. "No one had to ask me to create this poison. I wanted to and seeing these people suffer from my creation, was beautiful."
Athos glared at the man still lying on the ground despite him no longer being held there, then replied, "I agree with my comrade here. You're not telling us everything, but you don't have to. We will find the truth and Aramis will find a way to save these people. He is far better than you know."
Their killer smiled as he answered, "I don't doubt that, but I'm afraid that you will all be disappointed. There is no cure. I know my creation well and there is nothing that can counteract it. These people, your friend, they're all dead."
"And so are you," Athos said as he swiftly knocked the man unconscious with one final blow to his face, then glared at him angrily until d'Artagnan gently placed a hand down on his shoulder for comfort.
"He's wrong," the boy spoke quietly. "You'll see. Aramis is going to be alright."
No more words were spoken between them as the two soldiers tied their killer's arms and legs together upon getting rope from one of the bystanders now standing around them to watch the scene unfold before them, then gagged him and left him tied to a post inside a stable where he would remain until they came back for him to escort him to the palace, before the Duke.
When they entered the quarantined area of the city, it wasn't long before they found Porthos, still inside the now broken down barricades as he was fighting with several of the Duke's men that surrounded him, trying to arrest him. The other two musketeers quickly joined with their friend to defend him and finally the guards backed off.
Athos glared at the guards as he shouted, "There is no longer a need for these barriers, as our friend here has been trying to explain to you. Your people have been poisoned, they're not dying from the plague as the killer wanted you to believe."
One of the guards responded coldly, "You lie. Why should we believe anything you say, when all you want is to break in here and find your missing musketeer."
"What do you mean, missing?" d'Artagnan asked fearfully. "Has something happened to him?"
"Your friend was taken from here, unconscious," one of the people who were trapped within the barriers spoke. "We saw two men drag him out after breaking down a section of the barricades just as this musketeer did. Aramis tried to fight them off as he shouted at them to leave him here so he could help us, but they disappeared before we could stop them. From a distance, they looked like our Lord's personal guards.
Another of them said angrily, "If you want to find your friend, go and talk with the Duke. If you ask me, good riddance to him."
Porthos grumbled, "What do you mean? Aramis was doing everything he could to try to find a way to save you people and you say good riddance?"
"He failed to save my son!" the man shouted. "He may have tried, but he didn't. He gave us all nothing, but false hope and instead, my son is dead. I warned him that he was going to get what he's got coming to him. Lucky for us our vengeance will come from the Duke himself."
"We need to find him," Athos spoke up again before anymore could be said by anyone else. "Porthos, we need to go. We're going to go talk with the Duke."
Another of the Duke's soldiers called out to them as the musketeers began to walk away, "If our Lord did have your man arrested, then by trying to save him you three will be committing treason."
The musketeers ignored the guard as they continued on and once they stopped at the stable to gather their horses and their prisoner, d'Artagnan spoke again asking, "Why would the Duke have Aramis arrested? He knew he was here to help his people."
"Either the Duke is the one who asked our killer to poison his people, or the Duke has learned of who Aramis is," Athos replied coldly. "I've got the feeling that it's the latter, in which case, Porthos and I are the ones to blame. The only way he could have learned about Aramis would be because the Duchess overheard our conversation as we escorted her and her son to the cottage and she in turn told her husband."
"Which would mean that the Duchess is also the one responsible for having her own people killed," d'Artagnan responded worryingly.
Porthos turned and looked at the younger man and asked, "What makes you say that?"
Athos answered for him, "What better way to stop someone trying to stop what you started, than to reveal a truth about him that could give her husband cause to have him arrested and then murdered, or executed. We may be wrong, but I very much doubt it."
"We need to find him," Porthos responded curtly. "I don't care what we have to do to save Aramis, even if it means we kill the Duke to protect him."
"It would mean an execution would await us as well," Athos replied despondently. "But we can't allow Aramis to die unjustly. I'm willing to do whatever it takes. Are the two of you with me?"
Porthos looked at their leader as he said confidently, "All for one…"
D'Artagnan finished, "And one for all."