Cura Te Ipsum

Chapter 18

"Athos, you said it yourself, it's not safe for any of us to go back into Savoy," Porthos said quietly after the musketeers finally arrived at the inn once again several hours later, the inn being the closest and most importantly, the safest place for them to stay, and got Aramis settled into the bed he had slept in nights ago before all their trouble had begun, this time the innkeeper giving them no problems.

"I know it's not safe, but we don't have a choice," Athos replied as he looked down sadly at their friend slowly dying before them. "Aramis will die if we don't go. And we need to finish what Aramis started."

Porthos glared at their leader as he responded, "I know that. All I was saying was be careful, the both of you. The people in the city are agitated and afraid. Not to mention what the soldiers and guards will do upon seeing either of you again, especially if they were to learn that the Duke is dead and that we've arrested the Duchess."

D'Artagnan looked between his friends and stated, "Hopefully that news won't travel around for a few days. As far as we know, the four of us, and the Duchess, are the only ones who know that their Lord and Gontard are dead and we've brought their bodies here with us. It will most likely be just the people that we have to worry about. We'll be alright."

"Just hurry," Porthos answered fearfully. "Aramis is burning up with fever, not to mention he's been badly wounded and his body's as cold as ice. Who knows how long he's going to be able to hold on for."

"He won't give up," Athos replied as he and d'Artagnan turned to leave. "Take care of him."

Once the two soldiers left, the Duchess, who was now sitting down in a chair while her hands were tied around a post that stood in the middle of the main room of the inn, looked over at the larger musketeer sadly, who had yet to return to the room were Aramis lie, then spoke up saying, "I know what I did was wrong. I am not an evil woman."

Porthos scoffed, then responded, "Only an evil person has the ability to do what you did, my Lady. You murdered innocent men, women, and children, hundreds more may still die, and you got your own husband killed. You also have nearly succeeded in killing one of our brothers. Your husband was evil too, but you're worse."

"You murdered my husband," she answered angrily. "Or rather your comrade did. It's only right that your wounded friend should die in turn. That's justice."

"I hate to disappoint you," Porthos replied sarcastically. "Aramis won't die here today. He's a hell of a lot stronger than you know. And the rest of your people you've poisoned are not going to die either. He figured out how to save them."

She looked at Porthos again with a grin on her face as she responded smugly, "We'll see."

Hours later…

When Athos and d'Artagnan rode into Savoy after riding as quickly as they could to make it there as soon as possible, the two men found that the people were as bad off as they feared they would be. As they rode through the streets, the people who had been fortunate to not have been trapped within the barricades only glared at the musketeers as they rode by, while those that had been trapped, though were no longer as the barriers had finally been torn down, not only glared at them, but also began to scream and throw rotten fruit at them, among other things.

D'Artagnan stated sadly, "It's even worse than I feared. Even if we do manage to find the cure in time to save those still alive, what makes you think that the majority of these people will trust us enough to let us help them?"

"I don't know," Athos answered. "From the bruises on Aramis' face and body that I could see, it's clear that they didn't care for his help after a certain point either. We need to find a place where we can find belladonna."

"It's a plant I believe, though I don't know much about it," d'Artagnan replied as he looked down the street as though he were looking for someone or something specific.

"What are you looking for?" Athos asked in confusion.

D'Artagnan turned back to look over at his companion and responded, "Back when we first arrived here, I remembered seeing a spice shop as we walked through the city. I thought that maybe if anyone knew where we can find what we need…"

Athos continued for his companion, "That this vendor might, even quite possibly have it themselves. Good thinking, d'Artagnan. Do you think you can remember where this shop was?"

"I think I do," the young Gascon answered as he dismounted from his horse, then began to make his way through the crowd on foot, as did Athos, to where he had seen what they were searching for. "It isn't far."

When the musketeers finally found the shop which d'Artagnan had spoken off, they found it to be closed and locked up, even though it was now well into the morning. As it turned out, many of the shops were still closed due to the trouble going on throughout the city. It didn't faze the soldiers though, as Athos swiftly knocked loudly on the door in order to get the shop's owner to open up to them. It was clear to those around them that these men weren't going anywhere any time soon.

"Can you not see that I'm closed this morning?" a woman called out when she finally walked out from the back, then opened the door in order to stop the men in front of her from banging and disrupting the people. "You must be blind, or fools."

Athos swiftly barged inside as he replied, "I'm well aware that you're closed madam, but I don't have time to be cordial. I need to know if you have any belladonna on hand here, or know where we can find any."

The shopkeeper cried out, "You cannot break in here, just because you're musketeers and expect me to help you!"

"Hundreds of people out there are dying and we believe we know how we can save them, so I don't care about what you might feel right now," Athos responded coldly. "Do you know where we can get our hands on belladonna, or not?"

"What makes you think that belladonna will help you?" she asked in frustration, finally putting aside her anger toward the two soldiers that had disturbed her. "It's a poisonous plant. Your other friend that was trapped inside the barricades earlier tried to help us, only he failed. Now the two of you come in here, looking to finish the rest of us off?"

D'Artagnan answered, "Our friend believes that belladonna is the key to finding the cure to this other poison, something he called… amanita o… o…"

The woman stared between the musketeers as she replied, "Amanita ocreata? As in, the angel of death?"

"Yes, that was it," Athos responded quickly. "Do you know of it?"

"If your companion managed to figure this out, then he's a lot smarter than all of us took him for," the woman answered as she moved toward a large shelf containing a number of bottles of different herbs and spices for sale. "I've read it's possible that belladonna has the supplements needed to counteract amanita ocreata poisoning, but it has never been tested. I mean, as I said, belladonna is another poison. It's just as possible that it could kill the victims of the poisoning even faster."

Athos looked over at d'Artagnan, who simply shook his head in agreement, then the leader turned back to the woman and stated firmly, "These people will die for sure if we do nothing. If there's a possibility that this second poison can counteract the first, then we need to take as much as we can find and have it distributed among everyone the angel of death has affected."

D'Artagnan added, "Our friend may have said his final words trying to tell us about this. I trust him with my life, as well as with the lives of the men I fight beside day after day and the people we fight to protect. He's right, I'm certain of it."

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