Cura Te Ipsum

Chapter 21

While the two musketeers continued distributing the antidote among all of the people that have been affected by the poison, Captain Treville arrived in the city and worked with them to finish. As they did so, none of the soldiers talked amongst each other, but finally everyone had been taken care of and the musketeers walked to the stable for their horses when d'Artagnan stopped and began to look around among the crowds of people that surrounded them.

"What is it?" Athos asked as he looked at the younger man before he mounted his horse. "We need to get back to Aramis."

"I know, but we've forgotten some people," the Gascon replied quickly. "We gave our word to the gypsies that we would come back once we've found the cure."

Treville looked at them in confusion as he asked, "Gypsies?"

Athos nodded, then turned to their Captain as he answered, "Yes, we've had a run in with a number of them living down in the tunnels beneath the streets. A few of them are sick as well. D'Artagnan's right, we need to…"

"Musketeers! Musketeers!" a boy called out as he came running toward them. "They're saying you've found the cure. Is it true?"

"He's one of the gypsies," Athos quickly whispered as Maude's grandson made his way over to them. "D'Artagnan, how many vials do you have left?"

D'Artagnan pulled out all he had from his coat pocket, then looked up at Athos as he responded, "Only one and there's not much left."

Athos pulled out a vial from his own coat pocket, finding that there was barely a drop left, then looked between Captain Treville and d'Artagnan and answered, "This is all we have. It will have to be enough. Give him your vial, d'Artagnan."

Then he looked down at the boy as he continued, "We used up all the belladonna available, boy, so what's in that bottle will be all you have to distribute among your sick. It doesn't take much, so tell your father and grandmother to use it sparingly. They'll know what to do."

The boy quickly grabbed the vial from the musketeer's hand, then ran off again, without so much as a thank you. D'Artagnan shook his head in disgust at the boy's lack of courtesy as he turned and mounted his own horse, then looked over at Athos, who was staring worryingly at the small bottle in his hand. It was clear that he was afraid that what little liquid they had left would not be enough to save Aramis too. He didn't say anything about it as they began their ride back, but instead, looked over their Captain, who had taken the lead, Athos almost directly beside him.

"Why have you come, Captain?" d'Artagnan asked as they rode. "How did you know what was going on?"

"I left Paris as soon as I could after receiving Athos' letter he wrote explaining what was happening," Treville responded. "On my way here, I discovered two of your horses tied up outside of the inn. I spoke with Porthos. He explained everything."

Athos wanted to say something in their defense, but decided against it as he realized that Porthos would have done so already. Instead, he concentrated on the road ahead as he kicked his heals against his horse's sides in order to get the creature to run faster, Athos now becoming the lead rider. Both Treville and d'Artagnan followed suit as the three were now riding as fast as possible to get the antidote back to their brother before death could take him.

It took a few hours and by the time the soldiers arrived back at the old inn, night had fallen once again and they were exhausted, but they shook off their weariness as they quickly dismounted and tied their horses beside the others that were still tied outside despite the stable being next to the inn, then rushed inside, finding only the innkeeper working behind the bar inside the main room.

Upon hearing the sound of their arrival, Porthos quickly emerged from Aramis' room, gun in hand, prepared to fight, but when he found his friends had returned, he re-holstered his weapon and walked over to join them as he asked, "So, did you find the belladonna? Did it work?"

Athos walked past the larger man to get to their dying friend as he pulled the vial from his pocket once again, then d'Artagnan followed after him as he replied to Porthos' question saying, "We were able to save most of those that had been poisoned. They'll all be ill for some time still, but they will get better. Aramis saved them. Is he…?"

"He's barely breathing," Porthos answered fearfully as he walked back into his room and pushed through his friends in order to retake his seat beside Aramis once again, then continued his administrations. "He needs the cure, now."

"There isn't hardly any left," Athos said in frustration as he knelt down at the head of the bed and looked down at their brother worryingly, as they could all see that Aramis had grown dangerously frail and his skin as cold as ice even though it was clear that a fever was burning hot within him, then raised the vial to his lips and gently poured the last of the liquid into his mouth. "But he's going to survive this."

When the belladonna was gone and the companions had done all they could, the four men remained silent as they waited, praying that they were in time. Several minutes passed and still there had been no change. At least with the people in the city, once the musketeers had administered the cure to them, a change could be seen almost right away, whether they had awoken or they began to breathe easier, but with Aramis, neither was true.

Porthos' hands shook anxiously and when his patience grew thin, he spoke up angrily saying, "Nothing's happening. Why is nothing happening?"

Captain Treville tried comforting the larger man as he gently placed a hand down on his shoulder, then he responded, "It's going to take time. We have to continue to be patient."

"Porthos is right," Athos replied as he suddenly stood up again and began to pace back and forth as he nervously ran his fingers through his hair. "Signs that the cure worked for all of the others came immediately."

"Yes, but no one else was wounded, nor were they suffering from the emotions that this whole trip to Savoy has dug up for Aramis," d'Artagnan answered, sensing the anxiety that was beginning to grow thicker within the room. "It's all taken a toll on him. We could all see it before we even arrived here days ago."

Porthos scoffed and then responded, "Even so, it should have done something by now. You didn't save enough belladonna for the one person who matters most!"

Athos stopped and stared at his friend sadly, then replied, "You're right."

"Perhaps, but Aramis would tell us that saving the people would be more important," their Captain said firmly. "You saved them, all of them. Even if you can't save Aramis too…"

Before Treville could finish, Aramis' hand weakly stirred beneath Porthos' even larger one, causing Porthos to quickly reach up to the sharpshooter's neck with his free hand to feel for a pulse, muttering a quick prayer as he did so. It was still faint, but he could feel that it had become a little stronger.

"I think it's working," Porthos finally stated as he smiled and then began to laugh enthusiastically. "You boys did it. He's going to make it!"

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