Down in the sewers…
D'Artagnan looked around at each of the men and women surrounding him, then responded to their threat saying, "Seeing as I am currently down here, trapped between a dozen of you under the threat of death and with no sword in my hand, I cannot exactly do anything to prove to you that what I say is true. I can only give you my word that I hold no respect for the Duke. Most people trust the word of a musketeer."
The gypsy leader answered, "Maybe so, but we do not."
"My son may not, but I do," an old woman spoke up suddenly as she came into the room from another of the tunnels, then began to move in between her people to make her way toward the King's soldier. "You will have to forgive them for their poor judgment in the way they have treated you, young man. I hope you do not see it as the way all gypsies act when a stranger is introduced to them."
"Not at all," d'Artagnan replied, surprised by the mysterious women who has intervened on his behalf. "Who are you?"
She smiled as she pulled d'Artagnan out from between the rest of the people, then responded, "My name is Tatianna and I used to be in charge of our people, until my son stepped in and decided it was time for someone younger and wiser to lead them instead. Most agreed and so I stepped down, but I still have some pull around here and I say that you, young man, are free to go, with the bag you have bravely come down here alone to get back."
The leader spoke out in protest saying, "You can't just let him go, especially with the medicines….""Do any of you know what these medicines inside this bag are used for?" his mother asked loudly. "Do any of you have experience in treating the sick and afflicted? We will take care of each other as we have always done. Right now, these medicines are needed above to treat those that are worse off than even we are."
"But those people do not care about us, so why should we care about them?" another of the gypsies asked angrily.
D'Artagnan cut in as he said, "I am certain that my friend will do all he can to help you as well, just as I mentioned before. If he can treat the sick above and we can convince the Duke to order the barricades to be torn down once the threat is no longer a threat, then I can lead my comrade down here. He is far more honorable than I, I promise you."
The old woman smiled and answered, "Then leave here, with my blessing and the blessing of our people, all of our people. I look forward to seeing you again, d'Artagnan."
Outside of the city…
"It was good that you stepped in before I made the mistake of knocking the Duke into the ground like I wanted to," Porthos said quietly while he and Athos rode their horses alongside the Duchess' carriage as they made their way down to the royals' cottage. "Like I really wanted to."
"You weren't alone," Athos replied as he looked over at the carriage in order to make sure that they were speaking in private. "I wanted to kill the man where he stood, just as I wanted to do when I fought him upon learning what he had done to our men, especially when I saw the scar Aramis left him with, confirming that he was indeed the bastard that killed them all. However, we must keep our heads, for the Duchess' sake. She loves him, remember?"
Porthos scoffed, "I don't understand why. He is a cruel and evil man."
Athos nodded, but then continued, "We know that, but you have to remember, the Duke only slaughtered our men because he was led to believe that they were there to try to kill him."
"That coward killed them all in their sleep, Athos!" Porthos shouted, far more loudly than he meant to. "He nearly killed Aramis!"
"Quiet!" their leader responded quickly as he looked over toward the carriage once again. "Do you want all of Savoy to hear you?"
Porthos shook his head and blew out his breath in order to calm down, then answered again, "Aramis was left alone to die among the bodies of twenty men and now, he is once again among hundreds of people who may all die and it's quite possible that this man is responsible for this too. Does it bother you at all that this will haunt him just as horribly as the massacre did?"
Athos looked at his friend coldly and then replied, "You know me better than that. Of course I know that this will haunt him, but this isn't about Aramis right now, Porthos. It's about everyone here, everyone who will suffer unless we can help Aramis solve this in any way we can."
"You're right," Porthos responded in agreement. "Once we get the Duchess to where she wants to be, what then? Do you have any idea how we can solve this?"
"Not yet," Athos answered despondently. "For now, we'll head back into town and search for d'Artagnan. Hopefully he was successful in retrieving Aramis' bag and getting back out of the sewers unharmed."
Porthos replied, "Don't worry, the boy will be fine. Although we might owe him a new set of clothes after this. The ones he has on now will be filthy and not even Madam Bonacieux will be able to get those stains out."
Athos smiled and stated, "Nor that smell."
By the time the two musketeers finished their conversation, they were nearly at the cottage. Inside the carriage, the young boy was sleeping upon his mother's lap, while the Duchess remained silent, looking to the handmaiden sitting across from them as though she was simply resting. Little did the two musketeers realize that the Duchess was straining in order to be able to hear the soldiers as they spoke and hear them she did. She couldn't hear everything they spoke of, but she heard enough, especially the moment when they spoke of the lone survivor of her husband's massacre he led outside of the city five years ago.