Cura Te Ipsum

Chapter 8

D'Artagnan cautiously made his way back through the streets after he finally made it out of the sewers when the old woman's grandson, the very thief who put the newest musketeer through the trouble of having to go down into the tunnels in the first place, showed him a better way out than having to squeeze through the same way he entered. The musketeer couldn't believe his luck. The truth was, he thought for sure he was a dead man and he would have been, if not for the kindness shown to him by the mysterious woman.

When d'Artagnan came upon the same area where he and the rest of his comrades had encountered Aramis within the barricades earlier, he looked at the two soldiers standing nearby to keep watch over the barriers and when he was sure they were paying no attention to him, the musketeer bent down to look in between the cracks, then quietly called out to someone inside asking, "Excuse me, monsieur, have you seen the musketeer inside here anywhere?"

The man turned toward the voice coming from the other side of the barrier, then waved his hands in the air and walked away without a word. D'Artagnan was about to call out to another of the bystanders nearby, until a young girl moved into his line of sight and shyly walked over to stand in front of him.

"You're looking for Monsieur Aramis?" she asked softly.

"Yes Mademoiselle, I am," d'Artagnan answered quickly. "Can you please, go and get him for me? I have something of his that will help him, something that he needs very much."

The girl looked at the soldier sadly as she responded, "He is busy trying to help my brother, monsieur. My brother is very sick."

The Gascon nodded and then replied, "I am very sorry about your brother, but if you get my friend for me, what I have for him may be able to help him help all of you, please."

"All right," she answered, then very quickly ran off while d'Artagnan stood straight and observed the guards, who had both now become suspicious as to why he was standing at the blockade with a large, black bag in his hands, though they had yet to approach him.

"D'Artagnan?" Aramis called out quietly, recapturing the younger man's attention toward the boards and planks nailed together between the two friends. "It's good to see a friendly face around here. So many people are ill and scared… Were you able to find our young thief?"

The young Gascon saw the sadness and fear upon his brother's face, but didn't say any more about the people as he smiled and showed his comrade his bag, then responded, "Believe me, getting this back wasn't exactly easy. I ran into a little trouble of my own, a large group of gypsies living down inside the sewers."

Aramis looked at him and replied, "That explains your new look and horrendous smell. Sadly, I've heard of many gypsies being forced out of their homes and cities, becoming outcasts among their own people. I've come across a few myself, including one who I came to care for a great deal. He died long ago. Gypsies are no less than you or I."

"Some of them are sick as well," d'Artagnan finally said, worryingly because he didn't wish to burden Aramis any more than he already was. "They let me leave the sewers so long as I return, with you so that you can try to treat them as well. I'm sor…"

"There's no need for an apology, my friend," Aramis answered before the young man could finish. "Although, I don't know how I'll be able to leave here, seeing as I'm as trapped as the rest of these poor people."

D'Artagnan responded, "Don't worry about that, the same thief who took your bag knows every way in and out of the sewers throughout the city, including a way inside the blockades. I would have used the passage myself, but then I would have ended up inside like you and possibly trapped as well."

Aramis nodded in understanding as he continued, "The others need you more than I. You made the right decision. You say the boy will be watching, then lead me down to his people when I'm ready?"

"Yes, just be careful, Aramis," the Gascon replied, fearful for his friend. "And take care of yourself."

"I always do," the team's sharpshooter answered smugly. "I'll take my bag now."

D'Artagnan looked over at the guards again and when they finally looked away, no longer caring about why the young man was standing outside of the barricades, the youngest of the four soldiers set his friend's bag down and suddenly broke off one of the planks holding the wall in place to create a large enough hole to pass the bag through to Aramis, then swiftly ran off before the two guards could reach him to arrest him. The sharpshooter grabbed hold of his bag, then quickly ran away from the hole as well, leaving the guards bewildered as they began to repair the hole.

The young Gascon ran fast and as far away from the barricades as he could, then finally stopped in order to catch his breath. It bothered him to just leave like that, with his friend's life still at stake, but he knew that he needed to find the rest of his companions so that could figure things out from the outside.

D'Artagnan began to ride his horse, which he got back from a stable hand whom his friends had left it for him with before they took off to question the Duke again, back toward the palace in hope of catching up with them. However, Athos and Porthos met up with him on the road, having finished dropping the Duchess and her son off, and together they slowly continued riding back toward the city while they talked.

Athos spoke first as he and Porthos looked over the condition of their companion, saying, "You made it, although a little worse for wear. Did you find Aramis' bag and get it back to him alright?"

The Gascon nodded as he went on to explain all that he explained to Aramis, then turned to them and asked, "What about you? Did you learn anything more from the Duke?"

"Unfortunately no," Porthos responded in frustration.

"Although he is definitely hiding something," Athos replied. "I mentioned the possibility of his people having been poisoned and I caught a glimpse of fear, not just anger. I don't think he is involved in what's going on here, but I think he may know who is."

D'Artagnan was surprised at this as he asked, "So, you think that there's a good chance that this sickness isn't the plague after all, but something that Aramis will be able to find a cure for?"

Athos stated fearfully, "I don't really know. One can only hope."

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