Authors note: Thanks for all the lovely reviews.
This chapter includes some medical fixing stuff. I know nuffink about such things other than what I have leant on the tellybox. So please except any inaccuracies (of which there are bound to be some) with my apologies!
Porthos carefully untied Aramis, he gently laid the unconscious man down. Aramis was covered in bruises and had an obviously dislocated shoulder.
Porthos shook his friend a little, but the marksman remained unconscious. He was showing no signs of stirring. Time was of the essence. If d'Artagnan could not find Athos they would need Aramis to tell them where he was. It had been clear that Aramis was trying to tell them where Athos was, but they had been too busy with the spies to get to him.
He moved Aramis into a sitting position and started to pull off the unconscious man's doublet. Porthos thought that if he could reduce some of the pain he was in Aramis might wake up quicker. Putting a shoulder back into joint was something he hated to do, it seemed such an unnatural act, twisting the arm around and watching the bones realign.
Aramis moaned as the injured arm was manipulated. The joint moved into place with little difficulty, Porthos sighed. His friend would be in pain for some time but at least now, it would not get much worse.
Finally, Aramis stirred. Porthos leaned him against the wall of the barn and watched as the marksman opened his eyes slowly.
There was something he had to remember, something he had to tell them. What had it been?
As the fog of unconsciousness lifted and the pain re-established itself he tried to think. Porthos was crouched in front of him, he was sat on the floor and was fairly sure his arm had been pushed back in place. It still hurt, but it felt correct now.
What was he trying to remember?
A fresh surge of energy overtook him, he scrambled up ignoring Porthos' complaints and attempts to grab him. He rushed over to the sacks and started pulling at them with his good hand. He was too weak to move them.
Porthos was by his side, he turned to his friend and said simply, 'buried.'
He suddenly felt very dizzy and could feel himself swaying. He was vaguely aware of Porthos moving him aside and forcing him to sit down against the wall before he returned to the sacks and started heaving them out of the way whilst shouting for d'Artagnan to help.
When Aramis had suddenly leapt up and rushed across the barn Porthos has been taken by surprise. He wondered if his friend was hallucinating, he tried to grab the marksman but he was determined in his task.
Porthos followed Aramis who was pulling weakly at the old mouldy sacks. When Aramis had said the word 'buried' Porthos had, with shock, worked out what had happened. He moved Aramis out of the way, pushing him down onto the floor, the man was of no use to him at that moment in time.
He yelled for d'Artagnan to return and started moving the sacks as fast as he could. The sacks were heavy, and there were a lot of them. Images rushed through his head of what kind of state Athos might be in. He had no idea how long the swordsman had been under the sacks or if he was even still alive. He hoped that Aramis' reactions meant there was still a chance.
D'Artagnan ran back into the barn and skidded to a halt, he looked at Porthos confused.
'He's under here somewhere, help me with these sacks.'
D'Artagnan did not need telling twice, he grabbed the first bag and chucked it aside. They worked in tandem and had soon moved enough of the sacks to reveal the planks lying across the floor.
He was hot, the air was so stuffy, he could barely breath now. He was aware that he was taking very shallow breathes.
There was definitely movement above him, but he could not tell what was going on. He did not have the breath to shout out. But it would probably be too muffled by the gag if he did.
He wanted to sleep, but something in his mind told him to try and stay conscious, but he was not sure if he could.
They grabbed the planks and tossed them aside revealing the still form of Athos, lying on his side. They paused for a second, wondering if they were too late.
D'Artagnan reached down and pulled the gag from his mouth. Porthos was cutting the ropes that bound his arms and legs. The swordsman appeared to be unconscious, he was very still.
'He's breathing, but only just…Athos? He needs water.'
'I'll get some.'
Porthos left the barn. D'Artagnan gently pulled Athos up into a sitting position, leaning him against the side of the earthy hole. He brushed the loose earth from his cheek, the man was very warm. The movement must have roused Athos as he took a deeper breath and opened his eyes. He took a while to focus, eventually looking at d'Artagnan.
D'Artagnan sighed, 'thought we'd lost you.'
'Thought I was lost,' replied Athos quietly. He looked about, stopping when he found Aramis sat a few meters away. The marksman was slumped against the wall of the barn.
'Porthos was looking after him, I think he must've passed out again.'
Porthos returned with the water, he handed it to d'Artagnan as he crouched down looking at Athos with concern. D'Artagnan helped Athos to take a few sips.
'We need to get you cooled down,' said d'Artagnan as he started undoing Athos doublet, he helped the swordsman out of the leather garment then gave him back the water skin. Athos took a few more sips of water. He was already looking more focused.
'Porthos, you'd better check him,' d'Artagnan nodded towards Aramis who had not moved.
'Oh,' said Porthos as he hastened over to the still marksman. He knelt by his friend and gently straightened him up from his slouched position, 'I didn't really pay attention to him once I realised where Athos was.'
'I'm sure he won't blame you,' said d'Artagnan, trying to reassure his friend.
'He took quite a beating from the spies, he needs to rest anyway,' Athos added, 'can I get out of here now?'
D'Artagnan smiled as Athos indicated that he wanted to get away from the shallow pit that nearly became his last resting place. He helped Athos up, although he was shaky he managed to stand and walk across the barn. D'Artagnan helped him to sit down on some of the displaced sacks.
'Shall we use the farm house? We could get a fire going in there. I doubt Aramis will be in any state to travel until tomorrow anyway,' suggested d'Artagnan.
Porthos and Athos nodded.
D'Artagnan had managed to get the fire lit in the small hearth in the old farmhouse. Although dusty the structure of the building was relatively sound. Athos had managed to walk himself to the farm house whilst Porthos and d'Artagnan carried the still unconscious Aramis.
D'Artagnan had shared out the food they had been given. Porthos had fussed around Aramis for a while, cleaning him up, before finally sitting down next to the marksman to eat.
'He'll be stiff in the morning,' said Porthos as he accepted the food from d'Artagnan, 'but other than the shoulder, he only has bruises, I can't feel any broken ribs.'
'I'm glad you made such good time,' said Athos as he drank more water after d'Artagnan thrust the bottle at him again with a stern look.
'So are we,' said the young musketeer, 'the letter was delivered so there was no need to hang around once the horses were rested.'
Aramis stirred, pushing himself up to lean against the wall of the farmhouse with a little help from Porthos. He was obviously in pain but looked alert and focused. Porthos helped him to drink some water. Aramis looked at Athos with concern.
'They found me…obviously…I hear I have you to thank for that.'
Aramis looked confused. Porthos chuckled saying, 'you tried to dig him out yourself.'
Aramis shook his head, 'I don't remember that…but your timing was good,' he said to Porthos and d'Artagnan, 'a few minutes earlier would have been better though.'
D'Artagnan smiled saying, 'we'll try harder next time.'
'I would rather there not be a next time, if that is alright with all of you,' said Athos firmly.