Author's note: This is from an idea Fleuramis gave me. I've probably put a different Musketeer into the trap than you were expecting, I hope you don't mind.
There is not much plot, it's more 'running away' nonsense really. But if their missions went to plan, what would we write about?
There were seven men in all. It was not infeasible that they could fight them. The four of them could easily handle that number. But they had been caught out and with no time to ready themselves to fight, had taken flight instead. Athos was confident they could outrun the men.
When they had obtained the maps and paperwork from the makeshift encampment Athos had been sure their luck would run out. They had found the encampment with ease, they had taken out the two sentries with little effort and had picked the correct tent on the first go. When Porthos had accidentally knocked a pot from its place on a table as they were retreating the seven sleeping men had all awoken at once.
Two gunshots in their direction had the four of them running in seconds. Crashing through the undergrowth of the scrubby wood meant they could not hide the direction they had taken from their pursuers.
'Split up,' yelled Athos as he grabbed d'Artagnan's arm and steered his friend along the left path, whilst Aramis and Porthos branched off to the right.
The scrubby bushes gave way to rocks. A cliff towering over them. They knew the rocky outcrop sloped downward after a few hundred yards, the two paths should meet up again beyond the rock. At least Athos hoped they would.
The path he and d'Artagnan had chosen led to an unexpected dead end. They skidded to a halt faced with a rock face, which would be climbable, given a few minutes to do so. But they did not have a few minutes. They had seconds. Athos glanced across to d'Artagnan who shrugged his shoulders and turned, drawing his gun as he did.
Four of the men were walking towards them.
After the path split Aramis and Porthos were forced to run in single file. Pothos took the lead, he had the paperwork, tucked into his doublet. Aramis was not sure if they were even being followed. The men might have all followed d'Artagnan and Athos. If that was the case, he and Porthos would have to double back.
Aramis slowed and turned back to check behind him. Porthos carried on running, unaware that Aramis was stopping. As he slowed his breathing Aramis listened intently, he could not hear anyone approaching. He took a few paces back the way they had come. Aramis scanned the undergrowth. He could not see any movement from any of the bushes and small trees. Unless they were being pursued by very light footed men Aramis was confident that they were not being followed.
But that probably meant the men were all chasing Athos and d'Artagnan. Seven men against the two Musketeers would be a struggle even for swordsmen as good as his friends.
Aramis turned back, he hoped Porthos had not gone too far, they would have to go back to help their friends.
As he began to run after Porthos he heard a sound that made his blood run cold. A scream. Porthos screaming in pain.
Aramis quickened his pace, drawing his gun as he went.
The four men had advanced on d'Artagnan and Athos slowly. D'Artagnan did not hesitate in firing his gun, followed a second later by Athos. D'Artagnan took one of the men out, whilst Athos' shot grazed the arm of another.
The man who had been hit by d'Artagnan's shot staggered back a few paces before crumpling to the floor. Another of the men rushed forward, sword swinging wildly as he did so. D'Artagnan steadied himself, easily dodging the first thrust of the man's sword. He pulled his main gauche at the same time. The man swung at him again, d'Artagnan jumped back out of the way.
Athos was fighting one of the other men whilst the injured man stood back. The area they were fighting in was narrow. The natural rocks pinning them in on three sides. D'Artagnan had to watch his sword strokes, he did not want to knock into Athos as he fought.
The injured man was now trying to join the fight, but all he was achieving was to distract the other men. The man fighting Athos was forced back a couple of paces by a forward thrust from the swordsman. The injured man had to sidestep but was not quick enough to avoid being knocked into by the man. They stumbled backwards, the injured man ended up falling over the man d'Artagnan had killed.
The movement distracted the man d'Artagnan was facing for a second. A second was all d'Artagnan needed, he swung his main gauche around, hooked the man's sword out of the way and sliced his own sword across the man's stomach. The effect was instant, the man doubled over, coughing blood as he did so. He fell to his knees, d'Artagnan pushed him out of the way as he stepped forward to assist Athos.
He wondered where the other three men were. There had definitely been seven when they started their scrambled escape. He could only conclude they had gone after Aramis and Porthos. D'Artagnan hoped they were having more luck them Athos and he were.
When Porthos had rounded the bend in the path and found it widening, he continued his run, knowing that Aramis would be close behind. His charge was arrested by a metalling snap and a searing pain in his ankle.
Porthos liked to think he was a strong man who was not affected by pain, but when the man trap snapped around his ankle he screamed. His momentum meant he tipped forward and just managed to catch himself with his hands before he crashed to the ground. He twisted around, but the action caused him immense pain. A second cry escaped him. He scrabbled at the trap, without thinking. All he wanted was for the offending item to be off him.
The trap was rusty, the spring was not as tight as it could have been. Despite the pain he was in, Porthos knew he had been lucky. The trap had not cut into his leg, but it was crushing his ankle. The teeth of the trap were digging into his boot. The slightest movement caused agonising shots of pain to radiate outwards. He pulled at the jaws of the trap but could only move it a fraction, when he let go again the trap crushed his ankle again. He threw his head back and cried out again as a fresh wave of pain crashed through him.
As he tried to pull at the trap again he heard a noise from the direction he had come. If it was not Aramis, Porthos knew he stood no chance. He was in no state to fight. Aramis rushed around the corner, skidding to a halt, his face a picture of worry. Porthos sighed with relief. For a moment he found his vision fade away.
'Porthos...Porthos, try to stay awake.'
He felt Aramis' hands on him, pulling him back to sit up where he must have sunk backwards. Porthos managed to focus on his friend. Aramis had switched to his field medic persona, assessing him, and trying to keep him conscious.
Aramis' hands were gently feeling around Porthos' ankle. The trapped musketeer could not help crying out in pain again.
'Sorry, sorry...it doesn't look like you've been cut by the teeth.'
'No, it's just crushing my ankle,' Porthos managed to say through clenched teeth. He was not sure how long he had been trapped, but he was beginning to get used to the pain. He was still breathing fast, but did not feel as though he was going to pass out at any given moment.
Aramis was trying to prise the trap open, he had the heel of his right boot against the mouth of the trap and was tugging at the other side with his hands.
'Aramis, no, you'll get yourself trapped,' said Porthos finding enough strength to reach out to Aramis and knock his shoulder. The action caused Aramis to let go of the trap which he had managed to open a fraction of an inch. The closing jaws crushing Porthos ankle again.
'Sorry...Porthos...please stay awake.'
Pothos realised he must have come close to passing out again. Aramis was staring at him, his hand on Porthos' shoulder.
Noises drew their attention back the way they had come. Aramis rose from where he had been crouched by his friend. Porthos watched him quietly walk back and look around the edge of the protruding rock face.
'Three men,' he said as he returned to Porthos.
'You have to go, take the papers,' said Porthos as he reached into his doublet to retrieve what they had taken from the gang.
'I'm not leaving you,' said Aramis with determination.
'You have to Aramis…'
'No,' said the marksman again as he pulled one of his guns from his weapon belt and handed it to Porthos, 'try to take them out as they round the corner, I'll deal with whatever you can't.'
'Aramis my hands are shaking too much, I won't hit anything,' said Porthos, who could not understand why Aramis would not just run.
The chances of him hitting anything whilst he was fighting the pain in his leg was poor. His breathing was ragged and he knew he was shaking, his aim would be off. If he hit anything with either his or Aramis' gun it would be luck, not judgement.
But Aramis was not going anywhere, his stubborn friend had moved off a few feet, drawing his second gun and checking his sword and main gauche were in optimum position on his belt ready to be drawn after he had fired his gun.
Porthos hoped they could deal with the three men without further mishap. But Porthos doubted they would be that lucky.
They both stood panting for a few seconds. Four dead bodies lying at their feet. Athos looked across at d'Artagnan who looked back at him with a celebratory grin. Killing others was not usually a time for celebration, but when it came to kill or be killed, there was time for a moment or two of thankfulness that they were still alive and uninjured.
'We had best keep going the way we are,' said Athos as he turned to face the rocks behind them, sheathing his sword as he did so.
If the men who had probably gone after Aramis and Porthos decided to double back Athos did not fancy another fight, but he knew his friends would easily take out the three gang members if they were to be caught up.
D'Artagnan climbed up the rocks with ease, having found an easier route than Athos. He crouched down and helped the Musketeer to clamber over the top of the short cliff. It was only a few yards high but both men were panting again when they reached the top.
'When we get to the horses, if they aren't there yet we can double back along the path they should be on,' said d'Artagnan looking back along the route they had taken as if he were expecting their friends to appear.
'They will be fine, they have the shorter route. And they only have three men chasing them.'
Aramis knew the plan was a poor one, but it was all he could come up with in the little time they had before the men reached them. He knew Porthos was close to passing out and was only still conscious due to the wave of energy he would have felt immediately after he was trapped. Aramis also knew the chances were Porthos would not be able to hit the men as they approached.
Aramis tucked himself behind a narrow tree, it did not offer him much cover but he knew the men would see Porthos first. His friend was totally exposed with no hope of hiding himself.
Porthos had watched him hide with a concerned look. Aramis found it amusing that his friend, who was trapped and injured seemed to be more worried about him.
As the noise of the men grew louder Aramis raised his gun and aimed at the spot he expected to see the men appear. He had decided to allow Porthos his two shots first. He did not want to risk them both shooting at the same attacker and wasting a gunshot.
Porthos fired, the man staggered backwards. Despite the odds being against him, Porthos had hit the first man. However, the other two were now alerted to the danger that faced them. They did not appear around the corner.
Aramis glanced across to Porthos who had propped himself up against the rock face, panting. The second gun held limply at his side. Porthos would not be able to assist any further.
One of the men peered around the rock, Aramis fired his gun, a spray of rock dust showering the man as he jumped back.
The two men must have sensed that Aramis had no more guns to fire, as they charged around the corner, swords drawn, with a cry.
Aramis drew his sword and main gauche and stepped forward to meet the two men.
Porthos watched as the two men advanced on his friend. His vision swam for a few seconds. When it cleared he raised the second gun, he tried to aim but knew it was no use. The chance of hitting Aramis was too great. He could not assist his friend.
Aramis was holding his own against the two men, and Pothos was sure he would be able to beat them both. His movements were agile and fluid. The two gang members were not trained, their movements were stiff and predictable.
A slight movement to his left caught Porthos' attention. The man he had shot was still alive. He was crawling forwards slowly, a gun clutched in his right hand. The man had his eyes on the fight a few yards away. Porthos glanced back at his friend and saw that the three men had turned, Aramis now had his back to him and the third gang member. The gang member intended to shoot Aramis in the back.
Porthos could not shout out to his friend, the distraction might allow the two swordsmen to land a killing blow. Porthos would have to deal with the third man himself. He raised his second gun and aimed at the injured man on the floor. As he was about to fire he stopped himself. The noise of the gun would also cause a distraction to his friend. In the heat of battle, the noise would not have caused a distraction, but this was not a battlefield, the noise would cause his friend to worry about him. Porthos realised he would have to deal with the man silently.
He dropped the gun and reached for his dagger. The man did not appear to have noticed him, so intent on his murderous task the man was simply crawling passed him. Porthos guessed the man wanted to be as close as possible to avoid missing his target.
Knowing the move was going to cause him a lot of pain Porthos steeled himself then tipped forward to land on the man's back. He stifled the cry of pain he wanted to make and tried to push his dagger into the man's back. The man dropped the gun as the air was knocked out of him. But his survival instinct kicked in. He twisted himself around and tried to push Porthos away.
Porthos was in pain, but he was also a man with a mission. He had to protect his friend from harm. He grabbed both the wrists of the other man and pulled him over onto his side slightly, at the same time he raised his right arm, tightening his grip on the dagger. He took a breath to steady himself as he thrust the dagger into the lower back of the man. He pushed the blade into the man, up to the hilt. The man squirmed and kicked, but Porthos held him firmly, he twisted the dagger before yanking it out again. The man yelped and weakly tried to push Porthos away.
It took the man a few more seconds to become still. Porthos found he could not move, he lay across the dead man's legs, panting hard, eyes screwed shut trying to push away the pain he felt in his ankle. He knew he was close to passing out. He just hoped he had done enough to help Aramis.
D'Artagnan and Athos were a little surprised to reach the horses and not find Aramis and Porthos already waiting for them.
They spent a few minutes catching their breath and looking along the route they knew their missing friends would take. When there was still no sign, d'Artagnan walked a few paces along the path, peering forward.
'They should be here,' he said, knowing he was stating the obvious.
D'Artagnan turned back to Athos who looked as concerned as he felt. After a few more seconds contemplation, Athos walked up to Aramis' horse, retrieved his medical bag and walked passed d'Artagnan along the path.
'Do you think something has happened?' asked d'Artagnan as he fell into step beside Athos.
'There is no sign of them or the other three gang members, they should have been here by now. There is a good chance that something has happened.'
D'Artagnan noted the worry in Athos' voice and the quickness of his pace.
Aramis had his back to where Porthos was leaning against the rocks. He had no idea what state his friend was in. Porthos had looked close to passing out when Aramis had last been able to steal a glance at him.
The two men were untrained and undisciplined fighters. All Aramis needed was for them to make a mistake that he could take advantage of. One of the men had a short reach and was jumping back and forth with each sword strike, this left him frequently unbalanced. But the other man was taller and did not need to move about as much to keep Aramis busy.
As he continued to fight, the shorter man darted out again and swung his sword in as large an arc as he could manage. Aramis reacted by taking a small step to the left. Unfortunately for the Musketeer, the taller man was mid swing at the same moment. The sword connected with his left arm, slicing through the leather of his doublet and biting deeply into his flesh. Aramis knew the wound was serious before the swordsman had pulled the weapon back.
He stumbled to the side, ending up leaning against the tree he had earlier used as cover. It was not often that he was caught off guard by an inferior swordsman. But accidents happened, lucky chances were taken and sometimes he was on the receiving end of the blade.
Aramis had been badly injured before, he knew that if the wound was dealt with quickly he would recover. But first, he had to deal with the two men who were fighting him. And now he was injured, that had suddenly become a much more difficult prospect.
The few steps he had taken to the side and the shock of receiving the injury had left him briefly disorientated. He had to fight the two men, he had to protect Porthos. Porthos had the paperwork.
Porthos yelled at him. Aramis spun around to look at his friend taking another couple of steps to the side as the did so.