New story. This first chapter is rather short, because of a very busy week. Subsequent chapters will be normal length. Please review and let me know what you think.

The Musketeers had just ridden in after a 2-week mission in Normandy for the King. They were all exhausted, but happy to be home again, and looking forward to sleeping in their own beds that night. All had gone well, for which they were thankful.

They took their horses into the stable, and turned them over to the young man who acted as stablehand in the evenings, then Athos went up to Treville' office to make their report to him. They knew, even though it was quite late, that the Captain would wait up to hear the details of their mission.

Aramis, as he always did, stayed behind in the stable to feed his horse, and give it some special attention. Fidget knew Aramis would have a carrot and an apple for him, and patiently waited for them while the stablehand rubbed him down after taking off the saddle that he had worn for so many days riding.

Aramis came back from the kitchen with the promised treats for Fidget with perfect timing. The stablehand, Bernard, had just finished up and was turning in for the night.

"Here you go, boy. You earned these," he said, patting the tired but content animal on his neck. He waited until Fidget had finished his carrot and apple before deciding he was exhausted enough to sleep now. He had trouble most nights falling asleep, but he didn't think that would happen tonight. He was just too tired. They all were.

He retrieved his doublet and hat from the slats on the stall where he had hung them, and headed for the stable door. The only warning he had of trouble was the ominous cracking sound coming from above him. As he looked up, the loft holding the hay opened, bales coming down much faster than he could move to get out of the way. He had turned back towards the door of the stable to get out when several bales in succession slammed into his back, driving him to the floor where others fell on top of him as he lay unmoving in the straw.

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When Athos emerged from Treville's office, he didn't see any of his brothers, which didn't surprise him. As tired as they all were, he would probably be the last one in bed for the night. Then, he saw Porthos heading his way.

"You seen Aramis?" he asked, concern coloring his words.

"No, I just finished with Treville," Athos replied.

"I knocked on his door,and got no reply, so I went in. He hasn't been there yet," replied Porthos.

"Maybe he decided he was hungry, and is scrounging in the kitchen," Athos said.

Porthos turned and headed for the kitchen, followed by Athos, curious now as to where their admittedly exhausted brother had gone. But the kitchen was dark. Serge and his helpers had obviously turned in some time ago. No smells of cooking permeated the air at all.

They stood there a moment, wondering where their missing brother was. Then, Athos looked at Porthos, who said, "You don't think..." looking over towards the stables. Without answering, Athos led the way towards the building, hoping nothing had happened.

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Pulling the heavy stable doors open, Athos and Porthos gasped as they beheld the sight before them. Bales of hay were everywhere. Their gazes looked upward, seeing broken and splintered wood instead of the normal wooden slats that held the hay.

Then, they heard a muffled groan. "Aramis!" came from Porthos. They both moved in the direction of the sound, coming somewhere in, or under, the bales on the floor.

They grabbed hold of and dragged several bales out of the way before they saw their brother, lying face down on the floor.

"Aramis!" Porthos exclaimed, as they both dropped to their knees beside the fallen marksman.

Turning him over, they saw his eyes closed. Then, Athos spied something, indicating it to Porthos with a nod. The pitchfork for handling the hay was stuck into the wood next to Aramis.

Athos realized something, saying to Porthos, "Look where it landed."

The implement was next to Aramis' hand.

Athos said, "Another two inches or so to the right, and it would have impaled his hand or one of his fingers, realizing just how lucky they were that it had not happened as it might have.

"Aramis!" Athos said softly. Another groan came in reply.

Then, Aramis slowly opened his eyes, looking at them a moment before asking, "What happened?" with a confused expression on his face. He had moved his head a little as he awakened, and they could now see the bruise on his forehead near his hairline, probably from hitting the floor when he fell. It could account for the confusion Aramis felt as he woke up.

"We were hoping you could tell us, mon ami," Porthos responded, worry clouding his face. They knew the bales had fallen, but not how.

Aramis was silent for a moment, then as it came back to him, he said quietly, "The bales! I heard a cracking sound, but not soon enough to move away. They...they hit my back and head, and that's all I remember."

"Can you move, Aramis?" Athos asked, shifting to move a hand under his brother's shoulders to lift him. Aramis dutifully attempted to sit up, and managed it after several tries with Athos and Porthos' hands beneath him assisting him in his endeavor.

Once Aramis was sitting, he felt intensely dizzy, but insisted on standing anyway. Once he was upright, with Athos and Porthos on either side so he could stay standing, he swayed in their arms.

"Let us take it slowly,and see if we can get you to the infirmary," Athos said to Aramis.

It was a slow move, but eventually, they got him into a bed in the infirmary. Athos went outside and found a cadet to run and get Dr. Lemay, before going back to his brother's side. It didn't look like Aramis had any serious injuries, but they would feel easier if Lemay could confirm that for them.

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A pair of malevolent eyes watched with great interest the movements coming from the stable. "This is only the beginning," he whispered to himself. "Only the beginning."

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I did a bit of research into the weight of bales of hay, and it surprised me. They look so light when seen while driving by some of them (I live where there is a lot of hay grown, as well as tons of veggies. The small bales of hay are 30 pounds or more. The next size up are between 40-75 pounds. The large ones are 100-140 pounds.