All for One and One for All

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    aris, France, 17th century. The King's Musketeers are the most elite force in law enforcement and protection of the crown from any threats that may seek to destroy it. Under the leadership of King Louis XIII, Queen Anne of Austria and Captain Treville, the band of brothers has prospered and gained footing in key areas of France's court and nobility. However, despite the intentions of the Musketeers and all who support them and their good works throughout the kingdom, a new and brutal plot has been detected that could override the dangers of anything they have ever experienced before, and put not only the integrity on the brotherhood at risk but the lives of the king and queen as well. The fate of France and all her citizens rests in the hands of four Musketeers, four men who are trained in the arts of combat and national security. Can Athos, Aramis, Porthos and D'Artagnan band together as they always have in a treasonous quest that could claim the lives of them all?


    In a flurry of bullets and whirring wind, Athos knew he had little time. He ducked behind a crumbling wall and was blessed long enough to reload his pistol and give himself a quick once-over, assessing for any major wounds that needed immediate medical attention and feel for risks that would throw him out of the fight. He was sure that the enemy would like nothing more. After a ruthless ambush by the mystery assailants, all four Musketeers sent forth on the job and been woken rather rudely and thrust into the fields of battle. If one of the greatest soldiers in the ranks of the king's men had fallen to injury it would make the little late-night excursion worth it for the unknown attackers, even if they lost. Athos gave a quick glance up to the glowing moon and thought that such a moment would be the perfect time for a prayer, but since he was neither the type for such foolishness or on proper terms with God, he thought his time was better served to self-examination and a quick assessment of the field in the fight.

    The enemy in question had been one that the group of men had been hunting for the past several days, leaving Paris in a rush on the king's orders and plunged into the hellhole that made up the city of Toulouse. So little had been known about the force which they were chasing after, though after a few nights of speaking with locals and avoiding what remained of the plague, Athos was confident that he had found his source. Distracted, Athos gave a sigh and peered over the edge of the broken brick, firing a shot and hitting an attacker square in the chest before ducking behind the protection once more.

    She has to be here, he thought bitterly. She must be.

    "Athos!" came a call from across the square. The soldier lifted his head and nodded to D'Artagnan in acknowledgment, gripping his weapon and making a mad dash for the building at his left. Under heavy gunfire, Athos leapt to safety and narrowly avoided a bullet to the chest that would not only compromise his position as a soldier, but endanger his life as well. D'Artagnan patted him on the back before throwing the lighted charge into the fray of enemies, putting his hands over his ears as Athos did the same.

    Three, two, one. A massive blast shook the ground beneath him, though he had little time to react or recoil. He was on his feet moments later, catching the loaded pistol that was tossed to him by Porthos and rushing back into the battle, gun raised.

    "Stop, don't shoot!" The voice of the sole remaining assailant rang out through the smoke and the shouts that were a direct result of D'Artagnan's charge. What he wasn't expecting, however, was the struggling woman in the arms of the black-cloaked attacker, whimpering with a gun held to her head.

    "Don't shoot," the man exclaimed, "or the girl dies!"
    #1 moffnat, Oct 26, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014
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  2. Well this is fun. Musket fire cracked through the silence that night usually brought to the city, ringing over Aramis's head as he plastered himself against the wall of some abandoned house. He glanced across the street to where Athos was trying to take a breather, assuring himself that his friend was still in one piece after they had been seperated in the ensuing firefight. Once his innate, almost maternal, worry for his comrades was satisfied, he swatted at Porthos standing beside him to get his attention away from shooting at their foes. The lion of a man turned to him, grinning fiercely down at him when Aramis gestured to the roof, immediately realising his intent. Without much discussion, he knelt down, took a firm hold of Aramis's leg and foot and launched him suddenly over the wall. The Marksman easily scrambled onto the roof without being noticed and swung his musket off his shoulder, grateful that he had loaded not moments before, and taking aim at their group of persuers.

    He took a calming breath, feeling his heart slow and the sounds of explosions and Porthos's laugh dulling to a distant rumble. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Athos make a run for it and he quickly targetted a man about to fire at his brother in arms, taking him out cleanly with a shot to his head. Well Athos was safe, that was good at least, but Aramis had to pull back quickly from sight before the assassins found his position, taking the time to begin the labourious reloading process. He heard more than saw that they had a hostage situation in their hands, 'Don't shoot or the girl dies' not leaving much room for interpretation. There was a moment of extended silence and Aramis waited...

    Then Porthos's voice boomed up from behind the wall. "Don't shoot, we're coming out!" The Marksman heard the clatter of a sword and pistol being thrown out into the street towards their assailants, then glanced down as Porthos's figure came into view, carefully and slowly stepping around and into the open. Aramis grinned, thats what he'd been waiting for. Porthos made very slow steps towards the captured woman and her captor, his eyes locking with his and his hands high above his head. "I give up... so let 'er go.." Through his sights down his musket barrel, Aramis watched the man smirk, about to say something that was no doubt going to be exceedingly witty and clever! Only his head exploded into blood from Aramis's well placed bullet before he could utter a word. Shame really.

    That broke the brief silence quite effectively. Porthos surged forward, grabbing up his thrown pistol and shooting his nearest attacker before he could even draw and then throwing the gun aside in favour of his giant sword. The woman's forearm was grasped by Porthos's large hand and she was yanked behind him just before he managed to block a deadly downward swing as the remaining assassins discarded guns for their own blades. In the middle of this renewed fray, Aramis drew his own sword and slid down from his roof, landing behind his enemy and running them through the small of the poor man's back before leaping to aid his brute of a best friend, the pair grinning with shared exhilaration as they started to cut men down.​
    #2 Erranruin, Oct 26, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014

  3. Athos did what he could to keep the injuries to a minimum. They were severely outnumbered as far as four musketeers standing against ten armed men in black cloaks to preserver their identity, but Athos and his friends had faced odds that were much worse and come out successful. Still, he wouldn't let that distract him. One moment of overconfidence could lead to a single mistake that could cost all of them their lives, and he had no intention of putting his closest friends or an innocent woman in jeopardy. Keeping himself in key positions where the moon would light his path, Athos abandoned his empty pistol for the favor of his sword.

    It only took a few minutes to have the blackcloaks tucking tail in defeat. Athos was unsure as to how many of them escaped, at most two or three, but the satisfaction that he got in shoving a surviving assailant against the nearest wall made any losses worth their sting.

    "Who are you working for?!" Athos shouted, desperate for the answer that he felt he knew was waiting just behind the stranger's lips. "Who ordered you to come into Paris?! Tell me!"

    "Piss off, Musketeer. I'm not tellin' you anything."

    Athos knew that he needed to bring this man back to Paris alive, to answer for the crimes that he and his comrades had committed against the crown. He knew that this man would hang. However, there was something deeper at work here that he and his friends had been suspecting for months since the first attempt on Queen Anne's life. He needed to draw the answer from this man like poison from a wound--slowly at first, and then all at once.

    "Tell me and I'll spare you the noose."

    The man only chuckled. "Death doesn't scare me."
    #3 moffnat, Oct 26, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  4. At the end of it all, and once the dust and adrenaline had settled down, Aramis was happy to say that he hadn't taken any bone breaking or deadly damage. He had a light and darting style of swordplay, which usually either left him relatively unscathed or on the verge of bleeding to death. Luckily this time it was the former. As Aramis looked around his eyes found Porthos. As he watched him carefully, movement tugged at a few bleeding lacerations scored across Porthos's dark skin and blood spurted onto the street cobble, but it was nothing too serious in Porthos's mind! Aramis's dark glare indicated that the medic did not agree.

    Porthos had long ago learned to acquiesce to his friend's orders where wounds were concerned, so Aramis did not have to glare long before the bull of a man started removing his heavier layers in preparation for treatment. Satisfied that Porthos wasn't going to do himself any extra harm, Aramis allowed himself to flit worriedly around his brothers in arms, passing over Athos when he realised that the man was obviously occupied and rounding on D'Artagnan. He rebuffed whatever protestations the young man could muster and lifted limbs and twirled him around in search of any serious wounds. The lad may be a fine swordsman and a strong warrior, but he was reckless to an alarming degree and he seemed to take joy in making Aramis worried sick about him.

    In the end, D'Artagnan was quickly patched up and so was Porthos, allowing Aramis to turn to Athos who was still interrogating their captive, who was being exceedingly disagreeable. Aramis leaned against the wall, just next to the assassin in black, smiling in a carefree manner.

    "Not afraid of Death! Isn't that admirable Athos? The peak of honour and nobility, I must say." He inched closer, his nose mere inches from the man's face. "Your employer must be paying you a lot for such loyalty... or perhaps you are bound to their cause?" He stepped back and looked the man up and down, humming critically and lightly stroking his beard. "Hmm, you look more like the lowly, underhand, criminal type. What do you think Athos?" He budged close to his friend and rested an arm on the man's shoulder, looking playfully between Athos's stormy counternance and their prisoner's face, goading and taunting him into an admission.

    As the other two Musketeers endeavoured to pry some answers from their new friend, Porthos approached the young woman he had saved from their attacker's grasp. He bowed lightly, lifting his hat as he gave her a pleasant smile. "Apologies Madam, getting civilians mixed up in Musketeer business wasn't the plan. You aren't hurt are you? Can I escort you anywhere?" Another warm and gentle smile, the woman being of a small and fragile-looking build.​
    #4 Erranruin, Oct 27, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2014

  5. "God, Aramis. Now?" Athos gave a small sigh and a shake of his head. Aramis was always the clown of the group, finding ways to make jests and teases even in the darkest of scenarios. While the humor was much appreciated by Porthos and D'Artagnan, Athos was a much less excitable person and preferred to keep things remaining on the business side of battle. However, the swordmaster could never seem to find the heart to discourage Aramis of his jokes and sarcastic prods despite how they annoyed him, and maybe, just maybe in the depths of his personality, he enjoyed them to the smallest degree. He turned to the assailant again. "No matter what they're paying you, I think your head is worth more than a pretty penny. Don't you agree?"

    Suddenly, the man spit in Athos's face and went into a low spiel of prayer. "Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Ame--"

    D'Artagnan smacked the man in the black cloak upside the head, knocking him cleanly unconscious. Athos groaned in disgust as he wiped the saliva from his face and wore a frown of disturbance. "Who does that? Nasty business."

    "At least he didn't have the plague." D'Artagnan gave a reassuring chuckle before clapping his friend carefully on the shoulder. "Let's tie him up."

    Katarina was careful to take every action of every man to heart, logging the preferences of each into her mind and the mannerisms of each of the four musketeers. It was a wonder that they had fallen for the little trick, so easily ready to save a damsel in distress just as the Queen had promised her. It had been so simple, it was a miracle that these men hadn't already been killed by another enemy with the same mindset. But Katarina had convince herself that she wasn't someone they needed to avoid, not if she wanted to appear genuine. She placed a hand on her chest to catch her breath, still clutching to the brute that had her protected under his masculine wing. She looked up to him and was caught off guard for a moment, wondering in the back of her mind which musketeer this was--Aramis maybe?--before nodding in a falsified shock.

    "Y-Yes, I'm alright," she managed after a few moments, looking to the man who had just been knocked unconscious by the youngest in the group, who was no doubt D'Artagnan. "I'm fine, they didn't hurt me. I was just...I was just trying to catch a carriage to Paris when I heard the bomb, and as I was trying to run i was grabbed." She feigned an expression of terror at the "memory". This will be much simpler than I expected, she thought, but I hope that none of them stand in my way. They seem kind. I would hate to see them perish by the Queen's hands.

    "You saved my life, sir. I owe it to you." Katarina looked up into the man's dark eyes once more--no, not Aramis, this is Porthos--and smiled gently. He was handsome. Perhaps that would make things a bit more difficult.

    "My name is Katarina," she told him amiably. "Katarina Beaumont. Might I know the name of my rescuer?"
    #5 moffnat, Oct 27, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  6. Aramis nonchalantly watched the man drop to the ground cold, sighing in mild regret. He actually thought he would get somewhere with that taunting. "I hadn't finished my line of questioning you know!" He managed to pout at D'Artagnan and look unendingly dashing at the same time, a most admirable and magical talent. " And you don't know, he could have the plague!" He waggled his finger in D'Artagnan's direction before chuckling and quickly letting go of the problem, instead grasping Athos's shoulder before he could flee.

    "Now that you have taken frustrations out on our friend here... and the wall, stand still so I can clean some of these cuts." He may have made the request but he didn't wait for Athos to comply, merely running through a familiar routine of checking the man all over and smearing alcohol when necessary, allowing himself a bit of friendly mockery for every hiss of pain. Joviality helped in these situations, he also thought. And if the others disagreed well, they weren't doctors were they?

    He stood back once his work was done. "Right, you two are fine. Porthos should get a few stitches, but they can wait. Can we go home now? I don't think Toulouse agrees with me!" He fixed his hat back onto his head, glancing over to where Porthos was doing his old gentle bear routine with their young lady friend and deciding that he had it covered. He might be the romantic hero type, but that wasn't always what was needed, sometimes you just needed a wide and trusting smile that was as warm as the sun.​

    "Katarina," Porthos spoke the name slowly, as if testing how it sounded and nodding in approval and appreciation. "A beautiful name for a beautiful woman. Well forget it, Miss Katarina. Its only our job to keep the peace and protect civilians. If saving a life once means you own it thereafter, then Aramis would own me a hundred times over by now!" A slightly distant voice came up from Aramis's direction, the words soaring over Porthos and Katarina's heads. "I do!" Porthos sighed and scowled playfully over at his friend-turned-comedian, before ignoring him and returning his attention to his charge. "As for names, that was Aramis, I'm Porthos, the moody one is Athos and the Whippersnapper is called D'Artagnan. Pleased to meet you!"

    "Now as it happens, we're all returning to Paris. Perhaps you'd like some Musketeer company for the journey? We're all brutes but at the very least you'd be safe." He did that signature smile again, his tone and manner gentle and guileless, a totally trusting dogged expression suffusing his manner.
    #6 Erranruin, Oct 28, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014

  7. Katarina was instantly charmed by Porthos's smile, taking all he said to heart and nodding in response to his offers. "You are most kind, Porthos. I would be most honored to travel with you and your band of Musketeers, and while I don't mind traveling with 'brutes' as you call yourselves I think I can appreciate some humor, wine, taverns and safe travels with the brave men who saved my life." She chuckled and curled her hair behind her ears, biting her lip as her eyes met the bodies of the dead and wounded. Athos, who had noticed the looks of trepidation in her eyes, cleared his throat and gestured for Porthos and Katarina to come along.

    "We should leave," he said, sheathing his sword and beginning a walk down the nearest path. "This is no place for a lady. D'Artagnan, can you drag our new friend along? I'm sure he could use a few miles of dragging behind a horse."

    Katarina looked shocked at first, but by the clear amusement in D'Artagnan's eyes she knew it must have been a prank. She kept close to Porthos and the other Musketeers as they made their way through the outskirts of Toulouse, towards the stables, and off towards the heart of France.

    Let the games begin.

    "It's terribly hot in here, don't you think?" Anne sat on her throne at the head of the room, cooling herself lightly with a paper fan decorated in painted flowers and colors of gold and maroon. She popped a grape in her mouth from the platter held before her and sighed, looking out the window toward the gardens and admiring the spring flowers. "I don't know why, but it's so terribly...exhausting. Could someone open the window?"

    "Of course, Your Majesty." A servant moved to the glass and propped it open, warranting a sigh of relief from the queen.

    "Oh, thank you. That helps immeasurably. Does anyone have some chicken? I can't help but think that some chicken would stifle the--"

    The doors swung open, and the queen's herald stomped his foot to make an announcement. "Your Majesty, the Musketeers are here to see you. The sirs Aramis, Porthos, Athos and D'Artagnan, along with a noblewoman they met along their journey should you approve of her attendance."

    "Aramis?" The other names were almost irrelevant to her. "Of course, send them in. I've been waiting for them." Anne stood from her seat and stepped across the room to greet them formally, and tried her absolute hardest not smile too wide or make a gesture too familiar with the Musketeer who held her heart in his hands. She smiled as the five bowed low to their queen.

    "Musketeers," she chuckled, "and guest. What a pleasure to see you again." Anne seemed to glow despite the overcast weather of the day.
    #7 moffnat, Oct 28, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  8. Aramis had to repress a loving sigh as he strode confidently into the Queen's presence, in line with his three other brothers in arms. She was truly glowing in her pregnancy, her face just a little flushed with heat, her chest rising and falling with just a little more intensity. Also, as her breasts swelled, they rounded slightly over the cut of her bodice. All of these things Aramis noticed, and more, his warm almond eyes committing each sight he caught of her to memory, in preparation for a day when they might be separated forever. And so the fact that he could not verbally express the affection blossoming in his chest was very frustrating. His main reason, at that moment, for being discreet was due to the fact that Athos was only mere feet from him. Though somewhat comforting that someone else knew of the affair between the Queen and her Knight, Athos was not the most positive of fellows when it came to romance. Needless to say, he did not approve of Aramis's actions.

    Reaching the foot of the throne, all in the room bowed low, averting their eyes to the ground in deference... allowing Aramis to hold his Queen's gaze and smile at her to show just how pleased he was to see her again after the mission had dragged him from her side. This was all the sentiment he could show before the room rose once more and Aramis was forced to return to a noble and respectable expression... for now. Later he would leave her under no delusion of how greatly he had missed her presence and proximity.

    Porthos took up the responsibility of introducing their companion, he having grown to quite like her on the journey home. "Your Majesty, may I present Lady Katarina Beaumont of Marseille. She got in the middle of a disagreement between us and a few assassins. After that we found we were both coming to Paris, so she accompanied us for the journey. You said you were moving to the Capitol, My Lady?" He grinned down at her, the woman small and petite looking, making Porthos consider how easily he could pick her up. The thought made the corners of his mouth quirk in amusement.​
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  9. Anne smiled towards the guests in her halls, chuckling a bit as she caught the eye of a certain musketeer who held her heart in his hands, but the moment was over as soon as it began and she adjusted back into the position of an oblivious queen. She unfolded her fan once more and gave herself a breeze, humming softly in relief and trying not to show how exasperated she truly was. Anne felt as if she could be buried in ice and still feel smothered in lava. She placed a gentle hand on her stomach, keeping bright eyes cast out towards her audience even though she wished they were closed in slumber.

    "Lady Beaumont of Marseille?" the queen asked amiably. "I've never heard of that name, my apologies. You are most welcome. Though, if you'll forgive my observances, you look to be more Spanish than French."

    "You are quick to notice," Katarina replied with a kind grin. "My mother was from Spain, Your Majesty. I suppose we can leave it to each other to recognize our own kin."

    "Indeed. It is wonderful to have someone from my home country so closeby. Me recuerda a casa."

    The noblewoman chuckled. "Sí, mi reina. Lo hace de hecho."

    Anne couldn't help a little laugh. She turned to her musketeers then, wanting to put all familiarity with the home she left behind far from her field of focus. "I assume you bring news from Toulouse? What are these black cloaked men wanting from the nobles in Paris? Were you able to discover anythi--oo." She made a slightly sour face, rubbing her stomach in small circles as if to soothe the nausea from her body. "I'm sorry. Please, share what you've learned."

    Athos looked to Aramis, seeing the concern written on his face before using his immediate words to disguise anything that might blow his cover. "We know that they have been targeting the wealth of your nobleman, Your Majesty, but also that they are using that wealth to fund something. We were unable to decipher what exactly their plans were, though we are confident that we have chased them from France...though, if it please you, we can bring this matter to the king. Forgive my forwardness but you do not look at all well."

    The queen offered a warm smile, pleased by Athos's concern for his monarch. "You are most kind, but I am simply fatigued and exhibiting symptoms of the child within me. I would ask you to bring this matter to His Majesty if he were not currently shooting birds and hawks in the forest--no doubt he will bring me his winnings and I will be sick all over again." She chuckled at her own joke, hoping the rest would appreciate the dry humor. "I trust you have done exactly as you tell me, Athos. I shall be confident in confiding in your word of France's safety. Were you able to recover any of the riches that were stolen?"

    "A few," he replied, "and we will return them to their proper owners."

    "Good. Though I would certainly feel better if the assailants were brought to justice, it is enough to know they have left us for now. I encourage you to continue this investigation where you can, speak with your captain about your discoveries and come to me with any developing news on the matter."

    "It will be done, Your Majesty."

    "Wonderful." Anne rose from her throne and moved down the few steps, giving a little sigh, glancing over Aramis's condition to make sure he was unharmed before announcing her desire to leave. "I fear I must retire for the moment to keep my energy boosted," she told them. "The child tossed and turned more than I last night and I slept something terrible."
    #9 moffnat, Oct 29, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  10. Aramis was very sure he should be listening to the exchanges occurring between Athos and The Queen. But he couldn't tear his mind away from the shadow of pain that had passed over her features, or the way she seemed to be drooping a little in her seat. Usually she held the most elegant of gaits and even today she looked more queenly than any woman he had ever met. But Aramis could tell she was tired. He felt Athos's gaze more than saw it, gulping down the tense lump in his throat and flicking his eyes toward the man, acknowledging and reassuring Athos that he wasn't going to launch himself across the room any time soon.

    But then each comment she made towards her health was another knife to his heart and a crease to his forehead. Eventually they were dismissed, Aramis and Anne's concerned gazes meeting each other before Aramis tried to turn and leave. 'Tried' being the operative word. He took about two steps towards the door before he halted. There was really no need for this, surely she had servants to take care of her, he could see her later. He would be tutoring young Prince Louis very soon, a fine excuse for a tryst. But no, somehow it really had to be now. His romantic hero personality would allow nothing else, so, with a slight sigh at himself, knowing that he was going to get hell from Athos later, he turned back to his queen.

    "Your Majesty, please, permit me to escort you away. Your health is of paramount importance and... it is my duty to keep you safe." He wore the most noble and gallant expression, holding his hand out in such an innocent manner, his other arm at his back, his stance elegant and practiced. Who would think he had anything but platonic and loyal intentions? Certainly not Porthos or any of the servants surrounding them. Aramis could almost feel the annoyance spreading from Athos's form, but at that moment he cared little, at that moment he was very engaged with wanting to care for Anne.​

  11. Oh, Aramis. She smiled the genuine grin that had earned her so many lovely titles throughout her people, 'Mother of Mercy', 'Holy Queen', and while she dare not think that anyone suspected who such smiles were meant for she could only feel warmth in knowing that he did. "Thank you," she told him, taking his hand after it was offered and linking her arm with his. "You are most kind and loyal, though I would hate to take you away from your good work. Athos, would you tell your captain that Aramis will be along shortly? I do believe that he has an appointment with the prince for sword lessons, but he should report to Captain Treville before he sees to my son. The boy can wait."

    "Of course, Your Majesty." Athos offered no smile and his mouth was a thin, irritated line, and it occured to Anne then that Athos knew precisely what kind of 'direction' that Aramis would be giving her. She gave no visual indication that she suspected the musketeer or his knowledge of the affair between herself and his dear brother, but she kept her thoughts close to heart. If Athos knows, surely he would rather die than put the life of his queen and brother at risk. Right?

    The pair left the throne room rather quickly for two at a leisurely walk, but luckily it went unnoticed. Anne said nothing to Aramis until they had reached her personal chambers, and she looked around to make sure none had eyes on them before disappearing with her knight through the great doors.

    "You chivalrous fool," Anne teased with a smile that was contrary from the scolding she wished she could give him. The queen's hands rested on Aramis's chest and her joy remained unwavering as she looked into his dark eyes. "You're risking too much, coming here to me so soon, and I'm risking too much by letting you, but since I don't believe either of us are the kind to turn away from each other I suppose we'll have to make do.

    "The queen is beautiful," Katarina said as the four of them, three musketeers and a lady left the room where they had just hailed Her Majesty's audience. "I never thought I would get to meet her. And she speaks Spanish! I should have expected that, but it was a delight to be able to hear it for myself." Despite her mission, all the words Katarina spoke were honest and true. She kept on Porthos's arm respectfully, not allowing herself a chance to get too close but not keeping too distant either, just enough to remain familiar.

    "Tell me Lady Katarina," began Athos, "do you have a place to stay? Paris is a big city. It may not be as easy to find comfortable lodgings as you might think."

    "Actually no," she admitted with a small chuckle. "I was hoping to find someone who needs a tutor for their child, or a nobleman or woman in need of a teacher. I have great skills with math, philosophy, anatomy, astrology and literature. I'm sure I could be a suitable instructor for someone in need. Do you know of anyone whom I could seek out for a place to stay in exchange for employment? I have limited gold, and seeing as my parents perished in a shipweck recently and left all of the estate to my elder brother, I'm in no fit state to ask for proper accommodations by means of purchase."

    "A teacher?" Athos had to laugh. "Oh, I know a teacher. A wonderful one at that. After we meet with Captain Treville I will take you to her, is that alright? You may have to wait while we discuss the events of our travels but afterward I assure you that you will be pleased with whom we take you to."

    "Oh, that would be splendid!" Katarina seemed to be bursting with joy. "What is her name?"

    "The Countess de Larroque," Athos replied, "and she is the greatest teacher you could ever hope to meet."
    #11 moffnat, Oct 29, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014
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  12. As soon as the door had closed behind them, Aramis had pulled Anne against him, a soft affectionate smile breaking through his previously stalwart and knightly expression. He sighed in pleasure at the first touch he had recieved from her in weeks, focusing his attention on her voice and nodding in solemn mock agreement, even as one of his hands pressed little soothing circles through her corset and into her back. He grinned languidly at the end of her little speech, chuckling low in his throat and slowly inching his face closer to her own.

    "Indeed," he said, his other hand now skimming up her side, his thumb resting briefly and reverently over her abdomen, "no helping it," he breathed as he ran the tip of his nose down her own before letting his lips come to rest above hers. "Completely doomed, nothing to do but-" he murmured the words against her lips before finally pressing down into a sensuous, passionate kiss, drawing her closer to him and inhaling in delight as she was finally pressed flush against his chest. He was gentle at first, but quickly his love-starved state pushed him into stronger ardor. His hands pressed and kneaded and stroked across her back and hips, the thick cloth barriers between him and her skin making him grunt breathily in irritation. It was the point where he had backed her into the bed and she sat down in front of him, that he finally pulled away with another breathy groan.

    "I ah," He swallowed heavily as he looked into the eyes that looked up at him, her hair a little disheveled now and her eyes mirroring Aramis's in dilation. "I had intended to just care for you.." That came out a little huskier than he'd intended... well perhaps he had intended it that way.​

    Countess Ninon de Larroque was having a rather confusing day. For example, this morning a delivery of five ancient Arabic texts arrived, beautifully copied and bound for her library. She had been incredibly excited about it, eager to show her students her magnificent acquisition. It had taken her a very long time to find them and she was pleased with the hard work it had taken to finally have them at her door. So one could imagine her annoyance when one of her students, a noble lady of modest standing, read one and exclaimed that she had the very same book already in her library at home!

    Other such mixed occurrences had plagued her morning and now it was lunch time and Ninon was praying devoutly that the pattern would not continue into the afternoon. However, just as she was near to finishing her rather pleasing lunch, someone arrived at her door. Upon inspection, one of her maids announced that a party of four, consisting of three Musketeers and one noble woman, were awaiting her in the solar. Musketeers... she assumed it was her gallant allies, but why only three? Ninon had gained the impression that they were all attached to each other at the hip! Ah... perhaps Athos had not come considering their little ah... interesting encounter the week before.

    She sighed wistfully as she rose from her lunch and primmed until she looked presentable, gliding gracefully towards her guests. As she walked she considered what she was going to do about Athos. The joke had been incredibly amusing and well worth it at the time, but if it was going to keep Athos away from her then she was going to have to do something about it. She found the lack of Athos distressing and sobering. He was missed.

    But even as she thought such things, she turned a corner into her Solar and came upon her three grand Musketeers, D'Artagnan, Porthos and Athos! Aramis was no where in sight. Certainly not the makeup she had expected, but she smiled with delight at them all nonetheless. Her eyes also found the stranger in their midst, a pretty and radiant looking young woman with a pleasant, if mischievous, smile. She somewhat reminded Ninon of herself!

    "Musketeers! How pleasant a surprise to find you at my door. Come, sit and tell me what you have to say, for your visits are always bound to bring some excitement" She laughed, a beautiful bell-like peel of mirth at her own jokes before she focused her attention upon them, specifically Athos, levelling a calm and warm smile in his general direction.

  13. "Really?" Anne chuckled, feeling nearly naked as he unlaced her corset and ran his hands all over her body in ways that drove her mad. He always knew what places to touch to which degrees and where to put his lips if he wanted to leave her driven with a need for him. "It looks to me like you're doing an awful lot besides helping me. Unless you count helping me out of my dress as something on your list of desires?"

    In truth, Anne was never a woman for teasing. She preferred to love and be loved, to lay in the aftermath of their sinful confession and talk lazily of irrelevant things whilst holding each other close. Aramis was always romantic and attentive, driving her needs for pleasure quicker than his own and ensuring her happiness with him and his acts of love. She reveled in the affections he showered her with and cherished every act of adoration exchanged between the two of them. But since her pregnancy, things had changed. Just the sight of him could drive her mad with lust, and while Anne was an intelligent woman who knew better than to slip in the face of desire, it was becoming increasingly harder to resist him.

    Still, she had not gone mad. Anne laid back on the bed and waggled her finger in a 'come hither' motion, smiling up at him from where she lay. "You can talk later," she told him lovingly. "But for now, come here. I want to be near you." The child moved within her, and she sat up to place a hand on his and pull it over her softly moving womb. "I'm not the only one, either."

    Lady Beaumont followed the rest of her party through the great golden doors, silently admiring every piece of art and ceiling painting and gilded architecture she saw. The Countess's home was truly beautiful, decorated in French designs and a unique twist to typical look of manses. She kept on Porthos's arm without realizing how long she had been hanging there, a part of her almost glued to it as a sense of familiarity in an unfamiliar world. Paris had already been so much different than what she had heard from the Duchess or read about in books. It was so much more beautiful and diverse, almost magical. But Katarina was an easily impressionable woman. It had been her downfall on many occasions.

    "Countess," said Athos, though his voice was a bit strained and stressed, almost shy. "This is Lady Katarina Beaumont of Marseilles. We encountered her on our latest mission and took her with us upon hearing her desire to travel to Paris. She claims to be in search of a teaching job or tutoring, with all manner of skills and prerequisites. I thought of you immediately and thought you might be able to use a hand."

    Katarina instantly stepped forward, leaving Porthos's side a moment and noting the absence of him faster than she should have. She curtsied before the countess respectfully, wearing a genuine smile of adoration and professionalism. "Countess," she said happily, "I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I have heard so much about you from Athos and his friends on our journey here, and I cannot help but admire your work from afar."

    "I didn't--" Athos began, but he kept his mouth shut.
    #13 moffnat, Oct 29, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  14. What man could resist a command like that? Not Aramis. He moved, pressing into her space and relaxing into the familiarity of her scent and her warmth as his hands continued their clever work at her clothes and his lips went to her neck. Ah, he had missed her. He nipped and kissed down her jaw and shoulder, just lightly enough to leave no permanent marks on her white skin. A necessity which irked him, but there was nothing to be done about it. He had only managed to rid himself of his leather jacket before she had pulled him back to her, but that could be dealt with later. Her hand against is own made him pause, his lips still pressed against her neck and his breath, now heavy and hot, caressing down her throat. He let her pull his touch against her abdomen, resting his palm there until suddenly he felt something, such a little precious thing, wriggle against him. So vital and strong, Aramis gasped quietly, then laughing with breathless happiness before dropping to his knees at Anne's feet.

    He sent her a rapid grin, his arms winding around her waist as he pressed between her legs and kissed the peak of her slightly rounded belly. He held there for a moment, basking and relishing in the delight that was his Queen and his child. But then suddenly he surged up again, capturing her lips again and pushing her back into the mattress with passionate force, kindled by the knowledge that she was the mother to his baby. He needed her, pressing his tongue into her mouth and against her tongue as he picked quickly at the final strings on her under garments before slipping his hand into the dress and gripping and massaging the bare soft skin he found there, stroking up her sides to gently cup a swollen breast.

    He pulled back from the kiss just so that he could watch her, a wicked smile on his face. Now pregnant, Anne's whole body was more sensitive, but her breasts had changed the most and Aramis was very attentive and appreciative of this development. He kneaded one, carefully but not without pressure, before using a finger to circle her nipple and then pinch it lightly.

    Ninon had been watching the young lady's eyes, now known to be Katarina. She was pleased to see how much her gaze was drawn by her impressive art collection and it certainly raised Katarina in her estimation. It was also interesting to watch Porthos when the Lady dettached herself from his arm, the warrior sagging slightly and letting his face droop into a somewhat morose expression. Then her attention turned to Katarina. Athos had spoken about her had he? Her eyes flicked towards him with some satisfaction, noting his slight awkwardness and being immensely bolstered by it. Yes, this was all very interesting. Ninon had to hide a secret smile, instead stepping forward to greet her new acquaintance.

    "Well, Admirers are always welcome!" Another secret side-long smile in Athos's direction before she forced herself to focus her full attention to this active young lady. "Ladies of learning even more so! You are looking for a tutoring position? Well.." She held her gaze for a moment, searching her features ponderously with bright and deep eyes. "Hmm.." After a moment of consideration, she opened her mouth to speak, however the words that came were not french. She spoke three sentences, the first in Arabic, the second in English and the third in German, testing to see how extensive her knowledge was. However, each sentence was the same question. "What else did our fine Musketeer Athos say of me?" She waited patiently, expecting either Katarina to know one of the languages and reply or express her knowledge was in other areas. Either way, Ninon would come to know of her talents.

  15. Anne's pattern of breath instantly changed. She drew in sharply, knowing in every inch of her that Aramis particularly enjoyed watching her facial expressions when he touched her in certain ways. It couldn't be helped. Her eyes slowly closed and her lips never met, the corners of her mouth gently upturned in a smile as her breaths became quicker. She reached up her hands to grip Aramis's shoulders if only to pull him closer to her, chuckling deviously at the sight of his bare chest. "No obvious wounds," she told him in a voice laced with desire. "I'm glad you weren't--mm...weren't hurt..."

    She continued to let him dote on her physical pleasure, lowering her hands above his to encourage his massage of her breasts and the hardened peaks which sent shudders of ecstasy through her at the touch. Her legs wrapped around his waist and Anne found herself leaning up to lock her lips to his again, desperate to taste him and share the overwhelming waves of affection with the man who loved her so very much.

    "Why is it that I am naked and you are not?" Anne chuckled between heated kisses. "Change that. Your queen commands it."

    Katarina brightened in recognition of Arabic, a language that was spoken so close to home, but the third remained a mystery. She could only assume that it was German by the guttural sounds and harsh accents on the words, but there was no way to be sure and regardless she had no idea what the Countess had just told her.

    "They told me many things," she replied in Arabic, though she wasn't quite as fluent as the Ninon de Larroque. "They told me that you taught women how to live beyond their statures, to break the mold on the roles that men have assigned to them. They also told me that you are kind and clever and beautiful, though that was mostly Athos's saying."

    Athos turned at the sound of his name, looking at the two suspiciously before ultimately giving up on deciphering their conversation. "She has nowhere to stay," he told Ninon to break the ominous silence, "but I was hoping you might take her in and employ her, if only until she finds some other home for lodgings?"

    "If not I'm certain I can make do with the money my brother supplied," Katarina said genuinely, "but of course a job will be necessary and despite the beauties of Paris, I fear I have heard that this is not the safest place for a young woman like myself to be traveling and living alone."
    #15 moffnat, Oct 31, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  16. Aramis released a low husky chuckle in his throat. "Well then, as you Command," He reluctantly pulled away from her to stand, sweeping briefly into a bow. "Your Majesty." Really those words should not have sounded as lusty and sexual as they did, yet Aramis managed it. Aramis managed to do that a lot. He also managed to swiftly and elegantly undress himself, slowing at certain moments for his majesty's benefit and maintaining a lustful, wicked grin the whole time.

    Once done, he took a moment to just look at her spread out before him, moving back against her and pressing in between the legs that still hung over the bedside, stroking his hands up her thighs before encouraging her to move up and make room. "You are so astoundingly beautiful, Anne." He relished being able to call her name at these moments. It was fun to bastardise the phrase 'Your Majesty' but truly, to call and entreat her name was a privaledge he savoured. Once she had accomodated him, he crawled back on top of her, swiftly pressing their bodies back together and wrapping an arm under her back to pull her tighter against him. This close, she could definately feel his arousal for her pressed heatedly against her hip, as he returned to kissing down her body.

    Arabic! What luck for she had been in need of an Arabic speaker. She may not sound so fluent, but her understanding was admirable and her manner was pleasant. Ninon's opinion was quickly solidified and she smiled brilliantly at her new companion. Athos began speaking before she could herself, then Katarina as well. She let them finish, preferring to seem patient and ponderous rather than cut them off rudely. Quickly though, she waved her hand to dismiss their concerns.

    "Of course not, you shall stay here with me. I would be sick or mad to turn away such an obviously accomplished young woman." She gave Katarina the warmest of smiles and offered her her arm. "You shall allow me to show you your room, then we shall have lunch made up for you in your room since you must be exhausted from your journey and then I shall show you the Library and Learning Rooms once you are settled." Her words were so friendly, yet they did not seem to allow any space for protest. She dipped her head to the gathering of Musketeers in her solar, "You may leave us now, My good Musketeers, I can handle things from here." Then she turned and started towards the doors with Katarina in tow.

    However she suddenly stopped, almost as an afterthought, and turned back to the three men. "On second thoughts, Good Athos, if you could wait for me a moment here? I have something to discuss, it will not take a moment. Your fine friends may leave us." She gave him a soft smile, turning away again to not give him a chance to refuse and sweeping away through the doors and up the stairs.

  17. Anne's little giggles were laced with glee and amusement, shuddering only a moment to revel the feel of his arousal against her hip and thigh. She wrapped her arms affectionately around his strong neck and pulled him down for another session of hot kisses and nibbles and licks of lust. Her hands slid up into his thick hair and softly massaged his scalp as they kissed, her tongue teasing his lips before meeting them with her own once more. Anne could spend forever in a simple embrace such as the one they held in currently, so loving and gentle and undemanding with the promise of love on the horizon. She didn't feel a queen with Aramis. Just a woman who loved a man.

    Anne smiled into their kiss. "Are you teasing me, Aramis?" she breathed though the sound was husky and glazed. "Because the last time you teased me, it didn't go well for you. Do you remember?" She slid a hand from his hair and let her fingers trace ever so lightly down the center of his chest, to his ribcage, to his stomach, and farther. The feel of his skin brought her immense feelings of comfort, the scent of him and the feel of his strength, the rumble in his body when he spoke. Aramis was her sin and she would bathe in him as frequently and as often as she could if made her feel safe, and it did.

    It always would.

    Athos was incredibly uncomfortable in his current situation. He only grunted when D'Artagnan and Porthos wished him goodbye, gliding off into a world filled with less embarrassment than his own. He stood at the doorway and watched Ninon lead Katarina away to some distant room, trying not to focus too long on certain parts of her body and wonder which of them he had touched and which he had not. It was shameful enough to admit he had so unceremoniously slept with a woman far beyond him, one who could charm any man and marry him even if they were played for a fool. But it was all in the past. He had to think on that if he wanted to keep his composure.

    He nodded at a few girls, Ninon's students, who giggled as they passed him. That only hardened his resolve and made him desire to flee even more. Why would she wish to see him after all this time? Would there be a warning never to return to her home? Would there be a list of conditions he must carry out in order to regain her favor? Or had he shamed himself even more deeply and left some sort of personal item behind, making it obvious to the Countess and her students that he was not of the right mind?

    Slowly, he sighed. This would be an awkward meeting, and he knew it.

    Athos watched as the countess reentered the room, all grace and poise and elegance, and he felt a suspicious lump in his throat rise that he knew didn't belong. He tried to swallow it and clear it, keeping his hat close to his chest as a sign of respect.

    "Countess," he said formally. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
    #17 moffnat, Oct 31, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  18. Another deep chuckle from Aramis against the skin of her chest, one that ended in a choked groan of pleasure as her hand trailed fire behind its touch. She always had an astounding effect on him. He gave her another breathy kiss, grinning wickedly down at her. "Didn't go well? Do you think so? I happen to remember it with great fondness." His hand began stroking down her torso. "But I suppose we don't have time for that, so." He sighed in an mockingly morose manner as his hand finally skimmed over the mound of hair and then came to rest between her legs, pressing gently with two fingers between her labia and groaning with lust at the warmth and copious wetness her found there, the feeling causing his arousal to twitch. He circled her entrance ponderously, moving up to do the same to the hooded nub whilst his mouth nibbled and sucked a nipple between his lips. "You are so wet Anne," he said against her chest, his voice incredibly husky and deep, "Is that for me?" He grinned up at her with dark dilated eyes before returning to her breasts.​

    Ninon had been building up her confidence and resolve after she had left Katarina in her new rooms and had began descending the stairs. She tried to construct a concise and well structured sentence in her head. Something to say to him quickly that was easily understandable and that would sort out the matter quickly. They could part as genial friends. Yes, she would do this in a mature and adult manner, with diplomacy and elegance, as she did everything. And then she walked into the room and saw him standing awkwardly near a wall and hiding behind his hat and her heart melted.

    Listening to the formality in his voice melted her further, he had certainly been eating himself up about this, as he did with everything. She had added a nail into his self-abusing coffin and added another layer to his aura of melancholy and now she wanted him back to the expressive and open person she had seen stagger through her door a week ago.

    "Well the first thing you can do for me, Sir Athos, is relax. Stop frowning. At ease soldier!" She smiled at him with as much warmth as she could muster before reaching out and grasping the iconic hat from his grasp. She threw it onto an armchair some way away, returning her attention to him, happy that that first barrier between them had gone. "And the second thing you can you for me is cease your avoidance of my company." She took his arm in her own and began leading him over to the fireplace, an area a little more private and enclosed with bookshelves and seats.

  19. "Wet?" Anne laughed, wrapping her arms around his neck once again and giving a breathy sigh of the pleasure he was teasing her into. "You're disgusting. Stop talking and love me, hm?" She kissed him with little pecks and giggles, pressing her lips against his ear and whispering sweet nothings in attempt to move him along. There was nothing she wouldn't do to ensure to Aramis that she loved him more than anything in the world besides her children, that he was the only person she could love and trust that would love and trust her equally in return.

    Athose gave an unwilling grunt of disapproval as his protective hat was tossed aside, and he looked at it with a small sense of dread as the countess led him away. Athos hadn't intended to stay longer than a few minutes, perhaps carry out whatever task she had set out for him and part ways once more, but clearly that was not what Ninon had intended. He tried to avoid open admirance at the curve of her neck or the gold of her hair.

    "Forgive me if it seemed as if I was avoiding you," he stated, swallowing hard. "The life of a musketeer is a busy one, as I'm sure you have seen. There hasn't been any time to take away to visit you. The trip to Toulouse alone took a few days of constant riding."

    He sat in the nearest seat across from the growing fire, watching the flames dance and flicker to some anonymous beat. "How may I be of service, countess?"
    #19 moffnat, Oct 31, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

  20. A bark of laughter came from Aramis, as he smile through her critisism and then through the tender and stoking touches of her lips on his chin and her hands insistant in his hair. "You are cruel madam!" He grunted as he felt himself giving up to desire as his hands abandoned their tender ministrations and instead acquiescing to her demands. "But if you insist." One flew to her thigh, lifting it into a strong grip against his side, whilst the other propped him up above her as he aligned himself with her core. By now Aramis's golden brown skin gleamed with sweat and his whole body radiated heat, his muscular and long frame rippling and shuddering above Anne as he thrust fully inside of her in one swift movement, catching any louder sounds she might make in a deep kiss.

    The contrast between them was great, Aramis's strong and dark body that kissed and gripped and penetrated Anne's small and dainty frame of dazzlingly white skin. Where previously Aramis was soft, gentle and languid, all pretense of that was gone. He gave in to how much he'd missed her, how desperately he wanted her and let himself put strength behind his actions. His first thrusts were long and slow, using his grip on her leg to angle her body perfectly so that he might hit the depths of her. But quickly the overwhelming sensation of her clenching around him drove him to slightly faster thrusts, his kisses heated and demanding.​

    Ninon sighed heavily. This was going to be difficult, not that she hadn't expected him to be difficult, but she had maybe hoped... In any case she took a chair across from him so that she could watch him closely and tried again. "No, you were avoiding me and due to a reason that does not exist!" She became frustrated that he would not look at her and so rose to stand in front of the fire that he was so enamoured with.

    "So you may be of service by looking at me!" She paused until he did and then dropped her stern expression, letting her words grow softer. "And then you may listen to me as I explain that you are paining yourself over nothing. A week ago you came to my house, I invited you in and we spoke at length in front of this very fire. It was a very enjoyable and dear conversation. So, after you spent a peaceful and uneventful night in one of my rooms, I was a little irked that you had forgotten the whole thing and I let you believe we had slept together in a foolish fit of drunken ardor." She released a breath, her hand coming to her chest in relief at finally speaking the truth and a small smile coming to her lips. "It was a bit of girlish foolishness on my part and, later I realised, very cruel to you. So I apologise and I request that, if you do not now hate me, to please feel welcome here. I... enjoy your company."

    Her expression had actually turned to one of slight vulnerability. She had said a little more than she had intended and now she felt that if he did hate her, she might have to excuse herself in a hurry. Her heart was beating fast and it caused a rose tint to blush her cheeks. In an effort to hide the intensity of her feeling, she cleared her throat and swept over to the chair where the hat lay abandoned, picking it up and standing close over Athos to hold it out to him.
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