Love's Musketeer -- Final Chapter
The four Musketeers exited the secret corridor and were instantly surrounded by a group of their comrades. Henri broke through the crowd and was pulled into the inner circle by Athos. His dark features betrayed his troubled thoughts.
"Monsieur Trevillé is gathering more men as we speak but I fear he will not be here in time." The Musketeer inclined his head, indicating the entranceway to the throne room. "The doors are heavily protected by the Cardinal's men. We will have to charge the guards in order to break through."
Aramis slipped forward and placed his hand on Athos' chest. "Dear friend, listen. Tell me what you hear."
Athos lifted his head, his sensitive hearing searching the air. Aramis moved closer.
"Do you hear it? Do you hear the silence?"
The Musketeer captain listened for another second and then turned toward Henri, his free hand wrapping around the man's arm in a brutal grip.
"Get me through that doorway NOW!"
Henri nodded and gave the order to his men. "ATTACK!"
An explosion of Musketeers caught the Cardinal's guard by surprise. Several fell before they could even draw their swords. Henri pushed his men forward and, within minutes, had the doors open. The defenders of the King spilled into the silent, empty room and were promptly greeted by a second group of soldiers. These men were prepared for battle and swiftly engaged the attacking force. The clash of steel against steel rang deafeningly through the air.
Athos wasted no effort, efficiently dispatching each man foolish enough to challenge him. Slowly, the Musketeer captain inched his way forward, desperate to catch a glimpse of the King and his consort. He sidestepped a sword aimed for his heart before shattering the youth's wrist with a blow from the hilt of his blade. A warning shiver crept up his spine and the older Musketeer turned around, swiftly deflecting a sword thrust directed at D'Artagnan's back. The lad cast a glance of appreciation toward his lover before returning his attention to the guard he was fighting.
Athos detected a crazed laugh and immediately looked up. Richelieu was several feet in front of him, a dagger clasped in his hand. The older man roared his frustration and desperately tried to reach his enemy. His attempt was thwarted by an attack of two of the Cardinal's guard forcing him back. D'Artagnan stepped forward and took Athos' place, his sword biting into Richelieu's arm. The dagger fell and was instantly lost in the scuffle of feet as Richelieu sidestepped the young Musketeer's lunge. With a scornful laugh, he twirled around and tripped the youth with a wide sweep of his legs.
Latching onto the arm of one of his men, Richelieu threw him in D'Artagnan's direction. "Kill him," he commanded before disappearing into the mêlée.
The soldier stepped forward as ordered and then stopped suddenly, his eyes going wide with disbelief as a sword thrust through his chest. D'Artagnan watched as the man slid off the blade and fell to the floor. Looking up, he took Henri's hand and allowed him to assist him to his feet. A message of silent thanks was offered and accepted before the two men resumed their attack.
With his eyes locked on the Cardinal's disappearing form, Athos' peripheral vision caught a movement that touched his heart with fear. Porthos was down, blood seeping from a shoulder wound. Before he could move to provide assistance, a circle of Musketeers surrounded Porthos with Aramis as his primary defender. Assured of his friend's safety, Athos took several fortifying breaths and engaged another enemy soldier.
With calculated efficiency, the Musketeer captain pushed his way through the crush of bodies. A cold anger had settled in the pit of his stomach, overriding all compassion. Athos showed very little mercy to those standing in his way, each combatant dispensed with rapid efficiency. He left a wake of human debris, a queue of scarlet that defiled the marble floor with blood.
Finally, the Cardinal's men were outnumbered by the Musketeers and, upon realizing the futility of continuing in the fight, they wisely surrendered their swords and yielded to Athos and his men. D'Artagnan joined his lover and both shouldered through the crowd of soldiers with one purpose in mind. Breaking free, they were greeted by a horrifying sight.
The Cardinal sat on the throne with the King on his knees before him, a fallen Musketeer's sword to his throat. The light of insanity flickered in the man's eyes and his mouth was twisted in a demented smile.
With extreme caution Athos moved forward, his gaze sweeping over the King, noting his pale complexion. He caught the young man's eyes and was relieved to see the fire of angry determination present. With a slight nod of his head, the Musketeer acknowledged his King as he stepped closer to him. Searching the surrounding area, his heart faltered when he found no evidence of the royal consort's presence.
"The battle is over, Richelieu." Flanked by his closest comrades, Athos confronted the Cardinal. "You've lost. Let the King go."
The Cardinal laughed, his sword carefully lifting Louis' chin. He brushed his gloved hand over the teenager's lips, laughing when the youth attempted to bite him. "I may have lost the battle, dear Athos, but the prize of the game remains mine. And what a pretty prize it is." The older man gripped Louis' chin and bruised his mouth with a cruel kiss before viciously biting his lower lip. Licking away the blood that welled up, the Cardinal directed a malicious smile toward Athos.
"I'm not sure which flavor I prefer best. Wayward innocence or insolent royalty." Richelieu yanked on Louis' long hair and again ravished the King's mouth. "Hmmm... I may just have to keep on tasting both until I'm satisfied."
D'Artagnan threw his arms around his tall lover, preventing the man from rushing forward. His urgent whisper stopped Athos cold. "Beloved! Control your heart. The King and Consort's lives are in your hands. Do not give them up to death so foolishly."
Lowering his sword to the floor, Athos motioned D'Artagnan back. Slowly inching forward, the Musketeer captain clamped down on his hatred and began to softly speak to the insane man.
"Look around, Richelieu. You're surrounded. There is no escape." Athos opened his arms wide, allowing the Cardinal to view his empty hands. "I beg you, Richelieu. Let the King go." He dropped to his knees in front of the throne. "Save yourself, your life. Please. Surrender."
With lightening speed, the tip of Richelieu's blade cut through the slender silver chain that held Athos' crucifix and the small adornment fell to the ground. He smiled at the Musketeer captain, the crazed look in his eyes darkening into one of resolution. Pulling the King to his feet, he pointed his sword at his longtime adversary. "I would suggest, Athos, you look to your own salvation for I have forfeited mine as well as our young King's."
A faraway expression settled over Richelieu's demonic features. "Farewell, dear adversary. I claim the final victory."
Athos lunged forward, scrambling on his hands and knees to reach Louis. Before he could even make contact with the young monarch's body, a glint of gold flew past his head. A look of total incomprehensible surprise spread across the Cardinal's face and his grip on his sword loosened as did his hold on the King. Louis pulled free and fell into Athos' arms.
Gazing down, Richelieu laughed hysterically at the sight of his very own dagger buried deep within his chest. Lifting his eyes, the older man struggled to speak, flecks of blood staining his lips. "It seems I have been a bit premature in celebrating my triumph." The light of life faded quickly from Richelieu's gaze as he collapsed to his knees, his last words offered in a whisper to Athos only.
"I'll await you in hell, my friend."
Athos collected his crucifix and sword and, with a silent nod, saluted the dead man. Helping a trembling Louis to his feet, the Musketeer captain turned and searched out the Cardinal's executioner. His eyes widened with amazement as his heart swelled with relief. Standing behind him, supported by D'Artagnan's strength was Phillipe. The young Consort had killed the Cardinal and saved his beloved King. Athos shook his head for he could not believe one so young and so innocent had destroyed such evil.
With a shout of joy, Phillipe pulled free of D'Artagnan's hold and launched himself at Louis. He spared only a brief glance for the Cardinal's motionless body before burying his face in Louis' long raven hair. Words were shared by the two lovers, their exchange so soft that not even Athos could hear what was being said.
Moments passed as Louis cradled his consort in his arms. Finally, he lifted him off the floor and, after delivering a vicious kick to Richelieu's corpse, addressed the men standing before him.
"Richelieu was wrong, gentlemen." Smiling first at Athos and D'Artagnan and then at Porthos and Aramis, the young monarch acknowledged the two couples with a bow of his head.
"It seems love has claimed the final victory."
The hint of morning crept through the windows of the King's summer palace, tendrils of light crawling across the marble floor of the royal bedchamber. The room was sheltered in silence, an occasional sigh unraveling the quiet.
Louis knelt beside his lover, Phillip's naked body a pale shadow against the dark amethyst-colored linens. The king's emerald eyes glittered with unspoken emotions as his long, elegant fingers hesitantly brushed over a bruised nipple.
"Phillipe, my love, please forgive me."
Patches of abraded skin were soothed by Louis' kisses, light forays of his tongue applying a healing balm of warm moisture to every wound discovered. Raven locks damp with tears blanketed the lad's groin, hiding the flesh that still bore the imprint of a dead man. A drop of salty guilt splashed down, falling upon a marred patch of skin branded with teeth marks. Louis smoothed the dampness over the wound, his fingers trembling as they sketched across the temporary reminder of evilness.
A silent sob was choked back as royal eyes shuttered closed with anguish. The young King placed his hand over Phillipe's heart. "If he had... "
Drowsy brown eyes caught the unfinished sentence as loving fingers reached up to collect the teenager's falling tears. With a raspy voice, Phillipe attempted to calm the King.
"If I hadn't left you... " Louis hung his head, his touch gossamer light as he caressed his young lover's groin.
Ignoring his pain, Phillipe sat up and gripped Louis' chin, forcing the King to look at him. Clearing his throat, he once again gave voice to his thoughts. "If you hadn't left, Richelieu and Rochefort would have defiled both of us and then we would have been killed. You are not responsible for this, Louis."
The teenage monarch was enveloped in a bone-crushing hug, his body slowly pulled down to rest upon his slender lover. "It is over and our demons have been sent back to hell. You and I are safe once more thanks be to your loyal guard. Praise and honor to the Musketeers."
Sunshine spilled into the room, warming the two young men as they drifted back to sleep, their arms and legs wrapped tightly around each other.
D'Artagnan awoke, his hand automatically reaching for the presence of his lover. Sheets that still bore the warmth of its occupant informed the young Gascon that Athos had not been gone long from their bed. Sitting up, D'Artagnan looked around the room and discovered the older man looking out the window at the royal grounds as the sun made its appearance over the horizon.
Athos turned and smiled at his sleepy companion. He returned to D'Artagnan's side and slid under the bedcovers, gathering the youth close. Burying his face in D'Artagnan's soft curls, Athos whispered tender words of love, his large hands drifting over the contours of the smaller man's body.
Tipping D'Artagnan's face up, the older man bestowed a sweet kiss upon his lips. "I love you, dear heart. You are the reason I still live."
D'Artagnan deepened the kiss and hungrily pressed his body against Athos, his hands to wandering over his lover's lean frame, seeking out weary muscles. His fingers danced across the tight anatomy of Athos' neck and shoulders, easing the tired ache. Success was assured as the older man's husky moans resonated throughout the room.
Athos surrendered to the loving massage for several minutes before claiming D'Artagnan's lips for another kiss. With careful tenderness, the large man rolled on top of his young lover and began a slow teasing slide of flesh against flesh. He smiled at the play of emotions drifting across D'Artagnan's face, each thought evident in his dark blue eyes.
"Never leave me, D'Artagnan. Stay by my side and I promise I will love you 'til the end of my days."
Athos increased the speed and intensity of his strokes, overwhelming pleasure searing every nerve ending. Leaning down, he captured a nipple and licked the small nub until it was tight and hard.
"Return home with me, dear heart. Come with me as I reclaim my birthright, my estate. Be my mate and share my bed, my life, my soul."
Athos threw back his head and groaned, the sound echoed by his youthful lover. The two men abandoned control as their bodies offered up the liquid fire of their seed.
D'Artagnan caught his exhausted lover and helped him roll to his side. Snagging a handful of sheets, the youth covered Athos' naked body, protecting it from the morning chill. With a tender smile on his face, he pressed several kisses to Athos' face before sleepily snuggling closer and whispering his answer to Athos' heart. "My beloved warrior, I will never leave you. I love you, Athos and by your side is the only place I want to be."
Athos gripped D'Artagnan's smaller body tight for an instant, his gratitude demonstrated without words. A few minutes later, he let loose a quiet chuckle.
"We better get up soon or Porthos and Aramis will beat us to breakfast and you know what that means."
The two naked men fell out of the bed and laughingly raced for the bathing chamber.
"Oh sweetness, you are so good to me."
Porthos leaned back in his chair and opened his mouth to accept the slice of fresh peach his lover held out to him. Smacking his lips, the gentle giant smiled up at his lover as he captured Aramis' hands and wickedly licked the fruit's juices from the priest's fingers.
Reveling in life and love, the injured soldier pulled Aramis down on his lap and nibbled his way across the moaning man's naked chest. "You are good enough to eat, my wanton priest. I think I'll have a helping of your delicious juice for breakfast."
Porthos stroked his hand over Aramis' groin, tugging at the breeches that held his lover's erection captive. The older Musketeer's hand was slapped tenderly by his blushing companion.
"Behave, Porthos. The King could come in at any moment."
Porthos cupped the younger man's groin and squeezed lightly. "Let him. He'll only get a proper look at two men in love."
Aramis smiled at his black warrior and moved to straddle the big man, his fingers playing across the muscles on Porthos' chest. The senior Musketeer grabbed a handful of the Aramis' dark curls and guided his head to his aching nipples.
"Taste me, priest."
Aramis did as bidden and within seconds his injured lover was stumbling to his feet, pulling Aramis away from the breakfast buffet.
"Come, my heavenly angel. It's time our feast was a little bit more private."
Aramis tucked his arm around Porthos' waist and helped guide the larger man down the hallway. Taking note of his approaching friends, the priest offered a smile. "D'Artagnan. Athos. Enjoy your breakfast. My lusty lover here wants his meal served in the comfort of our bed."
Porthos laughed and slung out his good arm, hugging the two Musketeers. "Come get us for lunch." He looked down at the half naked beauty of his mate and changed his mind. "Make that the evening meal. Better yet, have the cook send all meals to our room."
D'Artagnan grabbed hold of Aramis' arm. "Where's Henri? Have you seen him this morning?"
Aramis slapped Porthos' wandering hand away from his groin. "Patience, my warrior." Chuckling, he turned his attention back to D'Artagnan. "The King sent word that Henri was to go to the rose garden. He left several minutes ago."
An inelegant squeak halted all conversation and a blushing Aramis grabbed the hand that was tickling his ass. With a wide grin on his face, he quickly bid his friends a silent adieu.
Henri kicked at a stone and watched as it skipped down the gravel pathway. His dark features were somber, his brown eyes tinged with sadness. Looking up at the sky, he watched as a pair of doves came to rest in the tree above him and a deep, unhappy sigh greeted the small birds.
"Even nature has a way of reminding me of my loneliness."
Henri turned away from the cooing pair and sought refuge in a secluded corner of the garden. Sitting on a stone bench, the young Musketeer leaned back and closed his eyes, a lone tear escaping and trickling down his cheek. Before the black guard could wipe his face, tender kisses stole the tear away. A startled Musketeer was pulled off his resting perch and embraced, familiar hands and lips exploring every inch of Henri's body.
Gasping for breath, the bewildered man pulled back and stared into the face of his English lover. "Buckingham? Is it you? Really you?" Henri traced the Duke's gentle smile with trembling fingers. "Mon dieu, I must be dreaming."
Buckingham pressed a kiss to his lover's open mouth and snuck his tongue in for a reacquainting taste. "Dream on, my brave swordsman. Your wish has been heard and granted by one who is most grateful for your loyal assistance in his rescue. King Louis went to great lengths to find me and sneak me through enemy lines. "
Henri stared at his lover, his eyes filled with happy tears of joy. Pulling the Englishman close, the Musketeer laughed. "Remind me to offer my humble thanks to the King and his consort." Henri dragged Buckingham toward the palace, his impatient lover stopping him every few feet to capture his lips. "Hurry, hurry. Kiss me later. Time is wasting away and I have so much to tell you."
The nobleman offered Henri another breathless kiss.
"Take me inside, my adored one, and let me forever cherish Love's Musketeer."