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All For One- Chapter Forty
40. His Majesty and the Wheellock Musket
The four friends once again found themselves in the Louvre with an important assignment. André informed Athos, Tréville and Bertrand of everything they learned in the last few weeks. Athos wanted to arrest Concini right away, but cooler heads prevailed. Bertrand explained to Athos that people speaking, even if they think they’re in private, is not an indication of guilt as people say many things out of anger and frustration. Athos argued that Concini’s freedom paled in importance to the protection of the King. Bertrand countered this argument by asking Athos how he would feel if he were thrown in the Bastille on the basis on what someone had said. Bertrand’s argument seemed to mollify Athos, but Athos was watching Concini for any excuse.
The four friends accompanied de Luynes everywhere. They spent most of their time in the royal presence. They told Louis that the four guards were for his protection as they had intelligence of an assassination attempt. Louis seemed to accept this without question.
One Monday evening as the sun was starting to set, the six of them were returning to the Louvre after an afternoon of hunting. Even though they had no luck finding any game, their spirits were high. Louis enjoyed the camaraderie that the four men shared. He had never associated with simple honest men, and he felt that he was dealing with representative of his own French subjects without the trouble of actually dealing with the masses of France. If Louis could have his way he would only spend his time in the company of like men. It did not occur to him that two of his four new friends were known members of the nobility, and the other two were secret members. He was tired of hunting for the day and was looking forward to a quiet evening. They had delivered their horses to the stables and were walking back to the residence. The sky was orange, bathing everything in a crimson coating. Bertrand was admiring the wheellock musket that the King had been using that day, when Tréville stopped short.
The other men looked at him. “What is it?” asked de Luynes. Tréville held up a finger as he scanned the gardens of the Tulieries. He saw movement.
“Get down!” he cried.
Bertrand grabbed Louis with his free left hand and hurried him to the side when they heard the crack of a musket firing. The round bullet hit the ground where Louis was standing, sending handfuls of dirt into the air. The men scattered to the surrounding bushes. Another shot rang out and Bertrand shouted and fell. Athos looked over to his friend, who was holding his bleeding thigh. Athos looked over at Tréville, who was hurrying Louis behind a bush. Bertrand, clutching his bleeding thigh, crawled to cover.
“Protect the King and Duke,” Athos barked and drew his rapier. André followed suit. They started running to the garden.
“Two men,” Athos reasoned. “We need to stop them before they have a chance to reload.” André nodded in agreement and they both ran to where the smoke was still visible.
Athos spotted the first man as he was attempting to reload his musket. Before he could fire, Athos had reached him. A swift kick knocked the weapon from the man’s hand. The assassin swore in Spanish and quickly jumped back to give himself time to draw his own thick-handled Spanish rapier. Athos attacked furiously, advancing with quick thrusts from secunda. He could hear shouts and the ringing of metal against metal. He deduced that André had engaged the other assassin.
The fight was intense. Athos’ opponent easily blocked every thrust while calmly retreating. Athos felt slightly overwhelmed, for the assassin was clearly as skilled as he was. They were too evenly matched, and Athos wanted this fight over quickly. He heard his friend André cry out in pain, and he was momentarily distracted. It was enough. His opponent attacked the blade in a heavy bind and wrenched the rapier from Athos’ hand sending it flying through the air. Athos immediately retreated back, panicking.
He slipped and landed on his back with his opponent bearing down. The tip of his rapier was inching closer to Athos’ chest. Athos thought this was the death of him and in the split second thought of Anne de Breuil and wondered if he was finally going to pay for his crime.
He heard a crack sound across the garden. His opponent froze; his eyes wide. He staggered and Athos could see blood flowing through his shirt before he fell to the ground. Athos got to his feet and looked around.
King Louis the Thirteenth, monarch of France, and all of seventeen years of age, was holding a smoking wheellock musket, still aimed at the spot where the Spaniard was standing. Athos was speechless. There before him stood the King he had always dreamed that he would have the honor of serving.
Louis lowered the weapon and looked at Athos. “As you can see, my aim has improved since last we hunted together,” the King said. “Let us find your friend.”
Athos followed the King until they came across a bleeding André. His left shoulder oozed blood, but he looked far better than his opponent who was slowly dying from a deep puncture in his chest. The assassin was breathing hard, and coughing blood.
“Is he dead?” Louis asked.
“No, your majesty, not yet,” André said. “But it won’t be long.”
Louis looked angrier than anyone had ever seen him. “Who sent you?” he asked. When the assassin said nothing, Louis viciously kicked him in the ribs, eliciting a hoarse cry from the Spaniard. “Who sent you?” He repeated louder.
“Con… Concini…” the Spaniard uttered.
Louis turned to Athos. “Do you have your pistol?” he asked.
“Yes, your majesty.”
“Finish him,” Louis ordered.
Without hesitation, Athos drew his wheellock pistol and fired a shot into the Spaniard’s head. Satisfied, Louis marched back to where Tréville was guarding de Luynes. They had been joined by Vitry and a dozen guards. A few men were attending to Bertrand.
“Are you alright, my friend?” he asked.
“Yes,” de Luynes.
Louis turned to Athos. “See to your friend who was shot and then report to Vitry.” He turned to Vitry. “Find Concini. Have him arrested. If he resists, shoot him.”
- All For One - Chapter Thirty-Nine
The next chapter in the Three Musketeers prequel
- All For One- Chapter Forty-one
The penultimate chapter in the Three Musketeers prequel