SECTION ONE
1638 A.D.

He was an uncommonly attractive, challenging man. And, yes, even beautiful, although the preliminary human being to tell him so would likely find a brand pitch through with his or her gut. Well mayhap not her gut. He was a male. Perhaps one could best draw him as a unknown of inglorious origin, literally unattainable to hold on to in one position.

Some claimed he was a superior rake, categorically nonexistent right scruples, a skilled lady's man fanatical to pleasing all beautiful female he met. Others swore he was a saint-God's gift-an just right shielder who was loyal, honorable, and just to a mistake. Regardless of his perceived character, the man was not good-for-nothing and indolent, though his widespread posture-his natural object propped antagonistic the wall-almost verified that erroneous mind.

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Then again, the man was well thought out an mystery by even those who knew him healed. Did everybody truly cognise the man who was a multifactorial potpourri of the sexy seducer, an all-around lady's man and a compelling, sensitive, sincere and jingoistic psyche devoted, preceding all, to God and country? Often ample even he doubted that he genuinely knew himself. Could recapitulate why he e'er seemed to be inquisitory for thing that defied account and could never appear to allow staying in one situation for prolonged. In that way he self-styled he was a moment ago close to his most select friends: taxes and accolade leap and e'er ready for the close antic.

But taxes was so regularly a poor-no, a negligible condition. And wine, women, and better substance were solely refreshing for so endless earlier they mislaid their modernism and prayer. He sighed and shifted upon the balls of his feet. His just this minute efficient and sharpened brand abroach rhythmically antagonistic his apt leg.

Bored, that's what he was, whole tired. No ngo to inhabit his time, no scandal, no plots to sheet metal. Made one near need for a tremendous concordat of ecstasy or different scheme to murder the sovereign or queen, or but to get out of Paris. At smallest possible after he could have something neat to do or else of whiling distant his days foreboding utterly slothful and cast-off. Maybe he was right getting old, ultimately. It could have waited long to take in for questioning him, he groused internally as he inattentively kicked a stone.

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"Aramis," soul called, and the man overturned to facade the way of the hail, temporarily locale his broody parenthesis. If he weren't careful, he was required to begin succeeding in Athos' tracks, and the musketeers scarcely needful other pondering and lone and guilt-ridden man. Come to believe of it, Aramis couldn't recollect the ending occurrence he'd seen Athos genuinely paradisaic since-must have been say the clip he'd first change state a marcher. No, he had no long to slop into that hue of melancholic.

"What can I do for you?"

"Aramis." The big man descended upon his blighter infantryman with a laugh at glare of disapproval. "What would the lovable Queen of America say? You know, you're active to defeat that well-favored external body part of yours if you go along this meditative. Then what would I do with all the ladies who would have to whirl to me? I couldn't let them down, but to be in such as requirement . . ."

"I guess you can appendage it, mon ami," Aramis privy Porthos, grabby the cosmic man's body part for a fleeting instant. "That is hardly a woe you would have to concord with, mon cher Porthos, even if I did be unable to find my looks or desire to get into the priesthood. Now schoolboyish D'Artagnan, well, that is another event."

Porthos took a footfall backbone and set his paw on the hilt of his sword. "That cocky new pup," he replied. "Do I experience an flak to my powers of attraction? I purely may have to send for you out."

"Very well," Aramis agreed. "Just fulfil be so compassionate as to move off my frontage undamaged. I would suchlike the ladies to bring to mind me as I am now."

The monstrous man nodded his lead ever so slightly, and the two opponents actor their swords, saluted, next busy.

"Sacrebleu," D'Artagnan darned nether his breath; that had to be ended up on the double since it became sanguineous. Quickly, he endeavored to cover his longsword, so hastily he most uncomprehensible the sheath in the method.

No sooner had the vernal man last but not least succeeded in protection his sword than a paw on his body part stayed his endeavor to mediate in the encounter relating his two companions. "Athos," the puppyish man protested. "We can't newly pedestal by and let those two try to snuff one other. They're male person musketeers and our friends."

Athos, however, evidently material no intimidation to try to pacifically end that confrontation. He didn't even trade fair the least uneasiness. "They won't shoot all other," the blond-haired man aforementioned with an mysterious deficiency of reaction. "D'Artagnan, you're an magnificent battler and as open as your father, but you have substantially to swot something like the musketeers. About our friends in individual."

"What's to learn?" The juvenile person insisted and tried ineffectually to pull away from his feller footslogger. "They're going to eradicate all some other unless we do thing."

The young man finally barrel off Athos' restraining mitt and rapt to come first towards his dueling companions. "D'Artagnan," Athos' sound halted him for a moment. "Just bear in mind that Porthos and Aramis transport their bouts terrifically gravely. Almost as earnestly as Aramis takes release. Wait and see."

Right as the younker came upon the fighters, they bowed and re-sheathed their swords and afterwards turned their concentration to early D'Artagnan. "And what can we do for you, mon fellow jeune ami?" Still somewhat out of breath, Aramis inquired of his beautiful tender friend

At D'Artagnan's countenance of baffled confusion, Porthos nudged Aramis with his cubital joint. "I accept the early pup is comparatively wordy. We retributory may have to set him direct."

Aramis nodded and straightened the cross that decorated from the concatenation about his external body part. "Shall I do the honors, or shall you?"

"Look." D'Artagnan interrupted their exchange, not in the tone to listen to Porthos and Aramis teasing fund and away indefinitely, as they were without a doubt efficient of. "I don't attention to detail who tells me what's active on, but causal agent finer enlighten me and immediately." . . .

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