Beyond the Borders Volume 1
“There is no place for emotions on the battlefield.”
The next day Aryia laid in her bed, feeling defeated. Her pride was wounded along with her intelligence in decision making. How could I make such a stupid mistake? Burying her head into her pillow, she felt as if the world was crashing down around her. Her team refused to speak even a single word to her.
“Don’t beat yourself up Aryia. You did the best you could,” Mari said patting Aryia’s head like a dog.
Aryia didn’t speak.
“A… tten… tion!”
The echoing voice of the sergeant blasted through the room. If there was a moment to be had it was now lost.
* * *
Lylianna laid in her bed reading a book entitled Torture & Terror: The Psychological War as Melissa entered the room. Without looking up, Lylianna continued to read over her book about the ancient torture methods of slowly ripping out a person’s entrails in just the right way to keep them alive but in complete agony.
“Major, I believe they will be training today.”
“I know. Make sure everyone is ready.”
“Are you sure you want her though Major? You read how she completely failed to judge her own magic.”
“It is not a matter of what I want, but rather a matter of what she wants. Besides, we can always train a rat. In fact, if she joins you will be training her for quite a while Mel.”
Melissa had a large grin across her face as Lylianna closed her book. After getting to her feet she grabbed her black beret from her hat rack.
* * *
Knife sparring matches were another part of the exam. This was something Aryia knew she would be able to pass due to her speed. As she and the others stood in the burning heat waiting for instructions Mari appeared to be nervous. Unlike the others Mari wasn’t the strongest — her strength came from her intelligence.
After a few minutes the instructor appeared with a clipboard. Oddly enough it was the same one from the field exam they had.
“Right, listen up. When I call your name, grab a rubber knife and wait for my instructions.”
I wonder who will be first, Aryia thought.
“Mari your opponent will be… Rex.”
Rex was quite tall for a nineteen‑year‑old. Lucky for her, he was a non‑magic user as well. After grabbing a rubber knife the two of them squared off in a make‑shift ring, which was nothing more then some grass with a red rope laid in a large square around them.
“The first one to land a blow with their rubber knife wins the match. Keep in mind that magic is forbidden.”
Dang it, Aryia thought. There goes my one advantage.
Mari and Rex both held their knives at the ready, like they had learned in basic training. Rex felt confident that he would win this fight easy while Mari tried to block out all the fear and doubt in her mind. As Aryia cheered her on from the sidelines she noticed Lylianna standing on the sidelines, as well as the others she saw in the courtroom. What are they doing here, she thought.
Whispers could be heard as students wondered just who the odd group was.
“Have you ever seen them before?” one girl asked.
“That girl looks way to young to be in the military.”
“Be careful I heard from a friend of a friend that there is a group controlled by the Emperor and the group is free to abduct and kill you.”
“Sounds like bullshit to me.”
Whispers continued among the students until the instructor finally spoke a word.
Before long the students completely forgot about Lylianna and her team and focused on the fight that was taking place in front of them. Rex lunged forward preparing to strike with and overhand, downward thrust. Mari recalled in a book how to deal with such an attack. Rushing forward she quickly grabbed his wrist and plunged shoulder first into the side of his ribs, knocking him off his feet and onto his back.
The sound of cheering was heard as Mari was slightly shocked by how she managed to bring Rex down. With rage in his eyes he quickly stood to his feet, grabbing his knife. Seeing this as a chance to go on the offensive Mari rushed forward with a furry of swings. Rex barely managed to dodge each blow before finally seeing an opening.
Grabbing her wrist and with forceful power, Rex snapped her wrist back as the sound of her bone snapping out of place could be heard. Everyone fell silent aside from Mari who was screaming in pain. With one quick motion Rex stabbed her in the gut, forcing her to fall back. Mari reacted by trying to catch herself but ended up falling on her broken wrist. She managed to dislocate the joint completely causing her more pain then ever.
Aryia quickly ran over to Mari as whispers started to surface from the other students.
“Did you see that?” one guy whispered.
“Yeah, he totally broke her wrist,” a girl whispered back.
Melissa and Lylianna walked over to Mari as Aryia tried to help her up.
“Don’t move her,” Melissa said as she bent down on one knee beside Mari.
Aryia watched as Melissa created water from her hand and conformed it around Mari’s wrist like a cast.
“Try to relax, this might hurt a bit.”
Melissa popped her wrist back into place as Mari whimpered softly. After a few seconds her wrist felt as if it had never been dislocated.
“T‑Thank you Miss…”
Giggling over being called Miss, Melissa smiled.
“Just call me Melissa.”
As Aryia and Melissa helped Mari to her feet Aryia could not help but feel angry at Rex for cheating the way he did. Before Rex could fall back in line Aryia stepped forward.
“That was completely unfair!”
“Hey, all is fair in war,” Rex said with the cockiest of attitudes.
Before Aryia could speak further, Lylianna stood between the two of them.
“While that is true, there is a difference between sparing and being a bully.”
Rex’s expression quickly went from cocky to annoyed.
“What did you say you little brat?”
“I believe my words were quite clear.”
Hate filled his eyes as he stepped forward. Rex was ready to fight and about to raise his fist before the instructor stepped in, holding him back.
“Private Rex, need I remind you that assaulting an officer can land you years in prison.”
The instructor turned to Lylianna.
“If he wishes to attack me I will be more then happy to have a sparing match with him, however…”
Lylianna looked to Rex glaring with the eyes of an expressionless murder.
“I do not play with toy knives.”
Pulling the combat dagger from her sheath, she carefully tossed it to Rex.
“Try to actually stab me if you can. I will not use any magic, nor will I attack, only disarm.”
She must be crazy to let him use a real dagger, Aryia thought as she helped Melissa carry Mari to the sidelines. Lylianna stood there as calm as a peaceful night sky while Rex looked as if he was ready to kill her. The instructor had a bad feeling about this match, however, seeing as how Lylianna outranked him there was nothing he could do.
* * *
Staring at the pointy end of a dagger with a dislocated shoulder caused Rex to see his life flash before his eyes. Whispers could be heard as people wondered how Lylianna moved the way she did. Aryia recalled Lylianna moving that fast when she beat those three girls, yet she still could not figure out how she did it. After scaring Rex, almost to death, Lylianna looked to Melissa and then back to Rex.
“Bullying those that are weaker then you will only lead to you being dead by someone better then you.”
Lylianna sheathed her dagger and started to walk back to to the sidelines as Melissa walked up.
“Patch him up Mel.”
An evil grin formed on Melissa’s face as she giggled.
“With pleasure Major.”
Relocating Rex’s shoulder forced him to scream like a child. Without any numbing shots or using water magic, Melissa made sure that the relocation was slow and painful. And here I thought she was sadistic with me before, Aryia thought.
“Now go sit on the sidelines like a good boy,” Melissa said after relocating his shoulder.
Lylianna turned to the Lieutenant.
“Oh yeah, Lieutenant, if I may, could I request a match?”
“By all means, ma’am.”
She turned to Aryia.
“Aryia, I want you to face Melissa.”
Aryia had a look of confusion upon her face. Why me, she thought. Everyone seemed a bit surprised by the fact that Aryia was chosen. Deciding to go along with it she started to pick up one of the rubber knives.
“Use Melissa’s dagger.”
“It is fine. We train with real knives all the time,” Melissa said handing Aryia her dagger.
“The rules are still the same, Melissa will not use any magic or attack. She will only disarm, however, you are welcome to use your powers Aryia,” Lylianna said as she headed for the sidelines.
This isn’t fair at all, Aryia thought. But at least I have it easy. Melissa had a cheerful expression on her face as she simply smiled at Aryia.
“Don’t worry about hurting me, okay?”
Aryia coiled back, ready to spring forward and attack as Melissa stood there calmly.
Like a coiled viper Aryia sprang forward as she tried to cut Melissa’s arm. Melissa — as if she knew what would happen — twirled on the ball of her foot dodging the dagger completely. Aryia quickly used her magic to bounce back from the ground and lunge at Melissa again. The other students were impressed by how fast her fury of blows were. However, most of them were more impressed with how Melissa could dodge all of those strikes.
This girl is like a fairy, Aryia thought as she continued to strike. After failing to land a single blow Aryia held out her hand to shoot off a burst of wind. To her surprise Melissa was even able to dodge that without any effort. She continued to use her speed to try and land a blow but nothing seemed to get by Melissa.
Once Aryia realized nothing was working she decided to take a step back. No matter how fast I go she just dodges everything I throw at her.
“You have pretty fast strikes Aryia, but you need to work on them,” Melissa said giggling.
Maybe I should try something she wouldn’t expect.
Flipping the dagger in her hand Aryia threw it directly at Melissa’s head. While the dagger flew in Melissa’s direction Aryia used her magic to dash quickly at her. Twirling out of the path of the dagger Melissa caught the hilt of it. As Aryia continued to run Melissa spun around on the ball of her foot.
Within the blink of an eye Melissa was behind Aryia holding her close while the dagger she caught was pointed directly at Aryia’s throat. Aryia was beyond confused as to what happened.
“Nice try,” she whispered into Aryia’s ear.
As Aryia’s mind processed the events that had happened her body began to shake. If she hadn’t stopped me just now… I would have ran into that dagger, she thought. I… could have died…
Melissa could tell Aryia was starting to feel the fear of death.
“There there, its all right. Just relax,” she whispered, petting her head gently.
Aryia could feel her knees starting to sink. Lucky for her Melissa was able to hold her in place. As she helped Aryia to the sidelines, whispers filled the air about the match between the two of them.
“That was so cool.”
“I know! How did that blue haired girl dodge those attacks so easy?”
Lylianna turned to the instructor.
“We need to speak with this girl. Please feel free to continue with your exam.”
With a simple yes ma’am and a salute the Lieutenant readied the next match. Mari wondered where the group was taking Aryia.
* * *
Inside one of the medical rooms Aryia laid there on the bed as Melissa checked her pulse. It was beating a bit fast still from her sudden trauma of staring death in the face. As Melissa stroked Aryia’s hair to try and calm her she turned to Ryliah.
“Ryliah, can you go make some tea for Aryia?”
With a simple nod Ryliah stood up from her chair and headed out the door. Deadeye leaned against the wall with his arms crossed as Lylianna looked to Aryia who still seemed a bit afraid from the events that took place.
“Aryia, there is a question I wish to ask you.”
“S‑Sure, what is it?”
“I will be blunt. I want to recruit you for my team. Will you join us?”
Confusion showed on her face. She wants me on her team? Ryliah came into the room carrying a cup of warm tea. Sipping the tea slowly calmed Aryia’s nerves. She looked to Lylianna who was still staring at her with no expression in her face. Why does she want me on her team?
“Why do you want me on your team? And what kind of team is it exactly?”
“Simply put, we are Black Knights. A branch of the military that takes orders directly from the Emperor himself.”
“Is it actually okay then for me to even join? As you know, I am only a Private.”
“Of course, I don’t care about rank only results and the ability of a soldier to obey orders.”
Maybe if I join them my abilities could improve and I could even climb up the ladder in rank, Aryia thought. Then again, it could be super tough.
“Would you mind if I think it over for a bit?”
“You may, however, do not delay too long. We will need an answer within three days, otherwise we will assume your answer is no.”
After finishing her tea she placed the cup down on the wooden table beside the bed. Aryia looked around the room as all eyes were on her. She noticed that none of the Black Knights had name‑tags on their uniforms.
“I do have a question before I go,” Aryia said as she got up from the bed.
Lylianna stood up from the chair as the rest of her team gathered around her.
“I assume it has to do with our names?”
“Well, uh… yeah. I noticed none of you have name tags on your uniforms.”
“Names are usually forgotten on the battlefield. However, if you wish to know our names I do not mind telling you.”
* * *
Aryia laid there in her bed thinking about the offer Lylianna gave her. Part of her wanted to take it but part of her was afraid. If they report to the Emperor then that must mean they go on dangerous missions. Mari noticed the look on Aryia’s face.
“Hey Aryia, what’s wrong?”
With a sigh Aryia looked over to Mari.
“Lylianna gave me an offer.”
“The short girl with white hair.”
“Oh, and what was the offer?”
“She asked me if I wanted to join the Black Knights.”
Mari had a look of shock on her face as if she had seen a ghost.
“So… they are real?”
“It seems so,” Aryia said laying her head back down.
“Just what are they anyway?”
“Well, not much is actually known. There are no books written on that branch of the military. It is almost like they don’t exist.”
“That can’t be true. We all saw them at our close combat exam.”
“We did, however, most people assumed the Black Knights were nothing more then rumors or just some made up branch of the military.”
“Anyways, I think you should join them. I mean, they are trying to recruit you so that means at the very least you have the potential they are looking for out of everyone here.”
As she closed her eyes Aryia found herself drifting off to sleep, dreaming of what it would be like in the Black Knights.
* * *
The next day Aryia pondered about joining the Black Knights. She found it impossible to focus on her classes — not that she focused on them to begin with — until it was time for lunch. Mari and Aryia decided to grab a bite to eat from one of the local cafés on the campus academy. Surprisingly, it was not packed as it usually was during this time of day.
As the two of them sat down at a table Aryia noticed Lylianna and Melissa grabbing some food as well. Melissa grabbed some warm soup while Lylianna grabbed a chocolate bar. Afterwards the two of them sat down at the table with Lylianna sitting next to Aryia and Melissa sitting beside Mari.
“What are you two doing here?” Aryia asked wondering what Lylianna was up to.
“We have to eat too, you know?”
Lylianna looked to Aryia with an expressionless face. Somehow, I don’t believe that, Aryia thought. Without thinking too hard about it Aryia started to dig into her meal. While they ate there was one question on Aryia’s mind.
“What is it like in the Black Knights?”
Lylianna didn’t speak for a second as she took a bite of her chocolate bar. Silence filled the air as Aryia and Mari sat there anxious to hear the answer.
“It is what you make it.”
Why does that feel like a cop‑out?
“I think you should join Aryia,” Mari said taking a bite out of her sandwich.
Aryia was a bit surprised that Mari was so supportive of her joining. She looked to Lylianna as she continued to bite into her chocolate bar. Melissa finished her meal as the two of them stood up from the table.
“I want to join.”
“Are you sure? I will warn you now that if you join it will not be easy and there is a chance—”
“It is okay, I will join.”
“Very well, come to the East Wing of the Administrative building, room A6. It would be best if you eat a few more meals before you come.”
Without another word Lylianna and Melissa headed out as Aryia wondered why she would need to eat more.
“I hope to see you as an officer one day,” Mari said with a smile.
Once Aryia was finished with her meal she quickly headed for the Administrative building. Knocking on the door of room A6 she heard Lylianna’s voice from behind the door, beckoning her to enter. Opening the door she noticed her standing near the back wall, staring out of the window. Aryia realized that there was no one else in the room aside from the two of them.
“I came here as quickly as I could.”
“Did you eat another meal?”
“No, why would I?”
“Oh, that is too bad.”
As Lylianna turned to face her, Aryia felt a stabbing pain in her neck. Behind her stood Melissa with a sadistic smile on her face and a syringe in her hand. What did she do to me, Aryia thought as she felt her head starting to spin from the knockout drug. Before Aryia could think about anything else a cloth sack was placed over her head. Unable to see or move she slowly started to lose consciousness. Aryia thought she could hear Lylianna’s voice as she drifted off into the deep abyss of the unknown void.
“Your training begins now.”
* * *
Waking up to complete darkness, Aryia began to hyperventilate as she realized that she was not only naked but also strapped down to some wooden table. What the hell is this? Screaming out for help and struggling against the binds that held her down did little for her.
Suddenly, the sack cloth was removed from her head and Aryia could see exactly where she was. The room was quite small, with aluminiferous walls painted in a dim metallic blue color while bright burning flood lights lit the room. This room was far worse than any doctor’s office Aryia had seen.
Around her stood the Black Knights, emotionless and expressionless. Aryia wasn’t sure what was going on but she knew she needed answers and she needed them now.
“W‑What’s going on?”
“You said you wanted to join the Black Knights,” Lylianna said as she looked to Aryia.
Melissa headed over to a small table with different tools on it as Lylianna leaned against the wall with her arms crossed. Deadeye and Ryliah left the room as Melissa returned to Aryia’s side with a small knife used to make incisions. As an evil grin formed on Melissa’s face Aryia began to worry.
“W‑What are you going to do to me?”
“What do you think?”
Aryia tried to struggle loose from her binds but to no avail. Whoever tied her wrist and ankles up did a great job.
“Every member of the Black Knights has to be able to survive torture and interrogation. There is a reason we are an elite special forces group.”
As Melissa started to bring the knife closer to Aryia’s stomach she grew more terrified then ever before.
“Y‑You can’t do this!”
“Actually, I am free to train my soldiers as I see fit. If you happen to die during training then… oh well. It simply means you weren’t fit to be apart of the Black Knights.”
Melissa slowly plunged the knife into Aryia’s stomach. She could not help but scream at the intense pain. As Lylianna began to leave the room she looked back to Aryia.
“If you survive, you will have the right to call yourself a Black Knight, remember that if you start to feel hopeless. Not many can survive our training.”
Lylianna left the room, closing the door behind her as Aryia screamed in pain again. Melissa continued to torture her in the most brutal and painful ways possible. Surprisingly, Aryia managed to barely stay conscious.
“You are so fun to watch,” Melissa said licking her lips.
“P‑Please… no more,” Aryia begged with tears in her eyes.
Melissa slowly ran her fingertips over Aryia’s breast.
“Maybe this would feel a bit better,” Melissa said giggling.
Aryia started to feel a bit relaxed as she gently rubbed around the tips of her nipples. It was a bit of a weak spot for Aryia that even she herself didn’t know about. Letting out a soft moan and closing her eyes she began to feel a sense of peace.
“Is there anywhere else that makes you this relaxed?”
“I‑I don’t know.”
As she continued to tease Aryia, Melissa traced her finger down to her weakest area.
“It appears you are enjoying this too much. I can feel just how sensitive you are down here.”
Before Aryia could enjoy anymore pleasure Melissa quickly pressed the knife into her thigh. Aryia could not help but let out a loud scream due to the fact it caught her off guard.
“Here is a lesson for you Aryia. Never let your guard down,” Melissa said as she plunged the knife deeper into Aryia’s thigh.
Hours passed until Aryia could no longer take anymore. She passed out just as Melissa was getting to the more gruesome and brutal torture methods.
* * *
The small holding cell was barely nine‑meters squared and dimly‑lit. It smelled of sewer water while the dull‑gray brick walls appeared to have patches of dried red blood on them. In the corner of the room was a small bucket. Surprisingly, it was the only thing that looked remotely clean. Where am I, Aryia thought.
With tears in her eyes Aryia curled up into a ball and began to cry. What did I get myself into? As she softly cried into her chest she suddenly heard a door unlock. After a few seconds she could hear footsteps against the cold stone floor. Beyond the cell bars stood Lylianna with a piece of paper in hand.
“Please, I don’t want to do this anymore,” Aryia begged as she looked up to Lylianna.
“This paper here is a confession. If you sign it you state that you are not fit to become a Black Knight and that you will be returned to your unit without any ability to gain a promotion now, or in the future. Simply speaking, if you sign this you will remain a Private forever.”
Lylianna slipped the paper through the cell bars along with a pen. This was Aryia’s chance to get out, even if it meant being a Private until the end of time. Picking up the pen she was close to signing the paper before Lylianna spoke.
“Keep in mind if you sign that I will kill you here and now.”
Aryia could feel her heart skip a beat as her pen stopped centimeters away from the dotted line. Kill me, can she even do that? Fear started to grow in Aryia’s eyes.
“Y‑You can’t do that Lylianna!”
“Oh but you see, I can do as I please. Once you sign it I can kill you and burn the paper then merely tell people you died during training.”
Sliding the paper and pen through the bars Aryia refused to sign it. As much as she hated this, she feared death more then anything. Lylianna grabbed the pen and paper and started to make her way down the corridor.
“Oh, just one more thing. You should use that bucket to urinate in and use one corner to release your ordure. You will have a hard time if you don’t.”
Without another word Lylianna left, leaving Aryia more confused then ever. Time passed as Aryia tried to figure out what day it was. She continued to trick her mind, trying not to think about what she would have to go through next. After a few hours Aryia heard the door open again. Standing before her this time was Deadeye with a small bowl of rice. Sliding the bowl through the food slit Deadeye left without saying a word.
Aryia looked at the bowl of rice and soon realized that it would not be enough to fill her up at all. Eating a few pieces of rice she began to fill hungry again. That small serving of rice was not enough at all. After some time passed she had to use the restroom. Using a bucket to hold her own urine was not only embarrassing but felt odd to her.
A few more hours passed as she continued to eat a bit of the rice she was given. She started to notice that she was never given any water. Even if she wasn’t the most tactical of people Aryia knew that water was something she would need in order to live.
Hearing the door unlock at the end of hallway always made her feel nervous. The footsteps clacking against the stone floor was psychological torture to her at this point. Standing there was Melissa with a grin on her face. Aryia quickly backed away into one of the corners of the cell. She had started to fear Melissa.
“Yare yare, it looks as if you are starting to have psychological distress. Don’t worry, soon all that fear will push itself out. I will make sure of that.”
Melissa noticed that Aryia had yet to drink anything since she had been held captive in the cell.
“You know, your own urine can be drunk if there is no water,” Melissa said with a wink.
What the hell! I have to drink my own urine, Aryia thought. Melissa left without another word as Aryia stared at the bucket. She didn’t like the idea of drinking her own urine but what choice did she have? It was clear to her that the others were not going to give her much food or any water. She would have to survive on her own and endure the painful torture sessions. Staring at her own urine she tried to mentally prepare herself for it. Drink it or die…
Grabbing the bucket she inched it closer to her lips. Before she could take a drink she turned her head to the side and threw up. The idea of drinking her own urine made her stomach queasy. It was nauseating to think about but it was something she needed to do in order to live. If she didn’t get used to it now she would die quickly in this hellhole.
Aryia looked to the ceiling. Dear goddesses, please help me through this. As she continued to pray aloud the door opened. She continued to pray as Lylianna and Melissa stood there.
“Praying? Melissa be sure to torture her in a more painful and slow method.”
“You got it Major!”
* * *
One month passed as Aryia became beyond paranoid of the sound of footsteps and the opening of the door in the distance. Her smooth flawless skin had become rough and red with scars and burn marks. As she sat there in her cell propped up against the corner wall, she felt as if it would never end.
The sound of the door opening down the corridor made her hug her knees to her chest. Who is it this time, she thought. Standing before her was Lylianna dressed in her military uniform. She sat down in the wooden chair with her legs crossed as she stared expressionlessly at Aryia.
“I think you should be able to see now that in our group we don’t hold back in training. We train as if we were truly on the battlefield. Now, stand up.”
Aryia tried to get up but failed to. Her legs and arms were weak from the whole month without a decent meal. She tried to pick herself up again.
“I said stand up, now!”
With pain and tears in her eyes Aryia finally stood to her feet. She was unsure what was keeping her up at this point as she felt as if she could collapse at any second. Lylianna stood up and unlocked the door to the cell.
With barely any movement in her legs Aryia staggered over to Lylianna. The two of them headed down the corridor until they came to a door. As Lylianna opened the door the lambent light forced Aryia to turn away. Her eyes had yet to adjust to the luminous glow of the room.
Leading her through what seemed to be a maze of corridors and stairs the two of them finally stopped at a wooden black door. On the door was a simple white knight symbol with the icon of a bed under it. After opening the door Aryia stepped into the room. It looked very much different then the small cell she was in.
The walls were painted a somewhat dark green color while at the base of the walls was a dark oak baseboard trimmed wood. Five beds were lined up against the back wall spaced evenly, standing out due to the black silked sheets. Off to the left was a large walk‑in closet that held what appeared to be military uniforms.
As Aryia stood there she was glad to finally see a somewhat normal room. The feeling of the soft monotone carpet against her bare feet was a welcome gift for her. Lylianna made her way to the closet as Aryia stood there taking it all in.
“Here,” Lylianna said holding up a Black Knight military uniform.
Taking the uniform in hand Aryia started to feel tears roll down her eyes.
“Welcome to the Black Knights, Aryia.”