Chapter 4:

Chapter Four: Welcome to the Black Knights

Beyond the Borders Volume 1

“The Sylveria Military is broken up into three general branches: The Army, The Air Service, and The Seaman Guard. There is a fourth that isn’t officially reorganized known as The Elite which is home to The Special Forces groups. All branches of the military follow the Code of Military Doctrine set forth by the Emperor, however, it is rumored that there is one group that is not bound by this code.”Bookmark here

—The Military Manual: Chapter OneBookmark here

It felt as if Aryia’s body was going to snap into. Training for little over a month non‑stop from sun up to sun down was taking its toll on her. Unlike the academy, the Black Knights trained with real bullets and real daggers. The stress was high for her as if she shot her own teammates it was possible they would end up truly injured or worse…
After countless hours of training she collapsed onto her bed and closed her eyes. Part of her wanted to sleep but part of her was so paranoid now that she was afraid to completely fall asleep. While she laid there Lylianna was busy reading a book entitled The Fear of Darkness. Melissa and Deadeye were busy playing a game of 思棋理5 as Ryliah sat in the corner of the room polishing her swords. Aryia was quickly awakened from her half‑sleep state by a knock at the door.
“Aryia, get the door,” Lylianna said without looking up from her book.
Tired from training all day Aryia stood to her feet, trying to shuffle over to the door. As she opened the door she was taken aback by the young the girl that stood before her.
The girl stood at a height of one hundred seven centimeters; weighing only thirty‑one kilograms. Her skin was as pale as Lylianna’s, however, Aryia found it strange that the girl had twilight blond hair with lilac colored eyes. Who is this girl, Aryia thought. She was dressed in a lavender silk robe with a gold‑trimmed accent. On her left side stood an old man in a black suit resembling that of a butler.
“Aevtha!” Lylianna yelled as she stood to her feet.
Like trained soldiers the rest of the Knights stood up and then dropped to their left knee, bowing their heads slightly. Aryia was a bit confused as to what Lylianna had said. She continued to stand there dumbfounded until Lylianna slammed her elbow into her gut forcing her to bend over followed by grabbing her head and shoving it into the carpet below.
“Lylianna, what the—”
“It is okay Lylianna allow her to stand.”
“As you wish, my lady.”
Aryia slowly stood to her feet as she wondered what was going on. The girl simply giggled.
“I am Princess Amalthea, the daughter of the current Emperor of Sylveria.”
So, this is the Emperor’s daughter, Aryia thought. She is kind of cute. Princess Amalthea looked to the rest of the Knights.
“All of you may rise.”
Lylianna and the others got to their feet but continued to stand at attention.
“There is no need to be so formal.”
“I am sorry my lady but we are meant to serve you and as such we will continue to show you the respect you are due,” Lylianna said still standing at attention.
Princess Amalthea simply smiled.
“You are always so serious, aren’t you Lydia.”
“Yes, my lady.”
With a sigh Amalthea’s head slightly tilted as she placed her hands on her hips.
“Very well, at ease.”
Melissa and Deadeye went back to playing their game as Ryliah went back to polishing her swords. Lylianna continued to stand there looking at the princess.
“My lady, if I may ask, why are you here?”
Princess Amalthea walked up to Aryia with a cute smile on her face.
“I just thought I would come by and see the newest member of my personal guard. Private Aryia Kozyki, right?”
Aryia looked slightly confused.
“Personal… guard?”
“Yes, the Black Knights are also the personal guard for the Emperor and anyone of the royal family blood line,” Lylianna said.
The Princess had a sad look upon her face as she recalled the reason for the existence of the Black Knights. A group of knights that were only bound by the Emperor’s orders but free go beyond the rules, Black Knights.
“I rescued the princess myself a few days after she was taken hostage years ago,” Lylianna said after noting the confusion on Aryia’s face.
Wow, she rescued the princess by herself.
“And that is when my father created the Black Knights,” Princess Amalthea said trying to push the memory out of her head.
The room fell silence.
“Well, I should be going before my father realizes I am gone. My life is in your hands now, Aryia.”
“Y‑Yeah, don’t worry, I will keep you safe Princess.”
With a smile Princess Amalthea left as Aryia headed for the comfort of her bed. She was beyond exhausted and just wanted to sleep. As her eyes slowly started to close she heard Lylianna’s voice.
“We train at 0500 hours.”
“I know.”
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Aryia awoke at 0400 hours half asleep. She noticed that the bedroom was empty. I bet they are at the training grounds, she thought. Getting up from her bed Aryia headed to the washroom. After slowly removing her clothes she stepped into one of the showers. Feeling the warm water against her body was like a breath of fresh air.
As she bathed in the water she looked over the scars on her body. Burn marks, and cuts covered her body from head to toe. Melissa was truly a sadistic torturer that knew the human body well. Aryia was a bit upset that she no longer had a flawless body. Part of her wished she hadn’t joined the Black Knights, but part of her was glad she was able to tough it out. Earning the Black Knight emblem made her feel special.
Once she was finished she proceeded to get dressed in her Black Knight BDU. Unlike the standard military BDUs the Black Knight’s BDU was a black splattered camouflage with a white knight emblem on the left shoulder. While the standard military BDUs were able to withstand the basic natural elements such as rain and snow, the Black Knight’s BDU was able to withstand the four elements of magic, to a certain degree.
After grabbing her gun from her weapon locker in the closet she made sure she had a few magazines for her weapon along with some flash‑bangs. All members of the Black Knights had weapons that they customized themselves out of the highest quality metal in the world. It is still hard to believe I made a weapon out of zixkium, she thought as she continued to load her weapon. Zixkium was one of the rarest metals in the world of Alvenfhiem. In fact, it was so rare that only the Emperor’s blade and the Black Knight’s main weapons were the only weapons to be made out of this metal.
Aryia’s weapon of choice was a medium sized rifle that could switch between fully automatic and single‑shot. However, due to Lylianna’s strict training Aryia never had the chance to use the full‑auto operating system on her gun. Over the course of training with the Black Knights she had grown used to firing single‑shot. In just one month she had almost become a trained rat. She never once dared to deify Lylianna — who she would just call Major like everyone else — as that would just lead to her being tortured by Melissa. Looking at her watch she decided to head out for the training grounds even if she would be early. It was better to be early for training then to be late as Lylianna did not tolerate latish tardiness.
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Outside the training grounds it was slightly dark due to the fact the sun had yet to rise. Lylianna and her team stood front of an abandon building waiting for Aryia to show up. Staring at her watch Lylianna took note of the time.
“It is 0450 hours.”
“Yeah, Aryia is going to be late if she doesn’t hurry,” Ryliah said as she loaded six‑shots into the chamber.
The rest of the Knights made sure their weapons were ready as they continued to wait. Melissa noticed Aryia running up to them with her weapon slung on the back of her shoulder. Lylianna continued to look at her watch, 0459 hours.
“Cutting it a bit close there, aren’t you?” Melissa winked.
“I just wanted to make sure I had everything.”
Suddenly, Lylianna’s watch started to beep.
“Today, all your training will be put to the test Aryia.”
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Lylianna looked to her team as they stood there ready for the training exercise. The weapons that of the Black Knight’s used were vastly different from each other but blended well with each corresponding member.
Aryia looked to her own weapon, noting just how lame it looked. Her weapon didn’t combine the elegance of a gun and a blade like Ryliah’s. It certainly wasn’t made for long range sniping like Deadeye’s. Her weapon did not strike fear or terror into the heart of the enemy like Melissa’s hybrid scythe rifle. Aryia’s weapon didn’t even have a cool engraving on it like Lylianna’s. Her weapon just had the engraving of a leaf on the barrel. Man, why didn’t I make my weapon cooler, she thought.
“All right, for this mission we have two hostages that were taken by a group of terrorist in there. It is believed there are eight in total,” Lylianna said.
Everyone made sure the safety on their weapons were off and set to a single‑shot mode.
“The people playing the hostages are real, remember that Aryia.”
“Yes ma’am.”
Lylianna pulled down a pair of steam‑punk looking goggles over her eyes that had been resting comfortably against her forehead. These goggles were designed to reduce the blinding light of the flash‑bangs that they used when clearing rooms. Once everyone was ready they all formed up on the front door. Aryia stacked up beside the front door with Lylianna behind her while Melissa and Ryliah stood on the opposite side. She could feel Lylianna’s hand on her shoulder. She knew this meant stand‑by.
Even if this was just a training exercise Aryia still felt a bit nervous. She knew if she screwed up her teammates — or even worse innocent lives — could get wounded or killed. Time appeared to slow as she waited for Lylianna to give her the signal. She could feel her heart racing as her mind shuffled through what she needed to do.
She appears to be nervous, Lylianna thought taking note of the fact Aryia was slightly shaking.
With a simple tap on her shoulder Aryia knew it was signal to go. She kicked down the door with the help of her wind magic as Melissa threw in a flash‑bang. Aryia quickly rushed into the room just as the grenade bounced on the ground.
A blinding white light filled the room as Aryia covered the left side. Following behind her Lylianna covered the right side as Melissa entered and covered the front. Ryliah entered in soon after, her eyes sweeping the room. The room they were in was a slightly large living area. There were no terrorist in sight as the team slowly moved though the area with their weapons at the ready. Ahead of Aryia was a pine wooden door. With a simple hand signal Lylianna ordered Aryia and Ryliah to clear out the left room as she watched the door on her side. Melissa’s eyes were on the stairs in the far left corner should anyone come down them. Stacking up against the door Ryliah placed her hand on Aryia’s shoulder. With a tap of the shoulder Aryia quickly opened the door as Ryliah threw in a flash‑bang. As Aryia entered the room to her left she noticed one paper target. Drawn on the large paper was a man pointing a gun in her direction. As she aimed her gun at the paper only two words ran through her mind. Terrorist, fire. A single shot rang out from her gun hitting the paper target square between the eyes. Within a split second Aryia could hear a second shot coming from Ryliah’s weapon.
“Clear!” Aryia and Ryliah called out.
As Aryia came out of the room she covered the stairs while Lylaianna and Melissa cleared the room off to the right. Two shots rang out followed by clear. Within a fraction of a second Lylianna and Melissa were out of the room and standing ready to clear the second story of the building. Lylianna motioned with her hand for Aryia to take point up the stairs. Carefully, Aryia made her way up the stairs with her weapon at the ready. Stopping halfway at the ascending squared U‑shaped stairs she waited for the rest of team as they made their way up in a single file line. The first one to the top of the stairs was Ryliah followed by Melissa. Finally Lylianna headed up. Once Lylianna had passed her, Aryia followed behind her until all of them were at the top of the stairs.
The second floor was nothing more then a long hallway. At the end of the corridor two doors could be seen. Melissa and Ryliah hugged the right side wall as Aryia and Lylianna hugged the left. Lylianna and Ryliah had their weapons at a low‑ready position to take out anyone that could come out either of the two doors. Both sides stopped once they got to the doors. With a wave of her hand Lylianna ordered Melissa and Ryliah to clear the room on the right. Like lightning the two of them cleared the room — no shots were heard.
Stacking up on the last room Aryia could feel her heart beating faster. These are real hostages, I can’t screw this up, she thought.
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Aryia sat at the round table as she tried to figure out what food to eat first. The Black Knight’s training was beyond what any normal person could deal with. They managed to rescue the hostages without any problems and did it in only two‑minutes and fifteen‑seconds to boot. Once they had finished that training they went on to hand‑to‑hand combat training and magic training. Aryia still never guessed just what magic Lylianna could use, if she could even use magic.
After hours of training all of them had returned to their barracks — dubbed the Black Knight Headquarters — to eat a warm meal. Before Aryia could dig into the elegance feast in front of her, there was a knock at the door. Ryliah stood up from the table and headed for the door. Upon opening it, standing there in the doorway was Princess Amalthea’s butler.
“Pardon the intrusion Knights but the Emperor requests your presence.”
With a bow the man left. Before Aryia could enjoy even a grain of the food that was laid out Lylianna ordered everyone to move out. Saddened by the lack of food in her stomach Aryia had to suck it up. From the way Lylianna had described the Emperor, he was not a longanimous man. As they all headed to the Emperor’s palace Aryia realized that this was her first time ever stepping foot inside the massive castle.
Unlike the common buildings in the city the castle was isolated high on a cliff and surrounded by a moat. Soldiers patrolled around the outside of the of the castle along with two guards that stood at the gates. As the Knights headed for the entrance one guard tried to stop them. It was clear to Lylianna that the soldier was new to the guard.
“I am sorry I cannot let you pass—”
“Hold your tongue boy. Do you even know who you are talking to?”
The man was quite young and appeared to be in his teens while the other man was clearly older. The young man — named Garey — had just joined the Emperor’s Guard a few days ago while the older man — whose name was Greg Cockerel — had been apart of the guard for many years.
“These are the Black Knights lad. They are free to come and go as they please. Emperor’s orders.”
The young man quickly bowed his head and apologized, letting them pass.
“Thanks Greg,” Lylianna said walking past.
“Aye. No problem Major.”
Inside the castle the hallway was large and quite long, decorated with a red carpet with gold‑trimmed accent. Wooden doors could be seen on the left and right sides of the hallway while at the very end of the corridor was a giant wooden door. Standing at the sides of the large door were two more guards who stood as still as statues. As the Knights came closer the guards opened up the doors. Beyond the doors was a large room with a ceiling that appeared to reach the heavens. The red carpet extended down into the center of the room where it stopped, leading into a large circle made of golden tiles. In the back of the room — centered perfectly with the circle — was the Emperor’s throne while on the right was a smaller throne for the next in‑line to be crowned emperor.
The Emperor sat at his throne protected by the two guards standing beside it. Princess Amalthea sat on the smaller throne with a carefree smile on her face at the sight of seeing the Black Knights.
As the Knights entered the circle they all dropped to their left knee and bowed their heads. The room was silent as the Emperor’s eyes noticed the new addition to the Knights.
“I see you have a new member, Major.”
His voice was deep and projected throughout the room as one would expect of someone of royalty. Lylianna did not lift her head as she spoke.
“Yes, your grace.”
Standing up from his throne the Emperor held out a hand for his sword. A guard dropped to one knee and held out the sword with both hands to show respect to the Emperor. The sword was coated in a black zixkium with gold vyellum around the sharp edge of the blade. Engraved into the blade was the Royal Family’s Crest, outlined with a deep lilac color. As the Emperor came closer to the Knights they bowed their heads even lower.
“What is your name girl?”
“Aryia Kozyki, your grace.”
The Emperor touched the sword on Aryia’s shoulder. She could feel the cold metal, even through her clothes.
“In the name of the four goddesses and in the presence of Princess Amalthea Faethdella Serpth, I — Emperor Umbael Serpth — grant you the honorable title of Black Knight.”
Aryia was now truly a member of the Black Knights. She felt a sense of pride as she continued to kneel there. After the Emperor was done he returned to his throne.
“Rise my Knights.”
The Knights stood to their feet continuing to stand at attention. I wish he would hurry up, my ass itches, Aryia thought.
“I have a task for you. My military advisers have informed me that things are… unpleasant at the Eastern Lines. Tomorrow I want all of you to head to the Headquarters there. Major, I trust you will listen to the state of affairs there and make the judgment call on your own merit.”
“Yes, your grace.”
“You are dismissed.”
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This could be my first actual mission, Aryia thought as she loaded up her gear. Part of her was excited about it but part of her was also a bit anxious. The fear of death was always in the back of her mind. She wondered just how the other Knights dealt with the subconscious fear of death.
Aryia found it impossible to fall asleep once the mid‑night hour fell. The thought of her first mission was eating at her. Everything will be fine, I just need to sleep. Hours continued to past until she finally got a few hours of decent sleep. At 0600 hours she awoke to the sound of the alarm clock. Lylianna had made sure to set the alarm early to get Aryia up on time. Sleepy from the lack of sleep, she looked as if she was going to pass out the second she sat up.
Melissa handed Aryia a cup of coffee to help her wake up. The taste made Aryia want to gag but Melissa had promised her that it would help her be alert and focused. After a few seconds she began to feel awake and alert. Everyone started to gather up their weapons and pack up anything that they might have needed.
Once everyone was packed and ready to leave they hopped on the helicopter that was prepared to take them to the Eastern Lines HQ at 0700 hours. The long flight on the way to the base give Aryia time to think about things. What if we end up getting captured by the enemy, she thought. Her biggest fear aside from death was the thought of being tortured. Even if she had endured Melissa’s sadistic torture methods, in the back of her mind she was still afraid.
Lylianna could see the fear on Aryia’s face as she briefly looked up from her book entitled The Goddesses’ Delusion.
“Yes Major!?”
“Relax. Remember your training and you will be fine.”
A part of Aryia felt calm as her body relaxed slightly. The Major always seems to know just what to say. Hours flew by until they had finally landed at the Eastern HQ. As the Knights disembarked they were greeted by a sergeant named Kyiline.
“Welcome to the Rhyine, Major,” he said saluting her.
“Thank you.”
“General Pethella wishes to see you.”
“Very well, is there a housing unit my team can stay in while I meet with her?”
“Yes ma’am. Over there is a house that just became vacant,” Kyiline said with sadness in his voice.
“Everyone, remain on stand‑by until further orders.”
Lylianna headed off to the large building in the center of the area as the rest of the Knights made their way to the small — now abandoned — building the sergeant had pointed to.
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Lylianna stood there as General Pethella showed her photos of the areas they had managed to recon. A small communications outpost that almost blended in well with the terrain. It was believed that this was being used by the enemy to intercept radio transmissions from several kilometers away.
Lylianna studied the photos carefully.
“Is this all?” she asked looking to Pethella.
“It was the best we could get. Judging from where the plane was at, it was at this grid reference.”
Pethella pointed to the rough location to which was believed to be the outpost’s position.
“That is pretty deep behind enemy lines.”
“Yeah, which is why I was thinking of sending an elite special forces team to take it out.”
“I could do that for you General. It just so happens that I have an elite team with me.”
Pethella simply laughed.
“Well, I had actually planed to call on one of the other special forces but if you feel you want to stretch your legs a bit, by all means.”
“All right, the Black Knights will take over. If you don’t see us back in two hours assume the worse.”
“We do have reason to believe there is an officer in that outpost.”
“Based on…”
“A gut feeling of mine.”
“You and your gut feelings,” Lylianna said with a sigh.
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Hours had passed as Aryia laid on one of the beds. It was as hard as a rock so sleeping was near impossible. As Lylianna entered the room the Knights looked to her. Aryia was a bit anxious as to what Lylianna would say.
“Get your gear ready by 0200 hours. We will be dropping from the sky tonight.”
Without another word Lylianna started to leave. Aryia quickly got up and followed her.
“Major, what is the mission going to be?”
“You will know in time. For now, gather your gear and then get as much sleep as you can.”
Aryia nodded as she headed back into the room. Everyone was getting their gear ready as Aryia started to pack hers. She packed ten magazines, a map of the area, two rations just in case the mission lasted longer then a day, and a few survival items. Once she was done Aryia laid her head down on the bed and tried to get some sleep.
This is my first real mission…
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At 0200 hours on the dot Aryia felt someone shaking her awake. It took her a few seconds to realize just who it was.
“Aryia, the Major said to meet her out front of the HQ in thirty minutes, okay?”
“Yeah, don’t worry.”
Ryliah left as Aryia stretched and tried to blink her eyes a few times to wake up. Once she had gotten over the grogginess of first waking up she grabbed a quick bite to eat from the kitchen along with something to wash it down. After finishing up what constituted as breakfast for her. She grabbed her XGLRGs and made her way out to the front of the HQ.
Lylianna stood out front with the rest of the of the team. Deadeye was sitting down on a crate testing the scope on his sniper rifle as Melissa checked and double checked her medical bag. Ryliah was busy making sure her sword was sharp and ready for action. Everyone knew that there was one thing true about being behind enemy lines and that was no one knew what would happen.
“Good, everyone is here now.”
Lylianna looked to her squad.
“HQ wants us to destroy an enemy communications outpost.”
“Where is it?” Aryia asked.
“Behind enemy lines, where else?”
“Rules of Engagement?” Deadeye asked.
“Free to engage, but only if necessary. There is word that a HVT may be there. If possible, capture and return with him or her alive. If not, shoot to kill.”
“Do we have a layout of the building?” Ryliah asked sheathing her blade.
“Sadly, no. The best we were able to get were aerial views of the building from the outside.”
Lylianna handed a photo to Melissa. She studied it for a few seconds and passed it on to Deadeye.
“There is one entrance into the building from what we can tell with the photo. We pair off in twos. Melissa with Ryliah, Aryia with me. Deadeye, sniper cover. We have two hours at most for this operation so be ready. Once the target area is destroyed we extract by helicopter at the red circle you see there on the map.”
Aryia looked over the map. The hike to the extraction point was pretty far but she had trained non‑stop to be apart of the Black Knights.
“All right, looks like our ride is here.”
In a large field to the South was a make‑shift airfield for planes to land at. On the runway was a large cargo plane that had just landed after gathering supplies from the rear lines. After a few minutes of refueling the plane as ready to fly again.
The Knights made sure their gear was in order and boarded the plane. As the plane started to take off Aryia began to wonder…
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