Chapter 7:

Chapter Seven: Silent as the Grave

Beyond the Borders Volume 1

Aryia and Ryliah entered their Headquarters exactly at 1800 hours on the
dot. Lylianna called all the Knights into the mess hall. The look on her
face was quite serious. Everyone gathered around the table and sat down
as Aryia tried to figure out what was going on.Bookmark here

“One week from now we will be on guard duty for Princess Amalthea as she
travels to Luporus for business. Melissa, you will get the medical
supplies ready. Deadeye, Aryia, you two will head out to the city and
scout out the area, report back as soon as possible. Ryliah, ready all
the weapons, ammo and other gear.”Bookmark here

With a simple *yes ma’am*, all the Knights gave a quick salute and did
what they were ordered. Aryia and Deadeye planed to head out to Luporus
the next day, spending the rest of their day looking at the route to
Luporus. Normally, traveling between cities was harmless — most of the
time. Aside from wildlife attacks from stray animals that came to close
to the main roads, there wasn’t much in the way of bandits. In fact, an
encounter with bandits was quite rare… for normal people.Bookmark here

It was another matter for the members of the royal family. Since Emperor
Umbael Serpth took the throne after the passing of his late father he
slowly ran the kingdom into the ground. With the birth of his daughter
and the death of his wife the Kingdom of Sylveria continued to find
itself in more wars over small things.Bookmark here

As Deadeye studied the map he marked off possible ambush points on the
road to Luporus.Bookmark here

“So, I guess we are going by car?”Bookmark here

“Yeah.”Bookmark here

“Won’t a helicopter or plane be faster?”Bookmark here

“A helicopter would still take a while. The main problem with going by
plane is that the nearest runway is about three‑hundred kilometers away
from the city.”Bookmark here

“I see.”Bookmark here

“Another reason why we don’t go by plane is due to Princess Amalthea’s
fear of flying.”Bookmark here

“The princess has a fear of flying?”Bookmark here

“And heights, yes.”Bookmark here

Aryia was a bit shocked to hear that. Apparently, Princess Amalthea was
just fine with killing herself for the Black Knights but flying and
heights were out of the question. As Deadeye continued to mark off
points on the map he looked at his watch.Bookmark here

“Okay, lets head out to Luporus tomorrow at 0600. That okay with you?”Bookmark here

“Yeah.”Bookmark here

\* \* \*Bookmark here

The sunrise greeted a new day for Aryia as she woke up at 0500. Deadeye
had been up for a few hours before her drinking coffee and reading the
Sylveria Daily Times. Aryia grabbed a plate and gathered a few eggs and
bacon. Not being the best of cooks this was the only meal she could
make.Bookmark here

“Would you like some coffee?”Bookmark here

“I have never been one for that stuff,” Aryia said pouring herself a
glass of milk.Bookmark here

The two of them sat in silence. *What is going through his mind*, she
wondered. Once both of them were finished Deadeye waited outside in a
black jeep — that had the Knight’s emblem on the side of it — as Aryia
proceeded to get dressed.Bookmark here

“You know, in theory, we could get their faster if we used a more
archaic method of transport.”Bookmark here

“What you mean there is, ‘Hey Aryia use your magic to push a cart while
I laze around in the back’ or something like that.”Bookmark here

“No, I mean it would shave off an hour or two if we did that.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I will stick with driving an extra hour or two.”Bookmark here

“Fair enough.”Bookmark here

The ride in the jeep gave Aryia enough time to think about things. An
hour had passed until Aryia finally opened her mouth.Bookmark here

“So, how did you make it into the Black Knights?”Bookmark here

Deadeye remained silence. Aryia started to wonder if she touched a
nerve. A few minutes passed as he thought about how best to tell his
tale.Bookmark here

“Well, it all started back when I was sixteen…”Bookmark here

\* \* \*Bookmark here

Without much going for him Bartholomew Graves turned to the life of a
thief. Using his earth magic to map out houses and other valuable
places, he could steal almost anything from anywhere. He had been doing
this for years after his parents abandoned him.Bookmark here

Everything was fine until he tried to steal from the Emperor himself.
Bartholomew was quickly caught before he could even make it into the
inner compound and thrown in a jail cell. He suffered days of torture as
the guards beat him senseless. There was almost no rest for him as he
slept for only a few hours each day. He started to believe he would
spend his life like this rotting away in a jail until he got old.Bookmark here

Two years passed until one day two little girls showed up at his cell.
They both looked to be no more then twelve‑years‑old.Bookmark here

“And just who are you?” Bartholomew asked.Bookmark here

“Your new goddess, if you believe in those fairy tales,” the white hair
girl replied.Bookmark here

“With everything that has happened, I don’t believe in the goddesses
anymore.”Bookmark here

“Good. I could use someone like you for my team.”Bookmark here

“You… run a team. How cute. Aren’t you a little young to be playing
soldier?”Bookmark here

“Cockiness leads to stupidity. And that is why you’re in jail.”Bookmark here

“Shut up brat. You don’t have any idea what it is like.”Bookmark here

“Have you ever been cut open alive?”Bookmark here

Bartholomew had a confused look on his face.Bookmark here

“Have you experienced the pain of having your arm dislocated and popped
back into place without anything to numb the pain?”Bookmark here

“Are you trying to make me sympathetic to your shortcomings?”Bookmark here

“No, merely trying to give an idea of what is expected of my team. If
you join me I expect you to follow me into the depths of the unknown.”Bookmark here

Standing and moving closer to the cell bars Bartholomew looked over the
little girl who was so short that he had to look down.Bookmark here

“I don’t follow children.”Bookmark here

“And what if I was to make you a deal?”Bookmark here

“What kind of a deal?”Bookmark here

“I will get you out of here. Then you and I will fight, one‑on‑one. If I
win you will join my team. If you win then you are free to go.”Bookmark here

“And how do I know I can trust you?”Bookmark here

“You just have to take my word for it.”Bookmark here

He mulled over the idea for a few minutes. In the end, he figured it was
better then staying locked up in a cell for the rest of his life.Bookmark here

“Fine.”Bookmark here

The white haired girl turned to the other girl.Bookmark here

“Mel, get the guard for me please.”Bookmark here

“Yes ma’am.”Bookmark here

After a few minutes a guard appeared.Bookmark here

“Release this prisoner at once.”Bookmark here

The guard had a confused look about him.Bookmark here

“I am sorry Captain but I can’t do that.”Bookmark here

“Fine. I invoke the Black Knight Invocation. Under the order of the
Emperor I have full rights to conscript this prisoner. Should you fail
to allow me to fulfill my invocation you will be sentence to death.”Bookmark here

The guard was at a loss for words. He quickly opened the cell door.
Bartholomew was shocked that the guard actually let him out. After
getting a decent meal and some water Bartholomew was ready for the
one‑on‑one fight. There was no way he could lose to a twelve‑year‑old
girl.Bookmark here

\* \* \*Bookmark here

Aryia was a bit surprised at what she heard. Deadeye just laughed as
they continued to drive. They were getting close to the City of Gernod,
which would be their first stopping point.Bookmark here

“She beat my ass, and even ruptured one of my eyes. Hence the nickname
Deadeye.”Bookmark here

“Hard to believe you started out as a Private though.”Bookmark here

“We all start somewhere.”Bookmark here

Stopping at the City of Gernod the two scouted out the area for any
ambush points and other such choke points. While the city wasn’t as big
as the main capital it was still home to a pretty big population.
Workers went about their job as street merchants sold their wears to the
common folk. The gray stone walls around Gernod protected the city quite
well. Not only from wildlife but from the coastal winds that blew in
from the East.Bookmark here

After looking around the city Aryia headed back to the jeep. They
continued on to the City of Luporus.Bookmark here

\* \* \*Bookmark here

The City of Luporus was a large port city made of the finest white
stone. Home to the Seaman Guard — the jactitation among the people of
Luporus. The city did quite well with trade routes along the sea. People
were busy walking the impeccable streets, pushing carts of fish and
other fresh foods from the ships docked in the harbor.Bookmark here

A few hours had passed since Deadeye and Aryia made it to the city. With
daylight still burning they both disembarked from their jeep and headed
into the city. This was Aryia’s first time in Luporus.Bookmark here

“Aryia, check any buildings that you think the princess would visit. She
is only supposed to be heading to the Liquescent Inn and the Town Hall
but better to account for any other places off the beaten path,” Deadeye
said handing her a map of the city.Bookmark here

“Right.”Bookmark here

Aryia looked around the city, taking note of buildings and the
businesses. Stalls and other small shops littered the sidewalks as
people sold various foods. As Aryia looked at the map she noticed where
the Liquescent Inn was at and headed off in the direction of it.Bookmark here

As she came into view of the inn she was taken aback by just how
elaborate it was. It was truly fit for a queen — or in this case a
princess. The outside of the building was made of a soft twilight
colored stone with white‑walled accent around the window frames. A paved
gray‑tone pathway lead up to an excessively eccentric entrance.Bookmark here

*I can see why the princess would stay at an inn like this. Great place
for a princess… and an assassination*.Bookmark here

Aryia stepped into the inn, taking note of all the patrons. It was quite
a fancy place with gentlemen that wore suits with top hats while the
women wore elegant frilly dresses. The main lobby bustled with the
sounds of idle chatter and high‑heels clacking against the hard wood
floor. In front of Aryia was a long red carpet that lead up to a wooden
desk, where an older gentleman with long green hair stood. She made her
way up to the front desk taking note of the people around her.
*Hopefully, no one will try to attack me here*, she thought as she
secretly held onto her pistol, hidden in her coat pocket.Bookmark here

Ever since she had joined the Black Knights she had become more and more
paranoid. She saw the world in a different light just as the other
members did. No longer did she see people as being kind and generous but
now she saw everyone around her as suspicious. Anyone could be an enemy
or a trained killer.Bookmark here

Stepping up to the desk she took note of how many room keys were on the
back wall.Bookmark here

“Can I help you?” the man asked.Bookmark here

Aryia looked into the man’s eyes.Bookmark here

“I was just curious as to how well‑known this inn is. I have a friend
that is thinking of staying here.”Bookmark here

“Ah. Well, the Liquescent Inn is the best inn… in Luporus.”Bookmark here

“I see. What is the price for one room?”Bookmark here

“One room is five hundred twenty‑five Yukaris for a week and for each
day after the first week is an extra four hundred fifty‑nine each
night.”Bookmark here

“That is not too bad a deal.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, most inns in the area and other cities charge six hundred Yukaris
a night.”Bookmark here

“Sounds good. I will let my friend know about how good this place then,
thank you.”Bookmark here

With a wave of her hand Aryia left. As she look around the front
entrance she noticed that it was quite an open space. She made her way
to the market square. The market was more packed then food in a ration
as she carefully maneuvered through the crowd. As she continued to walk
around she suddenly heard a voice behind her.Bookmark here

“I take it you are done.”Bookmark here

It was Deadeye.Bookmark here

“Yeah. Anything to note on your end?”Bookmark here

“Not much, aside from the cliff side tower to the East. It worries me.”Bookmark here

“Why is that?”Bookmark here

“It is the perfect sniping nest for taking a clear shot. I was able to
watch you enter the building and could see one of the beds from an open
window.”Bookmark here

“I might not be a trained sniper but that doesn’t sound good.”Bookmark here

Deadeye began to walk back to where he had parked the jeep as Aryia
followed behind.Bookmark here

“Short answer, no… it is not good at all,” Deadeye said as he started up
the jeep.Bookmark here

The drive back to the capital was silent as Aryia thought about what
could be done to keep the princess safe.Bookmark here

“I have a crazy idea.”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

Aryia shook her head after a few seconds. It was a crazy idea.Bookmark here

“Never mind.”Bookmark here

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