Chapter 9:

Chapter Nine: A Shot in the Dark

Beyond the Borders Volume 1

Nighttime fell upon the City of Luporus. Aryia and Ryliah stood outside
of the room where Princess Amalthea slept. A few hours passed until the
sound of a gunshot rang. Aryia quickly readied her rifle and opened the
door to the room. Ryliah rushed in with her weapon at the ready and
finger on the trigger. Before her stood what appeared to be a woman —
based on the slim figure — at the window.Bookmark here

The assassin was a bit confused as to what happened but quickly regained
composure and tried to escape out the window. Within a blink of the eye
Aryia noticed Lylianna had managed to throw the assassin down onto the
solid hardwood floor; holding a pistol to the assassin’s head. Ryliah
looked outside the window as Aryia trained her gun sights on the
assassin.Bookmark here

“Sniper is down,” Deadeye said over the radio.Bookmark here

“Copy that,” Lylianna replied.Bookmark here

Lylianna removed the hood from the assassin, taking note the girl was
quite young for her age possibly close to Aryia’s age. She had long
crimson hair while her sadden eyes told a deep story of lost, and pain.Bookmark here

“So, are you going to tell us why you and your now dead friend tried to
kill a member of the royal family?”Bookmark here

The girl remained silent.Bookmark here

“Deadeye, be sure to tell Mel to get over here. We have a new toy for
her to play with.”Bookmark here

“Right.”Bookmark here

Aryia started to have flashbacks to the time Melissa tortured her to no
end. *I almost feel sorry for this girl*, she thought. After a few
minutes Melissa appeared carrying a black bag with her.Bookmark here

“This is your last chance to talk. If you don’t then she will get the
answers from you,” Lylianna said pointing to Melissa.Bookmark here

Looking up at Lylianna the girl appeared as if she wanted to speak but
couldn’t.Bookmark here

“Wait, Major I think… this girl is a mute,” Aryia said as she dropped to
one knee beside the girl.Bookmark here

With a simple nod the girl looked as if she was telling the truth.Bookmark here

“Open your mouth,” Lylianna demanded.Bookmark here

The girl looked to Lylianna and opened her mouth. Upon opening her mouth
Lylianna noticed that the girl had no tongue.Bookmark here

“Her tongue has been cut out. She isn’t a mute, she just cannot speak,”
Lylianna said getting off of the girl.Bookmark here

Punching the wall — with a force powerful enough to leave a massive dent
— it was clear to the others that Lylianna was mad. No one dared to say
a word.Bookmark here

“If we give you a pencil and some paper can you explain to us who hired
you?” Aryia asked in a calming tone.Bookmark here

The girl nodded. Aryia grabbed a piece of paper from the desk in the
room along with a pen. She handed them to the girl and told her to sit
down at the desk.Bookmark here

“Lets start with your name.”Bookmark here

\* \* \*Bookmark here

The new room of the princess slept in was far from perfect. It was ten
times smaller then the room at the Liquescent Inn. Old wooden floors
creaked when stepped on along with having splinters, the wood was
showing clear signs of molding. As the princess sat on the malodorous
smelling bed — hugging her knees to her chest — the rest of the Knights
sat in silence.Bookmark here

Princess Amalthea’s mind ran through what would have happened had she
stayed at that inn. It scared her knowing that if she didn’t have her
Knights that she would have been dead. The bluff that she told her
father was nothing compared to actually being killed by someone. Melissa
and Lylianna noticed the expression on Amalthea’s face.Bookmark here

“I am sorry for he change in accommodations, my lady,” Lylianna finally
spoke.Bookmark here

“It is fine. Better to be alive then dead.”Bookmark here

There was fear in Amalthea’s tone as she hugged her knees tighter.Bookmark here

“Just relax, my lady, we won’t allow any harm to come to you.”Bookmark here

“The Major is right Princess. You should try and get some sleep,” Aryia
said in a calm voice.Bookmark here

Amalthea laid back on the bed as Aryia tucked her in. A few hours had
passed until the princess had managed to drift off to sleep.Bookmark here

“Aryia, Melissa, Ryliah, you three take the first watch,” Lylianna
whispered.Bookmark here

The three of them nodded and stepped outside. While they stood there the
dim‑lit hallway gave Aryia an uneasy feeling. Looking to her teammates,
it was clear to her that they felt the same way. Hours passed as the
three of them stood there.Bookmark here

“Hey Melissa, I have a question for you,” Aryia said as she sat down
against the wooden wall.Bookmark here

“What is that?”Bookmark here

“What was it like for you to join the Black Knights?”Bookmark here

“Now that is an interesting story,” Melissa said with a smile.Bookmark here

“I would actually love to hear it,” Ryliah said.Bookmark here

“If I tell you, then you have to promise not to tell the Major. Keep
this just between us girls, okay?”Bookmark here

\* \* \*Bookmark here

Aryia and Ryliah looked shocked. Words could not begin to describe the
story that they had heard. Melissa simply smiled with a cheerful
expression on her face.Bookmark here

“And… that actually happened?” Aryia asked slightly dumbfounded.Bookmark here

“Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t,” Melissa said with a wink.Bookmark here

As the morning sun rose all the Knights gathered together as Princess
Amalthea rubbed her eyes. She was not one for the early mornings like
the others. While the princess had something to eat and drink the
Knights went over the plans for how they would handle taking Amalthea to
the Town Hall.Bookmark here

After a few minutes the princess was dressed and ready as the Knights
escorted her out. Deadeye had set up a sniping position to watch the
entrance of the Town Hall while the others walked with Princess
Amalthea. The Knights looked quite different from how they normally
dressed.Bookmark here

Lylianna was dressed in a black corset, with red‑laced strings. Around
her arms were black and red striped arm‑warmers. Her frilly‑layered
black skirt was shorter then most skirts but she still managed to hide a
pistol holster strapped to her right thigh and a dagger sheathed on her
left. She, like the rest of the Knights wore her military boots.Bookmark here

Melissa decided to dress in the same outfit as Lylianna only adding to
the look with a pair of black/white striped knee‑high socks and a
military‑style cap.Bookmark here

Ryliah was dressed pretty causal and appeared to be just another towns
person while Aryia just threw on a simple brown overcoat with an
undershirt and a skirt.Bookmark here

As they came up to the entrance of the Town Hall one of the town guards
stopped the princess at the door.Bookmark here

“State your business please.”Bookmark here

“I am Princess Amalthea,” she said pulling out her family crest.Bookmark here

“Very well, we will have to ask that your bodyguards to remove their
weapons if they have any at the front entrance here.”Bookmark here

“I will not allow my Knights to escort me unarmed. They keep their
weapons or I shall not enter.”Bookmark here

“R‑Right… very well then. You may proceed.”Bookmark here

As Princess Amalthea walked into the building Lylianna turned to Aryia.Bookmark here

“Stay out here and be alert.”Bookmark here

“Right.”Bookmark here

Aryia stood against the wall as she watched the princess enter the Town
Hall. She waited for a few minutes as the two guards gave her strange
looks. *Why does it feel like something is going to go wrong*, she
thought.Bookmark here

\* \* \*Bookmark here

Princess Amalthea sat at the center of the large wooden table as men —
nearly approaching their fifties — sat around opposite ends. It was
clear the princess was new to these kinds of meetings and was
ill‑prepared for it, even though she had practiced and looked over the
papers time and time again. Lucky for her Lylianna was there to lend her
a helping hand.Bookmark here

The hours passed as the princess explained the budget for the city from
the tax laws to the commercial enterprise budget — or <abbr>CEB</abbr> —
for the city’s treasury and listened to what all of the members of
council had to say. Most of the council members were nice and explained
the concepts that appeared to be over Amalthea’s head. If there was
something she just could not understand Lylianna was able to explain it
in a more simplified way.Bookmark here

A few more hours passed until the meeting was finally over. Princess
Amalthea left the building hoping she did a great job. With plenty of
daylight left to spare the Knights escorted Princess Amalthea back to
the capital, safe and sound. Before the Knights could get any rest
however, the Emperor demanded to see them.Bookmark here

Kneeling before the Emperor became almost mundane for Aryia. She had
gotten used to a lot of things since she joined the Black Knights.Bookmark here

“I would like to thank you all for keeping my daughter safe and
returning her home. Perhaps I was wrong about all of you being
defective.”Bookmark here

With that shocking complement — and slightly demoralizing statement —
Aryia felt a sense of pride about her. After the words of extolment from
the Emperor the Knights returned to their Headquarters to sleep for the
rest of the day. As they entered the bedroom Aryia dropped into her bed
without even removing her uniform.Bookmark here

“Don’t forget we train tomorrow at the break of dawn,” Lylianna said as
she removed her clothes.Bookmark here

“Yeah, yeah,” Aryia said with a wave of her hand.Bookmark here

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