Chapter 24:

Chapter Twenty: The New Recruits

Beyond the Borders Volume 1

Aryia laid in her bed as she thought about what she would do once her
knee healed up. It was nearing mid‑afternoon and she was beginning to
grow bored of laying there day after day. *I hope I can still keep up
with the training Lylianna demands*, she thought. A sudden knock at the
door jarred her from her thoughts.Bookmark here

Amalthea stood in the open doorway with the others close by her side.
Aryia would have normally stood to show respect to Amalthea as all the
Black Knights did, however, due to her knee she was allowed to stay
where she was.Bookmark here

“Oh Princess, it is surprising seeing you here. I would stand but my
knee still hasn’t healed enough yet.”Bookmark here

A soft giggle escaped Amalthea’s mouth as she stepped into the room.Bookmark here

“You know Aryia, I am a queen now. That means you have to address me as
such.”Bookmark here

“I told you Aryia,” Lylianna said.Bookmark here

“However, I don’t mind if you continue to call me princess,” Amalthea
said with a wink.Bookmark here

A large grin came over Aryia’s face.Bookmark here

“Ha. Pay up Lylianna.”Bookmark here

As Lylianna walked over to her she had an ill‑mannered look of annoyance
across her face. Lylianna pulled out her wallet along with one hundred
Yukaris, and handed it to Aryia. It was hard for Aryia not to continue
grinning over her victory with Lylianna, however, her grin quickly
turned into pain as Lylianna flicked Aryia’s wounded knee gently.Bookmark here

“You two had a bet going… involving me?”Bookmark here

“We sure did Princess. Lylianna thought you would force me to address
you by your formal title but I bet her that you would be the
kind‑hearted person you are and allow me to continue calling you as I
always have.”Bookmark here

Amalthea turned to Lylianna and made an almost adorable pouting face.Bookmark here

“Lydia, I am shocked you would think I would force someone to do
something as simple as that!”Bookmark here

“I am sorry my lady.”Bookmark here

“Its fine. Anyways, Aryia when do you think you will be able to get up
and walk again?” Amalthea asked as she turned to Aryia.Bookmark here

“Hopefully soon, Princess.”Bookmark here

“Okay, well, I need to get back to the castle to do *fun* business
stuff,” Amalthea said as she rolled her eyes.Bookmark here

Aryia smiled gently as she figured it was paperwork that would be to
boring to someone like Amalthea. As she turned for the doorway Lylianna
stopped her.Bookmark here

“Wait, my lady. Did you forget the reason you came here?”Bookmark here

“The reason…”Bookmark here

She turned around to face Aryia. Amalthea was unsure about what she
could have forgotten. After a few seconds of thinking she finally
remembered what she had forgotten.Bookmark here

“Oh right! Aryia, I wanted to promote you to the rank of Sergeant.”Bookmark here

The idea of being promoted was the last thought that entered Aryia’s
mind. She was at a loss for words as she continued to remain speechless,
her mouth slightly hanging open. Aryia suddenly felt Lylianna elbow her
in the ribs.Bookmark here

“This is where you say thank you Aryia.”Bookmark here

“Ri‑Right. Thank you so much Princess, truly.”Bookmark here

Without warning Amalthea ran up to Aryia and wrapped her arms around her
neck, hugging her gently.Bookmark here

“No need to thank me. Just get back on your feet so you can protect me
too,” she said with a smile.Bookmark here

“Of course, Princess.”Bookmark here

Amalthea — along with the rest of the Knights — left the room leaving
only Lylianna behind. She turned to Aryia who was wondering why she had
stayed behind.Bookmark here

“We will be getting new recruits soon. I hope you will be up to the task
of training them once you can walk, Sergeant.”Bookmark here

“Of course, Major.”Bookmark here

Lylianna smiled faintly as she headed out the door.Bookmark here

\* \* \*Bookmark here

Several weeks had passed as the end of the closing summer month would
soon turn into fall. Aryia was finally able to put a bit of pressure
onto her leg without her knee hating her for it, although, she still had
to be careful not to over work herself and end up bedridden again. As
the clock struck mid‑day Aryia found herself heading out to the training
field where the Knights would usually train. She had been lucky enough
to get a ride out to the field by one of the Military Police Officers on
duty. After dropping her off, he quickly left heading back to the city.Bookmark here

Lylianna stood in the open grasslands staring out at the horizon. As
Aryia made her way to Lylianna she could see her eating a chocolate bar.Bookmark here

“You must love chocolate.”Bookmark here

“That should be obvious.”Bookmark here

As Lylianna took another bite of her chocolate bar a light breeze
rustled the grass beneath them.Bookmark here

“So, when did you find time to pick out new recruits?”Bookmark here

“I made fliers and stuck them on different walls in the city. Also, I
asked some people I knew to hand them out when they headed off to
neighboring cities, towns, and villages.”Bookmark here

“And you are going to weed out the weak ones by putting them through
some kind of boot camp like the other branches I take it?”Bookmark here

“Exactly. Those that sign up for this are warned in advance that they
could lose their lives during training so I honestly would be surprised
to even get three recruits, if that.”Bookmark here

As Lylianna took another bite of her chocolate bar the sounds of a truck
could be heard in the distance. The cargo truck pulled off to the side
of the road, letting out close to two dozen recruits. Most of the
recruits were men in their early to mid‑twenties and still only held the
rank of Private while a few held the rank of Corporal. Among the half of
a dozen men were a few women as well.Bookmark here

Aryia was shocked to see among all the recruits that Emilia, Alice,
Izumi and Mari had all signed up. She became so overjoyed as she tried
to head over to her friend. Before Aryia could move Lylianna grabbed her
by the collar and whispered into her ear.Bookmark here

“Be professional.”Bookmark here

“Right, right.”Bookmark here

All the recruits lined up as Lylianna stood in front of them, her face
showing no sign of compassion. Aryia knew this expression all to well.
The face of someone serious who was ready to put the recruits through
the ringer.Bookmark here

“Attention!”Bookmark here

Lylianna’s voice rang out, striking fear into the hearts of the
recruits. All of them snapped to attention faster then a board snapping
in half. Aryia continued to stand at ease while she watched Lylianna
pace back and forth.Bookmark here

“All of you are here because you believe you have what it takes to join
the Black Knights. We will see in time.”Bookmark here

She continued to pace back and forth as she sized up each of the
recruits.Bookmark here

“You will be put through hell with your training. Some of you may die.
If you don’t think you can do it, then get back on that truck.”Bookmark here

After a few seconds a few of the privates dropped out of line and headed
for the cargo truck, their heads held down in shame. Lylianna continued
down the line of recruits staring each one in the eyes.Bookmark here

“If you think you need motivation from someone then this is not the
branch of the military for you.”Bookmark here

A few more soldiers dropped out of line.Bookmark here

“If you fall no one will pick you up. If you need medical attention you
will patch yourself up.”Bookmark here

Even more soldiers dropped from the line until only Mari, Izumi Alice
and Emilia remained standing at attention. Lylianna glared into Mari’s
eyes. Aryia could feel death in Lylianna’s stare.Bookmark here

“Keep in mind your friends won’t help you.”Bookmark here

Mari felt fear growing deep inside the pit of her stomach as she stared
into her piercing green eye.Bookmark here

“Now, if anyone wishes to drop out you better do it now.”Bookmark here

No one said a word as Lylianna looked to her watch. All of them
continued to stand at attention. Lylianna then looked to the remaining
soldiers standing in line.Bookmark here

“All right, your training begins now. You will do one hundred push‑ups
in two minutes. If you do less then that you fail.”Bookmark here

Lylianna pulled out a stopwatch as she looked to the recruits.Bookmark here

“And… begin!”Bookmark here

While Emilia quickly got into the push‑up position the others seemed
surprised by the number of push‑ups Lylianna wanted them to do in just a
short amount of time. Aryia watched as all of them tried to do push‑ups
as fast as they could. She could tell that Mari would struggle through
the Black Knight training as she was not the most physically fit. Of all
of the new recruits Emilia was the most likely candidate to get into the
Black Knights.Bookmark here

“One minute,” Lylianna called out.Bookmark here

Emilia had managed to finish the one hundred push‑ups and continued
until she hit over one‑hundred twenty. Izumi and Alice were getting
close to the one‑hundred mark while Mari was closing in on the fifty
mark.Bookmark here

“Thirty seconds.”Bookmark here

As Izumi and Alice finished their set Mari continued onwards.Bookmark here

“Ten seconds.”Bookmark here

The others stood at attention as Mari was closing in on the one‑hundred
mark.Bookmark here

“Thee… two… one…”Bookmark here

After Mari had finished she quickly stood to attention like the others
just barely able to stand.Bookmark here

“Stop.”Bookmark here

Lylianna looked over the recruits, taking note that Mari looked ready to
fall to the ground.Bookmark here

“Next one‑hundred sit‑ups in two minutes. Go!”Bookmark here

Everyone was taken aback by the lack of a break but in a way it made
sense. Aryia knew all to well the training the four of them were going
through. The pain of doing exercises in only two minutes, and what was
to follow…Bookmark here

Mari lagged behind just as before, finishing the second Lylianna called
time. After pulling out a map Lylianna handed it over to Emilia.Bookmark here

“All of you will run two point forty‑one kilometers to the location
marked on the map. If any one of you fails to make it then none of you
pass.”Bookmark here

Fear engulfed the recruits as they stood there in shock. Aryia knew why
Lylianna was doing this. She was inadvertently trying to get them to
work together. Even if the Black Knights were capable of working alone,
they also needed to know how to work in a team.Bookmark here

“You have nine minutes to make it. Begin!”Bookmark here

Without another warning everyone started running for the city while
Aryia and Lylianna watched them.Bookmark here

“Almost two and a half kilometers in nine minutes? That is nothing
compared to what you make us actually run,” Aryia said as she looked
over to Lylianna.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, once they make it past all the basic training they will
come to know the real training.”Bookmark here

“I take it Melissa will be taking part in that training.”Bookmark here

“Of course. I can’t have any member of the Black Knights knowing secret
information, only to get captured and tell it to an enemy.”Bookmark here

“I hope Mari will be able to handle it.”Bookmark here

“Doubt it. However, I have been wrong before.”Bookmark here

“Still mad about losing those one hundred Yukaris?”Bookmark here

“Shut up…”Bookmark here

“Want a chance to win them back,” Aryia teased.Bookmark here

“Its fine.”Bookmark here

“How about this, if she fails I will be your slave for a day.”Bookmark here

“You are confident. Very well, if Mari gives up at any point during her
training then you will lose and be my slave for a whole day.”Bookmark here

“All right then.”Bookmark here

After shaking on it the two of them headed for the cargo truck that
continued to remain parked on the side of the road. Lylianna sat in the
middle of the seat while Aryia sat in the passenger seat. The driver
turned the vehicle around and headed for the city at Lylianna’s orders.
As the truck passed the recruits Aryia noticed Mari was gradually
falling behind.Bookmark here

The truck stopped in front of the East Wing of the Administrative
Building prompting Lylianna and Aryia to get out. Once the two of them
were standing in front of the building the truck continued on to its
final destination.Bookmark here

“I believe you remember this building.”Bookmark here

The two of them headed inside the building as Aryia recalled the
memories of that day.Bookmark here

“How could I forget?”Bookmark here

As they stopped in front of the room Aryia began to have flashbacks. She
recalled how she believed she was ready to join the Black Knights and
quickly headed to room A6. On that day she knew what it was like to see
fear; to taste fear…Bookmark here

Upon entering the room Aryia noticed there were four syringes on the
wooden desk with a blue liquid substance in them. Aryia could only guess
they would be used to drug the recruits and take them to the holding
cell.Bookmark here

“Any reason why there are four syringes on that desk?” Aryia asked.Bookmark here

“Four syringes, four people.”Bookmark here

“There is no way you could have known the four of them would make it.”Bookmark here

“Honestly, I wasn’t even planning on those four making it. I just wanted
four new members to help with other missions.”Bookmark here

“Other missions?”Bookmark here

“As a five person unit we are spread thin. While we guard the queen the
others can focus on keep pace and patrolling the city.”Bookmark here

“So, more manpower basically.”Bookmark here

“Pretty much.”Bookmark here

\* \* \*Bookmark here

Aryia laid there in her bed looking over the book *Torture & Terror: The
Psychological War* Lylianna had recommended for her to read. Part of
Aryia was scared and disgusted as she read the numerous ways in which a
human could be tortured but part of her understood why it was sometimes
necessary to do inhuman things to evil people to get vital information
that could save lives. Lylianna entered the room and sat down on her bed
as she untied her boots.Bookmark here

“It is your turn to feed them.”Bookmark here

After removing her boots Lylianna laid down into the comfort of her own
bed as Aryia got up from her own. She headed down into the kitchen and
grabbed a bowl of rice. It had been five days since the new recruits had
been locked up in the holding cell that Aryia once found herself in. As
she made her way down into the dark damp dungeon she began to have
flashbacks of all the torture she went through. *After all this time I
still remember it*, Aryia thought as she stopped at the cell that held
the recruits.Bookmark here

Aryia could see the fear in their eyes and body. She knew exactly what
they were going through. They were stripped down to their underwear, the
same as Aryia had been. One silver bucket sat in the corner filled only
half‑way with their bodily fluids. It was a sad sight for Aryia,
watching these girls hold on to each other… shaking from the fear of
what Melissa was doing to each of them.Bookmark here

Mari and Alice appeared to be having it the worse of all of them. Both
girls hugged each other closely while Izumi and Emilia sat side by side
on one end of the cell. Aryia could tell that the two of them were
slowly losing their nerves and their minds. As Aryia dropped the single
bowl of rice into the cell the four girls converged on the bowl like
wolves.Bookmark here

*They need to learn to be calm*, Aryia thought as she sat down in the
wooden chair across from the cell. Mari looked up to Aryia as she
stuffed what rice she could in her mouth. The poor girl appeared to be
on the verge of tears.Bookmark here

“A‑Aryia, did you have to go through all this too?” Mari asked.Bookmark here

“I did, of course, I had to go it alone.”Bookmark here

“How did you do it?” Izumi asked as she sat against the cold brick wall.Bookmark here

“You have to push your mind past your limits. You live everyday as if
you are on the battlefield… fighting to survive.”Bookmark here

“But what if we can’t do that?” Emilia asked as she shoved more rice
into her mouth.Bookmark here

“Then it is simple…”Bookmark here

Aryia got up from the chair and headed down the hallway for the door.Bookmark here

“You die.”Bookmark here

Her voice echo down the hallway and into the cell. After that the only
sound the four girls heard was a door closing shut. Part of Aryia wanted
to help those poor girls but she knew that she couldn’t. They needed to
learn on their own.Bookmark here

As Aryia entered the bedroom she noticed Lylianna was reading a book
entitled *Twilight’s Dawn*. She looked up from her book and up at Aryia.Bookmark here

“How did it go?”Bookmark here

“Basically, I told them they had to push past their limits or die.”Bookmark here

“Sounds like something I would say.”Bookmark here

“I guess I am slowly turning into you more and more each day.”Bookmark here

“Until you can stop time you aren’t like me.”Bookmark here

“You know, in all the time I have known you I still don’t know what it
is like to see your magic from your perspective.”Bookmark here

“I can’t exactly do that… or rather… I don’t want to do something like
that just for fun.”Bookmark here

“Is it more draining on you?”Bookmark here

“Yes.”Bookmark here

“What is it like?”Bookmark here

“You would think having the power to stop time around you would be the
greatest magic in the world but what isn’t great is what this magic does
to a person.”Bookmark here

Lylianna sat up from her bed as Aryia made her way over to her, sitting
down beside her.Bookmark here

“This magic doesn’t just physically drain me like other magic, it also
drains me mentally. Ten seconds is the maximum time I can spend casting
this magic… that is, at most, ten seconds spent lost from reality.”Bookmark here

“I am not sure I get what you mean.”Bookmark here

“It is like…”Bookmark here

Lylianna got up from her bed and paced back and forth as her brain tried
to think of a way to explain what it was like to Aryia. Several minutes
passed in silence until Lylianna finally looked to her.Bookmark here

“It is like a fully loaded gun. You have all the clips in your magazine,
you are whole. Firing a shot is like using the magic, you lose a part of
yourself into the abyss.”Bookmark here

“I think I get it now… I am sorry you have to go through that…”Bookmark here

Lylianna walked over to Aryia and wrapped her arms around her neck as
she straddled her hips. With a cute but faint smile she kissed Aryia’s
forehead.Bookmark here

“Don’t be. I am fine with it. Better me then some other person.”Bookmark here

Aryia smiled as Lylianna kissed her lips slowly.Bookmark here

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