Honor, by: Semper Fidelis
Honor: Verb: To fulfill (an obligation) or keep (an agreement). Or, to pay public respect to.
I watched as he stood at attention on the balcony, stoic as ever. His gaze fixed on the land down below. The city of Canterlot below his hooves, along with towns glowing dimly far of in the distance. He looked ghostly in the moonlight. The stars over his head gingerly twinkling. I must admit, he did always seem to look handsome when he's up there.
The cold night's wind softly blowing his armor; the mail and inter-locking plates rippling in small waves in response. With every breath he took, a small plume of mist would be carried of, slowly dissipating in the air. I slowly approached, taking one silent step at a time. I know he comes here to be alone, but that is just the thing. He comes here every night for almost two years. Whether it be pouring rain or freezing cold. Or even both. When ever I can, I just watch him stand there. I've tried talk to him, but with only limited success. Every time I see him, he always seems troubled by something. I understand him for trying to cope with what ever is his burden, I truly do. But why does he persist on carrying it alone? I took a step more, desperate not to alert him.
“I know you're there” He stated.
“It's awful cold out here.” I said. But gained no response.
“Why don't you come inside?” I tried to make it sound tempting, but he wasn't buying.
“Is there something on you mind?” I asked, expecting the usual response. Either silence, or we would have a small conversation that ultimately led to him requesting that I leave.
I never seemed to get to deep with him no matter how hard I tried. But this time, I'm not letting him close me out. So I slowly walked up the remainder of the shallow steps. Stopping at his side to gaze out into the distance with him. After a while, he must have realized I wasn't going anywhere. Something stirred in him. He turned his head turned slightly, just enough that I could see the corner of his eye.
“You're persistent, I'll give you that.” He returned to his head to its original position, letting out a minute sigh.
“Why do you stand here every night?” I asked. It took a moment for him to respond.
“I must remain vigilant. It is my duty.” He stated,
“You plan to watch all of Equestria from here?”
“I can try.” He went quiet for a while after saying that.
I hated when he shut me out; as he did to almost everyone. But then again, I admired it. Normally a Guard would give me their undivided attention, but him, he was different. I would walk by and he wouldn't say a word; he'd just give me the mandatory nod of the head in greeting, then return to his mechanical stare-to-nowhere. To sum it all up, he wasn't a kiss up to the princess. Prime example, he isn't even supposed to be on this balcony. And yet if I said anything, he would probably disregard it. I looked into his eyes, they seemed to sparkle in the night. But there was something he was hiding, I just had to find a way to get him to let me in. I think I have a way to break him this time.
“Why did you join?” I asked, his eyes widened just a tad when I said that.
“Hmm?” Bingo. I'm in.
“Why did you join the Guard?” It took him a while to respond.
“Honor” He said,
“Care to explain?”
“I joined because...I needed to regain my honor.”
“How did you lose it?” That was the wrong thing for me to say. I felt him lose interest and begin to shut me out. I didn't want to do this, but I can't let him push me away.
“Guard, I order you to answer my question.” I stated in a authoritative tone.
“Choke on horse-apples” He retorted gruffly.
A gasp escaped my lips. Another guard would have been begging on his knees for forgiveness just for thinking about saying that. But he remained unmoved, not even turning his eyes to look at me when he talks. Time for plan B.
“Pretty please” I implored in a foal-like tone, hoping to tug perhaps on his heart strings.
He let out a sigh, finally turning his head to look at me. I was expecting him to be either agitated by my asking; or amused by my degrading plea. But when his luscious eyes met mine, there was something else. Sadness. Looking at me as if to say 'please don't make me talk about it'. He returned to looking out into the distance.
“I lost it two years ago. When my brother died” His voice carried a weight of pain and regret.
“He joined the Guard a few years back. Said it was the best job in the world. Every day he'd beg me to join him. 'we'd be the ultimate team' he'd say. I always said I was never cut out for it. Truthfully, I was just scared.” He begun,
“Then two years ago, he and his unit were on a mission in search for a missing pony somewhere near Ghastly Gorge. They were ambushed by quarry eels.” He paused for a moment.
“Well..all they found was a broken spear...” His voice began to crack up.
He tilted his head down; closing his eyes tightly as if it was killing him just to remember. He took a deep breath, then he returned to his original position. His expression completely blank, soulless almost.
“...and a piece of his helmet” He finished.
My eyes were already dripping with tears. I remember when that happened. I understand his pain now. I know all to well what it is like to lose a sibling. You feel a hole in you being, a piece missing from your soul. To lose family is to lose part of yourself. But... Luna came back. I regretted making him talk about it. He hid his emotions very well, but I could tell he was crying on the inside. Bottling up his emotions in a jar already full. I hate myself sometimes.
“That's why I joined. I wasn't there when he needed me. I was a lousy coward.” He looked downward to the city of Canterlot.
I joined him in the view. Ponies were out and about, going along their own business. Visiting stores, going for a walk, chatting with friends at small cafe's, dancing to the music of street musicians, and much more. It was all a lovely sight seeing my little ponies happy. Without any fear, without any enemies.
“I had to regain my honor” He started, “I swore I will fight for them. Like he did for me...and may death be the only thing that stops me.”
I had no idea how to respond to that. It was such an admirable, yet morbid statement. I could only stare at him. He was so resolute in his decision. Not showing any signs of having a second thought.
“He told me that some nights he would would sneak up here. Spending hours just looking of into the distance.” He begun,
“That's why I stand here every night. I feel... closer to him here.”
“I-I’m so sorry” I managed to stammer,
“Keep your 'sorry'. I don't want it and I don't need it. I’m not doing all this for you.” His voice carried off as he finished that sentence. The vapor slowly being pulled away from his mouth by the frosty wind. We stood in silence again.
To say his intentions are noble would be and understatement. But his plans would ultimately lead to his demise. He would perhaps die a hero, but a lonely one. His mind has been made up, his fate determined. No, I can't let him. I can't let him do this to himself. He deserves more from life. He deserves better.
“I've answered your question. You can leave now.” He said,
He's closed down for tonight. But I’ve made good progress. I will bet my crown that I’m the only pony he's ever trusted enough to tell this to, let alone even talk to for this long. Perhaps I can get more from him tomorrow. I turned about, ready to leave, but I decided to leave him with something. I slowly lowered my head, and placed a small, soft kiss on his helmet. The cold metal tickled my lips. I pulled back to look at him once more. He didn't seem to moved by my gesture. It is difficult to tell if he cared for it. His eyes remained locked on the lands below. Well, it was worth a shot.
“Goodnight.” I said with a warm smile.
I begun to trot down the shallow steps. As I reached the door I heard him speak in a soft voice.
I took one last look at him, he remained unmoved from his self-assigned post. Still standing at attention with his gaze upon the horizon. I reentered the castle, leaving him be for the night I do not yet understand his need for honor, but I can see its importance to him. Like the saying goes; “Life, every stallion holds dear; but the dear stallion holds honor far more precious dear than life”.