Princess Luna stood on the observation platform looking through the telescope. Iridescence, Miley, Harvest, and I were behind her. “They’re attacking the barrier but it is still holding,” she said, concern clear in her voice.
“What are they, Princess?” Miley asked.
“I am not certain. I have never seen beasts such as these… but I have also been gone for quite some time.”
A new threat it was to be then. “We should warn the captain,” I suggested.
“The wedding has already started… It is too late,” Iridescence responded.
She was right. “That is true, but we have to try. Miley, get down to the throne room and try to warn the captain. If you can’t, find the lieutenant. Harvest, go inform the sergeant. Princess, I think we should go inside.”
Miley nodded and took off. “Yes, boss!”
Harvest followed after her on his own mission.
Princess Luna nodded. “Agreed,” she said as she made her way into the tower.
Iridescence followed and I took up the rear so that I could close and bar the door. We headed down the stairs thinking it would be best to get the princess to her chambers. They were closer to the rest of her House Guard.
We were halfway down when everything started to fall apart. From the windows we saw the barrier suddenly collapse and the creatures started raining down into the city and onto the palace.
“Move!” Iridescence shouted and took off down the stairs to clear a path in front of the princess.
Speed was the critical factor here. We needed to be where all of the other guards were. Thankfully the palace walls were keeping most of the creatures at bay but the windows were proving to be a liability. When we reached the ground floor and came out into the hallway it was pandemonium.
The row of glass nearest the stairwell had been shattered and more than a dozen of the creatures had gotten in. Starry Spur, Risky Storm, and several other guards there were struggling with them and things went from bad to worse. In a swirl of fire the beasts assumed the shape of the pony they were fighting. Knowing friend from foe would be near impossible.
“Stay close to me, Princess,” Iridescence shouted over the melee and her horn ignited into a brilliant royal blue flame. From the aether a dome appeared and surrounded both mares. It was a protection spell not unlike the one the captain used but much smaller. Translucent silver shields danced along the mystical energy and protected the two of them from harm.
Iridescence led the way, pushing aside ponies and beasts alike while concentrating on her magic. I followed close behind and helped who I could but our priority was to get Princess Luna to her chambers. That is the tough part about being a guard… knowing when to leave your brothers and sisters to do your duty.
We cleared the hall and found Miley, Harvest, Lavender, and a few of the others staring at Lieutenant Dyke. He was looking out the window as the creatures rained down on Canterlot.
Miley called out to me, “I told the lieutenant. He hasn’t moved…”
I rushed over and shook him. “Sir, orders?”
Lieutenant Dyke looked over at me. “We’re doomed,” he said. “Look at the city. There isn’t any hope.”
The first word out of my mouth shouldn’t be repeated but after I said it I wheeled on the others. “Listen up. We still have a job to do and we’re going to do it. Iridescence and I are taking the Princess to her chambers. Miley, take Harvest and two others and get to the captain. Whatever it takes. The rest of you bring up the rear behind us. There are a lot of these things in the palace. I need to know they won’t be nipping at our flanks. They can transform to look like us so when you address another guard use the phrase, guard the moon.
“If someone says guard the moon to you, you respond, and the cookies. Pass the word to anyone who seems trustworthy and hope that these things can’t talk. If anyone doesn’t use the right code assume they’re the enemy. Are we clear?” I said sternly.
The group nodded and hurried off to their new assignments.
“What about the lieutenant?” Iridescence asked me.
“No time for him,” I said and moved on. That seemed good enough for the Princess and Iridescence because they both followed me. A few of the remaining guards followed slower, watching our backs.
We reached Princess Luna’s chambers and got her inside. Iridescence and I pushed the large doors closed and locked them. I breathed a sigh of relief and then started to look around to make certain none of the creatures had beaten us there and hidden somewhere.
Iridescence let her spell drop and huffed. Magic takes a lot out of you I’m told and she had held that spell for a while. “What do we do now?”
Certain we were alone, I gestured to Princess Luna. “Stay here and protect the princess no matter what.”
Princess Luna was strangely silent. A shiver ran along her spine and she murmured, “I fear my sister has been injured. I felt it when it happened.”
Gravely, I nodded. “Then it is that much more important that we protect you, Princess. Equestria will need their lady of the night.”
Both Iridescence and I crossed the room to the alicorn and stood close to her. Probably too close but personal space wasn’t a concern at that moment.
The chamber was silent which allowed us the unfortunate opportunity to hear the horrible sounds coming from the city below and the palace itself. The roar of battle and, oddly enough, an explosion or two. My thoughts briefly turned to Runic but I quickly focused back on the task at hand.
Across Princess Luna’s chambers the large glass door leading to her balcony shattered and a dozen or so of the creatures flew in. A dozen was too many for the two of us. I placed myself between Princess Luna and the beasts and called to Iridescence, “Go get help. I’ll hold them as long as I can.”
“No, what about you?” she asked.
“We’re not arguing now; go!” I shouted and that got her moving. She galloped to the door and started to work the lock.
The creatures started to close on me and Princess Luna. Twelve against one… that was beyond my training. From over my shoulder I felt a sudden heat. A pure, blue beam of light blasted past me and swept across eight of the creatures, throwing them hard against the wall. They landed with a loud thud and fell to the floor.
It is easy to forget that not all very important ponies are the same. My VIP was an alicorn with devastating powers. “Great work princess,” I cheered as I charged the four remaining beasts.
“Verily!” she shouted and reared up. From her horn another blast shot out and caught one of the invaders that was moving too slow.
In my charge I bowled over two of the creatures, knocking them aside, and locking up with the third. We went chest to chest and I quickly brought a hoof against the side of its head and sent it reeling.
“Protect the moon,” I heard Iridescence gasp. I stole a quick look to the door. There were three palace guards walking in and they weren’t responding. We were trapped. They set on Iridescence immediately.
One of the creatures I had knocked down got to its feet behind me and clearly thought it had the upper hoof. With all my might I leaned forward and bucked. Both hindhooves caught it right in the chest and sent it sailing across the room.
Iridescence’s magic flashed on and off. Silver shields burned into reality to block blows but she was facing three attackers who had caught her off guard. The odds were stacking up against us.
Two more creatures flew in through the window and I leapt into the air to tackle one. We crashed into a chair and I clocked it hard enough to knock it unconscious. Over my shoulder I heard the sound of horn screeching across armor and then a surprised yelp.
I watched in horror as Iridescence went down. The three creatures standing over her were stomping and seemed ready to finish the job. Two others were making their way towards Princess Luna. My heart raced and my eyes met hers. I tried to apologize as I turned from her and charged the doorway.
With all my might I threw my weight against the three creatures. I hit them so hard the room spun and my vision went black momentarily. When I came to I grabbed Iridescence by the collar of her armor,drug her into the room, and then slammed the door.
It only took a few seconds but I knew the beasts would have reached the Princess. She had a hoof up and deftly smashed it down on a creature in front of her. Thank Celestia she wasn’t hurt. The other was getting ready to attack but I was too fast for it. Being a pegasus has its perks. I was able to fly from the door and crash into the would-be attacker before it could even get started.
With a quick strike of my hoof the last creature was out cold. I panted as I looked around to see if there were any left. Things were relatively quiet again and I hurried over to Iridescence to check her injuries. I couldn’t even look at Princess Luna but I felt her eyes on me.
Iridescence’s armor had been damaged near the back. It was gashed by one of the creature’s horn. Near the back of her flank they had gotten her. I grimaced a bit at the wound. It would be painful but probably not life threatening. Other than that she was dinged up and bruised from the stomping and her foreleg did not look quite right the way it was bent.
Pulling my small first aid kit out I set to work and stopped the bleeding. She was breathing heavily and in pain but she stared at me, her eyes reminding me of my failure. I finished up and rose to check the princess. I trotted over with my head down. I didn’t want to look her in the eyes. I had abandoned her to save Iridescence. We’re just lucky nothing happened.
“Are you uninjured, Princess?” I asked her.
Her mane shifted in my vision, clearly a nod, “I am fine, Silent Knight. You fought valiantly.”
“Thank you,” I said numbly and moved about the room. I dragged the unconscious creatures to the balcony door and pushed them out of the room. Some stirred and I gave them a quick stomp to ensure they remained out cold.
Princess Luna tended Iridescence while I tried to focus on the task at hoof. I needed to get a plan together. I was the only combat-ready defender left there. If these things made another push I would have to rely on the princess’s magic until she tired. Alicorns are very powerful but they needed rest like anypony else.
It was a futile gesture but I pushed a couch across the room and in front of the balcony door. It barely covered half of the opening but it would work for the time being. I stood on it and prepared myself to stop any creature from entering. From that vantage point I could see Canterlot. It was in bad shape. Chaos was reigning.
My eyes focused on Runic’s shop. All around it I could see smoke clouds of different colors and the occasional explosion. I almost felt sorry for any of the beasts that took on my cousin. Explosions were his calling card and he knew how to create some pretty volatile and possibly illegal stuff. I hoped I’d get to see him again. I’d need a job after I was relieved from duty, assuming anypony survived.
Sadness hung over me like a cloud and I started to see Lieutenant Dyke’s point of view. Maybe he had known something I didn’t? Quickly I shook my head and chased away the bad thoughts. “No,” I mumbled darkly. Mistakes or not I still had a duty.
Reaching under my armor I produced the sword Runic had given me. I hefted it to my mouth and glared out of the broken door, daring anything to come towards me… but nothing did. I felt Shining Armor’s barrier pass over me and watched as the invaders were thrown from Canterlot. Cheers broke out in the city and the hallway. It was over… we had won.
I returned the sword to its scabbard and hopped down from the couch. Crossing the floor to Iridescence I checked on her once again. Princess Luna was sitting over the mare and stroking her mane. They both looked pale. I trotted over to the door and unlocked it. Pulling it open, I shouted, “Medic! Medic to Princess Luna’s chambers.”
The cheers of joy went silent and I heard other voices calling for medics. Too many voices. Despite that it wasn’t long before two of them showed up and carried Iridescence away to the infirmary, leaving me alone with the princess. I turned to her and walked over.
I finally met her eyes with my own. There was no accusation or anger there. I saw no disappointment but I felt it in my heart. I knelt down onto the floor, laid my head by her hooves, and whispered meekly, “I’m sorry, Princess. I failed you.”
Princess Luna placed her hoof under my chin and lifted it, forcing me to look at her once more. “Thou did not fail me Silent Knight. Thou assessed that I was in less danger and saved thy companion. Iridescence may very well have died had you not intervened.”
“My duty is to you,” I said softly.
“Thy duty is to protect the little guy. Learn this lesson well, Silent Knight: duty is important but if it blinds a pony and causes him to act foolishly he may not be able to live with the consequences. Would thou rather Iridescence have died?”
The words were cold against me and my heart ached, “No, Princess. Never.”
“Then thy duty has been fulfilled. She yet lives and I am unscathed. The spirit of thy code is as important as the writing. Rise now. We would not want the others to see you in this state. Thou have inspired them and a good leader keeps their own doubts hidden and shared with only the appropriate audience.”
She was right. I could feel sorry for myself later. Rising up, I straightened my armor and wiped my face off. I went to the door and called, “Two guards to Princess Luna’s chamber. Now.”
Miley Hooves came around the corner with… one of the archive guards? I didn’t have time to figure out what he was doing here. Miley was limping a bit but otherwise looked well. “Yes boss!” She responded.
“Are you alright?” I asked her.
“Well enough boss, I’ll see the medic later. There are too many others worse off. Two guards, reporting for duty,” she said proudly, stiffening to attention. The archive guard did the same.
I dared to smile ever so slightly. “Good. You two stay with Princess Luna. I need to find the sergeant and an officer.”
Miley’s head ducked a bit. “The sergeant is in the infirmary. She got banged up pretty bad. The lieutenant too… not that he was any help.”
The captain’s gut had been right. “Alright then. Until proven otherwise I’m in command.” I said confidently even though I felt anything but. “Don’t leave the princess’s side.” I then lightly clapped a hoof on the archive guard’s shoulder. He was a fellow pegasus and straw-colored. “Congratulations, welcome to Princess Luna’s House Guard.”
The pegasus blinked and nodded, “Thank you…”
I left the room and went out into the hall. It was a mess. Furniture was overturned, glass was broken, and it was clear there had been one hay of a fight. All of the wounded were gone, leaving the bewildered guards aimless and without direction.
Approaching the first gaggle of guards, I stomped a hoof down to get their attention. “You three.” I pointed at the group on the left. “Guard duty outside of Princess Luna’s chambers. Right now. Go.” They did so and I pointed at the remaining ponies in order. “Lavender, get to the throne room and see if the captain is there. If he is, tell him I have things under control but need an officer immediately. Risky Storm, courier duty. Get to the city command building and ask for the damage and casualty reports. Starry Spur, up to the observation tower and make certain the creatures are gone. Sound the alarm if you see any.”
I may not be a sergeant or an officer but I’ve found that guards listen when somepony takes charge. They all did just that and hurried off to do what I had told them. That freed me up to make my rounds and collect guards to assign to positions on the floor that the two princesses occupied. That kept me busy and focused on the here and now, not the future.