• Published 8th Jul 2014
  • 7,701 Views, 885 Comments

The Guardian of the Night - Car Cloth

The Royal Guard has intensified their training regimen after countless attacks on Canterlot. After months of hard training, they only accept the best of the best. Pipsqueak signs up to join these elite soldiers in order to protect a certain princess.

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The Book of Alicorns

Pip pushed the door in an attempt to enter the Twilight Sparkle Wing. It was locked. Of course it is, Pip thought to himself with a laugh. It’s not open to the public… For a moment, Pip almost took the inconvenience as a sign. Maybe he shouldn’t be doing this. But he didn’t want to give up that easily.

Glancing around the library, Pip made sure nopony was watching as he trotted over to the nearest window. The glass itself had swirly decorative frosting and etchings, the added detail bordered on gaudy, but the best part about the window was that it could be opened. Pip shoved it upward and, surprisingly, had to strain in order to get it open enough to jump through. Once outside, he shut the window behind him and cautiously trotted through the shrubbery. He circled around until he made it to the outside of the new wing that had been added to the library.

The sun had almost set, making it difficult to see, but he eventually spotted a window that was slightly cracked open. It was on the second story of the new wing, but, luckily for him, there was a tree nearby. He climbed to the highest branch and leapt for the window, the force of his jump raining leaves all over the once pristine landscaping.

Half dangling on the window sill, Pip used his strength to force open the window. This one, thankfully, had been much easier than the last. He pulled himself up and jumped into the library. Pip took a moment to look over his shoulder. He knew Thunder Clash’s training had to be paying off. He didn’t even feel winded.

Pip turned his attention back to the library. Although this was the height of a second story, it was more of a loft and balcony overlooking the first floor. Pip was standing next to a comfortable looking chair that was occupied by a sole book. Had someone been reading here and forgotten to close the window when they were done? It didn’t matter. All that mattered now was that he was inside.

He trotted down the stairs and began scanning the bookshelves. There were hundreds of books here as well… Pip sighed. Still determined to complete his task, he began reading the titles. If he removed them from the bookshelf, he knew he would need to replace them in the exact same spot as before, lest his illicit activities be discovered.

Title after title… nothing was calling to him. Nothing looked like it would help. If there wasn’t the right book here, then he would never find it. He didn’t know of many libraries and, the few he did know about, were far away.

Pip trotted around an aisle and noticed boxes upon boxes of books that had yet to be put away. He immediately began rummaging through them. Unlike the ones on the shelf, he suspected that he could get away with moving these. Glancing through the contents of each one concerning magic, Pip found that time was just slipping by.

When the night was fully upon the castle, glowing crystals came into effect to offer minimal lighting. Pip had to sit around them and squint, but it was all for naught. None of the books he was glancing through had anything relevant to offer him, though some were fascinating in their own right. I didn’t know ponies could be turned into potted plants…

Three whole boxes worth of searching and nothing was found. Pip hung his head and sighed. Pushing the boxes to the side, he got up and went for the shelves again. Out of the corner of his eye, Pip noticed a desk at the far back of the room. It was piled high with papers, scrolls and open books.

Pip wandered over to it and began looking over the paperwork. Most of it had to do with the theory that magic was somehow tied to emotions. Friendship, love… there were so many sources and examples of Equestrian magic being based on the purest form of affection, that it was hard to see anything else. Even though that was mildly interesting, it wasn’t what Pip was looking for. He gently pushed some of the paperwork aside and searched deeper. His attention was pulled into full focus when he read the title of a certain book:

The Book of Alicorns

He gently removed it from the stack and frowned. It was a bound book, but there were loose papers and scroll fragments stuffed within each and every page. Pip slowly opened the book.

Written by Twilight Sparkle

Flipping through the pages, Pip realized it was completely written in her hoof-writing. Half-way through the book, however, her writing stopped. The book wasn’t complete. Pip took a moment to study it more in depth. The loose paperwork and scroll fragments were information about alicorns from all kinds of sources. Some were letters, some were pages from old books, and others were rubbings of old murals…

Pip realized then that Twilight was just collecting information and compiling it all into a single book. She hadn’t finished and Pip suspected she had turned her full attention to her other project: the theory of emotions and magic.

Click. Creeeeaaak.

Pip froze and his heart jumped into his throat. In that fraction of a second he realized several facts he hadn’t taken into account. The Night Guard protected the castle at night. They patrolled the halls. He didn’t even need to see who entered; he already knew it was one of them.

In this moment of shock, Pip realized he needed to make a choice. This was the book he had been looking for… but if the guards found him he would be in trouble. He had broken in to an area. What would Phantom Shade say to him? What would Phantom Shade ultimately do? Pip didn’t want to find out… and he also didn’t want to leave the book. Taking the book would be a theft, but if Luna needed him, this was the key to her aid...

Torn, but still determined, Pip quietly closed the book and picked it up with his mouth. It was huge book, considering all the paperwork crammed inside, and Pip could only just barely hold on without damaging it. He slowly walked around the bookshelves and listened for the patrolling guard.

He could hear the soft clop of the guard’s hooves. Pip tried to walk in time with the guard and made his way to the other side of the library. Slowly climbing the stairs to the loft and balcony, Pip made his way back to the window. When he was sure the guard was on the other side of the wing, he glanced outside. Nopony there. At least, not yet.

Pip got up onto the window sill and jumped to the ground. The shock of the impact on his legs caused him to groan in pain, but he forced himself to remain relatively quiet. Taking deep breaths, Pip began slowly making his way back around to the main library.

“It’s weird tonight,” Pip heard somepony say.

Pip froze.

“Yeah,” a second voice replied. “It’s because of that Discord. That fountain of jelly was his doing. I think he just wanted to see the maids get their saddlebags in a twist.”

The voices were coming toward him! Pip backed up and began making his way in the other direction. He didn’t know the castle, so now wasn’t the time to be trying out different paths, but he had no other choice. He quietly trotted over to another window and looked in. Empty. He opened it up, slipped inside and closed it behind him, thankful it had been unlocked.

Once there, he dropped the book and felt his chest. His heart was racing. I can’t believe I stole a book from Twilight… What was I thinking!? I have to return it! This isn't right! Pip picked the book up and started making his way for, what he thought, was the hall back to the library. Pip froze halfway. But… the book might contain all the answers I need… He mentally kicked himself. I’m not stealing it if I’m just borrowing it… I’m not stealing it if I’m just borrowing it… I’m not stealing it if I’m just borrowing it, he chanted to himself over and over again as he turned away from the library.

Twilight always let me borrow books as a foal! She never said no! She wouldn’t have said no this time! Pip felt himself emotionally torn. He knew this was wrong! He was suddenly the thief that Thunder Clash had talked about the first day of boot camp! Him! A thief!

“What do you want to do about it, Captain?”

Pip, about to round a corner, again froze. Captain? He already knew who it was. Phantom Shade. He was here. Of course he’s here… He’s the captain of the Night Guard! Pip backed up again and decided for a different route. His only guiding force was that he needed to get back to the front of the castle.

He turned down another hallway and found several doors on either side. The clopping of hooves coming his way caused him to panic once again. Turning to the nearest door, he jumped inside. It took him a moment to realize he had entered some sort of equipment room. There were personal lockers, Sun Guard armor hanging on the walls, and benches for ponies to sit.


The guard coming his way was opening doors to check the rooms. Pip couldn’t leave, or he would be spotted. Bat ponies could see in the dark. But, if he stayed here, he was going to get caught… and now he had a stolen item on him as well!


The guard was getting closer! Pip ran over and grabbed one of the sets of Sun Guard armor. It was ill-fitted, but he didn’t need to wear it for real. He threw it over his back and sat at the bench. Dropping the book to the ground, Pip picked up a nearby spear and realized it was broken, the handle was cracked. Didn’t matter. All he needed it for was a prop.


The door to the room opened and Pip turned away so that his back was facing the guard. Although Pip was white with brown spots, his forelegs were purely white, much like most of the Sun Guard.

“What’re you doing here?” the guard asked in a surprised tone.

“Gotta sharpen my spear,” Pip said, trying not to sound too suspicious. “You remember how Thunder Clash drilled everypony about proper weapon care. The captain agrees with him, and I don’t want to get yelled at again for putting my equipment away dull.” He ran his hoof over the spearhead, trying to imitate the sound of a whetstone sharpening metal.

For a moment, the guard was silent.

Please, please, please buy this.

“Yeah, he did used to yell at us a lot about that,” the guard laughed. “Just hurry it up, huh? Nopony is supposed to be here at this hour.”

“S-sorry about that,” Pip stammered, almost choking on his own words. The guard left, and Pip couldn’t have been more relieved. He quickly removed the armor and picked up the book. Several random sheets of paper slipped out and Pip had to take the time to gather them back up. Every second he was in the castle was another second removed from his lifespan due to stress. He desperately wanted to escape.

Pip didn’t want to drop any more papers either. He couldn’t risk it. Glancing up to the equipment in the room, Pip spotted a few satchels hanging near the door. He galloped over to them, grabbed one and threw the book and the paperwork inside. Oh sweet Celestia... I've stolen again... What have I become!? I'm practically a kleptomaniac! With the satchel over his shoulder, Pip trotted out of the room and began making his way once again.

Every echo in the hall caused Pip to jump. The fear and anxiety was getting to him. He turned to the nearest window and looked out. Canterlot Castle was perched out above a valley, half of the castle practically suspended in the air. The window before him overlooked the beginning of the drop before the plummet to the valley floor and the forest below.

Pip could see a flat ledge below him. It wasn’t too far… he suspected fifty feet or so… and it looked as though a pony could climb down to it from the city…

Opening the window, Pip pulled the satchel off his shoulder and tossed it to the ledge. For a half second he thought he had misaimed, but, to his relief, the satchel landed on the ledge, its fall broken by the branches of a tree. Now, even if he were caught, he wouldn’t have the damning evidence on him. I'm even thinking like a criminal... I hope Luna will forgive me...

Looking around outside, Pip made a mental note of how to get back to the entrance. He closed the window and began making his way there. When the front door came into view, Pip almost forgot himself and rushed forward.

“Is that everything?” he heard a guard ask.

Pip jumped behind the edge of a staircase and watched as some of the Night Guard were hauling in boxes and small cages full of animals. Once they went by, Pip took the opportunity to make a break for the exit. As he ran through the front door, his hoof slammed into the doorframe and made an odd clack sound.

“What was that?”

Pip dashed for the garden outside and ran behind the trees at full tilt. Surprise and happiness washed over him when he saw the front gate was open. He had half been expecting to jump the wall… Pip ran out the gate, making him officially in the city of Canterlot and ridding his mind of anxiety. He leaned against the outside of the wall, moving to slouch behind some bushes. He needed time to get his heart rate under control. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.


Pip quickly opened his eyes. Had someone flown over here?

“What are you doing?”

Pip recognized the dark and slow tone. Phantom Shade. Panic-stricken, Pip slowly got to all fours and walked out from behind the bushes. Being outside the castle gates wasn’t against the law, right? He could be there… even if it was weird… But how had Phantom Shade known? How had he found Pip in the first place?

Phantom Shade glared at him, his piercing gold eyes seemingly seeing right through the heart of the situation. “Well?” Phantom Shade barked.

Pip opened his mouth, but no words came out. His throat was dry and he knew whatever he was going to say would be incriminating. Just staring into Phantom Shade’s eyes caused him to freeze up. The bat pony knew. He knew.

“Answer me,” Phantom Shade said through clenched teeth. “Or so help me, I’ll-”

“Captain Phantom Shade! There you are… I need to give you a few more instructions.”

Pip also recognized that voice. He immediately perked up and turned. It was Princess Twilight Sparkle, in all her magical glory. Her purple and pink mane waved and glittered as though caught in a perpetual wind that only she could feel. On her head rested a tiny spiked crown.

Phantom Shade bowed to her. “Princess, I will-”

“I’m sorry I’m demanding so much of you when I know your job is to protect Luna,” Twilight said, interrupting the captain and nervously laughing. “But I promise it won’t be much! I just want to make sure my books are cared for while I’m gone. They’re very important to me.” Within seconds she spotted Pip. “Oh! Pipsqueak! I haven’t seen you in a long while! How are you?’

Pip couldn’t bring himself to look her in the eye. He had stolen her book! Stolen it! If he had known he would see her, he could have just asked! Now he was thief! Asking now… he would have to admit what he had done… And it was eating at his soul! There were no words he could find to accurately express his conflicted emotion state.

Twilight waited for a few moments before turning back to Phantom Shade with an awkward shrug. “Am I… er, interrupting something?”

“I-” Phantom Shade began.

“Oh, Phaaaantom,” a mischievous voice rang out into the night.

Pip glanced up and was surprised to see the draconequus, Discord, sitting on the edge of the outer wall. He smiled down to Phantom Shade, who did not return the gesture.

“Are we still making requests?” Discord asked, suddenly teleporting next to the captain. “Because Fluttershy tells me that her animals are going to need very particular care. You don’t need to worry about the day ones, but the bats,” Discord heavily stressed the word, “do need to be watched. You like bats, don’t you, Phantom?” Discord grabbed one of Phantom Shade’s leather wings and pulled it out, poking at the edges and smiling sweetly.

Phantom Shade was barely maintaining a thin veneer of calm. A very thin veneer. “I shall take care of it,” he spat.

“And the books,” Twilight added with an embarrassed laugh. “I was hoping somepony would be able to check them once a week. I’m sure it wouldn’t take a guard very long… It only takes me about an hour to check over the books when I do it. And we’ll be back before Nightmare Night, so it won’t be for too long!”

Discord released the wing of the bat pony and floated over the group. He glanced at Pip. “And who is this pony? Is he one of the guards? What’s wrong?” he asked Pip. “Why the long face?” Discord’s chaotic magic made Pip’s face droop slightly. “Has anyone ever told you that you look like a horse?” Discord laughed at his own joke.

Pip shook away the odd magical effect and still couldn’t find the words to say.

Phantom Shade glared at Pip. “Leave,” he commanded. As Pip began to go, however, the bat pony watched him with his piercing gold eyes the entire way.

“Goodbye, Pipsqueak!” Twilight called after him, but Pip didn’t have the heart to reply. He half-heartedly waved as he continued to gallop.


It was the end of the night, and just before the dawn, when Pip got back to the barracks. He gingerly carried the satchel inside with him, hoping Thunder Clash wouldn’t stop and ask him what it was or what was in it.

“Arg!” he heard Scootaloo yell in a frustrated tone from the bat pony barracks room.

“You’re seriously the worst at this game!” Specter’s voice rang afterward, followed closely by his laughing.

Pip was happy they were all distracted with the pirate’s dice game. He quickly trotted over to his bunk and-

“What’re you doing?”

“Urk!” Pip slowly turned his gaze to Marble, who was sitting on her bed with a bored expression. Of course. Marble never played the games. “M-Marble… It’s you!” he lamely commented. “Er, how are you? Good? Good.”

“You brought something back from Canterlot?” she asked, eyeing the satchel.

“No. I mean, yes. Yes. This satchel. I brought back this satchel.”

Marble slowly lifted a single eyebrow.

Pip couldn’t take it; he went over to her and collapsed onto the edge of her bed. In a single breath he unloaded, “I stole a personal book from Twilight Sparkle’s wing of the Canterlot library and I know I shouldn’t have done it but I made the decision to regardless.” He took a breath afterward and felt better. He would give the book back, but Luna’s safety was more important to him than even his reputation or integrity.

“That’s interesting,” she slowly said. “Why?”

“It has the information I need. I’ll give it back, I swear.”

“Are you going to show me?”

“The book?”

“The information,” she dryly replied, as though it were obvious what she had been asking.

“Oh, er, I haven’t found it yet… In the book, I mean. But it’s in the book, I know it is! It’s all about alicorns! All I have to do is read through it and then I’ll be able to convince everypony! It even has bits of other books! And letters! And pictures! If this book doesn’t have it, no book will!”

Marble nodded. “All right. Good luck with that.” She rolled over on her bed and lied down.

“You’re just going to go to sleep?” Pip asked. “You don’t want to look at the book with me?”

“Thunder Clash told us we’re going to be working with live Quarray Eels starting tomorrow. In order to better prepare for monster attacks. I think I’ll need my rest for that. I think you will too.”

Pip couldn’t believe how very apathetic everypony was toward what was going on. “All right. Once I find the information I’ll show it to you, okay?”

“Sure,” she replied.

Pip slowly walked back over to his own bunk. He was also tired… He crawled into bed and hid the satchel under the blankets. He would read it when he woke.

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