• Published 17th Nov 2014
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Memoirs of a Royal Guard - Anzel

Silent Knight assumed his story would be complete once he achieved his dream of joining the Royal Guard. To his surprise, it was only just the beginning.

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12. The Plague

It seemed that having a very special somepony was not that much different than having a close friend. Iridescence and I still did the same things we had before but now there was a shared secret between us.

There was also a higher percentage of time spent hugging, cuddling, and the occasional kiss. Beyond that, I now had the charge of “being more considerate.” Whatever that meant.

Iridescence and I sat at the small table in our room, playing a game. We were trying to ensure that four deadly viruses didn’t infect all of Equestria. It was going okay, but this was the sort of game that creeps up on you. Everything seems to be fine and then everypony suddenly dies.

There was a knock at the door and then it opened. Sergeant Windchaser came in and said, “Good morning, ponies.”

She was a pegasus like me and had been a royal guard for ages. Her mane and coat had long since started to grey and most of us saw her as more of a den mother than a squad leader. That isn’t to say she wasn’t good at her job because she was. Her style was just far more friendly.

I smiled and Iridescence said, “Good morning, Sergeant. What can we do for you today?”

“I hate to interrupt game time but I was actually looking for Silent Knight.” She pointed a hoof at me for emphasis. “Miley Hooves has come down with with a nasty case of the flu. Would you mind starting your week early and working one more shift to cover for her?”

Of course I wouldn’t mind. I never minded doing my job. In fact, I liked it! Then a subtle look from Iridescence caught my attention.

We had a quiet picnic planned for lunch that day, which also happened to be our last day off before we went back at work. She had gone to great lengths to set it up. She was also the one that said we should keep our relationship quiet. If I said no, the sergeant might have asked why.

I’ll make up an excuse. Something believable like: I have an appointment. That wasn’t made up. It was true—“No problem, Sergeant.” No! Stupid, honest mouth.

The withering look my unicorn companion shot me was almost physically debilitating.

Sergeant Windchaser didn’t seem to notice. She smiled and replied, “I knew I could count on you. Thanks.” Then she abandoned me to face Iridescence alone.

Once the door was closed, Iridescence repeated in a mock version of my voice, “No problem, Sergeant?”

Navigating this conversation was going to require strategy, care, and bravery. I calmly laid my cards down. “Had I said no she may have questioned me and you know better than anypony that I’m incapable of lying. I was following your instructions.”

“My instructions, huh?”

I nodded. “Yes. To keep things quiet. Especially in front of the sergeant and officers.” A reasonable defense. One thing I had learned about having a special somepony was that being more considerate also meant not necessarily being logical.

Iridescence gave me a look and then said, “In this case I agree. Although I feel like you always put the job first.” She sighed. “It is also really a shame. We had such fun plans.”

Of course I put the job first. It was our job! Picnics could wait. The princess needed protection. I kept those thoughts to myself, however. “I agree. Can we move it out a week?”

She smiled. I really liked that smile. “I think we can. Everything but the food will keep. Just don’t volunteer for any extra shifts if you can help it.”

“No problem.”

Miley Hooves, it seemed, was not the innocent, flu-stricken victim originally reported. She was, in fact, the harbinger of the plague.

By midweek, three-fourths of Princess Luna’s House Guard were sick, including Iridescence and Sergeant Windchaser. I was filling in for everypony I could and tending to Iridescence. On top of that, command had made me an acting sergeant.

Technically, I had not volunteered for any more shifts. At that point, our leaders pretty much expected those of us that had not yet fallen ill to pick up the slack. Things were getting so tight that they actually brought over trainees to do some of the basic Palace Guard work. Those ponies loved that. It was a dream come true, I’m sure.

At least until they caught the flu, too. That pretty much turned the dream into a queasy nightmare.

I stood in the background of Princess Luna’s chamber while she and Princess Celestia discussed the recent business with Discord. Typically, I make it a point not to eavesdrop on official business. That is a matter of personal pride and a good quality in a guard. Of course, it was very easy to not pay attention that day since I was half asleep.

The princesses were loudly discussing the possibility of rehabilitating somepony. At least I think it was a somepony. After all, they’d been talking about Discord prior. It was a somewhat heated debate either way. I got the impression that Princess Luna wasn’t thrilled with the idea.

The discussion went on a while before I felt myself sway. I quickly stiffened back to attention. It was unprofessional and I felt ashamed but also somewhat confused. Princess Celestia had just vanished. Alicorn magic was amazing! Princess Luna was laughing softly and looking at me.

“Princess?” I asked cautiously.

She smiled and said, “Fear not, Silent Knight. We shall not tell.”

Tell what? I glanced at the window to see that the sun was substantially lower in the sky... and then it dawned on me. “Princess, was I asleep?”

“Verily. It looked as if thou needed it desperately and we did not wish to disturb,” she said warmly. “Be not ashamed. Thou hast taken on too much for one pony.”

I was incredibly ashamed. Falling asleep on the job was the most embarrassing thing I could think of. A reprimand was in order. I would report myself to the sergeant as soon as my shift ended.

A hoof lightly landed on my shoulder. Princess Luna looked at me with concern. “Thou art a most diligent guard who has not been able to take the appropriate time to rest for days. Promise us that thou wilt go and sleep tonight.”

The thought to argue procedure and duty briefly popped into mind, but the look in the princess’s eyes told me she would hear none of that. “Yes, Princess.” I’d report myself then go to sleep.

The guard that relieved me, whoever he was, showed up right on time instead of early. I was too tired to comment on it. He looked pretty worse for the wear, too.

On the way to our room I kept my head up, doing my best to look one hundred percent. An acting sergeant, even an exhausted one, still had to set a good example for everypony else.

Coming through the door, I found our room to be dimly lit. Iridescence was awake and reading.

“How do you feel?” I asked her as I came over to check on her. Softly, I felt her forehead and then picked up her pillow to fluff it.

“Better. Still fatigued, but better.” She looked at me with concern. Once I’d finished with her pillow, I set it back behind her.

“I’m glad.” I smiled, went over to our table, and set out a parchment. It was time to start writing out my report.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

I set the pencil down so I could explain, “I fell asleep on shift. I’m reporting myself to the sergeant.”

Iridescence tilted her head. “But you’re the sergeant right now.”

That was true. I was acting sergeant, wasn't I? “That will save some time, then,” I replied.

I awoke the next morning with a blanket over my shoulders and my head on the table, still in my armor and completely stiff. My everything hurt and, with a groan, I shifted out of the chair.

“Good morning,” Iridescence said to me from her bed.

“How long was I out?” A sense of worry filled me. Was I late for my shift?

Iridescence lifted a hoof and replied, “Easy there, champ. Only six hours or so. I slept most of it, too. I wasn’t strong enough to get your armor off. Sorry about that.”

Six hours. Thank goodness. I had plenty of time to do the sergeant’s work and then get back to my post. “It’s okay. You’re sick. Thank you for the blanket. I’ll go get your breakfast for you.”

She smiled and shook her head. “You don’t have to do that.”

“No, but I want to.”

I picked up and delivered Iridescence’s breakfast, snuck a quick shower in, filled out all the paperwork for the sergeant, and left her a note about falling asleep. I didn’t have time for a formal write-up. She could decide what to do with that when she was well.

On my way up to start my shift, Shining Armor stopped me. “Silent Knight. A moment, please.”

I was suddenly concerned he knew about me sleeping. Although I highly doubted Princess Luna would have told him.

“You’re putting in a ton of hours lately,” he said. “Taking up the slack for almost every other pony.”

“I’m just doing my part, sir.”

He smiled and nodded. “I know, and now I’m doing mine. I requested some additional guards that can be trusted. They’ll fill in for the House Guard for a few weeks. Effective immediately, you’re off guard duty. You’re acting sergeant and a sergeant doesn’t have time to stand guard for twelve hours a day… or however many beyond that you have been doing.”

Standing guard was what I did. Being with the princess never felt like work. She was a wonderful pony. At least the change of duty was only temporary.

I nodded. “Yes, sir, understood. Who is taking my shift today, then?”

“The ponies won’t arrive until tomorrow. So today it will be me,” he said.

“You, sir?” I asked, surprised.

He laughed. “Yes, Silent Knight, I still remember how to do the job.” He winked at me and said, “Get some rest. You look awful. Your temporary guards will report tomorrow and you’ll need to be on your A game to ensure they are up to the task.”

“Yes, sir,” I replied and he turned to go. He was a good officer. “Thank you, sir,” I called after him before heading back to our room. I snuck in quietly, which was unnecessary because it was still daytime. Iridescence looked up from her book.

“Did you quit?” she asked, knowing perfectly well I never would.

Struggling to get my armor off, I huffed, “The captain took my shift. Bringing in new guards temporarily. Still sergeant.” Kicking off the hoof guards, I decided I’d worry about where they landed tomorrow. I crawled into my bed and it had never felt so wonderful.

“That was nice of him,” I vaguely heard Iridescence say, followed by my muffled response of “Uh-huh.” We discussed a few more things. I don’t really recall what. The sweet talk from my pillow was much more interesting and I fell for its siren’s call.

The next morning I felt amazing. I was fueled by a full night’s rest and the fact that Iridescence was feeling much better. She still wasn’t able to work but she was back to her usual self at home. She even helped me put my armor on.

“There, you look perfect,” she said before straightening my helmet. “Ready for your big day as sergeant?”

I frowned a little at that. “It's only temporary. Then I can go back to being your partner and guarding the princess.”

She actually bonked me in the nose with her hoof. “Temporary leads to permanent and Windchaser will retire sooner or later. You don’t want to stand guard forever, do you?”

My nose wrinkled. “I wouldn’t mind. You’re more of a sergeant than I am. You can talk to ponies.”

Iridescence bonked me again. “I’m not going to be a guard forever, but I suspect you are. Now go out there and be the best sergeant ever.” For emphasis she gave me a little kiss. I preferred that to being bonked.

My cheeks flushed, but I put on my sergeant’s face and went out to meet the temporary replacements.

The group was clearly comprised of some of the best royal guard ponies from around Equestria. I could tell immediately by the way they stood and carried themselves. They were also completely misfit. No two had exactly the same armor. Each was slightly different based on their region and unit. It may have looked a mess, but it didn’t make sense to issue armor temporarily.

“Good morning. I am Silent Knight, Acting Sergeant. You’ve been selected to temporarily fill in as house guards for Princess Luna. We have three simple rules here. As long as you follow them, we’ll get along just fine.

“One. She is not Nightmare Moon. Don’t mention that name. Don’t joke or ask about it. Forgive and forget.

“Two. You ARE a member of the House Guard. This is no different than Princess Celestia’s House Guard. It carries the same honor and responsibility. Act accordingly. Set a good example for the others.

“Three. My door is always open. If you need me do not hesitate to ask. Do you understand our rules?”

The group of ponies replied in unison, “Yes, Sergeant!”

I nodded. “Good. I’ve posted your shift schedules outside of my office. You start tonight. If you’re not on shift, be sure to take in the sights of Canterlot. It won’t be time wasted. Dismissed.”

The group filed off to do their jobs. Perhaps being a sergeant might be for me after all. I could always look in on Princess Luna. Of course, that also meant more danger for Iridescence's and my career. You can't be with a pony of a different rank that you supervise. Especially one that reports to the exact same commander.

I frowned at that and turned to head to my office. Shining Armor had been right behind me. I sprung to attention and saluted instead of crashing into him.

He saluted back. “Nice work. You’ll make a fine sergeant.”

“Not yet, sir. Haven’t gotten the pony skills down. Still learning the life outside the job part,” I replied.

Shining Armor looked a bit surprised by that. Surprised and impressed. “Everypony does things differently. You’re just more by the book. Sooner or later, your chance will come. Today, however, acting sergeant is fine. Acting sergeant and guard first class.”

He levitated a box out of his pack and opened it. There was a small, black-backed silver pin inside that featured three diagonal bars. He replaced the two bars on my breastplate with the new and set the old into the box.

Closing the lid, he offered it to me and said, “Congratulations. You’ve earned this.”

I accepted it with pride. “Thank you, sir.”

The captain headed off to his commitments and I made my way to Windchaser’s office to do mine. Silent Knight, Guard First Class. That had a nice ring to it.

Author's Note:

I want to say thank you to all of the wonderful readers and commentators that have been following along.

If you are enjoying this story, please consider taking a look at Crystal and my's website QuillnBlade.com for extra content such as mini stories, an Ask Us form to submit questions, responses to said questions, and special rewards for the awesome folks who support our Patreon.

2nd Edition Version

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