• 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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17. Winter Comes

Days off are fun, but there just isn’t anything like putting on your armor and getting back to work. I considered my job a privilege. What could be better than being a young pony in the House Guard?

My career was well ahead of many other ponies'. It may be arrogant to say, but I was proud of myself and the unit I was a part of. That unit pride, however, also made my life difficult for a couple of weeks.

Iridescence may not have loved the job as much as I did. Lately, it seemed she was more interested in being Princess Luna’s friend than her guard. Her professionalism on shift had slipped at a few inopportune times. Unfortunately, it didn’t go without notice and both Sergeant Windchaser and Captain Armor had spoken to her.

It seemed that on this day, a new issue would be added to the mix. She arrived for her shift half an hour late.

“You’re relieved,” she said, getting into her place beside me.

I nodded and stepped forwards to head back to our room. As I did so, the captain came around the corner. He looked surprised to see me.

“Silent Knight,” he started. “Don’t you ever get tired of working?”

“Never, Captain,” I said warmly.

“Haven’t you been off shift for a while now?”

I nodded. “Yes, sir.”

Shining Armor looked suspicious, fixed his eyes to mine, and asked, “Anything to report?”

I stared back while standing at attention. Any motion and he would know. “Nothing of consequence, sir,” I replied but added, “Though I can do an exhaustive, written report in this case if you prefer.”

The captain looked at Iridescence and then at me. Finally, he shook his head. “No, that won’t be necessary. Carry on.” And with that he made his way down the hall to continue his rounds.

When I was certain he was out of earshot, I breathed a sigh of relief. That was as close as I’d ever gotten to lying to an officer. I truly believed this wasn’t of consequence, because Iridescence wouldn’t let it happen again.

I briefly glanced at her. She seemed shocked. I guess we were all acting a little abnormal lately. I’d been working on speaking more and trying to be an outgoing pony. It put some ponies off, but I was trying to be well rounded.

Iridescence had been… well, I wasn't even sure what. The look I gave her said, ‘Don’t put me in this position again.’ Quickly she nodded and with a slight shrug, I left her to her duty. It was time to do something different and I set course for the small tavern near the barracks. I needed a drink.

The air was chilly and there was still snow on the ground. I never quite understood what the purpose of it was or why the weather ponies still worked during winter. It made more sense to me that if it was cold, you wouldn’t want water falling from the sky… but what did I know? I kept a brisk pace as I headed to the Spearhead Tavern where there would, undoubtedly, be a big fire and warm food.

The Spearhead Tavern was a royal guard favorite. The owner, old Silverwind, had been in the Guard for years. When he got too old to do his duty, he opened the tavern and made it royal guard friendly. Eventually, it was almost exclusive to us. At least in practice and not by rule, of course.

It had taken me far too long to figure out it existed. That wasn’t a surprise, though. Palace guards often went out for harder beverages after work, but Princess Luna’s House Guards were fairly separate. Ponies still gave us sideways glances. Somepony had mentioned it recently, so I wanted to check it out.

I settled on a stool by the bar and set some bits down. “Cider, please.”

I’d never sat at the bar before. Usually, I was at a table catching a meal outside of the chow hall. Tonight felt like a 'sit at the bar' kind of night. Just like it was a 'something other than water' night.

“Rough day?” a familiar voice asked from behind me. I turned to find Shining Armor there. Had he followed me? I immediately stood up to attention and he lightly pushed me back onto the stool. “I’m not on duty, Silent Knight, and neither are you. Switch it off.”

Switch it off? I eased back onto the stool and said, “Perhaps a little, sir… er… Captain?” I tilted my head and referenced the regulations. Officers and enlisted ponies don’t typically mix. “Mr. Armor?”

Shining Armor laughed and sat on the stool next to me. “Shining Armor is fine. Just Shining Armor when we’re in here and our helmets are off. Okay?”

I nodded. “Yes, sir.” He slightly opened his mouth and I corrected, “Yes.”

“Rough day, then?” he repeated. Was this a test to see if I had lied? Did he know? I looked at him and I saw fatigue under his eyes. It wasn’t just that. He looked worse for the wear. Similar to when I had first met him right after the Nightmare Moon incident.

Setting more bits on the bar I motioned to him. “Cider for the ca… Shining Armor. Please,” I told the tender. Looking back at him, I deflected, “Clearly not as rough as yours. Is there something wrong?”

He snorted and accepted the cider. “You’re too observant. Yes... Something has been off between Cadence and me. I can’t put my hoof on it but she is different lately. Things have been a little stressful.”

Lady Cadence, his unicorn bride-to-be, was one of the prettiest, sweetest ponies I’d ever met. We’d not spent much time together but she was often around the palace as she was Princess Celestia’s adopted niece. It seemed implausible that she could be causing the captain grief.

“Iridescence, too,” I said without really thinking it through.

The captain’s brow went up. “Oh? You two are together?” he asked me directly. Stupid, honest mouth.

“Not like you and Lady Cadence, no.” That wasn’t a lie. Their relationship was far more serious and tangible. “We’re close, though. I know when things are off. Partners… well… friends are like that. She’s my best friend.”

“I noticed, too. With Iridescence, I mean. She hasn’t been herself as of late. I think Cadence may just have wedding jitters but I feel something in the air. I think Princess Celestia feels it, too.”

That was disturbing. When Princess Celestia worried about something, it meant a call to action was soon to follow. “We’ll handle whatever it is. Have no doubt about that,” I offered confidently. “How about you? Do you have jitters as well?”

Shining Armor grinned a bit, obviously glad to change the subject. “Not in the least. I’ve wanted to marry Cadence since our school days. I’m actually shocked it took this long to get it settled, but in situations like ours things take time.”

Taking a sip of my cider, I asked, “What situation?”

“Marrying royalty,” he said plainly and without a hint of ego. It was just fact. “There are protocols, of course. Cadence is Princess Celestia’s niece, after all. She is destined to hold a noble title of some form or fashion. She may even rule for all I know.”

“That makes sense,” I said. “She is a unicorn noble in multiple rights, isn't she? Her family line goes back to Princess Platinum.”

The captain’s brow lifted. “She is… How do you know that, though?”

“Perhaps I may have crossed a line, but I wasn’t certain who I would be protecting when I started in at the academy. I simply narrowed the list down and did all of my research to ensure I’d be a good fit. Princess Luna, of course, was a total surprise. There wasn’t any research available.”

Shining Armor laughed. “Your research included looking back through years of my fiancée’s family tree?”

“Of course. Know your very important pony as best you can. It helps you anticipate how they’ll act and make life easier for everypony. Princess Luna loves to read and write, as an example. I’ve made it a point to learn all of the bookstores, libraries, and newsstands in Canterlot so I would know where to look if she went off unattended.”

“I appreciate that level of dedication, Silent Knight, but you seriously need a hobby.”

That made me laugh a bit. “I’ve been goofing off more than I ever have in my entire life thanks to your mentoring. I play board games and help my cousin with his wacky experiments.”

Shining Armor looked at me quite seriously and replied, “Well, it is good to know I’ve been such a bad influence on you.”

My stomach dropped and I said, “Captain, I’m sorry, I—”

He lifted a hoof. “Joking!”

I drank my cider and peered at him over the rim. “Oh, well good, then.”

“Listen,” he said, leaning in closer. “I didn’t come to discuss business but I am worried. You notice a lot more than most ponies, even if you don’t say anything about it. I’m going to rely on you to keep your eyes and ears open. If something out of the ordinary happens, you let me know, even if it seems insignificant. Understood?”

I nodded. “Crystal clear.”

“Good stallion.” He stood. I started to stand with him, but he put a hoof on my shoulder. “Thanks for the cider. We should do it again sometime.”

“Stallion’s night out, sir?”

He chuckled and headed for the door. “Sounds good.”

I turned back to the bar and drained my cider. If Shining Armor was worried, then so was I. Tapping the bar with my hoof, I ordered another mug. I had musing to do.

“You lied for me… I can’t believe you lied for me,” Iridescence said softly when I returned the next morning to relieve her.

Shaking my head, I replied, “No, I said nothing of consequence occurred but would write a detailed report if requested. Nothing of consequence did occur because I know my partner wouldn’t show up late without a good reason and she certainly wouldn’t make a habit out of it.”

We stood together in silence. Per the usual I had arrived fifteen minutes early for shift change.

“You took a risk for me,” she whispered.

“Yes.”

“I promise I won’t do that to you again,” she started and then sheepishly hoofed the floor. “My relationship with the princess has been clouding my judgment. I was starting to think I could get away with things… at least until you had to put your neck out for me. I don’t want to turn into the type of pony you have to do that for again.”

With a slight nod, I said, “Please don’t… but everypony makes mistakes. Don’t worry about it.”

She promised earnestly again, “I won’t.”

I glanced at her. “The captain and I had drinks at the Spearhead last night after I was off. He thinks something might be going on around here. It may just be pre-wedding nerves, but I think we should take him seriously and keep an ear out.”

Iridescence shifted slightly beside me. “Around the palace or around here, like you and I?”

“Around the palace. Princess Celestia is also concerned. He was pretty serious.”

“Oh… well, we’ll just have to keep an ear out won’t we? Besides, with you around, I’m not sure what could possibly go wrong, Mr. Perfect Guard,” she teased.

Under my helmet, I gave a slight smile and replied, “Sure, sure. You are relieved.”

“Thank you,” she whispered sweetly before heading home.

The universe was back in order it seemed. Thank Celestia for that. If we could all just make it a few more weeks without any weirdness, we’d be able to sit back, celebrate Hearth’s Warming Eve, and then enjoy a royal Canterlot wedding.

Author's Note:

I'm not sure what happened with the last chapter but it brought in a huge amount of new readers (that or something you all did)! Thank you so much for supporting the story and I'm very happy to have you all along.

Here is a little setup for next week's Hearth Warming Eve stories!

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2nd Edition Version

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