• 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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19. Hearth's Warming Day

Captain Shining Armor was a very positive role model. He was still working in his office the morning after Hearth’s Warming Eve when most ponies were still asleep. His door was almost always open. I knocked anyway.

“Come in. Silent Knight, what can I do for you?” he said, levitating his quill down to the desk.

I took my helmet off and waited a moment until he caught the message. He took his off, too. I nodded my thanks. “I brought you something for Hearth’s Warming Eve.”

“Oh?” he asked.

Nodding, I set a pair of cufflinks down on his desk. “For your uniform… at least, for the wedding. I know they’re not regulation, but my cousin and I made them. It is an old pegasus custom. If you make a gift, fill it with positive wishes, and present it to a groom, the ancient ponies will bless the marriage.”

Shining Armor accepted the cufflinks and peered at them. “That is a wonderful tradition,” he said and then sighed slightly. “I’ll need them.”

“Sir?” I asked. Wrong title, but still.

“Cadence and I are just going through a little rough patch before the wedding. She really hasn’t been herself. More than what I mentioned before,” he admitted.

“The strain of the wedding, I imagine,” I offered.

He smiled, but only halfway. “Yes, I think that is it, too. Thank you, Silent Knight. This was most kind.”

“Gladly,” I said, then I put my helmet back on. He did the same.

“Sir, I’ve a lot of leave piling up. I know this isn’t the perfect time to ask but after the last letter, I think my sister needs me. She’s having a rough time. Could I have a few days off to go see her? I can take any missives to Cloudsdale as well.”

The captain nodded. “Of course. I’m sorry to hear her situation is that bad. Take care of her.”

“Thank you, sir.” I turned to leave but then stopped. “One more small issue, sir.” I shifted and retrieved the sword Runic had made for me from the scabbard that was hidden under my flank armor. “My cousin made this for me. It isn’t standard issue. May I have a waiver to carry a personal weapon?” I asked as I set the sword on his desk.

Shining Armor looked over the sword before lightly lifting it. “This is a miraculous blade,” he said in awe. He offered it back to me. “A fine weapon for a fine guard. Approved. I’ll do the paperwork later.”

I accepted it and nodded. His word was good enough for me. I slipped it back into the scabbard. Most ponies would never know a royal guard carried a sword. Concealing them made everypony more comfortable.

“Thank you, sir,” I said, standing to attention.

He sat up straight and replied, “You’re welcome. Dismissed.”

After saying my goodbyes to Iridescence, I headed off for Cloudsdale. It felt weird to do so out of uniform. The captain had not assigned any missives and that meant it wasn’t an official trip. I was just Silent Knight, private pony citizen.

When I arrived at Winterspear’s room, I had a moment of trepidation. I had not been able to let her know I was coming. It was a last minute thing. I knocked on the door and hoped she was there.

“Just a minute,” she called. Thank Celestia. After another moment or so the door opened and her face went from confusion to joy. “Silent Knight! What are you doing here?”

I hugged her. She was a little surprised. I guess I had become a hugger. We hugged more and then I came in.

Shutting the door, I said carefully, “I got your letter. More importantly, it is Hearth’s Warming Eve. I missed you.”

Winterspear stroked my mane and peered in my eyes. “Who are you and where is my little brother?”

“Growing up some, I guess. How’re you?”

She smiled a brittle smile. “I’m managing. It was sudden. I think there was somepony else.” She shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. It is over now. How is your romance going?”

“Romance is hard. We are doing okay. I get the feeling I’m messing up or that maybe something is off… but I really don’t know anything about relationships and I’m here for you, anyway, not me.”

My sister nodded sagely at me. “It is hard, and this is your first one. It gets a little easier the next time. I promise.”

I frowned at that. “The next time?”

Winterspear winced. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that the way it came out.” She took my hooves in hers. “Look, some ponies get it right in one try. Others have to try several times. Every time it doesn’t work out, you get better at it. You understand more. I’m not saying you won’t stay with Iridescence. I just mean it gets easier.”

I nodded. My expression didn’t betray the small amount of fear that her words had put into me. I replied evenly, “I understand. Thank you… and you’re going to find a great mare, too. You’re too sweet not to.”

“I know. It just hurts right now. Pain is temporary, though,” she said and meant it. I had never heard her use one of our father’s sayings. I wondered if they had made up. "What did you do for your birthday?"

My head tilted. "How do you mean?"

Winterspear groaned. "Your birthday. You just had one. What did you do? Did you and Iridescence go out? Did she really do nothing on your birthday?"

Oh, was that a thing? "I'm sure she would have if she'd known. I didn't mention it. I worked my shift like normal."

My sister sighed and just shook her head.

Clearing my throat lightly, I changed the subject to an even less fun topic. “Not today but… while I’m here, I should probably go see Mom and Dad. Do you want to come? It is the holidays.”

Winterspear sighed. “Yeah… I guess I should, too.”

“We’ll be together. United,” I said firmly.

“Yes, okay,” she replied and it almost sounded like she meant it.

My parents’ house was almost exactly the same from when I had left it years ago. That was partially so my father could find his way around and partially because he was stubborn and didn’t like change.

Mother kept the house immaculately clean even if the old warpony couldn’t see it. That was her way. We hugged when I arrived. My father and I shook hooves. Then we all sat, somewhat quietly, mostly awkwardly.

“Winterspear tells us that you’re part of Princess Luna’s House Guard,” my mother said over dinner.

I nodded. “That is true. We’re a brand new unit and we’re building a lot of credibility.”

“What about Princess Celestia’s House Guard? Won’t you be trying to get into that unit? They’re the best around.” Dad was always quick to get to his point.

I shook my head, which is a silly thing to do in front of a blind pony. “No, sir.” I proceeded cautiously, “Command’s goal is to ensure both House Guard units are viewed as the best of the best. We have the same commanding officer.”

My father stroked his chin. “I see. Well… I guess that is alright. You haven’t made sergeant yet?”

“No sir. Winterspear has, though,” I said with a bit of caution.

“I’d heard,” was all he said which may have been an improvement.

My sister and I exchanged glances and I shrugged. My father was who he was. There wasn’t much hope in changing that.

Mother cleared her throat. “I hear you’re dating a unicorn, Silent Knight.”

That generated a chuckle from my father. “I guess he integrated into Canterlot a little too well.”

I ignored that. “Yes, ma’am, and her name is Iridescence. She is good to me. I’ve also found a cousin in town. On your mother’s side. Runic Phial. He is a little eccentric but he is a good friend and he is family.”

My mother clapped her hooves together lightly and said, “Oh, that is good. You need little friends. You never had a lot as a colt.”

“He had more important things to do as a colt,” my father cut in.

“Yes, dear…” my mom said patiently. “Which is why it is important that now that he has some time he makes friends. Networking is important.” My father snorted but held his tongue. “What about you Winterspear? What about that friend of yours, Caramel Mint?”

Winterspear stiffened in her chair and under the table she set her hoof on my leg, as if bracing for impact. I worked it over in my mind why mom had called Caramel a friend. They were… oh. Oh! I sat quietly and said nothing.

Shaking her head, Winterspear shrugged. “We had a pretty big fight. She met a special somepony and was spending all her time with her.”

“With HER?” my father blurted. “Is she one of those fillyfoolers? That just isn’t natural. Back in our day we knew how to handle those kinds of ponies. You’re better off without a friend like that.”

“I’ll agree with that,” Winterspear said darkly.

“You know things are different now, sir. That sort of thing is more common,” I said and I have no idea why.

“That doesn’t make it right,” was his response.

I opened my mouth to say something else but my mother and Winterspear shook their heads. It was the holidays, I guess.

“Heard you came through here not long ago on official business,” my father said, moving on. “Didn’t even stop to see your old parents.”

“It was courier duty, sir. I had to make a quick turn around and had a short period of time to do a long list of things I wanted to.”

He shook his head. “I’m not complaining, Son. I’m proud of you. Mission first.”

When I was younger that would have meant a lot to me. For some reason, that night I didn’t care. “Thank you, sir,” I said and went back to eating my dinner. We all did and that was probably for the best.

“Right in front of you! He basically called you a monster right there. He said fillyfooler!” I was hot. I’m not prone to anger but I was hot that night as I paced back and forth in Winterspear’s room.

“It‘s fine. Dad will never cease to find ways to tear me down overtly or by accident. I’m used to it,” she said.

I shook my head. “No it isn’t, Winterspear! Ponies shouldn’t treat ponies that way. Princess Luna isn’t that way and she’s an alicorn. Princess Celestia would be embarrassed!”

I paced for a while more before she stood up, came over, and got in my way. She cupped my cheeks with her hooves.

“Listen, little brother. I’m glad you want to defend me, but I don’t need it. I really don’t care what he thinks anymore. He has his life, I have mine. Eventually I’ll tell Mom. Maybe she’ll accept it, maybe she won’t. I hope she does. All that matters is that you didn’t care at all. It didn’t even phase you. The only thing that you cared about was my happiness, so much so you even came here now when I needed somepony. Thank you. You’ve done plenty.”

I swallowed and the anger started to wane. I wasn’t even sure why I had gotten so upset to begin with. Part of it was probably being old enough to see my dad as something other than my hero. “Okay,” I said and then tried on something new. “I love you.”

She looked at me a moment and then smiled. “I love you, too. Now come on, bedtime.”

We headed over to her bed. The perk of being a sergeant was that she had her own room. The downside was that she only had one bed which made it rough for visitors. “You better not kick like Iridescence,” I said without thinking.

“Oh, so you two are sharing a bed?” she asked, raising one brow. Stupid, honest mouth.

Slipping into her bed, I grumbled, “It isn’t like that, you…” I searched for an appropriately teasing insult. She waited patiently. “...clop-minded mare.”

“Bravo,” she said cheerfully, slipping in and lying on the other side of the bed, if you could really call it that. It was a bed for one and we were pretty much back-to-back.

“Thanks,” I said. “I’m learning new words on the street every day.”

“Don’t,” she teased.

Everypony was a critic.

I stayed with my sister another couple of days to make certain she was back to her usual self. It was nice and I imagine that is how most families are: supportive and happy to be together. More importantly, it was how we had been back when I was a foal. As you grow up, I think you never realize how much you miss something until you get a taste of it again. Evidently, I missed having family.

Having a big sister was great and I planned on spending more time with her in the future. Unfortunately, however, it was time to fly home. We said our goodbyes and I dropped out of the clouds to head east towards Canterlot. After almost a week away, it was time to get back to regular life and the job I loved.

There was no reason to hurry. I had the entire day off and wouldn’t go on shift until the following morning. That made for a prime opportunity to just fly and enjoy it. There was time for loops, banks, and dives. Freedom is a wonderful thing and even though I was excited to get back to my structured life, I paused for a moment to consider what it would be like if this was my everyday.

My spirits were high as I approached Canterlot. The sight of it, however, immediately filled me with worry. The city was surrounded by a protection spell. A massively powerful one, too. What had happened? I dove towards the city gates and landed outside the barrier.

The guards posted there nodded to me. There were twice as many as usual. That was another bad sign. I galloped through the streets towards our headquarters as fast as I could. When I reached the palace I was moving faster than I ever had before. As I barreled through the hallway, I made a hard left towards the captain’s office. A little too hard, actually.

I sailed around the corner and crashed into two of my fellow guards. I knocked them both down, lost my balance, and fell. Thankfully, my training kicked in so I tucked and rolled while allowing the momentum to carry me down the hall. With a heavy thud, I landed right in front of Captain Armor, a wide-eyed Princess Celestia, several officers, and some really surprised palace staff.

I sprung to attention. “Reporting for duty, Captain!”

Without missing a beat, Shining Armor said, “And this is Silent Knight, the guard I was telling you about. He’ll be taking the lead on Princess Luna’s first watch. Welcome back, Silent Knight.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said and stepped aside as the gaggle of important ponies went by.

Watch lead, huh? That meant we were going to have at least two ponies per shift. Something was up. I made a note to find out later when the captain wasn’t busy. Plus, I should probably make certain I hadn’t just killed two fellow guards. That is the polite thing to do in this situation.

Author's Note:

Once again I'm pleased to wish you all a happy holidays! I hope yours have been wonderful.

In the previous author's note I had a warning about the next couple of chapters and I wanted to reiterate that again. I'm certain you can all guess the general events I'll be covering next!

As such I wanted to remind everypony that the comedy and fun will not be disappearing permanently. I just wanted to expand out a bit and touch on all aspects of life. All I ask is that you trust me and stay along for the ride!

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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