• 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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2. An Evening of Honesty

Two weeks. It took a full two weeks just to find enough ponies to minimally staff Princess Luna’s House Guard with a squad. Imagine that: only a single squad of nine ponies to protect one of our alicorn sovereigns.

Captain Shining Armor had been careful—and rightly so. Princess Luna was now one of the only two rulers of Equestria, after all. That meant her security detail had to be staffed by the very best.

Each guard was hoofpicked by Shining Armor, interviewed repeatedly, and had their entire guard file audited. The goal was to end up with a group of ponies that were as skilled and as dedicated as the ones that staffed Princess Celestia's House Guard… or were at least close enough and willing to take the transfer.

The members of Princess Celestia's House Guard were, without any doubt, the finest guards I'd ever met. While the captain was putting together Princess Luna’s unit, I got to know many of them since I was temporarily assigned to their commander, Lieutenant Astral Dyke, and worked with them to protect Princess Luna. It was clear to me that they did not exactly appreciate the task, but they did the job without question.

Though we worked together, I was still an outsider. They only let me hoof the line of their inner circle and I understood that. Royal Guard units, especially one so elite, are like that. New ponies had to earn their way in and all I had done was step forwards on the parade ground. They’d invested their careers into getting to where they were.

Matters took a turn for the worse when my standard issue armor was replaced by the set that was designed specifically for the new unit. The uniform and dress standards for Princess Luna’s House Guards were different than that of our peers. It was done that way to better reflect the princess’s style and give her something that felt uniquely her own. At least, that is what the mare in charge of the design had said and, to be honest, it suited me fine. I was never a fan of gold.

My armor was byzantium with heliotrope highlights. That was the designer’s fancy way of saying dark and light purple. All of the segmented plates were light with the darker colors set into the breastplate. It looked rather impressive but also just a little bit sinister. I didn’t really feel like it made a huge case for Princess Luna not being Nightmare Moon.

What did I know, though? I was just a rookie guard on his first assignment. It just so happened that my first assignment meant immediately guarding a princess.

The door to my barracks room opened and the captain walked in. Immediately, I rose to attention.

“At ease, Silent Knight. There is somepony here I want you to meet.” He stepped out of the way to let a unicorn mare walk past him.

She was tall for a mare, silvery-white in color, and had a coltish turquoise and pink mane. Her cutie mark was a silver shield with a rainbow on the front. There was also some kind of design on it that I recognized from around Canterlot. It was called something like a flower of lies? No, that didn't seem right.

“This is Iridescence,” Shining Armor said. “She is your new partner. Pay attention to her, alright? She’s been with the palace guard for three years. I’m certain you can learn from her experience.”

She was a guard? She seemed a bit too pretty for that, but I certainly wouldn’t have said so out loud.

“Nice to meet you, Silent Knight,” she said, levitating a few bags into the room and setting them on the bunk opposite of mine.

“Likewise.” I looked to the captain and nodded. “Will do, sir.”

“Very good. You two get acquainted. You’ll be working opposite shifts.” He turned and left, shutting the door behind him.

I slowly sat back down on my bunk.

Iridescence started going through her bags and unpacking. “Have you been here long?”

“Two weeks.”

“Ah, so not long.”

I shook my head.

She glanced over at my new armor and raised a hoof. “That certainly stands out a ton against everypony else’s armor. You probably get a lot of looks.”

It was true. I nodded.

“Alright… well, I’m just going to unpack.”

“That sounds good.”

She seemed nice enough. I rolled over onto my bunk and picked up my procedures manual. It was the one used by Princess Celestia’s House Guard. We would be adopting it for Princess Luna and I wanted to make certain I knew it cover to cover. That sort of thing can come in handy.

The first lesson that anypony has to learn as a royal guard is that even though you spend most of your career training for the worst possible situation, your average day will be far more mundane. Guarding Princess Luna meant remembering two rules: keep your mouth shut and stand no further than two paces away from the princess at all times. If you can do that for twelve hours on end, then you’re set.

That also summed up my first month of duty when I was on shift. Truth be told, I was starting to feel like a pet. Wherever Princess Luna went, I followed close. Breakfast? Me watching her eat from over her shoulder. Official meetings? Silent Knight against the wall. Late night skeeball at the palace arcade? Two paces to the left of the machine.

Princess Luna loved skeeball, but she wasn’t that great at it. Once I was almost struck directly in the face by a ball that went wide. That was probably the most dangerous event in my early career.

Twelve hours a day I was two paces away if we were anywhere other than her chambers. If we were there, I was by the door so that I could stop any intruder that might happen to wander in. That was, of course, assuming they got past the gate, two or so companies of palace guards, and all of the support ponies.

When you spend that much time with anypony, you get to know them. My very important pony was different from most, though. Not because she was an alicorn or a princess, but because she had been stuck on the moon for a thousand years.

More than anything, Princess Luna was struggling to fit in. There was simply no polite way to put it. She didn’t know anypony, had no friends, and relied heavily on her sister to assign her duties. There wasn’t any royal function that was all her own. The palace staff and other guards weren’t a big help, either. They typically gave her a wide berth, and it wasn’t out of respect.

On the face of it, most ponies were polite to her, but very few tried to get close. There were always rumors about her being evil or strange and, while she kept a stiff upper lip, when she thought nopony was looking I could see the pain in her as plain as day.

That was how it is sometimes. If you’re doing your job right, the pony you’re guarding forgets you’re there. You’re just a piece of the background. At least, that was what I thought.

One evening, after raising the moon, Princess Luna was standing out on her balcony looking into the night sky. It wasn’t uncommon for her.

“Silent Knight?” she asked, catching me off guard. She’d never spoken at me, much less used my name. I wasn’t even aware she knew it.

Gathering my wits, I responded, “Princess?”

Turning from where she was gazing up, she made eye contact with me. “‘Tis true that thou wert the only pony to volunteer for our House Guard?”

Speak clearly when spoken to. That part I had down. Never tell a lie. Got that, too. However, the princess already struggled enough with ponies not relating to her. Telling her that yes, only one pony wanted to be on her guard seemed like a bad idea. It would probably be a bad idea to mention that everypony else was, more or less, voluntold to join the unit.

To be safe, I decided I would gloss over the truth with an elaborate but believable tale but “Yes, Princess,” was what my mouth replied while I was still working out the details. Stupid, honest mouth.

She turned away from me. “We see. And wherefore didst thou volunteer?”

Important ponies were always interested in motivations. It would be a lie to say I didn’t think for myself. I certainly did, but I was also a guard. Guards followed orders and did what they were told. Thinking was for their superiors. In this particular case, however, I knew I’d have to answer, and answer carefully.

“I didn’t believe you were Nightmare Moon, Princess. Still, that is. You probably had a good reason for what happened, too. With all due respect, Princess. My preference is always to meet a pony and then make a judgment for myself.”

The princess seemed to ponder that answer and I thought that I was in the clear. She was silent for a while longer before speaking up again. “And thou risked thy career for the opportunity to meet us?”

No, that certainly wasn’t true. I couldn’t tell her that. Plus, she might be thinking I was trying to fraternize and that was just not going to happen. I knew I’d have to take another stab at it.

“Not exactly, Princess. Royal guards are supposed to stand up for the little pony. It upset me when nopony else stepped forwards. When they didn’t it was clear I had to.”

What an elegant and great speech, Silent Knight! Other than the part where you called the princess a little pony. That was what we guards refer to as a resume-generating event.

“Thinkest thou that we are a little pony?” she asked. Her tone held a note of confusion. That was a step up from angry, at least.

Never let anypony shake your cool. That was certainly easy for my dad to say. He wasn’t staring down Princess Luna alone on a balcony. I could feel my cheeks turn red and willed them to stop. They won that battle.

“No, Princess. It is an expression. I meant nopony stood up for you, so it was my duty to do so. Everypony should have somepony in their corner.”

I could feel a bead of sweat running down my forehead, inside my helmet. I had not strung together this many words since before secondary school.

Her head tilted curiously. “What dost thou mean, in our corner?”

Seriously, Silent Knight, couldn’t you have made it another two hours until your shift ended? Stupid, honest mouth.

“Princess, it is another expression. It means having somepony that looks out for you. That supports you no matter what. Like a friend or—” What would make the most sense? “—a sister.” Yes. Like her sister!

I made a mental note to spend less time in the gym and more time reading philosophy or psychology. Anything to make talking to ponies easier.

Princess Luna smiled just slightly at me. She didn’t do so often, so it was nice to see her smile. Frightening, like I was about to be tossed into a dungeon or off the balcony, but nice.

“And thou art in our corner, Silent Knight?”

Ah, honest mouth, it is your time to shine. “Yes, Princess. Always.”

“This pleaseth us,” she replied as she walked past me and back into her quarters. “Thou hast a clever way with words. Though thou mayest wish to report to the medic. ‘Tis not warm this eve, yet thou art looking feverish with all of thy sweating.”

Never let anypony shake your cool. Easy for Dad to say. My shift was over in two hours. After that, I would report to the medic. Just in case.

Iridescence sat on her bunk, familiarizing herself with my procedures manual. She didn’t have one herself. Who knew why, but I didn’t mind sharing, and my thoughts were too focused on the letter in front of me to worry about where her manual was.

Dear Winterspear

You’ll never guess what happened. I’m not really sure I understand how it happened myself. Either way, and I know you won’t like hearing this, Dad was right. All that hard work was worth it.

Being left in Canterlot alone was frightening but it did a good job preparing me to deal with the type of ponies that live here. Plus all of that extra education and the chance to train at the Central Royal Guard Academy paid off.

I’m a House Guard! Can you believe that? My first assignment is to the House Guard. Princess Luna’s House Guard, but still. It was worth it.

Congratulations on making sergeant. Few ponies deserve it as much as you.

Your brother

Silent Knight

Carefully I started to try and fold the letter. That wasn’t something easy to do with hooves, but I usually managed. After struggling with it for a minute, it floated away from me, wrapped in royal blue magic.

“If you don’t mind, Silent Knight, I can do that for you,” Iridescence said, her horn illuminated.

Magic. Unicorn magic. It wasn’t something I was used to even after all of my years in Canterlot. Truthfully, I was wary of it but she was being helpful.

“Thank you,” I replied and let her do the folding. Once she was done, I stuck the letter in an envelope and headed off to mail it. It was a shame I’d waited so long. The letter was long overdue, but Winterspear would understand. She always did.

Author's Note:

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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