• 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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36. In Her Majesty's Service

I leaned against one of the workbenches in Runic’s back room, watching him fiddle with some sort of machine.

Today I was prepared. I wore goggles, stood on a rubber mat, and had a lab coat on. With any luck, I wouldn’t be on the wrong end of an experiment. “So I understand you and Miley Hooves are going to see a show?”

“Yes,” Runic said as he turned a crank on the machine. “We’re going to see a rock show. I’m pretty excited!”

My eyes narrowed. “Runic, do you mean the new show in town, Pony Rocks?”

He nodded and continued to turn the crank. Slowly, a barrel rose up towards the top of the machine. “That one, yes.”

“You do realize that isn’t about actual rocks, right? It’s a musical show. Ponies sing and dance to rock music,” I explained.

Runic stopped and stared at me. “But… it’s called Pony Rocks! Rocks for ponies?” He started cranking again and finally the barrel spilled over into the top of the machine. It began to whir and sputter.

Eying the device, I went on, “I know, Runic. They’re trying to be clever. You may enjoy it, though, and Miley is really excited that you said yes. You wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings, would you?”

Throwing a switch, Runic replied, “No. I don’t like hurting anypony’s feelings.” A conveyor belt started to move, bringing bottles up to the machine that were then filled with pink liquid.

“Then you’ll still go with Miley?” I asked.

“Of course. Miley is a fun lab assistant. I’m sure we’ll have a good time,” he said, coming over to me and handing me a box of labels. He applied one to a bottle and I got the idea. We were making mare care products today it seemed.

“You think she is only a lab assistant?” I asked.

“That is certainly a step up from research project.” He chuckled at me.

I labeled more bottles and glanced up at him. “I see… So, Runic, I’m no expert on this sort of thing but I need to ask a favor, as a friend. Could you be careful with Miley? She may be a little sweet on you. If you don’t feel that way it is fine, but be gentle.”

“Sweet on me?” He tilted his head and put a label on upside down.

“Yeah, you know… like ‘special somepony’ type sweet. I think she likes you,” I said as I apologized to Miley internally. I really did want the best for her.

Runic put another label on upside down. “Oh. Really?”

“Really,” I replied before starting to take his bottles and turn the labels rightside up as he continued to put them on upside down.

“Isn’t that interesting,” Runic said and then added, “Is this a date, then?”

“I think to protect her heart she’d probably say it was an invite to a friend, but deep down she’d like it to be a date, and it does happen to fall on Hearts and Hooves Day.” I continued to fix all of the bottles Runic was messing up.

“I haven’t been on a lot of dates, Silent Knight,” Runic admitted. “As I told you that one time, mares don’t like talking about rocks on the first date. What should I do?”

“Just be yourself.”

The labels were getting far more erratic. The bottle I was trying to fix had six on it.

I continued, “Miley already knows you. She likes you how you are. Don’t do anything silly like pretend to be another pony. Although maybe you should talk about something she is interested in at least once.”

“What is she interested in? She always seems interested in what we’re doing here! Do I talk about that? She was there for it!”

“Slow down there!” I held a bottle in each hoof and tried to fix labels with my teeth. I sat down and stuck out a hindhoof to catch a third bottle. “She’ll prompt you, I’d guess. Just let her take the lead now and again if she tries. You’ll be fine. Please stop the belt, Runic. Runic!”

“Huh?” Bottles tumbled off the line and onto me. The top popped open on one and got all over my mane. “Oh, right.” He turned off the line.

I stood up from the pile of bottles and shook my mane out a bit. It suddenly had volume and glimmered.

“You look great,” he offered.

After looking myself over, I had to agree. Runic’s mare care products were the best and my mane had never looked shinier.

“Thanks, I guess. Look, I didn’t tell you this to get you worked up. I just wanted to be sure you didn’t miss out on something. I know a thing or two about missing the subtle signs that mares send. Actually, I could probably write a book about it. But I don’t want that for you. Just be yourself and you’ll do fine, okay?”

“Okay. I’ll just be myself. It will be fine,” he repeated. “Should I bring a gift? I know she likes quartz. “

I lifted a hoof. “Why don’t you just start with being you and see how that goes? If you have fun, you can worry about gifts and such then.”

“That sounds fair. I wouldn’t want to overdo it. Mind helping me clean up?”

I shook my head. “No, I don’t mind at all.”

We set about to cleaning up and fixing all of the bottles that had tried to bury me alive.

Princess Luna and I sat across from each other at her game table. She was staring me down. Her vicious gaze didn’t rattle me at all. I had her and she knew it. Her magic slowly levitated several pony figures forwards by an exact, measured amount. They were perfectly painted and looked exactly like the members of her House Guard.

“‘Tis thy turn,” she said in an ominous tone.

Her moves had been very limited thanks to my strategy of bottling her up between two hills. Princess Luna played very aggressively and in war that was dangerous. I moved one unit of ponies up onto the left hill. Then I carefully pushed a group of pegasi up on the opposite one. It would all be over soon.

I pointed to the unit on the left. “Those ponies have crossbows—” I then pointed to where the House Guard was exposed. “—and those are the targets.” Picking up fifteen dice, I gave them a little shake before dropping them. We looked them over and I said, “Twelve hits… minus two to your armor saves.”

Princess Luna wrinkled her nose in a sour look. She rolled the twelve dice. “Two saves…” Gently she turned ponies over onto their side. She was careful about whom she chose. She stuck her tongue out before turning the figure that looked like me over.

“Well, you’re certainly not going to win now,” I teased.

She snorted and waved a hoof at me. “I think there is little chance of victory now. Thou hast outmaneuvered me again. Wilt thou show me mine errors?”

“If you would like. Thank you for the game,” I said before moving around to her side of the table. “It all starts with the terrain. Generally the high ground is always favorable. You seem to rely on the fact that your soldiers are better than mine. Never underestimate what unskilled warriors en mass can achieve under good leadership.”

The princess seemed to think that over. “What if both of our soldiers are highly trained?”

“It all comes down to morale, tactics, teamwork, and luck.”

“Luck?” She seemed surprised.

Slowly, I nodded. “It may not seem elegant or comforting but luck will always matter. We do the best we can and hope everything works as we planned… but plans never survive the first contact with the enemy.”

Princess Luna sat her hooves on the table and replied, “I see. Perhaps it is best if thou beginest instructing me in the art of war?”

My head tilted. “Why would you want to learn something awful like that, Princess?”

“The same reason that thou hast learned… just in case.”

That gave me pause and then I nodded. “Very well. A ruler of Equestria should know the basics of warfare, just in case. You'll have an easier time conversing with the generals.”

“Knoweth all royal guards as much about it as thou dost?”

I shook my head. “No, that is my father’s doing. That and my own interest. I’ve had a lot of time to study in the evenings.”

The princess lightly patted me on the shoulder. “I think thy time would be better spent looking for a new companion.”

“I’ve got plenty of companions,” I said, missing the point on purpose. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go over this with Princess Luna again.

“Thou knowest exactly what I meant. Thou canst not turn a blind eye to romance forever simply because of one…” She hedged. “...unfortunate experience.”

I cleared my throat and lowered my voice. I wasn’t particularly interested in Miley Hooves hearing this conversation. “Yes, I know what you meant, Princess. I’m the unit sergeant now. I’ve got a lot on my plate. There are a lot of ponies counting on me.”

“And what of thou? Is this not a life half lived?”

Softly, I rested my hoof over hers. “Princess, I am truly grateful for your concern. That alone is more than I ever saw for myself in my life. I have friends, family, and ponies that are concerned for my well-being. It is enough for me. I would like for it to be enough for the rest of you.”

Princess Luna blinked and looked me in the eyes. “If that is thy wish.”

“It is.” At least I thought so.

“Then we will return to the lessons of warfare. The romance shall be saved for another day.”

Sunny Day slipped out of the shadows to fall in beside me as I walked towards Princess Luna’s chambers. The princess had asked me to see her before I went home for the day.

“As you were,” the unicorn mare said before I could properly salute. “That was some tussle the other night, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, ma’am. Again, I apologize for that. I can assure you that it absolutely won’t happen again.”

Sunny winked at me. “Oh, I’m sure. They’re all terrified of you. If you tell them to straighten up, they’ll straighten up.”

My ear flicked. “Terrified? Nopony is terrified of me.”

“You say that, but they are. After the other night most of my ponies are, too. You jumped into that fight, took some good licks, and still pulled the ponies apart like a professional. You didn’t even lose your cool, just gave that disapproving glare. I was impressed.”

It wasn’t clear to me where this conversation was going. “Alright, well, perhaps it is wise to be frightened by a first sergeant.”

“I’m not scared, though,” she said pointedly.

“You’re a lieutenant and, as best I can tell, nothing scares you anyway. What is your point?”

Sunny laughed a bit and replied, “No point. Just that I’m not scared. Bye!”

She made a right and took off down the hall as I reached Princess Luna’s chambers. I simply didn’t get Sunny Day.

The princess’s door was open and I went inside. Blackblade was keeping watch and the princess nodded towards him from her seat at her game table.

“Take position outside, please,” I told the earth pony and he did so.

After pushing the door shut, I went over and sat across from the princess. She was painting some more miniatures. The current one captured in her magic looked exactly like her. “Her name was Nocturna.”

I racked my brain for a moment before I pieced it together. Of course. Who else? “The figure?”

“The alicorn thou sawest in the stained glass. She was going to be my mentor.”

“Going to be?” I asked.

The princess shook her head. “I do not wish to discuss that. I felt thou hast a right to understand a little more of what thou hadst seen. That way thou mayest make an educated decision on what I am about to ask.”

“Are you about to ask me to go on another mission?”

“I am. Thou art uniquely suited to this work even though thou wouldst be unaware of it. I know circumventing Royal Guard procedures will givest thou pause. Were this not important I would never ask, but I must. Wilt thou be my agent?”

If it had been any other pony I’d have gone to the captain. Any other pony in all of Equestria and I wouldn’t give it a second thought. This wasn’t any pony, though. This was Princess Luna. My career would be in jeopardy and I certainly didn’t like keeping secrets, but when she said ‘uniquely suited’ I didn’t take it as an exaggeration. She seemed genuine.

“Yes. Within reason, of course.” There was nothing else that needed to be said.

“Of course. Thou hast my sincere gratitude.” She took my helmet off and set it on the table.

From a drawer, she produced a silver chain with a white crescent moon pendant. That went around my neck and my vision changed. It was the same as the last time.

“Fly west to the Smoky Mountain. Near the base on the western face, thou wilt find a stone circle set into the cliff’s face. Press the talisman to it and it will open. Report back what thou findest.”

“Princess, is there any way you could be less cryptic about this? What exactly are you hoping for me to find?” I asked.

She straightened and looked at me sternly. “This is difficult for me, Silent Knight.”

We had a staring contest and there was little doubt that she was going to win. I did my best to hang in there, though. If I was to be her agent, I needed to know more.

Finally, she sighed. “Thou art looking for ponies or any indication of where they may have gone.”

It caught me off guard. She’d had me and decided to tell me, anyway. Perhaps I should go easier on her. “Ponies. Alright then, I’ll be on my way.”

When I reached for my helmet, she set a hoof on mine and shook her head. Evidently, the princess wasn’t worried about me being brained.

Off I went to another crypt, most likely. Without my helmet, I decided to exit from the balcony. If there were ponies to be found, I hoped they were friendly. Friendly and willing to have a house guest.

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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