• 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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4. A Guard's Day Off

It was early evening. Iridescence arrived right on time: fifteen minutes before my shift ended. We stood at our posts in silence for a little while before she asked without breaking her forwards gaze, “Anything to report?”

“Quiet day,” I replied.

Iridescence was a top notch guard. She was always buttoned up, on time, and dress right dress. Under her armor, she was also an attractive silver unicorn. Of course, I’m speaking professionally. I would never let that fact get in the way of our working relationship. We were partners working opposite shifts and traveling with the princess when necessary.

“I did your laundry for you,” she said quietly. Iridescence was nice. She was always looking out for me. Of course, I also didn’t have a lot of laundry. Just the gambesons I wore under my armor.

“Thank you. You’re a thoughtful partner.” Then we stood in silence for the rest of the shift change until it was time for me to go. “Good night. Hope you have a quiet shift.”

On the way back to our room, I bumped into Captain Shining Armor outside of the barracks. I saluted, he nodded, and I returned the gesture with the intention of heading inside. I guess he had something on his mind because he called me by name. “Silent Knight?”

“Yes, sir?” I replied and stood at attention.

“At ease. I know you’re off duty.”

Officers… Dad always said that when they’re around, even if you’re off duty, you’re on duty. He didn’t raise a fool. “Thank you, sir.” I relaxed my stance slightly.

“How are things working out for you? Are you getting on fine?”

I quickly nodded and replied, “Yes, sir.”

He looked at me for a long moment, as if he was waiting for me to elaborate. I didn’t. The captain shrugged and went on, “Princess Luna has said very positive things about your professionalism and dedication. She is very pleased with your performance.”

“She is most kind, sir.”

Shining Armor sighed. “Listen, Silent Knight, you’re an excellent guard. As your commander, I’m proud of you. You stand out and you’re top notch. Even more so considering all your peers have a lot more experience… but, from one stallion to another, I worry a little. There is more to life than the job.”

My head tilted. “Sir?”

“I asked around. You seem to spend all your time on duty, practicing, doing physical training, or studying. That is commendable and in no way am I chastising you. I just feel like that sort of life isn’t sustainable.” He paused and shifted uncomfortably. “I should know. My little sister was… or maybe still is the exact same way.”

He elaborated and I could tell it was somewhat tough for him. “All she did was study her magic and worry about her next test or project. It was getting so extreme that her mentor, Princess Celestia herself, stepped in to help her. It was a kind thing she did. My sister made some friends and even has fun every now and then.” He smiled a bit. “So, as a mentor, I hope you’ll take my advice. Maybe actually take a day off now and then when you have your days off, okay?”

Shining Armor was my mentor? The Captain of the Canterlot Guard? He wanted me to work less? Was this a test? It didn’t make any sense to me. My father had always coached me on keeping my edge and staying focused. I did sometimes wonder about what else was out there, though.

Now the captain was telling me to relax a bit, and I shouldn’t disobey an order. I also noticed he was staring at me, waiting for me to in some way acknowledge what he had said. How long had I been standing there in silence?

“I understand what you’re saying, sir,” I started. “Order received. I’ll start using at least one of my days off to relax and find something fun to do.”

The captain laughed and shook his head. “It wasn’t an order, Silent Knight, but I’m glad you’ll take my advice. Be sure that the something fun doesn’t look too much like Royal Guard work,” he replied before patting me on the shoulder and heading off towards home. “Goodnight,” he called over his shoulder.

“Goodnight, sir.” I headed to the room I shared with Iridescence. We were off shift the next day. When she got back from her watch I’d ask her what to do. She knew more about these things anyway. Maybe we could go for a gallop together… no, that was too much like training. Sword fight? No. Archery? No, darn… hat shopping? Yes! We’d go hat shopping.

When I got to our room I noticed that Iridescence’s bunk wasn’t made correctly. I set her pillow and accessories carefully aside and remade it for her. It was exactly how the manual stated. I replaced the pillow and then set her stuffed animal in front of the pillow. That wasn’t regulation but it made her smile and the officers never seemed to mind little personal touches.

I straightened up our room and put away all the fresh laundry she had left on the bed for me while I thought about hat shopping. I really didn’t want to do that. I’m not a big fan of my helmet, much less hats. Plus spending bits on something silly didn’t make sense. Almost all of my money still went back home to my parents. With our Dad being unable to work, my sister and I did everything we could to make sure Mom and Dad lived comfortably.

Tomorrow was going to be awful. I hate hats.

“You want to do what?” Iridescence asked before placing her hoof on my forehead to check my temperature.

I lightly pushed her hoof away and repeated, “Hat shopping. We should go hat shopping today.”

“Why?” she asked, still eyeing me as though I was crazy.

I took a few moments to explain what had happened the night before and she started to laugh at me, which she may have exaggerated a bit because she fell back onto her bunk. “Silent Knight, he just wants you to relax and cut loose a bit! Do you really want to go hat shopping?”

With a very definite shake of my head, I replied, “No, I hate hats. But it was the only thing I could think of that wasn’t like being a royal guard.”

More laughing. She was actually in tears. Iridescence looked good laughing. Well, typically she looked good doing most things but she was my partner. No time for unicorn looking.

When she finally managed to get herself under control she said, “We can have fun and not go hat shopping.”

“We can?” I asked.

“Yes, we can. Good Celestia, didn’t you ever have fun as a colt?”

I quickly nodded. “Of course. I trained with my dad. I was on teams in school. Things like that.”

Iridescence gave me a look that seemed to border between mild amusement and pity. I had never seen it before and it unnerved me. “I have a better idea than hat shopping. Why don’t we go out to the country, have a picnic, and watch the sun set? Would you like that better?”

“I would.” Which was extremely true. Of course, anything was better than hat shopping.

“Good,” she said as she closed on me. The unicorn met my eyes and then they narrowed a bit. “I was going to ask you to get the food but I’m worried you’d go to the chow hall or something. I’ll handle that. You just stand here and not think about work. Okay?”

“Okay. Stand here. Got it,” I replied.

With a quick nod, Iridescence was on her way. I just stood there contemplating what was wrong with the food in the chow hall. It was better than the commissary.

I then shifted my stance to be more loose and casual since standing was technically work. I felt silly.

It took about two hours for Iridescence to find everything she wanted and then another hour for us to find the perfect spot in the country. I laid out the blanket she had brought and inspected the area for ants while she set out our dinner. Unicorn magic is handy. Creepy, but handy. Getting out all of those fiddly bits with hoof and mouth would have taken a while.

Once it seemed everything was to Iridescence’s satisfaction, we started eating. I am unwilling to admit that the chow hall food wasn’t good. I liked it fine. At the same time, wherever she found those sandwiches, fruits, and other things she brought must have been a world class restaurant. It was amazing.

While we ate she would occasionally look my way and we’d make eye contact. She had wonderful eyes. Hers were an icy blue and crystal clear.

It was also quiet out in the country. Very peaceful and beautiful to look at. So this was what relaxing is like. Sitting around with no purpose and enjoying what was going on around us. I could get comfortable with that. At least, every now and then.

Iridescence finally broke the blissful silence. “You don’t talk very much.”

Ah, she had noticed. Being quiet was one of my talents, after all. I nodded in agreement and replied, “Thank you.” That was, evidently, not the correct or expected answer.

“Thank you?” she repeated. “You’re proud of not talking much?”

I tilted my head. “Should I not be? I was always told a good guard keeps quiet and speaks clearly when spoken to. It isn’t polite to brag but I’m probably the best pony at being quiet.”

My unicorn partner laughed again, which was good. She shook her head. “You know that you don’t have to be a guard twenty-four hours a day. You can just be Silent Knight when you’re not in the armor.”

It seemed like a lot of ponies had given me advice on not being a guard. I was starting to question if I’d been doing something wrong, but I understood what Iridescence meant. There is more to the pony than the job, my mother had said once. Dad always said free time could be used to get a leg up on the lazy. They never agreed about that sort of thing.

I ate my tiny sandwich and said, “I’ll talk to you. What do we talk about?”

“I’m honored,” Iridescence said with a slightly teasing tone. “Why don’t we start with something easy.” She pointed a hoof at my flank. “How did you get your cutie mark?”

My cutie mark was interesting. It had both obvious and curious elements to it. Like many ponies destined to be royal guards, it featured a sword. A silver sword, to be specific. The odd part was that it was set against a light blue crescent moon. That never made any sense to me.

It had been a while since I’d thought about when I got my mark. “I used to carry a wooden sword and pretend I was a great warrior. Even before I knew anything about wanting to be a royal guard. My older sister, Winterspear, would pretend to be a villain and we’d spar like ponies in adventure stories. She always wanted to be the bad pony for some reason.

“Most of the time she would defeat me easily. She was four years older after all. One winter, however, I hit a growth spurt and ended up being large for a colt. We were playing a game where I was trying to rescue a beautiful princess that my sister, the equally beautiful evil queen, had hidden away.
“At… well I guess the climax of our little adventure tale, there was to be a sword fight. Instead of her winning, I did! I bopped her on the snout with my sword and she dropped hers. I won! My cutie mark appeared right then. The sword makes sense, but I never understood the moon.”

Iridescence was wide-eyed.

Nervously, I asked, “What?”

“You just strung together more words in the last five minutes than you’ve said in the entire time we’ve been partners,” she said with a laugh. “Well, clearly you were just destined to protect Princess Luna.”

I thought that over. Could that have been it? I didn’t think so. I’d never really believed in fate. Besides, I got my cutie mark while Princess Luna was still trapped in the moon. It was somewhat convenient even if coincidental, though. “Maybe. Thank you for not agreeing to buy hats with me. This is much more fun.”

Iridescence smiled at me and scooted a little closer. “You’re welcome. Is there anything else you like or think you might like?”

“Games. I’m pretty sure I’d like games. The kind with little pieces. When I was a foal I never had time for them.”

Her tone changed. “Oh, well then, you should get some games. I think Princess Luna likes games, too. Perhaps ask her?”

“Maybe,” was all I said.

We sat quietly, ate the rest of our dinner, and looked out to the west. It was just about time for the sun to set and I thought about how it was weird that I had never paid it much mind. It really was an amazing thing. All of the colors, the light disappearing, and the fact that it was all done by one powerful pony. Some ponies forget that Princess Luna and Celestia aren’t just princesses. They’re alicorns, too.

While I was distracted and pondering the wonders of the sun, sunsets, and alicorns, Iridescence managed to sneak up right next to me. She moved silently. That was one of her talents.

It was chilly out, so I understood why she was so close. We lingered for a while longer. I didn’t move.

“Silent Knight, have you ever had a marefriend before?”

“Sure,” I said. “My sister.”

She shook her head. “No, that isn’t what I meant. I’m talking about a very special somepony.”

“Oh, no. I guess not,” I admitted.

With a nod, she replied, “I can tell.”

“You’re a more perceptive pony than most. Reading others seems easy for you.” It was true. She was excellent at that sort of thing. I had seen it on some of our days off. Usually, I just stood beside her while she did all the talking.

“Even an unperceptive pony would notice,” she said with a quiet laugh.

“Ah,” I said and contemplated that.

Iridescence wouldn’t lie to me and I valued her insight. If she said it was so, it was probably true. While I was thinking, we just sat there quietly for another hour until it was time to head back. I liked relaxing. I made a note to do that more often.

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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