• 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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47. All Good Things... - Part 2

“You look awful, Sergeant. Although for an ugly pony like you, I suppose that is normal. No pony has to see that face when you’re up in the clouds,” Lieutenant Rook said with a chuckle.

Ponies were making me laugh a lot lately. It hurt. “At least I can fly. Why didn’t you bring me any fruit? Isn’t that all you earth ponies do?” I was off duty and on medicine. I felt confident I could get away with it.

Russet Rook laughed and shook his head. “That is a stereotype. We also grow vegetables. So, how’re they treating you here?”

“I’m about sick of being poked and prodded,” I admitted. “Once I’m strong enough to get up, I’m going to hit the gym. It is about time I started working my muscles.”

“Don’t overdo it. I don’t want you getting out, hurting yourself, and ending up right back here. The unit needs you. You took charge when I went down, not that that should surprise anypony. Thank you for that and for not leaving me there to die.” Russet just let that linger there a moment before he waved a hoof. “Anyway, you’re a hard pony, Silent Knight. I heard you get hit when I did.”

I shrugged. “The armor took the most of it. You got hit three times. They were aiming for you, breaking the chain of command. It is what I would have done. That bolt I took was probably meant for you.”

The lieutenant snorted. “So I owe you two, then?”

Sagely, I nodded. “Yes you do and don’t forget it… sir.” We sat in silence a moment and then a thought occurred to me. “Sir?”

“Yeah?”

“What is the damage? Do I need to get prepared to head into a war as soon as I’m well?” I asked pointedly.

The lieutenant shook his head. “No. The princesses agreed they didn’t want to overreact without all of the facts… although between you and me, it took a lot to calm Princess Luna down. I’ve never seen malice in her before, but she was outraged. We’re lucky you woke up. I’m not sure Princess Celestia could have kept her in check if you didn’t. We’ll honor the treaty but I think whatever trust that was built died on the vine right there.”

He took a deep breath and then continued with another shake of his head, “King Ranald and Duke Cassius are embarrassed and livid. Obviously, we don’t know if they’re involved or not. Intelligence is looking into it. But they’re in charge now. We’re out, Silent Knight.”

“I see,” I replied.

We exchanged glances and the lieutenant said, “Captain Alastair and his entire unit have been declared enemies of the kingdom. Both kingdoms, actually, and there is an astronomical bounty on their heads.”

“I could stand to be rich,” I said with a smile. The statement was kept light but some part inside of me meant it. Not the rich part, of course…

Russet Rook chuckled and shook his head. “I’ll let that slide given the circumstances but, seriously, we’re out. Now, you get well, and that is an order.”

“Aye, sir!”

“You are looking much better,” Princess Luna said while she sat on my bed and stroked my mane.

She was treating me a bit more like a foal than usual and it was tough to take it while my subordinate guards watched. Out of respect for me, most of them stood outside the door. Miley was having none of that today. This sort of thing seemed to delight her.

“You?” I repeated. The princess had most certainly said ‘you’.

“Oh, yes.” She smiled. “You’ve been out for a while and wouldn’t know. Once we returned, I decided it was well past time that I learn to speak as a modern pony. I’ve had language lessons twice a week. I still slip up, but great progress has been made. Now, as I said, you are looking much better.”

“I’m sorry I missed that. Thank you, Princess. I’m feeling better. Honest,” I said and squirmed.

“Be still,” the princess admonished before going back to mothering me. “The doctors said your recovery is ahead of schedule. They further say that you are very hearty and willful. I told them that this was so. I wanted to move you to my wing of the palace but they say it is too soon.”

“Imagine that,” I teased. I closed my eyes and let her comb through my mane a bit more. “Thank you for caring for me, Princess. I’m told you wouldn’t leave my side.”

“I would not. You so willingly gave up all to protect me and your ponies. The least I could do was tend to you. I have aided Winterspear in making your new quarters suitable. They shall be comfortable when you return home.”

I pondered what that meant. I suppose I’d have to find out later. “Thank you, Princess. I was hoping to talk about the next steps with the gryphons.”

Princess Luna rose and slipped off my bed. Lightly, she brushed her hoof to my cheek and shook her head. “Get some rest, Silent Knight. The doctors have made it clear that you are not to be stressed or excited.” She smiled as she changed the subject. “If you like, I can bring game night here this week.”

“That would be wonderful, Princess. By all means, please bring everypony.”

“Verily!” she cheered before heading out.

Shining Armor stood beside my bed, levitating a small wooden box. “Glad to see you’re recovering so well. I read your report which, I hope you realize, you didn’t have to file while you’re on injury leave. It was good to get your account, though.”

With a shrug, I admitted, “I have a lot of time on my hooves here. I thought I’d write it out while it was still somewhat fresh in my mind. All the time in between was lost, so perhaps my perspective would be clearer for what happened that day.”

The captain nodded. “It was quite precise and filled in a few gaps we had from Iridescence’s and Russet Rook’s reports. Although in their accounts, you were far more heroic.”

I snorted. “No heroes that day, sir. We were just doing our job.”

Shining Armor reached out a hoof and tapped the wooden box. “The medals in here say otherwise.”

My head drooped. “Medals go to the ponies that didn’t make it back, sir. I was one of the lucky ones.”

The captain nodded stoically. “I’m not sure I’d call you lucky but to your point, those ponies will be honored as well. We can’t not honor you just because the gryphons weren’t good enough to finish the job.”

“Well, I’ll send them a thank you note for being sloppy,” I said as Shining Armor opened the box to reveal the three medals inside. The one in the center was an alabaster cross. I looked away in shame.

“I thought you might feel that way. That is why I brought them myself. I know a big ceremony isn’t your sort of thing, but you’ll likely have to go through it. I’ve delayed that until such a time when you’re buttoned up and back to your normal self. I know you don’t believe it, but you’ve earned these,” he said, closing the box and levitating it to the stand beside my bed.

I shrugged and changed the subject. “How have things been here?”

The captain let it go and replied, “They’ve been well… but busy. I know you’re not supposed to have too much excitement, but I wanted you to hear this from me. I’m being reassigned.”

My body went rigid. This was not news I’d wanted to hear. “Sir? Are you serious?”

“Yes. Cadence and I are going to a place called the Crystal Empire. It recently reappeared. A whole part of Equestria just popped up out of nowhere. Princess Celestia is quite concerned about it and has dispatched us immediately to secure it and provide leadership for the ponies there. The timing couldn’t be worse, but I wasn’t going to leave without seeing you first, though.”

“I appreciate that, sir,” I said, but I didn’t feel it. Over time, I’d relied less on the captain but it was nice to know he was still there. Now he was leaving and I had no idea what to say. “We could write?”

He nodded. “Of course. My advice may be a bit delayed, but it will come. I imagine you might want to talk from time to time given what is coming.”

“More bad news, sir?” I asked, unsure where he was going with this.

Shining Armor nodded again. “I’m afraid so. Princess Luna and I feel like you would be well suited as an officer. As such, once you’re well, we’ve arranged for you to attend the Royal Canterlot Officer’s Academy… unless you choose not to. I hope you won’t pass on the opportunity, though.”

I blinked. “Pardon?”

“Officer’s candidate school. You’ll earn a commission and a command. There are few ponies as deserving as you.”

“I honestly appreciate it, sir. It would be a great opportunity. No one in my family has ever done that… but I don’t want to leave the House Guard. I’m willing to give up a lot to stay with Princess Luna,” I explained.

Shining Armor nodded. “We suspected you’d say that. Which, even though it is highly unusual, we’ve arranged it so that when you earn your commission, you’ll take over as commanding officer of the PLHG.”

“How, sir? What about lieutenant Rook?”

“We’re thrilled with Russet Rook. He is a good officer and an excellent planner, so command wants to put that to use. They’re going to move him up to be the executive officer of a new joint command that will oversee both House Guards. It is a good position for him.”

A new command over both House Guards? That was awfully convenient. Too convenient, actually. “Wait, sir. What about Sunny Day? She’s been with Celestia’s Guard for a while and certainly has a heck of a lot more seniority than Russet. He’s been a lieutenant for less than a year.”

Shining Armor cleared his throat softly and rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, I know. Sunny Day is a great officer and Princess Celestia is happy with her. This new joint command is going to happen, though. It is part of a bigger plan and will need to be staffed. Russet is an excellent strategist and let’s just say that his combat experience, regardless of how much of it was spent unconscious, is being highly valued.

“With that said, Sunny Day is fairly attached to Princess Celestia. Politics are politics. It may not be completely fair, but all parties will be satisfied and the command of your unit will be open regardless of your choice. So, that is the question, Silent Knight: is it going to be you or is it going to be somepony else?” He looked squarely at me, waiting.

It was quite an offer: a slot in the best officer’s academy in all of Equestria, command of my own unit, and remaining with Princess Luna... or being stuck under some new pony. It was an offer that couldn’t be refused. The powers that be had me; there was no choice to make. “I accept, then. Who’ll be taking your position?”

“I honestly don’t know yet. I’m sure there is a short list of senior officers ready to step in. That will be decided soon, but command seems to be going in a different direction. The position will be more hooves off with smaller subordinate commands for each area I previously managed,” he explained.

Now it was starting to make sense and that made me chuckle. “They don’t think another pony can handle filling your hoofguards?”

Shining Armor shrugged and replied, “I guess not. I imagine the Captain of the Canterlot Guard is going to be more of a figurehead by the time they're done, if it even exists at all.”

I offered a hoof. “Thank you, Cap—Well, I suppose it is just colonel now then, isn’t it?”

He nodded and bumped his hoof to mine. “It is, and don’t thank me. You’ve earned it. I look forwards to reading letters about your successes. Come and visit me sometime, okay?”

“You bet, sir. I’ll absolutely do that. Safe travels for you and the Mrs.,” I replied and he turned to go.

Before he left, he turned back and fixed me in his stern gaze. “Silent Knight, I want to give you a piece of parting advice. Sometimes, soldiers get wounded on the inside, wounds that you can’t see and doctors can’t heal… and sometimes, those same soldiers are too worried what others will think of them so they don’t seek help for that kind of wound. Don’t be that kind of pony, all right?”

There wasn’t much I could say about it, so I nodded and replied, “Yes, sir.”

As the door closed behind him, I felt bad for the pony that had to fill Shining Armor’s shoes. The Captain of the Canterlot Guard was a highly visible position with a lot of responsibility. There were fewer more important titles in the Royal Guard, even if it was going to be a figurehead. The pony who filled the position prior had done it the best and now he was off to his next command. It would be a tough act to follow and I was sorry to see him go.

“Hi, Silent Knight!” Velvet Step said from somewhere in the balloon maze.

During my time in the hospital, ponies had sent an ever-increasing volume of flowers, balloons, and cards. At this point, it had turned into a joke.

I called into the sea of gifts, “Hello?”

Crystal Wishes and Velvet Step managed to get through. The two of them were laughing a bit.

“This is getting out of hoof, Silent Knight,” Crystal Wishes said.

“Agreed, but it makes ponies happy so who am I to spoil their fun? I’ll get it all cleaned up,” I replied.

“I understand you’re to be released tomorrow?” Crystal Wishes asked as Velvet went about the task of organizing the cards on the night stand.

Happily, I nodded. “Yes! In my own bed and back to light duty. I’ve been here too long.”

“Say, Silent Knight, what is this?” Velvet asked as she picked up the wooden box.

“Oh… those are just some medals. No big deal,” I hedged.

Crystal Wishes turned to look as Velvet opened the box. She stiffened. “No big deal? I don’t know too much about medals, but I know a Celestia Cross when I see one.”

Velvet asked, “What is that?”

“It is the highest honor the Guard has to offer,” Crystal said proudly. “It is extremely rare. To earn one the pony usually has to d—” She saw my face. “—do you know what Velvet? Why don’t we leave the sergeant’s medals alone.” Quickly, she closed the box.

“O-Okay,” Velvet said, hurriedly putting the box down.

“I’m sorry,” Crystal Wishes whispered to me.

I shook my head. “It is fine. Listen… Crystal Wishes, I need a favor. It is a lot to ask and I’m not good at doing that.”

Both mares looked to me, their eyes going bigger.

“Yes? Anything!” Crystal Wishes said, oddly a little excited.

“Shining Armor and Princess Luna have arranged for me to go to the Royal Equestrian Officer’s Academy. I’m not worried about any of the military stuff. I’ll be fine there. It is the gentlepony part that concerns me. I don’t know anything about it and… well, you’re such a fine and proper lady. I thought if you’d tutor me I might be able to fit in. Would you be willing to do that?”

“Of course,” Crystal Wishes replied, her tone dropping slightly. “When do you start?”

“It isn’t immediate. The current class has to finish and I’ll go in at the start of the new one. Plus, I need to get through all of my physical therapy. I’m certainly not going to start and be unable to do the training. That would just be awful.”

Crystal Wishes smiled. “Well, then, that will give us a headstart. Come by my place once a week and we’ll go over the finer points of civil society.”

I nodded. “Thank you, Crystal Wishes. You’re the best.”

“Anything for you, Sergeant,” she said with a wink.

It was well past visiting hours and I should have been asleep. Tomorrow, I would be fit enough to leave the hospital, but today I still had to follow all of the rules. There were far too many rules at the hospital, even for me. There was a reason I was still awake, though. I’d been waiting.

After a soft sigh, I cleared my throat and called, “Are you going to skulk around out there all night or are you finally going to come inside?”

There was no immediate reply but eventually Radiant Orchid popped her head in to peer at me. We stared at each other in silence for a while before she finally said, “Hey… you’re still up.”

“I am. You’ve been pacing out there for hours. Either come in or go home.”

Orchid nodded and decided to come in. “Sorry about that,” she replied before heading over to the side of my bed. “How’re you?”

“Morale is currently high because I’m being released tomorrow. Other than that, I still hurt all over. How’re you?”

The older mare shifted back and forth a bit. “I’m doing better than I thought I would. The nightmares have stopped and I’m handling what happened to us pretty well.”

“But?” I pressed.

Radiant Orchid smiled a brittle smile. “That obvious?” She sighed. “What if it had been me? My poor husband and foals, I keep thinking about them.”

All I could do was nod. Orchid had a beautiful family.

“So… I wanted to talk to the lieutenant about a transfer to the city guard or something. Before I asked him, though, I knew I’d have to tell you. Silent Knight, it isn’t that I’m afraid for myself. Honestly, in the moment, I did my job. It was after… when I think about…” Tears welled in her eyes and she had to stop.

My hoof found hers and I held it. “Radiant, I respect that. Celestia knows family is important… I have to do something awful, though. I have to ask you to stay, at least temporarily. You’re going to be the unit sergeant.”

Radiant Orchid stiffened. “What? Silent Knight, you can’t be serious. You’re going to be fine. The doctor said you’ll recover. He said you’ll be as good as new.”

“They’re going to send me to the officer’s academy to earn a commission,” I explained. “I’ll be taking command of the unit. You were placed here all that time ago to be the voice of wisdom and experience. Shining Armor wanted you to mentor me. A new lieutenant needs an experienced unit sergeant.”

The mare shook her head. “Iridescence—”

“Isn’t ready. I need you, Sergeant. By Celestia, I’m so sorry to ask but I need you.” I let her hoof go and reached over to my night stand. Astral Bolt had brought me the mangled First Sergeant pin off my armor when he visited last. I picked it up and put it into Radiant’s hoof. “Just until she is ready. I promise.”

Radiant Orchid closed her hoof over it and stood in silence. Our eyes met and then she nodded. “Just until she is ready. Get well, okay?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll get the paperwork started once I’m back on duty.”

Author's Note:

Crystal's Wishes Companion Chapter: Her Wonted Life

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.

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