• Published 17th Nov 2014
  • 17,992 Views, 2,754 Comments

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.

  • ...
48
 2,754
 17,992

PreviousChapters Next
48. Homecoming

“Well, what do you think?” Winterspear asked me as we stood in the living room of our new quarters.

They were certainly bigger than a barracks room. Just about six times the size actually. We had a living area, separate bedrooms, a private bathroom, and even a small kitchen. Beyond the physical scale of the place, Winterspear and our friends had carefully decorated it to reflect what they told me was ‘my style.’

There were pictures of famous military ponies, maps of ancient battlefields, and all sorts of guard-related paraphernalia. It was comfortable, too. All of the furniture was softer and plusher than what I’d had before. That was probably Winterspear’s doing and I wasn’t going to complain. It was a lot more than I needed, but rank has its privilege.

“Well? Say something, Silent Knight,” Winterspear repeated. I had been limping around and inspecting in silence. I guess I went too long.

“You really went all out. This is seriously too much. Can I afford all of this?”

Winterspear laughed and shook her head. “Not on a first sergeant’s salary alone, no. You do get a monthly housing allowance, though, and with that it is fine. Plus, since we’re living together, I can use my housing allowance, too. Believe it or not, we’re barely paying more than we did to share that single room.”

“That room was free,” I reminded her.

“Exactly!”

I sat on the couch and then immediately got up. I had been off my hooves too much lately. “What about Mom and Dad?”

“Plenty of money for them still, especially once you become a lieutenant. Come on, please try to enjoy this a little bit, okay? This is a major step up in lifestyle for us.”

I nodded and went over to nuzzle her cheek. “You did great. I really do like it. Thank you. About Mom and Dad…”

Her ears folded back. “Do you really want to do this right now?”

“I’ll be fine,” I replied.

“I sent them a letter as soon as I found out. Dad sent one back,” Winterspear explained. She went into her room and returned with the paper. “Here you are.”

The letter was brief and written in my mother’s script.

Winterspear

If he made it back alive he’ll wake up. They had their chance and blew it. Pat him on the back for me.

Dad

“Can’t fault him with the accuracy of his statement,” I said before tossing the letter on the table. “Alright, then. I don’t know what I expected. Mom, too?”

My sister quickly shook her head. “No, oh Celestia, no. She came immediately. She was the one that brought the letter. The doctors told her it could be weeks or months before you woke up and eventually she had to go back, though. You know Dad can’t be left alone for long. I’m sorry, Silent Knight.”

“I know. Honestly, I’m fine. You’re all the family I need.”

Winterspear hugged me and it hurt considerably less than a few days prior. We lingered that way until it started getting too quiet.

“Back to work tomorrow?” she asked.

Eagerly, I replied, “Yes. Light duty but still. Say, have they fixed my armor?”

My sister nibbled on her lip. “Not yet… You’ll have to go without it for a little while or wear some loaners.”

“Really? I’m patched up but my armor isn’t?”

Winterspear looked awfully guilty and she wrung her hooves. “Well… you know how it is. Sometimes they get behind. Your armor was really beat up and you asked for the same suit. It would have been easier to just get a new one.”

I looked her over, stared a moment, and then nodded. “Alright, then. Do you want to come with me to the gym? The doctor said I’ll need a partner for a while to make sure I don’t overdo it, and I guess to pick me up when I fall.”

“Of course! Let’s get down there and get you back to your overly fit self!”

I limped through Canterlot on my way to the Unicorn Temple. My wing was still in a cast so flying was out of the question… assuming I could even get myself off the ground, which was equally unlikely. It wasn’t important that I moved fast, however. There was a mission to accomplish and I had all day to do it.

Eventually, I reached the large double doors and carefully knocked. There was silence for a while before it finally opened, revealing a young temple guard in the ancient style of armor. He looked at me with a mixture of curiosity and confusion.

“Good day,” I said. “Please inform Exemplar Ferrel that Sergeant Silent Knight is here to see her. I don’t mind waiting.”

The temple guard nodded and then motioned to a small patch of grass inside. “Not at all. Please, come in and sit.”

“Thank you,” I replied before limping in and settling on the spot. It was good to sit. Walking all the way to the temple had taken a lot out of me.

Without another word, he turned and walked out into the temple grounds, leaving me alone on my spot. The peace and tranquility of the area struck me. The sounds of Canterlot were simply absent. I wasn’t sure how that was possible but there was no city noise. Most likely magic.

The garden was quite soothing and I went from sitting to lying… and then from lying to dozing. The sun hit the spot just perfectly, warming me up.

“Sergeant?”

I blinked and found Exemplar Ferrel standing over me. Perhaps I had caught a brief nap. Slowly, I pushed myself up and off the ground. “Exemplar. Forgive me, please.”

“Quite alright. You are still healing. What can I do for you?” she asked evenly.

The exemplar was always all business but I didn’t mind. I reached into my saddlebag and carefully pulled out a wrapped bouquet of flowers. “These are for you, as a small token of thanks for saving my life.”

I was met with a vacant stare and some blinking before the exemplar accepted them with her silver magic. “You have my gratitude, Silent Knight, but this truly isn’t necessary.” For a brief moment, I saw her admire the flowers before going back to her carefully controlled expression.

“Necessary, no. Important to me, yes. You risked your life to save mine. Nopony else could have brought me back and, to be perfectly frank, I wasn’t keen on dying there. I just did what I had to,” I admitted.

Exemplar Ferrel remained steady as she held the bouquet in her hooves. “It was not your time,” she said with her unwavering certainty.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

The exemplar shook her head. “It was not your time, Silent Knight.”

“How can you know that?”

“Explaining would be extremely difficult and likely unbelievable. Please forgive that. It was simply not your time.” She lightly smelled the flowers and then added, “Thank you for the flowers. You are most kind. Good day, Silent Knight.”

She turned her back to me and headed off into the garden while I tried to figure out what she had meant. Magic… It had to be magic, and I knew I’d never understand it. I tried to put it out of my mind. It was time to get home and rest up for tomorrow. I’d be going back on duty.

“Good morning, Sergeant,” Miley Hooves said as I passed her in the palace.

“Good morning,” I replied.

“Welcome back, Sergeant,” Harvest Moon chimed in.

“Thank you.”

I managed to get into my office about an hour late after I was stopped by and then thanked everypony in the entire palace. Please don’t think ill of me, but I was tired of being the patient. I just wanted to get back into my old life.

“Good morning, Sergeant,” the lieutenant said as he poked his head through my door. At least I knew he wouldn’t coddle me. “Everything you need to get back up to speed is on your desk. Once you’ve worked through that, I want a transition plan from you. I don’t want any gaps while you’re gone at the academy.”

“Yes, sir. No problem at all,” I replied.

“Glad to have you back. You and I will need to go over that plan as soon as possible. Plus, I want you to meet with the new major next week. She’ll be taking over both House Guards. It seems command wants to distribute the authority of the Captain of the Canterlot Guard out. I guess they’re already worried that whatever poor pony gets the position won’t live up to the example Shining Armor set,” he said.

I chuckled. “I’m glad it isn’t me.”

Lieutenant Rook nodded gravely. “I’m going to agree with you there. At any rate, the major should know you. You’ll be reporting directly to her. You’re also going to be acting commander here until you leave. Leadership wants me to invest my time in helping the major set up the joint command. Is that an issue?”

Quickly, I shook my head. “No, sir. In fact, I’m glad for that. I’ve had my fill of coddling.”

“Good stallion. Unit meeting in two hours. We’ll need to brief everypony and you need to meet the replacements.”

“Aye, sir. I’ll be there,” I said, settling behind my desk. Replacements. What a horrible word.

He cleared his throat. “And not to coddle, but are you sure you're up for this afternoon?”

“No, but we can’t put it off on my account and it won’t ever get any easier.”

“Celestia knows that is right. See you in two.”

Before he could leave, I asked, “Russet?”

His brow arched and he stopped. “Yes?”

“Did they railroad you for me?”

“I assume you don’t want me to lie to you?” he asked.

“My preference would be that you be honest.”

Slowly, he pushed the door closed, leaving his hoof on the handle. “The new command was coming once it became clear that Shining Armor was to be reassigned. That part is true. Look, you saved my life. You almost gave yours. My report was honest and I gave you all of the credit.”

I opened my mouth and he lifted his hoof from the door to stop me. “I get it. You just did your job. We’re not going to argue over it. The point is, the gryphons took me out and you took command and got the princess to safety.

"It was made clear to me that you would never step over me, so I was given a choice. Move up to executive officer of the Unified House Guard or take a new command elsewhere. It isn’t a bad deal but, if it were anypony else, I might be bitter about it.”

That is about as clear as it gets. “Railroaded, then. Well, it isn’t like you won’t be around. Have you talked to Sunny Day?”

“You’re right. Perhaps in time I may end up in command of the Unified House Guard and that is certainly a step up.” He shrugged. “We talked. She got the message. Thankfully, she is about half as attached to Princess Celestia as you are to Princess Luna, which is still a whole lot.”

I sighed and shook my head. “It rubs me wrong that my career is impacting the careers of other ponies.”

Russet Rook laughed. “Welcome to command, Silent Knight. Don’t forget that some of us tried to play average to get a nice average command and avoid the politics. You and the captain messed that up.”

We shared a smile and then I shrugged. “I guess you were a smarter pony then. Alright, well, I had to ask. See you in two.”

He nodded and left.

I paced across the unit room. “Listen up, ponies. I know I’ve been gone a while and realize many of you saw me at my weakest. All of your kindness and caring is greatly appreciated. With that said, it is time for me to get back to work. I’m your unit sergeant again and it is going to be business as usual. We need to be professionals.”

Looking at the three new ponies, I went on, “I’m not sure what you’ve heard but I’m not a hero. Nor am I some super soldier. I’m a pony like you and as such I expect you to treat me like a regular guard. This week I’ll get a feel for where you came from but remember, this unit operates differently. You’re in the House Guard now. I expect you to be the very best. Is everypony clear on those points?”

“Yes, Sergeant,” they replied in chorus.

“Very good. Lieutenant?” I said, stepping aside.

“Alright, we’re going to be seeing some changes around here. First and foremost, command has decided to unify the House Guard into one company. Evidently, we officially rate as equals now. Good work on that, everypony.

"Both units will report to a new commanding officer. She’ll be arriving soon and, eventually, I’ll be her second-in-command. That means helping the major set everything up and working out some of the integration. As such, Silent Knight will be acting commander until he becomes the official CO.”

The ponies in the room stomped their hooves for that.

“Easy now. I’m still here,” Lieutenant Rook said. He then waved a hoof in my direction. “Sergeant.”

I nodded. “Life goes on like normal. I’ve picked Radiant Orchid to succeed me as unit sergeant and we’ll need a new sergeant to replace her. We’re going to look internally, obviously, before going outside the unit. If you’re interested, let me know.”

“There is one more twist,” the lieutenant broke in. “This came in right before the meeting.” He held up a piece of parchment. “We’re getting a third squad so there will be an additional sergeant’s post. Each House Guard will be a full-sized section.”

It seemed our little family was going to grow even more. In some ways, it made sense. Princess Luna should be able to travel without the need of palace guards. Nine more ponies would certainly make that easier. “Alright, then. If anypony has any questions I’ll be in my office.”

“My office,” the lieutenant corrected.

“I’ll be in the lieutenant’s office,” I amended. “Dismissed.”

The lieutenant and I walked to his office. As he settled behind the desk, I asked, “A new squad, huh?”

He nodded. “Yup. Command feels that palace guards won’t be suitable for Princess Luna’s travels and after the gryphon incident, they only want the best looking out for her. I’m not going to sugarcoat this, Silent Knight. We’re some of the few guard ponies with actual combat experience.

"Things are going to be different now. Eyes were opened to the possibility of violence and actual threats to the princesses. This isn't like before, where the worst you might get was an overzealous pony with a crush. Command expects us to prepare our guards for potential violence. They don’t want to send ponies abroad anymore that aren’t prepared for what we went through.”

I grimaced. “I want to remind you that I was one of the ponies that decided to take palace guards with us.”

The lieutenant set a hoof on the desk. “I’m aware. You can’t look at it that way. They did their duty and you did yours. You saved lives. How many times am I going to have to say that you saved mine? Look, Sergeant, survivor’s guilt is rough. It happens when a commander loses ponies…”

Russet Rook looked around his desk and muttered, “I think I have a pamphlet on it here somewhere. Maybe you should talk to somepony. It helps. Beyond that, you need to be sure you’re right mentally before you take command. If you’re going to be unable to potentially send ponies to their deaths because you can't stomach it I need to know.”

Survivor’s guilt? Is that what they called this feeling? Was that the same as combat fatigue? It didn't matter. I'd overcome both. I looked him in the eyes, “It won’t stop me from doing my duty.”

“Good. It has ruined ponies in the past. Remember, Silent Knight, you were ready to die. You even chose to. Would you want us sitting here regretting we had survived because of your sacrifice? I sure wouldn’t if it was me.”

It was a cruel lesson, but I absolutely wouldn’t have wanted everypony sitting here sulking. I had made my choice for a reason. I shrugged. “I can’t disagree. Could we get back to business? I’m feeling like a patient again.”

“For now, yes. No problem. Who is the top of your list for the new sergeant?” he asked.

“Hooves down, Mountain Stone,” I replied. “He is more than ready and he certainly held his own over there. I can’t see any justification to move anypony past him. He is more rigid than Orchid but I think he has been with us long enough to work some of that out.”

“Done. Radiant Orchid is going to replace you?”

“We had a heart-to-heart,” I explained. “She was very honest with me when I was in the hospital. She wants a transfer but I convinced her to stay temporarily. She is thinking about her foals and I can respect that. At the same time, I’m not sure Iridescence is ready for this. In the long term I’d hate to go outside, as that isn’t how we do things here.”

Lieutenant Rook nodded. “No kidding. Anyway, Iridescence was upset on the ship, but she did get the job done when it counted most. She certainly didn’t lock up under the pressure. She may not have liked it, but she was effective. I think with a bit of grooming she’ll be ready eventually.”

“That is a good point. I’ll discuss it with her and see that she and Orchid spend a lot of time together,” I said.

“Who gets the new squad?” Lieutenant Rook asked.

“Miley Hooves.”

He snorted. “You can’t be serious. What about Lightning Flash? Wasn’t he in line ahead of her?”

“Completely serious. Outside of her little accidents, which have been getting better, Miley has never once cracked under pressure. She tries harder than any other pony. No matter how many times she has been knocked down, she just gets back up again. Lightning is good but I don’t know that he has her drive,” I explained.

The lieutenant didn’t look positive but he shrugged. “Your call. You’re right about her tenacity, I guess. If you think she can lead ponies, I’ll support you.”

“I have some thoughts about the new squad, too. I want to do some reorganization. Instead of bringing in eight new ponies with one of our sergeants, I want to spread them out across all three squads to help them learn how we do things.

"Plus, I want to look for a medic per squad. Not somepony trained in first aid. I mean a full-on medic. Ideally some that are looking to become doctors sooner or later.”

Russet Rook looked at me and then nodded. “That is an excellent idea for a unit like this one. You’ll lose some fighting capabilities but trained medics make sense, especially if it were Princess Luna that was wounded.

"I guess we’re not going to have temple guards with us on every mission. Although maybe we should… At any rate, if we’re going to do this, we need to look for the best and make it a permanent position in the squad. Sergeant, medic, and seven standard guards.”

“Exactly. Shouldn’t be too hard to sell to command. We may even set a new standard. I’m going to need a different list of ponies, though.” Tapping the pile on the desk, I added, “These are all guards.”

Lieutenant Rook snorted. “Technically, I’m command now. I’ll just need the major to sign off. I’ll have the list to you shortly so you can start vetting.”

“Thank you, sir. Anything else?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Just have it all buttoned up before you start the academy. Get back in shape and we’ll see about where they’re at with your armor.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Oh, and go see the pony resources warrant officer. She has about a thousand forms for you to complete.”

That sounded like an awful idea. The thrill of being back to work could only distract me so long. With a sigh, I replied, “Bureaucracy at its finest. I’ll take care of it, sir.”

It felt weird being in gold armor. Unfortunately, it was all Russet Rook could find for me on short notice. Light, ceremonial, standard Palace Guard armor. I would take it for the afternoon, however, because there was no chance I was going to be out of uniform.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Iridescence whispered to me.

“Not remotely, but they’ve been patient enough,” I breathed. Briefly, I closed my eyes and lowered my head. It took a moment to draw in the courage to cross the threshold into the cemetery.

The Equestrian Guard Cemetery holds a special place in the heart of every royal guard. There are several places we may choose to be buried when we die, but only the most honored are laid to rest there. My ponies were worthy of that honor and they’d been waiting for me.

Iridescence lingered close to me in the event my body physically gave out. I wasn’t nearly strong enough yet to carry the burden of armor. Although that was the least of the burdens I felt. We moved slowly, the only sound the click of our hooves on the white stone walkways.

Duke Cassius, in his kind way, had seen to it that all of those that fell that day were recovered respectfully. Their bodies were returned to our shores and had been laid to rest here following a beautiful ceremony, from what I was told. In my condition, I’d missed it and, deep down, I was glad for that.

“There,” Iridescence said softly, pointing out three fresh graves.

Stepping from the walk onto the grass, I stumbled and bumped into my companion as my forehoof gave out. She caught me and helped me onward.

Three graves, three headstones, three names: Starry Spur, Risky Storm, and Lavender.

The gravity of the moment weighed heavily on me. There was finality here. It hadn’t all been a nightmare or an adventure story where nameless minions died. This was where my ponies were and would remain. My teeth clenched as a wave of anger and sorrow hit me.

“Silent Knight,” Iridescence whispered. “I think it is time to go.” She set a hoof on my shoulder and tried to gently guide me away.

I pulled away from her and stared on, ensuring I’d always remember. Iridescence tugged me a bit more forcefully and I struggled against her as best I could. My body just wasn't strong enough, though, so I finally gave in.

We turned and headed back down the path. I couldn’t help but reflect on what Exemplar Ferrel had told me. How could she know it wasn’t my time? How could anypony?

She had been so certain. It still didn’t make this any easier. I felt responsible for these ponies and they were no closer to justice than the day of the ambush. It was frustrating. I wanted to be out looking for Captain Alastair, and yet I could barely carry the weight of armor. That would be rectified. I just had to move forwards.

“Silent Knight, are you alright?” Iridescence asked.

I couldn’t answer and I didn’t feel like talking. She let me be and we made our way off the cemetery grounds. Without a word, I headed for home. There was work to be done. He would pay for this.

Author's Note:

Silent Knight is movin' on up. It is time to get back to work and sort out the aftermath!

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

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
PreviousChapters Next
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!