• 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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52. Happy Birthday Runic

It was a dark and stormy night. The rain was coming down in buckets. A weatherpony had gone rogue, or so the papers said. I stood under an awning in a long coat and fedora. Iridescence was next to me, looking nervous.

“What’s the matter, doll?” I asked her.

Slowly, she turned her eyes up at me and then glared. “We’re not playing the detective game anymore. You’re not a hard-boiled private investigator pony!”

I sighed. “Oh, you’re no fun.”

Winterspear returned from inside the station. “The train is just running a little late, is all. Perfectly normal.”

“That isn’t why I’m nervous,” Iridescence replied.

“I know… but don’t worry. Everything will be fine, I promise.”

“Winterspear is right,” I added.

In the distance, the train whistled. It wouldn’t be much longer now.

Iridescence reached out and took Winterspear by the hoof as the engine pulled into the station. It hissed and steam poured out. Across from where we were, the door to the passenger cars slid open and the shadow of a little pony was cast out onto the dark platform.

From the well-lit car, she stepped out, her hooves clicking on the wood. She looked around and then spotted us.

“Here we go,” Iridescence said under her breath before stepping forwards.

The pony took one more step towards us and then galloped over to throw her hooves around Iridescence. “Hi!”

Iridescence smiled. “Hello, Dot. I’m so happy to see you.”

Dot squeezed her sister. “Me, too! Thank you for letting me come stay with you. I couldn’t stand it there. Everypony is so mean!”

“I know, sweetie. You can stay with me as long as you like. Now come out of the rain, there are some ponies I want you to meet.” The two walked under the awning and Iridescence pointed at me. “You remember Silent Knight, right?”

Quickly Dot nodded. “Yup, the angry stallion you used to be with.”

Iridescence cleared her throat and shook her head. “No, he isn’t angry. He is my friend, okay? Be nice to him.” She then trailed a bit and motioned to Winterspear. “And this is my special somepony, Winterspear.”

The filly nodded and then followed the motion. I’ve found that young ponies are painfully honest. Dot was no exception. “She looks like him.”

The unicorn laughed nervously and her eyes quickly darted between my sister and me. “They’re siblings, like you and me.”

Winterspear smiled and cut in, “It is very nice to meet you, Dot. I’ve been excited for you to arrive! We’ve set up a whole room for you at your sister’s place.”

Dot looked up at Iridescence in confusion. “I had my own room before.”

Iridescence quickly cupped a hoof over the filly’s mouth. “Yes, you did, but I don’t have the bits like Daddy does, so having your own room here is really special, okay?”

The muzzled Dot just nodded.

Poor Iridescence. She wanted this to go perfectly. I didn’t mind how Dot was and I doubted Winterspear did, either. With a smile, I took my fedora off and set it on Dot’s head. “Okay, I’m going to go get your bags. You ladies get indoors and out of the rain.”

They all nodded and as they went inside the station I heard Dot say, “It makes sooo much more sense that you’re with a mare. I was really confused. Luminescence said you were just showing off a stallion so that you’d literally have something to wag in front of them.”

I heard Iridescence gasp and my sister laugh as I made my way over to get the bags.

I stood quietly as Radiant Orchid unpacked her personal effects and started to decorate the office that was formerly mine. There was a box next to me and I peered in it. Three pencils, two pads, and a rock Runic had given me to use as a paper weight. I shrugged.

“I can’t believe you leave tomorrow. Everything is changing so quickly,” she said.

Silently, I nodded. Tomorrow was going to be different. I wouldn’t be coming to the palace. There would be no armor. I would be doing all the preliminary requirements for the Royal Equestrian Officer’s Academy: medical check, psychological check, background check, and things of that nature.

A couple of weeks after that, I’d officially be a cadet. I was too old to be a cadet. Hopefully nopony would notice. I’d also be the first officer in my family and there had been a lot of soldiers before me.

“Are you excited? Nervous? Registering anything that a pony might consider an emotion?” Orchid asked.

“I’m concerned the other cadets will think I’m old,” I said.

She laughed and shook her head at me. “Yes, you’re older than a cadet but you’re not old. Good Celestia, you’re not even middle aged and let me remind you that I almost am. They’re all going to look up to you. You’re a mustang!”

A mustang, huh? A mustang is a royal guard that completed enlisted training, spent time as an enlisted guard, and then went on to complete officer training and earn a commission. They were pretty rare and were always more experienced than their peers. Of course, sometimes they fall back into enlisted habits, which isn’t a good thing.

“I’ll be one when I finish,” I corrected.

“Splitting hairs,” Radiant Orchid replied. “You know you’re going to finish. They know you’re going to finish. You’ve got a lot of sergeant experience, combat experience, and I heard you have one of Canterlot’s finest ladies training you on the gentlepony stuff. You’re golden. Try to have fun. Celestia knows you probably won’t learn anything.”

I started to argue but she had a good point. Maybe it would be fun. “Fine,” I said and then added, “You better not wreck my unit while I’m gone.”

“On Fridays, I’m going to let them wear socks,” she said in a tone that I couldn’t judge between mocking and serious.

“I’ll have you in the stockade if you do.”

“You probably would,” Orchid said. She came over and took my hoof in hers. I shook it in return and smiled while she continued, “I know we’ll see each other but I want you to know I’m proud of you. Go be the guard you were always meant to be.”

“Thanks,” I replied, giving her hoof a light squeeze. “Enjoy settling into your new role. The lieutenant is here if you need him.”

“Yup. Now scoot. Go set up your new office so it is fresh when you get back,” she said, shooing me out.

I pushed the door to the Spearhead Tavern open and walked in right around lunch time. The place always looked different at that time of day. It was better lit, thanks to the sun coming in the windows, and ponies weren’t drinking anything hard. Most were just eating lunch.

There was an earth pony sitting alone at a table with his helmet off. He was pretty much all grey by that stage of his life but there was some blue left. Enough to recognize him and, despite the grey coat and mane, he was still fairly fit. All of the other guards gave him a lot of room.

Easing across the tavern slowly, I slipped onto the stool across from him and he looked up at me. The pony’s brow arched and he had the look that a cat has when it corners a mouse. I was no mouse, though.

“Good afternoon, Sergeant Major,” I said with my highest level of professionalism. “I apologize for interrupting your lunch.”

“Never a good idea, Sergeant…”

He wanted my name. That was a ploy senior NCOs used to make others go away. We all look relatively the same in our armor, so with a name they could dole out punishment.

Of course, in my case he could narrow it down really easily and I wasn’t about to run. “Silent Knight.”

“Silent Knight,” he more chewed my name more than said it. “What brings PLHG to my table?”

I shook my head and took my helmet off. “Nothing to do with Princess Luna. Just me.”

“What brings you to my table, First Sergeant?”

I reached into my saddlebag and produced the alabaster cross. Setting it on the table, I leaned in and said softly, “Sergeant Major, I’ve got a gryphon problem. I’m betting you’ve heard about it and I am hoping you can help me with it.”

That caught his attention and he replied, “I’m listening. Knight a family name?”

“Yes, it is,” I replied.

The sergeant major sat in silent contemplation before smiling. “You boys have a habit of getting hurt over there. You’ve come to the right pony.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.” It was the in I needed so I got down to business.

It seems that keeping a surprise party secret for two weeks is a difficult task for most ponies. Not me, of course, but everypony else struggled. It made game night extremely difficult as everypony acted strange around Runic. I went from party planner to secret protector. At one point, I had to flat out tackle Winterspear to keep her from saying something. Thankfully, Runic was oblivious to our poorly executed subterfuge.

It was finally the night of the party and we were all hiding in the garden, waiting for Miley Hooves to arrive with our guest of honor. I had carefully instructed her to ensure he didn’t have any volatile alchemy supplies on him. We didn’t want any casualties.

Over my shoulder, I heard the sound of an owl hoot. It was our signal that the party pony had been sighted. We crouched lower and waited.

Miley had Runic by the hoof and was dragging him out into the garden. “You have to see it!” she said cheerfully. “The biggest flower I’ve ever seen. We can totally make a potion out of it.”

Runic lightly nodded but didn’t seem as thrilled. Alchemy without rocks just wasn’t the same for him. When they got within range, we all jumped out and yelled, “Surprise!” At least most of us did.

For not being a trained soldier, Runic was pretty quick. He tossed several smoke bombs on instinct and filled the whole area with a dense fog.

“Runic.” I said in my normal tone.

“Yes, Silent Knight?” he responded.

“Surprise. Happy Birthday,” I said flatly.

“I see that now.”

We waited for the smoke to clear and then the party got underway. Crystal Wishes had found an amazing string quartet that agreed to play the rock songs Runic was into. They were led by a pony named Octavia and were some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever listened to. Even if you aren’t into rock, the music was great.

Everything was perfect and the garden was full of Runic’s closest friends. We were being introduced to some of Miley’s crowd for the first time, too. Mixing two different groups of ponies was interesting but it worked out. I never doubted Miley would have good taste in others.

“And this is my friend Val!” Miley said happily as she introduced a grey unicorn mare. Val had an almost-purple mane that had blue-grey highlights.

“Nice to meet you,” I said.

Val smiled and nodded. “It is nice to meet you, too, Silent Knight. I’ve heard a lot about you. I understand you rescue Miley often?”

We laughed and I replied, “Only as often as necessary.”

Miley huffed and gently pushed me. “Don’t you have other ponies to bother?”

“I do, actually. Take good care of my sergeant, Val. Have fun!”

Quietly, I walked around to make sure everything had been laid out right before allowing myself to relax. The cake Velvet’s parents had made was beyond my expectations… except for a slice that had been stealthily cut out of the back.

I looked around and my ears twitched as the bushes nearby rustled. I approached and peeked in. A white flank was beating another cake-related hasty retreat.

“Have some dignity!” I called teasingly. “You’re the ruler of a kingdom!”

“What?” Princess Luna said from behind me. Somehow she had crept up on me.

I turned to face her. “Cake bandit, Princess,” I reported.

Princess Luna peered and the nodded. “I’ve seen this work before. Little harm has been done. Come, join the party. You put a lot of effort into bringing us all together.”

We walked together and I replied, “I really think she has a problem.”

The princess just laughed.

Velvet Step and Crystal Wishes were politely chatting with some of Miley’s friends and I wandered over to practice politely injecting myself into the conversation. I waited for Velvet to stop speaking and said smoothly, “Good evening, ladies. Don’t you all look lovely tonight?”

That garnered delighted giggles and an approving wink from Crystal Wishes, who said, “You’re looking like your old self, Sergeant. Perhaps even stronger than before. What is your secret?”

She was right about that. A few weeks ago, I was a sorry excuse for a military pegasus. Now I was healthy, strong, and broad once more.

“I owe it all to Winterspear. She has been a tyrant with my meals and exercise. I’ve recommended her to the Royal Guard Training Academy as an instructor. If my time under her has taught me anything, it is that they’ve gone soft there.”

More polite laughter. What can I say? I had a good tutor.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Dot sitting alone and idly pawing the ground. “If you’ll all excuse me, there is a special little filly that needs some attention,” I said before lightly bowing my head. I trotted over to her and called, “Hey Dot.”

“Hi, Silent Knight,” she mumbled without looking up.

“Are you enjoying the party?” I asked.

Dot bobbed her head. It was yes and no at the same time. “It is alright, I guess. There aren’t any ponies my age here.”

I sat down in front of her and pawed the same spot. “Oh I see. We’re all too old for you?”

Dot looked up and shot me one of Iridescence’s looks. It was horrifying, even on a small pony. “It isn’t the same.”

I shook the frost off my coat and nodded. “I know what you mean. Parties used to make me nervous. It’s easier with friends. Are you making any friends yet at school?”

The filly frowned. “Not yet. Fillies are mean here, too. Not as mean as in Manehatten but still mean. I’m the new girl. At least when I come home Iridescence is nice… and I like you and Winterspear, too.”

I struggled to come up with something to say and then I got an idea. “Say, Dot. Have you ever flown before?”

That caught her attention and she looked up at me. “Flown? No. I’m a unicorn. All I can do is magic.”

The disparaging comment on magic aside, I grinned. “Would you like to fly?”

“Well, yeah!” She perked up even more.

I got up and knelt beside her. “Hop on my back and hold on tight, okay?”

Dot did so and cheered, “Okay!”

I stood and started to prance around the garden looking for a long enough patch to get going. Iridescence noticed and came over with Winterspear.

“What are you two up to?” Iridescence asked cautiously.

“We’re going to fly!” Dot exclaimed.

Winterspear looked concerned and hedged, “I’m not sure. Silent Knight isn’t feeling his best lately…”

“Please, Mom?” I said flatly and Dot mimicked me. I didn’t really wait for permission before I started galloping across the garden and leaped into the air.

It was easier than I thought it would be. Dot didn’t weigh anywhere near as much as my old armor and gear. Besides, I was probably in the best shape of my life at that point. I just hadn’t pushed it in a while.

“Wow!” Dot screamed from above me. I felt her hold onto my neck tighter. “I can see everything!”

I made certain she could, too. We made two wide circles around Canterlot and then a close one around the palace. She cheered the whole time and I did, too. It was great to be well.

Finally, I landed us safely in the garden and she hopped off. With a warm hug, she squealed, “Thank you, Silent Knight! That was awesome!”

“You bet, Dot,” I replied and then groaned under the sudden weight of Runic Phial.

As he landed on my back, he cheered, “Me next, me next!”

“Runic, you’re a pegasus! You can fly,” I said.

“But I’m the birthday pony!” he retorted in a mock whine.

If the birthday pony wanted to fly, we were going to fly. I grunted and then took off. The whole time, he shouted, “Wheee!”

Author's Note:

I love this chapter. I honestly do. It is tough to know if your readers are going to care for it as much as you do but every part of this one gets me.

Silent Knight is off to the academy officially now!

Crystal's Wishes Companion Chapter: Blast From The Past

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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