• 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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54. Silent Knight, Cadet - Part 2

Onyx frowned at his handbook. “May die of boredom,” he said. In fact, that is all he had said for two days.

“I’m aware. They’ll bury us together,” I replied as I looked down at my copy of the officers’ handbook. When I was a sergeant, I couldn’t understand why so many officers clung to the book. Now I knew: ponies weren’t just expected to be familiar with it. They were expected to memorize it word for word.

We were committing it all to memory so that we could regurgitate it on tests. Sure, it had been like that in the Royal Guard Academy, but this was going to the extreme. I would say most of the information wasn’t useful for what happens daily on the job. That didn’t change the requirement, though.

“Let’s just get through this and we’ll move on to more interesting things,” I said.

Onyx grunted and we continued on. It was a painful experience and it seemed like the younger cadets had an easier time with it. They didn’t have anything to compare what they were reading to and just took it on faith. Lucky ponies.

The class had started to be narrowed down. Each week meant more ponies quitting or being washed out. That was the nature of the beast. With our help, the three younger ponies had managed to hang in. They’d make decent enough officers.

It was also interesting to see who was rising to the top on their own accord. Onyx and I had a huge advantage so it was no surprise we were there. I was more interested in the ponies that were excelling without previous guard experience.

I set my manual down on the table in front of me and looked around. Most of the top students were the foals of other Royal Guard officers. They were either predisposed to the job or their parents had made sure they were ready for it. All told they were pretty standard… save one.

At the head of the class was a dark grey stallion. He was an outsider in every sense of the word. The Crystal Empire had recently reappeared and the crystal ponies were slowly reintegrating into society. They weren’t the only denizens of the Frozen North, however; there were also frost ponies and he was one of them.

The pony went by Cobalt Thane and he was pretty tight-lipped about himself and his type of pony. He had a horn like a unicorn but was also as big as an earth pony… which he said was common for frost ponies. What really set him apart was the fact he had a mane not unlike a lion’s up his chest and around his shoulders. It was a very light blue, like his tail, and looked furry.

His pony mane, for lack of a better description, was similarly dense and styled in a way that barely met regulations. It was spiked and somewhat all over the place in the front. What rounded him out as different were his pointed ears and strikingly violet eyes. Most of the other cadets had steered clear of him because the rumor was that he used dark magic, but I hadn’t seen anything like that.

By my guess, Cobalt was probably the first frost pony to apply to any Royal Guard position in contemporary history. For all I knew, he’d be the first frost pony Royal Guard officer. What I did know for sure was that he worked hard all the time. When the other younger ponies were goofing off, he was training or studying. It gave me a lot of respect for him.

“Book,” Onyx said.

“What?” I blinked.

Onyx pushed my manual up against me. “Quit staring.”

“Oh… yeah right. Book.”

I settled in for another long session of facts and figures only to be interrupted by the door opening. Sergeant Major Blackhoof marched in and faced the class.

“Listen up, cadets,” he called from the head of the room. “While I am certain you all love reading those manuals, it is time for some applied training! Hoof-to-hoof combat. Everypony, get your flanks down to the gym.”

In my head, I cheered loudly and got up to follow alongside Onyx. Finally, something that didn’t require rote memorization that I’d have to forget later.

The Royal Canterlot Officer’s Academy boasted the finest gym I’d ever been in. It had every form of exercise equipment known to ponies. It also sported two full sized sparring squares and we were all standing around one of them.

“I need two volunteers,” the sergeant major called.

I looked at Onyx and he said, “You first.”

“Alright,” I replied and stepped forwards.

“Cadet Knight! Brave pony,” he said and then pointed as another cadet stepped forward. It was the leader of the trio we had been tutoring. Cody or something. I had not learned many names yet. There wasn’t much point to it.

We squared off and Cody said, “I’ll go easy. I know you older ponies don’t move as fast as you used to.”

There were a lot of ‘oohs’ from the crowd. I did my best not to crack a smile.

“Don’t worry about us old ponies, Cody. Just give it your all,” I replied.

“Hobby! My name is Hobby.”

The instructor gave me the briefest of looks and I dropped into my combat stance. “No magic, no flying. Hooves only. Go!” he shouted and I let the lesson begin.

I sat quietly at one of the tables in the muster area, writing a letter to Shining Armor. It was difficult to sum up two-thirds of my time at the academy but I was doing my best. A letter was long overdue.

It was strange being at the academy but, at the same time, it wasn’t that different than what I did every day. I missed my ponies, though. I’d been with the same unit for my whole career and while I sat in class, Radiant Orchid was busy vetting the final ponies I had picked to fill out the House Guard. They likely wouldn’t have any idea who I was when I reported back.

To Colonel Shining Armor
Crystal Empire Garrison, Commanding

Sir

I’m about eight weeks into my time here at the academy and it is going well. The senior instructor is as tough as they come and I’ve learned a whole lot from him and his staff.

It has been interesting to see the younger ponies grow. They weren’t soldiers but they’re shaping up well, at least those that are still here. That is just the nature of the beast, though.

How are things in the Crystal Empire? How is Lady Cadence? I have some concerns that it may be dangerous there but I know you’ll more than rise to the challenge.

As much as I am loathe to do so, I need to ask you two favors, sir. One is minor and may interest you. The other is… well, it is a lot. I understand if you refuse.

The first relates to your location. There is a student here by the name of Cobalt Thane. He is a frost pony. I imagine there are more there near you than there are anywhere else. If you could forward any information you have on them I would appreciate it. I have an academic curiosity.

The second favor is not academic at all. Sir, I know we have ponies over there. I know they’re working on the situation. You have a lot of clout. Please consider placing me on the inside. Even if I could just read the reports, I wouldn’t feel like I’m sitting here helpless. I’m doing better. Far better… but I can’t let this go. That may result in me being a sorry excuse for an officer but this time, this one time, I need to see this to the end.

I paused and looked over the words on the page. It was a lot to ask. There was no reason for him to agree and I shouldn’t have asked. Still, I had to. I needed to. Quickly, I moved on to something less serious.

You may find it interesting that older ponies with experience still have an extreme advantage over younger ones when it comes to hoof-to-hoof combat. Onyx Mace, who is a classmate of mine, and I taught a whole graduation class that age is rarely the determining factor in a battle. I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy tossing them around for a bit. They started out so smug! One of them even called me old.

Idly, I sketched a picture of a helmet by itself into the letter. It was subtle but I knew the colonel would get the message.

I believe you know Crystal Wishes. I can’t recall at this minute if you’ve interacted more than an introduction. She is Princess Luna’s friend. For the longest time, I thought she was with her roommate but evidently I was wrong.

It has been a while since I’ve dated. You know how the last one went, but this feels different. She looks at me in a way that feels special and when she does so it is indescribable. I know you know what that is like. I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I think she might be the right pony for me. A better fit for sure.

Obviously, I may be seeing something that might not be real. I don’t know much about this sort of thing but if you or your wife have any advice I’ll gladly take it. I’m both excited and frightened. I don’t want it to go the same way again. What if she can’t live with a soldier?

I’ll be looking forwards to your response.

Cadet Silent Knight
Royal Canterlot Officer’s Academy, Student

Carefully, I folded the letter and slipped it into an envelope. The contents were highly confidential so I made a note to slip it into a larger envelope before mailing. Shining Armor always provided good advice to me. Probably better than anypony else. He’d know what was best.

“Come eat at the table, Silent Knight,” Winterspear said softly. “You’ve already memorized that book.”

She was more or less right. I tossed it on the couch and came over to sit between Dot and Iridescence. They weren’t speaking to each other at the moment and it somehow felt extra cold to be near them.

Winterspear set a plate in front of me. “It is okay if you eat fast. I know you don’t have long.”

I nodded and started eating. Looking around, I found that I was the only pony doing so. Slowly, I set my fork down. “Are we all in a fight?” I asked cautiously.

Dot shook her head. “No! Just Iridescence and I.”

Iridescence folded her hooves. “We’re not having a fight. You fight with equals, not superiors. You have to learn that while you’re here, I’m boss.”

The filly stuck her tongue out and huffed. I’d always been curious why she looked so much different than her sisters. What she lacked in the physical attributes, however, she more than matched in mannerisms. It was chilling. I was sitting between Iridescence and mini-Iridescence.

Winterspear pointed at my plate. “Eat. You’re fine.”

I ate since my evening liberties were generally short. Plus, I didn’t want any part of this. It felt a lot like home and not in the good way.

“How was school today?” Winterspear asked Dot.

The filly’s expression changed and she bubbled a bit, seemingly forgetting she was angry. “It is going better! I have some friends now. They’re not the popular girls but the popular girls are all really mean.” She then frowned. “And I was supposed to meet them for dinner tonight but somepony said I had a curfew.”

“Fillies your age shouldn’t be out roaming the streets at night!” Iridescence exclaimed.

“Well my friends’ parents don’t agree!” Dot shouted across me.

I slid back from the table, though I didn’t move too quickly. Mares sense motion.

Iridescence turned and glared at the filly. “I. Don’t. Care. Your friends are a year older. Next year we’ll discuss it. For now, you come home when I say you do. Now eat your dinner. Winterspear worked hard making it.”

Dot just glared back.

Lightly, I set a hoof on Dot’s head and turned her to face the plate. “I can’t handle that look from you. Eat so you can grow up to be bigger than your sister.”

The little unicorn giggled at that and swatted at my hoof. “Fine, but only for Winterspear. She’d let me go out!”

When I looked across the table, my sister was gone. In her wake, there was nothing but a swirl of feathers. Smart cookie. I took a note from her.

“Well… I’m going to go back and study more. You two… well, just don’t murder each other here. If you’re going to do it, do it somewhere convenient.”

Author's Note:

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