• 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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6. The Lecture

Iridescence helped me polish my armor one more time while we stood in the hall of the Royal Guard Training Academy. She had volunteered to come with me for my punishment, which says a lot about her character.

It was our day off. She should have been out doing whatever it was she normally did in her free time. Probably getting her mane done. Her mane was always styled even after wearing the helmet. Most of the mares complained a lot about that. Somehow she’d found a way around it.

Very few things scare me but speaking in public is one of them. Despite how bad I felt for taking up my partner’s time, I was glad that she had come with me. That is why royal guards always work with partners: there is always a pony to watch your back.

“It’s time. Are you ready?” she asked me in a soothing tone.

I nodded. “Yes.”

Which wasn’t a lie. I was ready in fact to go inside the classroom, but not ready to speak. What could be worse than sixty ponies who idolize royal guards staring at you while you let them down?

Oh well. Never let anypony shake your cool. Orders were orders and mine were to give a lecture. Iridescence bumped her flank against my own and pushed me towards the classroom door.

Being stared at has never bothered me. Royal guards are trained for that, but there were a lot of eyes looking at me. The instructor motioned in my direction and said, “And right on time, as all royal guards should be.”

“Listen up, ponies,” he said gruffly. “This is Silent Knight. He isn’t just a royal guard. He is one of Princess Luna’s House Guards and became so right out of this very academy. We should all aspire to achieve what he has. Give him your full attention. Silent Knight.” He indicated to me and stepped aside.

Great. Just great. I wasn’t any sort of special pony. I just did my job and happened to be on Princess Luna’s House Guard because I was stupid enough to volunteer. It wasn’t like I was part of Princess Celestia’s House Guard…

That gave me pause and my head tilted while I mulled over that concept. Actually, why would one House Guard be less than the other? That was what created Nightmare Moon in the first place, right? Ponies not giving Princess Luna her due?

I smiled ever so slightly at the thought. How about that? I am on a princess’s House Guard. My princess was as good as any other princess. The sisters were equals! It was in that moment that I felt satisfied. My dream had been achieved already. Right out of the academy, too! Perhaps I was a special pony after all.

My ears twitched, catching the sound of a soft cough. “Silent Knight,” the instructor repeated, snapping me back to reality. How long had I been standing there without saying a word? I cursed my internal monologue and realized I was, in fact, some kind of special pony.

Okay, it was showtime. Iridescence had helped me with my lecture by drilling it into me. Just memorize this, stand there, and repeat it. That was what she had coached. During each shift change, I had stood next to her and given the speech. It was all in my head, so now it was time to repeat it once more and that was exactly what I was going to do.

I nodded at the instructor. No need for him to suspect me of daydreaming. My silence was just making a point about the weight of my lecture. That was only fitting.

“Thank you.” My eyes fixed forwards.

After looking out at the group of ponies that were not much younger than myself, I began, “As a trainee of this academy, you will learn many skills. You will also learn many procedures. Skills become muscle memory and procedures become routine. They make up two halves of a guard’s knowledge that you must be able to execute without thinking.”

So far so good.

“What challenges us as royal guards is the fact that sometimes we’ll find ourselves in a situation where the hard-trained skills do not apply. As an individual, you’ll face a problem where you must deviate from your routine. That is when you must use your most important weapon.” To make the point stick I lifted my hoof and tapped my helmet. “Your mind.”

I paused for dramatic effect and then paced back and forth in front of the room. “You will not be trained for every possible situation, nor could you be. That is the true power of a royal guard: the ability to think. It is because of that very fact that you must prepare yourself by strengthening your mind. You must have faith in yourself that you can make good decisions with the information you have on hoof.

“When you do face those challenges outside of the norm—and you will—always keep your eyes on what is most important. What is the basis of our duty? To protect!” I raised my voice for that bit, just like Iridescence had, and held that tone just a minute more. “Take responsibility and make a choice! Make the best one you can to ensure that whomever or whatever you’re protecting will be safe first and foremost. Sometimes that may mean deviating from procedure.”

That notion seemed to disturb the assembled ponies. It was opposite from what they were taught day in and day out. In some ways, the academy offered little more than a foundation. Everything else was learned on the job.

Pressing on, I continued, “That very idea was frightening to me and it should be to you as well. Fear is okay. Fear keeps you alert and alive. It heightens the senses. Terror is your enemy. Terror will paralyze you with indecision and no decision is the greatest danger.

“Control your fear, and as long as you use your mind and keep your eye on your duty, you’ll know the right thing to do.” I paused once again to let that point sink in. “But, and I do want to stress this, do not make it a habit of breaking procedure. If you do so, you could be relieved of duty, imprisoned, or even be required to speak in front of trainees. Although you probably shouldn’t say that last part.

“Thank you.” With the lecture finished I turned and walked out of the classroom without looking back. There would be no question and answer session. My commitment was done.

In the hall, Iridescence was staring at me wide-eyed. She had both hooves against her mouth and looked like a pony that desperately needed to laugh but was holding back out of politeness.

“What?” I asked.

My best attempts to blend into the wall were usually not successful. Royal Guard armor just wasn’t the greatest of camouflage. But that didn’t mean I didn’t try. The more I blended in, the less I’d be engaged.

Princess Luna had been busy with decorating and, to quote her, “making the space her own.” Her office and chambers were now a light shade of purple. It didn’t quite match my armor but it was close enough and I willed it to be more so. That way I could blend in better. Of course, it should also be noted that white pegasi tend to stand out against purple walls.

“Silent Knight?”

Blast, my camouflage attempt had failed yet again. Perhaps next time I’d stand guard from inside of a cardboard box. “Yes, Princess?”

The princess levitated a parchment my way and asked, “Wouldst thou read this and tell us what thou thinkest?”

What I thought? Who cared what I thought? I’m just a guard. I don’t have any opinions on official documents. It would be inappropriate for me to—“Yes, Princess,” I replied and then mentally swore at my mouth. The parchment arrived and I lifted a hoof to catch it.

The words on the page were intelligible, but it certainly didn’t have the format of any sort of paperwork I’d seen before. That was as utterly confusing as the princess asking me to check her work.

“Well?” the princess asked, a hint of… nervousness in her voice.

I was quiet for a moment longer and then replied, “Princess, it seems like a very interesting account of somepony named Daring Do and a dragon. Are we at risk of a dragon attack? When did this occur? I’ll inform the captain after my shift.”

Princess Luna floated the parchment back to her desk, smiling a bit. “Thou likest it, then?”

Liked it? It was a report. Typically reports are either well written or not. “It was very accurate and clear. I don’t know that I like the idea that a dragon may attack. That is more concerning than anything else.”

The princess laughed. It seemed to me that a lot of ponies around me laugh when I speak. “Fear not, Silent Knight, ‘tis but a work of fiction.”

“A false report, Princess? Who would do such a thing?”

More laughter. It was nice to see her laugh since she was usually so serious. Although why she was laughing at me I didn’t understand. “Thou art too serious, Silent Knight. We wrote this. ‘Tis fan fiction.”

Was the princess admitting that during all the time she seemed to be working she was, in actuality, just writing false reports? That didn’t seem right. Surely she did some work. I sensed that she saw my confusion, mostly because she said, “Thou still lookest confused. Perhaps we should elaborate?”

“Please, Princess.” It was time to get to the bottom of this. Filing false reports was a crime, after all, but arresting the princess would probably not look good. Plus her sister could just pardon her. She might be able to pardon herself, actually.

“It is stressful for us now that our royal duties have been resumed. We also do not…” She paused and thought for a moment before continuing, “We do not have many social engagements yet. As such, we write stories to entertain ourselves. ‘Tis truly for fun, not mischief.”

That made more sense and was far less treasonous than I originally imagined. “You write stories like mothers read to foals,” I said in understanding… or so I thought.

“Nay, Silent Knight!” she said quite seriously. “Our stories are not for foals! They are for ponies of all ages who like adventure and intrigue. Even royal guards may read them and enjoy!”

Literature was not really my strong suit. When I was at the Canterlot secondary school I focused more on easily applied skills. Reading and writing are clearly important. I mastered them but never took an interest in poetry and fiction. There wasn’t a lot there that translated into Royal Guard skills, but if the princess said they were for everypony, then it was so.

It was sensible to just nod and, instead of just leaving it at that, for some reason I said, “You called this fan fiction, Princess, but I did not recall a fan being in your story.”

“Thou art being quite literal,” she replied. “The character Daring Do is not of our creation. Nay, a wonderful writer by the name of A. K. Yearling created her and crafted many books about her heroism. Those books are known and beloved all across our land.

“We are a fan of these books and it is not uncommon for literary-minded fans such as we to take a character and write our own stories. It helps grow the fiction and many build communities around these stories.”

That was interesting to me, that you could take somepony else’s work and expand on it. “And that is acceptable to do, Princess? Even though you didn’t originally create this Daring Do and your stories may not be what the original creator wanted?”

The princess nodded happily. “Verily! This is so, thanks to Equestria’s weak copyright laws and the absence of a giant mouse corporation that compels bureaucrats to extend such rights well beyond what is reasonable.”

There were giant mice and they were able to form corporations? That was a frightening thought. More so the corporations than the mice. Beyond that, to be honest, I didn’t understand half of what the princess had just said but I think I got the gist: “Score one for the little pony.”

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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