• 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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9. The Game Store

“Iridescence?” I asked into the dark room.

I heard her roll over on her bunk to look my way. Royal blue magic illuminated around her horn and cast enough light for us to see without being blinding. “Easy there,” she said quietly. “Are you starting a conversation?”

Softly, I snorted. I could start conversations. I just chose not to. “Maybe I am.”

“You must still be high on your victory. It was just a board game.”

“It is a game that requires strategy, planning, and tactics. It was a good exercise,” I said but then rolled over to face her. “That isn’t what I wanted to talk about, though. How come you volunteered to work the Gala? You’d have fit in perfectly there. At least until the riot started.”

Iridescence laughed quietly. “We’re partners, and I was waiting for a particular stallion to ask me to go. He never did.”

I frowned. “Really? That seems like a mean thing to do.”

“Oh, it wasn’t intentional. I just think he isn’t aware that I’m around,” she explained.

I laughed a little. “Wow, he must be pretty thick headed, then. What kind of pony could be so blind to the fact that you’re one of the prettiest unicorns in Canterlot?”

She laughed, too, shaking her head and looking at me with amusement. Our eyes met and she answered, “Well, it takes all kinds you know… but thank you for saying I’m pretty.”

“One of the prettiest,” I corrected before rolling over onto my back again and tugging the sheets up. “That stallion must be pretty unobservant. I can’t imagine.”

Iridescence let the light on the tip of her horn go out and I could hear her giggling. “You might try.”

What did that mean?

The next morning, we slept in for a little while. Even though our shifts were exactly opposite, Iridescence and I usually spent our days off together.

“I have an adventure planned for us today,” she said.

I silently prayed to Celestia that it wasn’t another trip to the Phial and Filly Alchemist Supply. Iridescence loved to take me there and have me pick out scents for her. It was slowly killing me. I always thought she smelled just fine as is.

“Oh?”

“Yes. You and I are going on a train ride. I’ve heard a new shop opened in Ponyville. Rumor has it that they carry all sorts of games. I thought we could go over, find something new to play, and get the princess a gift,” she explained.

That sounded like a great idea. Board games weren’t silly like hats. They kept your mind sharp.

“Okay. There are some letters I want to drop in the mail on the way out, though,” I replied while she got dressed.

She had been wearing dresses lately when we went out. Nothing fancy but more than the everyday mane and coat.

Today, the one she wore was blue like my mane. I wonder where she found things like that or how she afforded them. By that point, she had filled her locker, foot locker, and my locker, too. That was perfectly fine, since I didn’t own much in the way of clothing.

Once she was ready, we headed out to the train station after a quick visit to the mailmare. Typically, we walked everywhere. A train ride sounded like fun, but it also served as a reminder that I rarely flew anymore. I needed to do something about that.

Iridescence bought our tickets and we were off. I sat across from her, looking out the window and enjoying the scenery. She just seemed to watch me for most of the trip.

“You really are just yourself, aren’t you?” she asked.

That struck me as a strange question. “What do you mean?”

“You don’t pretend to be any other pony than yourself. You’re comfortable being Silent Knight. Is that you or is that your father’s doing?”

This conversation was getting even odder. I stretched my wings out and replied, “I like to think it is me. I realize ponies sometimes act differently depending on where they are or who they’re with. My mom always told me that if somepony doesn’t like me for me, then they aren’t worth worrying about.”

“You don’t talk about your mother much.”

I shrugged. “She and my father disagreed a lot when I was a foal. He just wanted to make sure I’d make out okay as an adult.”

Iridescence nodded in thought. “That must be nice. You wanted to be a royal guard so that is who you are.” She looked out the window and I had a feeling there was something else going on. Subtext.

“Is something wrong, Iridescence? You seem sad.”

That caught her off guard. I guess she was accustomed to me missing subtext. She got up and sat down next to me. “Maybe a little,” she admitted.

“Why?”

“You never pry into my business.”

I blinked a few times and quipped, “You’re sad because I don’t pry?”

Iridescence smiled a little, which was a good sign, and softly pushed me. “No, you dolt. I mean you never pry in general. You give me all the privacy and space I want. Why now?”

“You look sad,” I said plainly, but that wasn’t enough. “It bothers me to think that you might be sad.” My wing slipped around her shoulder.

“Aren’t you sweet,” she whispered and leaned against me. “I miss my family, even though I became a royal guard to get out on my own and put some space between us. Spending time with you reminds me how important friends are. I miss my parents and sisters… especially Dot."

She sighed. “Don’t get me wrong. I lo—really like hanging around with you. It doesn’t mean I miss my family and old friends any less, though. When it is just the job it is easy to forget what love feels like. Do you know what I mean?”

Yes. My father had sent me away from Cloudsdale before secondary school. I was alone day in and day out: terrified, sad, and without comfort. It made me strong, but I wouldn’t do that to my own colt. “Yes.”

“Manehattan just feels so far away lately.”

“Perhaps you should take a vacation and go home for a little while?” I suggested. “I’m sure the captain can assign somepony else temporarily. He said it himself that we all need time off.”

“What about you? Don’t you want to go home?” Iridescence asked.

Did I? Who wouldn’t? It had not crossed my mind in a long time, however, and I wondered why.

I tugged Iridescence a little closer with my wing. “I am home.” We’d leave it at that.

I guess my look said enough and she let it drop. We rode the rest of the way to Ponyville in silence.

Ponyville was larger than I’d imagined. It wasn’t a densely populated town like Canterlot and, without it being stuck on a mountainside, there was a lot of space available to spread out. That meant there was a lot of breathing room and that was nice. Iridescence’s spirits had improved dramatically and we wandered around the town for some window shopping.

“The captain’s sister lives here you know,” she commented idly. “In fact, all of the Elements of Harmony live here. It seems somewhat unlikely that six strangers could do what the entire Royal Guard couldn’t, doesn’t it?”

With a slight shrug, I replied, “I can’t pretend to understand magic. You amaze me when you levitate game pieces. It makes me jealous until I remember I can fly.”

She laughed. “Just game pieces, huh? How about my sword? Certainly better than clumsy hooves or mouths.”

“Those are fighting words.” I bumped her with my flank. While we were bantering we drifted off course and found ourselves in front of the pinkest cottage I’d ever seen. The mailbox was heart-shaped, as were the windows and the weather vane.

“We may need directions to the store,” Iridescence said as she turned up the walk to the little cottage.

I followed along behind her. She raised her hoof but, before she could knock, the door suddenly opened. A fluffy pink pony stood in the entry and gasped excitedly when she saw us.

“Oh, hello there,” Iridescence said. “We were looking for the new game store in town.”

“Pfft,” the pink pony said, her tongue poking out and flapping. She pointed vaguely in a direction and added, “Pfftbllblblbl.”

“I see,” Iridescence said, turning in that direction. “Around the town hall, then?”

The pony nodded and replied “Pfft” again but that time it sounded different.

“Thank you.” Iridescence said and we turned to walk in that direction.

The door shut behind us and I asked, “You understood her?”

“Not a word. Now get your flank up in the sky and find the place!”

No additional coaxing was needed. It was time to fly! I leaped into the air, spread my wings, and soared high.

Ponyville looked a lot smaller from that vantage point and it didn’t take too long for me to spot what looked like the store we were looking for. It was near the main street and out front it had two large peeples, those generic wooden pony figures that are used in a lot of games.

I circled longer than necessary since it felt wonderful to have the wind in my mane again. Keeping Iridescence waiting seemed rude, however, so I turned in and spiraled down to her. Landing at her side, I reported, “It is on the other side of town.”

“Great, we should probably check it out before it gets too late,” she responded and we were off. “You know, I enjoy watching you fly. You should do it more often to keep your wings strong.”

“You’re right.” We trotted along the wide streets of Ponyville looking at the various stores. “Sometimes I forget that I can fly. We just stand there all day,” I added as we reached our destination.

Iridescence smiled. “Well, don’t! For now, however, it is time to find some new games and a gift for Princess Luna. Try to find something more thematic. You’re too into the strategy games.”

What was wrong with strategy games? Perhaps the princess and Iridescence were tired of my winning streak. I shrugged and wandered into the store.

If you’re into board games, it was pretty impressive. Every wall was stocked with the latest and greatest games. There was even a section for small, independent titles. I started there. After all, a royal guard should look out for the little pony.

One game caught my attention with a brightly colored box. It had four colorful, young dragons on the cover. They were cute. Super cute, actually. I looked over at Iridescence. She liked cute and I didn’t mind that sort of thing. A stallion can like cute things without being unstalliony.

I read the back of the box for more details. A light strategy card game where each player took on the role of a baby dragon trying to build a treasure hoard. Light strategy. Light didn’t count, right?

I looked at Iridescence again and took the game over to her. Look at the cute dragons. Ignore the strategy part.

“What did you find? Something off the independent table, huh?”

I held up the game box for her to see.

“Wow! That looks adorable. What is it about?”

“Baby dragons stealing treasure. There are four different kinds to choose from: darkness, fire, moonlight, and sunlight.”

She looked at me and then at the box. Keep calm. No emotion. I stared back at her blankly, as if I were back at the academy.

“Okay,” she finally said.

Iridescence picked out a couple of games for herself and one for Princess Luna. Our gift. I use the word “our” loosely because she paid. It was a game about giant monsters fighting over Manehatten, which seemed kind of funny.

With our purchases in my saddle bags, we headed back towards the train station. The train wasn’t due for another 15 minutes or so and we found ourselves standing there, waiting. A faded poster on the wall caught my attention. It featured a yellow pegasus with a pink mane all dolled up. She was holding a mug of cider, clearly as some sort of advertisement.

“Do you think she is pretty?” Iridescence asked in my ear, suddenly right beside me. She moved too quietly for a pony. They didn’t teach that sort of thing in the academy, either.

Weighing my options, I replied, “I think you’re prettier and I’m somewhat tired of shameless advertising and product placement in everything we read, see, or watch. This doesn’t make me want to buy cider.”

“Aren’t you a smart cookie,” Iridescence said, turning back to the train tracks. “You’re right, though. Everything is about advertisement. The next thing you know it will start turning up in Princess Luna’s fan fiction."

I snorted. Advertisements in fanfiction. What sort of monster would do that?

Author's Note:

A brief cameo from Fluffle Puff.

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