• Published 11th May 2015
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Secrets of a Royal Guard - Anzel

Life has never been better for Silent Knight, but he finds himself shackled to the past by guilt, anger, and regret. Even though he tries to hide his true feelings from those he loves, he knows that the secrets he keeps will come at a cost.

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18. Balance

Hearts and Hooves Day was rapidly approaching. Every year of my life prior to this one, I simply hadn’t cared about it. Now, I was feeling the pressure. Crystal Wishes was a romantic pony and this was the most romantic holiday of the year. It was also our first Hearts and Hooves Day as a couple, so I had to nail it.

Unfortunately, my job still demanded almost all of my time, as it was not as concerned with my romantic machinations as I was. It was making it difficult to balance work and romance, plus run my own black operation on the side. Thankfully, on that at least, I had a new ally that could help fill in some of the gaps for me.

It was surprising at how quickly my new roles were becoming normal and commonplace. No pony in command had either noticed or cared that a lieutenant was running a major installation and had been doing so for quite some time.

I hadn’t realized it had been so long until a nox pony courier had brought a missive to let me know that Princess Luna had arrived safely in Haven a week ago. It may have actually been a little longer, as the nox pony had been so overwhelmed by Canterlot that she took a detour to explore it before coming to me.

I didn’t blame her. The city might have been mundane and familiar to me, but it must look like a fairy tale to her. She’d decided to stay for an extra week just in case I needed to send additional notes back. I didn’t, but I also didn’t tell her that.

Now, I stood in one of Canterlot’s many flower shops, surrounded by roses of every color and flowers whose names I didn’t know. A light green mare with a nametag that read ‘Leafy’ was staring at me. Her expression was one of trepidation and confusion.

I was staring back, although I wasn’t looking at her. I’d been in my head just pondering my day and exactly what I wanted for Crystal Wishes. How long had I just been standing there? By her expression, it was probably an awkwardly long period of time.

“Is… Is there something wrong, sir?” she asked in a soft, nervous voice. “I mean, guard? Sir?”

“Lieutenant, and no. There isn’t anything wrong.”

She shifted. “Then why are you here?”

One thing I’ve never gotten accustomed to is the fact that my armor is off-putting to some ponies. When a royal guard comes in, most merely assume she’s there in an official capacity. I just happened to stop off on my way home from work.

“To buy flowers for my sweetheart,” I replied.

Leafy blinked and then smiled, seeming to relax. “Oh, that is nice. What would you like?”

I looked around at the plethora of surrounding flowers and then back to her. “I’m paralyzed by choice.”

“Oh, well you probably want roses. Red ones are for lovers. Bright red ones are for passion and cardinal red is for desire. If that is too much, there are also pink roses which are more like thankful roses or an expression of appreciation. White roses are—”

“Please stop,” I cut in as I tried to figure out what the difference between bright red and cardinal red was.

How many colors of red were there and why did they all mean something different? It brought me back to when I had just gotten my House Guard armor for the first time. I still couldn’t remember which shade of purple was byzantium and which was heliotrope.

“I… What do most ponies buy?” I asked.

Leafy flushed a bit. “You can’t go wrong with any red if you’re serious about your lover.”

My face felt hot. I must have flushed right back at her. “Sweetheart,” I corrected before adding, “A dozen red, please. To be delivered on Hearts and Hooves Day.”

“Absolutely, sir! Which re—I mean yes, red!”

I paid and carefully filled out the delivery forms while she went on about how I was a smart stallion for shopping early. The word ‘lover’ kept coming up and, by the time I was out of the shop, my coat had changed from white to red. Cardinal red, I think.

The streets of Canterlot were busy as ponies went about their business. Most of the shops already had pink, red, and white decorations in their windows to entice customers in for the impending holiday. As I wandered through the shopping distinct, I started to sense that there were eyes on me.

Tranquil Dusk and Crimson Dawn had proven to be very adept tutors when it came to teaching me to be sneaky and, more importantly in some cases, to recognize a sneak. I’d picked up a lot from them in a short period of time. This may have been one of their tests, so I turned down a side road and then made a quick move into an alley.

“Much better, Silent Knight,” came Tranquil’s voice from behind me. It took all of my willpower not to jump in fright.

I turned to face her. “You still got behind me.”

She shrugged. “You’ve only been learning for a short period of time. What do you always tell us when it is our turn to be trained?”

“Repetition yields results,” I quoted.

Tranquil smiled. “Exactly.” Her head tilted. “What are you up to today?”

“Doing some shopping for Hearts and Hooves Day.”

“What is Hearts and Hooves Day?”

I motioned for her to follow and left the alley. I was on a schedule, so explaining would have to be to-go. “It’s a holiday for romance. Ponies get gifts for their special somepony.”

The nox pony mare’s ears twitched. “And you’re shopping for that unicorn mare you spend so much time with?”

“Her name is Crystal Wishes and I thought we talked about following me,” I replied.

“We did, but we saw her before, and then you asked for training. How can we train you if we cannot put you in situations to detect and be detected?”

Valid point or not, I still didn’t like the idea of the nox siblings spying on my personal life. “Fair enough, but during the time I’m with Crystal, I don’t want to be trained. Understand?”

“I do. It is private time with your unicorn.”

I tried and failed to ignore the subtext. I was definitely cardinal red again. Speaking of red… “Where is Crimson?”

“Watching the Royal Guard trainees and studying their methods.”

That brought some calm to my embarrassment. “He doesn’t trust that I’m properly instructing the both of you?”

Tranquil shook her head with an amused smile. “Oh, no, quite the contrary. He mostly goes to watch what they do wrong. Crimson is of the belief that he and I would already be able to succeed. Most of the ponies are not nearly as prepared as us.”

We turned a corner and, in the distance, I could see our destination: Sunridge Sweets. “Are the two of you going to join?”

“It is a course of action that I am against. Crimson is still on the fence about whether or not he wishes to defy Grandmother. For now, he is holding off, since I’ve convinced him that you’ll need the two of us and our talents soon.”

“Need you? I mean no disrespect, but for what?” I asked in confusion.

Tranquil’s voice lowered. “To catch the bad gryphon.”

My blood ran cold and I wheeled on her. “What?” I asked in a tense whisper.

The nox pony’s ears pinned back. “I’m sorry, Silent Knight. We’ve followed you to a few of your meetings at the cafe and overheard a conversation with Steel Wings. We have not told anypony. I swear it.”

The back of my neck started to sweat. Had I really been so sloppy that two young ponies right out of Haven could easily figure out what I was up to? Were they following Steel Wings, too?

“Tranquil, you should forget the things you’ve heard,” I whispered hurriedly. “This isn’t a path for you two to trot. I appreciate your devotion to me but the training will be sufficient. Your grandmother would never approve of anything more, and you said you’d never hurt somepony. This is not a situation where somepony doesn’t get hurt.”

With a resolute look in her eyes, she shook her head. “No, I said I would never attack a pony that was doing no harm. This gryphon has harmed you and good ponies. You intend to punish him, yes? This is justice.”

“Yes, but that is for me. Don’t you remember what we agreed? I’ll train you to be guards. Guards, not soldiers. The two of you accepted that. This goes beyond that. It isn’t safe,” I said, a pleading tone creeping into my voice. I couldn’t have the blood of these innocent ponies on my hooves.

Tranquil simply shrugged. “I remember, but also know that you will need help. You’ve kept this a secret from all of the other guards. You have chosen your allies very carefully. The one that you talk to that cannot be heard, and now the old one with grief in his eyes. We will be the ones that teach you to be silent and will fly by your side when the time co—”

I raised a hoof to stop her. “That isn’t for you to decide. I choose, and I don’t choose you. Not for this.”

She simply nodded. Not a nod of agreement, just a nod of understanding. “I will discuss it with Crimson. Enjoy your shopping, Silent Knight.” Then, with a few flaps of her raven-colored wings, she was off and on her way.

My gut told me to fly off after her and set her straight. Both of my wings twitched in agitation as I tried to calm down. They weren’t in any danger right now. I could set them straight later. Right now, I had to use my limited time to focus on Crystal Wishes.

I pushed on to Sunridge Sweets, burying my anxiety for the time being. When I slipped through the bakery door, Sunbeam smiled from behind the counter. “Silent Knight, welcome!”

“Good afternoon, how’re you?” I asked as I approached, her happy demeanor starting to calm my nerves.

“Fit and well! How’re you?”

After leaning across the counter, I whispered to her, “On a secret mission. Can I trust you?”

“If not me, then who?” she asked, her tone slightly serious but still honey and sugar.

“Agreed. I need treats for Crystal for Hearts and Hooves day, but you can’t tell Velvet. She may be too easily compromised, and this has to be a secret.”

Sunbeam gasped in mock surprise and then winked at me. “Of course.” She picked up an order form. “One special order from Mr. Dashing Moon for Ms. Wishful Heart. What will she be receiving?”

Idly, I twirled a hoof. “So, Dashing Moon has never done Hearts and Hooves Day. Could you maybe help him out?”

“Of course. Ms. Wishful Heart is a very special pony with romantic tendencies. Some off-the-shelf item would never do. It has to be as unique as her.”

Dashing Moon had his work cut out for him. “How about dark chocolate quills and blades with a hint of orange flavoring in them?”

“Very clever, Mr. Moon. A cutie mark special? I think Ms. Heart will be pleased. You’ll pick them up the day of so that they’re fresh. They’ll be the last thing I make. Consider that special gift from Momma S,” she teased.

Once I’d settled the bill, I headed off to complete steps three, four, and five. They were possibly the most important parts of my plan, too. If I did anything noteworthy this year, it was going to be making Hearts and Hooves Day perfect for Crystal.

My vision was blurred and I couldn’t quite get my hooves to cooperate as I heard Steel Wings say, “Get up, Silent Knight, it isn’t that bad.” He was looming over me like a storm cloud.

That was easy for him to say. It took another moment to find my footing and push myself up of the ground. I touched my face and winced. The taste of blood lingered in my mouth. “I’m not sure this is educational.”

The old pegasus shot me a look. “Do you want me to go easy on you, or do you want to learn how to kill a gryphon? You’re all over the place. Some guard training, some brawling, and some… well, I don’t know what that stuff is, but it seems to be some kind of fighting art. Maybe stick with that.”

Steel Wings rubbed me wrong on a good day. He was an abrasive pony that was confident in himself at all times. “I can kill a gryphon, I’ve done it. This isn’t about killing, though, this is about learning how to fight them better. We’ll snatch him and let the authorities here handle the rest,” I replied, falling into the combat stance I’d learned from the Knights of the Moon tome.

He snorted. “I’m not sure you can, boy. You didn’t kill him when you were over there and they got a heck of a lot closer to killing you. Don’t let pride and arrogance blind you. You tell me you’re ready, but you’re not. Yes, you’re in prime shape, but you’re not a killer and that is what we need.

“It is cute that you think we’re going to bring him in alive. Don’t be so ignorant. This gryphon isn’t some cheap thug—he is an assassin. A failed one, yes, but he is still an enemy combatant. If you’re not ready to kill him without hesitation, then we’ve already failed. Now, either come at me like you mean it, or I’m going to bloody you again.”

There were still some items of our plan that Steel Wings and I didn’t agree on. As much as I hated to admit it, however, I was starting to see his side. Would Alastair even consider coming alive? Surely he wouldn’t—

“Lieutenant, TODAY!” Steel Wings shouted at me.

Without hesitation, I dug my hooves in before lunging at him again, letting the thoughts melt away. My right hoof came around and clipped his shoulder. That was the first time I’d managed to tag him.

I followed up with the left, but he somehow got right beside me. His hoof looped under my left, trapping me. Then he hit me right in the gut, knocking the wind out of me. When I doubled over, he struck me again in the back, laying me out.

Steel Wings leaned down. “I’m starting to think I gave you too much credit. Look, you’re pretty good. You’re better than any guard I’ve seen, but we’re talking real fighting here. You’d never cut it in the Equestrian Army.

“If we’re lucky we’re going to get one shot at this. One. You have to stop thinking like a guard. There isn’t anypony to protect and you’re trying to subdue me. It is just me and you. Focus on killing me, or I’m going to kill you. Now get up.”

I had killed before, yes, but it was in self-defense and defense of the princess. He wanted me to be a true aggressor. It was exactly what I’d been trying to talk Tranquil Dusk and Crimson Dawn out of, and yet here I was ignoring my own teachings.

My back ached, my face throbbed, and I was still catching my breath. Steel Wings was right for the most part: I didn’t have a will to kill. No pony should. What he didn’t know was that my self-training had been designed around non-ponies. The Knights of the Moon only fought ponies as an absolute last resort and spent little time instructing on how to do so.

That didn’t matter, though, because all I had to do was imagine he was Alastair. Steel Wings had skills I needed. Most ponies never met an armsmaster, much less trained individually with one. Losing him would be a major setback. My eyes closed and I thought back to that day.

Alastair's face flashed before my eyes. So did my ponies', the ones I lost, the ones I'll never forget.

I saw the flames as the train car carrying Princess Luna safely away from me.

I felt the claws raking my sides.

I lunged.

My right hoof missed completely, but this time it was a feint. He stepped aside to avoid it and that gave me the opportunity I needed to close the ground between us and slam my left elbow against his throat.

At least that had been the idea. Before the impact, he managed to get a hoof up to block.

Then he stepped back with a wicked grin. “Now we’re talking. Again!”

“Hey, boss?” Miley Hooves asked as she came into my office.

I casually closed the recent report Maya had provided me. “Yes, Sergeant?”

“I was wondering—” Her head tilted. “Hey, do you have a black eye?”

“Yes, Sergeant, I had a little training accident. What is it you needed?” It wasn’t really much of an accident. I’d left myself open, and Steel Wings punished me for it. He was a lot like my father.

“Training? When?” She blinked when I gave her a blank stare. “Oh, uh, right, my thing. Would it be possible for me to have Hearts and Hooves Day off?”

That was an awkward question. Any other year and I’d have been happy to say yes. This year, though… “You’re the only sergeant I have around, and I can’t cover for you.”

Miley nodded. “I understand completely, but could we make an exception, sir? There isn’t really anything to guard right now. You could just station a palace guard or two to cover the wing to ensure the spiders don’t run off with anything expensive.”

She had a valid point there. All but four guards were off at training, and they were standing around to make sure no pony wandered into the vacant wing. However, I was also still in command of the palace. Allowing Miley the time off could look like favoritism.

At the same time, it was practical. She could use her leave during one of our least busy periods. Miley was a good pony and deserved a little treat.

Finally, I relented. “I’m going to say yes, but only because we’re guarding a vacant wing. Pick one of your ponies to be acting sergeant for that day and I’ll backfill her position with a palace guard.”

“Thank you, sir!” she cheered before turning to trot off. Halfway through the door, she stopped and poked her head back in. “Oh yeah, Raven is looking for you. That is actually why I came over in the first place.”

My brow arched. “Maybe lead with the official business first next time, Sergeant.”

“Yes, sir! Sorry, sir!” she squeaked and galloped off.

I shifted my attention briefly back to the report. Alastair and his brigands had been fully cut off from escaping to Sudramoar. He’d tried twice but was harassed by a combination of gryphon authorities and deep cover pony operatives acting under Maya’s orders. The second time had gotten violent and several of his gryphons had been killed. The net was closing in on him and driving him northwest. It was a satisfying read.

Once the report was locked away, I got up and sought out Raven. I found her in her office, which was typical. If she wasn’t with the princess, she was usually working.

“You were looking for me, ma’am?” I asked after knocking on her open door.

“Yes, Lieutenant,” she replied without looking up. “We’re making advanced preparations for the Summer Sun Festival and needed your input.”

That was about a month off. It had completely slipped my mind. “Of course. What can I do for you?”

“Sunny will obviously handle Princess Celestia’s part. I understand she’ll be back any day now. We’re curious whether or not Princess Luna will be attending any of the ceremonies and, if so, will you have adequate guards to cover her?”

This was a subject I was well-versed in and excited about. “Yes, Sunny is due back overmorrow unless she decides to live on the beach which, at this point, may be a valid concern.”

Raven looked up from her work with a raised brow. “Overmorrow?” Her lips twitched. “I wasn’t aware ponies still used that word.”

My chest puffed out in a playful show of pride. “They do in Crystal’s stories and, yes, I read. When I want to.”

The mare snickered and waved a hoof. “And the princess?”

I nodded. “Princess Luna will return in time for the ceremony unless she extends her stay. I’ll send word immediately asking about that. She hadn’t mentioned anything before she left, but coverage will not be a problem. All of the training scheduled will end before she returns.”

Raven smiled. “Excellent. I knew you’d be on top of things.” She then shifted forwards to lean in closer to me. “Since you mentioned Crystal… Are you on top of things for Hearts and Hooves Day?”

Nosy! Ponies are always so nosy. “I am, but I will not divulge any information as I believe you to be an unreliable confidante in this sphere.”

The mare gasped, frowned, and then smiled. “You’re right. I can’t wait to hear about it, though.”

“I’m sure you will,” I chuckled before turning to leave.

Raven stood up. “Oh, no, Lieutenant. She’ll see you now.”

“Who?” I asked in confusion.

“The princess.”


“The princess will see you now.”

I blinked. “I didn’t ask for a meeting.”

“She did. I guess nopony told you. Either way, she’ll see you now.” She motioned to the other door in her office, the one that went right into Princess Celestia’s study.

“Alright, then,” I said in confusion before crossing the office and knocking on that door.

“Come in,” Princess Celestia replied. Her voice was soft but easily heard. Magic, I assume.

I did so and closed the door behind me. “What can I do for you, Princess?”

Princess Celestia was sitting behind her desk, going over some scrolls. “How have you enjoyed being my House Guard commander, Silent Knight?”

That was an odd way to start a conversation. “It was actually quite smooth, Princess. Your House Guard needs the lightest of touch to guide it. I’m sure they’ll appreciate Lieutenant Day’s return, though.”

She smiled and looked over at me. “Is that a polite way of saying you’ll be glad to give it back?”

I cleared my throat and replied, “I mean no offense, Princess. It has been a privilege, but I feel like an outsider.”

“No offense taken. You and Luna have a deep bond, just as Sunny and I do. You’ve done well in her stead. I understand you’re running the palace, too?”

“I am. At least until Lieutenant Day returns. She has more seniority, and I intend to hoist the role onto her when she returns,” I admitted with entirely too much levity in my voice.

The alicorn peered at me. “Ah, is that how it is decided?”

“Typically, yes, ma’am. Pardon me, Princess, but is that why I’m here?”

Princess Celestia shook her head. “Oh no. I was just curious. I entrust my sister’s safety to you, so I feel it is important that you and I can speak frankly to each other about things from time to time.”

“Of course. I can respect that.” I shifted uncomfortably in the momentary silence. “You’re not worried about her in Haven?”

She shook her head. “No, not at all. I know you’d take care of all the security concerns, and the nox ponies are deeply committed to her. She and I can stay in touch when we’re apart, and I want her to come into her own. There is so much for her to learn there that can benefit all ponies.”

I just nodded, confused as to what this meeting was supposed to be for. “Princess?”

“Yes, Silent Knight?”

“Forgive me for asking again, but what did you need to see me about?”

She motioned to the pillow on the other side of her desk. “Please, sit down.”

I did so and suddenly felt small. Alicorns tend to loom over you physically, but they also have an intangible aura. It can be comforting, inspiring, and sometimes frightening, depending on what they want to project. Princess Celestia’s demanded attention.

“Do you still worry that we may be enemies?” she asked.

In all honesty, I replied, “No, Princess. I absolutely do not.”

“You don’t think I wish Luna harm?”

“I do not.”

“And you’ve decided this? You speak with such conviction about it,” she said pointedly.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. “There was no evidence to suggest you were anything but the pony we know and adore.”

“Well, I’m pleased that we’ll no longer have that between us. However, we now have a new issue. The Crystal Empire has brought back a lot of knowledge and memories that were buried for centuries. That will soon spread and ponies will have questions.”

“I understand. We can’t stop the spread of knowledge, though.”

The princess smiled and nodded. “Agreed. We must face it and we will. Although we don’t have to help it along before ponies are ready. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

I cleared my throat. “I’m not sure I do. Perhaps you could elaborate?”

“There will come a time when the crystal ponies start to remember that there were once six alicorns. For now, that knowledge is locked deep inside them, enchanted away. They merely remember some of the old territorial rulers.

“That will change, however, and they will be frightened in a similar way the nox ponies are once they realize that the status quo has dramatically changed. That fear could spread. We want to gradually bring these ponies into modern times.”

“You want to avoid a panic. I fully understand. What do you want me to do?” I asked.

“I want you to stop. At least for now.”

“Stop what?”

She looked directly at me with eyes that seemed to stare into my very soul. “Investigating the deaths of the alicorns. You sent a pony to the great library within the Crystal Empire. You’ve spoken to the unicorns at the Temple. The consequences of these actions could be dire. So, I’m asking you to stop and I want to emphasize that. I’m asking, not telling.”

“Asking? Why?”

Princess Celestia set her hooves on her desk and leaned towards me. “If I order you to stop or compel you, you’ll suspect me again. That, and it would be wrong. This knowledge will come out. Now just isn’t the time. Luna isn’t ready.”

My brow furrowed. I wanted to argue with her, to demand answers, but the look in her eyes kept me strangely calm. Calmer than I'd felt in a long time. “What does that mean? I’ve been investigating to better protect Princess Luna.”

“I know, and you’ve proven to be far more skilled at it than I imagined. You’ve gotten too close to the truth and Luna isn’t ready. If you want to protect her, then you need to stop. I promise you… no, I swear to you that that is the truth.”

I shifted on the pillow and replied, “Then tell me. If I’m close, just tell me, and I won’t tell her if it is clear it isn’t necessary. What happened?”

Princess Celestia’s gaze drifted to the window and then back to me. She seemed to struggle with the question. “I will tell you enough to satisfy you. The rest you will have to accept on my word. Agreed?”

It was time to decide. Trust her fully, or not at all. I’d been on the fence long enough. I weighed the options and then replied, “Agreed.”

“Very well. What I tell you now has been held in confidence since the oldest ages. It has been known only to alicorns, scions, and a few special ponies.” She paused to let that sink in. “Many unicorns view magic as a convenience or natural advantage. Other ponies view it with a lack of understanding or sometimes fear.”

As the princess spoke, she held up her right hoof. A glowing ball of golden energy collected there and began to swirl.

“Magic is neither and both. What most don’t know is that it is alive and has a will of its own. Unicorn magic is somewhat universal and may even seem mundane to most of them. Any kind of unicorn can use it if they have the talent and will to learn. However, magic selects its wielder as much as its wielder selects it. This is why some spells come naturally and others are more difficult.”

The princess turned her head to look at the golden energy. “Unicorn magic is just too mild for them to really see the connection. Outside of a few exceptional ponies, that is, and even in that case, their knowledge and insight falls short. They quickly find that alicorn magic is outside of their reach. To put it bluntly, they’re too small.”

I blinked. “You’re large, so that you can use alicorn magic?”

“It is far more complex than that, but in the simplest terms, yes. Much as you get bigger as you exercise your muscles, we get bigger as we exercise our magic. A unicorn has limits. We do not. Where they plateau, we keep going.”

Exercise and muscles. It was cliché, but those are terms I understand. That didn’t change the fact that I still didn’t follow what she was getting at on the whole. “How does this relate?”

“In the way that unicorns are limited to grow their power, we have our own limitations. No alicorn was ever meant to control all of the magic. Thus, the divide between the magic of the sun and of the moon. Equestria has been out of balance for a thousand years due to the absence of lunar magic. Luna has just found the beginning of the path to restore it.”

“And as you said, she’s not ready… but not ready for what?” I asked.

In the princess’s right hoof, another ball of energy came to life. It was as black as the night sky and shifted chaotically. Flecks of purple streaked through the swirling energy, and deep within my spirit, I knew to fear it.

“There is another magic, Silent Knight. The opposite of ours. Chaotic, unharmonious, and corrupting. It is powerful, destructive, and—most frightening of all—willful. It sought out my sister and turned her from the light.”

My eyes widened. “When she became Nightmare Moon?”

The princess nodded. “Yes. Even with the Elements of Harmony, I was barely a match for her. All I could do was banish her until a time when I could find others to wield the Elements.”

“But you did and they defeated her,” I put in.

“No, I’m afraid that isn’t the case. They saved Luna, yes, but the magic of disharmony is still out there. The Nightmare is simply waiting to make its next move, and the ponies that hold the Elements, while wonderful, are not alicorns.”

It clicked in my mind. “They’re not big enough.”

Both balls of energy vanished and Princess Celestia nodded. “They are not. That is why it is so important for Luna to learn all she can. She must grow and become as strong as possible. She is still sensitive to the fact that she fell once. I do not want that failure weighing upon her that she will have to face those very forces again.

“Your investigation ends here, Silent Knight. You know enough to do great harm. You may use the knowledge as you will, however.”

My mind raced through what I had just learned and ended up unsatisfied. “You’ve left parts out. Who killed the other alicorns? Why haven’t you made more?”

Princess Celestia shook her head. “You know enough for now. We have an agreement, and you do not need any more weight upon your shoulders.”

I thought to argue that point with her, but she was right: we had an agreement. Celestia had told me what I needed to know to protect the princess. I had to make certain she was strong, that she learned and grew. That was something I could do.

Finally, I nodded. “I can accept that for now.”

“You may have to lie to Luna,” she said softly.

Without even a conscious thought, I shook my head. “I can’t do that. If she asks me directly, I’ll tell her the truth. I can accept keeping this from her temporarily for the greater good, but I will not lie to her.”

The princess smiled at me and nodded. “I suspected as much and am pleased that my sister has a protector with such character. I just wanted to be certain. Good day, Silent Knight.”

I stood and then bowed respectfully. “Good day, Princess.”

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