• Published 11th May 2015
  • 8,572 Views, 3,247 Comments

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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22. Final Preparations

To Col. Shining Armor, Crystal Empire Garrison, Commanding
From Lt. Silent Knight, Princess Luna’s House Guard, Commanding

Sir,

I am writing to confirm that Crystal Wishes and I will be visiting the Crystal Empire at the originally agreed upon date and time. Please extend my deepest gratitude to Lady Cadence for helping me secure the tickets to Glimmer World. Crystal was beside herself with excitement.

At your recommendation I made reservations at the Fluorite Ferrier Resort. There seems to be a lot to see and do there without the price tag of the hotels directly on site at Glimmer World. That is, of course, appreciated on a lieutenant's pay.

I also want to thank you for being so accommodating. I realize my letters have gotten less frequent but I’m certain you understand how busy command is. Command and life. I’m not sure when it happened exactly but I feel like I stopped being a young adult and became a full on one. That seems to creep up on you.

My father died recently. Not too recently actually but I didn’t want to write about it. I’m struggling with that loss. Stratus Knight was a tough pony to live with. As I grew up I realized that more and more. When I was a foal I could only see him as a hero. Now I have mixed feelings about it.

Stratus was terribly cruel to my sister. Nothing she did was ever good enough. He didn’t have any respect for mares as guards. He also used to beat both of us during training exercises to toughen us up. For some reason it never felt wrong to me. I just kept getting up and moving on. I wanted his approval. I can’t imagine doing the same to my own foals.

We didn’t speak for the last year of his life. I didn’t visit, I didn’t write. I just went about my own business. I had planned to take him to task at some point. At least I think I did. It is hard to know really. It is easy to talk about standing up to a bully once you’re far removed from them.

In any event, he is gone, I’ll never have the chance to stand up for my sister or even tell him that, despite all of it-the beatings, the ambushes, the harsh words, everything, I still love him. There are worse fathers, I guess. Celestia knows in a twisted way, he was right. I had no problem in the Guard Academy.

My apologies, sir. I didn’t mean for that to go on so long. I’ve struggled with speaking to anypony about this. I guess a letter is easier. I should move on.

I’m looking forwards to spending some time with Lady Cadence and yourself. Crystal, in particular, is delighted with the idea of spending some time in the palace and taking in everything the Crystal Empire has to offer. A vacation is exactly what I need right now.

I also want to thank you for allowing me to sit in on the various intelligence briefings. Ultimately, I butted heads too much with the officer in charge and was dismissed from the proceedings, but that is probably for the best.

See you soon.

Silent Knight

I carefully folded the letter two times and started to fit it into an envelope.

“Lieutenant? Are you alright?” The voice was Azurite’s. I looked up to find her standing in my door.

“Yes, why?”

She pointed a hoof at me. “It looks like you’ve got tears in your eyes.”

I shook my head and wiped my hoof across my face just in case. “You’re mistaken. What can I do for you, Warrant Officer?”

Her head tilted and she peered at me for a little while. “You know, I see this pony every month. Her name is Mindful Soul. She’s super helpful and what you talk about doesn’t go in your Guard record.”

That sounded like a therapist. I didn’t need a therapist. “Is that what you’re here for?”

She shook her head. “No, sir. I… uh… well, this is sort of awkward.”

My brow arched. “What is?”

“Sunny—I mean, Lieutenant Day sent you down with your vacation paperwork. I’m sure you remember. I looked at it. Which I’m allowed to do!” She squeaked. “To process it.”

“Yes?” I wasn’t sure where she was going with this, but her face had turned from blue to purple. A mix of her coat color and an embarrassed blush.

“You’re going to the Crystal Empire!” Azurite exclaimed.

“I am.”

“And Glimmer World!” she added.

“Yes, although that part wasn’t on my paperwork. It doesn’t get that specific. What are you getting at, Azurite?”

The small unicorn squirmed for a bit and then blurted out, “Glimmer earrings!”

“What?” I asked in confusion.

“My father is a jeweler, but he is a Canterlot jeweler and he doesn’t have the rights to everything, you know.” She started to approach my desk. When she got close, she stood up and set her forehooves on it. “Glimmer World has these things called glimmer earrings! They’re collectible. They’re only going to make so many sets every five years and this is the first set ever!”

I suppressed a chuckle. “You want me to get you earrings while I’m on vacation?”

“Yes, please! Two sets! I want to give a pair to Lieutenant Sunny Day as a gift,” she pleaded.

After taking a deep breath for dramatic effect, I leaned back in my chair and peered at her. “You want me to buy you, another mare, two pairs of earrings while I’m on vacation with my fillyfriend so that you can give a pair to your fillyfriend?”

Her eyes went wide. “Please, Lieutenant! Please! You can’t get them if you don’t go into the park and it is so expensive. You’ll already be there!”

“I suppose I can do that, but you’ll owe me a favor,” I said, mostly teasing.

“Yes, of course! Anything. Any favor!” she chirped and then gasped. “No, wait! Not anything. Most things.” Her eyes narrowed. “What do you want? It isn’t perverted, is it?”

My lips twitched, threatening to smile. I glared back at her. “I won’t know until I need the favor. Do we have a deal?”

She thrust out a hoof. “Deal. I want a pair that matches Sunny’s mane and the pair for her should match mine.”

I bumped my hoof to her tiny one. “Agreed.”

Azurite hopped back off my desk and flipped her bag open. A small pouch flew out, surrounded in her magic. When it landed on my desk, it practically shuddered under its own weight with a thump.

I stared at the pouch in open surprise. “How expensive are these earrings?”

“Very. They’re collectible!”

“Are you sure you trust me with all of these bits? I could just take them and run,” I teased.

She stuck her tongue out at me. “Nuh-uh. I’d go tell Sunny and she’d come after you.”

I scooped the pouch up and dropped it into my saddlebag. “I don’t think she could take me in a fight.”

Azurite happily pranced towards the door, mimicking Sunny. A tiny blue Sunny. “I’m going to go tell her that right now!”

I stood up and rounded my desk. “You best not.”

“I’m going to!” she chirped. Two more steps and she was at the door and out into the hall.

“Fine then, go tell her! Dismissed!” I called after her before turning back to my paperwork. It was unlikely she’d go tell Sunny, anyway. Not that I was afraid of her.

I settled in behind my desk and started to work through all of the tasks that I would be assigning to Iridescence and Orchid while I was gone on leave. There wouldn’t be that much for them to do, but I couldn’t leave them to their own devices. That would just be irresponsible as an officer.

Before I knew it, it was almost midday. That left me just enough time to do a quick round to check on my guards before a lunchtime excursion. Once I was in the courtyard, I flared my wings and leapt into the air to head to Runic’s.

Canterlot flew by under me as I crossed town. It always impressed me how a city so large could fit into an area so small. It was a miracle that ancient ponies could build anything like it. The city was truly a work of art.

As I landed outside the Phial and Filly Alchemist Supply, I was additionally impressed by how much Runic’s business thrived despite the plethora of lawsuits he’d settled. It didn’t matter what day or time I showed up, there were always several mares in the shop.

That made picking up my drops somewhat problematic, but I had gotten very good at pretending to be interested in the things on the back table. Unfortunately, Runic had recently moved mare hygiene products there… and I’m not talking about soaps.

After a brief perusal of things I didn’t understand and retrieving my latest document, I headed to the counter. Standing behind it was a pegasus who was too old to be a colt but too young to be a stallion named Rossby Waves. He had a little bit of a sour personality but Runic kept him employed, so I trusted my cousin’s judgment.

I tried to offer a polite smile. “Hey, Rossby, is Runic back there?”

The pegasus looked up with disinterest and replied, “Most likely. Assuming he wasn’t killed in the last explosion I heard.”

“You didn’t check?” I asked in surprise.

He stared at me over the rim of his glasses. “Sir, if I checked on him every time I heard something explode, break, or shatter, I’d never have any time to work the counter.”

“I’m not going to argue with that logic,” I replied before heading past him and into the workshop. “Runic, please tell me you’re not dead back here.”

“Not yet!” he called from across the room.

As I made my way towards him, I thought that over. “You make it sound like a challenge.”

“No, I was just kidding. The longer I’m alive, the more alchemy I can do.” He smiled brightly. “What brings you by today?”

Runic looked like he was in one piece, which was important. He was covered in some kind of soot, however, and so was the area of the workshop he was standing in. Of course, that was also typical. “I’m here for Crystal’s surprise. Remember, you were going to polish it up extra shiny?”

The pegasus blinked at me and then his ears stood up. “Oh, right! Yes, I polished it up so much you could see it from space. Let me get it.”

“I’ll keep that in mind in case I ever fly up there and look back down at her,” I said absently as I started to straighten up some of the area that had clearly been in the explosion.

“Don’t bother, I already tried to do that a few times. It gets too cold and the air thins. The last few times, I was lucky enough to crash land in the clouds after I passed out,” Runic said as he returned with a box that he opened to show the contents to me. “What do you think?”

“I’m going to just put that first bit aside for now. We really need to discuss that later.” I looked inside the box: a diamond set against white gold. My concern was washed away by warmth. “As far as this goes, however, I think it’s perfect. Hopefully she’ll like it, too.”

Runic shook his head. “I don’t think it so much matters what it is, only that you’re giving it to her and that you helped make it.”

I gingerly and carefully took the box from him. “You’ve been listening to Miley, I see.”

“I find life is easier when I do that, yeah. Mares aren’t as into Airship Armada and science as I am. So I figure to keep her happy, the least I can do is pay attention.”

That brought a smile to my face. “Glad it’s working out. Don’t break the heart of one of my sergeants. I wouldn’t want to be on a guard’s bad side.”

“Me either. I think having my name known by every judge is bad enough.” He waved a hoof. “So, you’re leaving soon, then?”

“We’ll be on the first train in the morning. Just me and her off to the Crystal Empire.”

Runic nodded and we stood there in silence looking at each other. Finally, I filled the void. “So, what can I do for you for helping me with this?”

He waved a hoof. “You know I don’t work that way.”

“I do, but that doesn’t mean I can’t return a favor. How about dinner on me when we get back?”

“That seems reasonable. Something fun though… and just stallions.”

I nodded as we bumped hooves. “Agreed. Alright, I should get packing. I have a few more errands to run, too. See you soon. Try not to blow yourself up at least until I get back.”

Runic chuckled. “Well, I frequently try not to blow myself up but I’ll mark this as a special occasion to be extra careful.”

“I do appreciate it. Nopony else can pilot tiny airships like you do, and I’d hate to have to find another opponent.”

He grinned. “Me too. Speaking of which, I’m learning to pilot real airships now.”

“Pardon?” I asked.

“Pilot airships! You know, the real ones. Those huge ones made by Jet Ventures and Eminence Enterprizes.”

My ears flicked. “Really? Is that safe?”

Runic blinked. “Of course! There is an instructor, and you start off on smaller vessels. Just think, one day I’ll be able to take us all out for a ride.”

I was suddenly overwhelmed by a new appreciation for my ability to fly should that ride take a turn for the worst. “That sounds like it will be… exciting.”

“You bet!”

My brow furrowed and I asked, “Hey, wait… Did you say Eminence Enterprizes?”

“Yeah, why?”

I almost explained that Eminence Enterprizes was owned by Iridescence’s father. But that was her personal life, so I shook my head. “No reason. I just didn’t realize they made airships.”

“They make everything, I think. Speaking of which! If you’re interested, they’ve just created a new line. It’s the largest and sturdiest yet. They’re going to be entitling the flagship of that series in a few weeks.” He beamed with excitement. “Would you like to go see it?”

As if I could say no to that face. “I’ve never seen an airship entitling. Yeah, if I can get away, I think I’d like that. What are they naming her?”

“The T.M.S. Harmony.

“Fitting. T.M.S.?”

Runic nodded. “All ships have been re-designated from Her Majesty's ship to Their Majesties’ Ship. You know, so it honors Princess Luna, too.”

That made me smile. “I’m sure she’ll like that. Alright, count me in. I should go, though. There are still a few more things to get done today.”

He nodded. “Have fun out there.”

“Will do. Thanks again, Runic. You know, for this…” I lifted the box. “And for being around when I need you for things like this.”

“That’s what family does, isn’t it?”

I gave him a hoofbump and nodded. “We do in this family. See you later.”

Unfortunately, when I got back to my office, my plans to be productive were waylaid by a note on my desk. I frowned down at the curt instructions to see Sunny at my earliest possible convenience. That little rat Azurite must have ratted me out. The rat!

Out of spite, I took the longest route possible to the opposite wing of the palace, saw myself into Sunny’s office without asking, and hopped up onto her couch while she stared at me.

“Yes?” I asked once I was sufficiently comfortable.

“Just yes?” She raised her brow. “What happened to ‘yes, Commander’?”

“You said you didn’t like it.” I feigned a yawn. “So, what’s up?”

She started waving a sheet of paper at me. “I have a leave form here. Are you sure this vacation is approved?”

“Absolutely positive, ma’am.”

“And I signed it?” she asked, staring at the form with disdain.

I nodded. “You did, and pinned it to my armor. Right after you tried to blackmail me.”

The mare looked at me sidewise. “I seem to remember there being an assault in there, too.”

“Either way, you signed the form and I’m leaving tomorrow. Are you going to be alright?”

Sunny snorted. “You ran both House Guards and the palace alone. Now your guards are gone, so the task should be smaller. Are you suggesting I can’t handle the heat?”

My head shook. “Not at all. I’m politely asking before walking out of here and not thinking about work for a few days. Granted, I won’t be gone as long as you were, but I’m warming to the idea that I might not come back.”

“Sure, sure. You’ll be back. You love it here. Besides, I’m not sure you could stand to be away from Princess Luna too much longer,” Sunny said smugly.

“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked, sitting up.

“You two are co-dependent! She’s your work wife.”

The princess couldn’t be my work wife! We didn’t work together, I worked for her. She was my boss. “You’re my work wife!”

Sunny shook her head. “No, no, no, Azurite is my work wife.”

That wasn’t right either. “I’m pretty sure your fillyfriend can’t be your work wife. I think that goes against the rules of work wife.”

“How do you even know about work wives?”

“Crystal leaves all these magazines around. I swear she buys more of them than anypony else I know. They have really incendiary titles on the cover to draw you in, and then it is mostly mindless drivel that is usually inaccurate.”

The unicorn smirked. “And yet you keep reading them.”

I cleared my throat and shifted. “Okay, you have me there. How come you’re not my work wife?”

“Really?”

“Yes really,” I asked as, for some reason, I felt a bit of hurt.

She threw her hooves up. “I don’t know! We don’t really spend much time together. We don’t work on the same things. You’re one island and I’m the other. Especially since, until recently, all the communication pretty much went up to Russet and then back down.”

That was a logical point. At least not a personal one. “I guess that’s fair. This probably is the most we’ve interacted lately, at least since my Guard got its own officer.”

Sunny smiled and said, “You were more fun as a sergeant.”

“That’s because I just did everything you said and called you ma’am.”

“Exactly, let’s go back to that!”

“Yes, ma’am! I will now do exactly what you told me to do and go on vacation. With your leave, of course.”

“You’re going to leave regardless of what I say, right?”

I nodded. “The tickets are non-refundable.”

“Of course. How convenient. Dismissed.”

Once I’d gotten off of her couch, I headed for the door. “Thank you, ma’am. If you need anything, Lieutenant Brook is a solid officer. Don’t let that pony resources badge fool you.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Have fun on your vacation. When you get back, I’m going to have a ton of things for you to do.”

“So noted!” I replied before marching out of her office in good form. With an exaggerated stride, I stomped down her hall until I was far enough away that she probably wouldn’t hear it anymore.

Every guard I passed looked confused, but it was worth it for the joke. When I reached the central area of the palace, I caught sight of Steel Wings heading the opposite direction. He must have been looking for me.

“Chief,” I called, hurrying down the hall to catch up with him.

Steel Wings paused and looked back at me. “Yes, sir? Aren’t you supposed to be leaving for your vacation? I assumed you were already gone,” he said with a disapproving tone.

I ignored it and pushed on. “Yes, tomorrow morning. I have one more task for you.”

His brow arched. “And that would be what, sir?”

“We need to move our training to someplace less obvious,” I replied in a hushed whisper. “Find something close to the city where we won’t be bothered. Too many guards are getting curious and watching our sparing sessions. It’s becoming harder to explain.”

The old pegasus smiled. “Yes, sir. I think that’s a wise idea. Leave it with me.”

My parents’ house looked different than usual. It was mostly the same, just far larger than I remembered. And I don’t mean more rooms. The living room was just bigger. The furniture was scaled up, too. Either that or I’d gotten smaller, which seemed unlikely.

“Hello? Mom? Dad?” I called.

Dad didn’t usually like me yelling in the house, but it was so quiet. I wasn’t sure what else to do.

“Hello!” I yelled louder. “Is anypony here?”

I tried to open the front door so I could leave, but it held fast. I dug my back hooves in, wrapped my forehooves around the handle, and tugged. Still it wouldn’t budge.

The kitchen door creaked behind me and I turned. Somepony was home after all.

“They are not here, Silent Knight,” came the soft voice of Princess Luna. “At least not this time.”

“This time? What do you mean?”

The princess walked over to me and settled down onto the floor. She was huge. Bigger than ever. “Is this not familiar to you? Do you not have this nightmare on occasion?”

“Nightmare? What are you talking ab—”

Then it hit me. She was right: this was familiar. I was a foal again, and loud. Usually it was my father who came through the kitchen door.

I looked myself over and confirmed that nothing was bigger, I was just a foal. At least this time I was in my armor. Tiny armor for a tiny foal. “Yes, Princess. I understand now.”

“You look cute like this. I thought if you had your armor, you wouldn’t be as frightened,” she said softly.

I just nodded. “The next part will go easier if there is armor.”

She shook her head. “There will be no next part. At least, not tonight. You asked on our last trip to Haven how Celestia knew I was safe. This is how.”

Dreams are a weird thing. At any rate, this was a marked improvement. I settled next to the princess to keep watch over her. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d done so in my sleep, nor would it be my last.

Her lips curled up and she softly laughed. “Silent Knight, this is a dream, but I am as real as when we meet face to face. I’ve come to speak to you.”

“Speak to me? I’m just imagining you.”

“This is not so. I am an alicorn of the night. I have the ability to delve into the dreams of ponies. Tonight, I’ve come to visit you so that we may talk.”

I held a hoof up. “Wait, you’re saying you can just hop into a pony’s dream?”

She nodded.

“And you put me in my armor and made certain my father didn’t come in here?”

She nodded.

“Princess… that, if true, seems like a fairly large invasion of privacy.”

Princess Luna nodded. “And so it is, which is why I do not do so lightly. It’s still a new spell to me and I use it sparingly. Mostly to speak with Celestia. Sometimes to do good. I can sense nightmares. For some reason, I seem attuned to them. You were having one tonight, so I stopped it.”

I shifted uncomfortably. “Do you see all dreams or do you have to actively go looking?”

“I sense, I do not see. To see I must actively look as I’m doing now. I revealed myself so that you would know and we could talk. It had not occurred to me that you might have many questions regarding this.”

She softly set a hoof on my back. “I have not seen anything inappropriate from you, nor have I looked… much. I will be honest, however; I have kept watch over your nightmares and chased them away. I knew, of all ponies, you would forgive me for practicing these skills with you.”

That was both somewhat mortifying and also sweet. I looked up at her and then asked, “Wait, if you can change things, why am I still a foal?”

Princess Luna grinned happily. “You’re adorable like this. Why would I change anything more than necessary to end the nightmare?”

“I see,” I replied flatly. “You wanted to speak to me? Is everything alright? Do I need to come down there?”

She shook her head. “No, you don’t. All is well. Miley is an effective leader. Although, her clumsiness seems to have returned with her physical separation from Runic Phial. That is not something even my new knowledge can explain.”

I smiled at that and Princess Luna just shrugged. She pushed on, “She is who she is. With that said, I need a small favor.”

“Of course, Princess, anything.”

“I received word from Lady Cadence that you will be visiting her and Shining Armor soon. Is this true?”

I nodded. “I’ll be leaving tomorrow for that very purpose. Why?”

“I would very much like it if my guard commander brought me a souvenir back.”

My head tilted and I looked up at her. “A souvenir? Really?”

“Yes. I don’t want it to seem like I’m using my royal favor inappropriately. Thus, I’m asking you.”

Slowly, I sighed. “Alright. Let me guess, you want a pair of glimmer earrings?”

Princess Luna gasped and stiffened. “How did you know!”

“What! You’re serious? You’re not trying to save Equestria from impending doom, or providing prophetic knowledge? You’re using massively powerful night alicorn magic to ask for earrings?”

She huffed. “Well, yes, it sounds silly when you put it that way. I also wanted to say hello and to see how you were doing. Is that not enough?”

I rose to my full height—which was virtually nothing—stood on my hind hooves, and set my front ones against her chest. I gave the best glare I could and asked, “What color would you like, Princess?”

She looped her hooves around me, easily picked me up, and hugged me to her. “Blue, of course! In silver settings.”

As I dangled in her hooves, I replied, “I’ll do my best. Now, just so I know this isn’t a crazy dream, I’m going to ask you a question and, when we see each other next, you’ll answer it. Agreed?”

She nodded. “That seems fair.”

“Were you once a unicorn?”

Her eyes went wide. “I’m not sure jewelry is worthy of such a question!”

I wiggled in her hooves. “We agreed!”

The princess pulled me close and nestled me against her chest in a warm cuddle. “Alright, I suppose that is fair, but only because I would not go back on my word to a foal.”

“I’m not a foal!”

“Tonight, you are.”

I wiggled more in her grasp. “I think you’re taking advantage of this situation.”

Princess Luna laughed and nodded. “Most assuredly. Now, behave or I’ll not allow you sweets for dessert.”

Author's Note:

Note: Eminence Enterprizes is a proper name and intended to be spelled exactly as it is.

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, Q&B AU wiki, and special rewards for the awesome folks who support our Patreon. We have monthly art give aways, a Q&B Discord RPG, a several other fun gifts for patrons.

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