• 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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28. Relocating

Equestria sped by beneath me as I streaked through the sky with my wings spread wide. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I’d be doing this.

Ragnhild and her obsidian brood flew behind me, some sixty dragons in all. None were as large or impressive as her, but each were fearsome and awe-inspiring in their own right.

Except the broodlings. I would never say it out loud, but they were in no way threatening and bordered on cute. Many of them couldn’t fly and were riding on the backs of their parents or older siblings.

The tallest mountain in eastern Equestria was within sight and I slowed down to come alongside Ragnhild. “Matron of the Obsidian, we near our destination. The entrance is secluded and secure. Should you wish, you could use the gate that was constructed by the ponies of old.”

“We have little need for gates, but I thank you for this knowledge, Silent Knight,” she replied.

Midnight’s Peak loomed closer, and as it did, the hairs of my coat stood on end. The last time I was here, it had terrified me. The stained-glass visage of Nocturna seemed to reach into my very spirit. The dragon’s intimidation aura had nothing on it. With any luck, they’d be true to their word and leave the keep be.

It didn’t take me long to locate the main entrance and I swooped down to land in front of it. Ragnhild and the other dragons made a great circle around the peak before coming down to rest beside me.

“Remain here, my children. The pony and I shall go inside together to make certain it is as he says,” Ragnhild said before turning her attention to me. “After you.”

I largely suspected that if Midnight’s Peak wasn’t as I’d said, I wouldn’t be coming out. Thankfully, I knew I hadn’t lied, so I trotted into the cavernous opening without hesitation.

Despite the entrance’s size, Ragnhild did have to shuffle in. Her wings rubbed against the walls as she moved down behind me. This would be an excellent place to ambush an ancient dragon like her. By coming alone, she was showing the others that she had no fear.

Additionally, by putting me in the lead, she could easily punish any ambushers with her own brand of dragon breath. Obsidian dragons didn’t breathe fire. Instead they had a dark, burning miasma that, if inhaled, was immediately fatal. At least with a red dragon you could hide behind a shield. According to the Knights of the Moon, anyway.

We slowly wound our way deeper and deeper into the mountain until we came out into the grand cavern that housed the city of Midnight’s Peak.

Ragnhild walked through the opening, reared up on her back legs, and stretched her wings out wide. Her glowing eyes took it all in before falling to me. “Silent Knight, your word is true. This is a magnificent home, one that your ponies must have been loath to part with.”

“They did not wish to leave this most important of places, Matron. They did so, however, because they felt it was necessary. I hope you’ll find it to your liking.”

She nodded and started to walk down the street towards the central keep that rose high above the city. “Nocturna truly did more than rule from this place. It was her home and a place she loved dearly. Even now, I can feel her aura lingering here.”

I trotted behind her and asked, “Matron, did you know her?”

The dragon’s long neck shifted to turn back to me. “I did. I knew her when it was her turn to rule. Once she passed on the crown, we did not associate as much. She, like you, was an honest pony that always kept true to her word. I supported Tanit, Speaker of Dragons, in her decision to trust Nocturna and Solara. Not all dragon clans agreed in this.”

My head tilted. “Was there strife?”

“Yes, there was some. The Pearl and Amber clan leaders felt as I did,” Ragnhild explained. “The Sapphire and Ruby had reservations. In the end, all dragons accepted the word of Tanit. To do otherwise would be foolish.”

There was much I knew of dragons thanks to the Knights of the Moon. It was clear that even they’d had gaps in their knowledge, though, at least as far as the first books were concerned. “It’s good that a dragon as powerful as Tanit and ponies as powerful as Nocturna and Solara decided that peace was a better answer.”

Ragnhild nodded as the keep drew ever closer. She paused and said thoughtfully, “You know much for a pony so young. How is this so?”

“I am close to Princess Luna, Nocturna’s student, beyond simply being the commander of her House Guard. I have learned much of the House of the Night, though I fear there’s far more that I don’t know.”

We reached the keep and Ragnhild carefully pushed the main doors open, leaned down, and stuck her head through them to peer around inside. “You have many years yet to learn,” she said absently before adding, “In addition to our agreement, I give you my word that as long as I live, I will protect this keep.”

My ears flicked and I couldn’t help but ask, “Matron, I am deeply honored by this and please don’t take this as disrespect, but why?”

Ragnhild’s head came out of the keep and she turned to me. “The specifics of that business is my own, but suffice to say that Nocturna was generous with me, and though she may be gone, I always pay my debts in full.”

I bowed to her. “You are a most honorable leader and I shall tell others as such so that they may know it, too.”

The dragon regarded me a moment and then nodded. “You have my thanks. You have fulfilled your agreement in full. Return to your alicorns, Silent Knight, and tell them that I am pleased.”

“Yes, Matron. May you enjoy your new home for ages.”

Sunny Day glared at me as I watched Miley help Iridescence’s squad load up the chariot.

“Something on your mind, Commander?” I asked.

“Quit that! You know I don’t like it, and yes! You toss the palace in my lap, go on vacation, come back for days. DAYS, mind you! And now you’re leaving for three weeks.”

“You left out the part where I got rid of the dragons for you,” I pointed out.

She glared harder and waved a hoof at me. “I feel like I’m getting the short end of the stick here.”

“You’ve got seniority, Sunny. You know how this works. If you had to go pick up Princess Celestia from somewhere, I’d take over for you.”

The mare groaned. “You’re not picking her up. You’re going down there for three weeks and then bringing her back. Three weeks, Silent Knight! You’re the only lieutenant around here I can count on to get things done.”

I turned and lightly patted her on the side of the helmet. “Make me a list. When I get back, I’ll get it all done. Besides, I think Captain Dancer will be able to start back on light duty in another week or so. That should help, right?”

“Knowing my luck, he’ll break the other two legs,” she replied darkly.

“Don’t say that. Also, find some time to go visit Orchid. She’s going to have that foal soon.”

Sunny nodded and then sighed. “Have a good trip. I’m sorry to see you running off again so soon.”

“Well, this will hopefully be the last time for a while,” I replied absently before catching the briefest change of expression in Sunny. “Hey… are you alright?”

“What?” she asked, looking away.

“I asked if you’re alright.”

Sunny waved a hoof. “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just worn out. There is too much going on. Go ahead and get out of here. The sooner you’re gone, the sooner you’ll be back.”

We stared at each other a moment and I thought about pressing her for more. It wasn’t my place, though, and she had Azurite.

“Alright, partner. Don’t go too crazy,” I said before heading off to join the rest of the unit.

The Royal Guard had built and occupied two outposts in between Canterlot and the nox pony city. They weren’t much, but they had a roof, a stove, and bunks to sleep in while somepony else kept watch.

It sure beat camping and made traveling much more bearable. Faster, even, since we were all more rested for the journey. We made it there in a record time of just under two days.

As we landed outside the main gate, Mountain Stone stood at attention. “Welcome to Haven, sir.”

The opening to the city was flanked by Cloud Lance and Battle Ready. All three looked pretty good, at least at first glance.

“Thank you,” I replied, hopping off the chariot. “Getting some sunshine?”

He nodded. “Yes, sir. It gets gloomy in there. No offense to the nox ponies, of course.”

I wasn’t going to blame him. Most ponies were accustomed to spending their time in the sun. “Understood, Sergeant. We’ll take it from here. You can get your ponies ready to leave first thing tomorrow.”

“Aye, sir. Thank you, sir!” he responded before turning, motioning to the others, and leading them back into the city.

Miley motioned to the sides of the door and commanded, “Night Frost, Solar Flare, first watch. The rest of you stay with the chariot. I want it unloaded before we all call it a day.”

Then she looked at me like a puppy, uncertain and eager for praise. She really could handle things like this. She just needed to believe that herself.

“You’ve got this well in hoof, Sergeant. Carry on,” I said and headed down into Haven. Miley didn’t need me to look over her shoulder. Plus, I wanted to see the princess.

When I reached the edge of the city, it looked exactly as I remembered it. The only real difference was that the nox ponies paid me little mind. There was no fear or apprehension anymore. That was a good thing.

I flew over to the Haven library and found Mixer standing guard outside with one of the nox watchponies. The unicorn straightened to attention and asked, “Time to leave, sir?”

“Just about. You’ll be relieved shortly. Is the princess inside?”

“Yes, sir,” he replied before turning with the watchpony to unlock the door.

“Good, thank you. Carry on,” I said before heading inside and shutting myself in.

The library was quiet, which was no surprise, and looked largely undisturbed. Willowy Tempest looked up from her spot on a large cushion where she had been reading by candlelight. That was new.

“Welcome to Haven,” she said softly.

Part of me wanted to simply nod and head back to the alicorn wing. That would have been rude, of course, and our relationship was already strained. My course changed towards her and I replied, “Thank you. Good book?”

She shrugged and replied, “It is an abridged history of Haven. Suffice to say, it’s very slanted towards their point of view. Still, I thought it would be an interesting read, and it is.”

“I bet. Are you ready to go home or does the darkness not bother you?” I asked, hoping I sounded less awkward than I did in my head.

Willowy snorted softly. “I’m not going to complain when it is time to go for sure. We rarely do much in the way of royal business, here and I’m missing my coltfriend.”

“You have a coltfriend?” I asked without thinking.

The mare narrowed her eyes and retorted, “What, you don’t think I can have a coltfriend?”

Stupid, honest mouth. We didn’t need this. “I meant I’ve never heard you speak of him, not that you couldn’t have one. You’re… gifted, I’m sure stallions love that.”

“Gee, thank you so much, Lieutenant.” She rolled her eyes. “I don’t discuss my private business at work, thank you very much.”

“That makes sense. I’m sorry, Willow, I legitimately didn’t mean it the way it sounded. I just don’t know anything about you, is all.” Slowly, I started to inch past her. “If you’ll excuse me.”

She kept her glare on but nodded. “Yeah, you go see Princess Luna.”

“Mmhm,” I replied before inching a bit more, keeping my front to her. Never expose your flank to an angry mare. Once I was sure I was out of projectile range, I turned and hurried down the central aisle and to the wing that housed Nocturna’s legacy.

When I reached the gate, I paused, suddenly overcome with nerves. What would Princess Luna look like? I hadn’t seen her in nine weeks. What if she was a different pony now? What if she was giant and scary like Nocturna?

That was a silly thought. Princess Celestia wasn’t giant and usually not scary. Besides, what did it matter? She would still be the same pony, right? At least no more different than normal. She wasn’t exactly the same pony as yesterday. Neither was I. Everything changes.

I put on my guard face and wandered through the heavy stone stacks.

“We still have much work to do, Luna,” I heard Moonlit Star say.

“Indeed we do, but we have time. It is only fair that I help Celestia rule. Many ponies are counting on me,” the princess replied.

Moonlit Star sighed. “More than you know, child. More than you know.”

It seemed unfair that almost everypony around Princess Luna seemed to know that she would face the nightmare forces once again. Even more so since I wasn’t sure Princess Luna knew. As I drew closer to the end of the row, I intentionally settled my hooves louder to the floor and caused my armor to clank.

The two stopped talking and, as I turned the corner, I found that both were looking my way.

Princess Luna lit up and smiled brightly. “Silent Knight! Welcome back to Haven.” Much to my relief, she was not a giant alicorn. She was, in fact, not much bigger than when I’d seen her last. Somewhere just slightly smaller than her sister.

I bowed and returned the smile. “It is good to see you, Princess. You look very well. You as well, Matron.”

Moonlit Star replied, “Thank you. I should let you two catch up. Silent Knight, when you can, please come see me and bring me news of my grandchildren.”

That was a conversation I absolutely did not want to have, but I nodded at her. “Of course.” I waited for her to be out of earshot before taking my helmet and saddlebag off.

“You’re looking well, Silent Knight. Have you been exercising even more?” the princess asked casually.

Without an answer, I crossed the small bit of floor between us and hugged her. Luna softly laughed and looped her hooves lightly around me, saying, “I missed you, too.”

I looked up at her and said, “I brought your earrings.”

The grand alicorn’s head tilted. “Earrings?”

Of course it was just a normal dream. A normal dream that set me back hundreds of bits for collectible earrings. “I bought you some earrings while I was on vacation,” I said, keeping the annoyance out of my tone.

“Oh, how sweet of you!” the princess replied before letting me go. “I’d love to see them.”

Pulling away, I went back to my bag and fished out the little black box with a silver Glimmer World seal stamped on it. Returning to the princess, I opened it up and showed her the set.

Per Dream Luna’s request, I had selected a pair of platinum earrings. The silver ones had looked too cheap and didn’t seem fitting for a princess. The charms that hung from the studs were shaped like crescent moons with a sapphire stone set between the points.

Princess Luna’s horn illuminated and lifted the exceedingly expensive earrings out of the box. “Silent Knight, these are astounding.”

“I’m told they’re collectible, Princess. Yours are uniquely numbered. There are only a few pairs like them in all of Equestria.”

“These look very expensive for a gift from your vacation.”

That was an understatement. I shook my head and smiled up at her. “Anything you give a princess should be fit for a princess.”

Without hesitation, the alicorn levitated the earrings up and set them in place. “How do they look?”

I peered for a moment, then nodded. “They look as if they were made for you and only you.”

Princess Luna smiled brightly and looped me into another hug. “You’re a wonderful friend. Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome. There is a lot I want to tell you about, but I should go get settled first and allow you to get back to the training I interrupted. If that’s alright with you?”

“Of course. We’ll talk this evening and you can share all of your tales. Please send Moonlit Star back.”

“Yes, Princess,” I replied before collecting my helmet and saddlebag.

As I made my way towards the stacks, Princess Luna called, “Silent Knight?”

I paused and turned to face her. “Yes, Princess?”

She smiled. “I owe you an answer, remember? That answer is: yes, I once was.”

My lips turned up in a smile that all of my professionalism couldn’t keep away. She’d tricked me! But I couldn’t be mad. I was happy, actually.

Of course, now I had to figure out if I was going to ask her to reimburse me.

Author's Note:

Oh Luna, always trolling poor Silent Knight.

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