• Published 11th May 2015
  • 10,491 Views, 3,293 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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31. The Summer Faire

“Silent Knight, I asked if we are ready to go?”

I heard Princess Luna’s voice, but my mind was elsewhere.

Steel Wings and I had pulled the files of almost twenty ponies to interview for our mission. Missives had gone out that sounded official and classified. I still hadn’t figured out how to fix the problem of getting those files back to where they belonged. Instead, I’d just worked on my battle plan.

Regardless of how busy I was, we had to leave the city to go to Ponyville. I didn’t have time for this nonsense.

“Silent Knight?” Princess Luna called.

I blinked a few times as I came back to full awareness. “Apologies, Princess. Yes, we’re all ready. Two squads went in advance with Iridescence. By your order, we’ll go.”

She peered at me. “Are you well, Silent Knight?”

“I am, Princess. I’ve just got a lot on my mind.”

“A wedding will do that,” she replied with a smile.

I nodded. “That is true.” The wedding was the least of my worries. I motioned to the door. “After you, Princess. Your chariot awaits.”

Together, we left the palace with the remaining squad. It was a short flight, especially compared to the one to and from Haven, and we arrived in Ponyville before the main festivities had begun.

After disembarking, Princess Luna smiled mischievously and rooted through her saddlebag. From it, she produced a T-shirt and slipped it on.

“You’re really going to wear that, Princess?” I asked as I read it.

Princess Luna had commissioned the royal tailors to make this garment just for her. It read: ‘Blame My Sister.’

She smirked. “What? You don’t think it is funny?”

Night Frost laughed and said, “Forgive the lieutenant, Princess. He is just—and I mean this with all due respect—being a stick in the mud.”

Slowly, I turned to look at him. Our eyes met and his went wide with panic.

“Apologies, sir! Princess, the lieutenant is being a… uh… a stick in the mud. No! I mean he is concerned with how Princess Celestia may feel!”

I nodded.

Princess Luna waved a hoof at me. “I think it is clever, Silent Knight. Besides, I want to blend in today.”

Good luck with that. “Yes, Princess,” I replied.

We turned towards the town and I spotted Iridescence making her way over to us. She took one look at the princess and chuckled. “Clever.”

“Silent Knight doesn’t approve,” Princess Luna replied.

“I’m not surprised.” My new first sergeant then looked to me. “Everypony is in their positions, sir. The town is safe and ready for the princess to enjoy the faire.”

There was little worry that Ponyville would be dangerous for the princess. After all, Twilight Sparkle and her friends protected it. It seemed foolish to bring the whole unit and keep them busy.

“Good work, Sergeant,” I said. “I want you to go ahead and relieve Miley and her squad. Let them enjoy the faire until lunch. She can then take over personal security and Night Frost will take over town security. We’ll let Mountain Stone and his bunch have some time to enjoy the faire at that point. You may as well knock off until lunch, too. You can take over for me after.”

Iridescence nodded. “Thank you, sir, I’ll let them know.”

Princess Luna started heading towards the crowd. “Come along, Night Frost, let’s go show off my shirt!”

I waited for them to get out of earshot before I looked over at Iridescence. “I happen to know Winterspear is a sucker for the soft, stuffed pony dolls. Our father wouldn’t allow her more than one, and even that he was loath to suffer. Winning one for her would be viewed as a very sweet gesture.”

Iridescence nodded softly and then looked around. When she seemed certain nopony was looking, she levitated my helmet up and kissed my cheek. “You’re a sweet, soft stallion under all that metal. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. Now, I need to get to the princess. See you at lunch.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied.

I hurried off after Luna and caught up to her just in time to hear her declare, “Citizens of Ponyville! Behold, your Princess of the Night! I have returned in this time of happiness to enjoy both fun and merriment. I desire to participate in your games but your princess lacks a partner. Who will volunteer?”

The princess was kind enough to remember I was on duty and not insist that I be her partner. For some reason, that also made me a little sad. Only for a moment, though, and I couldn’t help but secretly laugh at the misfortune as she pointed at a random pony to join her. It was somewhat funny being on the other side of it.

“You look most fit and healthy!” the princess declared. “You shall increase our chances of winning! Will you be my partner, please?”

Her partner was to be a big red earth pony that looked extremely sturdy. He was so large, in fact, I’d be willing to bet he could give Mountain Stone a run for his bits.

The stallion stood in silence, looking surprised. He finally shrugged and nodded. Princess Luna looped a hoof around his and dragged him off to the seven-legged race. We followed behind. The princess gave her hoofguards to me for safe keeping and put her mane up in a ponytail.

From that point on, the pair competed in a myriad of events, taking first place in a majority of them. A myriad might be an exaggeration, but it felt that way at least. I will admit that watching the princess and her teammate compete against Miley Hooves and Mountain Stone in a pie-eating contest was fun. Not regulation, but fun.

I was helping the princess clean the pie off her face when one of the local ponies brought her a list for the official faire scavenger hunt. She was rather excited about it, and the big red stallion beat a hasty retreat when her back was turned. I chuckled and followed along with her.

“This is such fun, Silent Knight! It is exactly what I needed right now. We should have more festivals like this.”

“Of course, Princess,” I replied. “It is good for morale.”

She laughed and asked, “Good for morale? You mean having fun?”

I nodded.

Princess Luna laughed again and patted me on the back. “Very well. What should we do next? This scavenger hunt is so… passive.”

I thought about it a moment. “Carnival games?”

“Verily! We shall win the largest prizes!”

“Perhaps go a little easy on these ponies, Princess. They’re not accustomed to your level of skill.”

“Oh, very well,” she replied, and we made our way over to the ring toss. “How do we play?”

I picked up a ring and set it on my hoof. “You have to toss it onto the bottles without using magic. If you land it on the neck of a bottle, you win.”

“That seems all too easy!” Princess Luna said. I just smiled and watched quietly. Ring after ring hit bottle tops and bounced away. “Cripes! This is impossible!”

“It just needs a little finesse, Princess,” I replied.

She glared at me. “Perhaps you would care to demonstrate?”

“I’m on duty, Princess.”

Princess Luna advanced on me, a group of rings levitating in her magic. “Oh no, little stallion. You will not hide behind your duty!”

The rings grew closer and I swallowed. I retreated until I backed into a pony. “Sorry,” I mumbled. The rings bumped into my cheek repeatedly. It was clear I would not escape this demonstration, so I reached out to take one.

Narrowing my eyes, I centered the ring onto my hoof and tossed it. It flew in what seemed like slow motion until it hit the top of a bottle, bounced up, hit another bottle, flipped twice, and finally landed on the neck of a bottle halfway across the booth.

“Winner!” the pony behind the counter cheered.

Princess Luna and I stood there stunned. I looked up to her and asked, “Why don’t you pick a prize?”

The princess’s eyes narrowed as she looked at me. I shrugged. It had been pure luck, but I wasn’t going to tell her that.

She sighed and pointed at a hat. “How about that?”

“Seems perfect to me,” I replied. The pony brought it down and handed it to the princess.

Since it was an earth pony hat, the princess just balanced it on the tip of her horn. It was light blue and white and read rather proudly, ‘Best Pony.’ That seemed right to me.

We played several more games to a varying degree of success until it was finally lunch time. The princess and I shared a quiet meal and after we were done, I excused myself.

With Iridescence taking over for me, I could spend time with Crystal Wishes. She’d come to Ponyville to see an old friend of hers. While I waited by a delicious-smelling funnel cake stand, I watched Princess Luna from afar. She was having so much fun that it was easy to almost forget I could have lost her.

I swore an oath to protect her. No matter what, I was going to fulfill that duty to the very end.

Alastair would never hurt another pony again.

“Hi, Silent.”

The sweetest voice broke through my thoughts and I looked over to see its owner. Crystal Wishes stood there with eyes that were soft and a little wary but still full of love. I couldn’t help but smile. “Hey. Ready to have some fun?”

After my little destructive outburst, Crystal had questions. She wanted to know why I’d gotten so upset. I didn’t want to explain. I couldn’t explain.

It was clear that she wanted to bring it up again, but thankfully she seemed to understand. Instead, she asked, “What should we do first?”

“I’m not sure. I think I saw an artist booth over there,” I suggested. “We could have a portrait made. That would be different.”

Crystal nodded. “Alright, let’s head over there.”

We walked together in silence. When we arrived, I realized I was mistaken: it wasn’t portraits, but instead caricatures. I glanced at her. “This might still be fun?”

The unicorn giggled. “Yes, it is. How about I go first and then we can get one of your grumpy face?”

“I’m not grumpy,” I protested.

“Uh-huh.”

“You think all royal guards are grumpy.”

She winked. “I might.” Then she went and spoke to the artist to get started.

I stood nearby and kept an eye on the crowd. Off duty or not, I was still going to be certain everything was safe. It also afforded me a few minutes to reflect on what was happening in my life.

I hadn’t properly told my mother that I was getting married. I’d barely spent five minutes to tell Winterspear and Iridescence. That probably looked suspicious.

“Silent Knight! Hi! Hello!” came a small, familiar voice.

I looked around in confusion, torn from my thoughts.

“Down here!”

Azurite was standing next to me below eye level with a strangely familiar pegasus stallion behind her.

“Warrant Officer Azurite,” I said. “Hello.”

The stallion and I made eye contact and we nodded at each other. He was a subtle shade of blue and bore a far darker blue mane and tail. I was positive I’d seen him before.

“Just Azurite today! I’m off duty.” She looked at me and then at the pegasus. “Oh yeah! This is my stallionfri—my spec—my Soarin.”

Soarin. That was it. The Wonderbolt. I’d never seen him out of uniform or face-to-face, not really. He’d been in the palace a few times and we’d seen each other in passing.

He laughed and offered me a hoof. “I’m Soarin. Nice to meet you. Although I feel like I’ve heard your name before, other than from Azurite.”

My expression stayed even. The idea of a Wonderbolt knowing my name was off-putting, simply because the reasons for it were not things I was eager to be famous for. Being the House Guard commander was just my job, and the reputation I’d earned from my actions in Nordanver was just my duty.

“I’m not sure how that would be,” I replied before waving it off. “Of course, I imagine most ponies know your name. You’re one of Equestria’s most amazing flyers.”

Soarin shrugged. “I just give it my all. Anyway, are you working all day?”

I shook my head. “Not today, actually. Once lunch time hit, I left my section sergeant in charge and met up with my fiancée to enjoy the faire.” I motioned over to Crystal Wishes.

She was sitting still while the artist did his thing and my eyes lingered there a moment. She looked so perfect. A mare like her should have ponies making paintings of her every day.

“Wow! She’s pretty hot!” Azurite blurted out.

I turned back just in time to see Soarin loop a hoof across her middle and tug her back. He chuckled and said, “Easy tiger, she’s spoken for.”

Azurite was with Sunny. At least I was almost positive she was. Sunny had been exceedingly busy, though, so maybe it hadn’t worked out. Not that being with Sunny didn’t mean she couldn’t look.

I blinked. “Thank you?”

No sense getting upset about it. If Crystal was going to fall for a mare, it would be Velvet. On that topic, what was Azurite doing there with Soarin?

Before I could really think it over, Soarin tugged Azurite a bit. “Well, we’ll let you be. Have a good time at the faire. Nice to meet you.”

Azurite chirped, “Bye!”

“You do the same. Have fun,” I called after them.

That was odd. Although, most things involving Azurite were odd. So actually, that was normal. Besides, she was a sweet and straightforward pony. She was also a genius when it came to paperwork.

In fact… she was the kind of pony I needed right then.

I shifted to follow them before I heard Crystal call after me.

“Silent Knight, what was that about?”

That brought me to a halt. I turned and looked back at her. “Oh, nothing. I work with one of them at the palace. They were just saying hello. How is your portrait going?”

“Just fine, so don’t wander too far. You’re next, mister.”

Orders from my mare. Orders that would be followed. I waited for my turn and actively tried to not look grumpy when the artist drew me.

He was a caricature artist, however, and I ultimately looked quite grumpy. Crystal seemed to delight in that fact.

The two of us spent the rest of the day together and, as the sun started to ease lower in the sky, we checked in on Princess Luna. She was completely worn out, so I had Iridescence and Miley escort her back to the palace.

Crystal and I sat on a blanket just outside of the town square, watching the townsponies mingle. She looped a hoof over mine and said, “I’m going to say something snobby and I hope you won’t judge me for it.”

“Who am I to judge you?” I asked.

She giggled and shrugged. “I really enjoyed this… but it was no Glimmer World.”

That was an understatement. I nudged her shoulder with mine. “I don’t think anypony would have an issue with that remark.”

“Yeah… still, they worked so hard on this. It was great.”

“It was. The princess had a good time. That is important.”

Crystal nosed my cheek. “Yeah. So, while I have your attention, can we talk about the other night?”

A chill ran down my spine and it took all of my self-control not to stiffen. “What about it?”

“You were really upset. You put a hoof through a column and then you didn’t say more than three words for the whole evening. Is something wrong?”

She might understand. Just tell her. “Crystal, I—”

“Yes?”

No, she couldn’t understand. How could she? What was I going to say? ‘You see, dear, I’m going to risk everything to go stop the gryphon that almost killed me. I see his face, I hear his voice, and I feel him looming over me’?

“Silent?” she whispered. There was no judgment in her eyes as she looked at me.

I sighed. “There are parts of my job… ugly parts, I guess. I can’t share them with you. Some things will always be…” What? What would they be?

“Classified?” she offered.

Quickly, I nodded. Too quickly. “Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“Oh.” She dropped her head slightly. “I guess I can understand that. I just… I want you to know that I’m happy, Silent Knight. I really am. It’s just that sometimes you feel distant, then the other night you were angry. Not just angry, really. Furious? That was new. At least for me.”

“I am sorry about that, really. You shouldn’t have seen it. It won’t happen again.”

She looked at me. “You’ll never be angry again? That seems unlikely. Or do you mean I won’t see it again?”

“I mean—” I meant that I’d hide it better. How could I say that? “I don’t know what I mean. Just… I’ll try not to bring work home. It isn’t fair to you.”

Crystal softly kissed my cheek. “Well, if you do, remember that I’m marrying all of you. Not just the part after work hours.”

“Yes, I know.” She didn’t know about the bad parts she would be marrying, though. That seemed dishonest on my account, but I couldn’t imagine losing her. Besides, the part of me after work hours was the better part and I could keep that for her.

Crystal was staring at me with concern. It was time to change the subject. I cleared my throat. “Shining Armor offered me a job.”

“Oh?”

With a nod, I replied, “Yes, a really great offer, actually. I mean… it isn’t like being the commander of a House Guard, but there is advancement in a huge way and I’d be around him again. We’d have to move to the Crystal Empire, though.”

Crystal’s head tilted and she asked, “Do you want the job?”

“I want the job, but I don’t want to leave Princess Luna,” I explained. “I also don’t want to uproot you without much notice.”

Crystal grinned. “I wouldn’t mind. I can write from anywhere, and it is only a train ride away. The other part is a tough decision. Why don’t you think it over? Whatever you decide, I’m behind you. Both prospects sound great. Is that helpful?”

“Of course,” I lied. It wasn’t helpful at all because it left the decision in my hooves. I shifted and offered her a hoof. “Why don’t we go dance? I’d rather have some fun than dwell on a work problem. Okay?”

“Far be it from me to turn down a chance to dance with you… but if you do need to talk, you can talk to me. Alright?”

“Alright,” I replied.

“Put the medal on, sir.”

“I’m not wearing the medal, Chief.”

Steel Wings fixed me in his gaze and repeated, “Put the medal on, sir.”

“I said no.”

“Listen here. We’re about to take a huge chance by talking to ponies about the Nightwatch. We need to impress them and make this seem far more legitimate. Now, I get your objection. I really do. I’ve lost ponies before, too, but let me tell you one thing and I want you to listen.”

He grabbed my chin and forced me to look him in the eye. Rage immediately flared inside me and it took a lot of effort not to shove him away.

“If I’d been your commanding officer, I’d have put you in for that medal, too. You earned it when you chose not to leave your CO on the battlefield. You earned it again when you gave it all up to protect your unit and your VIP. Having it does not cheapen the memories of those ponies that died. So, sir, put the medal on… and keep that killer’s look when they come in.”

He let me go and sat back.

It was hard to keep my breathing even with so much anger in my chest. As much as I hated to admit it, he was right.

I reached into my bottom drawer, pulled the small medal out, and affixed it to my armor under my rank pin. It seemed ostentatious even though this one was meant to be worn at all times.

Within an hour, the first candidate arrived and was seen into my office. My guards didn’t ask any questions. This was just one royal guard visiting another. That happened all the time.

Chief and I sat there looking over the pony on the other side of my desk. She was extremely fit and looked more than capable. That, of course, was no surprise. She’d been a Royal Guard sergeant for a few years out west and had dealt with all kinds of trouble. Including the gryphon kind.

That wasn’t what interested me the most, however. Autumn Wind was a weather pony turned guard and that was the kind of experience I needed for my plan.

“Do you know why you’re here, Sergeant?” I asked.

“No, sir. I got the confidential letter and came out immediately.”

Chief looked her over and asked, “Tell me what you see?”

“Pardon?” Her brow furrowed.

“What do you see?” he repeated.

Autumn looked around and then replied, “An armsmaster and a House Guard commander. No reason for those two ponies to be in the same office. Normally, anyway.”

“Normally?” I put in.

“You’re an odd pair. No real overlap in the chain of command other than at the very top. He certainly wouldn’t be protecting the princess. You don’t need that sort of skill to subdue ponies. At the same time, you normally don’t have the House Guard in combat, but clearly the lieutenant has seen it,” she explained, motioning to my medal.

“That is fairly observant,” Chief replied, a little smugness in his voice. “What does this tell you?”

“That, most likely, I’ve attracted the attention of some sort of intelligence group.”

I leaned back in my chair. “A reasonable assumption. Is that a problem for you?”

Autumn seemed to be considering that for a moment before she shook her head. “Generally, no. Depending on what this group might be doing.”

“Hypothetically speaking, what sort of thing would you be against doing?” I asked.

She shifted uncomfortably. “I wouldn’t want to do anything that would hurt other ponies.”

“That won’t be a problem. Anything else?”

“What does this sort of thing do for a pony’s career?” she asked.

Chief and I exchanged glances and then I looked her in the eyes. “If we are successful, absolutely nothing. Nopony will ever know about it. You’ll never get a medal. You just have the knowledge that you carried out something difficult.

“On the other hoof, if we fail, this has the high probability of ruining your career. Hypothetically speaking, if that were to happen, I’d shoulder all the responsibility, but it would probably not be enough to save you.”

Her eyes got large and she seemed like she wanted to bolt out of the room. “Those are horrible odds. Why me?”

“I can’t elaborate too much, but your file was an excellent read. You’re perceptive, a decent enough guard in the physical department, and a talented weather pony. Why did you leave the weather service?” I asked.

Her cheeks turned bright red. “I was chasing a stallion, sir.”

Chief’s brow went up and I blinked. “You joined the Guard to follow a stallion? How did that go?”

“Not well.”

“Why did you stay, then?” Chief asked.

She smiled and shrugged. “I got in and even after he and I didn’t work out, I still loved it. Guards make a difference.”

“That they do,” I said before looking at Chief. He gave the slightest of nods. I returned it.

I set her file aside and looked her square in the eyes. “Sergeant, I think you’re right for this mission. Again, I can’t elaborate, but I’ll say it will likely put blood on your hooves for no reward. It also means giving up your evenings and weekends while still maintaining your normal duties. Would you like to come on board?”

Autumn looked from one of us to the other and said, “It seems like the smart answer is to say no and walk out of here right now.”

“It is,” I agreed.

“Any chance I can think it over?”

I shook my head.

She frowned. “Is it going to matter? I mean… is this important? Are we saving Equestria?”

“It does matter and yes, it is important, but unfortunately no. We’re not saving all of Equestria. We might—and I should stress might—save some pony lives down the line. Those are the facts, and I won’t sugarcoat it or suggest this is more than it is.”

The mare’s eyes flicked left and right, as if she was going over letters on a page. “You make a compelling case for me to say no. I respect your honesty, sir. This is probably the stupidest move I’ll ever make in my career, but for some reason I’m going to say yes. Yes, I’m in.”

I stood and offered her my hoof. “Welcome aboard. Chief Wings will brief you.”

After several more interviews, Chief Steel Wings and I called it a day. At least as far as the Nightwatch was concerned. I still had to do my duty and I’d heard a great rumor that I wanted to share. I trotted over to Princess Celestia’s wing to do some intelligence sharing.

I knocked on Sunny’s office door. It was open but she was face-down on her desk. “Sunny? Hello?”

She sat up quickly and wiped her eyes. They were red. “Silent Knight. What can I do for you?”

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, fine. Just tired.” She avoided direct eye contact. “What do you need?”

“I came to give you some good news. Major Aegis was just released from the hospital. He’ll start light duty next week. You can go back to just running the House Guard. Russet should be home soon, too, actually.”

Sunny nodded. “Great.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked, coming over to her desk.

“I said I’m fine, Silent Knight. Is that all?”

It wasn’t. “Have you ever written the goodbye letter?”

The golden mare’s head tilted as she peered at me. “It doesn’t come up too often anymore but sure, I’ve written goodbye letters. Kind of like thank you notes.”

“No, Sunny. The goodbye letter.”

Realization dawned on her and her ears stood up. “What? No! Silent Knight, that’s so morbid! I don’t think I’m going to go out one day and get killed. What is going on with you lately?”

I shifted and pulled an envelope from my saddlebag. “Before I got engaged, I didn’t worry about this sort of thing. My family knows Guard life. They’d understand. Crystal wouldn’t, though. Sunny, if something happens to me, can I rely on you to give this to her?”

Sunny recoiled, pushing a hoof against the letter as I offered it to her. “No! Silent Knight you’re being—whatever it is, just stop being it.”

“Sunny, please.” I pushed the letter back at her. “Please?”

Golden magic slowly encircled the envelope and lifted it away from my hoof. Sunny opened her desk drawer, dropped it inside, and then slammed it. “Fine. Since I know nothing is going to happen to you, I’ll accept it. I promise that on the off-chance I’m wrong, I’ll deliver your morbid letter to Crystal.”

“Thank you,” I said before turning to leave.

“Silent Knight…”

My hooves came to a stop and I looked back. “Yes?”

We stared at each other a moment and then she shook her head. “Nothing. Have a good night.”

Author's Note:

The Summer Faire is based off the MLP comic book. Luna attends and has a fun time.

The faire portion of this chapter ties in with Three of Diamonds: My Trip To The Faire.

Crystal's Wishes Companion Chapter: Hiding in the Dark

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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