• Published 12th Nov 2017
  • 8,957 Views, 167 Comments

A Place Among Her Kind - milesprower06

Tempest Shadow reflects and prepares for the new role she has been given in Twilight's kingdom.

  • ...

Promises, Pieces, and Purpose

'Ceremonial, yet functional. Protective, but not restrictive.'

Tempest Shadow stood and stared at herself in the full-length mirror, unable to take her eyes off of the new armor that now adorned her body. A custom variation on the armor traditionally worn by the guards that accompanied Princess Celestia wherever she went, it didn't feel much different from the set that the Storm King had bestowed upon her.

But it was definitely different.

Depending on how the light hit it, it appeared anywhere from a lighter plum hue, down to a dark magenta, and no matter where it was in that particular spectrum, it seemed to compliment her dark orchid coat perfectly. The plates going down her back were flexible enough to be nearly non-noticeable. The back of the armor rose up enough to show her cutie mark and allow a full gallop. At the very back, a knitted mesh tail guard fit snugly around her dock, and allowed full motion of her tail. Up front, the plates curved around to her barrel, the two halves being joined at the front by a six-pointed ruby star, the most prominent part of Twilight's cutie mark, and the symbol of her Kingdom of Friendship. The hoof guards came in two pairs; the front set slightly taller and pronounced than the rear set, and all four were comfortably and securely cuffed around her cannons and fetlocks. The only piece missing was the helmet.

She had been expecting this for days, yet the shock had never really worn off, and she was nearly quivering the whole time Rarity had put it on. The fashion designer had come a week ago with a measuring tape and clipboard, efficiently taking over two dozen measurements. The whole ordeal had taken less than five minutes for an expert like Rarity, and how she completed such an order in just a week was beyond her. In the short time she had to become acquainted with Twilight's closest friends, she knew the unicorn was masterful at turning fabrics into masterpieces, but platemail? That had to have been another matter entirely. But sure enough, when Rarity delivered it half an hour ago, and helped her into it piece by piece, it fit perfectly.

What had she done to deserve something like this?

It took no longer than a split second to come up with the obvious answer: nothing. Everything that had occurred in the past two weeks was purely of Princess Twilight Sparkle's good graces. It began when the Friendship Festival began to wind down, and she had been escorted along with Twilight to the throne room of Canterlot Castle.

As Celestia and Luna prepared to formally charge her with high treason against Equestria, Twilight stepped in, and Celestia understandably wanted a very good explanation for why she shouldn't place her in chains.

"I am not denying that she should be punished for what she did. But she acted in our defense when it mattered most. If it weren't for her sacrifice, the Storm King would have triumphed. I will not allow that fact to be omitted or ignored. I can't stop you from imprisoning her for the rest of her life, but you cannot convince me that it wouldn't be an absolute waste. She has opened up her eyes, she has seen the light, and shutting her away now would be antithetical to everything my crown stands for."

Twilight's words had indeed brought pause to the Princess of the Sun. The two of them clearly had a lot of history between them, because after that, Celestia's demeanor towards Tempest had lightened just a bit.

"What then, Princess Twilight, would you suggest?"

Twilight had not had an answer ready. After a few moments of fumbling with her words, she formally requested that she be released into her custody, and that she would take full responsibility for her. Tempest still remembered the skeptical look on Celestia's face; she was not entirely convinced. After a few moments, she replied with three simple, yet firm words.

"So be it."

Nothing more was said, and the guards had released her. On the train ride back down to Ponyville, fighting through her shock, she had told Twilight how she didn't just want to blindly accept this mercy; she wanted to earn it.

Curiously, this idea hadn't come from Twilight, but from her student, one Starlight Glimmer, who had been in Canterlot during the invasion.

"I'll be frank," Starlight had begun, as they walked down the hallway to her room. "On the day of your lecture at Celestia's school, I really just lounged in your throne room for a good twenty minutes before you showed up. You could really use some guards for this place. From what I saw in Canterlot, she's certainly a fierce combatant. She'd be perfect."

Tempest had been asked for her input, and she honestly didn't know what to say at first. After a few moments, she realized that Starlight was right; it would be the perfect way to put her combat experience and comfort in a militaristic culture to good use.

From there, she was expecting some late-night patrol duty or something. What she was not expecting, however, was the custom-fitted set of armor, and the knowledge that she would then conduct a search for volunteers to complete a squad of eight to twelve ponies for the castle. If that went well, the long-term plan was to expand that to a platoon fifteen to thirty strong for Ponyville and the surrounding countryside. In short, Twilight wasn't trusting her to guard, but to eventually lead.

No, she didn't deserve this. But she would earn it. She would prove herself worthy of this position and this armor.

She had been promised the world before. In her resentment and desperation, she believed every word the Storm King told her. And when the chips were down, they all rang hollow; he didn't care for anyone but himself. Twilight could have put an end to everything when his tornado nearly flung her off the castle balcony, but instead, she opened up her eyes to friendship. Twilight's promises were different, and Tempest would hold herself to the Princess' expectations, perhaps even exceed them.

Her reflecting was brought to a halt as she heard her door open. She turned, and saw Twilight, Starlight, and Rarity come in. Twilight had the matching helmet and a long, polished oak box in her magical grasp.

"Sorry it took so long, we had to make sure everything worked correctly." Twilight told her as the three of them came up to her.

"What do you mean? It just has to fit, right?" She asked.

"Not quite." Twilight said as the purple aura surrounding the helmet turned to a lighter blue as it was taken by Rarity's grasp and levitated over towards Tempest as the white unicorn came forward with it. When it got close enough for inspection, she noticed the intricate notches in the ring where what was left of her horn would pass through.

"An inhibitor?" Tempest asked nervously, figuring that at last, the catch had been revealed as Rarity lifted it up, and placed it snugly atop her head. Her mohawk mane popped up through the slit that went down the back of the helmet.

"Just the opposite actually. A conduit. For this." Twilight said, opening the hinged oak box, and taking out a golden metal mage's staff. The whole staff seemed to be four feet long, similar to a standard issue spear. The top half was ornamented with tiny bright blue studs, and a much larger faceted gem set in the top, at the center of the triple-pronged tip of the staff.

"Is that... Aetherium...?" Tempest asked, surprised and beside herself. Aetherium was one of the rarest minerals known to Equestrians, with some of the strongest magical properties ever recorded. To any mage worth their salt, it was more precious than diamonds.

"Indeed it is," Starlight began. "If it works the way we think, it should help with some of your... Stability issues..."

Starlight came forward, her horn glowed, taking the staff, angled it towards Tempest, and softly touched the aetherium shard to the jagged edges of her broken horn. Tempest felt a tingling sensation, and Starlight withdrew the staff, and then offered it to her.

"Go ahead, try it. Something simple." Starlight encouraged, as Rarity made a final adjustment to the helmet and then backed off.

Tempest looked over to the dresser, and spotted the hairbrush. Holding the staff upright at attention, she reached out with her magic, and what happened was beyond anything she could have imagined. There were no unpredictable arcs of lightning, no crackling. Instead, she saw the aetherium at the top of the staff glow, along with the hairbrush that began to levitate a few centimeters off the dresser with her magical aura. She held it aloft for several seconds before gently setting it back down, her eyes widening.

"Perfect!" Starlight exclaimed gleefully, ecstatic that the enchantment on the helmet worked exactly as she hoped it would.

Tempest could barely breathe as she looked over to Twilight, attempting to wrap her mind around what the Princess of Friendship had just done for her. She had taken the Storm King's broken promise, and to an extent, made it whole again. Made her whole again.

"Princess... I..."

Though these feelings of warmth and kindness were still new to her, she expected a royal guard to be more disciplined, even with an unexpected boon such as this. She swallowed the lump in her throat, along with the tears that threatened to spill over.

"There are no words." She said, holding the staff perfectly upright, standing at attention, her voice shaking. Twilight merely gave her a gentle smile in return.

"Everyone else is waiting in the map room, if you're ready. I trust you've memorized the oath?" She asked, as Starlight and Rarity exited, heading towards the map room.

"I have." Tempest replied.

"I'll give you a moment to compose yourself, then meet us in there, and we'll make this official!" Twilight said, clapping her front hooves together with a smile, then likewise turned to leave.

Tempest turned back towards the mirror, and looked at herself in her full set of armor. A moment to compose herself? How could she trust herself to remain composed after what she had just been given?

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Then another, and another.

She could do this. She knew she could. She made absolutely sure every piece of her armor was in the right place, then turned to head out into the hallway. As she made her way to the map room, her thoughts turned to the Oath of Officership. She had indeed memorized it, she had read it dozens upon dozens of times over the past week-and-a-half, and honestly, the only part she was unsure of was the very first part; the name.

As much as she wanted to put every second of her life that she had spent with the Storm King behind her, there was a part of her that giggled every single time she recited the words 'Captain Fizzlepop Berrytwist.' But as she approached the doors to the map room, she knew that she only had a few precious seconds to decide, and she didn't want to choke when the moment came. Again, she reached out with her horn, and the staff, angled forward in this walking position, glowed, and the doors slowly opened. As soon as she was clear of them, she halted her step, planted the bottom of the staff on the floor on her left side, and stood at attention. Everyone was seated at their thrones, and all eyes were on her as the doors closed behind her.

"Fillies... Friends..." Twilight began. "This council has been convened to install the first of our royal guardponies. Each mare here has testified to her selflessness, her conviction, and her willingness to make amends for the wrongs of her past. That begins today. Tempest?" Twilight said, eyeing her expectantly.

Her eyes focused on the Princess of Friendship, she took a breath.

"I, Fizzlepop Berrytwist, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend Princess Twilight Sparkle of Ponyville and the Council of Friendship against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter, so help me gods."

She could not stop the slight smile that formed on her lips after the oath was completed. Twilight returned the smile as she and the other six ponies got up and stood in front of their thrones.

"Congratulations, Captain Fizzlepop Berrytwist."

Author's Note:

Well, that only took six hours. Not bad for sudden inspiration.

Captain of Twilight's Royal Guard by HiccupDoesArt@DeviantArt.com