The Guardian of the Night

The Royal Guard has intensified their training regimen after countless attacks on Canterlot. They’re tougher, better, faster, stronger – and, after months of hard training, they only accept the best of the best. The Night Guard, the elite soldiers trained to protect Princess Luna during the evening, are similar to the Royal Guard, only ten times tougher.
Undeterred by the challenges that await him, Pipsqueak (now a full grown stallion) signs up to join the most elite soldiers in all of Equestria... The Night Guard.
He isn’t doing it for the fame or glory. Pip is motivated by one goal and one goal only: to fulfill a promise he made as a foal. He will become the guardian of the night.
This story is technically a sequel to The Dream Stalker, but it is not necessary to read that story first in order to understand this one.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/201940/the-guardian-of-the-night

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1. Boot Camp

“Listen up, maggots. I’ll be your drill sergeant for the entirety of your training. My name is Thunder Clash, but you will address me as sir, do I make myself clear?”

“Sir, yes sir!” the new pony recruits shouted, barely in unison. What a gaggle of undisciplined school-foals.

“After I go through roll, you’ll have the blessing of signing up for the guard company of your choice. Relish that moment, because it’s going to be the last thing you decide on your own for a very long time. Are you maggots still following what I’m saying?”

“Sir, yes sir!” That time was even clumsier than the last. Thunder Clash snorted in disapproval. This was going to be a long year.

“Now, the majority of you weaklings would be best suited to serve in the Crystal Guard. It’s the easiest of the four guard companies as the Crystal Heart basically does your job for you. However, if you have any testicular fortitude whatsoever, I would urge you to sign up for the Sun Guard. Those who serve under Princess Celestia have their hooves full with magical disasters, dark magic, twisted monsters, and the occasional thief that thinks they’ll make it big by breaking into Canterlot Castle.”

“Does that happen often?” a random pony recruit asks from the crowd.

Thunder Clash slowly turned to face the crowd of ponies. He calmly removed his guard helmet and then flew above the ponies with only a few flaps of his powerful pegasus wings. “DID I GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO SPEAK!?” he lambasted the new recruits. “Never speak unless you are addressed! Do I make myself clear!?”

The timid recruits nodded their heads, this time in unison. “Sir, yes sir!”

“You are not super-special-knights-in-shining-armor here to protect the princesses. You are faceless-nameless-guards that will keep one thing in mind: a good guard is a silent guard. NOW REPEAT IT!”

“A good guard is a silent guard!” the recruits nervously chanted.

“Louder!”

“A good guard is a silent guard!” the recruits shouted.

The irony of that chant wasn’t lost on Thunder Clash. He smiled to himself as he slid his helmet back into place. “Good. Now, the third option is the… Friendship Guard.” Thunder Clash could barely say that without vomiting. The newest princess may understand friendship better than anypony, but she sure didn’t understand the word intimidating. Who names their royal soldiers the friendship guard? Definitely not a warlord, that’s for sure.

“The Friendship Guard protects Ponyville and serves under the guard captain Flash Sentry. He’s a good pegasus. Trained him myself. The Friendship Guard itself, however… Out of the four guard companies it will be the weirdest assignment, and that’s all I can really say about it.”

“The last guard company,” Thunder Clash continued, “… Don’t even think about it. The Night Guard is the most difficult, the most challenging, and the most dangerous assignment. The monsters that come out at night are far worse than those that appear during the day. Just take the Ursa Major as an example. They only roam at night and it’s the job of the Night Guard to keep them out of Canterlot.”

One of the pony recruits raised their hoof into the air. Thunder Clash rolled his eyes, but was at least grateful that the pony was remaining quiet until called upon. “What is it, maggot?”

“I’ve never seen the Night Guard before… How-”

“That’s because the Night Guard is much, much smaller than any of the guard companies, which only adds to the difficulty. That’s why every single soldier in the Night Guard needs to be a squad of soldiers onto themselves. They are tough. Perhaps the toughest around.”

The new recruits began looking around, clearly trying to spot a member of the Night Guard. “Don’t bother,” Thunder Clash snapped. “The Night Guard sleeps during the day. Additionally, the vast majority of them are bat ponies. They’ll sooner fight you than engage in pleasantries. Now, time for roll. First up…” He glanced down at his roster and flew over to the first pony in line. “Marble Pie.”

She was an earth pony with a light gray coat, dark gray mane and bright purple eyes. Her cutie mark was a shattered boulder. “Yes, sir,” she said in a strong and very serious tone.

“Earth pony, eh? Says here you worked on a rock farm. Hopefully your head isn’t full of rocks. I take it you’re good and strong. You might be one of the ones that makes it all the way through boot camp. That is, as long as you can follow simple instructions.”

“T-thank you, sir.”

Thunder Clash walked over to the next pony in line and had to look down in order to make eye contact. “Dear Celestia, boy! Did you eat another pony before coming here?”

The unicorn before him was chubby. He had a grayish-green coat, dark orange mane and brown eyes. His cutie mark was a pair of scissors. “S-sir, no sir,” the recruit unicorn stammered.

“What’s your name? Snaps? What kind of name is that, boy?”

Some of the nearby guards began laughing under their breath.

The unicorn flushed with embarrassment. “It’s, uh, Snips, sir…”

“What was that?” Thunder Clash barked.

“Snips, sir. My name is Snips…”

“Ooohh. I see now. Scissors, snips… I see the connection. Either your mother has the power to see the future or she was wildly drunk when she filled out your birth certificate and you just followed suit.”

Snips slouched in place and kicked at the ground. Thunder Clash snorted. If the ponies couldn’t take a little verbal sparring they definitely couldn’t handle the pressures of being a royal guard. When he moved to the next pony in line he had to look up in order to make eye contact.

“Are you part giraffe, boy?”

The unicorn next to Snips had a long neck, a brilliant amber coat, a turquoise mane and dark brown eyes. His cutie mark was a snail. “I don’t think so, sir,” he answered the question as though it had been legitimate.

“Snails? Seriously? You name is Snails? Snips here might have had a drunken mother, but I’m pretty sure your mother hated you.”

Again, the guards around began laughing under their breath. The new recruits, on the other hoof, remained deathly silent.

“My full name is Snailsquirm,” Snails replied, his speech unbearably slow. “My mom said I was named after my grand-”

“I didn’t ask for your life story, boy!” Thunder Clash interrupted. “Keep your mouth shut and your head up and maybe, just maybe, you’ll make it through boot camp. Do you understand?”

“Y-yes sir…”

Thunder Clash glared at the unicorn before moving on to the next pony in line. This one was a pegasus. He liked pegasi. This one had a light blue-gray coat, a mane of dark gray and dark blue, and gray-purple eyes. His cutie mark was a black cloud with a thunderbolt coming out of it, almost exactly like Thunder Clash’s.

“Now, what do we have here? Your name is… Rumble? That’s a proper pony name!”

Rumble held his head high. “Thank you, sir!”

“Do you know which guard company you’re going to sign up for, boy?”

“I, uh, haven’t made up my mind just yet, sir.”

“Indecision is unbecoming of a soldier,” Thunder Clash narrowed his eyes. “You don’t have much time left. I hope you come to a decision soon.” Moving on to the next recruit, he smiled. Another pegasus.

“What do we have here… Your name is Scootaloo? Was your mother a zebra? Did she have a rhyming problem?”

Scootaloo cracked half a smile. “No, sir! I do not believe my mother was a zebra, sir!”

She had a soft orange coat, a light burgundy mane and purple eyes. Her cutie mark was a tire with flames coming off it. Thunder Clash raised an eyebrow. “And what guard company do you plan on entering? Hopefully you have a better head on your shoulders than Rumble over here. You’ve made up your mind, haven’t you?”

“Well… I, um, had been planning on joining the Crystal Guard but… after your speech I thought I might try one of the more difficult assignments.”

“That’s the spirit,” Thunder Clash nodded. “Perhaps I’ll see you in Canterlot yet.” He gave her a quick nod before moving onto the next recruit. Just like with Snails, Thunder Clash found himself looking up in order to make eye contact.

“Oh, a pinto earth pony,” he said. “You must be from Trottingham.”

The pinto stallion nodded. “That’s correct, sir.” He stood out from the crowd in almost every way. He was taller than all the ponies around him, and his coat was white but occasionally spotted with splotches of brown. His mane was long but scruffy and mud-brown in color, matching his eyes. His cutie mark was a downward pointed sword with a star next to it.

“And your name is… Pipsqueak?” Thunder Clash couldn’t help himself; he let out a single hardy laugh. The other guards also burst out laughing. Even the recruits couldn’t help themselves. “Pipsqueak? I take it back! Snails had a kind mother compared to yours! Pipsqueak! If only she knew how tall you would be, eh?”

“I’ve always been a little awkwardly sized compared to my peers,” Pipsqueak answered without a hint of embarrassment or shame. “But I’m a nameless-faceless-guard once I complete boot camp, isn’t that right, sir? My name has nothing to do with how good a soldier I’ll be.”

Thunder Clash stopped laughing and glared at the stallion before him. “Are you trying to get smart with me, boy?”

“No, sir. I just wanted to assure you that I’ll be just as good, if not better, than the other guards, regardless of my name. I’m ready to sign up for whatever you have in store.”

“Oh, you’re eager to sign up, huh? Think you’ll be great? Like this will be a piece of cake? Is that it?”

“I’m ready for anything, sir. I happily await your training.”

Thunder Clash hated the eager ones. “This isn’t a fairy tale, boy. This training is going to be hard work. The princesses aren’t going to recognize you. Heck, they barely remember my name. No, you’ll be invisible to them. If you signed up just to get close to one, you better pack your stuff now and leave.”

“Oh, I’m already close to one of the princesses, sir. You don’t need to worry about that.”

Now everypony stopped laughing. Those nearby inched in closer to better listen. “What was that?” Thunder Clash asked. “Did you just say you were friends with one of the princesses?”

Pipsqueak held his head high and nodded. “That’s right, sir.”

“Which one?”

“Princess Luna, sir.”

It became very quiet. Everypony was staring now. Thunder Clash glared. “Are you intentionally trying to rile me, boy? I live in Canterlot. I’ve lived there my whole life. I think I would have remembered seeing your speckled, lanky hide at one point or another if you were friends with Princess Luna.”

“Oh, I’ve never been to Canterlot, sir. I visit and spend time with Princess Luna in my dreams.”

Another long moment of silence.

Then, everypony burst into a cacophony of laughter. Even Thunder Clash was laughing. Was this stallion serious? Did he honestly just say that with a straight face? His dreams!? Oh boy! What a lunatic! I might have to throw him out right now on the grounds of insanity, Thunder Clash thought as he continued to laugh.

The only pony not laughing was Scootaloo. She nervously forced a few chuckles, but otherwise she remained silent.

No matter how long the laughter went on, Pipsqueak held his ground. Again, he didn’t seem embarrassed. He seemed more annoyed than anything else. When Thunder Clash regained control over his laughter, he asked, “Are you serious, boy? That’s your answer? You dream about Princess Luna and that’s why you’re friends with her?”

“I don’t dream of her,” Pipsqueak said in a calm tone. “I dream with her.”

Thunder Clash gave another snort of laughter. “Of course, of course. With her. Whatever you say. And when was the last time this happened?”

For the first time Pipsqueak suddenly seemed unsure of himself. “Well, to be honest, the last time we shared a dream was a few years ago… I’m starting to worry about her, sir. That’s why I signed up for the royal guards as soon as I was old enough.”

“Wait, so your dream mare-friend dumped you? I don’t think I’ve heard of a sorrier circumstance!”

Another loud roar of laughter. Pipsqueak maintained himself. He didn’t shy away or become red from embarrassment. Even if what he was saying was preposterous, at least he had the conviction to stand behind his statements with confidence. Thunder Clash could respect that, but he didn’t much care for this pinto stallion. He was going to be trouble.

“So,” Thunder Clash quieted the laughing ponies. “Are you here to try and woo a different princess? What guard company are you planning to join?”

Pipsqueak shook his head. “You don’t understand. I think Princess Luna might need me. I’m here to sign up for the Night Guard.”

“No, you don’t understand, boy. You don’t have what it takes to make it through the Night Guard training. I’m going to have to insist you sign up for a different guard company.”

“I appreciate your concern, but I have a promise to keep. I’m going to sign up for the Night Guard. Then I’m going to pass your training, sir. That’s just how it’s going to be.”

The new recruits turned and stared at Thunder Clash with wide eyes. In all his years of drill instruction, he had never met a young stallion with this much tenacity right out the gate. He knew plenty of stallions that developed a strong sense of self and determination, but it was rare to see it this young. It only reinforced Thunder Clash’s original assessment. This stallion was going to be trouble.

“Fine,” Thunder Clash capitulated. “Sign up for the Night Guard. But the moment you mess up, even just once, you’re gone. Understand me, boy? I’ll throw you from the training program and you’ll never be allowed back. Not while I still soar through the skies.”

Pipsqueak nodded. “I understand, sir. I’m ready.”

 
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