Princess Twilight's Profoundly Peripheral Protector

by Chengar Qordath

Chapter 1: An Officer and a Gentlemare

“Princess Celestia wants to do WHAT?!

Before Spike could offer a completely redundant answer to my question, I pulled out my monthly planner and opened it up for him. “Do you see ‘spend time dealing with a bunch of nosy bodyguards who are constantly getting in my way’ written in here? No! That’s because it’s not something I want to do! If I wanted to do it, it would be in the planner!” I could feel my wings twitching in agitation as I started pacing around the library. “Ugh! I’m going to have to redo all of my plans for the rest of the year! This is a disaster! Why couldn’t Celestia ask me if I wanted a bodyguard? Then I could’ve planned ahead for it, but instead she just sends me a letter saying one will be coming in on the train tomorrow and...” I struggled to find any words that could adequately express my frustration.

“Twilight, calm down!” One of Spike’s claws gently gripped my shoulder. “The Princess just wants to make sure nothing bad happens to you. Besides, all the other princesses have bodyguards.”

I swatted the restraining claw away and went back to pacing. “I’m not like the other princesses. I don’t spend all day in Canterlot Palace or the Crystal Empire. I live in a library for pony’s sake! Where would all these bodyguards even stay? And what would they do? They’d just get in my way while I’m trying to study. Why does Princess Celestia even think I need a bunch of bodyguards in the first place?”

“Gee, no idea where she could’ve possibly gotten the idea that you could use some protectors.” Spike was being sarcastic again. Where did he pick up that nasty sarcastic streak? It certainly wasn’t from me. “Maybe it was that time when the cragodile nearly ate you? Or the whole thing with the Everfree Forest going crazy? Or when you had to fight Ahuizotl’s minions? Or the time we got sucked into a comic book and had to fight a supervillain? Or the flower-worm thing that attacked you and Cadance?” Spike paused for a moment to let his point sink in, then added, “And then there’s all the trouble you got into before you became a princess.”

“Okay, so maybe there have been a few ... situations,” I reluctantly conceded. I got to work on reshelving all the books to burn off some stress. The one problem of running a library was having to put up with ponies constantly coming in and checking books out, but at least that meant I could enjoy putting the books back once they were returned. It was strangely soothing to find one of those empty gaps where a book had been removed, and put the book back where it belonged. If only the rest of the world could be sorted out as easily as a library. “Still, I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself. There have been plenty of times when things got dangerous, but I always managed to handle them just fine on my own, or with my friends.”

“Except for the Pinkie Sense and the time you got turned to stone.” Spike hesitated for a moment, then put his claw back on my shoulder, though this time more as an affectionate and worried gesture than as a restraint. “And there were lots of other times when things got close, you know? Maybe having somepony around whose job it is to keep you safe would be a good thing.”

“Oh, Spike.” Even if the whole bodyguard situation was annoying, yelling at him over it wasn’t fair. After all, he was just the messenger. Besides, the fact that he was worried about my safety was cute. “You do realize that giving a princess bodyguards is purely ceremonial, don’t you? Anything strong enough to actually be a threat to an alicorn wouldn’t even need to slow down to deal with a couple of ordinary guardponies. If anything, I would have to protect them during a crisis.”

While that all sounded perfectly correct and logical, I couldn’t help but feel a bit unhappy with how arrogant it made me seem. It was just the truth, though. Alicorns do possess inherently superior physical and magical qualities compared to the other pony breeds. We have all the best qualities of all three pony breeds: the strength and durability of the earth ponies, flight, and magic. My strength and physical abilities had both jumped to the upper end of the bell curve. Not to the point of being ridiculous, but I could probably give a respectable showing if Rainbow and Applejack asked me to join in on their next Iron Pony competition. Flight was coming along a bit more slowly, but my studies indicated that I would eventually become an above average flier. Right now I was still lacking in experience—and by that, I mean I was crashing with far more frequency than I liked to admit.

Don’t misunderstand, Rainbow’s flying lessons were a great help. Without them, I would probably still be trying to figure out how to use my wings as anything more than feather dusters. However, it takes colts and fillies years of preliminary work and a whole summer of Flight Camp to really master the art of flying, and that was for ponies who’d been born with wings. Regardless of the natural advantages of being an alicorn, it would be a while before I closed the experience gap.

I wasn’t sure if I would ever completely master flying. Even adult pegasi seemed to have issues with crashing into the library, for some reason. I was still researching that, though as of late my studies had involved a distressing amount of fieldwork instead of theory. At least I hadn’t crashed into the tree hard enough to knock any books off the shelves yet. Rainbow Dash was so good at that I was beginning to wonder if her cutie mark had missed what her real special talent was.

Thinking of the bookshelves naturally brought one of my favorite topics to mind. Reshelving. That was always a good way to deal with problems. Like bodyguards getting in my way and messing up my carefully prepared schedule. I might not be able to do anything about that, but there was no need to freak out about it. I just needed to take a few deep breaths, calm down, and go back to my bookshelf. My neat, perfectly ordered bookshelf that I had absolute and complete control over. Everything was fine, and there was absolutely no need to—


It couldn’t be.

Not this on top of everything else!

“Spike! SPIKE! Are you sure you put Biblio's Bountiful Bestiary in the right place?” I didn’t even need to wait for his answer before I continued. “Because it’s in the middle of the ‘C’ section. Why is a book whose title starts with ‘B’ in the ‘C’ section?”

“Oops.” Spike quickly waddled over to retrieve the book. “I guess I must’ve misshelved it.”

“You misshelved it?” I might have raised my voice just a little bit. “How can you misshelve a book? It’s a simple system, it’s all alphabetical! You just put the book in the right place! It couldn’t be easier! I taught you to read, so I know that you know the alphabet! I’ve never mis-shelved anything! Not once! Do you know what this means?” I telekinetically grabbed Spike and hauled him up to eye level, waiting for his answer.

“Um...” Spike let out a nervous chuckle. “That we should put that book in the right place?”

“Wrong! It’s too late for that now!” I started flying around the room, frantically checking all the bookshelves. “Too late. Once one book is misplaced, it throws the whole system off. Not to mention that there might be other misshelved books that I haven’t found yet. It could be chaos! The entire library would fall into disorder, and nopony would be able to find the books they need, and without books ponies can’t learn, and without learning Equestria is doomed! DOOOMED!

I forced myself to calm down and take a few deep breaths; hyperventilating wouldn’t help the situation. “And that would only be the start of it. If Princess Celestia finds out, she’d say I was the worst princess ever! Maybe she’d even take away my princess-hood! Everypony would hate me more than Diamond the Dullard, and she cancelled Hearth's Warming Eve!”

Spike answered my completely reasonable concerns with an annoyed huff. “It’s just a book, Twilight. No need to go crazy over it; I haven’t seen you freak out like this since before you became a princess.”

Urgh. He just didn’t get it. The library had to be perfect—especially now that I was a princess. If I couldn’t keep the library ordered, how could I ever expect to deal with my royal responsibilities? “There’s only one way we can stop this disaster before it’s too late!” I grabbed Spike by the shoulders and gave him a little shake to make sure he was paying attention. “We have to re-shelve the entire library. Right now. It’s the only way to be sure.”

“The whole library?” Spike grumbled. “Again? But we just did that last week...”

“And things have already gotten this bad!” I groaned and ran a hoof over my face. It was an emergency, but re-shelving everything in the library was going to mess up my schedule even more. I was already going to have a hard time dealing with this new bodyguard trouble. I hate it when I’m not in control of a situation. Still, I couldn’t let the library stay in its current state, and at least this problem was one I could do something about. “I really need to start adding weekly reshelvings to my monthly plans so this doesn’t happen again.”

“Maybe you should make it daily reshelvings instead,” Spike suggested dryly. “Why take chances?”

I think he might have meant that as sarcasm, but it was actually a pretty good idea. “You’re right; better safe than sorry.” I got to work on saving the library from chaos, ignoring the complaints of a certain lazy baby dragon while I worked.

The next day I was reluctantly waiting at the station for the train from Canterlot. The captain of my new bodyguard unit was coming to Ponyville for a meeting to take care of the usual preliminary work involved in setting everything up for the unit, which meant I had to be there to meet her. I might not like the idea of having a bunch of guards tromping around and getting in my way, but Princess Celestia had already made the decision. I would just have to find a way to live with it. Maybe if I started things off well enough with the captain of my new guard, I could keep them from causing too much trouble for me.

Besides, it’s not like I should punish my bodyguards for Princess Celestia’s decision. A few years ago I never would’ve questioned Celestia, but now ... well, I’m sure she knew what she was doing. Maybe she was just worried for my safety, the way Spike had been. Even though I was perfectly fine on my own.

In any case, the ponies assigned to my protection detail would probably want to be out doing proper military work instead of being stuck keeping an eye on me and my library. I do try to act polite and respectful whenever I’m dealing with members of the Royal Guard; my brother was a member, after all. Well, technically he was. He’d been in charge of Cadance’s Crystal Guard since the wedding. A princess’ personal bodyguard was still part of the Royal Guard framework, but did sit somewhat outside of it as they answered directly to their princess. Technically, Shiny would be within his rights to refuse an order from Celestia herself if it went against Cadance’s orders.

I’d thought about inviting my friends to the meeting, but ultimately rejected the idea. This was supposed to be a business meeting of a sort, and if all five of them were here I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to keep things on topic. I love my friends, I really do, but some of them just don’t have very long attention spans or a grasp of how to conduct themselves professionally. I just wanted to get this situation taken care of as quickly as possible, and having Pinkie setting up a ‘Welcome to Ponyville’ party or Rarity gushing about designing custom uniforms for my new guards would slow things down.

So, it was just me and my number one assistant waiting for the train from Canterlot. Thankfully, the Friendship Express arrived precisely on time at 1:05, slowly pulling into the station. I felt just a bit nervous at the train’s arrival. I guess even if I wasn’t too enthusiastic about having bodyguards, I did want to make a good first impression on the pony who would be in charge of the unit.

I felt just a little bit of irritation when the captain wasn’t the first pony off of the train. I wanted to know who I was dealing with, and all the other ponies hopping off the train were getting in my way. Especially since most of them were only getting off the train to stretch their legs for a bit before getting back on—not many Canterlot ponies have business in Ponyville, but it is the first stop between Canterlot and a lot of the bigger cities in Equestria. Still, all these ponies who were stopping for a lunch break were technically getting in the way of royal business.

Maybe I should write a letter to Princess Celestia outlining a new disembarkation system where the ponies with the most pressing business would be let off first. That would make things far more efficient, and save lots of time. A lot of ponies might think that waiting for five minutes at the train station isn’t a big deal, but if you multiply that five minutes by all the times you go by the train station, you’ll realize that over the course of your life you could easily end up spending several days needlessly waiting. And since alicorns usually live longer than the other pony breeds, I was going to lose even more time to inefficient train disembarkation procedures. At least I wasn’t immortal like Celestia and Luna, or it might eventually add up to years of lost time.

The waiting wasn’t doing my mood any favors either. “Where is she?” Princess Celestia’s letter had been severely lacking in the necessary details. At first I thought she was in the habit of not telling me everything I wanted to know for her usual wise princess reasons, but lately I’ve begun to suspect that sometimes she just does it because she finds my reactions amusing. “Whoever they are, I hope they get off the train quickly. The sooner we start this, the sooner it’ll be over and I can get back on schedule.”

Spike responded by patting my wing joint. “Geeze, Twilight, you make it sound like you're getting a shot.” He paused, looking out curiously over the crowd. “For all you know, your new bodyguard might be really cool. Though I’m not sure how we’re supposed to find them when we don’t know what they look like.”

“Gee, I don’t know. Maybe it’ll be the pony wearing a Guard uniform.” I took a deep, calming breath and tried to rein in my temper. I might be in an entirely justifiable grumpy mood, but that didn’t mean I should get snippy with Spike. “Just because I'm a princess doesn't mean I need to start running around wearing a crown and surrounded by guards. When I’m not busy with my royal duties, I’d like to just keep doing things the way we’ve always been doing them.”

I thought Princess Celestia understood that when she sent me back to Ponyville. Aside from a bit of time in Canterlot to help me adjust to being an alicorn, I haven’t really done much with my new status. Sure, I might be ‘Princess Twilight’ now, but I like to think I’m still the same pony I always was. I certainly wasn’t going to demand everypony bow and scrape whenever I passed them in the streets. To be honest, it felt really weird whenever somepony felt like they had to make a big deal out of it. I’m not royalty, I’m just ... well, I’m me.

Spike’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts. “You wanna tell Celestia she messed up by giving you a bodyguard? You go right ahead.” I felt his claws briefly tug on my side as he climbed up onto my back, getting a better viewpoint to search the crowd.

“I’m sure Princess Celestia is just being careful, or she’s thinking about the more ceremonial side of things.” I didn’t want to make it sound like I was criticizing Celestia’s decisions—I might be a princess now, but I didn’t want to overstep. I was just asking a few perfectly reasonable questions. “Maybe I haven't conveyed just how safe Ponyville is—I mean, ponies don't even lock their doors around here. Plus, ponies around here aren’t nearly as interested in social status as they are in Canterlot. I guess she wouldn’t really know that since her visits are usually a really big deal, but most of the time ponies around here are very relaxed.”

“Yeah, sure, Ponyville’s perfectly safe.” There was Spike’s sarcastic streak again. I swear, somepony’s been a bad influence on him. Maybe Rainbow Dash. “Aside from the ancient mad god who’s PFFs with Fluttershy. And the time you rewired those parasprites to eat stuff other than food—I mean, that seriously could've gone bad. Then there were the dragons, and—” Spike fell silent, tensing on my back. “Ooh, I think I see her!”

Curiosity quickly subdued any lingering grouchiness over the whole situation, and a closer look at the crowd revealed a dark blue mare in Guard armor looking around the station. Something about her black and white mane seemed familiar, though that wasn’t a surprise: I’d lived in the palace for long enough to meet a lot of guardponies in passing, not to mention the ones my brother knew. She had the tall, svelte build and aristocratic features that spoke of Canterlot nobility, though with a bit more muscle than one would usually see on ponies whose idea of hard work was ordering their servants around.

I know it sounds silly to say that kind of thing about the nobility when I’m a princess, but it’s true. There were lots of exceptions, including the rest of my family, but there were also a lot of nobles who just sat around living on old money and fancy titles.

I was a little surprised she didn’t have the appearance-changing enchantments many Guard units used, but I suppose for a first meeting it was better if I saw the real pony. Besides, I always thought that changing everypony’s mane and coat colors so they would all match was rather silly, considering all the other magic they could have put on the armor instead. Though really, it was usually only the ceremonial units like the Solar Guard who bothered with those, and the occasional commander who was a stickler for protocol.

A moment later she spotted me too, and she shifted course to make her way towards us. “Looks like that is her. Let's go check.” I quickly trotted up to her, the crowd shifting out of my way as I approached. “Hello, I'm Princess Twilight Sparkle. Were you sent here for the whole bodyguard thing?”

As soon as I approached, the mare dropped down in a formal bow. Have I mentioned how self-conscious it makes me feel when ponies bow? “I was, Your Highness.” She had an upper-class Canterlot accent, though a more relaxed one than the overdone sort you see on social climbers. Well, that confirmed my suspicions that I was dealing with a member of the nobility. She’d probably been one of Celestia’s Solar Guard before she’d been sent here.

“You don't need to bow.” I tried to give a friendly smile, but it came out feeling awkward. “We’re not in Canterlot anymore, so nopony expects you to exercise court protocol.”

Spike nudged the back of my head to get my attention. “Aw, c'mon Twilight, just think of the fun you could have with this! You step in, she bows. You step out, she rises. Step in, bow. Step out, rise. In, bow; out, rise. In, bow; out, rise. In, bow; ou—”

“Spike!” I turned around and glared at the baby dragon as best I could while he was sitting on my back. I was trying to make a good first impression, and Spike started making fun of the mare the moment we met her. I turned back to my new bodyguard as she rose to her hooves. “Sorry about that. Spike’s still a baby dragon, so...” I pointedly ignored Spike’s grumbling about how he wasn’t a baby anymore.

The guardpony nodded, but I thought her stance seemed just a tad stiffer now. Hopefully Spike hadn’t offended her. After a second, she saluted. “Princess, Captain Storm Kicker reporting for duty.”

Well, at least now I knew her name. That was progress, right? I wasn’t sure what to do about the salute, though. I wound up just kind of standing there, until she dropped the hoof on her own after a few seconds. Then she just patiently waited for me to say something. “Right, so ... you're going to be in charge of my bodyguard unit then? I guess that means we have some planning to do.”

With any luck, I could build my new bodyguard unit from the ground up instead of just having Celestia transfer some of her guards. Don’t misunderstand, the Solar Guard is one of the best units in all of Equestria, but if I was building my own unit I could make sure everything was done the way I wanted it. Including considerations like minimizing how much my schedule and life would be disrupted. The Solar Guard might be great, but Princess Celestia almost never went out in public without a few of them hovering around her. The same with Luna and Cadance, probably because the Lunar and Crystal Guards were both just Solar Guard units with redone armor and transferred to the other princesses.

Though if my captain of the guard had already been picked out for me, it might be too late. After all, she was probably from the Solar Guard, and she would probably pick mostly Solar Guard ponies to protect me. Great. Just great.

Storm Kicker politely cleared her throat, snapping me out of that particular line of thought. “Princess Celestia did say I should use this visit to prepare an outline for what your bodyguard unit will need, Highness. If you can spare the time, I would appreciate having a proper discussion regarding your needs and desires for the new unit. I suppose a name as well.”

A name for them? The only thing I could think of right away was the Twilight Guard, and naming them after myself sounded pretentious. The Friendship Guard? No, that sounds corny. Urgh, I could think of something later. “Yes, Princess Celestia suggested we use this visit to sort out all the details before the rest of the unit arrives in Ponyville.” Before we could get any further in the discussion, my stomach rather pointedly reminded me that I’d missed my regularly scheduled lunchtime to meet with Storm. “So, how about we discuss it over lunch? I bet you're hungry after the train ride.”

Storm nodded, and a polite smile graced her lips. “That is very generous of you, Princess.”

“She's got a name, you know,” Spike grumbled.

Well, that was a little blunter than I would have put it, but I agreed with Spike’s general sentiment. I know she was probably just trying to be respectful, but I didn’t want to spend all day being called nothing but ‘Princess’ and ‘Your Highness.’ After all, my first real experience with royalty had been Cadance, and she never made a big deal over her title. Celestia tended to be a bit more formal, but I think that was mostly just because ponies tended to act that way around her. The first time I’d accidently slipped and forgotten her title during one of our private lessons I’d been terrified, and she wound up spending fifteen minutes hugging me and assuring me I wasn’t going to be executed for lese majesty.

Well, now it was my turn to be the princess, and I fully intended to follow their example. “Please, call me Twilight.”

Storm Kicker deferentially ducked her head. “As you wish, Princess Twilight.”

Argh! This was going to be a long day...

I put a hoof on my forehead and took a few deep breaths, trying to maintain my composure. I did not need to blow my top in front of my new bodyguard within five minutes of meeting. “No, I meant that you can just call me Twilight. No ‘princess’ or ‘your highness’ or anything else needed.”

Storm was silent for so long that I was starting to wonder if she’d heard me, before she finally answered. “You are certain that is appropriate, Princess?”

“I don't see why it wouldn't be.” I admit, by this point I was getting a little frustrated with her. Why did she have to be so stiff? Couldn’t she just call me Twilight, and not make a big deal out of it? “From what Celestia’s letter said, we’re going to be spending a lot of time with each other in the future, so we don't need to be so formal with each other.”

“Besides, Twilight hates it when ponies make a big deal over the wings,” Spike less than helpfully added. “She’s always saying ponies should just treat her like the same old Twilight she always was. You two need to get along: you're gonna risk your life for her as part of your job, so—”

I magically clamped his mouth shut and growled under my breath, “Not helping, Spike.” I turned back to the guardpony and let out a nervous little chuckle. “Anyway, you see what I mean? Not very formal. As for the rest of what he said ... well I sure hope something like that isn’t necessary. It’s not like I’m one of those crazy ponies in the Long Patrol that goes out looking for giant monsters to fight.”

My attempt at breaking the ice with a joke didn’t seem to work very well; if anything, Storm Kicker seemed even more uptight than she’d been before. “Whatever the dangers or lack thereof, it is my duty to protect you, Your Highness.”

Great. Not only was she still not calling me Twilight, but even though she was still being perfectly polite I could tell that I’d offended her. There was nothing obvious enough for me to call her out on it, but her posture was a bit stiffer, and her tone was even more formal and stand-offish than it had been before. I was tempted to ask what I’d done, but I had a feeling she would just find some way to deflect the question with her irritating formal politeness.

Well, whatever her problem was, there was no point in lingering on it. If she couldn’t get over it, I could always write to Celestia and ask for a new captain for my guard unit. Or maybe ask her to just drop the idea entirely, so everything would go back to normal.

For now, though, I needed to at least try to make an effort to get along with Storm Kicker. “So, lunch, right? I know a really good hayburger joint that's just down the street from here. Or we could stop by the sandwich place in the town square. I think Applejack might be working her stand today too, if you like apples.” I was still a bit wary of throwing all my friends at Storm Kicker—I wanted to get to know her first, and they would probably make a big deal over the whole bodyguard thing—but I could probably trust Applejack to be level-headed and understanding.

Storm Kicker was silent for several seconds, then shrugged. “I will defer to Her Highness' judgment on this matter.”

Fine; if she wanted to be that uptight, I would get exactly what I wanted for lunch and she could just live with it. “Hayburgers it is, then. This way.” I suppose I should’ve picked something a bit nicer than fast food for a meeting like this, but I wasn’t in the mood to spend fifteen minutes waiting for food when I was hungry now. Besides, it was cheaper. Sure, money wasn’t an issue now that I was a princess, but I’d spent most of my life surviving on a student budget, and old habits are hard to break.

Storm followed along dutifully behind me, staying silent as we set a course for Burger Princess. When we were about halfway there, Spike spun around on my back so that he was facing my new bodyguard. “You’re gonna love this place. They’ve got the best hayburgers ever, and I don’t even like hayburgers. Still not as good as my nachos, but nothing is.” Spike leaned forward, and conspiratorially whispered. “Make sure you get a lot of napkins. If you tell ‘em you want extra ketchup, they’ll really pour it on.”

“There are Burger Princesses in Canterlot too,” Storm responded. “However, I will bear your advice in mind.”

Much like donuts, my fondness for fast food was a product of my student days. The palace chefs could make the most wonderful gourmet meals, but gourmet cooking takes time, and it’s usually a lot more work to eat too. Not to mention the palace chefs like to keep reasonable hours. Sometimes, a pony needs a quick, no-hassle meal to fuel a late-night study session. I’d forgotten how much I liked the food, until they’d finally gotten around to opening a Burger Princess in Ponyville.

I trotted in, waving to a few familiar faces before heading for an open table. Always smart to secure your seating arrangements before you order. Otherwise things could get complicated. Especially since the place was packed with the usual lunchtime rush, including quite a few of the other ponies from the train. Once we’d secured our seats, I turned to Storm and forced a polite smile onto my face. “So what would you like? Don’t worry about the prices, this is my treat. Besides, everything on the menu is really good.”

Storm turned to the big menu board, looking it over. To my immense irritation, there was just a tiny bit of Canterlot snobbery in her voice when she finally answered. “I suppose I'll have the Big Hay Value Meal, then.”

It took some effort, but I managed to swallow my annoyance and keep a smile on my face. “Great. What do you want, Spike?”

Spike looked over the menu, then grumbled, “Still no gemburgers? C'mon, if you can make a burger out of hay...” He went back to looking over his options for a bit before he finally settled on something he liked. “I’ll go with the double hayburger meal with extra haybacon, and value size my horseshoe fries.”

“Sure thing. Give me a minute, and I’ll get our orders.”

I didn’t even get away from the table before Storm interrupted me. “Princess, if you would allow me to—”

“I’ve got it, Captain.” If she was going to keep calling me by my title, I would use hers too. When she didn’t sit back down, I started getting really annoyed; I didn’t need my bodyguard waiting on me mouth and hoof as well as being a general pain in the plot. “Sit down, Captain.” Now that I’d given her an order, she promptly complied, and I could get back to having lunch. I trotted up to the cashier and told him what Storm and Spike wanted, as well as a double order of the Double Hayburger Value Meal for myself. Cheese, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, in that order from top to bottom, and no pickles or onions.

While I was waiting at the counter for our meals, Captain Storm and Spike started talking about me behind my back. I guess they didn’t know I could hear them across the room in a reasonably crowded restaurant. In fairness, I don’t think I could have managed it without a subtle eavesdropping spell. Thanks to that, I heard Captain Storm as clearly as I would’ve if I were sitting right next to her at the table. “Is there anything I should know about Her Highness' needs?”

“Nah, she can take care of herself most of the time.” Spike really was a good friend. Maybe he could convince Captain Storm that this whole bodyguard business was a complete waste of— “Most of the time. But sometimes she does get in trouble, and I think it’d be good if she had somepony around to help keep an eye on her. I mean, we all try and help her out whenever she’s in trouble, but I’m still ‘just a baby dragon,’ and the rest of her friends have their own stuff to do. They’d help Twilight anytime she needs it, but when they’ve gotta spend all day doing their own jobs and stuff, they might not know she needs help.”

“I will help her in whatever way I can,” Captain Storm answered. I couldn’t see her, since looking at them would defeat the entire point of eavesdropping, but her voice did sound a bit less stiff than she’d been when I was around. I guess only I merited the whole ‘Ice Queen of the Snobs’ act.

Spike didn’t say anything for long enough to make me wonder if my spell had gone out. I was just about to re-cast it when he finally spoke up. “How much d'you know about what's happened in Ponyville over the last few years?”

“Princess Celestia briefed me on the situation and Her Highness’ history when she gave me the assignment.”

“So I guess you know we’ve had a couple close calls.” Spike sighed, and voice turned quiet and scared. “Twilight always tells me I shouldn’t worry, because everything always worked out okay in the end, but what if it doesn’t? What if something goes wrong and something happens to her and she gets really hurt, or even—”

“Ma’am? Your order’s ready.”

“Ack!” I jumped in surprise when the server interrupted the conversation I’d been listening in on. I’d been so focused on listening to Spike that I’d almost forgotten I was supposed to be waiting for our food. I felt a bit sorry for the teenager who’d brought my order, who now looked rather sheepish about the fact that he’d startled me. “Sorry, I was just thinking about ... things. Princess things. About magic and friendship, and the magic of friendship.”

The young stallion stared at me for a bit, then slowly nudged the tray with my order forward. Rather than stick around and make things even more awkward—not to mention annoying everypony in line behind me—I took the tray with me. After I finished checking that he’d gotten everything right, of course. I didn’t want to get back to my table and bite into one of my hayburgers only to discover that he’d put mayonnaise on them instead of ketchup. Having your food messed up is always annoying.

I took my time walking back to the table, in the hopes of catching a little bit more of the conversation between Captain Storm and Spike. “—my duty to ensure that no harm comes to Princess Twilight.” Captain Storm was still using that less stiff and formal tone that she’d taken up for the conversation with Spike.

“Thanks, Storm.” Spike offered the mare a shaky grin. “Y’know, you’re alright.”

Huh. So she’d managed to somehow win Spike over? And she did sound a bit less stuck-up than she’d been when I tried talking to her earlier. Maybe this was a good sign of things to come? Perhaps the whole situation between the two of us had just been a big misunderstanding. It’s no surprise the two of us needed a little bit to settle into things, this was a huge change for both of us. Of course there would be some initial awkwardness when two ponies who barely knew each other needed to start working together. That was probably why she’d been so stiff and formal; she was just trying to act like a proper royal bodyguard. Maybe I should stop resenting her, and work on getting past that?

I suppose I should at least give her a chance. After all, she was only following orders. She probably hadn’t wanted to leave Canterlot and come out to a small town like Ponyville; usually the best way to get promotions in the Guard was to stay in the capital. Spending time around the Princesses and the highest-ranking officers in the Royal Guard made a pony far more likely to get noticed. A small town like Ponyville was probably a career dead end, which might explain her attitude.

I trotted back to the table, levitating our food over and doing my best to put a friendly smile on my face. “Here we go, food for everypony. I triple-checked the orders, so everything should be right.”

Spike dived into the meal with all the enthusiasm of a young hungry colt, shredding the wrapper off of his burger instead of taking an extra second to do things neatly. At least he wasn’t eating the wrapper this time—according to him it ‘improved the texture.’ According to me, it was gross and he shouldn’t do it. “Awesome! Thanks, Twilight!”

“Sure thing, Spike.” I got to work on my own lunch, unwrapping one of the burgers and taking a huge bite out of it. I’d forgotten how good the burgers here were until the Cutie Mark Crusaders brought me here for a meal. Sure, Spike’s meals were much healthier and just as delicious in their own way, but I’m allowed to have the occasional guilty pleasure of eating some horrendously unhealthy but undeniably delicious fast food. Needless to say, I’d already calculated the calorie intake and done the math on my average calorie consumption, then adjusted the rest of my monthly nutrition plan to ensure that I wouldn’t start gaining excessive body fat. That’s why I didn’t like mayo on my burgers; it made the math messier.

Once I’d finished my first hayburger, which had taken the edge off of my hunger, it was past time I started getting to know my new protector. “So Captain Storm, how about you tell me about yourself? I'd like to know a bit more about you, since I'm going to have to rearrange my entire schedule around you now.”

Spike helpfully pulled out a quill and some spare parchment, having already anticipated that I would want him to take notes. Granted, the notes would probably have a few grease and ketchup stains on them since he was still eating, but I've dealt with worse.

Storm carefully set down her hayburger, which she’d barely even touched. Judging by how daintily she’d been holding it and the small bites she was taking, she was too used to eating at fancy parties in Canterlot. That was the kind of thing Celestia’s Solar Guard had to deal with all the time; keeping up appearances was very important. When she spoke, she was unfortunately back to being polite and formal instead of the more relaxed tone I’d heard her using with Spike. “Very well, Highness. As I said, Captain Storm Kicker of the Canterlot Kickers. I am currently in my fourth year in the Royal Guard, after I graduated magna cum laude from West Hoof in 1000 CR.”

Well, it was nice to know Celestia hadn’t picked the class dunce for my bodyguard. Still, it was only magna cum laude. Plus, West Hoof’s curriculum wasn’t as broad as Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, and Captain Storm had probably only bothered to get a single undergraduate degree. I suppose that was good enough for most ponies.

After having established her passable academic credentials, Captain Storm continued. “After graduation, I served in the Long Patrol, earning my promotions as well as gaining the Silver Moon during the changeling invasion, before Princess Luna personally recommended me to head your new protection detail.”

Huh. Well that certainly wasn’t what I’d expected to hear. I had assumed Celestia would’ve put one of her Solar Guards in charge of my protection unit; after all, they were her personal bodyguards. Instead, she’d sent a decorated frontline combat officer. At least now I had a pretty good idea why she seemed so familiar: the Silver Moon was a fairly prestigious medal, and Luna hadn’t given out very many of them since her return.

“Wait, you were in the Long Patrol?” Spike interrupted, staring at the captain in confusion. “I thought the Long Patrol was supposed to be full of crazy meat-eating wilderness nuts who spent all day going after monsters. What are you doing as a royal bodyguard?”

“Spike!” I swear, that dragon has no sense of tact.

“What?” He grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest and pouting. “I was just repeating what you told me about them...”

Oh. Right. In my defense, the Long Patrol did have a bit of reputation for being one of the rougher units in the Guard. In fact, they seemed rather proud of their reputation. That’s not to say they were unprofessional, just that they weren’t as clean-cut and polished as most of the other units in the Guard. Certainly a far cry from the Solar Guard: when Shiny had been a member before he’d been promoted to Captain of the Guard, he’d always complained that he spent far more time polishing his armor and making sure every aspect of his uniform was just right than he did actually guarding Celestia.

Captain Storm took a few dainty bites of her hayburger, clearly taking her time with it. I suppose the fact that I’d unintentionally insulted her old unit might have made things just a little awkward. Sure enough, when she finally spoke her voice had somehow gotten even more coldly distant and formal, and there was a barely perceptible frown on her face. So much for breaking the ice. “The Long Patrol is a fine unit, and I was honored to serve with ponies there. As for why I was selected as Her Highness’ protector, I would imagine Ponyville’s proximity to the Everfree Forest was a factor.”

Oh. That did make sense. I suppose all the reports I’d sent back to Celestia about my encounters with manticores, hydra, timber wolves, cragodiles, dragons, and everything else would make her think that my bodyguard would need to know how to deal with monsters. It was certainly a more useful skillset than a Solar Guard’s impeccable courtly manners. Though somehow she had those too, despite spending several years with the least civilized ponies in the Equestrian military.

“So...” I needed to find some way of changing the subject, before we spent too much time lingering on my earlier faux pas. I chomped down on my burger to buy a little time to think, and some of the ketchup squirted out and landed on my chest. I would have to clean that up later. Once I was mostly done chewing and swallowing, I finally came up with a good subject to discuss. “So you belong to the Kicker Clan. That must be interesting.” It wasn’t much, but asking about a pony’s family life was always a good step.

Storm nodded, and I was relieved when I saw her frown fade away. “It is, Highness. We have a long and proud history of serving the crown.”

“I’ve read about it.” I thought back to my history books, and came up with an interesting little tidbit. “As I recall, the Kickers and Sparkles both rose to prominence after our families aligned with each other during the Lunar Rebellion.” Storm nodded, and I continued. “So I guess it’s fitting that the Sparkle princess has a Kicker for a bodyguard. You know, for continuity.”

“As you say, Highness.” Storm took another genteel bite from her hayburger. “When families can trace their roots back for nearly a thousand years, there will be all kinds of ancient connections and alliances.”

For a moment, I was tempted to pull out my old genealogical research and trace our family trees back. After all, familial alliances were traditionally sealed by a marriage, so there was a decent chance I had some ancestors in common with the captain. Granted, if you go back far enough in the family tree just about everypony is related to each other; it’s just that most ponies don’t bother with following their family history that far back.

Spike paused halfway through eating his hayburger. Well, I suppose you could call it eating; most of it was going into his mouth, at least. “Sho you two’re like old family friensh? Thash aweshome!” He finally bothered to finish swallowing his food—what hadn’t sprayed out of his mouth while he was talking—and noticed that I glowering at him. “What? Do I have something on my face?” His long, lizardlike tongue darted out, slobbering all over his face and cleaning up the worst of the mess.

What is it about young males, whatever the species, and bad table manners? “You still have a bit on your chin, Spike.” His tongue darted out again to take care of the problem. Credit where it’s due, he is pretty efficient about cleaning up his messes once somepony points them out to him. It’s not like Spike was a slob, he just didn’t pay close enough attention to himself sometimes.

I like to think I’ve been a good influence on him in that respect. Sure, there might be times when he’s a bit of a messy eater, but just imagine how terrible he would be without me having me around to be a good influence. He would probably be stuffing his face like a pig.

Speaking of which, I had a bit of ketchup on my face. Only a little, but if Spike noticed it, he’d probably use the fact that my face wasn’t perfectly clean as an excuse to ignore me. I grabbed another hayburger and used the bun to hastily wipe the excess ketchup off.

Right as I finished wiping my mouth, Storm coughed. I glanced over to make sure she was alright, and a second after she made eye contact with me she picked up her hayburger again and nibbled at it like she was in the middle of a royal banquet or something. Maybe some of her food had nearly gone down the wrong way? That didn’t seem likely, with how she was taking such small bites. Maybe she was coming down with something? It was that time of the year...

“You don't have a cold, do you?” I inquired. “Because I have a couple spells that could help out with that. Cadance taught me one that—” I noticed Spike’s eyes lingering a bit too much on my fries, and hastily put a protective hoof over them. Unfortunately, that knocked one of my hayburgers off the table and onto the floor. “Oops! Just a second, Captain.” I grabbed the hayburger, then hit it with a quick cleaning spell to make sure it would still be sanitary. I don’t believe in wasting, especially when it leads to a need to waste valuable study time replacing it. “Anyway, if you’re feeling a bit under the weather I know exactly how to help you out.” I took an experimental bite of my burger, confirming that it was none the worse for the wear. When I was still getting the food-cleaning spell down, I’d accidently made a donut taste like cardboard once.

“I am not ill, Highness.” Storm gave me an unreadable look, then slowly pushed her food aside.

Spike took note of the captain’s abandonment of the meal. “You gonna eat that?” When Storm shook her head he made a grab for what was left of her hayburger, but magic is a lot faster than greedy little dragon claws. Spike grabbed empty air while I settled what was left of the sandwich in front of myself, and got to work trimming off the portions Storm had already eaten. I didn’t want to risk catching a cold from her, even if she said she was healthy.

“Hey!” the baby dragon whined. “I was gonna eat that!”

I smirked at him and gave him a teasing little nudge. “Then you should’ve been faster. You can still have her fries.”

“Yeah, yeah...” Spike snatched up Storm’s leftover fries, and got a little bit of petty vengeance on me by wiping his greasy claws off on my coat.

Now that my share of the spoils was safely in hoof, I spared a concerned look for my new bodyguard. Considering how delicious the hayburgers here were, I couldn’t imagine anypony leaving one unfinished unless they weren’t feeling well. “Are you sure you’re alright? If you’re feeling sick, we can always reschedule this for later.” I chomped down on my newly acquired sandwich, thoroughly enjoying it.

The captain took her time answering, “There is nothing to be concerned about, Highness.” She took a quick look around, then leaned forward and carefully whispered, “Highness, you have a small ketchup stain on your mouth ... and chin ... and cheeks. Other places too.”

Spike let out an incredulous snort. “A small stain? Are you kidding? Whenever she gets fast food, Twilight eats like a total pig.” He waved one of his claws at me. “I mean, look at her! You can barely even tell what color her coat is under all the food stains.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Spike.” I threw up a quick mirror spell to have a look at myself, just to make sure everything was alright. What I saw was less than encouraging; obviously Spike was exaggerating about just how messy I’d gotten, but it was bad enough to make me feel embarrassed. Especially when Storm had been eating like a perfect lady the whole time. If not for the fact that I was an alicorn and she wasn’t, somepony who just happened upon the two of us probably would’ve assumed that she was the princess and I was the servant.

I felt a brief flash of irritation directed at my new protector, and quickly repressed it. After all, I had nopony but myself to blame for how messy I’d gotten. Instead, I tried to laugh the whole thing off. “I guess I got just little too enthusiastic. Next time, I won’t wait until an hour past my scheduled lunchtime to get a meal. Just give me a second to clean up, and...” I started looking for napkins, but couldn’t find any. Had I forgotten to get any? I had been a little distracted listening in on Storm and Spike... “I swear, I’m going to start bringing a checklist every time I go out to eat just to make sure I don’t miss anything.”

“Plus you could always use the checklist as a napkin if you ran out,” Spike rather unhelpfully suggested. He had his claws over his mouth, and was barely even trying to hide his giggles. “Maybe you should try dyeing your coat red before we come here. That way the ketchup stains won’t stand out, at least.” I briefly struggled with the urge to throttle my number one assistant. Sure, most of the time he was great and helpful, but when he started being a pain in the flank for whatever reason, he could really get under my skin quickly. Probably because we’d spent enough time together that we knew exactly how to push each other’s buttons.

Before I could start plotting my terrible, terrible vengeance upon Spike, Captain Storm set some napkins down in front of me. “Highness.”

I blinked in surprise at the help, then wasted no more time picking up one of the napkins and getting to work on damage control. I had enough ketchup splattered over myself that it would take a while to get rid of everything. “Thanks.” I still couldn’t believe I’d let myself make such a mess. I guess I’d just been distracted on account of all the new stress I had to deal with, and hadn’t been paying attention.

“No thanks are required, Highness,” Storm answered dutifully. “Shielding you from physical harm is only one of my duties; I must also protect the honor and dignity of the crown and your royal office.”

I got the last big glob of ketchup off, and found myself wondering if my bodyguard might be indirectly condemning me for being a messy eater. It certainly sounded like she was saying I was making a foal of myself. I’m pretty sure making fun of the pony you’re supposed to be protecting isn’t in the manual they hand out to new bodyguards.

Still, maybe I was just being paranoid and jumping to conclusions. In any case, now that I’d gotten the worst of the mess taken care of, all I needed was a few quick spells to make myself completely presentable. It was a pity I couldn’t have used magic right away, but a lot of self-cleaning spells can get just a little bit overenthusiastic if you don’t do some pre-cleaning first. I didn’t want to lose chunks out of my coat because the spell classified my fur as dirt. Thankfully, nothing like that happened this time. “Well, that’s taken care of.”

“Very good, Highness.” Urgh. The terrible thing about dealing with a pony who always sounded so politely formal was that I could barely even tell what tone she was using with me. Was her last comment supposed to be a polite attempt to move past the fact that I’d made a fool of myself, or was she trying to be condescending and rub it in? I couldn’t tell, and that just made me even more annoyed.

Captain Storm just kept looking at me, her face a dutifully impassive mask. “Will there be anything else, Highness?”

“Not really.” The last thing I needed right now was more opportunities to make myself look like an idiot in front of my bodyguard. I’m just glad my friends weren’t here, or they all would’ve been laughing at me. “I already had to redo my schedule just to meet with you, so I’d like to try and get things back to normal. I guess you’ll just ... do whatever it is you do, while I take care of my normal business.”

“What do you mean ‘you’ redid the schedule?” Spike groused, snatching away the last bit of the burger I’d stolen from Captain Storm.

“Spike helped,” I conceded, earning a satisfied nod from the baby dragon. I got to my hooves and slowly stretched out, using my magic to take care of our garbage. “Everypony—and dragon—has had enough to eat, right? Then let’s get back to the library. I’ve got a lot of lost study time to make up for.”

“Very well then, Princess.” To my mild irritation, the captain insisted on opening the door for me on the way out.

The next couple days went by in a barely tolerable state of constant minor annoyance. I guess Storm could have made my life a lot worse if she went out of her way to disrupt things, but just having her there caused all kind of problems. I couldn’t get properly caught up in a study session while she was constantly standing there, watching me. Waiting.

Eventually, I had to get out of the library or I would go crazy. Yes, really. It’s definitely a sign that something is terribly, terribly wrong when I can’t even feel at peace inside my own library. It’s just that the library was supposed to be my private zone of total concentration, where no external distractions were allowed. And now there was another pony in that private place, warping the very fabric of the universe around her so that I couldn’t learn in peace. I was already losing lots of valuable studying time during the library’s operating hours, the last thing needed was to have my private time taken away too.

I couldn’t even go to my friends about the problem. After what had happened when the Everfree Forest went crazy, I was pretty sure they would like the idea of me having a proper bodyguard. I’d tried writing Cadance about my problem, but the only advice I got from her was a few empty platitudes about how bodyguards weren’t so bad, and I’d get used to having them around in no time. I suppose that’s what I get for asking a biased source. After all, she was married to the pony running her guards.

Unfortunately, the letter to Cadance also made it very clear that I couldn’t get rid of Storm just yet. If I wrote Celestia about the matter, she would probably just tell me exactly what Cadance had—that we both just needed a little bit of time to get used to each other. I would probably have to put up with her for at least a week or two before I could convince Celestia that this wasn’t just a temporary matter of two ponies needing a while to settle in.

After putting up with all of that for two days, I’d had enough. The whole situation was completely intolerable. I wasn’t even comfortable in the library anymore. My library! Except it wasn’t mine anymore, because now I had to share it with another pony who’d I never even wanted to have around in the first place. All because I was a princess now, and princesses are supposed to have bodyguards.

Thankfully, I had a perfect excuse: the ruined castle in the Everfree Forest. I’d already taken a few trips out there to do a little exploring and recover some of the priceless books and relics, so it was perfectly reasonable to make another trip—especially since the forest seemed a bit tamer ever since we’d returned the Elements. It was still a dangerous forest filled with monsters, but it no longer had the same oppressive sense of dread hanging over it.

Things didn’t exactly go the way I’d hoped when I told Captain Storm and Spike my plans. Storm just accepted the news with her usual stoicism, but Spike went and got moody on me, scowling and stubbornly setting his claws into the ground. “No way. One night in the creepy, dangerous, potentially haunted castle was enough for me.”

I did my best to reassure him. “You realize that, statistically speaking, you have the highest odds of surviving anything that could happen? I mean, your scales could turn away any kind of spear or rock fragment, your bones are dense enough to protect you in the event of a cave-in, and on the very unlikely chance we encountered a revenant, it would go after me rather than you, since it would want a body with a large magical output to possess.” I paused, tapping a hoof on my chin. “Though it would probably want to eliminate any witnesses after it possessed me, and possibly reanimate those it killed as undead servants. They’re evil like that.”

Apparently, that line of reasoning didn’t do much to reassure Spike.

So it was just myself and Storm, headed for the castle. Sadly, flying was out of the question due to the Everfree’s wild weather; I didn’t want to risk running into a rogue tornado when I was several hundred feet up in the air. It didn’t help that the undergrowth in the Everfree had gotten a lot thicker after the attack of the killer vines. I could still follow the old path to the old castle, but if I wasn’t careful about where I put my hooves I could easily end up muzzle-first in the dirt.

My mood wasn’t helped at all when I looked back at my bodyguard. I’d been a little skeptical when the stoic, refined guardsmare claimed she’d spent the last several years of her life roughing it in Equestria’s wilderness and hunting monsters with the Long Patrol. Now that we were out in the middle of the Everfree, it was a little easier to believe. She made so little noise that I had to keep looking back over my shoulder to make sure was still there, and she trotted through the undergrowth with a disgusting amount of ease. She even managed to make the brown cape she'd put on over her armor look more like a fashionable accessory. Even Rarity couldn't make drab camouflage look good. It just wasn't fair...

While I was busy watching her, one of her hooves darted forward, knocking aside a low-hanging branch I’d nearly run into. I suppose I should have been grateful, but instead it was just another reminder of how this new pony kept making herself a part of my daily life and routine, whether I wanted her there or not.

Still, I suppose I had to say something about what she’d just done. It would be rude to not even acknowledge her, and that wouldn’t do. Even if she was ruining my life. “Thank you, Captain, but I can take care of myself just fine. I know these woods like the back of my hoof.”

And then I tripped over a root.

Storm looked down at me as I struggled back to my hooves, trying to salvage what little dignity I had left. While Storm’s face was the same dutifully expressionless mask she always seemed to wear around me, I could swear there was the tiniest hint of a smirk on her face. “I have no doubt of that, Highness.”

Great. More sarcasm. I just love it when ponies use sarcasm on me.

Thankfully, I managed to get to the ruins of the old castle without embarrassing myself any further. It is rather interesting how the castle looks almost completely different when you see it in the daylight. It looked like a grand, stately old relic from another age, not some creepy run-down old ruin. It probably helped that I wasn't trying to save the world from some ancient evil. Well, not today at least—though it wasn’t even lunchtime yet, so you never know.

I’d thought about trying to restore the old castle, and even drawn up a quick checklist and a very rough estimate of what it would cost. The number was mind-bogglingly high for a pony who was used to living on a student’s budget, but if I could win Celestia and Luna over to the idea I could probably get government funding for the project. Since it was their old castle, I was cautiously optimistic about getting them to help restore it.

Still, that was a long-term plan. For now, I was still seeing what I could salvage from the ruins. Naturally I’d cleaned out the castle’s library on my first visit, but there was still so much history left to explore. The castle was full of artifacts that needed to be properly documented and catalogued, and then shipped to museums in Canterlot so the experts could study them. I’m sure there were all kinds of discoveries just waiting to be made.

Well, assuming certain nosy in-the-way guardponies who shall remain nameless didn’t make a mess of things. “Remember, Storm, if you find anything of historical importance, don’t—”

“—move it, damage it, touch it, breathe on it, or in any way alter it,” Storm finished, one ear flicking slightly. “I have not forgotten the briefing on historical preservation you gave in the library, Highness.” I suppose calling it a briefing was appropriate; I’d tried to cut things down to the bare basics. Only two hours. “Especially as you so helpfully reminded me of your instructions at the edge of the forest, and again halfway through the forest. I also still have the checklist you drew up for me.”

I thought about calling her out on the obvious back-talk, but that would’ve required continuing the conversation. It just wasn’t worth the effort. Better to just ignore her, and hope that she would leave me alone once we were both busy cataloging everything. And for the trip back, I should be able to load her down with enough artifacts that she’d be too busy carrying things to bother me. Maybe it was a bit childish to dream of loading her down like a pack mule, but it was still a satisfying mental image.

For once, things actually started off going the way I had been hoping for. Storm kept quiet and carried on with her work, which allowed me to mostly pretend that she didn’t even exist. Thankfully, the castle was big enough for the two of us, so I wasn’t constantly being distracted by her ... there-ness.

Just as I was starting to appreciate her absence, she had to go and remind me that she was still there. “Highness, this suit of armor would be of interest.”

I reluctantly trotted over to have a look at what had caught her interest. Unicornian platemail, like most of what I’d seen so far. Not surprising that most of what the palace had was for unicorns; the pegasi had kept most of their own military equipment in their cloud-cities, while the earth ponies usually didn’t equip their militias with the sorts of weapons and armor that end up in display cases. Simple chainmail and spears might be practical, but it made for a boring showpiece.

The design was unique, which was usually a sign that it had belonged to somepony important. Frontline grunts don’t get custom armor. The plaque sitting at the base of the armor stand confirmed that. After a thousand years it wasn’t in good enough condition for me to make out what was written, but the fact that there was a plaque confirmed its importance. It must’ve belonged to somepony really important. Maybe Charlamane the Great or Hanneighbal the Bold—or it could even be something bigger, like the battle armor of Star Swirl the Bearded! Oh, that would be the discovery of a lifetime!

“This is a good find. Thank you, Storm.” I was a little surprised when the words came out of my mouth without any conscious thought on my part. Still, I guess the fact that she was an annoying pain-in-the-flank that I didn’t want to have around was no excuse for being rude to her.

“Welcome, Highness.” She pulled out a pencil and dutifully jotted a few notes down on her scroll, leaving me to get back to my work. I was oddly grateful for that. At least she was trying to be less annoying.

We spent the next hour or so cataloging in peace, methodically moving from room to room. Not the most exciting work, but I needed to have a list of everything in the castle worth studying and preserving. There was no way I could carry even a tenth of what we’d found back to Ponyville, and that was assuming I could even move some of it without damaging the integrity of the historical finds. Really, I needed to get a proper archaeological team out here.

I trotted up to a thick iron-bound door and tried opening it, only to find that it was locked. Well, that was inconvenient, but hardly insurmountable. Millenia-old locking mechanisms were fairly crude, and the lock itself was rusty enough that it would only take a little telekinetic push in the right spot to...

I grinned at the sound of metal snapping, and the door creaked slowly open. Right as I was about to trot in, a blue hoof shot in front of me, abruptly barring my way and shutting the door. “Highness, I would not advise going in there.”

Well, there goes the tiny bit of goodwill she’d managed to earn by not annoying me for the last hour or so. “What is it now, Storm?”

The guardsmare said nothing, instead pointing to several signs next to the door. My old Equestrian and old Unicornian were more than up to the task of translating—not that this stopped Storm from reading them aloud to me, pointing to each in turn. “Danger. Extreme danger. Mortal peril. Do not open unless you wish to suffer an agonizingly painful death. Do not open under any circumstances. No children allowed.”

Oh, she was just being overprotective. “Storm, those signs are over a thousand years old. Unless Celestia was keeping a pet dragon that’s spent the last thousand years napping in here, I don’t think the room’s still dangerous.” I did a quick magical scan of the door anyway, and my spell turned up no threats. “See? The danger’s long past. All those signs mean now is that whatever’s behind this door is really interesting. Aren’t you curious to know what made them put up that sign?”

Storm frowned at me, and slowly shook her head. “Perhaps we should wait until we have more ponies available before checking the room, just in case. If whatever’s in there has lasted a thousand years, it can keep for a few more days while we wait for a specialist to make absolutely sure that—”

“Yes, because I’m sure the Princess with multiple degrees in advanced fields of study knows absolutely nothing about simple threat detection spells. And it’s not like I have more experience than anypony else, bar Celestia and Luna, when it comes to handling dangerous magical artifacts.” I knocked her hoof out of the way, and tried to open the door again.

“Princess, I strongly advise—”

“Did I ask for your advice?” I snapped at her. “No! I never asked to have you around at all! Why don’t you take a hint already and just go back to Canterlot?”

Storm stepped back from the door, and despite her typically reserved demeanor, I could tell my words had stung her. There was a part of me that instantly regretted that, but after two days of putting up with her unwanted presence in my life I couldn’t quite bring myself to stop, even if I knew I was being unfair. “I don’t want you here. I never wanted you here. Leave, and don’t come back.”

Storm stared at me for several seconds, her face a carefully unreadable mask. After a second of that, I had to look away; making eye contact with her was ... uncomfortable. After I turned, she offered a single curt nod. “As you command, Princess.”

I almost tried to stop her. Almost apologized, and tried to take back everything I’d just said. I hadn’t really meant all of it, I was just frustrated and irritable, and I’d snapped at her without really thinking it through. I almost stopped her from going. Almost.

Instead, I just watched her walk out of the ruined palace, leaving me alone. Just like I’d wanted.

For a while I just stood there, staring at the floor and feeling like a jerk. Eventually, I picked myself up and moved on. Regardless of what I’d said to Storm, there was still archeology waiting to be done. I might as well see what I’d yelled at her over. I opened up the sealed door, and trotted in.

The room didn’t disappoint. Sitting there, right in the middle of it, was a huge set of armor. Big enough that even Princess Celestia wouldn’t be able to wear it properly. Or maybe it wasn’t a suit of armor at all? Could it really be...?

I walked up to it and started inspecting more closely. Sure enough, it was. The supposed suit of armor didn’t have any straps, latches, or other ways of opening the armor up so a pony could put it on. There wasn’t any room inside the supposed armor for a pony to fit either; it was all solid metal. This wasn’t armor, it was a golem. An old Unicornian War Golem. We’d only ever found bits and pieces of them before—just the head of a golem was one of the prized possessions of the Royal Canterlot Museum. And now I had a completely intact one, right here. This was the discovery of a lifetime!

Well, this proved that I’d been absolutely one hundred percent right about checking the room out. Yet, I still felt a bit bad about dismissing Storm. Maybe I could do something nice for her, to make up for yelling at her earlier. I know—I could credit her as my assistant on this expedition. After all, she had been helping out for most of it.

I started checking around the rest of the room. One of the most common uses for golems was to protect something important. When it came to guardians, golems had the advantage of never needing to eat or sleep, and getting distracted or bored.

Hmm. Maybe I should see about building a golem as my bodyguard?

A quick check of the room revealed a pedestal behind the golem. To my immense disappointment, said pedestal was empty, and judging by the coating of dust on the top, it had been for a thousand years. I guess when Celestia abandoned the old palace she’d taken whatever the golem was guarding, but hadn’t bothered with the golem itself. Not surprising; that golem had to weigh several tons, at least. Getting it all the way to Canterlot would’ve been a huge logistical effort. Most likely, Celestia had planned to come back for it later, and it eventually became one of those laters that turned into nevers.

I turned to the golem and offered it a sympathetic smile. “Poor thing, stuck here for the last thousand years, guarding nothing.” I trotted around it and up to the pedestal, closely inspecting it for some sign of what the golem had been protecting. Obviously something important, considering how much time and effort it takes to make a golem. Maybe the Equestrian Crown Jewels? Or—

That line of thought came to an abrupt end as the golem stirred, twin red lights springing to life in its helmet-head, about where the eyes would be on a pony. It slowly rose to its hooves, shaking off cobwebs and dust as it drew up to its considerable height. The golem groaned with the sound of metal against metal as it moved, its joints protesting their long period for inactivity. My earlier estimate had been off; even Princess Celestia was a few inches shorter than this thing, not to mention its limbs and chest were at least twice as thick. That was a rather worrying thing to notice about a potentially hostile golem.

As it slowly turned to face me, I started nervously babbling. “Wow, look at you! You’re still moving after a thousand years! That’s quality craftsmareship. I’m lucky if I can get my appliances to last five years.” I started nervously backing away from the golem. It was just so big, it was hard not to feel a little intimidated. “Um ... I’m fine, how are you? Can you even talk?”

The golem took a single, menacing step forward, and a worrying thought occurred to me. “Hey, you’re not mad about me getting too close to the pedestal, are you? There’s nothing there anymore, Celestia took away whatever it was you were supposed to be protecting a thousand years ago. So there’s no need to—”

I stopped talking and quickly dove out of the way as one of the massive iron hooves tried to smash my skull in. Looks like reasoning with it was out. Golems weren’t designed to handle complicated tasks or abstract thought. Its orders were, presumably, to smash anypony who got too close to what it was protecting, and I’d done exactly that.

Well, this was a problem. I ducked just in time to avoid a giant iron hoof smashing through the space my head had occupied a second ago. The damage the golem did to the stone wall behind me was extremely worrying. Generally speaking stone can take more punishment than ponies, and the golem had smashed a rather large chunk of the wall to bits with a single blow. If I’d been just a little bit slower, that stone wall could have been my head.

Because I wasn’t in enough trouble already, I saw something metallic glinting within the freshly broken rock. Dread settled into the pit of my stomach as my mind leapt to the worst possible explanation, which considering how my luck was going right now, was almost certainly the right one. I quick test spell confirmed it: cold iron had been worked into the very stones of this room. I suppose I should have anticipated that. Not much point in having a golem guarding the room if anypony could just teleport in, snatch what it was protecting, and teleport out before the golem responded.

Cold iron was a magic inhibitor. It might not be as strong as things like Sombra’s black crystals, but it was more than enough to make teleporting out of the room hazardous. I could probably make it out if I really tried, it was just a question of whether all of me would make it out, and if everything would still be in the right place. I probably had around a five percent chance of teleporting through the cold iron without suffering life-threatening bodily harm. Granted, leaving my wings behind might make my life far less complicated, but my body rather needed those.

Still, if I could get out of this room I should be able to teleport to safety. I just needed to deal with the tiny problem of how to get past the angry ten-ton golem standing between me and the exit. Much as I hated the idea of damaging a valuable historical artifact, I could live with it. Live being the operative word in that sentence. I fired off a magic blast at the thing’s head. My aim was perfect, and while golems are very tough, dodging is not one of their strong suits.

Unfortunately, resisting magic is.

When my beam didn’t accomplish anything I took a closer look at the golem. Just as I should have anticipated, most of its surface area was plated in cold iron. After all, war golems had started out as a way for the Unicornian noble houses to bolster their forces for inter- and intra-house feuds. It only made sense that a weapon designed to take on spellcasters would have built-in resistance to magic. Still, the cold iron didn’t cover any of the moving parts, and was probably just a thin plating on the surface so if I could aim a shot just right...

The golem wasn’t going to give me enough time to line up my attacks. The first few attacks were still slow enough that dodging them didn’t take too much effort on my part. Unfortunately, that made me get just a little too complacent. I thought this golem was way too ponderous and clumsy to ever catch me by surprise.

However, with so much of my brain occupied with carefully suppressing panic and desperately analyzing the golem for weaknesses, I forgot a basic law of physics. The main reason that the golem was moving so slowly and ponderously was that it took a lot of effort to shift its multi-ton mass. However, once all that weight got moving, it could build up a lot of momentum very quickly. Force equals mass times acceleration: the golem might not have had much acceleration, but it had plenty of mass.

I tried to dodge, but this time I wasn’t fast enough. I still managed to dodge most of the strike, but even a glancing blow to the shoulder was enough to knock me across the room. I wasn’t too badly hurt; I would be horribly sore once the adrenaline wore off and I needed a few seconds to get back up catch my breath, but I was alright. Too bad the golem didn’t have any intention of giving me the recovery time I needed. I managed to stand up just in time to see the huge iron hoof rushing in to crush me.

There's a saying about how ponies' lives flash before their eyes at the moment of impending death. I'd had something like that happen to me a couple of times already—Nightmare Moon's return, the battle with Chrysalis's army, facing down Sombra. It wasn't really my life flashing, per se, so much as my mind racing a thousand miles an hour to analyze everything around me while trying to dig the right spell out of my memory.

But facing the golem, all I could think about was how big that iron hoof was.

Before the golem could crush me, something slammed into my side, knocking me clear of the descending hoof. A blue hoof reached down, and Storm Kicker helped me back up, keeping her body between me and the golem. For an instant I struggled to think of what I could possibly say to her, but she cut in before I could even open my mouth. “Highness, I strongly advise an immediate departure.”

Right, I needed to prioritize. Apologizing could wait until I was no longer in danger of being painfully pounded into purple pony paste. “We need to get past the golem. Any ideas?” Storm had probably only been able to slip into the room because it was focused on me—now that it knew we were both here...

“One.” Storm’s hooves slipped into the cape, and she pulled out several small objects that she promptly hurled at the golem’s hooves. The instant her projectiles struck, they exploded into a sticky yellow mass that coated the golem’s legs and the floor, anchoring it to its current position. I recognized the substance as one of the more common tools used by a lot of guardponies: adhæsit ungula laqueum, commonly known as tanglehoof. “That won’t hold it long. Move!”

I wasted no time taking her advice, scrambling out the door as fast as I could with Storm hot on my hooves. Just as Storm had said, the tanglehoof didn’t hold the golem for more than a few seconds, and it came barreling out after us. So much for hoping the golem was restricted to that room.

Storm and I fled at a full gallop, but the castle wasn’t working in our favor. Long, low corridors meant flying and maneuvering weren’t options, and the golem had plenty of time to build up momentum and catch us. Storm tried dropping more tanglehoof behind us, but now that the golem was in a full charge the adhesive barely slowed it down.

I could see a door up ahead at the end of the corridor, but I didn’t think that would be our salvation. In fact, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that the golem would just smash through the wooden door without even breaking step. Judging by grimace on her face, Storm was thinking the same thing. “Highness, now would be a great time for some magic.”

Oh! Right! We were out of the golem’s room now! I closed my eyes, concentrated, and teleported the two of us outside the castle.

The two of us landed hard in the grass outside the ruined castle, and kept running for a couple seconds longer, until the panic died down. My legs started trembling as soon as the threat was gone, and I instinctively latched onto Storm for support. Or at least, that’s how it started out. Before long, I was clutching her like she was a big Smarty Pants doll, shaking like a leaf all the while.

Storm’s hooves and wings slowly curled around me, returning the hug. “Easy, Highness.” One of her hooves ran down my back in gentle, reassuring strokes. “We both made it out just fine. You hurt?”

“M-mostly just shaken up.” I closed my eyes and took several deep breaths, forcing my heart to stop pounding like a ... like a ... like some kind of metaphor. “A few bumps and bruises, but nothing serious.” I pulled back from the hug, meeting Storm Kicker’s eyes. For a moment I was tempted to look away again, but I took another deep breath and forced myself to hold her gaze. “Thanks for coming back to save me. Especially after I was such a nag to you.”

“It’s my sworn duty to protect you, Highness,” Storm answered, before a hint of a smile quirked at her lips. “Even if you were being a nag.”

I gave my bodyguard another squeeze, just to remind myself that she was still there, and we were both still alive. “I guess I haven't been giving you a fair deal since you got here.”

Storm gave an understanding wing-shrug. “May I assume that for the remainder of this conversation we’re being informal and not concerning ourselves with rank?” I confirmed that was the case—thought I would have thought it was blindingly obvious—and Storm finally seemed to relax a bit. At least she didn’t look like she was standing on a parade ground anymore. “Just wanted to be sure. So, yeah, I could tell I wasn't welcome.” Storm paused, shuffling on her hooves. “Though me taking the formality a bit far and getting snippy probably didn’t help that. At first all the formality was just me being new to the whole royal bodyguard thing, and once we weren’t getting along I could tell it annoyed you.” Considering how things had been between us by that point, annoying me was no doubt a plus in Storm’s book.

I broke eye contact with her, my eyes guiltily shifting down to the ground. “Yeah, I wasn't wild about the idea of having my own guard, so...” I trailed off, taking a few moments to order my thoughts and ensure that I didn’t misspeak myself on the next point. “I didn’t think I needed my own personal bodyguard. Like I was being pretentious for needing to have a bunch of ponies dedicated to standing around me all day. Plus...” I took a deep breath, and steeled myself for a rather unpleasant confession. “I didn't want it to change the life I have here in Ponyville. I've grown to like it here, and getting my own guard? That would mean things would change. A lot would change. I’m still trying convince everypony that I’m still the same old Twilight despite being a princess now, and going everywhere with bodyguards wouldn’t help that.”

Storm looked me over, then offered a nod. “I think I understand how you feel. Your whole life's been changing ever since you became a princess, and having me around made you face that.”

“Yeah, in a big way.” I shot her an apologetic little smile. “You pretty much served as a symbol of everything that is going to change in my life. It's like looking at a big sign saying ‘life can never go back to the way it was.’ And I liked how my life was. I was—I am happy here in Ponyville. And I'm worried about losing everything that made me happy for the past couple of years. Even my best friends started treating me differently after I became a princess.”

A shiver went down my spine as I remembered the events of that day. “Being a princess is just ... it’s a lot to deal with.” I let out a nervous chuckle that was probably at least partially drawn from riding down the adrenaline high from escaping the golem. “I mean I was running all of Equestria there for a couple hours after Celestia and Luna went missing. That's a crazy amount of responsibility for anypony, but a year ago I was still figuring out how to run a library, and then I was in charge of all Equestria! The whole time they were missing, all I could think was that we had to get them back, because there was no way I could handle something as important as running Equestria. I like to think of myself as a responsible pony, but that was just ... it’s just too big.”

My protector gave me a reassuring pat on the back and an understanding smile. “I think I know how you feel. When I got my first command I was scared too. Looking at a whole platoon full of ponies, and realizing that all of their lives were in my hooves. They were counting on me to look out for them whenever we went out into the field.” She ran a forehoof through her mane, then met my eyes. “That was just a couple dozen ponies. A princess has a lot more than that to deal with, and throw in becoming an alicorn on top of that, and....”

I heard her out, then reluctantly shook my head. “Yeah, I’ve had a lot to deal with, but that doesn't give me any excuse for treating you the way I did. And for that, I'm sorry.”

Storm waved my apology away. “Everypony makes mistakes, Highness. I’d rather move past it than dwell on it.”

“That's one of the things that scares me,” I admitted. “That I'll make a huge mistake and ponies will get hurt. Hay, I don't even know what Princess Celestia wants me to do yet, and it feels like my stomach is getting twisted up in knots over it.”

“I know the feeling.” Storm grimaced as she dug up some less than pleasant memories. “After I got my command, the one thing that kept me up at night was being scared I'd make a bad call, and somepony would die because of it. The rest of it, I could handle. Not getting much respect from the patrolponies early on because I like tea more than coffee and know which fork to use at a Canterlot dinner party was easy to deal with. Knowing if I feathered up they’d get killed? That was hard.” Storm took a couple seconds to re-center herself. “I couldn't let being scared stop me from making the decisions I needed to, though. Hiding from the problem wouldn’t have made it go away. Just like how you're still a princess, even if you have no bodyguards and don't act anything like royalty.”

“That's true.” I didn’t think that I was pigging out on fast food and generally acting like my normal pre-princess self as a way of hiding from my new status, but it was fair to say that I almost never really did anything princess-like. When I first came back to Ponyville, the mayor had jokingly asked if I was going to be taking her job. Or at least, I’d assumed it was a joke. Now, I was wondering if some ponies really had expected me to start ruling over the town like ... well, like a princess. “I don't want to hide from my responsibilities. Ponies have been coming to me with problems for a while now, and I want to help them. It just seems like ever since I became a princess, it’s all so official and important now. I used to be able to just help ponies out whenever I wanted to and not have anypony make a big deal out of it, but now that I’m a princess...”

Storm heard me out, then gave me an approving nod. “I’m no expert on matters of royalty, but I think if one of the biggest problems bothering you is how to help your subjects then you're going to make a fine princess.”

I met that declaration with a cautious smile. “Thanks. Judging by how you dealt with the golem, I think you're going to be a pretty good bodyguard.”

My protector met my smile with one of her own. “So, looks like this is going to be a long-term assignment, then?”

I thought it over, and nodded. “I think we can work something out. We’ll still need to set up the rest of my bodyguard unit, and come up with a name for them. I’ll probably need to come up with some useful things for them to do around Ponyville as well; I don’t really need a dozen guardponies reading over my shoulder whenever I’m trying to have a quiet study session.”

“I’m sure we can arrange something.” Storm snapped off a parade-ground salute. “I think it will be an honor and a privilege to work with you, Princess.”

I paused, my hoof halfway off the ground. Celestia never returned salutes, but she was a lot more a princess than I would ever be. Did the same rules apply to me? I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t want to risk messing up, so I finally leaned forward and whispered, “I'm not supposed to salute back or anything, am I? That's kind of been bothering me ever since you showed up.”

That got a smile and a chuckle out of Storm. “There's no need for that, Highness.”

“Oh, good. I didn’t know if I’d offended you when I didn’t salute back.” I grimaced as a less than enjoyable thought popped into my head. “You're going to need to keep saluting me, aren't you?”

“That is the normal procedure, Highness.”

Knowing the proper protocol for how a lesser princess should respond to salutes only made the fact that I would regularly be receiving them slightly less troublesome. “Guess that's just going to have to be one of those things we need to work on, isn't it? I like you a lot more when you’re not quite so ‘yes, Highness,’ ‘no, Highness,’ and ‘as you wish, Highness.’”

Storm thought it over and conceded the matter with a nod. “I overdid it a bit, yeah. Figured I needed to be on my best behavior for the new assignment. Now ... well I do need to keep up appearances, but I suppose I could tone down the formality when we're not in public. I guess we’re both going to need a while to figure out how this is supposed to work.”

“I'd really appreciate it if we could just treat each other like normal ponies, sometimes.” I offered a friendly smile to take any harshness out of my next statement. “No offense, but having you stand there like a statue in the library when nopony else is around is a bit distracting. Plus, I barely know anything about you other than your name, rank, and some of your history in the Guard. I’d like to know a bit more about Storm Kicker the pony, not Captain Storm Kicker. Whether you have any hobbies, what kind of music you like, your family, stuff like that.”

The captain of my guard thought that over for a bit, then answered. “Family first, they’re the most important thing.” I guess I should’ve expected that; a clan as big and closely connected as the Kickers are would put a lot of value on family ties. “My Mom’s a colonel, and head counselor for the Guard. Dad’s the High Shadovar of the Cult of Shadow, and ex-Guard. He started off as a chaplain, but after he started moving up in the Cult’s ranks he had to pick between being a full-time priest and being a soldier.” Storm paused, and a faint smile quirked at her lips. “Then there’s my little sister Star. She’s great, but we both lose about fifteen years of maturity whenever we’re around each other.”

Not that either one of us had been terribly mature over the last couple days. There was no point in dwelling on that though—we’d already apologized to each other. “You two have a sibling rivalry going?” I had a hard time imagining my stoic, prim and proper bodyguard goofing off with her little sister. I guess it wasn’t that shocking though; Shiny and I acted a lot sillier around each other than we normally would. That’s just part of how family works.

“A little bit of one. Nothing serious, but we end up messing with each other whenever we hang out and have too much free time on our hooves.” Once again, I could fully sympathize with her. Shiny and I usually didn’t have much in the way of sibling rivalry, probably because big brothers and little sisters have a different dynamic. We still goofed around plenty, but back when we’d had time for that kind of thing he was a lot more likely to be my co-conspirator whenever I got up to the usual childish mischief. Like the time he helped me acquire a large batch of fudge for ‘scientific purposes.’

“There’s also my cousin Cloud,” Storm continued. “I’ve been meaning to catch up with her once I have some off hours. She lives here, after all.” Yes, I was quite familiar with Cloud Kicker. The two of us had a rather interesting history, but that’s not really relevant right now.

My bodyguard might have picked up on my reaction to Cloud’s name, because she quickly shifted topics. “As far as hobbies are concerned. I like dancing. I took ballet lessons for years back when I was a filly, and I still practice from time to time. I liked it, and Mom and Dad figured that it would at least help me learn balance and coordination. If the military hadn’t worked out for me, I might’ve tried doing that for a living. I’m also a pretty big opera fan, which makes life complicated when you’re in a unit that usually stays away from civilization.”

Well, dancing probably wasn’t the best common ground to build on. Several ponies have told me that my own dancing skills were—how did Rainbow put it? ‘Like watching a manticore drown in a tar pit.’ It would probably be smarter to focus on the other option. “I like going to an opera when I get the chance. There might not be any opera houses in Ponyville, but I did grow up in Canterlot.” I’ll admit, while I mostly preferred the simpler way of life in Ponyville, there were times I missed the class and sophistication of my old hometown. The first time I was hungry for hay mignon and discovered that not only was there none for sale, but nopony at the local market had even heard of it—well, that was a bit of a wake-up call.

Storm thought it over, then politely offered me her hoof. “In that case, when next we have business in the capital, it would be my pleasure to escort Her Highness to the opera.”

“That sounds great.” I smiled and took her hoof, giving if a friendly squeeze. “So, friends?”

“Friends,” she confirmed.

The moment was abruptly killed by the sound of ten tons of angry golem rampaging through the ruined old castle. I couldn’t help but wince at the thought of all the damage that thing was probably causing. So much for all the historical heirlooms we had carefully cataloged. More importantly, if it was close enough for us to hear it, then it might be close enough to find us and come after us again. It was almost certainly bound within the castle, but when you’re up against a giant metal killing machine, ‘almost certainly’ wasn’t something I wanted to take a chance on. “Um, maybe we should finish bonding back in Ponyville?”

“Excellent suggestion, Twilight.”

Return to Story Description

Other Titles in this Series:

  1. Princess Twilight's Profoundly Peripheral Protector

    by Chengar Qordath
    77 Dislikes, 20,389 Views

    Princess Twilight has a hard time adjusting to having a full-time bodyguard, especially when their personalities clash and she struggles with the burdens of her new royal status.

    Young Adult
    Slice of Life

    1 Chapter, 17,190 words: Estimated 1 Hour, 9 Minutes to read: Cached
    Published Mar 22nd, 2014
  2. To Serve and Protect

    by Chengar Qordath
    34 Dislikes, 6,938 Views

    Storm Kicker, Princess Twilight Sparkle's bodyguard, finds herself in a difficult situation after the princess refuses to let her help fight Tirek. How far will she go to help the princess she has sworn to protect?


    1 Chapter, 10,028 words: Estimated 41 Minutes to read: Cached
    Published May 16th, 2014
  3. Twilight's bodyguard Storm Kicker faces her most dangerous and terrifying opponent: a prankster alliance between her sister, Rainbow Dash, and Sparkler.


Login with