There were worse ways to wake up than to the smell of freshly baked cupcakes. Tirek caught a whiff and his eyes opened. He licked his lips until he remembered just who would be the only one likely to bake such a treat amongst his current companions. Waking up to Cozy Glow was exactly the opposite of waking up to cupcakes. And if she was baking, the manipulative pegasus obviously wanted something.
Unable to fall back to sleep, he had two options. He could go enjoy some cupcakes and tune out the annoying brat while she droned on about her latest schemes, or he could go work out first and blow off some steam before facing her. His stomach growled and he sighed in defeat. Food first, workout second. And if Cozy Glow got too irritating, well, he could use her as a punching bag.
He stormed into the lair’s dining area, surprised to see that Chrysalis and Grogar had beaten him there and were already enjoying a variety of different cupcakes. Cozy Glow had been busy, to say the least.
“If it isn’t my bestest buddy in the whole world, Tirek!” Cozy fluttered over to him and waved a hoof at the range of cupcakes in front of them. “I made strawberry, raspberry, key lime, orange, red velvet, and of course the ever-popular chocolate and confetti with rainbow sprinkles!”
Tirek ignored her and grabbed half a dozen red velvet cupcakes, popping them into his mouth one at a time. After polishing off the last of them he turned to the diminutive pest. “What do you want?”
Cozy Glow put on her best shocked expression, followed by mock offense. “What makes you think I want something, best buddy in the whole world? Can’t a pony make cupcakes for her friends without everycreature thinking she’s up to something nefarious?”
“No. No, she can’t. At least you can’t.” He snorted derisively. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have other places to be.”
“Wait!” Cozy Glow hovered in front of him. “At least hear me out first…”
“I’ve already heard enough.” He smacked her to the side and she slammed into the wall with a satisfying smack, before slumping to the ground. With luck he’d knocked her out cold for a few hours of peace and quiet.
Instead she hopped up as if nothing had happened. Then her eyebrows shot up in surprise and she spat out a tooth. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
She was thanking him for hitting her and knocking a tooth out. Maybe he’d hit her just a little too hard this time. That, or the filly was seriously messed up in the head. He thought about everything he knew about the little pony and concluded that she was already pretty whacked in the head. “You’re welcome. There’s plenty more where that one came from.”
“What? No, you should really stop hitting me. I’m just a cute, innocent, little filly. I’m just excited because you knocked out the last of my foal teeth! Now the Tooth Breezie will come and leave me a gift!”
“The Tooth Breezie?” Tirek looked to Chrysalis and Grogar, but their clueless expressions matched his own. He turned his attention back to the filly. “Who or what, pray tell, is the Tooth Breezie?”
“The Tooth Breezie is a breezie who collects all the lost baby teeth of fillies and colts in Equestria in exchange for leaving a gift. Usually a shiny new bit, but sometimes she likes to leave toys instead.”
“That seems preposterous. What would a breezie want with pony teeth?”
“Building materials. Breezies are really, really tiny and teeth are really strong.”
Tirek rolled his eyes. Ponies had some truly bizarre myths and traditions. Better to nip this one in the bud as soon as possible. “Does she come for permanent teeth too? Because I’d be happy to knock the rest of your teeth out too, if you’d like.”
“I’m sure you would, but no, she only comes for foal teeth. I’m not sure why. Maybe adult teeth are too big?”
“Or maybe the Tooth Breezie is just a myth told to impressionable young foals,” Grogar declared. “An occasion to turn the otherwise traumatic loss of a body part into a reason to celebrate with the reward of a small trinket.”
“Nah,” Cozy Glow argued. “She’s as real as you or me.”
“You’re not in Equestria anymore. I doubt she’d come to my lair. At least if she knows what’s good for her.”
“She’ll come! Just you wait and see!” Cozy Glow pranced out of the dining room, leaving the adults both confused and annoyed.
“Chrysalis, I have a job for you.”
“What?” hissed the changeling.
“Disguise yourself and go to the nearest town and seek information on this Tooth Breezie. Check the local library and draw as little attention to yourself as possible. Find out if she’s repeating some sort of pony myth, or if she’s making it up.”
“Good point.” Tirek nodded. “She was obviously planning something if she was making cupcakes. This may just be yet another Cozy Glow scheme.”
“Fine,” Chrysalis wasn’t happy about it, but she agreed with them. She changed forms to her default pony disguise, and Grogar touched his bell, sending her to the town of Hope Hollow.
Chrysalis trotted around the small town of Hope Hollow. It seemed to be a rather average pony community. There were plants, and birds, and rocks, and things; none of which actually interested Chrysalis. It was very colorful, even by pony standards. Rainbows adorned everything that could be decorated from cakes to dresses.
Wasting no time, she entered the biggest building.
“Hi! I’m Petunia Petals! Welcome to Hotel Hope! How can I assist you?”
“Does this town have a library?”
Petunia brought a hoof up to her mouth to stifle her giggle, sunlight glinting off the engagement ring and casting miniature rainbows around the room. “Oh, we’ve got a library, don’t ya know.”
Chrysalis followed Petunia, struggling to resist feeding off her love for Sunny Skies. She was absolutely radiating love, and Chrysalis couldn’t help passively feeding. It was a light snack, and only whetted her appetite for more, but she couldn’t risk it. She was so lost in thought it took her a few seconds to realize they’d stopped moving. She looked around the room and was surprised to see that for such a small town, it had a rather impressive library. Though why the library was located in a hotel was an absolute mystery to her.
Petunia immediately jumped to the conclusion that, much like Twilight Sparkle, Hope Hollow’s newest guest was flabbergasted at the library. “We may be small, but we’re well-read!”
“I’ll say.” Chrysalis scanned the books on the shelves. Signing indicated they were arranged in sections, with bibliographies being the closest. She dismissed that immediately, along with the rest of the nonfiction section.
“Anything I can help you find?”
Chrysalis debated asking for help. On one hoof, it would speed up the process. On the other, would it seem suspicious for an adult to be asking about the Tooth Breezie? Especially if such a thing was completely made up? She decided it was worth the risk, she could play the role of a confused first time parent unfamiliar with some of the traditions. “Well, it’s kind of an odd request, and a little embarrassing. But my daughter just lost her first tooth, and I wanted to learn about the Tooth Breezie.”
“What’s there to know? Your daughter leaves her tooth under her pillow and then the Tooth Breezie leaves her bits or a small gift. Whatever she feels like giving.”
Well, that confirmed that Cozy Glow was telling the truth. For once. But it wouldn’t explain why somepony had ventured a great distance to look this up in a library far from home. Chrysalis didn’t even bother asking if the Tooth Breezie was real or a fictional character, it was obviously the latter. “But why? What does the Tooth Breezie get out of this?”
“Well the tooth of course, ya silly goose! That’s what she’s purchasing with the bits. Didn’t your parents ever explain all this to you?”
Chrysalis shook her head. “I never heard of the Tooth Breezie until today. My daughter must’ve learned about her in school, and well, I don’t like not having the answers to her questions.” She struggled not to add ‘don’t ya know’ at the end of her sentence. It would be way too easy to slip into the pony’s accent.
Petunia gasped. “Oh my stars! The Tooth Breezie is universally known. You poor dear, you must’ve had a very deprived fillyhood!”
“My parents weren’t around a whole lot. I practically raised myself. And I don’t want to repeat their mistakes with my daughter.”
Petunia nodded. “Well, we do have one book on the Tooth Breezie in the foal’s section. I’ll go get it for ya!”
Chrysalis scanned the book once Petunia had brought it to her, but it revealed nothing she hadn’t heard from Cozy Glow and had confirmed by Petunia already. “Thank you, you’ve been most helpful.”
“All in a day’s work, my good mare!”
Chrysalis trotted out of Hope Hollow. The downside to traveling via Grogar’s bells was it was always a one-way trip. She was still on her own to return to the lair, which was located a sizable distance from the nearest town to help evade detection. She had to wait until she was far enough outside of town to revert to her true form and fly the rest of the way back.
“It’s all true. Well, it’s true in as much that the ponies believe this drivel. So what do we do?”
“I see no harm in humoring her.”
“Really, boss?” Tirek quirked an eyebrow. “Why are we coddling her?”
“Because she’s merely a child. It does no harm to any of us to fulfil her stupid little myth, while the benefit of her continued, shall we say, exuberance, will help with overall morale. Besides, you hit her way too much, and it’s your fault that her tooth popped out in the first place. I want all of you to work together, not beat the stuffing out of one another.”
“So how are we supposed to do this?” Chrysalis asked.
“I’m glad you asked.” Grogar turned his attention to the former changeling queen. “It seems we have a shapeshifter in our midst. It shouldn’t be challenging for a master of disguise such as yourself to alter your appearance to that of a breezie, collect a stupid tooth, and leave a coin in exchange.”
“You want me to do what? That’s insulting to a changeling of my abilities! I’m the queen of changelings, not some mythological being fascinated with teeth.”
“You will do it, and that’s the end of the discussion on the matter.”
Grogar had been right – that was the end of the discussion, and much to Chrysalis’ dismay, she was in fact going through with the order. Now she found herself waiting outside the filly’s room, waiting for her to fall asleep. As Tirek had pointed out multiple times, Cozy Glow was prone to snoring. Normally, it kept the rest of them up half the night. Tonight, however, it would prove beneficial. Once the snoring started, she’d know it was safe to enter the room and complete the mission. She’d already shifted into her breezie form, and the unfamiliar body was infuriatingly slow. She had spent a good portion of the day practicing flying as a breezie with a bit clenched between her forelegs. These forms were definitely not designed to carry much weight.
She was nearly knocked out of the air when Cozy Glow started snoring. She slipped into the room through the open window, and made for the bed as quickly as possible. The filly’s bed was a mere two yards from the window, but it was agonizingly slow to cross the gap. At a breezie’s size, that gap may as well have been two miles. After the better part of ten minutes’ flight, she landed on the bed as softly as possible. It wouldn’t do to wake her up. She wriggled under the pillow, reaching ahead of her with a hoof feeling for the tooth. This was harder than she expected.
She continued crawling until the bed straightened out underneath her. It seemed firmer, and slightly chilly to the touch. She must be near the edge, but that wasn’t important. What was important, however, was her prize was directly ahead of her. She could see the tooth, and she reached out for it. Instead her hoof hit an invisible barrier with a clink. Suddenly the pillow was lifted from above her, revealing Cozy Glow’s smug face looking down on her. Much too late she realized she was crawling inside a drinking glass, the tooth laying on the opposite side of the glass. She couldn’t reverse her way out fast enough, and Cozy’s hoof blocked the exit. “Horseapples,” she muttered.
“I finally did it! It took more than a dozen tries, but I did it! You look different than last time.” She paused and put a hoof to her chin. “I bet there are multiple Tooth Breezies! That makes sense, with so many ponies in Equestria, it would be challenging for one little breezie to collect teeth from all of them in one night.” She picked up the glass and beamed. “You’re mine now! And all your magic is mine for the taking!” She trotted into Tirek’s room and hopped onto his bed. “Wakey, wakey, good buddy!”
Tirek grumbled, rolled over, and pulled the blanket over his head. “Go away.”
“I caught the Tooth Breezie!” At that, Tirek’s eyes shot open. He rose from his bed to see Cozy Glow proudly displaying Chrysalis inside a drinking glass. The changeling was pounding on the sides of the glass with her tiny hooves to no effect.
“I spent all day preparing for this, but I knew it would work after I came so close to catching her last time. Now it’s time for you to do your part! Drain her of her magic!” She cackled with glee. “Can you imagine the possibilities? If she knows that a pony lost a tooth and where they are, that means she can see everypony in Equestria, all the time! We can use this! And she must be able to teleport if she can collect so many teeth in one night. You can see she doesn’t have any others on her, just a bit to exchange for my tooth. So she must teleport back and forth from each house she visits back to the breezie’s home to drop off the tooth and collect another bit, and then teleport to the next house. How else could she do it? I mean, from what Professor Fluttershy said, the portal to their home is only open at certain times, and ponies losing teeth is a daily occurrence.”
Tirek sighed. “There’s no such thing as the Tooth Breezie. You caught Chrysalis.”
“What?” Cozy looked down at the glass between her hooves. Now that she wasn’t talking she could hear the very angry, not to mention very familiar, voice of the changeling queen. “But the Tooth Breezie is real. I’ve seen her.”
“What?” Now it was Tirek’s turn to be surprised.
“Oh yeah, I’ve been trying to catch her the last dozen or so teeth I’ve lost. I came really close last time. So I knew I’d get her with my last tooth. But if this is Chrysalis…” she trailed off. “Horseapples! I left my tooth under my pillow and completely unguarded!” She hoofed the glass to Tirek, and galloped towards her room.
Tirek dumped Chrysalis out of the glass and she transformed back to her normal form as she fell through the air, landing on the ground with a thud. “You could’ve dumped me out on the bed.”
“Where’s the fun in that?”
“If you have to ask, you’re more pathetic than I thought.”
Cozy Glow flung the door to her room wide open, not caring that it slammed into the wall with a loud bang. She grabbed her pillow, lifting it up with such force that it flew out of her hooves and landed on the floor behind her. She didn’t care, she was too focused on the shiny golden bit laying where her tooth had been. “Horseapples.”
She grabbed the bit and stormed back into Tirek’s room. Unsurprisingly, Grogar had joined the rest of the villains, having had his slumber disturbed by the slamming of Cozy’s door. She held up the bit for the others. “The real Tooth Breezie was here while I was distracted with the fake Tooth Breezie. I’ve spent years planning for this day and thanks to the three of you I’ve been thwarted. I told you she was real, but none of you believed me, did you? No, I obviously don’t know anything about pony traditions, I’m just a kid that needs to be coddled.”
“Maybe if you’d told us about your plan…”
Cozy Glow interrupted Grogar. “And risk her overhearing it? That was my last foal tooth, morons! I don’t get another chance at this! You blew it for me!” Cozy Glow’s rage face was in full effect, and her barrel heaved with each breath. “Years of planning down the drain! With friends like you, who needs Twilight Sparkle? You morons! You imbeciles! You idiots! You…you…you…”
“Nincompoops?” offered Grogar.
“You nincompoops!” She slammed the door to Tirek’s room and stomped back to her own room to cry herself to sleep. Why were all her plans destined to fail so close to victory? Why did the universe mock her?
“Maybe we should bake her cupcakes for tomorrow morning.” Grogar and Tirek nodded in agreement. “So, uh, do either of you know how to make cupcakes? Changelings don’t normally eat solid food…” Grogar and Tirek shook their heads. Chrysalis sighed. It was going to be a long night…