• Published 15th Oct 2019
  • 5,205 Views, 250 Comments

Castling Cozy Glow - Silvermyr



Castling is a special move in chess where a player’s rook ends up just next to the king. Thanks to a friend’s kindness, a calculating young filly would end up closer to her princess than she ever thought. But can a filly like Cozy Glow be changed?

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Chapter 15- Action...

Pop!

Cozy balked slightly as the bright lights dissolved before her eyes and she once again found herself in her prison. She was never going to get used to the feeling of being pulled though the æther, but she could admit teleportation was very convenient. At least when you were in a hurry to get somewhere. She, however, was not in a hurry, but would actually have preferred to make her way back "home" by walking, so she could be out a little longer.

But it wouldn't matter. She would be free soon. Now, more than ever, she felt her freedom calling. Pegasi were not made to stay cooped up. She had to get out, and it was not like she had spent the last week twiddling her hooves. She actually had an idea now, but she had chosen to postpone it for this outing. Well, now there was no fun to look forward to, so it was time she acted.

She hoped she could still meet her friends again though, some time.

"Thanks for looking after them today, Rarity," Twilight said once the four of them had gathered their bearings. "No problems?"

"None at all, dear," Rarity said. "If you ever need me to watch them again, you be sure to call! While my work must take precedence, I would positively adore spending some more time with them."

"Oh?" Twilight looked curiously at her friend. "Well, I'll keep that in mind."

"Well, Sweetie Belle, it's past time we returned home," Rarity changed the subject.

"We'll see each other soon, Cozy. Promise," Sweetie Belle rushed up and, much to Cozy's shock, hugged her. She was warm and fuzzy and smelled like lilacs. She was even careful not to touch Cozy's strained wing! After a little hesitation, she tried to hug back as best she could. She did not really know how to hug ponies. Sweetie Belle let go, and she followed suit.

"Next weekend?" Cozy asked hopefully, though she knew she was not going to be here next weekend. But she had to keep up appearances.

"Yea! Next weekend," Sweetie Belle said and began following Rarity out of the main door.

"I guess we'll see each other a bit during the week," Rumble said and lifted a wing for goodbye.

"Wait…" Cozy said. She felt her cheeks flush and it was suddenly very hard to keep her wings and tail still. She swallowed and looked at his hooves. "Thank you… for everything today," she said quietly. "For helping me practice, for catching my fall… for getting me out in the first place. I-it really means a lot to me." Why did she stammer? She never stammered, and she never blushed like this either.

"It was fun," Rumble said. "See you around." He turned around and left.

For some reason the quick parting made her displeased. She couldn't even say why. When the door closed behind him, the room suddenly felt colder. Emptier.

Like the prison it was.

"What’s happened to your wing?" Twilight asked.

"Accident… a strain," she mumbled.

"I could numb the pain for you," Twilight suggested. "If you want."

"I don’t want your help," Cozy huffed and started out of the door. She was going to need all sleep she could get now, for there would be no rest tonight.

"Don't- Cozy, wait, please!" Twilight called after her. Cozy did not care, but then Twilight appeared in front of the door to her room with a purple burst of magic. "Please don't just go! Now that you have good friends, don't you want to talk about how wonderful friendship really can be? I can help you!"

"Then let me out," Cozy said.

"You know I can't, Cozy," Twilight said, though she actually looked sad when she did. "But I promise, if you just work with me I soon could!"

Cozy glared and then squeezed past Twilight into her room.

Working with Twilight to "soon" get out? No, she'd rather take her chance. The sweet taste of freedom still enticed her, like an itch that begged to be scratched.

Tonight...


Cozy stood still, her ear pressed against the door to Twilight's study. She could just barely make out soft breaths. Twilight was asleep, as she ought to be if the pattern Cozy had observed this last week still held. Cozy quietly crept back to her room. It was time for her to start. Now that Twilight was asleep she had until morning before anypony noticed she was gone. She had to work quickly, every minute she could put between Twilight and herself would be valuable. She wrapped Twilight’s friendship journal in a blanket and went into her bathroom, closing the door behind her. Casting just one worried glance at the closed door, she threw the book at her bathroom mirror.

Even with the padding, it was much louder than she expected. She remained standing in the reverberating silence, listening for approaching hooves. Had Twilight awoken? If she had, then the escape had to wait. She was nearly certain the owl had heard, but it probably would not wake Twilight up unless it could confirm Cozy's escape.

She did not hear anything. Nodding to herself, she picked up a pair of tweezers and a hooffull of shards from the mirror before she went back to her room. On the floor, she had rigged up a curious little workstation.

Her bedside lamp stood next to three small piles of books arranged in a loose square with one side missing. In the middle of the square laid her cutie mark rook, and next to it a small piece of gemstone. The one intact fragment of The Key of Unfettered Entrance. Picking out some choice mirror pieces, she leaned them against the books around her rook and placed herself by the workstation. She took the rook in her hooves and carefully twisted the top part.

It came loose with a small ”Tonk!”. She carefully pulled it away, and with it came the intricate array of copper filigree that sat inside her rook, powering the light function. She put the topmost part of the rook down with the battlements downwards so that she had the filigree mechanism free in front of her.

The filigree was made of two parts. The topmost one was a shell-like structure of fine copper mesh, hiding an intricate array of precious metal wire and gemstones. That was what the artificers called a Mox, where raw magic was collected and siphoned to the other parts of the artifacts in a controlled manner. Moxes were like the battery of artifacts… except the energy it used came from an outside source, like the holder's body.

Below the Mox sat the focusing array. It was an open, starlike structure formed by copper wires. In the middle of the star, held in place by inwards pointing needles of copper, sat a small gemstone. The principle was simple; the Mox harnesses magic from the user and transports it through the mesh of the Mox into the array's gemstone. The gemstone is charged with a spell, and when the magic passes through it, that spell can be used.

Now for the hard part.

She carefully bit the tweezers, struggling to maneuver them with her mouth. The metal was cold to her tongue and too close to her eyes to be in focus. Leaning forward, she grabbed one of the mirror pieces in her hoof. Ever so slowly, ever so carefully, she reached forward towards the gemstone in the focusing array, maneuvering the tweezers with the help of her mirror. She breathed deeply through her nose as she tried to pick the stone up without touching the copper around it. Slightest damage to the focusing array and her artifact would be irreparably broken.

Glancing through the mirror, she bit down around the tweezers and pulled.

The stone sat harder than she thought. Why had she fixed it so hard for? Pulling as hard as she dared, the gemstone finally yanked free. Spiting out the tweezers, she leaned down and looked over the focus array with anxious eyes. Was it unhurt? I looked like it, but the damage could be smaller than she could see. Artifacts were notoriously fragile things, especially one that a filly had made when she was nine, using clumsy hooves and a magnifying glass. And her little nightlight had most definitely not been made to switch the spell gem.

At least she saw no damage, so she could not ask for a better start. She picked up the tweezers again and grabbed the key fragment.

It was the wrong shape. Normally one set up the Mox and the focus array first and then cut the gems so they fit. She could not cut her gem; she simply had to hope it worked.

She was unsure what would happen, but she thought that a mismatched gem would only mean that the artifact simply did not focus the magic very precisely. The theoretical function of an artifact would still work, only it would need more power than normal to gain the same effect.

Arranging the mirror in her other hoof and looking through it, she slowly eased the new gemstone into the setting. Her innate sense for artifice cringed when she saw how mismatched the gem was with the focusing array. It was like an instrument in an orchestra had fallen out of tune.

But she could not do better. She took the other piece of her nightlight-turned-skeleton-key and reaffixed it to cover the interior mechanisms. Then she stashed the original gemstone in her mane.

She was as ready as she would ever be. Peeking out of her room, she pushed her bedside table up to the door to the castle wing. Normally she would just have flown up to the lock, but with her wing still injured she did not want to do that. Gliding would still be painless though, so she would find a window and glide over Canterlot down to the railway station where she would jump on the roof of first train she saw. That would be her ticket to freedom, at long last.

She hopped up on her bedside table and stood face to face with her opponent. She placed the rook in her right hoof and held the battlements against the keyhole.

"Here goes…" she thought. "Cozy Glow."

She did not even had the time to be afraid before darkness overtook her vision. She tumbled from the nightstand and fell to the floor, where she remained unmoving.

As fate would have it, she did not even get the satisfaction of hearing the lock click open.


When she came to, she woke to the feeling of her head being crushed in a vice. Groaning, she sat up with the help of the bedside table and rested her head against it, still with her eyes closed. Her throat was so dry it hurt to breathe. She took a couple of deep breaths and tried to order her thoughts. Where was she? What had happened?

Why did her right hoof feel like she had stepped on the stove?

Opening her eyes, she lifted the hoof. Wisps of ember-red mist seeped from it. She stared for a few seconds before closing her eyes again. She must be seeing things; hooves did not… do that! Opening her eyes, nothing had changed. The red, shimmering mist remained. She did not know what it was, but she knew it was not good or normal. And her hoof continued to hurt. Not only on the skin, but inside the hoof too!

Suddenly, everything came rushing back to her. Her improvised key, the bedside table.

The escape.

She looked away to the door. It was open. Finally, the door to her freedom was open! She managed a croaking laugh and got up fully, still with her hoof enveloped by magic. It hurt, but stepping on it did not make it any worse.

She had envisioned herself stepping through the door with determined steps and her head held high, ready to begin her conquest of the world again. Confident! Energetic! Charismatic! Inexorable!

Instead, she could only limp, her eyes clenched slightly for the pain in her head. She held the strained wing tightly against her side and one hoof still looking like it was steeped in fire. But she still held her head high and proud. She had gotten out. No matter what happened, that was a fact that nopony could take from her.

She came to a long and wide stair that curved slightly to her right. A luxurious red carpet took up most of it, and tall windows allowed the pale light of the moon to shine on it. Cozy suddenly realized she did not know how long she had been out. Every moment was precious; she did not have the time to faint in the middle of her escape! Swallowing down her worry, she slowly descended the stair up to the first window. There were no hatches. These windows could not be opened. Whats more, the moon was already touching the horizon! She had lost nearly all her time! She had to hurry!

Swallowing down her fear (with a cringe for the pain in her throat) she started down the stairs to find someplace else to leave the castle.

"How long till the change?" A sleepy voice said.

"Just an hour. Patrol in five," another answered. Cozy glow froze up and quietly crept downwards. The carpet muffled her hoofsteps. As the stair stopped, she found two guards standing by the stair, their backs to her. They probably did not expect anypony to come from Twilight's tower.

Cozy looked around for an option. The corridor behind the guards was barren so she could not hide, but the closest door was just a few hoof steps from them. Further away, the corridor opened into another, larger corridor, like a T junction.

And the stair had a high ceiling…

She turned and made her way back up the stairs. Once at the top, she slowly extended her wings. She would have to glide and carefully hug the ceiling. Hopefully, in their sleep deprived state, the guards would not notice if she glided over them and around the corner. She cast a worried glance at her hoof. No chance they were going to miss that though…

Looking around, she noticed the long curtains in the windows. She winced at the mere thought, but she could fly. It was going to hurt, but she could fly up there, unhook the curtains and wrap them around her hoof to hide the light.

Closing her eyes and bracing herself for pain, she flapped her wing. It strained just like she knew it would, but there was something else that was wrong, something that scared her to the core.

She didn't lift from the ground. She flapped her wings like normal, but she didn't move. She couldn't fly at all; her wings didn't carry!

Swallowing down the sense of panic, she tried to think rationally. This was not the strain, even if that also hurt a lot. She had never seen or heard about something that completely removed the ability to fly. Why, that would mean she had lost her inherit pegasus magic-!

Eyes contracting in fear, she looked down at her hoof. It had the same color as her magic had when she was an alicorn! She was bleeding magic! Her rook must have drained so much magic it hurt her, and now she was bleeding! She sat down to nurse her injured hoof, licking it slightly like she would with a normal wound.

Nothing happened. She cold not taste or feel anything unusual.

What now? She did not even know if pegasus ponies replenished their magic! What if she was bleeding out all magic she was born with! What if she would never fly again! She knew there were ponies like that, but she could never imagine being one herself! She loved flying! She could not lose her flying!

Tears finally falling, she took to frantically lick her injured hoof again. She tasted the salt when her tears fell on her tongue. Futile or not, it was the only thing she could do. It was what she should do when injured.

But she could not stay here. If Twilight caught her, then she'd not only never fly again, but she'd never breathe again. And she was nearly out of time. Also, there was no chance she could get to the train station before Twilight woke up without flying! Everything this escape relied on had crumbled! "This isn't fair," she whispered meekly as she pushed herself up.

Maybe it wasn't so bad, right? She forced a strained smile to her lips in spite of her tear filled eyes. Maybe if she just rested she would be fine… unicorns are ponies too, and they use up magic all the time. If they could recover it, then why couldn't she?

"Hey, you still awake there? Come on, patrol time and then we can get some rest."

"Yea, yea…"

Their voices woke her from her rumination. She had to move! She saw the guards' tails disappear around the corner.

Where to? The corridor, or the door?

She knew there would be at the very least one patrol out in the corridor, and with her injured hoof she could not reasonably hide. She wiped her eyes with her unhurt hoof and decided for the door. She would not get out of Canterlot tonight. Her only chance was to stay hidden this next day and pray to whatever Princess would listen that her Twilight would not find her.

At the very least, she felt somewhat safe remaining in the castle. If there was one place nopony would think she would hide, then it was there.

She pushed open the door.

Counters went around the walls and a table stood in the middle. Several ovens were integrated in the counters. Pans, ladles, knives, mills, mortars, cutting boards and a thousand other utensils she could not really name hung on the wall or stood in piles around the room. Braids of garlic and some other leafy herbs hung from the roof.

There were more doors in here. She decided to try for the closest one.

This room was dark and warm. Narrow too, just a walkway between two tall shelves and a pile of wooden crates shoved towards the back wall. Even in her threadbare state, this room managed to calm her just a little bit. It smelled of spices, like that cup of cocoa Rumble had made for her. Nutmeg, cinnamon and the subtile, filling scent of raw cacao beans. There were innumerable other scents too, but those felt extra strong to her. Maybe because she recognized them.

The memory of cocoa made her throat sting even worse, reminding her that she was parched. She even toyed with the idea of making a cup for herself, even if she realized how silly that would be. She was on the run from a pony who was practically going to kill her; not the time to make cocoa.

Her throat still seared. Felling her ears, she settled for some water from the tap. There was no chance she could stay hidden all day without drinking something now. In fact, hunger was not going to be fun either. But nopony had said this escape was going to be fun.

Resigning herself to a day of biting hunger, thirst, discomfort and nerve-wracking worry, she finished her drink and went back to the spice storage. She closed the door behind her and lifted an overturned box. The cacao smell was even stronger here. It must have been a shipping crate for the beans. She disappeared under the crated and laid down as comfortable as she could on the stone tile floor. Thank goodness she was so small…

Her glowing hoof illuminated the tight space faintly. Shuddering again, she curled up around it and licked it, praying to Celestia and Luna that it would be fine somehow. She heard her tears hit the stone.

Author's Note:

Originally, this was meant to be a bit longer, but the following segment was moved to the next chapter for better consistency. So that's why this is a little short.