• Published 15th Oct 2019
  • 5,220 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?

  • ...

Chapter 21- The Cure

Twilight sat by Rarity's kitchen table with her generous friend across from her, mulling over her options. If Redheart's diagnosis held true, and there was no reason to think it would not, then traditional medicine would not be enough. It might buy time, but they needed another solution to permanently cure Cozy.

"Perhaps Fluttershy knows something? Or Rainbow?" Rarity suggested. "Being pegasi, maybe they can tell you something about their magic… or something. To be honest, I am at quite a loss myself about this."

"If you could ask them I'd be grateful," Twilight said. "But I think I need to visit Zecora. If a hospital can't help, then we have to turn to something else. And there are plenty of magical herbs in the forest. Maybe there is one we ponies can digest for magic?"

"Hmm… I suppose that if there is something that could help that Redheart does not know of, then it would be in the Everfree," Rarity agreed. "You will visit her now?"

Twilight nodded. "Yes. And if you find Fluttershy or Rainbow, you can tell them about Cozy. I will trust them to keep her secret for now."

"For now?" Rarity asked.

"I have offered her to become my personal student," Twilight said. "I can't hold her locked up anymore like this. I understand that now. Her hatred for me... and by large, Equestria itself, will only ever grow unless I do something. This way, by giving her my trust, I hope she will be a little better. Maybe she will even respect me too, one day. But if she accepts, then all of Equestria will know of her soon enough."

"I can't imagine most ponies will be too happy about that," Rarity remarked. "Now, don't think for a moment that I don't support you, Twilight dear. But I doubt most ponies will approve of you picking her over their own fillies and colts, with all she has done."

"It doesn't matter," Twilight said. "She deserves it. Even if I had not destroyed her life like I did, I still want to help her talent grow. Having done all she has at her age… well, no doubt she is one special filly. With the right guidance, she could be a just as strong force for good as she has been for evil."

"Now that is something I think each and everypony will agree on. If they accepted Starlight, then they will accept Cozy too," Rarity said with a faint smile. "Good luck with Zecora."

"Thanks," Twilight said and stood up.

It was in the middle of the day and Ponyville was as beautiful as ever. Big Mac stood by his cart in the market, selling his produce. Carrot Top stood nearby, selling a bushel and, by the looks of it, exchanging some juicy gossip with Berry Punch. The latter's filly, Ruby Pinch, seemed to be on the verge of pulling her mother's tail in an effort to get her to move.

It was a bit strange to think how little her home had changed since she came. She had just been a little bookworm of a unicorn who just wanted to lock herself in a library. No friends, no wings, and no world-saving adventures. But even after all that had changed, Ponyville still remained the same at its heart.

As did the Everfree forest. Ever since Equestria was founded ponies had treated the great forest with respect. There were other forests around Equestria that were older and larger, but none was as magical as the Everfree. Now if only some of that magic could prove to be benign for once.

She went the same way she had many times before to see Zecora, taking care to fly over the patches of Poison Joke. Once was quite enough of that.

The tree-home soon came into view. Wispy smoke trailed from one of the windows. Twilight sped up a little. She had worried Zecora might be out to collect herbs, but it seemed like she was in luck. She knocked on the door and went in. She didn't want to be rude, but she also did not have the time to wait.

The treehouse smelled strongly of spices and dried herbs. It was strange how her home always smelled soothing despite being in the middle of a forest where absolutely nothing was soothing. A cauldron filled with amber brown liquid bubbled over the fire pit. Zecora stirred it with a wooden ladle. She looked up when Twilight entered. If she was surprised to see her she did not show it. "Ah, Twilight Sparkle, I did not expect you to visit me. However you are in luck, as I have just prepared my herbal tea." She nodded to the cauldron.

"Thank you for the offer, but I really don't have the time," Twilight said. "Forgive me for being blunt, but I need a remedy… of some sort."

Zecora's posture changed just a little. She tensed up, and her almond-shaped eyes narrowed just a little. "The forest sometimes is a harsh master. But don't you worry, for its secrets can help you recover faster. You have but to tell, what ailment do you seek to quell?"

"It's for… Cozy Glow," Twilight said. That definitely did surprise Zecora, Twilight could see. "She has suffered a magical injury. We ponies call it a ley-break, so her magic is slowly disappearing. Do you know of it? Can you cure it?"

"I fear, my friend, that remedies from a zebra who herself possesses no magic, can only ever make her story more tragic," Zecora said grimly. "I know many remedies, magical and not, but I fear that curing magic can never be my lot."

"Are… you saying zebras don't have any magic at all?" Twilight asked. In truth, she had never actually thought about that. Of course, there were creatures who possessed no inherit magic in Equestria. Minotaurs, for example, but she had just assumed zebras did, since they were practically ponies. "I didn't know that."

"But you need not fret for young Cozy Glow. If magic is what she needs, then a solution both you and I already know," Zecora said with a cryptic smile.

"We… do?" Twilight asked. Twilight was no alchemist; what did Zecora think she knew about how to cure a ley-break? "Is there some healing magic?"

Zecora chuckled a little, but Twilight did not take offense. "Young Cozy Glow does not need you to cast some spell. If I recall, she herself once used the magic bell."

"Grogar's Bell? What do you…" A bell that could steal magic, and let another pony use it. "…mean?" Twilight finished lamely as Zecora's implication came to her. Redheart had said that ponies could not ingest magic from food, but artifacts clearly could circumvent that. The bell and the Alicorn Amulet both proved it. With the bell they could take a little bit of magic from somepony else and let Cozy Glow absorb it! That way they could keep up with her magic loss until she recovered.

"I see you have understood my thought," Zecora said. "However, we both know of the terror that bell has wrought. If you seek to use its power for the good of Cozy Glow, be wary not to let her anger against you grow."

Twilight nodded. "I know, Zecora. But I will be careful with her."

Zecora nodded, looking pleased with that answer. "Your good intentions I do not doubt, but remain humble and kind when bringing them about. After all, Cozy is a filly, and things sensible to her can to us seem silly."

"I know that too, but Cozy is more adult than her age would tell you." Twilight said. "Treating her like a foal is often not a good idea. But never mind that; I know what I must do now. I'm sorry Zecora, but I need to make some preparations. Thanks for your help."

"Ah, Twilight Sparkle my alicorn friend. Though I'm grateful you come to see me for advice, time here you should not now overextend." Zecora guided Twilight to her door. "Now that Cozy hangs by a thread, you need not apologize for staying by her side instead."

"Right," Twilight said with new resolve. Now she knew what to do. First she had to get back to Rarity and tell her of this development. Then she had to get up on Mt. Everhoof. Thank goodness Gusty The Great had made the defense around the bell with Alicorns in mind, so she would be able to get the bell easily. She ignited her horn and the forest around her disappeared only to be replaced by Rarity's front door. She blinked a few times to orient herself, then she went inside.

Rarity was not there, so Twilight went upstairs. Cozy and Sweetie Belle were, for once, not playing chess. Instead, they sat with yarn and needles. Sweetie Belle had managed to crotchet a long, hollow tube without any discernible purpose, whereas Cozy was struggling with a long tangle of needles and thread that they were both trying to sort out.

"I don't get it! I did exactly like you told me! WHY DID IT TANGLE LIKE THIS!?" With a snarl of rage, Cozy tried to pull the entangled needle out, but only got it further stuck inside the tangle. Growling, she pulled with all her might but still could not make any progress which only angered her further. Sweetie Belle did her best both to save Cozy's thread and calm her friend down.

"Oh, hi, Twilight," Sweetie Belle said. She managed to snatch Cozy's thread away from her when she was distracted and quickly started to unravel the mess.

"Cozy, I think I have found a way to cure you," Twilight said. Cozy’s anger ran right off her. Twilight could see relief for a moment, before she hid it behind suspicion again.

"And what is that?"

"Grogar's bell," Twilight said. "It can steal magic! I could use it and give you some magic with it. We have already seen you can use the bell's magic as your own! This way you could outlast the ley-break."

"But you can't actually use the bell," Cozy pointed out. She got something sly in her eyes. "Right? It's not like you can just point and shoot that thing."

"Uh…" Twilight stammered. She had assumed she could do exactly that. "Well, how did you and your companions figure it out then?"

"We stole a book from the Canterlot Library. It told us everything we needed." Cozy smiled proudly. "But I was the one who figured it out. Then I told Chryssie and Tirek! But not everything. I wanted to have a leg up on them if they tried to ditch me, so I kept some things to myself!"

"Where is that book now?! Twilight asked, trying not to feel repulsed by the fact that someone had stolen a book from a library.

Cozy smiled even wider. "Golly! I burnt it when we were done, so nopony else could ever use the bell against us! And so they could never learn the stuff I kept secret!"

Twilight shuddered, partially because that meant she could not use the bell herself, and partially because they had burnt a book! Who does that to a poor, innocent book?

"So… I guess that means I've got to use the bell myself!" Cozy grinned.

Twilight and Sweetie Belle both felt silent.

"I'd let you take my magic if you wanted," Sweetie Belle said. "But you don't need unicorn magic, do you?"

"No," Twilight said. "She needs pegasus magic to fly. If she took yours, it wouldn't do her any good... or bad, I think."

"Do you have pegasus magic?" Cozy asked innocently.

Twilight shook her head. "Alicorn magic is not just a mix of all three magic types. It's… different. Refined. But I guess you know that as well as I do, Cozy? Surely your flying was stronger too when you were an alicorn? Draining my magic… would probably work, to be honest. My magic lets me fly, and you have already proven that you can handle alicorn magic. I'm not sure how alicorn magic would work with a ley-break, but…"

"I'm willing to take that risk!" Cozy chirped. "And all of this is really your fault. It's only fair that you make up for it by giving me some of your magic, right?"

Twilight looked at that innocent smile long and hard. She knew what Cozy was thinking, of course. Letting her wield the Bewitching Bell herself was… insane. While they had made some progress in their relationship, Cozy had still admitted she still hated Twilight. If given the bell she could squeeze every last drop of magic from her body and then proceed to… well, honestly Twilight was not sure was her endgame was, but she did not particularly care to find out.

But… on the other hand, if Cozy didn't betray her and this worked…

Then it would be a perfect way to end the hate between them. She would have given Cozy the ultimate chance to have her revenge. If she then didn't take that chance, it truly meant Cozy had left her past behind and was ready to find a new way forward. Then Twilight would know she had found something more than her manic desire for power. If Twilight trusted Cozy... trusted her with her life, and it payed off...

But as princess of Equestria, she only had one realistic choice. When she had just been Twilight Sparkle, she would have given Cozy that chance in the blink of an eye. But she was not just Twilight Sparkle anymore. She was the Princess. She was responsible for every stallion and mare, filly and colt in Equestria. She was not allowed to put them all at risk just because of her idea of a perfect, philosophical fulfillment. It was not what Celestia would have done.

But… she was not Celestia.

"I trust Cozy," Sweetie Belle piped up. "Because she is my friend now. She's really turned over a new leaf. She wouldn't have apologized to me if it didn't mean anything for her."

Twilight nodded slowly. "I will... consider it."

She was Twilight Sparkle. Her friends were the sole reason she had become the pony she was. But not all friendships were easy. In fact, some of them had to be snatched from the jaws of hatred and ever so slowly built from nothing. But that did not mean she could give up on them. Cozy needed this if she was ever going to change, deep inside her heart. But if that change had to come at the risk of Twilight's own safety and that of everypony in her nation…

Cozy had a big grin on her face all the way over to Canterlot. Twilight had left after stating she would consider her options and then summoned her to Canterlot today without any further explanations. So now Cozy was traveling in a private train car with Rarity and Sweetie Belle.

She could hardly believe her luck! It actually appeared that Twilight might be so unbelievably stupid as to let Cozy suck her dry with the bell! Why else would she want Cozy to come back Canterlot? With Celestia and Luna away, and Tirek and Chrysalis already taken care off, she practically had every ace well in hoof! She just had to be quick and sap Discord's magic too with the bell, and then she would have succeeded after all! When she woke up this morning, she never thought she'd get another shot at it! That she'd actually have to earn her alicorn powers.

Hah! As if!

"How do you feel?" Sweetie Belle asked and glanced at her bandaged hoof. "It's not getting worse, right?"

"I don't think so," Cozy said. To be honest, she did not know if she would even feel if her magic was lost, but now she did not even care anymore! Once she had Twilight's magic it would not matter if she had any of her own left. Just thinking of it made giggles bubble in her stomach, but she kept it in. She could not let Sweetie Belle or Rarity get suspicious now.

The train pulled into the station.

"Well, here we are," Rarity said. "Just stay close, Cozy, and we will get you to the castle before anypony notices."

Cozy nodded, tempering her glee for a moment. This time she did not have any disguise. Twilight had insisted it would not be necessary, but Cozy did not feel too certain. Most ponies did not like her. But she was not about to let Twilight's downfall wait. She followed Rarity and Sweetie Belle.

Two familiar ponies met them on the platform. Chancellor Neighsay looked like he had a whole lemon stuck inside his mouth, perpetually locking his face in a grimace. The other pony was significantly more welcome: Rumble.

"Princess Twilight Sparkle has, in her great wisdom, decided that I am to bring you to the castle," Neighsay said, his posture stiff as an icicle and his eyes locked somewhere above Cozy's head.

"Hi Cozy!" Rumble said with a glance to her hoof. "Twilight said you were still okay, but… you know, are you okay?"

Cozy nodded to Rumble and then proceeded to glare at Neighsay. There was another pony who had been instrumental in her capture. He'd have a cell right next to Twilight's... or maybe she could make him a maid? "Why does Twilight want you to bring me there? I have my friends who can do that!"

Neighsay visibly scoffed as the notion of friends. "I will not discuss the Princess's decision with you. Come with me." He turned away and started walking.

"Don't mind him Cozy," Rumble said. "He's just angry 'cause he's got no friends of his own." Neighsay took a deep, stabilizing breath, but did not object. Cozy guessed he did not deign to bicker with a foal. She decided to count that as a win.

"Who is he?" Sweetie Belle asked as they started towards the castle.

"He is the chairpony of the Equestrian Education Association," Rarity explained. "Standardizing and administering all schools and education plans across the country. Twilight has had some… disagreements with him in the past."

"Huh… wonder why Twilight sent him," Sweetie Belle said.

"Probably because Cozy is going to be Twilight's own personal student," Rarity said. "He would find out soon enough, so I guess she told him before the fact as to stop him from whining." Neighsay cast a dirty glare at Rarity at the notion.

Their small procession began making their way up to the castle. Cozy saw other ponies milling past in both directions. Most took no notice but as they went, more and more stopped to stare at her. A few even followed them. She did her best to tune it out, but it was increasingly hard when they had a small heard of ponies following at a distance, and even more watching from the sides. Most were quiet, but she had heard plenty scoff and mumble too. But with Rumble and Sweetie Belle on both her sides… she still felt pretty okay.

"Here we are," Neighsay said, his back stiffening even more. "Princess Twilight is in the throne room. She said she was going to hold an address concerning your…" Neighsay visibly cringed. "… upcoming position."

"Call it what it is," Rarity snapped. "Cozy Glow is going to be Twilight's personal student, and you will address her as such."

"I will address her as she deserves to be addressed," Neighsay said. He now looked so stiff it might just snap under the strain.

"So then you will say she is Twilight's student!" Rumble spat angrily. "If she even wants to be! After all Twilight has done to her I'm surprised she even came here to consider it!"

That made Cozy startle a little. It must have been the first time anypony partied with her against Twilight like that. First time anypony considered that Twilight was not blameless either. Cozy rather liked that.

Neighsay stopped and turned. He looked utterly abhorred by what Rumble said, like he had spoken nothing short of sacrilege. "Now listen you…" he took a calming breath. "foal. Cozy Glow is a maniac and danger. Were it up to me she should still be in Tartarus."

"Hey! Nopony gets to speak like that to my friend!" Sweetie Belle squeaked in a rare fit of anger.

"She is not your friend," Neighsay said in a superior tone.

"Twilight thinks she is," Rumble snapped back. "And she is the Princess while all you do is fetching her student from the train."

Cozy had to stifle a laugh as Neighsay's posture stiffened to a comical degree. He whirled around and continued walking with all the agility of a tin soldier.

He took them to the throne room.

It was filled with ponies flanking a red carpet and leading up to the newly built single golden throne. Twilight sat on it, looking a little nervous. She had a lacquered box next to her. One step below it sat another five, somewhat smaller, thrones. Four of them were occupied by Cozy's former teachers at the Friendship School. The one vacant had Rarity's cutie mark enameled on the backrest.

The other ponies in the room, Cozy understood, represented the absolute top layer of Equestria. The Canterlot nobility was there, spearheaded by Fancy Pants and his mare Fleur De Lis. Academics in every conceivable field, sports ponies, mayors of several cities as well as dignitaries from surrounding city-states such as Maretonia and Phrance. Cozy even thought she saw the retired Princesses somewhere in the back of the crowd.

Not good… then she'd have to be fast when she had the bell.

The entire room silenced immediately as their little procession entered. Cozy swallowed. She was not comfortable with all these ponies looking at her. Rarity left them and sat down on her throne. Cozy caught her encouraging smile.

"Don't worry," Rumble whispered. "We're here with you, okay?"

"Yeah, we're not going anywhere," Sweetie Belle said.

Cozy was about to answer but she was interrupted by an earthshaking cry.

"AAAAAAAAHHH!!" A white pony with golden mane shrieked from the crowd. "COZY GLOW IS FREEEE! MY MAGIC! I LIKE MY MAGIC! I NEED IT TO STYLE MY FABULOUS MAAAAAANE!!!!"

Everypony looked away from Cozy and instead looked as the white pony ran this way and that in a futile effort to get out of the room, screaming like a pony possessed.

A purple dome appeared around him, instantly cutting off his shriek. Cozy could still see him run around like a headless chicken inside it.

"Yes, thank you for your input, Blueblood," Twilight said from atop her large, golden throne. Everypony turned to her. "Now, as Blueblood was so kind in explaining, Cozy Glow is indeed free. But she has not escaped. I freed her myself a few weeks ago."

A murmur went though the crowd.

"In that time, I have attempted to understand and make friends with her," Twilight continued. "However, even as Princess of Friendship, I made a grave mistake. In my attempt to get closer to her, I only ended up hurting her even more. Thanks to me, Cozy is affected by a condition that endangers her ability to fly."

Cozy would never in her life have expected pity from anypony here. But virtually every pegasus in the room felled their ears at that. Even Rainbow Dash's look changed from suspicious to… a little less suspicious.

"I have made many severe mistakes with Cozy Glow. I willingly admit that. I have asked you all here today so that you can understand that I am not a flawless princess. I make mistakes, and I always will make mistakes. However!"

Twilight stood up from her throne and hopped down to the carpet, straight across from Cozy.

"However, I will not let it be said that I do not own up to my mistakes. I am a Princess. But a Princess is not a pony to put on a pedestal and worship. A Princess is Equestria's first servant. I am responsible for everypony in this room and in my kingdom, both those who have helped me and those who have opposed me. Having said this, it is time I payed my debt to you, Cozy."

Twilight's horn began to glow, and a shield appeared around Twilight, Cozy, Rumble and Sweetie Belle, shutting the rest of the room out.

The small box floated over from its place next to her throne and up to Cozy. "Whenever you are ready."

Cozy, filled with awe, opened the box.

Grogar's Bell laid on a silk cushion, gleaming with promises of power. Cozy brushed a hoof over it, just to confirm it was really there. It was cold and dense, made from some alien stone rather than a metal. She had never seen this material anywhere else, but it was unmistakable.

She lifted the bell in her mouth. She could feel the entire room recoiling when they understood what she held and what it could do.

"You will be cured!" Sweetie Belle said and hugged Cozy. "You just need a little bit of her magic and it will be more than enough, right? Alicorns are powerful!"

"I will be more than cured," Cozy thought with a grin.

She aligned the bell with some effort, pulling on the handle while supporting it with her good hoof so the bottom was directed towards Twilight...

Rumble left her side.

With a sinking feeling of dread, she saw him move to stand next to Twilight, taking her hoof.

"What... what are you doing?" Cozy stammered. "I'm sure Twilight's magic will be enough. More than enough," she hurried to say. He could not do this to her, right? This was some joke... right?

"It's fine," Rumble said. "I want to help you too. If I had gotten you to Rarity faster... or done things differently, this could have been so much easier. I'm not gonna let Twilight pay for my mistake. It's not right."

Cozy swallowed. She could not argue with that, or Twilight would understand what she was playing! But what now? She did not want to take his magic!

What did she do now?