• Published 15th Oct 2019
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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 3- The Filly in the Tower

Cozy maintained her glare at the door for a few seconds after Twilight was gone. Only when she heard her hoof steps retreating in the corridor did she allow herself to relax.

She swallowed hard and laid down on the rug, doing her best to suppress her tears. She took deep, steadying breaths and kept her eyes closed. She hiccuped once or twice and she was shaking a little, wings drooping. "I've got this. No need to be afraid, I've got everything under control…" she mumbled to herself. "I've got this… I manipulate ponies, I control stuff. It's what I do. I can get out of here. She won't turn me back…" She coughed forth a sob of fear before forcefully shutting her mouth, breathing only through her nose for a while. "She'd never put me back. She will never put me back… I'll just wrap her around my hoof and be on my merry way… Right, you got this, myself."

Cozy opened her eyes again, wishing she could sound a little more confident. She looked uncertainly around her new room.

It was the nicest room she had ever had. Better than the dorm in Twilight's school, and much better than the pile of hay she had in Tartarus. This room was large for a small pony like her. She flapped her wings tentatively and flew a little lap along the wall. It was better than she hoped. She suddenly did not feel quite so afraid. She always felt better when she flew. She landed on the bed and pawed it critically.

She had to hold back a squee of delight when she realized the mattress was made of clouds. She loved clouds, but she had never been strong enough to pull them down for a bed of her own. Checking the door carefully, she decided on her first act of rebellion against her captor. She flapped her wings for extra lift and proceeded to jump on her bed. The neat bedspread lasted only a few moments before it was a tangled mess.

"First this bed, then Twilight," Cozy snickered and jumped again, slamming her hooves as hard as she could on the tangled bedspread, pretending it was Twilight's face. Satisfied with both her bed and her small revenge, she left her bed and went to the telescope. She flew up and studied it from every angle. She had never owned one before. She spun the focusing knob a little bit at random and peered into the eyepiece. She saw the moon. "Guess I should be happy she didn’t send me there," she mumbled. "Then I'd be trapped for a thousand years instead of… of…?"

She did not even know how long she had been trapped. For all she knew it could be a thousand years. She felt her throat thicken up again at the thought. A small, unhappy sound left her throat. She suddenly felt very lost.

She could ask Twilight, but there was no chance she would give her that satisfaction. Cozy Glared at nothing in particular, angry at Twilight, and at her own weakness. She should not be crying; she was a big pony.

Her eyes fell on a small table next to the telescope. "Basic Constellations and Star Reading," she read the title. Her face broke into a grin. "Perfect! I bet I can figure out today's date with help of the stars! I don't need Twilight’s help with anything!"

She lifted the book and looked in the index. "Star calendar! That's gotta be it!" Cozy flipped in the book and found the right chapter. While she did not understand all the trigonometry the book talked about, she did grasp the basics. The book had an index of certain dates when certain constellations were in certain position relative to each other in the night sky. All she had to do was to find a few constellations she could see from her window and look at them every day until it matched the date in her book. Then she would know!

She zipped up to her window and stared up at the night sky. "The Hydra constellation," Cozy said with a smirk. "Perfect." She flew up to her telescope and adjusted it so that it was located directly on the constellation. Now she just had to wait until tomorrow and adjust her telescope to its movement. According to her book, the Hydra would climb higher and higher on the sky and then begin to sink. Once she noticed that change, it would be the first official day of autumn. Cozy’s last day before her banishment had been in early summer, so it should not have been so long. Then, once she had that date, she would compare it to the Seamare constellation to get what year it was. Then again, Twilight looked just as she had when last they met, so Cozy didn't think it would have been many years.

Looking around, she grabbed a small notebook and a light-blue crayon. She took the crayon in her mouth and wrote a tally mark in the book. That way she could know how long she had been in here when she escaped. The day of her freedom from the statue would become a holiday in her new Equestria, she decided.

Cozy smiled proudly. She had got this. Getting out of here was going to be a breeze.

It was going to be so easy, in fact, that she could afford to wait until tomorrow. Cozy was just a filly after all, she could not be up all night. With a yawn, she flitted up to her messy bed and untied the ribbons from her mane and tail. She pulled away the covers and curled up. The bed had been made for an alicorn. For a filly like her, it was virtually endless. She parted a little piece of the cloud mattress with her hooves and settled down in a warm and cozy cloud pit. She ruffled her wings a little to get them comfortable before pulling the cover over her again.

It was a large step up from the pile of hay in Tartarus and Grogar's hideaway. She yawned again and closed her eyes. Before long, she was soundly asleep, dreaming of how she was going to punish Twilight once she was free and on Equestria's throne. A gentle smile graced her face.

A small knock on her door roused her from her sleep. She jumped out of the bed and hovered above it while she tried to remember where she was.

"Cozy? Are you awake? Can I come in?"

Twilight's voice was enough to remind Cozy of what had happened yesterday, as well as sour her mood considerably. "No! I don't want you in my room. Go away!"

"But you must be hungry," Twilight said through the door. "Should I ask the chef to make you some pancakes?"

The question made Cozy Painfully aware that she had not eaten much in a long time. When powered up on alicorn magic she had not even needed food, and since then she had not had a bite to eat. She fought down the clawing sensation of hunger. "No! I'm not hungry!"

She could hear Twilight sigh. "I will make sure they keep a meal warm for you." She heard the sound of hooves retreating before she could even protest.

"I'm not going to eat your food," she told the door. A sly grin crossed her face. "Besides, once I'm out I can eat whatever I want."

She tied up her mane and tail again and drank a little water to deaden the feeling of hunger a little. Thus ready, she sat down in the middle of the room and tried to think of possible avenues for escaping. The balcony was the obvious choice. The glass may be too hard for her to break with her hooves, but Twilight had supplied her with a well-stocked armory of books to use instead. She began pouring over the books, looking for the heaviest one.

It turned out to be something called "Diaries of a Madman". but she decided to use another book instead, namely a certain friendship journal. She contemplated using it for toilet paper, but decided it would be better for it to be the tool that would start Twilight's downfall. Picking up the book, she took flight and then flew as fast as she could before throwing the book straight into the glass pane.

A purple field enveloped the glass sent the heavy book flying right back at her. "Huh?" was all she had time to say before it hit her in the face, knocking her out of her flight and leaving her dazed and hurting on the floor. She fought down the tears and settled for just nursing her hurting muzzle, and her pride. She climbed up on her bed and laid down, staring out the window into the bright, blue sky while waiting for the pain to subside. She subconsciously flapped her wings a little and felt her mood grow less and less confident. Pegasi were not meant to staying indoors at her age. Normally she would be in flight school, spending all day outside. A small rumble sounded from her stomach.

Her forehead still pounded a bit, but she hopped down from the bed and went up to the offending glass pane. She pressed a hoof against it and nothing happened. She tried to hit it, but then the shield appeared. Apparently it only activated against quick strikes.

Cozy bit the inside of her mouth and looked around the room. Maybe if she found something heavy she could try to lean it against the glass. If she was slow then it should not activate the shield, but the weight might still break the glass.

She did not see anything heavy though. The bookcases were all bolted to the wall, and the bed was too sturdy to pick apart and much too heavy to move in one piece.

A knock on her door interrupted her thought process. "Cozy?"

"Leave me alone!" Cozy called back. "I don't want to see you, and I’m not hungry!"

She heard Twilight sigh. "Look, Cozy. You know I can feel when my magic activates, right? Don't bother with the window. If the shield is broken it will trigger a freeze spell in your entire room. You won't escape that way."

Cozy grumbled in annoyance.

"And… you know, if you continue to try and escape, then you leave me no choice."

Cozy felt like somepony had dumped a bucket of ice-cold water over her head. A shiver went along her spine, from her neck all the way out to her tail. She curled up and wrapped her tail around her, trying to control her breathing. Twilight carefully opened the door, but she did not enter.

"Cozy, I don't want to scare you," Twilight said in a mild tone. "Being afraid of me wont make you a better pony. But you must understand I cannot let you escape. Not after what you have done."

Cozy did not answer. Twilight knew she had been trying to escape. If not for her naiveté, then Cozy would be a statue again already. The thought scared her. Twilight had said it herself: this was Cozy's last chance. The statue practically meant death, or at the very least being lost in time for centuries if she ever woke up.

"Can I come in?" Twilight asked.

"No!" Cozy snapped and glared at Twilight. She did not even care that here were small tears in her eyes. "This is my room! Go away!"

"Don't you at least want to eat a little?" Twilight asked. "You must be starving. I can leave the dining room if you want."

She looked down on the carpet. Her stomach was empty and her thoughts felt duller than normal. If escaping was not going to be as easy as she had hoped, then she'd have to eat eventually. A growing foal like her could not plot on an empty stomach. "Well… I suppose if I were to go out of here and find some food, then I wouldn't throw it away," she admitted, every word leaving a bitter taste in her mouth. She did not meet Twilight's look.

"And, hypothetically of course, if you found pancakes, what would you hope to find with them? Applesauce? Blueberries?" Twilight asked.

"Maple syrup. And maybe some applesauce," Cozy said silently. Her defeat made her heart feel emptier than her stomach. She heard Twilight leave silently. She waited for a few minutes before she flew up to the door and opened it. She peeked out and looked up and down the corridor. The door to Twilight's study was closed. She flew up to it and pressed her ear against the keyhole.

A faint sound of a pen on paper came from within. Twilight was in her room. Cozy turned away and instead flew to the common room.

On a table for two stood a plate with a stack of pancakes next to jars of Maple syrup, applesauce and fresh berries. There was also a pitcher of milk and one with water. The smell made her mouth salivate. Her stomach rumbled again. Throwing one last glance over her shoulder to make sure Twilight did not come out, she went into the room and shut the door after her.

She flitted up into a chair and took a pancake from the stack. It was still warm. She tilted the jar of maple syrup until she got a nice blot of sugary goodness on her pancake. She spread it with a knife and rolled the pancake up before taking it in her hooves and biting down. "hmmm…"

She could not stop the sound from leaving her throat. After so long without food the sweet, fluffy taste was nothing short of heavenly to her. She took another bite as soon as she had swallowed, wolfing down the treat. She prepared another pancake, this one with applesauce. She suspected Applebloom's sister had a hoof in making it, but she did not care. She just wanted to not feel hungry.

She cleared out the entire stack and licked her plate clean. Looking so Twilight did not spy from the doorway, she even took a few spoonfuls of applesauce directly from the jars and ate them. Right now, the idea of defying Twilight in any way, even if it was just something as small as that, felt like a little victory. She had already lost face by accepting this food. Any act of rebellion, no matter how insignificant it may be in the grand scheme of things, was valuable to her. She had to prove to herself that she had not surrendered yet.

When she was satisfied, she leaned back and took in the room she was in. There were more books here (because of course there were), sofas and comfy chairs to read by and a fireplace. It was not lit. There were no windows here. Casting another glance at the door, Cozy hopped down from her chair and looked up into the chimney. There were heavy metal staves set into the bricks, crossing the chimney space and even then she could not see any sunlight.

Apparently the Heartswarming stories about the gift-givers coming down the chimney to give presents were a bit simplified. She left the fireplace and looked around the room for anything else she could use.

Ten minutes later she sighed and started back to her room. She threw a sullen look at the door into this wing of the castle. She knew it was locked, but decided to try it anyway. It didn't budge. She stood in front of it. She could almost hear her freedom calling from the other side of it. So close, yet so far.

"Maybe I can get the key somehow," Cozy thought. She made an unhappy sound and plodded back to her room. She was not getting out today. She would have to make another tally mark for her calendar after all.

Twilight too was staring at a door. The one to her study. She wanted Cozy to come in and talk to her. She didn't have to ask Twilight to be a better pony, but if Cozy would just acknowledge her, let Twilight talk to her, then she knew she could help her. It was evident that Cozy was still her conniving self, but the defiance she showed was new. While Twilight was not a psychologist, she suspected it was because Cozy knew she was backed into a corner where her usual tricks didn't work. That was enough to rattle anypony, especially a foal. It was hard for Twilight too. With what she was doing to Cozy, she could not claim any moral high ground.

Her intentions were good, and she was doing more for her than Cozy really deserved, but she was still keeping a filly locked up and isolated from other ponies, demanding she'd change her entire lifestyle. It did not sit right with her. It made her antsy and it was only by deadening her mind with work that she managed to stay in her room and not try to talk to Cozy. She had promised her the dining room alone, and breaking such a simple promise would probably ruin any chance she had to ever earn Cozy's trust.

Still, that did not make the promise any easier to fulfill.

Her ears swiveled to catch a small sound. Tiny, slow hoofsteps and a door being closed. She nearly jumped out of her chair and went out in the corridor. She was just about to knock on Cozy's door before she put her hoof down again and shook her head. What could she say?

"How was your food?" "I don't wanna talk with you! Leave me alone!"

"Have you found any books to read?" "Even if I did I wouldn't tell you!"

"Do you want to lay a puzzle together?" "I'd rather be together with Tirek and Chrysalis than you!"

Twilight had never anticipated just how psychologically draining this task was going to be. She wanted so to help Cozy, but Cozy would never let Twilight take the first step! Nor would Cozy herself take the first step, proud and bitter as she was. So what could Twilight do?

What indeed?

Twilight shut her eyes hard and turned away from the door with a pained grimace. She should put Cozy's dishes away, at least.