• Published 15th Oct 2019
  • 5,102 Views, 248 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 4- A Thief in the Night

Twilight did work up enough courage to ask Cozy if she was hungry again in the evening. She opened the door silently and found Cozy on Luna's bed, laying with her head on her hooves and her tail curled around her, just staring with a despondent expression out the window. She looked so small and lonely on the massive bed. For the first time, Twilight felt a twinge of remorse. A foal should not have to look so alone.

"Cozy… Did you want some dinner?"

Cozy jumped in surprise and immediately turned at Twilight with a glare. Any weakness was completely wiped from her face and stance. "No! I'm not hungry."

"I'm sure the chefs would cook anything you wanted," Twilight tried desperately. "And I'll stay in my room when you eat if you want me to."

Cozy felled her ears. "…Okay." It was barely more than a whisper, and she did not look happy when she spoke. "I'd really like an oatburger."

Twilight was so surprised she almost forgot to answer. "Yes! Of course, coming right up. Just a few minutes!" Twilight retreated from the room. She knew this might be Cozy playing her somehow, but even getting her to talk must be considered a start, right? If she could break her isolation, then she at least had something to work with. As long as she felt she could make progress, she could do this. Twilight had never given up on another pony before, and she was not going to start now! She left the castle wing and soon came into the castle kitchens.

"Princess, how can I help you?" Chef Ramson asked when she entered. Behind him stood the only apprentice who had yet to be completely roasted by the chef's searing temper: Thunderlane's little brother Rumble.

"I need an oatburger, as fast as possible," Twilight said.

"So then what are you waiting for, you little tomtit?" Ramson said to Rumble. "The Princess said she wanted her food fast! That means she does not wish to wait for your lazy flank to get moving! Fetch me the oats already! And bring the flour too."

"Yes Chef!" Rumble zipped off towards the pantry, leaving Ramson tapping his hoof impatiently.

A few seconds passed in silence. "I have seen faster things crawling on the bottom of ponds," Ramson sighed and stormed after Rumble, possibly to help him but probably to scold him. Twilight wondered if she should help, but she had to admit something about Ramson scared even her.

Still, no one could deny they were effective together. It was like even the bread was scared of the chef's temper, for it rose within minutes under his searing glare. In the meantime Rumble flash-cooked the burger itself inside a small thundercloud. How he got it to work without burning it to ash Twilight could not even begin to understand, but before fifteen minutes had passed she had an oatburger with hay-fries neatly on a platter.

"Not horrible, tomtit, not horri-" Ramson hesitated, then sighed. "Okay, never mind. It’s actually pretty pathetic."

"Yes Chef!" Rumble said. He even saluted.

"Oh, for buck's sake…" Ramson sighed. "Salute the princess you nitwit!"

"Yes Chef!" Rumble said and saluted Twilight who smiled sheepishly and quickly made her way from the room before Ramson could find something to blame on her.

Once back in her private castle wing, she put the hayburger on the dining table and made a point to stomp harder than necessary on the floor as she passed Cozy's door to let her know it was safe to come out and eat. She hoped Cozy would soon permit Twilight to eat with her. Once they could talk to one another it would only be a matter of time before Cozy saw the wonders of real friendship, she was sure.


Twilight had just lowered the moon(!) and was preparing to settle down for the night when she heard somepony knock on her door. The lower part of her door. She turned to stare at it, half expecting Discord to jump out of it, screaming "Got you!"

The knocking came again. She magicked it open and sure enough, there stood Cozy Glow, looking at the floor with a cloven expression. "Cozy? Come in!" She did, casting glances around her before finally settling on the floor in front of Twilight's desk. She took a couple of breaths like she wanted to begin speaking, but stopped herself at the last moment. She glanced up to Twilight and then away again.

"Thanks for the food," she said finally. "It was really good." She stood up and paced over the floor aimlessly. Her wings twitched on her sides. She was antsy about being here, Twilight could see. A board creaked slightly when she stepped on it.

"Oh? Thanks," Twilight said, unsure why Cozy would bother to come in and say such a thing. "It makes me happy. Did… you want anything else?"

"No… But mommy said you should always say thank you for your food," Cozy said.

"I see," Twilight said. "Do you want to tell me more about her?"

"No!" Cozy snapped and stormed out of the room, slamming the door shut behind her. Twilight blinked in surprise. Cozy's family must be a sore subject for her.

It got Twilight to thinking. Cozy was not old; not even a teen if Twilight had to guess. So how could she have turned into the filly she was? Could it have something to do with her family?

Twilight magicked over a quill and a roll of paper.

Starlight Glimmer.

I recently found myself wondering about Cozy Glow, and I wanted to ask you if you could find her application to the School of Friendship somewhere in the archives. While it might not lead anywhere, I still feel like I should look up if she had any parents or the like. Perhaps they can shed some light over why she became who she was.

Your faithful friend

Twilight Sparkle

PS.
I heard there were even more applications to the school for this year than when I led it. Good job!

She would send the letter tomorrow. Normally she would ask Spike, but he was away in the dragonlands with Ember.


While Cozy's room did not have a calendar, it did have a clock. Cozy sat on her bed with the blanket wrapped around her for warmth and stared at time slowly creeping forward. Her eyes stung. Normally she would have been asleep hours ago, but she could not rest now. If she fell asleep then she would miss her chance.

She was getting out of here tonight.

Once she had the door open, she would find the closest window and break it. Then she was going to fly over Canterlot until she came to the train station. Canterlot Station was the railroad hub for the entire Equestrian railroad network, and trains came and went every ten minutes at least. She would sneak onto the roof of a train and ride it until the final stop. There were plenty of frontier settlements where she would not be recognized and where the locals would certainly help a poor lost filly with food and shelter. Wherever it came to be, Cozy would live out her next few years there while the rest of Equestria forgot her.

Twilight would probably try to find her, but Cozy hoped she could avoid her. Twilight could not very well ask to the common pony to look for her. Nopony knew Cozy was free, and if Twilight admitted she was it would make her look like a fool. Cozy may only be a filly, but she had a better grasp on how power dynamics worked than most ponies. She knew that Twilight, the new Princess and successor of a millennia-old diarchy could not afford such a political blunder early into her governance.

There were risks to Cozy's plan, but she was no stranger to risks. And she could not stay here.

The clock hands moved. It was now two A.M, later than Cozy had ever been up before. She cast off her blanket and crept up to her door. She put her ear to it but did not hear anything. She carefully pushed it open. It didn't make a sound. She licked her lips and peered up and down the corridor.

It was calm and dark. Silent as one can be with hooves on stone, Cozy made her way to Twilight's study. She listened again.

It was hard to hear, but she could just make out the soft breaths of a sleeping pony. Cozy nodded and steeled herself. After this there would be no turning back. She flew up and opened the door carefully.

The room was brighter than out in the corridor. Much of the window was blocked by books, but it still let in plenty of moonlight. She heard Twilight's soft breaths clearer now and could even see her sides rise and fall under the blankets on the bed. Cozy looked away and instead set her eyes on the prize. On her bedside table, exactly where she saw them before: the keys to the castle wing. If she could only get them, she could get out.

She carefully stepped towards the sleeping Twilight, one hoof at a time, slow as can be as to not make a sound on the hardwood floor. She did not want to fly; she was still too inexperienced to be certain she would not bump into anything in this strange half-light, and Twilight's bedside table was lined with stacks of books. One little errant flutter might send everything tumbling down. Swallowing, she made her way to the carpet by her desk and could breathe a sigh of relief. Now she could cross the rest of the room on the carpet and just need a few more steps before she had the keys.

But those steps would be the most dangerous; they would be just next to Twilight, no more than a few hooves from her ear. She looked at the floor and carefully stepped over the one plank that had creaked before. Her hoof steps came slow on the hardwood, sounding deafeningly loud to her. Twilight was so close she could touch her. She had fallen asleep on this side of the bed with her face outwards. Cozy looked away from her and to her prize.

There were two keys sitting in a ring. One went to the castle wing, and the other to the storage where Twilight kept the statue. The ring hung over the edge of the bedside table. She just needed a few more steps and she could grab it.

Her heartbeat sounded like a thundering drum. Her wings were tense and extended. It was a pegasus trait: if she was scared then her wings prepared to fly her to safety. Her legs were shaking. Her ears standing right up and listening keenly for any and all sounds. She moved her hooves the last two steps.

The bedside table was too high. It was perfect for a grown pony, but for a foal like her it was too high for her to grab the keys from, even when balancing on two legs. Cozy bit the inside of her mouth, trying to calm her racing heart.

She would have to fly.

With jerky, uncontrolled motions she flitted her wings. It was silent, but she dared not fly subconsciously like she usually did. She actively had to think of her wings, and she was wobbly, unstable in the air. She lifted painfully slowly, her eyes on Twilight's peaceful face. She was close enough to feel the warmth of her breaths!

Her heart felt like it was trying to break through her ribcage. She licked her lips and reached her mouth forward to grab the keyring. Inching closer, wobbling and slanting in her flight, tears of stress matting her cheeks, she felt the cold metal ring on her tongue. Flying just a little closer, she closed her mouth around it. A light clink sounded as she lifted them.

Twilight stirred.

Cozy froze up in fear and fell a little distance to the floor. Her hooves sounded like the thunder going off and the keys jingled like a tambourine. She looked around for a place to hide, but the only place close was underneath the bed. But Twilight's books were in the way! She had no place to hide and she had the keys in her mouth.

Twilight mumbled something and rolled over to the other end of the bed, fast asleep. Cozy kept her eyes shut hard and sent prayer after prayer to Celestia. She was fully aware of the irony in that, but it was something she had been taught already in the cradle: if you are afraid and alone, the princesses will always listen.

Cozy Glow was very afraid right now.

She did not know how long she stood there. She wanted to move, but her legs refused to listen to her brain. She stood stunned on the floor just next to the pony she feared the most. She clamped her mouth shut around the keyring and forced herself to breathe slowly through her nose. Eventually, her heartbeat did no longer hurt in her chest. She scampered off the floor and onto the carpet where she collapsed, shaking and heaving with quiet sobs that she dared not truly voice. Her legs were shaking like she had a fever and her teeth hurt from biting down so hard on the keyring.

She must have lain there for minutes before she regained some control over herself. She pushed herself up on unsteady hooves. She had the key. The worst part was over.

Who!?

She nearly jumped out of her skin. She let out an involuntary shriek and whirled around to the corner where the ghastly sound had come from. Two hellish, gleaming eyes glared in the darkness. Below them sat a razor-like beak. Cozy shrank back and stared. Was this some defense system? Were those eyes going to petrify her here and now? She had heard there were animals in the Everfree forest who could turn a pony to stone with a mere gaze.

"Who?"

It sounded less terrifying now. More like a greeting of sorts. Only then did Cozy realize that it was an owl. Who even has an owl for a pet? What's wrong with a kitten or something? "Dumb owl," Cozy muttered to herself and started creeping towards the door.

"Who! Who!" The owl flapped around in the cage an even grabbed the grate with its beak, shaking it with a clatter.

"Be quiet!" Cozy Glow hissed. "You'll wake her up!"

"WHO-HO! WHO!"

Twilight groaned from her bed.

A chill went through Cozy. The owl was going to wake Twilight! She was going to be seen! The stress finally broke through her flimsy veil of control. She turned bolted for the door, any idea of stealth forgotten. Her hoofsteps were nearly drowned out by the owl's racket anyway. She did not even care that she was fully crying as she ran. All she knew was that she needed to get out before Twilight caught her.

She struck open the door to the study and ran down the hallway as fast as her legs would carry her. The door to freedom was just ahead! She flapped her wings to get up to the keyhole, nearly dropped the key as she spat it out into her shaking hooves and jammed it into the lock. She threw a panicked glance backwards. She almost thought she could see Twilight through the open bedroom door. She grabbed the key and twisted it. Or tried to. It didn't fit!

"Come on!" Cozy weeped and struggled with the key. Sobs broke forth in her throat. She could taste the salt of her tears. "Come on!" she screamed in a desperate plea. She struck the door in powerlessness, but it didn't budge. She pulled out the key and stared around her. She had to hide! Now!

But there were no places to hide. The corridor was barren!

She saw somepony move inside Twilight’s room. Cozy dashed for the closest door. Her own room was just by Twilight's so the closest room was the common room. It took all her willpower not to shut the door behind her. That would give her away instantly. She looked around the room, eyes wide and terrified, for any hiding spot.

Her eyes fell on the fireplace.

She heard hoofsteps in the corridor. She ran towards the fireplace as if somepony had struck her, pausing only a moment to put the keys on the dinner table. Maybe maybe maybe Twilight could think she had forgotten them there somehow, and Cozy might not be… killed. The final word made her cough out a cry again and she wriggled into the fireplace and hopped up to grab onto the horizontal iron bars that hung inside the chimney. She could just barely fit the tip of her hooves around it, but her wings were constrained in the tight space. She could not fly.

She heard the door open and quickly pulled her hind legs close, praying that Twilight could not see her.

Her heart beat so hard it hurt, she had to bite into her lip to prevent her from crying. The salt from her tears mixed with a metallic tang of blood, but she only bit down ever harder. Her hooves were already in pain from supporting her entire weight in such an unnatural fashion. She heard the clink as they keys were lifted. "So that's where you are…" Twilight said.

Cozy had to stifle a cry. Twilight was still looking for something else, and there was only one thing it could be. A mad though flitted through her mind, that maybe she should give herself up. Twilight had the key, and the next time she saw Cozy, she was going to petrify her. She had no chance of getting out now.

Should she just give up and face her end with dignity?

By instinct she just curled up even harder around herself in the chimney. She was afraid. Too afraid to even move. She just clung to the thinnest of thin hopes that maybe, by some heavenly miracle, she might still survive. Her precarious grip began to slip. Twilight was still out there. Perhaps she had already found Cozy and was just tormenting her by waiting to see how long she could struggle? Hooves were not meant to hold around a blank iron bar. Her shoulders hurt. Her hooves hurt and slipped slowly on the metal.

"She'll show up eventually, I suppose," she heard Twilight say. She did not sound as sinister as Cozy would expect. But then again, she did not need to. Cozy was still trapped like a rat in a maze; sooner or later Twilight would find her. Still, Cozy's heart soared in her chest when she heard hoofsteps recede. The moment the door shut, her hooves slipped and she fell down in the fireplace. Thankfully the castle was newly rebuilt and had never seen a winter, so the fireplace was still unused.

Cozy peeked out from behind the firewood and carefully crept forward out in the room. She came to a halt in front of the chair she had eaten by before.

Her legs were still shaking from exhaustion and adrenaline and her face was still damp from tears, but she felt strangely empty. She had gambled everything on this escape and lost, and now she was in danger. If Twilight wanted to trap her in stone again nopony could stop her, least of all a pegasus filly.

There was only one thing she could do: weep and beg and pray for mercy. Even in her disheveled state the mere thought of it made Cozy cringe, but she had no other choice.

It was either humiliation or eternal imprisonment in stone. And with that choice she would rather be humiliated. She knew both Chrysalis and Tirek would have seen it differently, but Cozy was not them. She was not brave like they would have been.

She started back to her room, creeping with her head down and jumping at every shadow. She managed a choppy breath of relief when she closed the door behind her and burrowed under the blanket. So far, Twilight had respected this place as Cozy's sanctuary, so if there was any place she would be a little safer, then it would be here. It was a flimsy protection, Cozy was all too aware of, but it was better than nothing at all.

She curled up and eventually fell into a restless sleep, exhausted from the psychological strain of her nightly adventure.