• 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 6- The One who Believed in Her

Back in Canterlot, Twilight never thought she would be nervous about entering her own wing in her own castle. But she was. Inside was a foal, a young, misguided foal who Twilight had wronged beyond words. Twilight knew she was not flawless; she had made plenty of mistakes in her life. Her late friendship report caused a city-wide stampede. Her walking away from Moondancer's party had costed one of her oldest friends years of her life that she would never get back.

But none of those mistakes were nearly as bad as what she had put Cozy through. She could not help but to feel ashamed for what she had done. What princess threatens a foal like Twilight had done? What pony does that?

But she could not despair. She could not change the past, but she could make the future better. She opened the door.

"Cozy?" Twilight called.

She heard a shuddering breath and looked down. Cozy sat on the floor just in front of her. She stared straight ahead, shaking. Her breath was quick and stressed. Twilight felt nauseous. "Cozy, have… have you been sitting there all day?"

Cozy nodded. She seemed strangely nonchalant about it. Like she had just stopped caring altogether.

"Haven't you even eaten?"

"Stone does not get hungry," she peeped in a threadbare voice.

Twilight felt like she was going to throw up. "No… No, Cozy…" She took breath to calm down. "Cozy, I'm… words cannot describe how sorry I am. I didn't realize how it must have felt for you to be awaken just to be threatened to be locked in again. What I have done to you was… simply disgusting, and I am ashamed of myself. Nopony should treat a foal like that and I'm… I'm so very sorry."

Cozy shifted to look at Twilight. She still looked strangely tired. The shakes were still there. "I promise you, Cozy, that you will never go back to the statue. You have my word as Princess… and for as little as it must mean to you right now, my word as a friend. I will never give up on you, Cozy. I owe you better than that after all I've done."

"Are… are you not going to… to put me back now then?" Cozy mumbled.

"Never Cozy. Never," Twilight repeated.

Cozy managed a cross between a sigh and a sob as she finally broke down crying.

"Cozy!" Twilight took a step towards her and made a move to put a wing around the crying filly, but she was swatted away.

"Leave me in peace!" Cozy shouted and backed away. "I don't want… I hate you!" She fled into her room, ears felled and small wings twitching on her back.

"Cozy!" Twilight shouted after her. But she had nothing more she could say. Cozy's reaction was entirely justified, and it was naïve to think she would be willing to like Twilight because she had promised not to put her back to stone. Most likely Cozy did not even believe her.

Twilight swallowed down her hurt. She had promised never to give up on Cozy, and she was not going to. It would just have to take what time it needed. She slowly went up to Cozy's closed door and sat down outside it.

"Cozy, I know you can hear me. I am going to go down to the kitchen to get you some food. I'll enchant it so it stays warm and leave it outside your room, so you can eat it in there if you want. Tomorrow… I will leave in the early morning. You can come out then if you want. I promise not to be here for the entire day."

She did not get an answer, but she did not expect one either. She stood up and left to find something for Cozy to eat. She still did not know much of what Cozy liked, so it would have to be another oat burger for tonight. And some ice cream. Every foal liked ice cream, and Cozy deserved something to smile about after such a day.

She had somehow ended up even further from Cozy's trust and friendship than when she started. If she had only confronted Cozy about her failed attempt to escape this morning and calmed her fears then, things could probably have been much better. But Cozy was smart. She would understand that if Twilight needed time to plot her course of action, it was because she had alternatives to consider. Leaving her in fear while debating the course of action had not only scared her, but also confirmed for Cozy that Twilight must have considered petrification.

Of course, one could argue that Cozy was not blameless either. She had attempted an escape after all, which meant she was still a threat to Equestria. But Twilight had anticipated that, and the fact that Cozy had failed spoke of how well she had prepared for it. Cozy was still a hardened villain, and her trying to escape was natural; it was just something that had to be overcome. It still did not excuse Twilight's treatment her. How could Cozy ever be better if Twilight would not be good herself?

This was going to take time. The way she had scared and angered Cozy had left its mark.

But if there was one thing Twilight had, then it was time. And tomorrow, she was going to start chipping away at the filly's dislike. She even had a secret weapon to do it with.

The one pony who had always believed Cozy Glow could change.

The next morning, Cozy reluctantly picked up her crayon and made another tally mark for her calendar, bringing it up to three marks. She had only been here four nights and three days, but it felt much longer than that. Especially yesterday. Even if Rumble had kept her company for some time, it had still worn on her to be so alone. And, though the thought was dismal to think, she imagined those days would be her life for a time. She was not going to talk to Twilight, and nopony else even knew she existed, aside from this Rumble colt. She hoped he would come up to her some time. Isolation was not only depressing, but dangerous for her too in the long run. She had yet to figure out a real solution, even if she had played around with the idea of sending letters from her balcony doors. The gap between the floor and the doors was wide enough for a paper, but she did not know what to write or how to get any answers back.

She shook her head and took to solving a much more pressing matter: she was a growing filly who had not eaten for nearly a whole day. She was starving, and she was almost certain Twilight would keep her promise and leave her alone. It should be safe to come out.

After ensuring the coast was clear, she made her way to the common room. Apparently there were no pancakes today, but two large, luxurious sandwiches with cheese and many kinds of lettuce with a glass of freshly pressed orange juice. Also a bowl of ice cream. Cozy silently approved, even if she would never admit thankfulness to Twilight. She finished her food in short order and went for a shower. Since she never got out she was not really dirty, but it still felt good to brush her coat and pamper her mane and tail. Her many curls were prone to tangling and then it was impossible to save. She had learned that the hard way.

She had also learned that ponies listened much better if one looked neat and tidy, so Cozy Glow took great care of her appearance for a filly her age. That, and it gave her something to do to keep boredom and loneliness away.

"There we go… just like mommy said," Cozy mumbled around the handle of her brush as she finally coaxed a few tangled hairs out of her tail.

A shy type of knock hit her ears. For a moment she was afraid it was Twilight, but the knock sounded too meek for that… and too low on the door. Twilight was a rather tall pony; she would not knock so close to the floor. Confused, Cozy tied her ribbons back into her mane and tail and went to open. Somepony to talk too would be welcome, if it was not Twilight.

On the other side of the door stood one of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Cozy recalled her name being "Sweet"-something. Sweet Song or Sweet Sound or something like that.

"Hi Cozy!" the filly said. "Rarity said I could come visit today. You remember me, right?"

"Yea, you helped me learn about friendship for Twilight's school," Cozy said, still trying to figure out what this filly was doing here. "Sweet… something?" Cozy cursed her forgetfulness; nopony would like her if she forgot their names.

"Sweetie Belle," Sweetie Belle said. "I thought you could use some company. It can't be too much fun sitting up here alone all day, even if Twilight is around."

Cozy did not comment on the last part. "No, it isn't," she threw a quick, longing glance at the sky through her window. "Not at all…"

The two were silent for a few moments. "Soo… can I come in, or…?" Sweetie Belle asked uncertainly.

"Oh, golly yes! Sorry," Cozy said as she realized that Sweetie Belle had not just come to say hi, but apparently intended to spend some time with her. She moved out of the way and let Sweetie Belle in. Cozy noted her two saddlebags. They did not seem empty.

"Cool! I wish I got to have this nice a room!" Sweetie belle looked around at the bookcases and especially at the telescope. She went up to it. "Do you mind?"

Cozy did not know what Sweetie Belle imagined seeing in the middle of the day, but she had no reason to refuse. "No, go ahead. Just don’t move it too much."

Sweetie Belle nodded and peered through the eye piece. "This one is much better than my dad's."

"It was there when I got here," Cozy said. "Twilight said this used to be Luna's old room. Maybe it was hers."

"So cool!" Sweetie Belle said. Then she hesitated as if she just thought of something. "Hey, wait. Does that mean you get to sleep in Luna's old bed?"

Cozy nodded.

The white filly gave a fangirl-esque squee. "Oh my gosh! A Princess's bed! It must be the softest one ever! Can I try!? Pretty please!"

"You really think it’s that special?" Cozy asked. "Sure, I suppose."

Sweetie Belle removed her saddlebags and jumped onto the bed.

Then she disappeared with an audible "Clonk!"

"Ouch! What gives?" she asked, her voice somewhat muffled from inside Cozy's cloud mattress.

"Oops, sorry," Cozy said. "I forgot you can't walk on clouds."

Sweetie Belle dashed from the cloud with flailing hooves, shredding Cozy's mattress in the process. She was shivering slightly. "Nopony told me clouds were so cold. How do you pegasi sleep on that?"

"They’re not cold to us," Cozy explained. "We've got thicker coats. How else did you think we could make snowstorms in winter?"

"Huh, I never thought of that." Cozy felt a little odd when Sweetie Belle looked carefully at her coat. She was not used to ponies staring at her like that. "Anyway, I brought some games I thought you might like!"

"Like boardgames?" Cozy asked. "I don’t really play much boardgames… nopony let me play with them much in the past."

"But I'm sure you like this," Sweetie Belle said and started digging in her saddlebags. "I'm not a Cutie Mark Crusader for nothing!"

She pulled out a chessboard and a small red pouch.

Cozy bit her lip. She did like chess a lot. While her cutie mark was not explicitly for playing chess, she still had a knack for the game. It struck a chord deep inside her somehow… like she felt a connection to it. And she was by no means a bad player.

"Sure, we can play. I'll be white."

"Should we toss a bit for who starts?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"White always starts," Cozy said. "That's a rule."

"It is? Why?" Sweetie Belle asked as she set up her pieces with her magic. She had it easier than Cozy, who had to push the pieces in place with her hooves and muzzle.

"I think it is because white was Princess Platinum's color. Since the unicorns invented the game they decided she'd always go first," Cozy said. She had read that in a book once. She carefully nudged her pieces into place. Sweetie Belle was already done. Cozy started by moving the pawn in front of a rook forward two spaces. "Your turn."

It did not take too long for Cozy to see that she was winning. Sweetie Belle seemed to move her pieces very quickly after Cozy's turn, like she was afraid to think for too long. In chess that was usually not a very good strategy. The game proceeded slowly in silence, and Cozy too made some mistakes, but she held a pretty comfortable lead when she pushed her rook all the way over to Sweetie Belle's side. "Check," she said happily.

"Oh…" Sweetie Belle looked down on the board. "Uh, I can move my princess here, right?" she nudged her princess piece one step forward, away from the rook's threat.

"Yes, and then I can do this," Cozy said gleefully and took Sweetie Belle's archmage, the most powerful piece of all. The Princess had been the only thing protecting it.

Sweetie Belle gave a very Rarity-like "Hmph," and moved her princess back to capture the offending rook. "Just you wait, I'm not out of this yet…"

"Oh, golly, did I ruin your plan?" Cozy said confidently. "Well, too bad. Hope you are ready for my archmage!" Cozy moved her piece away from an uneventful corner diagonally to the board center.

"Your mistake!" Sweetie Belle exclaimed and picked up her knight. "I can capture your archmage there!"

"No, you can't," Cozy said. "If you move that knight, your king is wide open for my other rook, and you are not allowed to put your own king in check."

Sweetie Belle studied the board in silence for a few moments. "Dumb rooks," she grumbled and moved one of her remaining dukes closer to her princess.

Sweetie Belle fought valiantly, but in the end she found herself completely at the mercy of Cozy's rook, a knight and a pawn. "Checkmate! I win!" Cozy exclaimed at the end.

"Wait, can't I…? Maybe…?" Sweetie Belle had lifted her king in her magic and moved it around to all spaces it could go, but came up short every time. She sighed and tipped it over. "Fine, you win."

"Do you want to play again?" Cozy asked and began putting her pieces back on the board. "I'll even let you be white this time."

"Sure, that's probably why you won anyway," Sweetie Belle said. She grinned confidently. "But now I'll have the advantage! I'll show you what us white unicorns can do!"

"You're just gonna lose even faster!" Cozy challenged her with a smile. "White starts, make your move!"

"Let's see how you handle this!" Sweetie Belle said and moved her pawn in front of her archmage two spaces forward. She was going for the most blatantly offensive opening possible. Cozy countered by moving one of the pawns second closest to the edge of the board. The best way to counter the archmage, she figured, would be by using her dukes. Their counterintuitive, diagonal movement should make them a bit harder for Sweetie Belle to see, so hopefully she should be able to take out Sweetie's archmage before it created too much problems.

They ended up playing another three games after that. Sweetie Belle won the first of them, when Cozy made a silly mistake, but then she lost the last two. "You're really good at this," Sweetie Belle said and put her pieces back in the red pouch she had brought them in. "Are you sure your cutie mark is not for chess after all?"

"You should see Checkered Square play," Cozy said. "He's the best player ever… once he faced a dozen opponents at the same time without seeing any of the boards. He won all the games."

"He won without seeing the boards?" Sweetie Belle asked, eyes wide in wonder.

"Yea, he had an aide who told him his opponents' moves, but only once. He could remember a dozen different chessboards all at the same time and win! Do you have any idea how cool that is?"

"Woah," Sweetie Belle said. "I wouldn't mind having that for a talent."

"Me neither," Cozy said.

The two of them sat silent for a few moments. "Hey, Cozy? Are… you maybe hungry?" Sweetie Belle asked shyly. "My sister says it's uncouth to ask that when you are invited, but I had to get up early to take the train here… and it kinda was a while since I had breakfast." she trailed off and looked down at the carpet.

"Golly… normally Twilight brings some food up here, since I don't get to go out," Cozy said, her mood souring slightly as she remembered her captivity. "I suppose we can see if she left us anything." Swallowing, Cozy opened the door and peeked up and down the corridor. She did not care if Sweetie Belle thought it was weird; better that than to run into Twilight.

Thankfully there was no alicorn to be seen. The two of them went to the common room and were greeted with a large bowl of salad with cheese in it, and a pitcher of what looked like carrot Juice. Next to the salad bowl was also a loaf of bread. "Wow, you probably eat better than, like, everypony in Equestria," Sweetie Belle said. She even sounded jealous. Cozy did not answer. She hated relying of Twilight like this, even if the food was good. The two foals sat down by the table and helped themselves to the salad and bread.

"Can I ask something?" Sweetie Belle asked once they were past the hungry phase of their eating.

"Sure," Cozy said and nibbled on a length of cucumber.

"Did… you want my help to get into the School of Friendship so you could learn about friendship, or… or did you use me to get close to Twilight?"

Cozy swallowed her cucumber. "I wanted friends, and because Twilight is the best at friendship I wanted to go to her school. But you guys were really kind to me, before I began plotting against her. It was not to get close to her that I asked you to help me."

Sweetie Belle laughed a little. "Thank you, Cozy. I'm happy to be your friend. But then why did you turn on Twilight? She is the Princess of Friendship, if anypony could help you get friends it was her."

"She does not understand friendship at all," Cozy said bitingly. "She couldn't teach me what I needed to know."

Sweetie Belle tilted her head in confusion. "Of course she could. She is the Princess of Friendship."

"No, she doesn't get it; friendship is power," Cozy stated flatly. "I tried to make her give me some power by being a good helper. But she never trusted me with anything important. She just kept me slaving away at her chores… I did not want to be her helper; I wanted to become powerful like she was. So I had to get rid of her, but it didn't work."

"But that's wrong," Sweetie Belle said. "Friendship isn't power. Friendship is friendship."

Cozy shrugged. "It made her a princess…don’t try to tell me there is no power in friendship."

"There is…" Sweetie Belle admitted. "But it's not that simple… friendship is more than power-"

Cozy giggled cutely. "There is nothing more, silly. Life is just like chess; there is only one piece that matters in the end, see?" Cozy smiled innocently. "The Princess piece. Even if you lose every other piece, you are still in the game as long as you have her. Lose her and you're gone. You're either a princess, or you are just a pony. You either have power… or you are just a pawn. At the end of everything is power. Nothing else matters, because there is nothing else."

Sweetie Belle sat silent and mulled over what she had heard. Then she gave a relieved exhale. "Thank you, Cozy."

"What for?" Now it was Cozy who tilted her head in confusion. She had not expected Sweetie Belle to understand her philosophy. Only one pony had ever understood. The one who taught her.

"Because now I know what made you do everything. You are not really evil, you just got some things backwards." Sweetie Belle all but beamed. "Now I really know you were my friend when we met, and you still want to be my friend. You’re really kind, Cozy. Deep inside you are just a pony who wants friends."

Cozy did not know what she should answer, but she had a feeling Sweetie Belle had not really understood that "friend" meant something else to Cozy than to most others.

"You'll be fine, Cozy. You will see what friendship really is. And I'll help you. That's a Pinkie Promise."

Author's Note:

Since neither the king, queen or bishop pieces makes sense in Equestria, I decided to come up with new names for them here. Just to be clear: king= princess, queen= archmage and bishop= duke.