• Published 15th Oct 2019
  • 5,095 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 7- Pawn on the Outside

After the food, Cozy Glow and Sweetie Belle returned to Cozy's room and talked about current events in Ponyville and Equestria at large. Cozy was curious about how Twilight's coronation had been received. Perhaps there were dissenters somewhere? That might be a useful tool for her once she was free.

Sadly, Sweetie Belle did not know anything about that, but mostly had news about the upcoming Fashion Week in Manehattan or the latest gossip among the students at the Friendship School. Cozy considered asking if anyone mentioned her, but decided against it. She was not sure she wanted the answer.

Eventually, however, there was a knock on the door. It did not sound like Twilight; she was usually quiet and nonintrusive. This sounded more forceful, if still gentle. "Sweetie Belle? Are you ready to head back home? Can I come in?"

"Oh… time went much faster than I thought," Sweetie Belle said. "I need to leave, or Rarity will be cross with me. You can keep the chessboard though. I'm sure you could play with Twilight."

"Yea, right," Cozy grumbled under her breath. "Come in!" she called. Rarity opened and nodded measuredly to Cozy. It was not a hearty greeting, but not really a cold one either. Cozy nodded back. She could not afford to anger Rarity by being rude. Especially since she would eventually have a saying if Sweetie Belle could return.

"Did you two enjoy yourselves?" Rarity asked. She hid it better than most, but Cozy could sense a small streak of wariness in her voice and look.

Sweetie Belle nodded. "We played chess and talked about stuff. Cozy is really good at chess."

"I can imagine," Rarity said tartly. "Well, Sweetie Belle, do you have anything? Our train leaves in just half an hour."

"Yeah, I have it," Sweetie Belle said and levitated her saddlebags on. "I hope to see you soon, Cozy… maybe I could even get the other crusaders to come with me. Would you like that?"

Cozy saw Rarity flinch slightly at the idea. "Golly, yes! That'd be fun," Cozy chirped. "But even if they can't, I hope you can still come visit me. It gets lonely up here."

"Sure I can," Sweetie Belle said. "I'll even read up on chess in the meantime. Maybe then I can win."

"I'll practice too," Cozy said. "Alone," she added in her head.

"Sweetie Belle, we really need to leave…" Rarity interjected.

"Right, see you!" Sweetie Belle said and put her hoof in Rarity's. Rarity ignited her horn and lifted a small amulet from her saddlebags. Then they were gone with a loud "Pop!" Cozy frowned. She had hoped that maybe they would open the door out of Twilight's wing. Even if she could not escape with them at her heels, she could at least get a look at her freedom. But apparently not.


Sweetie Belle appeared again in another part of the castle. Looking around revealed that she was in a library as all the walls were covered in high bookcases, stretching up… and up…

In fact, were those clouds in the top of the room? Sweetie Belle squinted to better see if the thin, white mist that seemed to hang near the roof was actually clouds, or just a trick of the light. As she stared, she saw a very familiar purple pony glide down from the top of the tower in gentle spirals.

"Sweetie Belle, can I have a word with you before you leave?" Twilight called from high above.

"Do we have time?" Sweetie Belle asked her sister.

"Twilight told me she wanted to meet you after," Rarity confirmed. "I feel bad for lying to Cozy about needing to leave, but you are the only pony she had said more than ten words to since she was freed. If you could help Twilight figuring her out, then I think it will help her too in the long run."

Sweetie Belle felled her ears. "Did… you send me to Cozy just so I could spy on her?"

"I don't know what Twilight hoped to accomplish, but I for one wanted you to meet her because you wanted to meet her. Nothing else."

"Sweetie Belle…" Twilight began and landed in front of them. Evidently she had overheard some of Rarity and Sweetie Belle's conversation. "It's not that simple. I hoped you would get close to Cozy so that you could help me gain her trust, I admit that. But I also wanted her to have something to smile about. She never leaves her room except for eating, and I never hear her do anything. She needed to see another pony. And if that pony could help me reform her, then that’s all the better."

"I suppose," Sweetie Belle said. She could see Twilight's perspective, but it still did not feel perfectly right.

"I'm not forcing you to tell me anything, Sweetie Belle," Twilight said. "But if you think there is something I should know about how to better understand Cozy Glow… well, then I'd love to know. Right now she refuses to even talk to me. I want to help her; really I do, but if she won’t let me there is only so much I can do."

"She likes chess," Sweetie Belle said. "I left her my chessboard, so maybe you could play with her? I think she’d like that." Sweetie Belle knew, however, that for Twilight to ever really understand Cozy's mentality she should explain Cozy's twisted view of friendship:

"Friendship is power, and power is everything. Nothing else matters, because there is nothing else."

Those two sentences, Sweetie Belle could feel, were the key to Cozy's whole personality. That, if anything, was what Twilight really hoped to learn.

But… how would Cozy feel if Sweetie Belle just tattled everything they had talked about to Twilight? Would a friend really do that?

"Is there… anything else you'd like to tell me?" Twilight asked. Evidently she had picked up on Sweetie Belle's hesitation.

"Yeah… but I don't think I can yet," Sweetie Belle said sadly. "I'm really sorry, but… Cozy is my friend, and I don’t think she wants me to say everything to you… not yet anyway."

Twilight nodded gravely. "I understand." She smiled a little. "I'm actually happy you consider her a friend like that. If she is ever going to be redeemed, she will need friends who are willing to stick up for her."

Sweetie Belle beamed. "Thanks, Twilight."

Twilight nodded. "Well, I suppose I should go brush up on my chess. It was a while since I played. I'm sure I have some books about it here though. I'll move them up to my private library, I think… maybe Cozy would like to read them."

Sweetie Belle wondered if it was rude to point out that if a library this size did not have books on one of the oldest and most popular games in Equestria, then Twilight really needed to broaden her interests.


"This is not a good idea…" Rumble thought glumly as he proceeded with his idea. He knew Twilight liked to spend some time in the private castle library (or rather, one of the private castle libraries) after lunch, and there should be no reason for her not to be there now. Since lunch was done, it also meant that Rumble himself now had a little while before he needed to report back to Ramson to help with dinner. He often spent much of his extra time in the kitchen anyway though. Even if he had never explicitly said it, Ramson demanded Rumble practiced on his own too.

But today he would not spend time memorizing the spice storage. No, he had to check on Sheltered Light. Twilight's secret daughter and imprisoned in the princess's private wing. He had never seen her, but just listening to her talking yesterday had told him how afraid she was. Rumble had never been in a similar situation, but he knew that if he was, then he could always count on his big bro to be there for him. Poor Sheltered though, did not have anypony at all. The only pony she got to meet was her oppressor.

So Rumble had decided to visit her to make sure she was still okay. It still sounded incredible that Princess Twilight would actually hurt another pony, much less her own daughter, but on the other hand he knew what he had heard. Somepony clearly was being kept in Twilight's wing, and that too sounded completely wrong in every sense. Since that evidently was true, perhaps the rest was not so impossible after all?

There was only one way to be sure. He had to hear from Sheltered again, even if he could not stay too long before Ramson started looking for him.

He glanced over his shoulder. Maybe Twilight was omniscient now and knew what he was up to? "This is not a good idea…"

He knocked on the door and tried not to look guilty. If Twilight opened he could just say he wanted to ask about what she wanted for dinner. "Hello? Are you in there?" He did not want to call out Sheltered's name. If he did and Twilight heard, then he could look forward to a millennium or two on the moon.

"Hellooo?"

He heard hoof steps behind the door. They sounded light, like a foal's. "Rumble? Is that you?"

"Yes, Sheltered! I wanted to see if you were okay. If you thought Twilight was going to hurt you and… stuff."

"Golly, I didn’t think you'd worry about me… but I'm okay. She did not hurt me after all. In fact, she promised she'd be out for the entire day."

Rumble furrowed his brow. "But… isn’t she really mean to you? Why did she promise you to be out then?"

"I don’t think it was for my sake," Sheltered sighed after a moment's hesitation. "She is like that, manipulating ponies to think she is better than she really is. She probably wanted to meet one of her friends and tried to fool me into thinking she cared about me."

"Oh…" Rumble said. "I suppose that makes sense?" he said, only half believing it himself.

"But I'm really happy you are here!" Sheltered chirped. "It's really kind of you to come to me. I don't feel so alone when you are around."

Rumble pushed his questions and doubts about Twilight away. Right here, right now was a pony who wanted to talk and be with him. He could think about Twilight and who she was and was not later. "I'm happy to be here too. There are no other foals in the castle, so I don't have anypony else to talk to either."

"But you must hear stuff around the castle, right?" Sheltered asked. "Can't you tell me what's going on out there in Equestria? I don't get to know anything up here."

"Sure, I can tell you. What do you want to know?"

"Anything!" Sheltered said. "But… if you know anything about the Wonderbolts that'd be the best."

"My brother is a Wonderbolt cadet," Rumble said proudly. "He's going to do the tryouts for becoming part of the main team next time they are announced."

"Wow…" there was another sigh, hard to hear behind the door. "I wish I could get out to fly… I think that's what I miss the most… Just feeling the wind in my feathers."

Rumble did not know what to say to that. "You are a pegasus, right? Not an alicorn?"

"Golly, to be an alicorn… bet Twilight would not treat me like this then."

Again, Rumble felt sadness well up for Sheltered Light. Pegasi were not meant to be trapped like that. "I really wish I could help you, you know. I was sick with the feather flu for weeks once, and my bro had me stay inside all the time. I hated it."

Sheltered did not answer.

"Hey, Sheltered? Who is your favorite Wonderbolt?" If there was one subject that could always lead to conversation between pegasi, it was this one. Hopefully that could lighten up their conversation a little.

"Fleetfoot, I think," Sheltered answered. "She's the only one who really wants to be the best, no matter the cost. Nopony is going to stop her from winning! And she's the fastest!"

"I like Soarin," Rumble said. "He's laid-back and cool, but still a master flyer."

"But Fleetfoot is better," Sheltered said. "She's got the record time on the Cloudrush Raceway and has more derby titles than anypony else."

"Well, Soarin is the most powerful flyer of them," Rumble defended. "He's the only one who has ever flown from Manehattan to Las Pegasus without landing once. And he's a stallion, so that's even harder for him."

"What does that have to do with anything?" Sheltered snapped. "He's not better because he is a stallion."

"Well, he is heavier than the mares," Rumble said. "It's harder for him to fly long distances."

"He's stronger too, and has a larger wingspan," Sheltered said. "Besides, speed is the most important thing for the Wonderbolts anyway."

"Is not! Endurance is much harder to train yourself to! You can't train yourself to speed the way you can to endurance."

"Nopony would pay to see somepony fly endless circles! Speed is way more exciting!"

"I still thinks his endurance is more impressive, even if it's not the coolest thing to watch," Rumble grumbled. "But I suppose you're kind of right… My bro got me tickets to the derby this weekend, and I guess I'm there to see the speed too."

"See? Told you," Sheltered said cheekily.

The two silenced for a little while, but it was a content, friendly type of silence, before they continued to swap memories from their favorite Wonderbolt moments. Sheltered Light was actually relatively well-informed on this subject. But then again, every pegasus would be informed about the Wonderbolts.

"Hey, do you know what time it is?" Rumble asked suddenly.

"You must have been here for maybe half an hour?" Sheltered answered.

"Oh buck my-! Eh, I mean… darn! I need to get back to the kitchen!" Rumble said. "I can try to get back to you, if you want, but I think Ramson might murder me if I'm not back five minutes ago!" He quickly stepped towards the stairs down to the kitchen.

"I'd like to talk more," he heard Sheltered say as he galloped down.

"Okay, great!" he called back.


It was nice with visitors. Playing chess and just talking with another foal about random stuff was a nice change of pace for Cozy. Sweetie Belle was not bad, she had concluded. She might be a bit dense and very naïve, but she was still fun to be around and she had experienced much in her tries to get her cutie mark. She always had something to say about the most varied subjects and made for a good conversationalist. And Rumble too was a nice surprise. She had not expected to make contact with a pony outside of her prison for a long time yet. And while a foal like Rumble would only have limited use, at least he could help her pass the time. So, all in all, today marked the first day in a long time when Cozy could smile and laugh with another pony.

She was happy about both her visits, even if the emptiness that followed made her feel all the more alone. She was really thankful Sweetie had left the chessboard and pieces. At least then she could play around a little with it. She had already thrown out the pieces at random on the board a few times and then tried to win in the shortest amount of moves. It had been fun for a while, but she still felt the wariness of isolation beginning to return.

Putting the pieces back, she debated internally if it was okay for her to pick up one of the puzzles Twilight had left her with. She hated to depend on Twilight, but the alternative was thinking about the freedom of the open skies that was so cruelly denied her. Faced with that choice, she opted for a 500-pieces puzzle of Cloudsdale. It was not an easy one, with all white and blue. She had decided to piece together the rainbows first, and then try to build the rest of the city from them.

A shy knock on her door interrupted her and made her wings flare in a defensive reflex. There could only be one pony who knocked now.

"Cozy? Are you there?" Twilight asked.

"No, I've escaped and now I'm trying to figure out how to imprison you in stone," Cozy snapped back.

"I just thought you might want to play a game of chess with me?" Twilight said hopefully.

Cozy huffed in annoyance, if not surprise. Of course Twilight would try to milk Sweetie Belle for information about Cozy's weaknesses. It probably was not even hard to get Sweetie to talk, with her being so naïve. In all fairness, Cozy should have realized Twilight would not let anypony see her if it did not help her agenda somehow.

"Then you thought wrong!" Cozy shouted. "You can go play with your precious friends!"

She could almost hear Twilight slink back dejectedly. She grinned at the thought.

"There… is some food for you, if you want," Twilight said sadly. "I'll be in my room. Goodnight, Cozy. Sweet dreams."

Cozy did not answer, but glared at her door with her ears listening for the sound of hoofsteps. Once she was sure Twilight had left, she carefully opened her door and went to eat.

A plate with quesadillas stood on her side of the table. Six triangular slices topped with some spices. She thought it was coriander, but she was never good at spices. Cozy looked quizzically at it. Up until now her food had been much more… generic than this. Maybe Twilight liked quesadillas and ordered them specifically? But why did the plate look completely untouched?

Not that it mattered. Quesadillas were not bad, and she was hungry. She picked one up and started eating.

They were really good. Crispy outside and still warm on the inside with a pleasant blend of spices and cheese. She could see why Twilight would want these. She helped herself to another one. About halfway through she realized that there was something wrong. That was not cheese… she spat out the offending object, half expecting it to be an errant piece of bread or something.

Instead she found herself looking at a small piece of paper placed inside the bread. She was just about to open it, but realized that this was not a good place. Twilight could come in here at any time. Cozy removed the bread cover and quickly stashed the note inside her mane. She did not think Twilight was keeping an eye on her right now, but she'd sooner trust a cobra than Twilight. Cozy continued to eat as slow as normal (she hoped), and then made her way back to her room. She unfurled the small note with eager hooves.

Sheltered Light

Ramson did not kill me!

I thought a bit about our situation, and I don't think I can come back to the door. I met Twilight in the stairs with a lot of books. If we had talked for five more minutes she would have caught us.

I won't be at the door anymore, but if you want to send notes to me, I will be sure to go through the dishes to find them.

I don't know if you have any say in the food being served, but if you do, I think I can get notes in to you through quesadillas. Ramson, the head castle chef, says Twilights hates quesadillas, so she should not find any notes hidden inside them.

I hope we can meet again somehow.

Don't give up!

Rumble

Cozy balked slightly in surprise. She knew her cutie mark gave her a penchant for swaying ponies to her help, especially foals, but she had not expected Rumble to help her like this. This type of reaction was something she had never seen before. But then again, Rumble thought Cozy was Twilight's daughter. What pony wouldn't want to get close to her for status or favors in the future? That made sense, when she thought about it.

It was a rare thing that other ponies earned Cozy's respect. Nearly no ponies valued the same traits as her. Craftiness, ambition and guile were all things she valued that clashed with the kindness and selflessness that most other ponies held for so holy. But Rumble seemed to be a bit more pragmatic than most others. To defy Twilight and get close to Cozy for future favors was something Cozy could respect.

Not that it mattered; all that mattered was that this numbskull was exactly what Cozy needed. She had a pawn on the outside! Cozy felt her breath come a little faster at the mere thought. She needed to think. She needed to plan how to play this game.

But first she had to contact Rumble again. Before he could be of real use she needed to know how his mind worked. What limits did he have? What could she expect from him? How far would he go for her? She needed to get into his head, and to do that she needed to talk to him again.

So how could she meet him? Like Rumble said, the door was a risky proposition now, but it did have one major advantage: they did not see each other. That was important, because unless Rumble had been living under a rock she would be recognized instantly if they met eye to eye. If he learned who she was then he would probably not care more about her, so that had to be avoided.

She looked around her room. Was there something in here she could use?

Her eyes fell on the balcony. Or rather, on the curtains next to it.

And Rumble was a pegasus. Perfect!

Cozy rushed to find a paper and her crayons.