“There there, Angel. Make sure you’re all nice and cuddled up in there.” Fluttershy smiled in her usual nervous ways as she was tucking in her pet rabbit Angel into his bed, the rabbit just frowning a bit as he had his arms crossed. “Now Angel, please don’t make a fuss about it… you need your beauty sleep, or you’ll be all grumpy.” She tried to persuade him the nicest she could, and Angel just frowned, but did as he was told and soon cuddled up to fall asleep. “Ooh, aren’t you the most adorable little bunny.” She smiled warmly, giving him a soft nuzzle as she then sneezed a bit, but turned her nose away from Angel before she did so.
“Oh my… it’s gotten really cold all of a sudden. I thought I had made a…” she turned to a fireplace in her cottage, but there was no fire burning in it. The wooden chunks, which had just a few moments ago been engulfed in flames, were just lying there now, all burnt out even if it was a lot left to burn. “… nice… fire. What happened to it?” she went over to the fireplace, trying to figure out what had happened with the nice fire she had going in there. A fire just couldn’t go out by itself, could it? She tried to re-light it with some matches nearby, being as careful as she could as she tried not to burn herself, but the cold was getting to her as her hooves were shivering. She was beginning to ask herself what this unearthly cold came from. It was nothing like she’s ever sensed before! What she didn’t notice, however, was that something had opened up the door, the handle frozen solid from the touch alone, and that something was striding into her cottage, leaving naught but a trail of snow and ice behind itself. And a great, terrifying shadow looming over her back as she tried to ignite the matches, but whenever she tried, they all died out quicker than a desert melts ice. She was about to just forget about it all and try later, when she felt the cold shadow upon her, and feeling something close up on her, not seeing that something was reaching for her flank, and then…
The Pegasus squealed loudly in fear as her flank was touched and flew straight up into the air, latching onto the lamp in the roof and dangling there as she looked down to see Twilight Sparkle, Spike and Rainbow Dash down below, and soon enough, she saw Applejack and Rarity barge in through the already-open door.
“Wha’ in the hay happened ‘ere?” she exclaimed. “Ah heard Fluttershy scream an’ thought she was getting’ ponynapped!”
“Goodness gracious, what a mess there is in here!” Rarity made an exasperated gasp as she saw the thick trail of snow and ice on the floor. “Honestly, this is not how I’d leave my boutique! Not ever!” Fluttershy just sighed in relief as she floated down to the floor and smiled nervously.
“I-I am sorry…” she said slowly. “I just thought… something was behind me.” She looked at the door, thankfully and blissfully unaware of the thing that could have just grabbed her.
“Well, let’s go to the Sugarcube Corner and I’ll tell you about what’s going on.” Twilight said, a bit of sternness in her tone.
As the five ponies of the Mane 6 reached PonyVille again, however… it looked like a disaster. Something had been dragging itself all over the place, and what was worse; The houses, the stands, the carts, even some of the ponies… everything was frozen solid. Except a few buildings, thankfully including the Carousel Boutique, Twilight’s library, and Sugarcube Corner. But it was still a shocking sight to behold as Twilight was unable to comprehend it all. Had the Groke done all this? All in search for her ‘treasure’?
“Holy guacamole!” Rainbow exclaimed as she zoomed all over the place, inspecting some of the frozen ponies. “It’s all deep-frozen! I know winters are cold, but gimme a break!”
“Must’a been tha’ ‘Groke’ thing tha’ Twilight mentioned…” Applejack muttered as she tapped on the flank of one of the ponies, recognizing her as DJ-P0N3, her usual grin of joy missing from her face as a look of shock was on her muzzle. “An’ she don’ seem t’be happy.”
“But what in all of Equestria could this horrid creature be looking for?” Rarity said as she looked around. “And why here in Pony-…” her eyes lit up in stars. “Oooh! Maybe it is here to get some of my newest collection of dresses! Why, that thing must have a sense of fashion, and came all the way to PonyVille to-“
“I do not think that it’s here for dresses…” Twilight said with a mental groan as they all went up to the bright pink bakery building, and just then the doors slammed open, and Pinkie Pie was revealed, her usual happy and over-joyous expression on her face.
“Hiiiiiiiiiiiii!” she exclaimed with a soft giggle at the end. “Oh my gosh, have you guys seen all this snow and ice?! It’s EVERYWHERE! And I literally mean, everywhere! Like, I have never seen so much snow in one place, except for that one time we all went to the top of a big, snowy mountain and-“
“Pinkie, please, we need to talk about something.” Twilight said as she looked around. “We’ll need to stay in the Sugarcube Corner for a while, is that okay?”
“Okie-dokie-lokie! Mr. and Ms. Cake have been out for quite a while anyway, so I don’t think they’d mind!” Pinkie smiled, blissfully unaware of their possible fate as they all went into the building, and then shut and locked the door. “So, why’re you guys so serious, huh huh huh? And why’s everything so cold and wintery outdoors? I mean I know it’s winter, but still, this is like, the coldest-“ she was shot down slightly by a serious glare from the others, and just smiled weakly as she’d bounce up to a table where the others stood at the moment.
“Okay… I know that some of you have seen it, others more or less, but as you probably know… PonyVille is in danger.” Twilight said with a serious tone as Spike wordlessly pulled a book out of her bag, which was the one Zecora had shown her earlier. “Thank you Spike. The things you’ve seen happening out there… ponies being frozen, trails of snow and ice flooding the roads, strange growling noises… are all caused by this being.” Spike had been flipping the pages as she spoke, and now, he turned the page to show the Groke. Everypony except Twilight began to shudder as they saw it, Fluttershy looking utterly mortified as she realized that was probably the thing that was about to touch her flank back in her cottage. “This… is the Groke. A being said to be as old as Equestria itself, and no one has seen it until today. Apparently, somepony has stolen her treasure, a thing she holds very dear, and she won’t stop causing this until the one who did it is found and put to justice. She leaves a trail of ice and snow wherever she walks, and if you as much as nudge into her, you’ll be frozen solid.”
“Now wha’ in tha hay is tha’ for some kinda abomination?” Applejack exclaimed. “Ah will not let mah lil’ sis out as lon’ as dat thing’s out ‘dere!”
“That thing looks… awful.” Fluttershy stammered with no seeming end as she just held her hooves over her eyes, not wanting to see it.
“I think it looks goofy! That silly big nose is funny!” Pinkie Pie giggled.
“This is an utter disaster! PonyVille is doomed!” Rarity wailed as she was about to whine like she usually did, but she was given a rough slap on her cheek by Applejack’s tail. “Ow! Why would you do that, you brutish earth pony?!” she demanded.
“Saddle yer back, Rarity!” she said, another way to say ‘calm down’ as she looked sternly at the fashion-crazed unicorn. “Ah’m scared to mah tailbone too, but ah’m not gon’ let dat thing ruin our beloved PonyVille!” she turned to the other of the Mane 6. “Ah say we find a way t’bring tha’ thing’s ‘treasure’ back, an’ tell it t’get the hay outta ‘ere! Anypony with me say ‘Aye!’ “
“Aye-aye, sir!” Pinkie giggled frantically and held up her hoof.
“Aye!” Rainbow Dash declared.
“W-What if it just wants to be friends with somepony…” Fluttershy stammered out a bit, cowering still at the image in her mind, but she tried keeping a weak smile on, just to be strong. Twilight sighed and looked at her.
“Honestly, Fluttershy… I don’t think that the Groke wants to make any friends.” She said with a worried tone.
“But Twilight, it said right there-“ Spike tried to pipe in, but Twilight just cut him off with a ‘Not now, Spike’, leaving him to grumble in a surly tone.
“We have to assume it won’t stop until its treasure is reclaimed… so we have to find it, and give it back to it. I know it won’t be easy, since it’s so scary… but we’ll put our hooves together for this! I promise you Fluttershy, we’re all in this together!” patting Fluttershy’s head to reassure her she was talking the truth, the pink-haired Pegasus finally smiled, and nodded a bit.
“Alright then… aye.” She said meekly, and Applejack nodded before she turned to Rarity.
“Seems like all of us has made up their minds…” she told her. “How ‘bout you? Scared t’get a lil’ chilly?” she teased her, but Rarity just turned her nose up and scoffed.
“Hmph! Out of all ponies, Applejack, you should know the most that I am not one to turn down a chance to save my beloved home! Even if this Groke might be the ugliest thing I’ve seen in my whole life, I will swallow my pride, and face it with all of you. I say aye!” she declared. Twilight just smiled a bit and nodded as all ponies finally seemed to agree.
“Alright then, since I’m in for it already, I’d say we should start looking for some clues as to what could be the Groke’s treasure.” She explained, but just then, the lights went out around them as Fluttershy screamed in panic, but was shushed down by Twilight. “Calm down, Fluttershy!” she whispered to her as all the Mane 6 and Spike looked out the windows. There was a thick mist hanging around PonyVille now, and the frost covering the windows made it slightly more difficult to see through fully. But what they did see was something small running around in the city square.
“Who in the buck is that?” Twilight asked as she peered her eyes, trying to see better. But they all gasped as a familiar voice was heard;
“Big sis? Big sis?! Where are ya? Tha’ thing came back to the farm! Ah ran away as fast as ah could, cuz it started t’get scary! Big sis, where are ya?”
“Applebloom!” without hesitation, Applejack dashed from the window and right out the door, not even listening to Twilight shouting after her to stay indoors in case the Groke was near. She did not care about some stupid ‘Groke’ right now. She had to make sure her little sister was alright. “Don’ worry none, lil’ sis! Ol’ A.J is here!” she said as she skid to a halt near her, picking her up by her neck and putting her on her back. “Now c’mon lil’ sis, we gotta get back inside b’fore…”
The moment they heard the growl behind them, Applejack’s limbs froze solid in fear. Yes, the dare-devil pony Applejack literally froze in fear, only her head obeying her as she slowly turned around to look at whatever was behind her. And there it… she was. A towering, hill-shaped figure, teeth rowed up in a frown and glaring, hollow eyes and long-fingered, grisly hands. She had been brave the time the Groke showed up near Sweet Apple Acres, because she was ruining the Apple Family’s sprouts, but now, she was only a few inches away from it, with Applebloom on her back, and her body was not obeying her. She wanted to run with all her might back to the Sugarcube, but she could not do it. She was stuck in place. The Groke let out another growl, one of its hands moving down towards the pair of Apple Family members as she was just staring at her demise, mouth open in fear as not even a gasp slipped out of it.
“B-Big sis?! Big sis! Move, please! Move, big sis, it’s gon’ grab us! Big sis!” Applebloom pleaded to her sister, trying to shake life into her as she was frantically moving away from the hand trying to grab them. It was getting closer… closer… the hand was almost nudging at Applejack’s back…
“Begone, you foul lonely monster of old! Leave them alone now, do as you’re told!”
The voice that boomed across the streets seemed to startle the beast as she looked down the icy roads to see a pair of gleaming eyes staring right at her, and backed off with a defensive growl.
“You shall not claim another to your icy grip! Not another filly shall to your cold tombs slip!”
“Listen carefully now, and you better think twice! Next time I’ll speak, I won’t be so nice!”
Finally, the Groke seemed to give herself in to the threatening tone of the voice getting to her, and she growled and turned away, leaving PonyVille in silence with a trail of snow and ice following in her wake. The mist lifted, the skies still dark, but it was easier to see now. And from the escaping clouds, Zecora emerged, having a serious frown on her face as she looked at Applejack, who had now sunk down on her front, holding her hooves over her face and shivering, her entire body pale as the snow below her. She was also heard whimpering a bit. The rest of the Mane 6 rushed out as Zecora had appeared.
“Zecora! Bless Celestia that you’re here!” Twilight exclaimed. “Applejack almost got touched by the Groke!” while she explained the situation, Fluttershy rushed over to Applejack to help her fellow pony back up on her feet, while Applebloom still tried to make her big sister talk, but she was just stuttering incoherent sentences about freezing and ice.
“This is not good, PonyVille is laid in silence. And nothing in Her path will be of defiance. What you face now is the Groke’s unrelenting wrath. She won’t stop at anything, as she treads her lonely path!”
“Well, what do you reckon we should do, then?” Rainbow Dash protested. “I don’t want my wings frozen by that thing!”
“We have to figure out what the Groke’s treasure is, and fast!” Twilight explained as she looked at Zecora. “And we will need your help, Zecora. You have the most knowledge about Equestrian monsters and creatures that live outside of PonyVille, and most knowledge of the supernatural. With your aid, I am sure we will be able to find out what this treasure is!” Zecora gave a soft nod as she’d accept the terms. “Now, let’s get to work… to the library!”