The snowy winds were raging hard outside of Twilight’s library as the winter was still far from over, and all the ponies in Ponyville had sought refuge in their homes during the relatively small, yet still raging blizzard. Spike had just managed to get a big, nice and cozy fire blazing in the fireplace, and Twilight sighed for herself as she was looking through some of the books in her shelves.
“Seriously, did it have to burst up into a blizzard right now?” she asked herself as her horn glowed and she stacked a few books up in two piles. “These books have to get delivered to Zecora today, and I have to walk through this weather? Give me a break!”
“Well, you did kind of plan a bad day to deliver books on, Twilight…” Spike said modestly as he picked out Twilight’s book-bags which he’d help strap onto her back and around her belly. “I mean, you heard what Rainbow Dash and the other Weather Pegasi told you; harsh blizzard expected on Saturday afternoon!” the violet unicorn just groaned as she was proved to have picked a bad time, but just scoffed a bit.
“Fine, I was wrong this time around. But I’m still going to get these books out on time. I mean, it’s just a really snowy weather, we can deal with that, can’t we?” she smiled a bit as she stepped into a winter coat, using her magic to pull up the zipper until it was shut, and then put on two pairs of thick winter boots, along with her scarf around her neck. “There we go! Spike, you ready to go?” she asked, turning to notice Spike being dressed in a rather ridiculously thick jacket which made him look all poofed up. “Oh Spike… well, that’s the only coat I have in your size, so I hope you can bear with it…”
“Not a problem, Twilight!” he said as he gave her a thumbs up, but then his ear twitched a bit, as if he was catching something. “Hm? What was that?” he waddled up to the window to look out at the flurry of snow that was blowing past it, as well as the snow-covered ground out on the streets of Ponyville. What had he heard? Probably the wind… but no, wait. There was something out there… not somepony, but… something… he couldn’t see too clear with all the snow blocking the view, but what he managed to make out was something that, for some unclear reason, made him shudder with an unknown fear; far away, he could see the blurred-out figure of something shaped as a hill, slowly dragging itself along the snowy ground, before it turned itself to face right in his direction, and Spike could make out two gleaming dots in the dark figure, and a sinister-looking frown. As if to top off Spike’s horrible discovery, he could’ve sworn he heard a distant sound… a growl;
“WAAAAAH!” Spike jumped away from the window and rushed right underneath Twilight Sparkle, hiding underneath her and coiling his tail up in fear. Twilight just gasped a bit as the dragon rushed underneath her and looked down at him, tilting one of her brows.
“Spike, what has flown into you?” she asked him with a gentle tone of voice, leaning her head down to nuzzle him as he was just shivering.
“O-O-O-O-O-Outside…” Spike stammered and whimpered, holding over his eyes and shaking while Twilight shrugged a bit and moved over to look outdoors. Looking out the window, she saw…… nothing.
“Spike, what in all of Equestria is it that you are sputtering about? There’s nothing outside the window…” she told him as he’d perk his head up a bit from his fetal position.
“B-But it was there! I saw it! Something big and scary…” he whimpered as he stood up, holding his tail nervously and fiddling with the tip of it. Twilight just rolled her eyes at him as she’d walk up to the two small piles of books, using her magic to levitate them into the bags on her back, shutting them as well.
“Oh don’t be silly, Spike! No one would be crazy enough to go out in a weather like this!” she told him firmly as he was about to open his mouth again, and as she noticed him about to protest about the fact that they were going out in it, she turned and looked sternly at him. “No ‘buts’, young man! Look, I’m sorry I’m kind of sounding mean… but we have to get these books to Zecora! I know she lives in the Everfree Forest, and that it is kind of dark outside with the snow and winter and what-not, but we can’t keep a fellow Pony waiting. After all, she did help us all out when we were struck by Poison Joke…” remembering that time, Spike couldn’t resist a small, muffled chuckle as he’d hold his snout to keep himself from laughing out loud, and Twilight just frowned a bit. “Just… let’s be on our way, alright?”
“Right, coming!” Spike piped out as he’d run up to Twilight and leap up on her back, the pony smiling as she’d nod and open the door… the moment she did, both of them were met by a face-full of snow as the winds blowing were keeping the door open, and they struggled their best to get out, and Twilight closed the door with some effort, sighing afterwards.
“This is gonna be a long trip…”
Luckily for both Twilight Sparkle and Spike, however, it seemed that the weather seemed to calm down during their walk towards Everfree Forest, the horrible gales having reduced to only a few small gusts of wind by now, and the snow falling less frequently. Twilight was just glad that the weather had settled down to a more favorable level, whilst Spike was still fretting slightly over the slightest noise that was made around them.
“Spike, honestly…” the violet unicorn stopped for a while and looked over at him. “What is it that’s got you so spooked? I mean, you’re never this scared of something. Especially something that clearly doesn’t exist.”
“B-B-But I did see it!” Spike whined a bit as he looked around frantically; trying to make sure they were okay. He hadn’t seen whatever it was for a while now, but the mere sight of it had made him hope that they’d never encounter it, whatever it was.
“Well, what exactly was it?” Twilight demanded, smirking a bit as she knew that she’d be able to outsmart Spike.
“Well, it was… it was… I don’t know, the snow was too thick in the wind!” the dragon frowned a bit as Twilight pulled her tactics.
“A-ha! So therefore it could have been anything! Maybe it was just Big Mac or someone else.” She said, slightly victorious in her tone, before chuckling with a soft smile. “Don’t worry Spike, I’m sure it was nothing special. Now let’s get these books to Zecora, and we’ll be back in the library before you’ll say ‘Okey-dokey-lokey’!” she just realized she sounded like Pinkie Pie, and sighed a bit, face-hoofing herself. “Why do I use those terms…” she muttered, but then noticed something else; the world around them had turned a lot darker, and as she looked up, the skies had all been clouded up with dark clouds. “What’s this… the clouds are blocking out the sun… oh well, I bet the Weather Pegasi will be on it…” she said as she went on, walking towards the opening to Everfree Forest, with Spike still clutching onto her back tightly.
“I-I just don’t know about this…” he said slowly as he looked around the now much darker forest, the only light being provided being the subtle ‘glow’ coming from the snow’s pearl white blankets. “I-I mean, I’ve heard of dark mornings, but this is silly! It’s not supposed to be this dark in the morning!”
“It’s just how the Everfree Forest usually is, Spike.” Twilight told him dismissively as she kept walking onwards, not really being intimidated by their darkened surroundings. She had been scared a few earlier times, but after living in Ponyville for a while, she didn’t really think of it as scary anymore. Besides, right now she was focused on getting the books to Zecora, and nothing else. She wanted this to be over with as quick as possible so he and Spike could enjoy some hot cocoa and marshmallows in front of their fireplace, while waiting for spring to turn around the corner. The snow crunched softly under her dressed hooves as she walked, taking the quickest way to Zecora she knew of. What she didn’t notice, however, was that behind her, some of the winter-blooming flowers and grass were beginning to die down, and wither at a very quickened pace. One who did notice this, however, was Spike, and he cowered behind Twilight’s tail as he saw this. This was way more unnatural than the Everfree Forest usually got. Just then, he heard that noise again.
“A-Aahh… T-T-Twilight…” Spike stammered as he heard the growling sounds, ears flattening to his head as he clattered with his teeth. Twilight just rolled his eyes.
“Will you calm down a bit, Spike?” she demanded. “It was probably nothing more than the wi-“
“Ggggrrrrrrrrrhhh…” the growl was suddenly heard again, like it was very close to them, and right after that, the sound of trees breaking behind them echoed in the forests, making even Twilight Sparkle stop dead in her tracks. A shiver ran along her spine.
“T-T-That was probably just a Timber Wolf, S-Spike… w-we can take it easily…” she stammered too, realizing Spike had been telling the truth by now. She took one more step forward…
“A-A-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!! T-TWILIGHT!!” Spike yelled as he yanked in her mane and tried to make her look behind herself, and while the mare yelped and almost jumped into the air from the shock, she was just about to scold Spike… when she got a glance behind herself. And that’s when her entire body became rigid as a stick, her limbs refusing to move even if she’d scream at them to run, and her eyes wide in both shock and fear. What she saw behind herself was out of this world, and whatever it did to her, it was making her freeze to the core of her little pony body, and feel an unspeakable feeling of horror and dread; The thing was a towering, ghost-like creature with a hill-shaped body, a big, hideous nose, and two long-fingered hands. But the most hideous, fearful detail of its body was those two, soulless gleaming eyes, staring down at her like a pair of headlights, and that big, shining white-teethed frown on its face. Its growls were heard clear as daylight by now, and from what she would notice near its robe-like bottom, the ground was frozen solid. But she was just frozen in place by looking at it, not knowing what to do. Scream her lungs out for help? Run as soon as she could muster herself to do so? Confront it with her magic? No, she dared not do the latter, or the first… she just wanted to run. But she couldn’t!
“W-W-W-W-W-W-W-What…” she stammered for a long time, just staring up at the horrible, dread-inspiring being. “W-W-What is that……”
Once more with its intimidating growl, the being suddenly took one step towards Twilight, dragging its body along the ground. Twilight yelped in fear, wanting to crawl up into a ball and hide somewhere… but she still couldn’t move. Spike, however, tried to be brave as he leaped up from Twilight’s back and stood in front of her.
“D-D-D-Don’t you dare take another step towards her!” he’d threaten the unknown being, stammering still, but standing his ground. “I-I-If you as much as touch her, you’ll have a dragon on your neck! I’m warning y-“ but as Spike would look again, the monster was towering above him, glaring down at him with those soulless eyes, just standing still over him. Spike gulped loudly, before realizing one of its hands began moving towards him. “W-W-Wait, w-what… w-w-what are you doing?! N-No! Stop! D-D-Don’t touch me! NO! STO-“ his voice was suddenly silenced as all that was heard afterwards was ice-cold silence. Twilight gasped as she heard his voice’s sudden end, and looked up to see Spike… frozen solid. His tiny little body covered in a thin layer of ice, even with some icicles hanging from his nose, tail and hands.
“SPIKE!” she screamed in fear, not wanting to believe that her baby dragon was frozen solid, but was then realizing that it was getting colder around her, and she was soon shaken down to her very foundations as she felt the looming gaze of the being now traveling upon her body. She saw no way out; her limbs would not obey her, her voice was betraying her, and she was cornered by the giant being as its hand stretched out for her, prepared to encase her in an equally icy tomb……
That’s when finally, all the fear and coldness in her body came to her senses, and she blacked out.
“Wake up, wake up, you dread-filled filly! Pray that the monster has not scared you silly…”
“U-uuugh… my head…” Twilight would feel herself come to her senses again, shaking her head as she woke up, finding herself to be someplace warm again, finally. She took her time to get used to the blurry vision, but finally straightened it out and saw she was in Zecora’s hut, her body being warm and thankfully not turned to ice, and finally saw the zebra in front of her. “Z-Zecora?”
“It’s good to hear you’re awake, my friend… but don’t be hasty to call me a heaven-send…” she spoke in her native tone, walking over to a pot with boiling water, where Spike was lying, thawed out of his icy coverage and just relaxing as good as he could, with the horrible memories he had. “Your little one seems to take it well. But I can tell, his mind has gone through hell.” Zecora spoke anew as she’d push a rare tome up to Twilight, showing her a text and an old image of the same being she had encountered, and Twilight shivered slightly at just seeing it. “Just read, and behold. A monster from Ponytales of old.” Twilight peered at the text, and began reading.
“The… Groke… an ancient being said to be as old as Equestria itself. She is said to be the embodiment of loneliness, having been born long before ponies ever wandered this earth, and longs for a friend of her own. She got so lonely, in fact, that the ground around her started to get cold from the sheer amount of loneliness she felt, and finally, things began to freeze from her touch. Some say she has been forbidden to ever be with anypony, because of her mere appearance putting fear in anyone’s hearts, or because of her power to freeze anything she touches. And others claim that all she wants to cause is misery for those who have friends in their lives. One thing is certain though; if you take something the Groke values highly…” the last part she read with a gulp; “S-She’ll chase you for eternity…”
“This is what I fear, for all of Ponyville… if someone’s taken Groke’s prize, it will all be downhill…”