“This is… not good.” Twilight stammered a bit as she read the final part, Zecora closing the book once she was finished. “If somepony in PonyVille has taken this… Groke’s most valued object… then all of us could be in serious danger! I mean, look what she did to Spike!”
“I don’t even wanna call that thing a she!” Spike piped up as he was getting out of the brewing pot and drying off. “Even if it is a she, she’s the most ugliest thing I’ve se-“ Zecora quickly shut Spike up with a hoof to his mouth.
“Be quiet fool, and think before talking! There’s no telling where the Groke might be walking.” She warned him, before letting go of his mouth, and went up to her pot again, stirring it a few times. “It is safe to go back now, however, which you should. I can’t keep you here forever; it would not do any good.” Twilight just nodded slowly as she and Spike were told to go back, but she was still scared to go out. What if that Groke thing still was out there? What if she’d appear right behind a corner? Carefully, she nudged the door open, her eyes closed as she just listened for anything; something dragging along the ground, a crunch of snow, a growl… but no such sounds came. She opened her eyes, and saw that the clouds had all disappeared, and the weather was surprisingly clear, with the sun shining down.
“But… But this…” she said, trying to find a logical reason behind it all. “This can’t be… the weather was awful just a few seconds ago! How can it be so clear right now?”
“The Groke causes more than the ground to turn grim; when she walks in the sun, the skies will go dim.” Zecora explained as she kept fixing with her ointments and potions, and Spike went up to his mother-figure, patting her flank gently.
“Don’t worry, Twilight… I may have been frozen last time, but this time, if I so much as see that thing, she’s roasted!” he promised, trying to be brave for Twilight, so that she’d at least be a little comforted. It worked, as the violet unicorn smiled softly, with a small nod.
“Thanks, Spike… you’re a very brave little dragon.” She said as she’d lift him up on her back, and then walked away from Zecora’s hut. The walk was excruciatingly long for the two of them, or at least it felt that way as they looked around themselves with each step they took, at each turn they rounded, and with each, slight noise they heard. It was evident that the experience had done more than just scared them up a great amount, but finally, they both exited the Everfree Forest, without meeting that horrible thing again…
Or so they thought.
“Twilight…” Spike whimpered a bit as he hid behind her mane. “She’s… back!” Twilight was worried as well. She did not want to face that horrible being again if she could choose not to, but that growling noise hadn’t come from any place close to them, luckily. However, it did come from…
“Wait…” she said, as she tried hearing it again. She heard the same growling noise again, and then she was assured of where it came from… which made her even more worried. “That came from Sweet Apple Acres! Oh god, if Applejack is there, she’s in trouble! Spike, hold on tight!” she told Spike as the dragon clutched onto her mane, and her horn began glowing brightly as there was a bright flash of light, and then both of them were gone. She had teleported to Sweet Apple Acres, but she hoped it was not too late.
”Hey, wha’ in the hay do ya think yer doin’?!” Applejack shouted at the unknown, rather scary being that had invaded her farm’s perimeters, which was now strolling across the apple tree fields, all the new sprouts and plants having withered away since long ago. Sure, she was feeling rather cold in its presence, and it made her shiver just a bit, but if anyone dared to damage or ruin her apple plants, they’d be lucky if she hadn’t already Apple Bucked them into next week. “Get outta ‘ere right this instant, or I’ma send Big Mac on ya! Ya ‘ear me?!” but the Groke didn’t seem to listen, or care. She was just looking at her with that gloomy, scary frown of hers, and her glaring eyes.
“Ya heard mah sister! Get outta ‘ere!” a bright yellow filly shot out from underneath Applejack as she rushed right up to the Groke, not a single ounce of fear in her on the outside. Applebloom was just as protective of the farm as Applejack, and she wasn’t gonna let some big ghost destroy it. “Or I’ma get mah Crusaders and trample ya on yer toes!” suddenly, the Groke seemed to look at Applebloom with a slight smile, but even that was creeping both the Apple Family Ponies out.
“Ggrrrhh!” the Groke was growling in a somewhat happy tone, and began to stretch her arms out for the small filly, who’d instantly change attitude from a confident and brave filly, to an utterly shocked and scared little pony, as she cowered from her grisly hands coming closer and closer. But then she felt a rough nip on her back, and she was taken away by her sister, who leapt backwards the moment she had Applebloom, and put her down beside herself. This however, seemed to make the Groke annoyed, and her frown returned as her growl became angry. “Gggrrrrrrrhhh!”
“Don’t ya dare touch mah lil’ sis!” Applejack scowled as she glared at the monstrous Groke. She didn’t know why, but it was her sisterly intuition that told her that something bad was going to happen to her sister filly if she didn’t drag her out of there. “Now start runnin’, or I’ma Apple Buck ya so hard ya’ll see double fer a week!” this, the Groke seemed to understand as a threat, and she just frowned as she turned away and walked off, back towards Everfree Forests. “Hmph! Serves ya right, ya freak o’ nature!” she yelled after her, and then turned to her little sister. “Lil’ sis, y’alright?”
“Y-Yea’… thanks fer savin’ me, big sis!” she said with a shaky tone, nuzzling Applejack’s legs as a bright flash then occurred, as Twilight Sparkle and Spike appeared. “Twilight! Spike! Y’all just missed something cool! Kinda creepy, but cool!” she shouted at them, but Twilight went right up to Applejack.
“A.J, I’m so relieved to see you’re alright!” he said with a sigh of relief, looking around and seeing the ground along the farm being frozen. “She’s been here, hasn’t she?” she demanded, and Applejack, clueless of the being’s real name, tilted her head a bit. “The monster! The Groke!”
“Tha Groke? Now wha’ in tarnation is that?” the orange mare asked as she looked over at the frozen soil and withered plants. “If tha’s wha’ just was ‘ere and ruined mah plants, then yea’, she was ‘ere alright! Tried ta touch mah lil’ sis, too, but I got ‘er outta dere in the nick o’time!”
“Well that was excellently done of you, A.J. If she had been touched by that thing… she would’ve frozen to ice.” Twilight explained to Applejack, who seemed a bit shocked and worried.
“Frozen t’ice? Y’all can’t be serious!” she protested.
“Believe me, that thing can!” Spike added in as he looked at Applejack. “She touched me, and I had to get thawed up by Zecora to get back to normal.” Not that it was a really supernatural feat, since anypony could just whip up a warm bath to thaw someone up, but it seemed to convince Applejack slightly as she just had a shocked look on her face.
“Well, t’was good tha’ Applebloom didn’t get touched, then.” She just confirmed, and looked back at the frozen soil. “So… tha’ thing was called the ‘Groke’, am I right?” Twilight nodded. “Well, what we standin’ ‘round ‘ere for?! Time t’kick that fella’s butt!”
“No, A.J! We can’t do that, it’d be rude! Besides, she’s just looking for something, I bet.” The violet pony explained.
“Lookin’ fer somethin’? Then why the buck did she come t’ Sweet Apple Acres an’ ruin mah sprouts!” Applejack protested, frowning a bit.
“Well, we have to gather the others, A.J. This could be serious trouble for everypony in Ponyville. Fetch Fluttershy and Rarity. I’ll go get Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. And do it quick!” with a quick nod, Applejack was off to Fluttershy’s cottage, while Twilight once more teleported away, this time appearing outside Rainbow Dash’s house. “Rainbow! Rainbow, please be there! We have some serious problems on our hooves!” she finally walked out of the front door, but she seemed to be in a terrible state. She was groaning and rubbing her eyes, and her wings seemed a bit limp.
“What? What is it?” she said with a half-yawn. “Sorry… just been up all yesterday cleanin’ up clouds…” Twilight figured that it had been caused by the Groke when she appeared, but… wait. Did she say ‘yesterday’? Did she spend the rest of Saturday in a coma after meeting that fiend? She shook her head a bit. “Twilight, what’s up?” the drowsy Pegasus asked.
“N-Nothing…” she said, calming down for a bit. “Now look, Rainbow, I know you’re still sleepy, but you need to shake it off for now. There’s some really serious business to be dealt with, and everypony in Ponyville could be in danger!” as Twilight explained it all, Rainbow was looking at her with a sort of half-interested expression, her eyes groggy from lack of sleep, and her ears just flopping about lazily.
“Uh-huh…” was her final reply, spoken in a sluggish tone as she just groaned again. “Look, I dunno if I can make it unless I shake off some sleep, but thanks for telling me about-!” she yelped in mid-sentence as Twilight had forced a full rain cloud over and squeezed it like a sponge, soaking Rainbow Dash in water as she was fully awake by now. “Dang it, Twilight! Warn me next time, ‘kay?” she asked her with a grumpy tone, shaking off the water.
“I will try and remember.” She giggled a bit. “Now please, let’s get a move on. I reckon that Applejack has already gotten to Flutter-“
“-shy! That came from Fluttershy’s cottage! We have to get a move on!”
The small garden just outside of Fluttershy’s cottage had begun to wither and decay, and the water in the small creak running along had frozen deep-solid. The trees were all lined with frost, as were the bird houses in them, and there was a trail of snow and footsteps on the bridge over the creak, as upon the road up to Fluttershy’s cottage, the Groke was seen walking slowly towards the warmth of the house…