• Published 7th Dec 2015
  • 4,442 Views, 88 Comments

Grogar: A Hearth's Warming Horror Story - Jade Ring



Legend says that little ponies who don't honor the spirit of friendship on Hearth's Warming Eve will draw the attention of a beast who will take them away forever. Tonight good fillies should hide their heads... because Grogar is coming to town.

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You Better Watch Out

Applebloom peered out the window as the blizzard raged outside. She watched as the harsh winds blew around the normally fruitful spaces of Sweet Apple Acres. The wind howled and moaned against the various buildings that made up the farm as a whole. It sounded to her like the melancholy singing of some long forgotten ghost, lost and alone on a freezing Equestrian night. The old wood that made up the Apple family's farm house groaned against the dual assaults of the cold and the wind. The creaking and the moaning would have put another filly on edge, but Applebloom knew better. These timbers had held for long before the day of her birth and somehow she knew they had no intention of giving up the ghost anytime soon.

Others might not have had the same faith that she had.

"Applebloom? Are you sure that the roof isn't going to come crashing down on us in the middle of the night?"

Applebloom sighed rested her head on the window's glass. "Just like I told you the last seven times, Button; it'll be fine."

Behind her, Button Mash pawed at the floor nervously. "...you promise?"

"Button, you are really making me regret asking Applebloom to invite you over tonight." Scootaloo rolled her eyes as she sipped from her mug of warm cider.

"Scootaloo!" Sweetie Belle's voice cracked slightly as she admonished her friend from across the couch. "What a thing to say!"

Diamond Tiara sipped her own cider as she looked up from the magazine she'd been reading. "That does beg the question; why is Button Mash here? I thought this was a girl's only sleepover."

Applebloom finally pulled herself away from the window and nimbly jumped onto her nearby chair. "I never specified one way or the other. How was I supposed to know that only Button's mama would give him permission to come over?" She spared the brown colt a pitying look. "I'm sorry none of the other boys could come. You must be bored to tears."

Button Mash chuckled. "It's fine. To tell you the truth, Mom only let me come because she says I need to socialize more."

"Well, you do spend all your free time at the arcade." Silver Spoon re-entered the room and reclaimed her place on the floor beside Diamond Tiara. "But let's be honest with ourselves here; we're not just here because 'Bloom asked us over. We're here so our parents could get rid of us for the night."

"Discarded on Hearth's Warming Eve." Sweetie Belle muttered.

"So the stallions and mares can hide from the blizzard in Town Hall and drink enough hard cider to forget they even have kids." Diamond Tiara pouted.

"Man, grown-up ponies suck." Scootaloo grumbled.

"I'll thank you to respect your elders when you're in this house, little missy."

The six young pony's heads turned and watched as Applejack entered the room. She quickly removed her heavy coat and tossed it by the blazing fire to dry. She doffed her hat and began brushing the excess snow from the worn leather. Her eyes remained focused on Scootaloo. "Now... you were saying about grown-up ponies?"

Scootaloo offered an embarrassed grin. "I didn't mean they all did."

"Applejack? That you?" Granny Smith poked her head out of the kitchen. "You make the delivery alright?"

"Yes ma'am." The farmer flipped her hat over and pulled out a crumpled receipt. "Fifteen barrels of hard cider delivered to Mayor Mare personally. She said just bring this to her office the day after tomorrow and we'll get paid in full." She looked back over at the young ponies. "Yer folks say 'Hi.'"

"No they didn't." Silver Spoon muttered under her breath.

Diamond Tiara nudged her best friend in the ribs and looked past Applejack. "Where's Big Macintosh? Did you lose him in the snow?"

"Nope." Came the deep reply as Macintosh Apple strode into the room. He tossed his own coat on top of Applejack's and gestured behind him. "But we did find somepony else out there."

A stone grey mare poked her head into the room and smiled through a curtain of mane the color of gravel. "Um... Hi."

"Marble!" Applebloom ran across the room and hugged the earth pony tightly, much to the mare's discomfort and joy. "What are you doin' here?"

"The Pie family came in to see Pinkie and had to shove themselves into just one room at the Inn. I told Marble's ma and pa that we had plenty of room but Pinkie's parents had already settled in and Limestone didn’t feel like walkin’ in the snow.”

“And Maud?”

Applejack shrugged. “Maud is Maud.”

“Ain’t that the truth.” Granny muttered before turning a gummy smile to Pinkie’s twin. “Well, there’s always room for ya in this house. Make yerself comfortable. Cookies are nearly done.”

Applejack made sure Granny was safely in the kitchen before she turned to her brother and the mare next to him. “Why don’t you give Marble a quick tour of the house, Mac?” She made a point of adjusting an ornament on the decorated Hearth’s Warming tree. “Before Granny comes back, I mean.”

Mac and Marble blushed and gave each other small, shy, secret smiles. “Would you… like to see the house?” The great red stallion asked.

“Mmhmm.”

Once the love struck pair were gone and Applejack had joined her grandmother in the kitchen, the five fillies and solitary colt resumed their pre-cookie activities.

“So… is this a Hearth’s Warming Eve tradition?” Silver Spoon asked with an exaggerated yawn.

Applebloom raised an eyebrow once she’d reclaimed her chair. “Is what a tradition, exactly?”

“Sitting around until we die of boredom.”

Despite her recently reformed status, Diamond Tiara could not resist giving a mean-spirited snort of laughter. Upon seeing the Cutie Mark Crusaders withering looks, she looked away in embarrassment. “Sorry.”

“As much as I hate to admit it, Silver Spoon has a point. Are we actually going to do anything tonight?” Button Mash jumped onto the couch next to Sweetie Belle and paid no mind to her barely suppressed squeak of surprise. “In my house, we play games on Hearth’s Warming Eve.”

“There’s a shocker.” Scootaloo muttered into her cider.

Button cut his eyes at her. “And what do you do in your house, if I may ask?”

Scootaloo grinned. “Hearth’s Warming Eve in my house is the best. We do this ancient pegasi tradition called the Mystery Gift. Everypony passes around an empty box, opens it, and pretends it’s exactly what we wanted for Hearth’s Warming. The others have to guess what it is.”

Applebloom smiled. “That’s really neat, Scoots.”

“But what do you win?” Diamond Tiara shoved the magazine over to Silver Spoon and propped herself up on the pillow she was stretched out on. “The pony who guesses the most times, I mean. What do they win?”

Scootaloo crossed her forelegs and gave a cocky smirk. “The winner gets to open the first gift on Hearth’s Warming morning. I’ve won the last three years in a row.”

Diamond Tiara rolled her eyes at the orange filly’s bravado and looked to Sweetie Belle. “What about you? Do you have some old unicorn traditions?”

Sweetie Belle thought about it as she lit her horn and levitated her mug away from her and onto a nearby coffee table. “Not sure about ancient traditions. My dad drinks a lot, if that counts.”

“That’s not a tradition.” Silver Spoon whispered into Diamond Tiara’s ear. “That’s therapy fodder.”

Diamond Tiara pulled away and glared at her best friend. “Can you please stop being so rude?”

“Well excuse me for actually wanting to have fun on Hearth’s Warming Eve.”

Applebloom looked sharply at the silver filly. “Is something wrong?”

Silver Spoon rolled her eyes and returned to the magazine. “Nothing’s wrong. If we were at my house right now, we’d be opening the first gifts of Hearth’s Warming.” She looked around the room smugly. “I get so many presents each year that we have to start the night before.”

“Wow! You’re such a lucky pony!” Scootaloo let Sweetie Belle’s magic carry her own empty mug away. “I sure do wish that my parents had to buy my love every season!”

“Please, Scootaloo.” Silver Spoon narrowed her eyes at the pegasi’s sarcastic tone of voice. “Don’t get all mean just because your family is so poor that they had to come up with a tradition where you pretend that you’re excited to get literally nothing for Hearth’s Warming.”

Scootaloo’s wings flared and she jumped to the floor. “My family isn’t poor. And at least we know the real reason for the season.”

Silver Spoon pushed the magazine away and stood on her own hooves. “Just what I’d expect to hear from the girl who’s shown up these past few winters in the same ragged coat.”

“I like that coat.” She took another step forward.

“You don’t know any better.” The earth pony mirrored her.

“Stop it, Silvy.” Diamond Tiara begged. She reached out a hoof but pulled back when Silver Spoon yanked her leg away.

“Honestly, if we weren’t in Applebloom’s house right now I’d kick your flank from here to Manehatten.”

Sweetie Belle started to climb off the couch. “Scootaloo, maybe we should all calm down…”

“You wanna fight? Let’s fight.” Silver Spoon’s ears flattened, “It’ll probably make Sweetie Belle feel right at home if you start acting like her dad after too many hard ciders.”

Sweetie Belle froze, and then pulled herself back onto the couch. “I’ll do your homework for the next two months if you break her glasses.”

Button Mash looked around in confusion. “Is this what normally happens at girl’s sleepovers?”

Scootaloo tensed to spring. “Last chance. Take back what you said about my family.”

“Hey!”

“…and Sweetie Belle’s.”

Silver Spoon snorted and pawed at the floor, her tail whipping back and forth. “The only thing that should be taken back around here is that old, smelly, patched, stained, manure encrusted coat of yours!”

“THAT’S IT!”

The two fillies rushed at each other.

“STOP!” Applebloom leaped between them and held out her hooves to stop them. “Just stop all this right now!”

“Now what in tarnation is goin’ on in here?”

The young ponies all looked up to find Applejack staring at them, a tray of cookies and milk balanced on her back.

“Well?”

Granny Smith’s aged laughter drifted out from behind the cowpony. “Don’t you worry ‘bout them none, Applejack. They just want to meet Grogar is all.”

Button Mash tilted his head. “Grogar? What’s that?”

Granny Smith snorted as she made her way to her old rocker by the fire. “Now don’t tell me nopony’s ever told you lot about Grogar? He’s as important a part of Hearth’s Warming as Santa Hooves himself.”

The fillies and colt stared at her with uncomprehending eyes.

Granny Smith hefted herself into her chair and smiled. “I guess it’s up to me to spin the tale, then. Applejack, you pass out them cookies and milk. The rest of you get comfy.”

The ponies all returned to their original seats, Scootaloo and Silver Spoon shooting looks at each other to make it clear that they were nowhere near done.

“Now, what can you little ponies tell me about Santa Hooves?”

“Santa Hooves travels around Equestria on Hearth’s Warming Eve, visiting all the fillies and colts in the land.” Sweetie Belle smiled as she bit into a cookie.

“Very good. And if you’ve been a good little pony and honored the spirit of Harmony all year, then you get a present, right?”

Six heads all nodded.

“And what if you’re bad?”

“You get coal.” Scootaloo muttered.

“Is coal bad?” Marble asked as she and Mac re-entered the room and squeezed into a love seat, dopey grins on their faces. “I like getting coal for Hearth’s Warming.”

Granny Smith ignored her and continued. “Sometimes, if yer a bad pony, yer lucky to get coal. You might just attract the attention of Grogar.”

“Who is Grogar?” Applebloom asked.

“He’s Santa Hooves’ opposite number, his shadow you might say. It’s said that he’s a huge ram with fur the color of a full moon lit night. His eyes burn with the blazing red fires of the deepest pits of Tartarus. His mouth is full of fangs so sharp they can bite right through stone.”

Sweetie Belle gulped and unconsciously pulled closer to Button Mash.

“It’s said that he lives all year round in the ruined city of Tambelon, far beyond the distant North, and he only comes out on Hearth’s Warming Eve. He flies around Equestria listening for anger and sniffing for disharmony. And when he finds it, then he swoops down and snatches that pony in the chains that he always carries with him. He hangs bells from the chains to ring while he flies around and does his evil work. I heard tell that if you hear those bells of Tambelon, it’s already too late.”

The little ponies (and Marble Pie) all flinched.

“Wh-what happens to the ponies that get snatched?” Button Mash stammered.

“Nopony knows.” Granny Smith looked at the flickering flames in the hearth, her mouth set in a frown. “I’ve heard it told that he drags them to Tartarus where they suffer for all time. I’ve also heard it once or twice that he just eats the little ponies he takes away.”

Scootaloo’s eyes widened in horror.

“The way my Granny told it though was the worst of all. She told me that that the taken were spirited away to Tambelon itself. They’re stripped of everything that made them who they were until they ain’t nothin’ but husks, neither livin’ nor dead. There they serve Grogar until the end of time, deprived forever of the thing they treated so lightly; the spirit of Hearth’s Warming. The spirit of Friendship. Of Harmony itself.” Granny looked back at the little ponies with a mischievous glint in her eyes. “Oh, and one more thing ya’ll need to know.”

The colt and five fillies leaned forward in expectation.

“I’d wager that he heard that little spat ya’ll were havin’ earlier and came a little early.”

A pair of curved horns began to rise from behind the sofa

Applebloom saw them first from her perch on the chair. She pointed a hoof and screamed. “HE’S HERE!”

The other young ponies screamed and panicked, scrabbling madly away from the couch. As if in response to their screams, a deep booming laughter came from behind the cushions, from beneath the horns.

Familiar booming laughter.

Beneath horns that were now shaking loosely.

Applebloom, the first to scream, was now the first to figure it out. Her eyes narrowed with as much rage as her tiny body could handle. “BIG MAC!”

The stallion rose up fully, almost doubled over with laughter. Tied to his head by a flimsy string was a pair of ‘horns’ presumably carved from a log from the Apple Family’s woodpile.

Granny Smith’s wizened cackling soon joined her grandson’s as he crossed the room and gave her a hoof-bump. “Got ‘em good, boy.”

Applejack stared at the two, visibly unamused. “I hope you two are proud of yourselves. Now we got a bunch of little ponies that ain’t gonna be sleepin’ at all tonight.”

“W-whatever, AJ.” Scootaloo climbed back onto the couch and did her best to hide her still trembling wings. “It wasn’t that scary.”

Silver Spoon also scoffed as she settled back on one of the floor cushions, making a point to be as far away from Scootaloo as possible. “Yeah, like there’d ever be something as silly as a ram that snatches colts and fillies away.”

Button Mash made to grab his cap from where it had fell and found his leg and hoof held hostage in the iron grip of a unicorn. “Uh, Sweetie Belle?”

“Huh?” Sweetie Belle noticed what she was holding onto and released it as quickly as she could manage. “Sorry.” She muttered with a forced chuckle. “No idea why that happened.”

Granny’s laughter faded and she fixed her eyes on Silver Spoon. “Oh, this with Mac was all a joke, you can bet on that. But you’d better believe Grogar’s real. As real as Santa Hooves hisself.”

Silver Spoon did not flinch from Granny’s gaze. “I know that. Because Santa Hooves isn’t real either.”

The silence that followed was broken only by the crackling of the fire.

“What did you just say?” Applebloom looked at the grey filly reproachfully.

Silver Spoon rolled her eyes. “I should’ve figured that you of all ponies wouldn’t have it figured out by now.”

“Figured what out?”

Applejack looked between the two fillies in mounting horror. This was not how she had wanted this information to come out. “Alright, I think we all better tuck in…”

“Figured what out?” Applebloom repeated, ignoring her big sister.

“Yeah. I guess I haven’t figured it out either.” Button Mash’s face shared the same look as Applebloom, curiosity and confusion.

Silver Spoon looked at her peers. “Really? Okay, raise your hoof if you think Santa Hooves is real.”

“Silver Spoon…” Diamond Tiara whispered dangerously.

But the hooves of three fillies and a colt were already in the air.

Sweetie Belle gaped at Diamond Tiara, her hooves still flat on the floor. “You don’t believe in Santa Hooves?”

Mac’s attention was pulled from the escalating tension by the realization that somepony was missing. “Hey. Where’d Marble go?”

Applejack looked at the loveseat where the Pie sister had been sitting and snorted in irritation. “You must’ve scared her off with that trick, you big dunderhead. She could be anywhere in the house.”

“Ya’ll go find that scaredy-mare.” Granny said, her eyes still burning a hole through Silver Spoon. “I’ll make sure these six don’t start rumbling again.”

Applejack opened her mouth to protest but thought better of it. Instead she looked to her brother. “You take the upstairs, I’ll take down here. And for pony’s sake, get rid of those horns before you give that mare a heart attack.”

“Eeyup.” Mac muttered sheepishly as he left the carved horns by the fireplace.

Silver Spoon was smirking at Diamond Tiara. “Of course she doesn’t believe.” She removed her glasses and rubbed them against her coat to clean them. “Did you figure it out yourself, or did your parents tell you?”

Diamond Tiara sighed heavily. “Mother told me last week after I found a stash of presents in the attic and asked about them. She said she was glad I’d found them because I was getting too old to believe in old pony tales.”

“Santa Hooves isn’t an old pony tale!” Scootaloo shouted. “He’s the only pony in this whole world that treats all of us equally!”

“Then why does he always bring you gifts that aren’t as nice as what everypony else gets?”

Her words began to fan the flames of anger in Scootaloo’s heart. “Santa Hooves does what he can…”

“I bet your dad told you that, didn’t he?”

“That’s enough, missy.” Granny Smith’s voice was suddenly razor sharp in its tone. “It ain’t your place to be sayin’ these things. I may be up in my years, but I can still tan your hide…”

A ding came from the kitchen.

“Dagflabbin’ cookies…” the old earth pony muttered as she made her way to the kitchen, casting one last wilting look at Silver Spoon.

Applebloom’s eyes were now on Diamond Tiara. “What did your mom tell you?”

Diamond Tiara’s eyes were on the floor. “Our parents made up Santa Hooves. They hide extra presents every year and put them out after you go to sleep on Hearth’s Warming Eve.”

Button Mash laughed uneasily. “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Why would they go out of their way to lie about something like that?”

“Because their parents lied to them about it. And their parents did the same thing. It’s a tradition to lie to your foals.” Silver Spoon smirked humorlessly as she put her glasses back on. “How messed up is that?”

“What is wrong with you tonight, Silver Spoon?” Diamond Tiara looked up with worry at her best friend.

“Wrong with me? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?!” Silver Spoon jumped off her cushion and started pacing in front of the fireplace. “What’s wrong with all of you?! Newsflash, hot off the presses; all the ponies in this town do nothing but lie to each other and keep secrets! Secrets and lies! Well, you know what? I’VE HAD IT WITH SECRETS AND LIES!”

The wind blew against the house again, creating a low creaking moan as though the house were warning Silver Spoon to stop.

“It is time to grow up, and growing up means facing the truth.”

“I bet your dad told you that, didn’t he?”

Silver Spoon’s jaw snapped shut and she gazed at Scootaloo with unbridled fury. “What did you just say to me?”

“Is that what he told you after he told you Santa Hooves wasn’t real?” Scootaloo met Silver Spoon’s eyes without fear. “That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Your folks ruined it for you so you have to ruin it for everypony else?” Scootaloo nodded towards Diamond Tiara. “At least she had the decency to keep that information to herself.”

“Decency?!”

Button Mash raised a hoof. “I wasn’t aware we had decided Santa Hooves wasn’t real.” He looked around in confusion. “Is that still not up for debate?”

“Decency is doing the adult thing and accepting the truth, not hiding behind foolish innocence.” Silver Spoon turned her glare to Sweetie Belle, sitting once again near Button Mash. “Here, I’ll show you; hey Button Mash.”

The colt looked up expectantly.

“Sweetie Belle has a crush on you.”

Sweetie Belle’s mouth dropped open and her blush could be seen clear through her coat. “You weren’t supposed to tell anypony!” She cried, her voice cracking loudly.

“Oh please. It’s not like nopony noticed. He just didn’t because he has the social skills of a Diamond Dog.”

“That’s enough, Silver Spoon!” Diamond Tiara shouted.

“You’re years away from your first heat and you’re already practically raising your tail for him.”

Scootaloo shot across the room like a bullet and tackled the earth pony to the floor. She stood over her and raised a hoof to strike. “Nopony talks to her like that!”

Silver Spoons eyes rolled with madness. “Like you’re any better! Go ahead and beat me up! Maybe that will impress her so much she’ll stop focusing on the King of the Dorks over there and look at you for once like you’ve always wanted her to look at you.”

Scootaloo faltered, her eyes wide. “W-what…?”

Silver Spoon took the opportunity and kicked straight upward. The orange filly went soaring and landed next to the Hearth’s Warming tree with a crash.

“SCOOTALOO!” Button Mash and Sweetie Belle ran over to check on their fallen friend, Sweetie Belle deliberately keeping away from Button’s coat and trying to process what Silver Spoon had just revealed.

Applebloom jumped from her chair and squared herself. “I don’t give a darn what you’re goin’ through right now. Nopony treats somepony like that under the Apple’s roof.”

Silver Spoon got back on her hooves and giggled madly. “Like we wanted to be under the Apple’s roof in the first place!”

Diamond Tiara saw where her friend was going but it was already too late. “Silvy, don’t…”

“Why don’t you tell hayseed over here what you told me when you found out we’d be coming here for Hearth’s Warming Eve?”

Applebloom froze and looked over at the filly who she had once considered her greatest enemy. “What’s she talkin’ about, Di?”

Diamond Tiara opened her mouth to speak but closed it again, unsure of what she wanted to say.

“I’ll tell you. And I’ll use small words so your bumpkin brain can process it.” Silver Spoon adjusted her glasses, now ignoring how off kilter they were. “She told me how upset she was that we had to spend the most magical night of the year crammed into this dusty, dirty old shack with ponies we get more than enough of at school.”

Each word pierced Applebloom deeper. “Did… did you really say that?”

Diamond Tiara looked away, and it was all the answer Applebloom needed.

“Don’t act so surprised, hayseed.” Silver Spoon was beyond reason now, her body visibly vibrating with adrenaline and insanity. “Did you really think that whole cutie mark incident meant that we were magically best friends forever now? Because that’s not how real life works. Sure, we might pal around now and we won’t mock you for being blank flanks. But in a few years, we’ll start mocking how hideous your cutie marks are.”

Scootaloo looked up from between her doting friends to say something about the insult but found her gaze drawn to the window.

The blizzard outside seemed to be growing… stronger.

“School, foalhood, friendships… they all go away. After school’s over, we’re all going to settle into the roles we were always meant to be in. Scootaloo will always be poor, Sweetie Belle will probably give Button a boatload of babies, you’ll live on this farm until the day you die, and Diamond Tiara and I will rise above you all to be the absolute upper crust of pony society. We’re the only friends we’ll ever need.”

A slap rang out through the room.

All eyes found Silver Spoon holding her cheek in shock.

Silver Spoon stared at Diamond Tiara, her hoof still raised.

Diamond Tiara glared, tears running down her face. “You’re not acting like my friend.”

Silver Spoon’s shock shattered as the rage returned. She squared herself in front of the roaring fire and stared at her former best friend. “Fine! I don’t need you. I don’t need any of you! I don’t need my parents, or their lies, or their stories about mythical gift givers…”

A peculiar sound drew Sweetie Belle, Button Mash, and Scootaloo’s eyes back to the window.

The night outside was obscured completely by white. The panes of glass were starting to frost over.

“I don’t need any of this! And when I have a foal, I won’t waste her time with silly stories like Santa Hooves and Grogar. I won’t waste her time with nonsense like friendship! And come to think of it, I won’t waste her time with Hearth’s Warming at all!”

Sweetie Belle’s ear twitched. “Does anypony else hear that?”

“You mean the wind?”

“No, I hear it too.” Button Mash put his ear to the window and tried to ignore the almost burning cold. “It almost sounds like…”

“Bells.” The unicorn whispered in confusion.

“That’s enough Silver Spoon! Can’t you just stop?!” Applebloom cried.

“NO! I HATE ALL OF YOU! I HATE MY PARENTS! I HATE PONYVILLE! AND I HATE HEARTH’S WARMING!”

The entire house shook as an enormous THUD came from the roof.

A freezing wind blew down the chimney and blew the fire out completely.

Silence descended upon the room.

“…did the roof cave in?” Button asked.

A sudden shriek of metal on stone came from the chimney. The assembled ponies watched as a long length of chain shot out of the hearth and wrapped itself around a frozen in surprise Silver Spoon. It looped around her several times before the hook on the tip locked into one of the links, securely tying the earth pony.

Dangling from the chain was a multitude of gently tinkling bells.

Silver Spoon stared at the others, her mind unable to process what was happening. “What…?”

The chain was yanked back suddenly, violently, and Silver Spoon vanished up the chimney without another sound save for the cruel laughter of the bells hanging from the chain.

Silver Spoon’s glasses hit the floor. The left lens cracked.

The screaming began.

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