• Published 7th Dec 2015
  • 4,444 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.

  • ...
4
 88
 4,444

You Better Not Cry

Applejack and Granny Smith arrived in the living room at roughly the same time to find the assembled ponies in quite a state. Applebloom was trying to console Sweetie Belle's unyielding screams even as her own eyes ran with tears. Scootaloo was holding a shrieking Diamond Tiara by the tail and using all the strength in her little body to keep the filly from running towards the now dry and cold fireplace. Button Mash simply sat on the couch, unmoving, small streams of tears running from his wide eyes.

All attention was on the fireplace.

"What in the hay's is goin' on in here?" Applejack demanded.

The pony’s heads snapped to her as one and the farmer found herself suddenly besieged by the five ponies. They all talked at once, their words muffled by each other's voices and their own sniffles.

"One at a time!" Applejack shushed the lot as best she could, her eyes locking with those of her little sister. "Applebloom; what happened? Why's everypony so upset?"

Before Applebloom could say a word, Granny Smith finished her headcount. "And where did that Silver Spoon get to?"

Applebloom's resolve broke at the sound of Silver Spoon's name and she plunged her face into her sister's neck to muffle her cries of horror. "Something took her!"

Her sister's hot tears in her fur urged Applejack to action. "Who took her?!"

"We don't know!" Button Mash had taken Applebloom's place in comforting Sweetie Belle, whose screams had now petered off into rapid, panting sobs. "This chain thing came out of the chimney and just pulled her away!"

Granny Smith stopped in her comforting of Diamond Tiara and Scootaloo and froze. "You say a chain took her?"

Button Mash nodded quickly and wiped his muzzle clear of mucus. "Something blew the fire out and then this chain just shot out and grabbed her."

Diamond Tiara's eyes fell upon the fireplace and she made to run to it. "We have to save her! We have to..."

Granny Smith pulled the squirming filly against her and leaned close to her ear. "She's gone, gumdrop. I'm sorry, but she's already gone."

Diamond Tiara looked up at the old mare in confusion. "How do you...?"

From upstairs came the sound of shattering glass and the rush of wind.

Applejack's eyes widened in fear. "The doggone wind blew in a window! I better go see if Mac needs help."

Granny Smith looked apprehensive but ultimately gave a curt nod. "Go check it out. But be quick. And keep away from the windows."

Applejack looked at her grandmother. "Why...?"

"Just do as I say, girl!" Granny's voice was as harsh and severe as the crack of whip. The assembled ponies jumped at her tone, even Applejack. "Nevermind fixin' any broken windows you find. I take it you didn't find Marble?"

Stunned at Granny's taking charge, Applejack just nodded.

"Then she's upstairs. Fetch her and your brother and get back down here lickety split, ya here?"

Again, Applejack nodded.

Granny watched as her eldest granddaughter mounted the stairs and started up. She turned attention back to the little ponies around her. She focused on Applebloom and Button Mash as the two who seemed to be most in control of themselves. "Now it's startin' to get mighty chilly in here already. You two take the others into the kitchen to get warm by the oven. I'll see to this fire."

Applebloom opened her mouth to protest Granny's going near the fireplace but found a wrinkled green hoof blocking her words. "I'll be fine, I promise. I know how to keep safe." Without explaining any further, she nudged the little ponies towards the kitchen door and made for the fireplace.

Scootaloo was the last in line. She cast a paranoid eye at Granny Smith as she set to work rebuilding the fire.

And she seemed to be... singing?

Scootaloo shook her head and turned again towards the kitchen...

...but found herself gazing at the stairs instead.

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Applejack shivered as she mounted the landing of the second floor. The freezing wind gusted and blew down the hallway, small flakes of snow floating in the air every now and then. Her teeth chattering, Applejack pulled her hat tighter against her head and looked around for a source of light. The wind had blown the hall's lanterns out. Gritting her teeth to stop their irritating dancing, she nudged open the door to her own bedroom and sighed in relief; her room's lantern was still lit. She carefully clasped her teeth onto the handle and pulled it into the hallway, shielding the dancing flame from the elements with a hoof.

She very nearly dropped the lantern in shock as the candle illuminated the hallway.

The hallway was frozen. Not coated in a little snow but frozen. The walls and ceiling were coated in a fine layer of ice as thin and delicate as glass. The hardwood floors were lost in snowbanks, some almost knee high. Most shocking of all were the icicles that now stretched from the ceiling, reaching down like crystal teeth that beckoned down the frozen throat of a hallway.

Swallowing uneasily, Applejack began trudging her way down the hall.

As the snow crunched beneath her hooves, Applejack did her darndest to figure out what was going on. The blizzard had been bad before, but now it was something unreal. Unnatural almost. Curious, she paused a moment to push against an icy stalactite. It gave easily and broke away, burying itself in the snow.

As Applejack watched, an identical icicle immediately slid into existence.

Even without the freezing wind, Applejack suddenly felt very cold.

She continued along towards the two rooms at the end of the hall; Big Mac's and Applebloom's. Both their doors were standing open. The broken window could be in either one.

Big Mac's doorframe was curiously free of snow.

The wind began to blow in earnest the closer she got to her destination. She felt her hat blow back down the hallway and closed her eyes against the onslaught. Each step took a huge effort, and she swore she could feel icicles forming on her fur. Still she pushed on, as the feeling in her nose wasted to nothing. Deep down, she began to wonder if she would freeze to death right here, right at the threshold of her big brother's bedroom. She took what she imagined must be the final step...

... And stumbled in Mac's room as the wind suddenly stopped.

Applejack's eyes shot open and she looked around in the room, ready for anything.

Almost anything.

This time her jaw did drop, and this time the lantern did fall to the ground and cracked against the hardwood floor.

The hardwood floor that was completely free of snow.

The room was untouched by the elements save for the obviously still freezing temperature. There were no icicles, no snow, and no glassy surfaces of frozen water. The room's main window had been thrown open with such a force that all the panes of glass had shattered. The tempest loomed outside, all howling wind and whirling snow.

But not a gust of wind blew in the bedroom itself.

A whimper came from her left.

Applejack spun to find a shivering lump in the blankets on Big Mac's bed. She inched towards it and reached out with one unsteady hoof. "B-Big Mac?" She asked, unsure if it was lurking fear or cold that added the quake to her voice.

The trembling lump froze... and then lunged at her.

Applejack stifled a scream as Marble Pie tackled her to the floor, her eyes wide and rimmed in red. She was beyond crying, beyond fear and screaming. She gaped at Applejack like a fish out of water, pounding at her chest with almost no real strength.

Applejack forced the mare off of her and forced her to focus on her. "Marble! What happened?"

Marble gulped and gestured at the window, her unblinking eyes not leaving Applejack's.

"Did Mac go outside?"

Marble nodded.

"Did he fall?"

She shook her head.

Applejack grew irritated. "Land's sake girl! If he didn't fall then how did he go outside?"

"P-p-p-pulled."

The chill returned to Applejack's heart as she remembered what her sister had said. "Pulled by what, Marble?"

Marble's reply was the tiniest of whimpered screams.

Applejack shook the mare slightly. "Marble, focus; what pulled my brother out the window?"

Marble's eyes finally closed. One last tear ran down her face. "He did." She slumped to the floor in a dead faint.

Applejack was getting ready to shake the mare awake when she heard another sound behind her.

"It's true."

She spun to find Scootaloo staring at the window with wide eyes. "Scoots! Get your flank back downstairs this instant!"

"It's all true! Don't you get it?!" Scootaloo's tiny wings buzzed frantically. "It's Grogar! He's come for us, just like Granny said! He's gonna take us and eat us or make us burn forever or..."

"Scootaloo!" Applejack actually had to yell to be heard over the filly's continually rising voice. "That's just a story! Here, help me get Marble downstairs."

Scootaloo was hyperventilating now. Her mind was going numb as every nightmare and night terror began to coalesce into a new, singular form; that of a monstrous ram with a voracious appetite for pony flesh. "We have to get away! This might be our only chance! He's probably still eating Big Mac! We have to go now, before he gets all of us like he did Silver Spoon!"

Too late, Applejack realized what the filly was planning. "Wait!"

"HE'S NOT GOING TO EAT ME TOO!" Scootaloo squealed as she bolted to the open window. Her shrunken wings that had never lifted her more than a few inches popped open as she took a giant leap into the air.

Applejack watched in horror as her little orange body vanished into the blowing white.

She left Marble's unconscious body and galloped toward the window. "SCOOTALOO!" She screamed into the void, but her voice was swallowed by the shrieking wind.

For a moment, that shrieking was all she heard.

Then another sound made itself known. It was still shrieking, but in a much higher pitch.

Applejack threw herself backwards as Scootaloo blasted through the snow and back through the window. Her mouth was open in an unending shriek of terror, her eyes wide and pleading for help. Her buzzing wings were held captive against her by several long lengths of chain from which hung a number of golden bells that seemed to be singing harmony with the filly's cries. Scootaloo's one free hoof stretched out into the open air, desperately reaching toward Applejack.

Her screaming stopped, and she peered at Applejack with the eyes of a foal, the eyes of trust, the eyes of knowing that the older ponies can always save the day.

That they can always chase away the nightmares.

"Help me." She whimpered.

The chains snapped tight and she was gone, yanked back out the window and into the nothingness of the night.

Applejack touched a hoof to her cheek and was not surprised in the least to find that she was crying.

The taking of Scootaloo seemed to break some spell. The room was suddenly filled with freezing wind that whipped and snapped in the air. Snow began to pile against the walls and long icicles began to grow from the ceiling. Doing her best to pull herself together, Applejack grabbed Marble's nape in her teeth and dragged her out of the room. She pulled her dead-weight across the hall's ever deeper snowbanks, pausing only to grab her hat before it was blown away forever.

She didn't look back when the wind slammed the door to Big Mac's room. The sound it made was not unlike the sealing of a tomb.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

The little pony's heads turned as one to see Applejack fall down the last few days and land in a heap, a slowly stirring Marble Pie beside her.

"APPLEJACK!" Applebloom ran to her sister's side and checked her for injuries. "Are ya alright? Is Marble okay? What's going on up there? What was all that screaming we heard? Wh..." Her rapid fire questions came to a sudden halt. She looked up the staircase. "Where's Big Mac?"

Sweetie Belle, who'd done a head count as soon as she'd gathered her wits by the warm stove, measured her next words carefully. "And... where's Scootaloo?"

Applejack looked at each filly in turn, then closed her eyes and turned away.

"...no." Applebloom whispered. "No." She stared at her sister, unbelieving, and smashed her hoof into the floorboards. "NO!" She began to beat the floor over and over again, punctuating each smash with another scream of "NO!"

Applejack grabbed her little sister and held her close. She whispered reassurances and calming words into her ear until the little filly's rage was nothing more than chest-wracking sobs of despair.

Sweetie Belle found that she no longer had the will to cry. She simply turned and hugged against Button Mash again, who thankfully had the presence of mind to put his foreleg around her.

All alone with her sorrow and fear, Diamond Tiara's gaze fell on Granny Smith.

The old mare had built a roaring fire, four times as big and blazing as the first. Even now she arranged more firewood to be in easy reach. Her shoulders had slumped only a little at the news of her grandson's demise, but still she worked.

And Diamond Tiara decided she wanted to know why.

"You know what's happening, don't you?" She asked, making her way back towards the warm living room. "You've known this whole time."

The others took notice and also filed into the room, either for the talking or the warmth. Marble finally stood on unsteady legs just long enough to throw herself onto the loveseat and resume crying into the cushions.

Granny Smith stared at the crackling pyre she had built and sighed heavily. "I know."

"Granny?" Applejack asked.

Granny Smith snorted irritably. "Figures it would happen on one of my last Hearth's Warmings. Couldn't just enjoy one more holiday with the family, could I?"

"Granny, what are you talkin' about?"

"I figured I was outta the woods after you hit marehood and nothin' happened. You were always such a trusting filly. I shoulda figured it would be one of Applebloom's friends that were the real danger."

"What danger?" Diamond Tiara was at the old mare's side. She looked at her with pleading eyes. "What's out there?"

Granny Smith's eyes reflected the dancing flames. "His name is Grogar. And like I said before, he ain't just an old pony's tale..."

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

"When I was just a filly, back before we even came to Ponyville, my family lived on a small communal farm up in old Dream Valley. Back in those days there were quite a few of us that helped each other out where we could. There was the Apples, a'course, and the Tops, the Patch family, the Harvests, and Peachy Keen's clan. The Seed family had split away from us at that point. They'd find their way to Manehatten not long after and make friendly with the Oranges.

All we had back in those days was each other, so every celebration was shared by one and all. Birthdays, Nightmare Night, the Summer Sun Celebration... we looked forward to them all in turn. But Hearth's Warming was by far our favorite, because we knew that Santa Hooves was coming and bringing us new toys and sweets that we just couldn't find in the valley.

Everything changed on my twelfth Hearth's Warming Eve.

My best friend back in those days was Pumpkin Patch. Me and that filly were the scariest set of hellions in all of Dream Valley. We were always shirkin' our chores to play in the woods and enticin' the other fillies and colts into staging mock battles between the armies of Princess Celestia and Nightmare Moon. Our parents did their darndest to keep us from strayin' too far from the path of what was right, though. When we were smallest, the threat of not getting gifts for Hearth's Warming was more than enough. When we got a mite older, it was the tale of Grogar that made us remember our manners and friendship lessons.

On Hearth's Warming Eve, Pumpkin Patch pulled me aside and confided in me something she'd heard her mama talkin' about; that there was no Santa Hooves. Our toys and sweets were purchased by the adults through the year during the grown-up's occasional trips to nearby Paradise Estate. They'd hide 'em, then give 'em to us on Hearth's Warming morning and tell us they were from Santa Hooves.

I called my best friend in the whole world a liar.

We fought so bitterly that it actually came to blows. Our folks had to pull us apart to keep us from tearin' each other’s tails out. I remember Pumpkin screaming that I wasn't her best friend anymore, because real friends trusted each other.

When she said those words, I swear I could feel the air getting colder.

A horrible blizzard descended on Dream Valley that night, the worst even our oldest ponies could remember havin' seen. The wind howled a banshee's wail and the snow piled high against every exit from the valley. I remember lookin' out the window and seein' huge icicles rising where our crops were supposed to be.

The cabin the Tops lived in became lost in a small avalanche. They took shelter with us since we were their closest neighbors. They were so shocked by the loss of everything they owned that it was a while before they realized their youngest had vanished.

That's when we heard the bells.

My pa didn't miss a beat. He and the other grownups starting boardin' up the windows and buildin' up the fire. He had all us youngins gather in the center of the cabin and stay there.

I was just startin' to fall asleep when I heard somepony bangin' on the front door.

It was the Harvests. They were in a blind panic, babbling about chains and bells. From the storm behind 'em, I swear I could hear the giggling of foals and the crunching of snow beneath small hooves.

Just before pa managed to get the door shut, I know that I saw something else out there in the storm.

I know that it saw me, too.

We spent the night huddled together like baby birds, taking turns keepin' the fire roarin' and singin' Hearth's Warming carols to pass the time. At some point, I must've fallen asleep.

I dreamed I saw Pumpkin Patch at the window.

She was laughing and crying at the same time.

Her eyes were gone.

The next day, the storm vanished as quick as it had come. We looked high and low, but we never found hide nor hair of any member of the Patches or the Keens. Their houses were full of snow and ice, but there was no blood, no bodies.

We packed up and left Dream Valley that very next day."

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

The ponies stared in awe as Granny Smith finished her tale. Satisfied that the fire would burn for some time yet, she pulled herself into her rocker and looked at them all. "A pony's first Hearth's Warming after getting their Cutie Mark is the most dangerous time of all. Ya'll start feelin' so grown up that you start to question things. First little things like Santa Hooves and then bigger things like friendship itself. That's what calls to Grogar, that spirit of disharmony, that betrayal of the most sacred truth of ponydom. To question the very nature of friendship on Hearth's Warming Eve itself is borderline blasphemy. Some of you have done just that. You have, and now we are all being punished for it."

Button Mash blinked with watery eyes. "But I still believe in Santa Hooves. I haven't even gotten my Cutie Mark yet. Why am I being punished?"

"And why did it take Mac?" Marble asked in a quiet, trembling tone of voice. "He wasn't a foal."

"It ain't about what you believe or how old you are anymore!" Granny snapped impatiently. "He's here now, and he will not stop until he has claimed us all."

Applejack hugged Applebloom close and gazed at her grandmother in desperation. "Isn't there anything we can do?"

Granny Smith sighed and looked out the window. "We stick together. We keep the fire hot. We wait for the sun to come up. And you." She pointed a hoof at Sweetie Belle. "I need you to tell me something."

"W-what?" The unicorn squeaked.

Granny offered the kindest smile she could muster in the situation. "How many Hearth's Warming carols do you know?"

Granny's smile was so warm that Sweetie Belle couldn't help but match it. "A few."

Diamond Tiara watched everything quietly, Silver Spoon's cracked glasses still held in her hooves.

And the singing began.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!