• Published 7th Dec 2015
  • 4,473 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 Not Pout

As Granny Smith crooned about how she was dreaming of a white Hearth's Warming, the others all did their best to reflect, rest, and recover. The living room's furniture had been pulled away from the center of the room and used to blockade the doors and windows. Spare linens and pillows had been used to build a huge pallet in the middle of everything and the four remaining little ponies were nestled in the warmth.

Applejack dozed on the couch away from the others, watching the stairs and afraid of the nightmares that would come if she fell into a deeper sleep.

Sweetie Belle poked her head from under the blankets and ensured the coast was clear. Once she was satisfied that Diamond Tiara and Applebloom were either asleep or otherwise occupied, she carefully scooted herself closer to the room's sole male occupant. "Button Mash? Are you awake?"

The colt rolled over so that he was facing her. He offered the weakest of smiles. "Wouldn't it be nice if I wasn't? If this was all just an awful dream?"

She returned the smile and made herself more comfortable in the blankets next to him. "That would be nice."

"It would be nice. But it's not true." Button sighed and nudged at his nearby cap. "Even if nothing else happens tonight, Silver Spoon's still gone, Applebloom's lost her brother and you..." He caught himself and looked away. "Sorry."

"It's alright." Truth be told, Sweetie Belle was still trying to process the idea that Scootaloo was gone. She imagined that it would take quite some time before she stopped expecting the orange filly to come bounding up the stairs of the treehouse with some news of another colt or filly who needed help figuring out their Cutie Mark. Even now she kept catching herself looking towards the stairway like Scootaloo would just come gliding down, giggling that it was all just a big joke.

"Hey Sweetie Belle?"

"Hmm?"

"Is it true? What Silver Spoon said?" When Sweetie Belle did not immediately reply, he made to turn away. "Sorry. I guess now's not really a good time..."

"It's true. I do like you."

Button Mash froze. "You do?"

"Yeah. I've had, like, the biggest crush on you since earlier this year."

Button smiled. "The milkshake?"

She returned the smile. "The milkshake."

"I was such a dork."

"You were so cute."

Button Mash reached out and took her hoof. "Not as cute as you are."

Sweetie Belle blushed as she returned the gesture, hooking their forelegs together. "I hate that you only found out about this tonight."

"Tell you what." Button scooted a little closer. "I'll be Drake the Daring and you can be the Princess Amaranth. And if I can protect you the whole night, then you owe me another milkshake this Friday."

"Interesting idea." Sweetie Belle mirrored his movements. "But I kinda wanna be the Scarlet Avenger. You let me be her, and I promise to protect you just like she protected Drake from the Nine Warlocks of War in Battle for the HurriCrystal."

"Have I mentioned that your gaming knowledge is just as striking as that blush on your cheeks?"

She blushed harder. "That was smooth for somepony who doesn't know the first thing about girls."

He looked into her eyes. "I'm a fast learner. That's how I was able to master Puzzler's Revenge in just three days."

Sweetie Belle broke eye contact and looked away, tormented by the swirling forces inside her. Her sadness, her terror, and her burgeoning attraction all hammered away at her young heart. "I'm... I'm so scared, Button."

He wrapped his forelegs around her and pulled her close. "I am too."

Her soft lips found his as she drew closer to his warmth. It was a short kiss, small and tentative. An average first kiss.

Which is to say that it blew Button Mash's mind.

While he recovered, Sweetie Belle rolled over and snuggled deeper into the colt's embrace. "Do me a favor?"

"Uh huh." He muttered dizzily.

"Talk nerdy to me." She sighed as she finally relaxed. "Until I fall asleep."

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Diamond Tiara carefully crawled past the now snoozing Sweetie Belle and Button Mash towards Applebloom. The pink filly still clutched Silver Spoon's cracked glasses close to her as though some part of her were afraid that if she let go of them they would vanish into nothingness.

Applebloom was nestled into the farthest corner of the pallet, barely covered at all. From her position, it was unclear to anyone looking if she were asleep or simply staring at the wall.

"Applebloom?"

The young farmer shifted slightly. She and Diamond Tiara had not spoken since Silver Spoon's taking. "What do you want?"

Diamond Tiara flinched at Applebloom's tone. "I'm sorry. About your brother, I mean."

"Thanks."

"Are... are you okay?"

"Honestly? No. No I am not okay, Di."

"Do you... do you wanna talk about it?"

"Talk about what?" Applebloom rolled over and Diamond Tiara could see her red rimmed eyes. "Talk about my dead brother? Or my dead best friend? Or my other dead friend who had a nervous breakdown first?" She glared. "Or, to focus on the small stuff first, we could talk about how you've been lyin' through your teeth about bein' my friend these past few months."

Diamond Tiara flinched. "That's not fair, 'Bloom."

"Don't call me that!" Applebloom snapped. "You don't get to call me that!" She growled, her eyes burning a hole through the richest filly in town. "Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why did you lie to me?"

Now it was Diamond Tiara's turn to glare. "Now who's not being fair? I wasn't lying about being your friend, Applebloom."

"Then why would you say that about comin' over tonight?"

"Because I wanted to spend Hearth's Warming with my family, in my house!" Her grip tightened on Silver Spoon's glasses. "Is that so wrong of me?"

"Horseapples, Di." Applebloom huffed. "Just cuz yer mad at yer folks don't mean that you could say something so hurtful about me and my friends."

"There! Right there!" Diamond Tiara sat up and pointed a hoof at the yellow filly. "That's what's been getting on my nerves!"

"What in the hay are you...?"

"How come I don't get to be in the same class as Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo? Even after that day, you've kept me and Silvy at hoof's length. Why? What makes us outsiders?"

Applebloom rolled her eyes. "Because me and those two have been through a lot these past few years. We're more sisters than friends at this point."

"You helped me find out who I was!" Diamond Tiara hissed. "You saw deeper in me than even I saw! You gave me the strength to change the very nature of my being, to even stand up to my own mother! Applebloom, you changed me!" She looked away. "And then you just moved on. You carried on like nothing had changed."

"You make it sound like I was ignorin' ya."

"You may as well have been." Diamond Tiara collapsed onto the blankets and rolled over. "I thought, after that day, I would finally know what it was like to really have friends. It had always been just me and Silver Spoon, y'know? I kept waiting for you to invite me back to the treehouse or to go hang out at Sugarcube Corner. I thought that's what friends did."

Applebloom rolled over as well. "It is."

"Then the only real friends you have are Sweetie Belle and..." Diamond Tiara bit her tongue. "You only ever hang out with them. The most I've gotten out of this friendship before tonight is a greeting on the street or somepony eating lunch with me at school. Besides ponies at school not hating me anymore, nothing's changed at all."

Applebloom considered in the silence that followed. "You could reach out to other ponies, y'know. You could be friends with just about anypony now."

"I... I..." Diamond Tiara sniffled. "I don't know how." She wiped her eyes and looked at the glasses nestled in her fur. "Silvy was my only real friend. And now she's gone. So what do I have now?" She curled into a ball. "The occasional wave on the street and fifteen minutes of conversation on schooldays."

Applebloom stared at the wall as she processed what Diamond Tiara had said. It was true that she most often hung out with her fellow Crusaders, but surely the rich filly was wrong about everything else. She had other friends. Like Twist... but she hadn't had a serious conversation with her since the day she'd gotten her Cutie Mark all those months ago. But there was Pipsqueak... who she hadn't said a word to in between Nightmare Night and the Student Pony elections.

She racked her brain, but she couldn't find a single pony that she spent as much time with as she did her best friends.

"Do you... still hate me?"

It was Applebloom's turn to flinch at the cracking in Diamond Tiara's voice. "What?"

"For all those times I tormented you and made fun of you. Do you still hate me?"

Applebloom measured her next words carefully. "I never... hated you. Not exactly, anyway."

"But you still hold all that against me, don't you?"

Applebloom hated herself for it, but it would be a lie to say otherwise. "Yeah. A little bit."

The two fillies lay in silence a while longer, the only sounds in the air that crackling fire and Granny Smith's aged vocals.

The clock struck midnight and chimed.

"Happy Hearth's Warming." Applebloom muttered.

"You too." Came the sniffled reply.

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

Granny Smith yawned hugely. This was later than she'd been awake in the last thirty years but she knew she could hold out just a while longer. Applejack could use a little more shut-eye, now that she’d finally given up the ghost and headed to dreamland. She owed her granddaughter that much at least.

But, my, did sleep ever sound nice.

She yawned again and launched into a sleepy version of the Hearth's Warming Carol. She could feel her eyelids drooping, but she paid them no mind. She knew she could stay awa...

The elder mare went limp and began to snore.

The singing stopped.

Silence descended on the room.

Outside, the wind’s howling began to rise in pitch and strength.

Something huge on the roof shifted as though it sensed a change in the air.

Foalish giggles and sobs echoed down the chimney.

A blast of wintery wind blasted down the brick structure and reduced the once roaring fire to a pile of icicles. It spread through the room, jolting everpony awake at once.

Granny Smith stared at the ponies she'd failed.

She heard the chains shoot down the chimney before she felt them wrap around her body. The hook snapped into place and pulled tight, splintering her rocking chair to pieces. The dangling bells danced and sang as they mocked her failure.

"Run." She whispered.

The earth pony was yanked back up the chimney less than a second later.

"NO!" Applejack and Applebloom screamed together.

The windows shattered inward all at once, the howling wind filling the air of the house with freezing snow. The strong wind blew the furniture away and scattered it. The front door blasted open so hard that it flew off its hinges. Icicles began to grow from the ceiling and floor, spreading towards the panicking ponies.

"We've got to make a break for the barn!" Applejack yelled over the wind. She bolted for the front door, trusting the others to follow her.

Applebloom and Diamond Tiara followed closely, Marble not far behind.

Button Mash and Sweetie Belle made to follow but a sudden gust of wind caught their small bodies and lifted them wholly into the air. They screamed as the rogue gust blew them up the stairs and into the second floor hallway.

Button Mash was caught in a downdraft and blown against the door to Applejack's bedroom. The impact knocked the colt senseless and smashed the door to splinters. He smacked against the room's far wall and hit the ground, groaning in agony.

"BUTTON!" Sweetie Belle cried as the wind carried her further down the hallway. She was spun around just in time to see herself rapidly approaching the end of the hallway.

A wall of razor sharp icicles waited for her like spikes.

The unicorn screamed as she braced for impact.

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

Marble cried out as her ankle twisted. She collapsed into the snow and watched as the other three ponies ran to the barn. She tried to call out to them, but her screams were swallowed by the storm. "HELP ME!" she cried in desperation, trying as hard as she could to put weight on her damaged limb.

The sound of chains behind her, crystal clear above the winter's wind, made her spin and stare.

Standing on the roof of the farmhouse was an enormous shape. It stood on four legs, wrapped in a shroud as black as night. It stared at her with red eyes blazing from beneath a heavy hood.

Two huge horns curved past the hood's rim.

Hanging from the beast's neck was a single golden bell.

Marble opened her mouth to scream.

Chains emerged from the shroud. The bells that hung from them jangled merrily as they struck like serpents and claimed another soul for Grogar.

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