And so begins the general mindscrew that Survivor Shy will be... (welcome to my imagination by the way)
No a lot to say about this, other than I find bellybuttons adorable on cartoon ponies and her mane and tail went through four drafts on the sketch phase to get it on the road to looking this awesome.
I hope my perspective isn't a total fail, sorry if it is. But hey! I tried!
Oh and tail censorship, yup. Now you cannot unsee, you dirty human xD
Survivor Shy Gallery (every illustration inc. non-canon): [link]
Survivor Shy on Fimfiction (current iteration of the ongoing fanfic): [link]
My Tumblr (Anything I draw, inc. things I don't post here, are posted there): [link]
WORDCOUNT WARNING: 3K Chapter excerpt below, please mind your scrolling finger.
In mere moments, I was no longer in the castle. I kept my eyes closed, listening carefully to the gentle hum that had replaced the buzzing of bugs and rustle of leaves. The old and damp smell of the castle’s floors and wall, along with the refreshing scent of healthy leaves and flowers in the breeze, all vanished and were replaced by dense, odourless air. I took a gentle breath. It was still alien, like the rest of the world that had been manufactured around me in the span of a few seconds. I could feel my mane falling to my sides and spilling across the gelled floor pushing against me. I could feel the very mood of the space change from that of the wild and ultimately dangerous Everfree Forest to something that had been given physical form inside my own mind by magic.
“Fluttershy?” whispered a gentle voice. A saddened sigh escaped me in response. I didn’t want to talk to her right now.
The humming echoed inside my chest, shaking the weight I had pushed into my gut. I tightened my eyelids shut. Nopony needed to see what was buried, nopony could be hurt if I kept it in control and found a better use for it. But there was nopony to hurt. The pressure rose. Tears started to build.
“I’m sorry, Fluttershy. I know you’re angry,” the mare’s voice apologised. “But it was not without the best intentions.”
You lied to me. I couldn’t speak. If I opened my mouth there would be no stopping it, and I shuddered at the thought, and the temptation, to just let it out – to just scream and scream at the voice until the world around me shattered and swallowed me whole. You told me everypony was okay, but they’re not. They’re all gone.
“I cannot say anything more about it, little one. The risk of worsening your condition by speaking too freely is all but a guarantee now.”
But you led me on. You made me want to remember because of what you assured me. The last two meetings came to mind. The soft words about how the mare was my friend, about how everypony wanted to know what had happened to me in the last few months – even the deliberate use of magic to soothe and calm me – had all been used to make me willing to go through whatever it was that I obviously didn’t want to remember. I don’t want to go through the heartache again. I don’t want to remember any more.
“I know how it feels, Fluttershy-“
With a grunt I clenched my teeth, and tears started to slide down my cheeks. How can I believe you? I’m sorry, but I just can’t do it anymore. My friends, the little fillies and colts, even little Spike… Oh Celestia, why did I have to remember any of that? Why do you want me to relive another second of it?
There was a pause in the space. The dense air somehow felt even heavier; the floor seeming like it was sagging under the stress.
“I can’t answer that.” the voice said.
My breaths became ragged and desperate; the floodgates were threatening to burst. I had never been this angry before. I had never felt this betrayed or used. Each breath I took I held onto for as long as possible. I had to keep my emotions under control.
Please. Leave me alone. I need to be alone.
I thought I heard the voice stumble on her words. “I wish I could, Fluttershy, but the spell allows me to see and hear everything, you know that already.”
Then end the spell, I immediately thought.
“Fluttershy!” she gasped, “Doing that will wipe away not just the memories you’ve recovered, but even things from much further back! The damage it could cause-“
I couldn’t control myself anymore. It was too much. In a split second I was off the floor and airborne – staring through glassy eyes into the vast collage of greys and splotches of colour. “Let me go!” I heard myself beg. “Just let me go!” My wings didn’t wait for an answer. As fast as they could, they whisked me up through the shimmering planes and increasingly cluttered collections of shapes. Through misty eyes I saw blurs of colour and distortion whooshing past, but I tore through without paying any attention; I had to get out. There was nothing that I wanted more than being free.
The voice’s screams pierced through, trying to slow me down, “No, Fluttershy! You mustn’t leave!” A blue strip formed out of the formless sky and lunged out for me. I dived down steeply, narrowly missing its touch. The mare yelled again, but this time she was angry, and more tendrils flew out of the abyss after me. “Do you not realise what you’re doing? Stop this instant! Fluttershy!”
There was no turning back. I couldn’t control myself, I couldn’t do this anymore. I had to get out – I had to get out now. Forgetting everything would set me free; I wouldn’t be a prisoner inside my own memories.
There was a spark off to my right, and from it came an inky darkness spreading through the air and fusing with everything it touched. I turned my head towards it, not slowing down for a heartbeat, and watched it mix into somepony’s face. Wait, it was not a pony, it was a Diamond Dog. He was staring straight at me, his yellow teeth showing through a smug and menacing grin.
“Seize the pony!” he cried. “Take her away to the mines!”
The blood drained away from my face, and the pain spurring me on turned into pure terror. With a yelp I turned my head away, flapping my wings as fast they could move to escape. The world around me was no longer grey, it was dark and suffocating. Flame torches dotted the path I flew along, though the light fell on nothing but the forelegs in front of my face. With nowhere else to go, I followed them – they had to lead somewhere, right?
Behind me I could hear the bloodthirsty howls and barks of countless dogs in pursuit, almost drowning out the furious chants of the hunters, “Capture the pony! Tie her down!”
“Why are you doing this?” I screamed over the vicious howls. There were no explanations, only more dogs joining the chase. The chanting grew louder and louder:
“Capture the pony! Tie her down! Send her to work deep underground!”
An iron cage rushed out of the shadows, trapping me inside. The door slammed behind me, announcing what the Diamond Dogs wanted to hear. In seconds the cage was surrounded by dozens of pairs of eyes and sets of grinning teeth. The barks and cries of the hounds rang in my ears, their chant a victory song.
“Capture the pony! Tie her down! Send her work to deep underground!”
My eyes darted from side to side, my hooves hopelessly pushed against the bars. I was trapped. “No, No! Please let me go!” the words barely reached my ears, drowned out by my sobs and the roar of countless dogs peering inside the cage with satisfaction. I hid behind my mane and hooves. This was a nightmare, a horrible nightmare!
I slammed against the walls, again and again, each impact causing the vision to flicker and arc around me. I kicked harder and harder, knocking the breath out of my own lungs. The dogs’ song tried to cut through me, but I wasn’t going to give up. With one final buck, my hind legs broke through, shattering the vision into pieces. I glanced around, catching sight of the dogs fizzling out into nothingness. The sounds died with them, and in moments I was drifting in an endless expanse of bright light and silence, staring at the hole I had opened and been sucked through. Had I escaped? Had I broken free from the spell?
My ears twitched, and I spun around to face the source. There were voices, panicked and frightened. I threw my wings down, twisting my body around in the space and propelling me forwards. Gradually the voices became clear enough to understand them.
“What’s going on? Why is this happening?” said a young mare’s voice – or maybe it was not a pony? I couldn’t tell. “She’s in pain. You’ve got to stop!”
Me? Is she talking about me? What was I listening to?
A cold, wet cloth strip was wiped across my forehead, and the shock stirred my senses. I may have been flying in… I don’t know where, but I was aware of another place entirely. I could hear skittish steps scraping on a wooden floor, a number of metallic, shimmering rings in distinct tones, and someone to my far right grunting as if they were lifting something heavy.
“Fluttershy!” another voice rang out, much closer than the last and with a raspy tone fitting for a colt.
He knows my name. How do I know him?
Something gripped my left foreleg, holding on tight and refusing to let go. Four points dug into my leg, and though it hurt, it felt… Welcomed. Everything in my mind went blank, and I brought my gaze to my leg. There was nothing visibly there, but I could feel it. It was as if it were a ghost holding onto me. My wings fell out of sync and left me floating in the light, but I barely noticed. All I could concentrate on was the feeling of another being’s warmth travel up my leg, and the chaos assaulting my ears growing into a crescendo.
“Who let the twerp in here?” A gruff voice called out.
“Let go of her!” another voice joined, falling in with a scuffle of hurried steps. “Waking her would hurt her even more! The spell must not be broken!”
“But she’s struggling!” The boy’s voice snapped back. “She’s already being hurt! Something’s wro-Hey! Let go of me!” There were sounds of struggling, and the grip around my leg tightened. “Just. Let. Me. Sit with her!” he growled. “No!” My leg felt like it burst into flames, the four points digging into my fur before vanishing entirely. I winced and shot a glance at my leg, revealing not a single scratch, but the pain was real. I heard a gasp, and in minutes I felt the wet cloth move from my head to my leg. The coolness of the water mixed with the heat, quickly putting it out.
“Take him outside and calm him down. Everyone else, give us some space.” a mature voice ordered. Sounds of shuffling echoed in the room, all heading to a certain point in the room and fading away. There was a light thud as a door latch fell into place, muffling the voices outside. A steady beat on the floorboards came up to the left side of the bed I was resting on, adding a rhythm to the ringing still playing on the right. My ear twitched and swung around, being tickled by someone’s breath. “Relax, Fluttershy,” the mature, suddenly soft voice cooed. I felt a tiny shock pulse through my veins, occurring in time with a new harmonic tone joining the first. The symphony was not for me to hear though, and was quickly lost entirely under the sudden weight and drowsiness tugging on my muscles. “It’ll be all over soon,” she promised. “Stay where you are.”
Where was I, anyway? Wait… How did I get here?
I turned around in the vast space, and saw a thin blue strip snaking over to me. It was emerging from a hole that had been made in the seemingly endless field of light. Did… Did I come through there? Did I make that hole? The strip reached for me and took a hold of my foreleg – in the exact same place as it was held before. It hooked itself around and tugged gently, pulling me back to the hole it had come from. I didn’t know where I was going, but I didn’t want to go yet, I wanted to know who the voices were.
“No, wait!” I called out, I tried to move my wings and resist, but they didn’t move at all. I peered out into the distance - the awareness I once had already missing – and reached out for something to grab hold of. It was no use. I was going where the strange strip of colour wanted me.
I passed through the broken wall, straight into an unusual, but really familiar, collage of grey and splotches of colour. The hole closed up after me, and quickly disappeared among the clutter of shapes and glimmering strips and flat planes. I remembered this place, I had been here before; but when?
A sharp breath shot into my lungs and stayed there. I felt my head fill with a rush of memories. I nearly forgot everything! The memory spell, what had happened to Equestria, Canterlot, the dragons and dogs, Zecora – everything!
“And you are very, very lucky I managed to bring you back before it was lost for good, Fluttershy,” the unseen mare’s voice said breathlessly. “I hope you have changed your mind after all of that.”
I nodded at the vast nothingness. I had.
“Did you find something enlightening?”
I gazed at my foreleg, at the blue strip that was still guiding me down to the platform below. Minutes ago I had felt someone hold onto me tighter than a newborn critter, but why couldn’t I remember who it was? I swallowed a lump in my throat. What would’ve happened if I awoke as clueless as I am now –or much worse? I didn’t want to begin to imagine.
“Hmph, I should’ve guessed,” the voice said flatly as I touched down on the conforming, transparent floor. “After all, it’s unlike you to be selfish.”
Those words stung more than they should’ve, and in a second my heart felt heavy chains wrapping around it. The blue strip released me and drifted back in the mishmash of desaturated colours, vanishing from sight.
“Now,” the unseen mare said. “Shall we go on? There is so much I want to ask you about.”
I lay myself on the floor, sighing. I felt horrible for losing my temper, but at the same time, I was thankful I had. I had found a new reason to keep remembering what I had gone through, and this time it was something I knew that was real and true. What do you want to talk about? I asked silently.
There was no hesitation in the listener’s voice. “What you discovered in the Freelands – hundreds of miles away from Equestria. Before you remembered everything from your first visit to Canterlot, you remembered being led into the Freelands region by your own Element; the Element of Kindness. You do remember that, correct?”
I did. I remembered the depression I felt, but only now did I understand why I felt that way; I remembered watching countless dragons fly over me, heading in the direction I came from; and I remembered being guided underneath an ancient ruin, deep underground into a dark and dank corridor. What about it in particular? I thought, knowing that the listener would hear me.
“What was behind that stone door? What did you find inside? What were you looking for?” The questions were coming too quickly for me to answer.
“I… I don’t think I knew what I was looking for. I was just following where my Element wanted me to go.”
The listening mare was not convinced. “Hmph, so you followed phenomena that nopony had ever seen before, crossed the border into The Fang, and travelled to the Freelands without ever knowing what it was you were being led to?”
I nodded. As far as I knew, that was the truth.
“Did you at least leave the ruin feeling like it was worth your time?” the listener quizzed.
I don’t know. I shook my head, trying to find anything that would jog my memory. I can’t remember right now.
“Well then…” the listener trailed off. I looked up into the grey sky above me, searching for an answer that she was looking for. Hues of pinks and deep blues gently bubbled to the surface, before mixing away and being lost in the grey fog.
“Perhaps there was something to read; a mural or a book,” the mare’s voice piped up. “Or maybe there was somepony there?”
My mouth opened to say ‘no’, but the words never made it to my throat. My hooves felt clammy in their soles, and my ears drooped down under the weight of the icy chill that shot up the back of my neck. My wings jittered, unsure of the swirling feeling in the pit of my stomach. Was I supposed to flee or rush forward? The vast space around me wasted no time in constructing itself into a dark, damp tunnel while I trembled in place.
“Ah, it seems I triggered something,” the listening mare’s voice echoed somewhere distant. I stared ahead, straining my eyes to see inside the dark space the memory had constructed around me. A stone door appeared at the end of the tunnel, and cautiously I walked up to it, certain that I had seen this door before. There were six depressions worn into the pale rock, each with a different symbol emerging from it. Together, they orbited around a carved spiral shape with two stars slightly off from its center. One of the orbiting markings glowed with an arc of magic jittering and jumping between it and me. I looked down, and as I did I felt the soft, long locks of my mane fall away and leave behind a shortened, dirty mop. Around my neck was the source of energy; the Element of Kindness.
The listener’s voice tickled my ears, and I tried to listen out for her, foolishly hoping I could escape this fragment I didn’t feel ready to re-live. My saddlebags swung down over my sides, tucking my wings underneath them, and the coarse, dirty bandage I had around my leg rubbed into my skin. In moments I was completely absorbed in the vision, and planted firmly inside my memories.