"Fluttershy? Can you hear my voice? Are you okay?"
I looked around, but all I could see was an endless plane of colours and shapes that I forgot about as quickly as I looked away from them. In fact, I couldn't even remember how I got here, or who was talking to me, but she sounded worried. "Um, I think I'm okay. Where am I?"
There was a moment of silence, and my eyes drifted around from place to place, struggling to focus on anything in particular. Everything was blurry, and... suddenly very claustrophobic. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, trying to calm myself down.
The voice spoke up again. "Don't worry Fluttershy, you know me, and I'm here to help you." Her tone sounded sincere, and like a caring mother's soothing voice to a young child.
I opened my eyes again, only to be greeted by featureless collections of colour and motion. "I don't understand, I... I can't see very well."
"That's quite alright and perfectly normal. I can help you see things more clearly, but you need to do something for me, too. Could you do that?"
I looked around, trying to place the voice, hoping to see somepony. "Okay..." I whispered, as I felt claustrophobia start to set in again. I closed my eyes tight, trying to not panic.
"Take deep breaths Fluttershy, I need you to concentrate. What I need you to do is let your thoughts wander. Think about any journeys you've recently taken."
I kept my eyes closed, and nodded slowly, still not sure what was going on.
"I want you to tell me everything you can remember, my little pony," the mare's voice said, "Let your train of thought carry you."
My eyes drifted open as I started thinking, there was something important just out of my mind's reach. I began mouthing the words 'train' and 'journey' as I tried to grab a hold of the thought. Suddenly, the shapes in front of me flew together and assembled a perfect view of Appaloosa's train station. I jumped back in surprise and watched as the scene quickly became just another collection of blurry colours and shapes.
"Very good, Fluttershy. That is a very good start," the mare praised, "See if you can try it again. This time, however, try to remember the last time you rode on a train."
I nodded, not considering whether she could see me or not, and started going through my mind for the last time I travelled by train. There were several times I had used a train. Several trips to Canterlot, a trip to the recently-returned Crystal Empire, Dodge Junction, and rides to Appaloosa all came to mind. In fact, I had gone to Appaloosa recently.
The world around me started to take the form of a new scene. I concentrated on it, and saw a scene of a tipped-over locomotive half buried in the sand. Something shifted to my right, and I looked towards it, seeing myself write a letter to somepony while on a moving train. Another scene took shape next to it, showing the Appaloosans and the Buffalo smiling at me and offering me a canteen full of water and a red headband with two feathers tucked into it. When I blinked, the scene changed to a closer look at the headband, laying on snow-covered stone bricks next to my saddlebags and the canteen. My hooves reached forward and picked the headband up, allowing me to see how dirty and damaged it had become. I carefully pulled it onto my head and pushed my short mane out of my eyes.
"Short?" I spoke aloud as I turned to face behind me. The snowy scene fell away from me and another took it's place before my eyes. A dark cave glimmering with what seemed to be pairs of blue eyes, sending a chill into my spine. I gasped and took off running, the ground changing from hard stone to dying grass and dry soil. I looked up ahead, and saw the border for the Everfree Forest. I was about to stop when I heard the sound of somepony chasing me, i wquickly glanced behind me and caught sight of a massive beast with large fangs. I broke into a full gallop, and suddenly felt weighed down by my saddlebags and canteen - wait, when did I pick those up?
As I ran deeper into the forest, the sky turned black and the dense woods opened up into a massive, rocky landscape with pools of lava dotted around. I looked around in confusion, spotting several fully-grown Dragons circling above, some with their eyes fixed on me. In fright, I frantically searched for a way out, and saw a hole in the ground that seemed to go down into some caves, without giving it a second thought, I leapt down the hole, skidding and sliding down into the abyss as orange fire washed over the ground above me.
I slid further and further down, rolling and flailing in the darkness as I hit the walls and reached out for anything to grab onto. Just as I feared, the tunnel opened out into a sheer drop, and I tumbled down as I struggled to get my senses together to fly. Finally, I pointed myself going down head-first and unfurled my wings, but before I began to work my wings to stop my fall, I spotted a glint of light beneath me. I felt a sense of urgency to fly after it and catch it, and without much more thought I flapped my wings to fall faster. As I inched closer to the strange shimmer, the glint took the form of the Element of Magic, and shone brighter and brighter as I neared it. I stretched my foreleg in front of me, trying to touch the Element, and with another flap of my wings my hoof bumped into it. Suddenly, the Element of Magic burst into a blinding light, and took a hold of me with it's own magic. It slowed my fall and gently placed me on the ground, all while my vision slowly returned and my heartbeat lowered to a normal rate.
I looked around myself, speechless. I had returned to the place filled with strange colours and shapeless forms, but now, it felt bigger, brighter maybe.
I stood up onto my hooves and checked myself for any cuts or scratches. Nothing, even my mane was at it's full length again. Confused, I looked up in the air and called for the mare.
"I'm still here, Fluttershy, I've been listening the whole time," the gentle voice assured me.
'Listening? When did I start speaking?' I thought to myself.
"You don't need to speak, I can hear you all the same."
"What!?" I gasped, "What's going on, who are you!? Where am I-"
"Please, Fluttershy. It's okay, I'll explain." the mare spoke softly, "You are under a spell to help you remember the past three months of your life. A lot has happened that you don't remember, that nopony knows, but this memory spell shall help you explore your own mind and uncover your memories. I am able to hear you and see what you see because I am in the trance with you, maintaining the spell."
I sat down on my haunches slowly, trying to process what was being said, and quickly gave up and put my hooves on my head. "I don't think I need to know any more... I'm sorry" I whimpered.
"Don't be, little one, I'm sorry for putting you through this, but this is very important for everypony. We need to know what happened to you. It's not going to be pleasant, Fluttershy, but I'll always be here, you can trust me, I am one of your closest friends."
My ears perked up and I lifted my head, an image of my closest friends; Rarity, Twilight, Pinkie, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash flickered in front of me before disappearing once again. Though I knew this mare was not any one them, she sounded familiar enough for me to know that I could trust her. I stood up slowly, and took another deep breath. The only way I was going to understand why things were like this was by forcing myself to remember what happened. I didn't like the sound of what was coming. But if I had lived through it once, then it shouldn't be so bad to simply remember it. Not remembering a whole three months of my own life was probably worse than anything that could've happened in that time. And if my memories were important to no just me, but everypony, then I had to try to get my memory back, for them at least.
I looked up into the air, and started to speak. "What... what do I need to do?"
"Allow yourself to rest, and let your mind do the searching. Let's try and start from the earliest memory you have, the train buried in the sand perhaps? What can you tell me about that?"
I nodded slowly and stared off into the distance, and for a few minutes, I said nothing. The mare didn't say another word, probably knowing that I was trying to let the memory come to me.
Slowly, the scene of the train emerged, and with it, came a flurry of whispers and other images that gradually organised themselves into some sort of order. I looked over the scenes before me, their stories becoming clearer with each second, and I began to recount what had happened three months ago.
"I... I can remember it now..." I whispered "...What happened before I was stranded in the desert."
Survivor Shy Gallery: [link] Suvivor Shy on Fimfiction (on temporary break so I can rewrite and re-organise it there): [link] My Tumblr (WIPs, etc) [link]
After nearly two months of terrible art block, this beast is done. it was a bad idea to make this a comic especially since I approached it wrong. Drawing a rough total of 11 or 12 decent-sized pictures and the scaling them down and arranging them into this comic killed me, especially since I didn't want to release much of the comic until it was all together and finished.
Aside from how long it took, I'm very pleased with how the artwork came out. The only thing I would change is the terrible font I'm using. But since Windows seems to not have a font that breathes "Fluttershy" in a heavenly whisper, I opted to use a practical, albeit boring, font for the text.
The writing itself came about after starting at 12am and finishing a 2.40am while tired. I think I ended up writing such chaotic, fast-paced, yet dreamlike passages because I was halfway to lala land myself. I didn't to write half the things I did, but I'm glad I did in the end.
This story excerpt is laced with references to different parts of the story. Some of the things have already been covered in other scenes, but others exist only in my notes at the moment, and will have me chuckling to myself for a while since I alone know the penultimate details.
Things are gonna start picking up now that the comic is done. I'm going to be drawing two new scenes in particular that dA and Tumblr users can see first before they appear on FimFiction. Over on FimFiction, I'm going to be reorganising the story's scenes and combining them into longer chapters in order to maintain some measure of coherency. But until I draw these two scenes in my mind, I cannot release the Prologue and first (chronological) chapter back to back. Until then, keep an eye here or on Tumblr for updates if you want to catch the latest as it comes!
Ah, so this is why Survivor Shy is so disjointed. The entire story is actually a series of flashbacks experienced by Fluttershy as she works through her blocked memories of these events. I'll be looking forward to seeing what happens as this story continues, and to ultimately finding out the identity of the mare helping Fluttershy. While I did first think of Celestia, as other commenters had, it could potentially be Luna or even Twilight.
The reason why I left the mare's identity unknown is because knowing who it is (or isn't) will make it easy to know if there is a 'good end' or 'bad end' in store for Fluttershy and the reader. Plus, if Fluttershy knows who she is being monitored by, it may make her behave differently or even unwilling to cooperate. Trusting her gut instinct that the mare is a friend, even though Fluttershy doesn't know who she is, encourages her to be more honest and candid to her listener (and the reader) than she would be with a listener who is definitely evil. This is very important in my opinion, because it establishes that Fluttershy's narrative will be as reliable as possible, meaning that even when the story reaches something that she's ashamed of or uncomfortable about, she won't refuse to discuss it or lie.
I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be Trixie, as the magic she's shown thus far have been more about theatrics than real power; I don't believe she's strong enough to intrude on Fluttershy's thoughts in this manner. Though the idea that this mysterious figure could be someone sinister disguising her (or his) voice as someone more trustworthy does worry me.
Yes, the pictures I draw act as illustrations for important scenes in the fanfic Survivor Shy. This comic is an exception to other illustrations in that it's a comic, the other illustrations tend to be single images or animated gifs.
The fanfic itself is still ongoing, and currently in need of a reorganisation and some editing. But if you don't mind reading the story as-is, you can find it here: [link]
It currently lacks this prologue, because I want to draw two more illustrations before I update the fanfic on fimfiction.
So, if I understand this correctly, Fluttershy managed to save everypony and now is being magicked into remembering what had happened. Probably by Princess Celestia herself, as it is only her that names her subjects little ponies. Dang, this and the prologue comic sorta destroys my theory of it being Celestia that had scorched everything. Unless she had gone insane like Luna-Nightmare Moon, and now that she recovered, she is trying to understand what had actually happened.
That said, I'm truly amazed at how you pulled this particular scene off. The comic part is the prologue (before Fluttershy's journey had happened) and the story is part of the epilogue (after the pegasus' journey). I was certain before that in case of some of the events (mainly the epilogue), you will have to keep the chronological order, lest it would give away the story. But no! You not only managed to introduce part of the epilogue before the story is finished, but also merged it with the prologue. It's genius! Kudos on that.
The story has a metric ton of hidden and not so hidden details. Fluttershy's visions, for example, are a broad overview of certain points in the story. The visions are directly referencing memories, but fly through them before she can grasp any one of them (and reveal spoilers). But by running through the visions, Fluttershy refreshes her mind, and clears a part of her brain that is fogged by amnesia.
I'm not saying who the unseen pony is, whether you think you know or not, you still don't know for sure, and that hint of uncertainty shall keep you guessing (mwuahahaha)
It's funny that you read the comic as the Prologue and the story as the Epilogue. It can work that way with no problems, but when it comes to the story on FimFiction, I was planning on putting the story excerpt first, leading into the comic's narrative - it's all the in the Prologue. That said, the memory spell is being used where Fluttershy's story is nearing it's end, so the reader is being given an in-depth recap before learning how Fluttershy came to be wandering inside her own mind, trying to remember what happened, before progressing to what I actually have planned as the Epilogue.
Telling a story in such a messed up way has certainly helped me tremendously in planning multiple things at once and keeping track of the story's progress.
Comic is wonderful ! As well as text. The only remark is about that unseen pony. As I understand - you want to keep things tense by keeping her identity hidden. My remark is that if we know that there was nopony except Fluttershy in her post-apocalyptic memories and from the start we know that Fluttershy is talking to _pony_ - it kinda spoils ending anyway. We do not know who is her, good or evil (btw I personally did not find there any tips about that entity being possibly evil until you mentioned it in comments), but she is a _pony_. I think keeping not only her name but race hidden (by change everypony to everyone, one or two other hints that she is possibly not pony, even if she is a friend) could give better effect.
I don't see how it spoils the story. Fluttershy is the one saying the voice is a mare's voice. It's more natural for her to say that to specify a female than how humans would describe a female (such as lady, woman, girl, etc). What's to say that Fluttershy is right in her default assumption that she is speaking to a female pony and not a female something-else?
I can make a second run-through for editing before I take this to FimFiction and put some doubt in - have Fluttershy acknowledge her uncertainty to make it clearer that her perspective is all the reader has to go on, and that she even if she refers the voice as a mare's, she's not certain if she is a mare and not some other race.