Waking in Bannic

An older drawing of this story from August of 2017.

Waking in Bannic

I just had too keep going. I just had to trust I’d be okay. So when I fell to the ground, I didn’t really know what to expect, except that I’d be alright. I had to trust that, I had too. The moment I said I would be okay, I fell down and slipped into darkness.


Relax, Ailith.

I opened my eyes slowly, and watched as my faint surroundings formed from the blurry colors into shapes I could somewhat make out. But to see something besides white was pretty great. I gathered that I was just in a small room, but it was strangely tall. It was all the same wood, a light grey I could barely call brown, but it had the feel of an old cabin lived in many years by a close family.

“Ailith,”

“Ailith…”

I groggily turned my head toward the voice, and met the eyes of a large woman. She was all bundled up in layers of clothes and had big curly hair, adding to her already cuddly atmosphere. Her eyebrows were thick and expressive, well, all her features were thick and expressive. I watched her mouth move, but struggled to understand what she was saying, distracted by her strange, square pupils.

“Oh, Good! How are you holding up?” She came closer to my face and raised her thick eyebrows. I couldn’t quite match her excitement in my groggy state.

I was still trying to form the words to ask where I was.

“Um… Im alright.” It was clear I hadn’t used my voice in a while. “Where…where are we?”

“Bannic, just a small village in these mountains.” She grabbed a piece of wet cloth, “I’m Granity, by the way,” Granity gave me a big wide smile. “Okay, so, You’ve been here for two weeks now. You’ve been coming in and out, but you’ve been doing pretty well.” she was talking quickly while she arranged my surroundings, “You got some special forces on your side, little miss. Now, how are you feeling?”

“Um… warmer, still kind of-” She laid the cloth on my head, the heat of it consumed all my immediate thoughts, I couldn’t help but fully experience it before I finished my sentence. “…kind of chilly.”

“Well, you’re really lucky we found you, you were under almost a foot of snow! Lucky your shield was sticking out of the ground, and it glew! What an interesting little enchantment…”

Granity went on about how her brother unburied me and brought me here, she said they went through my things to find out who I was, because they didn’t know if I would wake up, she said she hoped it was alright that she did that, I nodded.

“So, What were you doing out there?”

“Going East,” I mumbled.

“Well, you couldn’t go around the mountains?” She giggled sweetly, drawing a circle with her finger.

I made no effort to tell her why, I honestly didn’t know either. But whatever the voice says, and here I am.

“Well, wherever you’re going, there should be no reason to stay here any longer.”

Yes, time to go. I began to sit up.

“No No! Not just yet.” She gently pushed me back to the bed.

“Wha..Why…?”

“You need something to protect you from these mountains! Did you really think you were going back out in that cold unprepared?”

I slumped into the bed and huffed under my breath. She was right. I needed to recoup.

“I’ll be right back.” She grabbed my hand gently, it was warm, so nice and so warm…

“Stay here!” She stood up, her body rising much higher than I had imagined her height being, and as she began to make her way out. I then understood why her eyes were so strange and square. As she exited the room, I saw her legs were covered in thick fur, bent at a strange angle, and her giant hooves creaking the wood floor beneath her.

I layed, staring blankly at the door she left through, trying to process with my weak and unclear thoughts what I just saw. I matched her bulky stature and strong appearance to a mountain goat, and concluded this was a Satyr village.

I turned my aching body on my back and surprised myself by crying a bit. I had passed out in the perfect place, just where someone would find me, and would bring me to a place where I could be brought back to health.

 Thank you. I whispered to the voice through gracious tears.

You knew I’d be there for you.

I calmed down after a while and dried my wet tears with the edge of the blanket by my face and fell asleep again.

Waking up later, I had felt much better and decided to try walking again. I had to put too much effort into pulling my feet out from under the covers onto the ice-cold stone floor in order to truly realize that I was still absolutely freezing. I reached for the blanket and pulled it off the bed and over my shoulders. Why was I still so cold?!

I noticed my dress was across the room, folded up nicely by my sword and shield and I… was just wearing my underskirts.

I ignored the thought of how that went down and I slipped into my dress quickly as I could. The sooner I got them on the warmer I’d be. I assumed the Granity washed the dress in hot water, it was still warm on my skin. That feeling of violation was instantly forgiven.

Granity walked in, holding a small bag.

“I looked for something warm for you, but I couldn’t find anything that would fit you, but, I do have some coins,” She handed me the bag. “There is enough in here to buy yourself something extra toasty and to buy enough food to get you out of the mountains, if you just keep going straight east, you will be out of here in two or three days, we are pretty close to the edge of this terrain.”

    “Thank you.” I smiled, pulling my thin little coat over myself.

    “The store is two buildings down, go there and straight there.” She bent down to my height. “People don’t take too kindly to Listeners here, so you need to be careful.”

    She put her massive hands gently over my shoulders, but they were more around my entire core, the fact that she could crush me right now reminded me that while I knew to be careful, it was more important than ever that I don’t get on a Satyr’s bad side.

    ¨I will be, thank you for everything, Granity- and thank your brother for me too, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him.¨

    She smiled and wrapped her arms around me, I was buried in her furry scarf.

    ¨Thank you, Ailith, from both of us.¨ She pulled me away and gave me a long look.

¨You’ve changed everything for me and Valor.¨ She looked down. ¨It’s all for the better, but… it´s dangerous here now. Especially for you.¨

I nodded and made my way out her cozy cottage.

    The second my foot hit the world outside, the cold froze me, the snow blinded me, and the wind nearly knocked me off my feet into the side of the door. I gasped at the shock it all, I heard Granity laugh behind me at my surprise. I would have laughed too but I had to keep walking in this blizzard.

 

It was an eternity away, and through the fast think snow coming down I saw this entire village was propped up on tall stilts over the snow, I walked, well, sort of ran- straight across the rope bridges and the boardwalks to get to the store. The door slammed behind me from the wind causing me to jump. I shook the snow off like a dog and took in the store. It had the same coziness the other house had, only this one was full of blankets, clothes, capes, and boots. It was quiet, except for two satyr men in the corner talking quite passionately about something.

A quick redraw of an older storyboard I did of this short story.

“Can I help you. Miss?” I turned to another large Satyr man, he had very dramatic horns, his most prominent feature that stood out to me, minus the legs. He wore a gruff face with a big plastered smile hiding behind a thick beard. He was accompanied by a general kind of ticked-off atmosphere.

    “Yes! I’m looking for something warm.”

    ” Hm…” He sized me down. “I think I can do that for you.”

    “Wonderful!”

    “Our capes for the kids are all over here,” He guided me toward a small pile of folded fur. “This is probably the only section of clothes that will fit you,” He did one huff of a chuckle under his breath, “I suggest a thick one, like this one,” He rummaged through the pile and pulled out a cape that was very furry on the shoulders,with a thick warm drape on it and the inside of it was completely lined with fur. I would bake in it. It was perfect.

“I’ll take it! How much?” I pulled out the money Granity gave me.

He looked off to the side, slightly snarling his nose. “It’s… on the house,”  and he dropped it in my arms, the weight coming down from the hight he dropped it nearly buckled my knees.

“Oh no no no!! I,-”

“I… insist, mam, Granity gave that money to you, I can get it back to her for you, just… take the cape, you’ll need it,”

I sighed with a grateful smile. “Thank you so much, sir. I-”

A sudden loud crash came from behind us, a satyr man flew over a display onto another satyr, they were on the floor and were suddenly brawling aggressively with their horns and fists. My mind went to my sword, but then I imagined trying to fight one of these massive creatures with something I only just recently acquired.

I shuffled as quickly as I could away from the sudden mess that erupted, the fighting satyrs, caught up in their fight, had rolled the battle over toward us, the store clerk jumped out of the way, picking me up with him effortlessly, making me feel even more like a flimsy little doll with my limbs flailing.

“Crazy!” The grey saytr said, “You’re not one of us!”

“Who is it to-” The other brown one dodged a punch, “-to decide that??”

“The town leaders ordered the extinction of any form of evil change!” The grey satyr quoted a law.

They both somehow got up off the ground and were now trying to shove each other down again, their hooves smashed the floor, they were so massive, it was like watching two storms battle for the sky, I backed against the wall, tripping on fallen displays as they rolled the battle around the room.

“Any form of evil change!” The brown satyr said, emphasizing the evil. “This ‘insanity’ you-” He threw a punch, it landed successfully on the grey’s jaw, my jaw dropped just thinking about what the power of that single blow would do to my own jaw. “This insanity you call it, it’s good!”

“Your insanity says we leave our ways! That we leave our home in these mountains!”

They had their fists clasped trying to shove the other down now, their impressive hooves slipped, but caught them as they pushed harder on each other. They stared each other down furiously, talking low now. The deep power of their voices created a hollow feeling in my stomach,  “What this voice says, is that there id so much more out there than what anything here has to offer us!!” Just the mention of the voice gave that brown satyr strength, and he knocked his opponent to the ground, and the brown Satyr smashed his hoof into the grey chest powerfully, knocking the wind out him.

“Here in these mountains we are happy! We are safe! Does your voice tell you that, Valor??” The grey said when the life returned to his lungs.

“No, it says that we need to enter the world-,” the brown one leaned down with his hoof still pinning other satyr, “…And that we will  only stay here hungry, and we will all one day disappear without a trace to the cold.”

Then the grey satyr rolled over the brown, now pinning the brown one down. The grey got in the Brown’s face. I could barely make out his hissing whisper, “This voice had driven you mad, we can’t have this…” He slowly pulled a long blade out from his cape, it appeared the other didn’t notice.

“He’s got a knife!!” I screamed, “He’s got a-” the store clerk yanked my sword from my sheath and threw it off to the side. Before I could respond he swiped his arm in front of me, holding me against him, and held his hand over my mouth, covering my whole face in a brawny grip, my heart beat from fast to faster, knowing I could break at his will.

“Finish him off, Marku!!” The store clerk said to they grey satyr, “Do it! For the people!” The passion in his voice boomed from his chest, vibrating against my back. I could only struggle and let out opposing muffled, weak screams. The store clerk so quickly sickened me, but his iron grip on my little human body and his clasp on my face would never allow for me to escape.  

The brown satyr grabbed a pan from a knocked over shelf, I thought he would try to bang it against the grey satyr’s head, but it probably wouldn’t have done much, taking into account the satyrs had massive horns over their heads, so the brown satyr shoved the handle through the grey’s mouth and up through his head, and he limped, dead, and slid off the victorious brown satyr. My struggling stopped abruptly, my mind processing what I had just witnessed through the store clerks fingers. The brown satyr got up quickly, and looked at the mess he had made, breathing heavy. He sounded like a horse, his breaths were so powerful. He turned toward the store clerk, who was a completely different man now, The brown satyr gave him a stare that burned with anger. I didn’t quite find relief in his vicious stare, but I hoped for the best assuming he was on my side.

Then the brown satyr ran toward our direction.

A more recent quick sketch of some of these characters.

The store clerk lost his grip on me in an attempt to jump out of the way from the brown satyr’s beeline, but the satyr was quick and kicked a fallen display over, tripped the both of us, and also knocked over a small hanging display with heavy capes on it, which fell on me and buried me under them, yet another obstacle to get out of here as quick as I could. I popped my head out of the pile to get a view of the situation when I saw the store clerk was in close proximity of the dead grey satyr’s knife, he took the liberty of grabbing it and pointed it at the brown satyr. The store clerk stood up and stared at him, then me, then back at him. I had no idea what he had in mind but I couldn’t get untangled from the heavy capes fast enough. I was almost out when the clerk swiftly yanked the capes off of me and grabbed me by my wrist. His angry grip caused me to whimper. The clerk was sweating and shaking, but his grip did not loosen.

“Valor, you know who this is?” He had wild eyes and pointed the knife accusatory at me.

The brown satyr, Valor, nodded slowly. He acknowledged that the clerk was on top right now, standing cautiously, thinking the situation though.

“I think she wants you to let her go,” Valor lifted his chin in my direction as I desperately attempting to yank my hand away.

The store clerk looked me and pulled me against him and held the blade to my neck, it shook in his fear. My stomach dropped to a new level of fear.

“She’s the listener,” I heard the clerk swallow nervously, ”She’s the reason all this is happening, and ever since you read her cursed journal you’ve been acting like a madman! Now, I don’t wanna…” He hovered the knife shakingly across my neck to signify cutting my throat, I pulled my head back as far away it as I could, I was breathing heavier than he was now, shoving myself away from the knife with all the little strength I had compared to these large creatures. His voice was still shaky, but his anger was alarmingly quick to replace his fear. “…But if I have too, to make you stop acting like…like a lunatic! …I will, I swear I WILL!” His voice turned from a low mutter to a harsh yell so suddenly I started tearing up.

“Stop!” Valor demanded, “Just let her go… It’s not her fault she came around here.”

“Oh, really? I’ve heard of these listeners before, Valor, they have plenty reason to pop up ‘randomly’ and spread their idea through a town! And the weak minded people like you, they are the ones that fall for it! And then you know what listeners do? They claim the ‘voice’ told them to go kill that whole village or destroy that entire town! They are bad news, Valor, and the second I heard one was town I knew it would bring trouble.” The rage the clerk had for me caused him to hold me so tight he nearly crushed me, and I could sense the cold metal near my neck with a little too much detail, everything in my being begging to escape this horrible mess.

She’s never killed anyone before,” he looked at me, asking, “…right?”

I shook my head violently No.

Another development sketch of this short. It’s my personal favorite, and while it didn’t make the final cut it’s still a great sketch.

“Of course she would lie to you! She wants you to believe her!! To help her go kill all the other people who aren’t listeners!” The clerk nicked my neck a little on accident, and I startled myself with my sharp yelp..

This might be it.

I…I never thought that before. This is how all those other listeners go, people kill them because they are scared, because we are telling them to do things differently, we are telling them they are wrong. They think we kill, they think we all hate them… all the people not like us. I never felt like the dark listeners would lead to my demise, but here I am, Valor and I here are just like any other Listener, but because the dark listeners killed, we are the lunatic monsters to him. The thoughts hollowed me out more than I ever thought was possible.

“Valor, I’m gonna kill her, and you are next, I…we, satyrs, all of us!!!…are going to get rid of every last bit of your insanity!!” He yelled it like an angry wolf barks, the sound so loud it was like static in my ears, hurting my head.

I was screaming now, pulling away and struggling for my life, I couldn’t see through my tears, The clerk went on and on about Listeners… but my screams… My screams weren’t mine. They were more desperate than I ever heard from me.

And then… The clerk stopped. The sudden ending of the cayos cleared my mind. The blade fell. I stood… alive. I was breathing, breathing heavy, but the clerk, he slumped down to the ground beside me. He was… not breathing at all.

My sword was through his neck.

Valor stared down at the dead satyr.


“I’m sorry that happened to you,” Valor pulled the thick coat that he took from the store over my shoulders.

“Dear, I’m so sorry, I thought Huog was safe, I wouldn’t have sent you there if I had known…”

We were at Granity’s house again. It turned out she was Valor’s sister, she was also a new listener.

I couldn’t say anything. I just ran my finger across the fresh scar on my neck. We had cleaned my sword and gotten out of the building, doing our best to take care of the bodies… but Valor had explained that the Satyr people would know it was because of Listeners this happened. And they would be looking for us soon. It wasn’t over.

“It’s going to be really hard getting out of this place. There are walls built all the way around the town, there are just two ways out of this place, and they know we are trying to get out of town, so they will be waiting for us.”

“Then let’s get going,”

“Good Idea.”

“I’m Ailith.” I said, realizing I hadn’t officially introduced myself to him.

“I know, everyone was talking about you.”