I turned around, ready to scold Denali for stopping when what I saw made my heart stop. My kodo was knee-deep in thick black tar and sinking fast. Denali bellowed, bringing her heavy footpads out of the muck. They trailed strings of sticky black tar and make a sucking sounds at the suction pressure. As she put her foot down to pull out another limb that foot became trapped again. I dropped the reins and ran to her side, very mindful of where I treaded. She was struggling and bawling loudly, and as she struggled her movements sank her deeper and deeper. It was at that point that I noticed the multitudes of skeletons of large creatures lining the bog. They had all met their fate in the bog and it was claiming Denali as its next victim. I screamed and tugged on the reins, but it was no use. By this point she was submerged up her to shoulders and she groaned at me pitifully. I clambered atop of her, praying that my weight wouldn’t sink her faster, and I unbuckled the straps of her barding and saddle. It wasn’t enough, the suction of the bog was too much for her and she could barely move now. She lay down in the muck, her body heaving with exhaustion, and she stopped trying to free herself. I begged her to hold on as I ran into the jungle, looking for something to help. I came across I fallen tree and inspiration came to me. I began hacking into the wood, trying to make a ramp of sorts to pry her free. My weapons were not suited to the task and the light was failing, but I screamed my prayers to the Earthmother to aid me in my task. I dragged the logs back to Denali, who by now was just a still mound in the fading light. I shoved one end of each log into the muck, trying to place them under her front legs. She lay there watching me sadly, all hope gone from her eyes. She had decided to die here, for she had no fight left in her. My ramp was in place, but my kodo lacked the strength to use it. At that point I grabbed my spear, I was shaking with emotion and exhaustion and I placed the tip at her neck. I don’t think she understood me, but my actions made it clear enough. “I will not watch you slowly drown. If you will not move, then I will put you out of your misery HERE AND NOW!”
She looked at me sadly, and gave one last heave. Her foot found purchase on the log and she slowly began to rise out of the pit. Once that first move was done, she followed up with another step and soon she was beside me on the soil, panting heavily. She collapsed to her knees and I did right alongside her, crying into her body. She was covered in the filthy, sticky muck, but I didn’t care- she was alive. Darkness swallowed us as we lay there, catching our breath. Thanks to the blackness I was able to see a flickering light of a fire in the mountains not too far from us. It might have been the camp of an enemy, true, but I was willing to risk finding out. Better that than lying in the dark, easy prey for the creature.
As I lead Denali up the slope, my heart sank when I saw humans, a dwarf and gnome. I nearly reached for my weapon- for they had seen me, but I saw an orc and several goblins by their sides. They welcomed me to their camp with open arms. I traded some roots that I dug up for a salve to remove the tar from Denali’s hide. It seems that these people are explorers here, much like I am. The orc, Petra, is friendly and translates for me to the others. She even has a kodo to keep Denali company. It turns out that the tools I had found belong to the human, named Marshal. He offered me a place by his fire for their return. I am glad I have found this refuge. Even if it means camping alongside pinkies, at least I will be safe from the predators of Un’goro.