Els and Smarck, which was what the white cat-ferret told her to call him, travelled through the night. After a short conversation concerning Powerful Owls and their hunting habits, Smarck elected to travel tucked into the front of Els’ jerkin which she wore only half buttoned up anyway. Els walked cross country through the woods, heading west and guided by the full moon. Their only supplies and equipment were what Els was wearing and the backpack she had ready for when Hurm, her instructor, took her out for field craft lessons. It wasn’t much, but it was light – too light really because Els hadn’t dared take the time to raid the kitchen and larder before she left.
It was almost dawn when they reached the swampy area that was the reason there wasn’t a direct road between the village and the Imperial Highway running between Har Murhad in the north and Kel Ramadar in the south. The pale early light let her see the black bogs set in the ground and let her weave a path between them. It also let her see the man trapped in one, sunk in the black ooze to the middle of his chest but with both arms still above the muck.
“Hi,” Els stopped and considered his position, “I don’t suppose your feet are on the bottom, are they?”
“No. I was chasing after a bolting horse in the dark when I fell into this. I’ve been waiting for enough light to see what I’m in.” He was a Kargh, a few years older than her and with a nice smile.
“You’re in a black bog.” She was checking the nearby trees for usefully placed, sturdy limbs.
“It could be worse,” he said.
“Yes,” agreed Els, “it could be something that was actively trying to kill you instead of a passive carnivorous plant.”
“What?” He looked startled.
“A black bog is a type of pitcher plant.” She smiled at him. “Fortunately, I have rope.”