The Party is traveling along a well built (roman style) road through a swamp between two cities. There is an Inn at the half way mark and you are about two hours travel out from there when you see a lad in his mid teens at the side of the road. He is talking in a calm but hurried voice and is obviously in a bit of a panic as he leans over something in the mud. As you come closer it becomes clear. His horse is stuck in the mud up to its withers and the boy is trying to keep the animal calm. Behind him on the road is a largish pack with mud on the bottom that may have been on the horse when it fell in.
When asked, the boy, who’s name is Bram, explains that he was forced off the road when a unit of professional cavalry came racing along and, in an attempt to get out of the way, his horse slipped into the mud and, unable to free the animal quickly, it has sunk deeper and deeper as time went on. Bram said he was on his way to Emerald City (your destination as well) in hopes of being accepted as a squire in the kings special guard, a unit of paladins who not only guard the the King when he travels, but act as magistrates, investigators, and emergency relief workers around the kingdom as needed. But he refuses to leave his horse behind as she is a good, sound, loyal animal who he has known and ridden his whole life.