For the fandom’s edification, I present to you the portion of the novel the Neverending Story where Artax drowns in the Swamps of Sorrow, since this update parallels a lot with at least the movie version of this scene, and I think it’s likely that Hussie has read the book as well, so having the book version can only help people with their theories.
I hope this helps people’s theories and stuff.
One morning, when time seemed to be standing still in the murky light, he looked out from a hilltop and finally glimpsed the Swamps of Sadness. Clouds of mist drifted over them. Here and there he distinguished little clumps of trees. Their trunks divided at the bottom into four, five, or more crooked stilts, which made the trees look like great many-legged crabs standing in the black water. From the brown foliage hung aerial roots resembling motionless tentacles. It was next to impossible to make out where there was solid ground between the pools of water and where there was only a covering of water plants.
Artax whinnied with horror.
“Are we going in there, master?”
“Yes,” said Atreyu. “We must find Tortoise Shell Mountain. It’s at the center of those swamps.”
He urged Artax on and Artax obeyed. Step by step, he tested the firmness of the ground, but that made progress very slow. At length Atreyu dismounted and led Artax by the bridle. Several times the horse sank in, but managed to pull himself loose. But the farther they went into the Swamps of Sadness, the more sluggish became his movements.
He let his head droop and barely dragged himself forward.
“Artax,” said Atreyu. “What’s the matter?”
“I don’t know, master. I think we should turn back. There’s no sense in all this. We’re chasing after something you only dreamed about. We won’t find anything. Maybe it’s too late even now. Maybe the Childlike Empress is already dead, and everything we’re doing is useless. Let us turn back, master.”
Atreyu was astonished. “Artax,” he said. “You’ve never spoken like this. What’s the matter? Are you sick?”
“Maybe I am,” said Artax. “With every step we take, the sadness grows in my heart. I’ve lost hope, master. And I feel so heavy, so heavy. I can’t go on!”
“But we must go on!” cried Atreyu. “Come along, Artax!”
He tugged at the bridle, but Artax stood still. He had sunk in up to his belly. And he made no further effort to extricate himself.
“Artax!” cried Atreyu. “You mustn’t let yourself go. Come. Pull yourself out or you’ll sink.”
“Leave me, master,” said the little horse. “I can’t make it. Go on alone. Don’t bother about me. I can’t stand the sadness anymore. I want to die!”
Desperately Atreyu pulled at the bridle, but the horse sank deeper and deeper.
When only his head emerged from the black water, Atreyu took it in his arms.
“I’ll hold you, Artax,” he whispered. “I won’t let you go under.”
The little horse uttered one last soft neigh.
“You can’t help me, master. It’s all over for me. Neither of us knew what we were getting into. Now we know why they are called the Swamps of Sadness. It’s the sadness that has made me so heavy. That’s why I’m sinking. There’s no help.”
“But I’m here, too,” said Atreyu, “and I don’t feel anything.”
“You’re wearing the Gem, master,” said Artax. “It protects you.”
“Then I’ll hang it around your neck!” Atreyu cried. “Maybe it will protect you too.”
He started taking the chain off his neck.
“No,” the little horse whinnied. “You mustn’t do that, master. The Glory was entrusted to you, you weren’t given permission to pass it on as you see fit. You must carry on the Quest without me.”
Atreyu pressed his face into the horse’s cheek. “Artax,” he whispered. “Oh, my Artax!”
“Will you grant my last wish?” the little horse asked.
Atreyu nodded in silence.
“Then I beg you to go away. I don’t want you to see my end. Will you do me that favor?”
Slowly Atreyu arose. Half the horse’s head was already in the black water.
“Farewell, Atreyu, my master!” he said. “And thank you.”
Atreyu pressed his lips together. He couldn’t speak. Once again he nodded to Artax, then he turned away.
Bastion was sobbing. He couldn’t help it. His eyes filled with tears and he couldn’t go on reading. He had to take out his handkerchief and blow his nose before he could go on.
The Gem is how they refer to AURYN (the two twining snakes/our Cherub juju) most of the time.