Though they most often used human languages to communicate, centaurs were equine enough that they would also use sounds that were horse-like and body language. The humans with him could tell he was tense, Artesius knew, but there was no way that they, as humans could truly read what he wanted to tell them without words.

Then he heard it. The soft whicker of another who was down wind from him. He didn’t recognize the voice but it was a youngling. The youth had scented him and called to him softly, cautiously. He called back – more assuredly.

Then a small bay crept over the ridge. Artesius recognized the boy. He couldn’t recall the name, but he remembered the elders thought the boy was deaf to the natural world. “The grass warned me,” he called, tears starting in his eyes. “I was so happy to finally hear but – but it warned of change and – I didn’t want this.”

“I know,” Artesius called back. He trotted over to the youth and enfolded him in a gentle embrace. “It’s not your fault, child. You did nothing wrong. Hearing a warning didn’t cause this. Hush, you aren’t alone any more. I’ll stay with you.”

He felt the presence of the humans but ignored them, concentrating instead on the youth, reassuring him without speaking. They weren’t alone and if they had survived, perhaps others had also.