Artesius slowed as they reached the city. He was the emissary between the centaurs and all other peoples. He’d always known that he would some day interact with humans. His people, and their allies, however were under the impression that they could continue to live isolated from the humans.

“It looks like ruins,” Dwyn said softly.

“It is ruins,” Ari replied. “The city is hidden by them.”

“At present, humans aren’t interested in their ancestors… at least not enough to disturb their ancient cities. It’s a good cover – for now,” Artesius said. His voice was quiet and tense.

“Reconsidering?” Ari asked.

“In for a penny,” Artesius said, with a shake of his head. He led the way with seeming confidence. He paused long enough for the humans to tie their mounts up outside the city walls. He knew, though they didn’t, that the city guards would see to the animals.

When they passed into the city proper, he heard Dwyn catch his breath. “It’s… almost like gold,” he whispered.

Artesius chuckled and shook his head. “A play of the light. There’s no gold here – only golden lamps. “The archives are this way,” he added leading them toward the building that housed the databases holding information on all the known inhabitance – both noble and criminal – on the planet. If the building were awe-inspiring, Artesius wondered what the humans would make of the computers.

“It’s beautiful,” Dwyn added.

“I suppose,” Artesius replied. “I prefer natural beauty, myself. That’s why the herds mostly live outside the city. Only in the wilds can we see all the stars in the sky. The city has too much light pollution.”

“Light… pollution?” Dwyn asked softly.

“The ambient light in the city is so great that only the brightest stars can be seen,” Artesius replied. “If we can’t see them their voices are silent to us.” He saw the boy’s nod of understanding. Each group had something to contribute to the other – if only they would put aside their differences.