Artesius followed the humans, keeping himself between them and the armed faun until they reached the council chamber. A small part of him wasn’t surprised to find a tall blond elf seated at the center of the table. This could only be Ari’s father.

“Master Artesius, I understand your position as emissary but that does not mean you should bring humans within the walls of this city,” the elf said without preamble.

“Due respect councilman, the lives of many in my herd are at stake and I will not allow prejudice thinking to prevent me from helping them. These humans have offered their help and I have accepted. The city is the best place to find information on the human who has attacked my herd.”

The elf blinked in shock but seemed to agree with Artesius, at least for now. He directed his attention to Ari then and frowned. “Won’t you come home, Aria?” he asked softly. “What happened to you -”

“No, father,” she said, cutting him off. “I’ve found a place for myself and right now that place means that I’m going with the centaur and these humans to find out what has happened to the rest of the herd.”

“Surely your brothers,” the councilman began. He broke off at Ari’s fierce glare. “Whenever you’re ready, my dear,” he finished. “Very well, Master Artesius, but you are in charge of these humans. If they cause trouble while within city walls, you will suffer the consequences.”

“I understand,” Artesius said softly. “Rest assured, we mean only to gather information.” He bowed and taking the elf’s silence as a dismissal, led the way out of the room. “They’ll debate for a while. They might call us back to speak with them, but they won’t hinder us in our search.”

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