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Moving as close to the village as he dared, Mikal felt the rush of energy that came whenever he was breaking a rule. Getting within a mile of the human village and their roads was forbidden but his curiosity drove him closer and closer each time he could escape the watchful eyes of the mares.

He had never gotten the chance to observe humans so close before and found their ways fascinating. If he wasn’t careful, he could spend hours watching them interact and build onto their village. They even had a blacksmith, much like the one from his herd, but lacking the skill to even compare. Still, he seemed to make tools sturdy enough for the other humans to use.

Today, there seemed to be more of a commotion going on in the village than usual. Trotting around the edges of the forest for the best view, he took the time to compare their hierarchy to that of his own herd. It was the first time he had seen them all gathered as they were with stands set up in the middle of the village.

Thankfully, he had the advantage of the hill and the tree line to hide his frame. He wasn’t one of the most colorful centaurs in the herd but this was a moment when he was glad for his chestnut hide.

Folding his legs underneath his body, he settled in for his favorite pastime. Why his herd was so adamant about staying away from the humans when they were so harmless. He hadn’t seen them get violent except for one drunken brawl that was broken up in minutes.

Even more fascinating was that they were led by the males in their society. Their women were docile and submission. The rare bits of fire he’d seen were in defense of their young and homes but even that was doused quickly. Centaurs were led by a single lead female; she made the decisions on when to move, where to go, and how things were distributed during hard times. The males of the herd were charged with hunting and defense with few craftsmen who stayed with the majority of the group.

He couldn’t figure out why humans were so different in their ways from his own people. The only physical difference that he could see was that they didn’t have the strong horse bodies from the waist down.

“Mikal,” the sound of his name froze him in place and his mind went absolutely blank, “what in the name of the gods are you doing?”

Slowly he recognized the scolding tone and breathed a sigh of relief. Of all the centaurs in the herd, the only one he’d want finding out about this was Morgaan. She was about as bossy as they came but she also had a knack for getting in and out of all sorts of trouble.

“I’m observing.” The look he received for his obvious answer would have frozen even the seasoned warriors in their tracks. If Morgaan’s looks didn’t get her enough attention, then her attitude brought it in.

“I can see that you fool,” She hissed, kicking the thick muscle in his back leg for his answer. Her eyes darted up towards the village warily before moving back down to him. “It’s forbidden to be this close, the foals got in trouble for even being close to the mile mark and here you are less than a half mile.”

Instead of glaring at her for the kick like he wanted to at first, Mikal swept away some of the brush next to him and motioned for her to join him. If he wanted to cause more of a scene, he would have laughed at the look on her face. She was caught somewhere between incredulous and curiosity.

“Get down before one of them notices you. Some humans have better eyesight than we thought and your coat will get you mistaken for a deer.” Once glance at her own dappled-gold goat seemed to make up her mind and she made herself comfortable in the grass next to him.

“You’re going to get us in a lot of trouble.”

“I’ve been sneaking here for days; I just have to make it back before the sun gets to the middle of the sky.” That was when the patrol went around to be sure that humans weren’t encroaching further than they already had.

He noticed when the realization dawned on Morgaan but he still had no way of avoiding the punch she threw his way. Rubbing his arm, he kept his mouth shut so that she could get it all out of his system.

“You lied to everyone; including me! I knew that the endurance training had to be a lie but I thought you were sneaking off to tease the other mares again,” she hissed, looking more than just angry that he had lied about his whereabouts every morning. Anger he could handle but the way she crossed her arms and looked away was bugging him. They had been born only days apart and had grown up together, was the little sister that he never had. “I don’t know how you haven’t been caught until now; you left an obvious enough trail.”

“Obvious to you miss huntress,” He shot back, knowingly adding to her ego about being good in tracking. The way she still avoided looking at him was getting old quickly so he turned to something else that he could use to draw her out; the very reason he was here. “Morgaan, look. Humans aren’t too much different from us; they have a leader and craftsmen and…”

Just as he knew it would, pointing things out to her and explaining what he had observed so far began drawing her out again. When she fully relaxed, she began asking questions and pointing out things that he never noticed. Having someone to tell his theories and hear opinions that weren’t his own made the entire experience more fun. Better yet, the conversation continued on the way back until they were in danger of running into another centaur.

Now he just had to figure out how to get Morgaan to come with him again without getting scolded for taking so many risks again. Observing was more fun with a partner in crime to share the punishment if they were caught.

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School started back up! Means a whole bunch more distractions, ugh.

Next Creature: Minotaur

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