By C. J. Cherryh
They named him Thorn. They instructed him he was once in their humans, even if he was once so various. He was once grotesque of their eyes, unusual, sleek-skinned rather than furred, clawless, diverse. but he used to be in their strength type: judge-warriors, the elite, the combatants, the defenders.
Thorn knew that his distinction was once someway extremely important - yet no longer very important adequate to avoid murderous conspiracies opposed to him, opposed to his protector, opposed to his fortress, and maybe opposed to the peace of the realm. but if the crunch got here, whilst Thorn ultimately discovered what his real position in existence was once to be, that on him could cling the way forward for worlds, then he needed to stand by myself to justify his very life.
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Additional resources for Cuckoo's Egg (Age of Exploration, Book 3)
Even the long-ago ones. Never drop any. You don't know when they'll be needed. Reject nothing. You don't know what you might need. " "I pulled you from the river, little fish. " Duun reached out the finger of his hand and brushed Thorn's cheek, where a light down had grown. Hair began to grow and darken elsewhere on Thorn's body. Thorn's hope and his despair. (It's worse than nothing, Thorn cried, before the mirror in the bath. ) Other signs were on him. " "Stop it. Don't distract me! " "Ah. " Duun pursed his lips.
Fool, to do what a hatani said to do! Thorn caught his breath and sprang for the rocks, bare feet doing what claws might do, shaping themselves to stone as Duun's could not, clinging with their softness: bare hands clinging where Duun's hands might not— swinging on a branch that gave a shortcut round the cliffside, dropping to a slant where Duun's feet would skid, where Duun's leg might fail— The wind, O fool, the wind is at your face; Duun had checked the wind this morning. There was no corner Duun-hatani did not see around before his quarry even saw the turn— The pebble in the tea— Upland or downland?
Now you have no need of them. You can pick up the knife and lay it down again. A hatani is not the knife. Do you understand? Not the skin or the claws or the eyes. Do you understand? I teach you. You become hatani. " Thorn blinked rapidly. Gasped for breath. " "But you trust me. Don't go to every morsel, little fish. Some are traps. Don't I teach you? Use your wits. Add only what can be added. Remember all the figures, even so. Never lose one. That one will surely come from behind and kill you.