By C. J. Cherryh
They named him Thorn. They advised him he was once in their humans, even if he was once so assorted. He used to be grotesque of their eyes, unusual, sleek-skinned rather than furred, clawless, varied. but he used to be in their strength type: judge-warriors, the elite, the opponents, the defenders.
Thorn knew that his distinction used to be one way or the other vitally important - yet no longer vital sufficient to avoid murderous conspiracies opposed to him, opposed to his protector, opposed to his fort, and maybe opposed to the peace of the realm. but if the crunch got here, while Thorn eventually discovered what his actual function in lifestyles was once to be, that on him may grasp the way forward for worlds, then he needed to stand on my own to justify his very lifestyles.
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Additional resources for Cuckoo's Egg (Age of Exploration, Book 3)
He chewed the sour leaves he found and swallowed, splashed his face with 47 Cuckoo's Egg icy water from the spring. His hands were white with the chills that racked him. Fool, to challenge Duun. To have offered quarter. To have changed the game. Nothing was safe. He flung himself up again and ran down the stream— —Old trick. Ancient trick, Duun would say. Do something original. He had no strength left. His knees ached with the struggle with the water and the rocks, his bones ached with the chill: his joints grew loose and ached and strained with the sudden turn of river stones.
In a different place, a change of grounds. Duun dared not run. That was always the pursuer's hazard. Thorn's traps were halfhearted, token; but there was no tokenness in a downslope fall. Thorn supposed in him a certain degree of care. And Thorn was quicker. Younger. Sound of wind. Duun set out quickly. Anger rose in him and died a quick death. (Well-done, minnow, if this was your plan. I am not ashamed. ) Duun saw his hazard. And being hatani-trained, perhaps the young fool knew what he did.
Duun had thought that bait would lead him astray. Duun shrugged. "I made a mistake. See? Even I make mistakes. And I'm good, Thorn, I'm very good. " Thorn choked down a bite. He had to chew more than Duun did. Sometimes in his haste he forgot this. He struggled. Stayed silent after. " Thorn asked finally. " 29 Cuckoo's Egg "Ah. Well. " He held up the maimed hand. " Duun took another bite. Swallowed. "Eat. " "Maybe I'll tell you. " "Ah. Maybe you won't. But you're several fingers ahead of me. You're younger than I am.