Will you need a linguist to replace Joste?" "If you please, Ka'ruchaya. Stanek, if he has recovered." "He will be on the ship." Jarna's expression became grim. "But hear my words, Group-Leader: none of my n'ruesten will force another to this living self-destruction again. I will not have them dishonor themselves so." "I would not ask it, Ka'ruchaya," Kunnos said.

Yarra smiled at them "Well, Steve, have you lost all your doubts of truly belonging?" "There's no need for the English now, Ka'ruchaya the Lords are good teachers." Tarlac was still baffled by their gift of Language, but he'd come to accept it. "I've lost all my doubts." "That is good," Yarra said. "I like my n'ruesten at ease." Then Daria touched Steve's hand. "You tell them, es'ruhar.

Tarlac could sense the clan both as an empathic entity and as the individuals composing it: Ka'ruchaya Yarra's joy that one of her n'ruesten had been chosen to complete the Circle, Daria's exultation and love for him and their daughter, Hovan's deep pride that it was he who had adopted and then sponsored the Ranger . . . even unformed pleasure from the youngling in Daria's body, already a part of the clan's emotional life.

He returned his attention to his n'ruhar and waited. After seconds that seemed to last forever, Yarra glanced around at her n'ruesten and said, "Es'ruesten, I do not doubt your honor, or Cor'naya Hovan's. None of us do. We believe you saw Kranath's Vision, and that you have made your Decision, which Hovan judges correct. What concerns us now is your endurance." "Endurance?"

The Ranger, ranking almost at the top in the Terran Empire, was the only one in the group without Honor scars, so he ranked lowest here. When the others bowed, holding out dagger hilts so the Ka'ruchaya could touch those and then her n'ruesten, Tarlac knelt as was proper for an unscarred male, drawing his blaster and extending its grip.