She gripped the top of the balcony so tightly that it made her fingers ache.
Beyond the compound, in the distance, the surface of a wide, winding river shimmered in the moonlight. The running lights from a few boats dotted its surface. She watched their slow, hypnotic traverse over the water. The sky, too, was dotted with traffic.
She found it infuriating that life went on as it had for everyone else, while for her, everything had changed. She felt as if she had been hollowed out.
“Thinking of jumping?” a voice said, a gentle smile in the tone.
She started before placing the voice as Syo’s. For a moment, he had sounded exactly like Master Zallow.
Syo stood on the balcony of his own chambers, five meters to her right. He had to have been there the whole time. Perhaps he could not sleep, either.
“No,” she said. “Just thinking.”
His usual calm expression was marred by a furrowed brow and worried eyes. “About Master Zallow?” he asked.
Hearing someone else speak her master’s name at that moment pierced her. Emotion welled in her, put a fist in her throat. She nodded, unable to speak.
“I am sorry for you, Aryn. Master Zallow will be missed.”
She found her voice. “He was more to me than just a master.”
He nodded as if he understood, but she suspected he did not, not really.
“To speak of nonattachment, to understand it, that is one thing. But to practice it …” He stared at her. “That is another.”
“Are you lecturing me, Syo?”
“I am reminding you, Aryn. All Jedi must sacrifice. Sometimes we sacrifice the emotional bonds that usually link people one to another. Sometimes we sacrifice … more, as did Master Zallow. That is the nature of our service. Don’t lose sight of it in your grief.”
She realized that there was more separating her from