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the way he did, but he regained himself in defying Isard and doing all the little things that sabotaged her plans. In the end he won. He'd often complained his life had no meaning . . ."

"But it did."

"Agreed, and at the very last he finally got to see how much it meant. He'd saved you, he saved Aril, he saved Tycho. He's at peace, and he'd want you to be at peace with his death, too."

"I know, but it's just not going to be that easy, Corran. I was there, I held him as he died from wounds I'd inflicted." Iella sniffed, then swallowed with difficulty. "Your father died in your arms. How did you get through it?"

Corran felt his own throat thicken. "I won't kid you, it wasn't, isn't, easy. There are things you expect, like seeing him again in the morning or at night or being able to call him to tell him about your day or to ask a question, and then he's not there. You know you feel hollow inside, but you don't know just how hollow until things like that help you define the edges of the void."

She nodded slowly. "There are things I see or hear and I think, 'Diric would like that or would be intrigued by that,' then his death comes crashing back in on me. It seems to me that such things will never stop happening."

"They won't. They go on forever."

A tremor shook Iella. "Great."

"The thing of it is, Iella, they become transformed. Now you feel the loss and the grief, and part of that will always be there. In addition to it, though, shining through it will be the triumph of having known Diric. When I hear that stupid Lomin-ale ditty or eat part of a ryshcate, I remember my father. I remember his booming laugh and that secret smile of contentment he could flash you when things were good."

"And the way that smile would carry on up into his eyes and how,
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