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color of everything aided the suns in producing glare, but Corran realized that white absorbed far less solar energy— too much of which already made Tatooine unbearable as far as he was concerned.

A slender, gray-haired woman emerged through one of the arched doorways and immediately smiled. "Gavin Darklighter, how you have grown!" Boiling out around from behind her came a number of small children, ranging from toddlers to curious preadolescents.

"Aunt Lanal!" Gavin trapped the woman in a hug, then freed her and performed introductions that included her and the half-dozen cousins. Corran shook hands all around, but immediately lost track of names.

Lanal explained that she was Huff Darklighter's third wife and all of the children were hers. "Biggs's death shook Huff. He decided he wanted more heirs. His second wife decided she wasn't interested in having any more than the one she'd already borne. She left, and Huff married me."

"Biggs's mother died before I was born. Aunt Lanal is actually my mother's sister, so she's my aunt on both sides." Gavin gave her a kiss on the forehead. "Is Uncle Huff available?"

Lanal nodded. "He asked me to put you in the library. He's meeting with someone else right now, but he should be free shortly."


The Darklighter estate struck Corran as an expensive compromise between the practicalities demanded by Tatooine and the essence of elegance as defined in other places within the galaxy. Fountains and pools would have been a foolish waste, but Huff succeeded in providing water features by encasing them entirely in transparisteel. Whereas a simple decorative column in any other home might have been painted brightly, Huff filled it with water and bubbled air up through it. Tiles on the thick walls were decorated and colored
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