After Tythel’s proclamation, it was decided it was best if everyone slept before committing. “If I’m going to agree to a suicidal plan,” Armin had said, “I’m going to do it on a full night’s sleep.”
Tythel barely slept. She had Karjon’s notes back. Being able to read them was a welcome relief – especially since she strongly suspected she’d need to figure out the secret to Ghostflame to have even a hope of pulling this off. Unfortunately, as before, no hidden trick leapt off the page to provide her a solution. I’ll figure it out. I have to.
That point was driven home by an Alohym ship passing nearby in the night. Tythel couldn’t see the vessel, but she heard it, that sound of groaning metal piercing the night air. She shuddered at its passing.
“You hear it too?” Haradeth asked, rolling over.
Tythel started at the sound. I thought he was asleep. “Yes. Like someone’s tearing apart the sky.”
Haradeth nodded in agreement. “They’re abominable things, those vessels. The sky should belong to beasts, not men or Alohym.”
“I don’t know if I’d go that far,” Tythel said after a pause. “We have created arcwands that don’t use unlight. Once the Alohym are defeated, I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t create our own vessels using Lum.”
Haradeth pursed his lips. “If we were meant to fly, we would have wings.”
“If we were meant to cross the oceans, we’d have fins,” Tythel countered. “I don’t see any reason that ships that sail the sky should be different than those that sail the sea. One’s just more complicated than the others.”
“There’s a natural order to things.” Haradeth protested.
“Yes, but we defy that natural order all the time. Doctors prevent those who would die from perishing. We create fields to harvest grain to feed vast cities, and we reshape the land to fit our needs. I don’t think ‘it’s unnatural’ should be a reason not to do something.”
“The Alohym aren’t of this world. Seems to me that is a fairly good argument against the unnatural.”
Tythel turned her head to peer back at where the Alohym vessel was heading. It seemed to be going to the city. Wonderful, she thought sarcastically. “They’re not monsters because they’re unnatural. They’re monsters because of what they do.”
In response, Haradeth rolled his eyes and turned back over in his bedroll. Tythel glowered at his back, but didn’t press the argument. Instead she laid down to try and get a few hours of sleep.
Sleep didn’t come easily. She couldn’t escape the haunted look in Nicandros’s eyes.
When dawn finally broke, it was greeted by a bleary-eyed Tythel. She did her best to be quiet as she got ready for the day, not wanting to disturb the others. In spite of her best efforts, the rest began to stir into wakefulness as the sun’s rays brightened.
Ossman was the first to approach her. “You’re serious about this, aren’t you?” he asked.
“Yes. I don’t know if we’ll be able to do anything. We might just end up right next to them come Luxday. But I have to try.”
Ossman scratched his chin. “Ah, flath it. We can’t leave them to die.”
“Light, were you actually considering that?” Armin asked as he strode up, still rubbing his eyes. “We both know you wouldn’t have slept for months if you’d abandoned them.”
“I don’t want to throw my life away, Armin,” Ossman protested.
“Yes, you do. So long as it’s in the most noble way possible, and this qualifies.” Armin sighed dramatically and looked at Tythel, “I guess I’ll have to go alone. Light knows what Ossman would end up doing without me to keep him straight.”
Tythel chuckled. Their joking was helping with the pain of Nicandros’s departure, and for that she could have hugged them both. “Glad you’re feeling better, Armin. Are you use you want to go near the…corrupted Lumwell?”
Armin nodded. “I think, whatever the Sun Tear did, it helped me process the worst of it. As long as I don’t draw too deep – and I don’t plan to – I should be fine.
Tythel peered at him closely, and saw his eyes still looked like the sun during an eclipse. “You know better than I do, so I can’t argue. How are you feeling?”
“Like this is a terrible flathing idea, but it’s better than nothing.” Armin winked at her. “Otherwise, I feel perfectly fine, especially considering I was half dead yesterday.”
“Don’t suppose you have any more miracle cures to spare, your highness?” Eupheme asked. She was limping up to them, supporting herself on a branch. “Because I could use some for what comes next.”
Tythel shook her head. “Eupheme, you’re injured. You can’t attack a city.”
“Give it thirty seconds into the fight, your highness, and I’ll be the least injured of all of you. No offense, but even with an injured leg I can keep pace. Besides, I’ll be mostly healed by the time we get there. It just grazed me.”
Tythel blinked a few times to think. Armin is right about how stupid this is. Do you really have a right to stop her? “If you’re sure.”
Eupheme gave Tythel a grin. “I’m not dead yet, your highness. Yes, I’m sure.”
“So that just leaves Haradeth and Lorathor?” Ossman asked, peering around.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when Lorathor spoke from behind him. “Yes, it does.”
Ossman whirled around. “Light and Shadow, Lorathor, are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
“Of course not, Ossman. You’re far too young for that to be a risk.” Lorathor turned to Tythel. “I think this idea is far too risky. It’s almost certainly going to result in one or all of you dead. I’d like to strongly suggest we consider casting our lot with another group resisting the Alohym.”
“And leave those people to die, Lorathor?”
Lorathor just shrugged. “Call me callous, but there is a bigger picture here. Your value as a figurehead is not to be underestimated.”
“I appreciate that,” Thythel said, then frowned as she really thought about what he had said, “I think. But no, I’m going to do this.”
“Then I suppose I must aid you. I’d feel terrible if you all got yourselves killed without me to remind you I was right.”
Armin grunted. “I should have thought of that line,” he muttered.
“Lorathor has centuries on you, Armin. Don’t blame yourself for not being able to outthink him,” Haradeth said, finally joining the group. He gave Armin a grin that was more than a little forced. Peace offering? Tythel wondered.
Thinking of how bad she was at reading facial expressions reminded her of training with Nicandros. They had been making real progress. Tythel felt the anger and guilt and grief well back up within her. She pushed them down best she could as Haradeth continued. “I suppose I should come too. As your-”
“No.” Tythel said, cutting him off.
“What do you mean, no?” Haradeth’s eyes narrowed. He does that a lot around me, Tythel noted.
“Your mother is alive, Haradeth,” Tythel said, her voice firm. “I’m not going to cost anyone else their children.”
“Do you intend to free the soldiers bloodlessly, then?” Haradeth asked. “No matter what we do Tythel, people are going to die. Everyone has parents.”
Tythel opened her mouth to object, but couldn’t find any good counter arguments. “I still say no.”
Haradeth shrugged. “I still say I’m coming. We let you sit at the table, Tythel. That doesn’t change that I still am running what’s left with this resistance.”
Eupheme put a hand on Tythel’s arm. “We need all the help we can get, your highness. Don’t throw this away.”
“Fine,” Tythel said with a growl.
Haradeth gave her a mock bow. “Your magnaminty knows no bounds, your highness. Then I suggest we get the horses ready and head back to the city. If we leave now, we’ll be able to join the midday merchants and get in with minimal fuss.”
Tythel nodded, and they all headed off to gather their packs and break camp.
Light, please tell me I just didn’t get us all killed. Tythel prayed.
As usual, the Light left her with no answers.