“I’m sorry, but what?” Tellias asked, furrowing his forehead. “You want to lure a creature we couldn’t even hit as far away from the resistance as possible? So it has us isolated?”
“Not just anywhere,” Tythel said, eyes narrowing in frustration. “My father’s valley. He wove an illusion over the whole thing. Form the air, you can’t see any life in the valley itself. It’s completely hidden.”
“So…we lure the Alohym to a place where it will lose track of us, and then fly back to rejoin its allies and attack the resistance?” Tellias asked, tapping his chin. “I’m not sure I see the cunning nature to this plan.”
Tythel let out an exasperated breath. “Tellias, listen. We need some edge on this thing. It’s faster than any of us, and better armed, and we can’t fight back effectively since it’s in the air. If we get under the illusion, it’ll have to land. We’ll have negated one of its biggest advantages.”
“She’s not entirely wrong, Tellias,” Eupheme added.
“Oh, that does sound much better. It will only be faster than us and better armed.” Tythel couldn’t read Tellias’ expression, but the sarcasm was more than clear in his voice.
“And outnumbered,” Tythel said. “Three on one is better odd when we can properly surround it.”
“Assuming it comes alone,” Tellias counters. “Assuming it doesn’t bring an flying Alohym with it and cuts us down before we can even make it to this valley.”
“If they had an army of the flyers, they would have brought them to the plateau. I think they only have the one.” Tythel considered for a minute, then sighed. “I think it’s human, too. This is personal.”
Both Tellias and Eupheme gave her blank stares. “Human?” Eupheme finally asked.
“I heard it’s voice. His voice. I think he’s a human inside an Alohym skin, like how the Alohym have those worms inside them.” Tythel shook her head to get rid of a particularly disturbing thought that occurred to her. Some of Rephylon’s last words were combining with the taunts of the flying Alohym to lead to a terrible conclusion. It can’t be that. You’re being needlessly paranoid, she chided herself. “I think the worm is actually the Alohym, in the same way that when you’re wearing imperiplate you’re not the suit. A…flesh plate.”
“Oh, we are definitely not letting that name stick,” Eupheme said with a scowl.  “You’re certain about the voice?”
“As certain as I can be,” Tythel said with a shrug. “I won’t know until we crack open that plate and see what’s inside, but I’d bet every last copper I’ve ever touched that it was a human“
“So if they can make these suits for humans…we could get some for our own people!” Tellias exclaimed. “Like how we’ve adapted the Imperiplate into the Arcplate. Only far more powerful.”
“And vile,” Tythel said, blinking in disgust. “We don’t know how much freedom the wearer has. Or what it does to them. Perhaps the person inside is horribly warped by the experienced, or they…bond on some level.”
“It wouldn’t matter anyway,” Eupheme said. “Even if we could get one, even if we could control it, they use unlight. We’d have to find a way to convert that to normal light, otherwise it’ll just heal the Alohym when we shoot them with it.”
Tellias’ excitement started to fade. “Shadow embrace it. I was really hoping we’d finally have something that could truly challenge the Alohym on their own term.” he glanced sidelong at Tythel. “Something besides ghostflame, I mean. Unless you have some way for the rest of us to do that?”
Tythel shook her head. “Not that I know of. Even if I learn heartflame, I couldn’t gift my draconic nature to anyone else. Only true dragon’s can do that.”
“Speaking of advantages we don’t have,” Eupheme said, “we do have the slight problem of Tellias’ armor being completely without power.”
“We can carry it,” Tythel said. “If I take the chestplate and legplate, you two can split the remaining load. We’ll need to get a power source for it. I hoping one of you know how to contact the black market for that.”
“With what money?” Tellias asked.
Tythel shifted uncomfortably. This was the part she didn’t want to get into, but there was no mistaking it. “I have some things I took when I left my fathers lair. A single Sunstone should provide us plenty of funds to the right seller.”
“A sunstone?” Tellias asked, his eyes widening. “That’s…flath, those are almost impossibly rare.”
Tythel nodded. “It should keep us funded for the duration of the journey.”
Eupheme gave Tythel a concerned look. “Are you sure about selling it?”
“No,” Tythel admitted, leaning against a tree to support herself. Her leg was starting to ache again from yesterday’s injury. “But I don’t see any other choice. If we’re trying to buy things on the black market…well, honestly, I don’t know anything about that. But I can’t imagine it’s cheap.”
Eupheme shook her head. “I should be able to make contact with some sources when we get to a major city.”
“I’m still not convinced this is a good idea,” Tellias said, crossing his arms across his chest. “There’s too many things that could go wrong. How are we even going to lead it? How can we make sure it doesn’t catch up with us before we’re ready to fight?”
Tythel rubbed the bridge of her nose. “I’m not sure,” she said quietly. “But I think we have to try. Unless you have a better idea.”
“I do,” Tellias said firmly. “We go to the rendezvous as planned. We join up with the resistance and get ready for it to come. You proved these things aren’t immortal, your highness. We can kill it.”
“We can,” Tythel said quietly. “But how many will die before we do?”
“What about the three that will almost certainly die if we try to face this thing alone?” Tellias said, throwing up his hands in the air in exasperation. “We we hopelessly outmatched before. I’m having trouble seeing how this time will be any different. Forcing it to the ground does us some good, but it’s not exactly guaranteed.”
“When is victory ever guaranteed?” Tythel asked. “No, it’s not. But if we cared about a guaranteed victory, we’d be fighting for the Alohym.”
Tellias scowled at her, but didn’t have a counter argument.
“We should get moving,” Eupheme said to break the silence. “Either way, it’s the same way out of the valley. Once we’ve crested the canyon, then we’ll really need to decide.”
They broke camp to set out. From the feeling in the air, Tythel had a very strong feeling that this argument was far from over.