We arrived in the land of the Clouds (Majesteria) in half an hour. I had never been there before so I took in as much of the view as possible.
We were standing on what looked like a cloud but felt rubbery beneath our feet. Before us, Majesteria stretched out, the city built on a gigantic slab of ... ground. You could see a layer of soil beneath a layer of cobbles to which were attached cottages, schools, shops and the grand Palace of Air.
"How is this possible?" I wondered aloud.
Adam smiled at the awe in my expression.
"There is a layer of air underneath the city which keeps it buoyant. It was moved there a millennium ago by the most powerful Eagles in Thrift. Since then, it has remained there, suiting the desires of Eagles to be among the clouds rather than down on the ground. I hope that doesn't sound like we look down on land-dwellers."
I smiled. "Not at all. Each to their own."
"What happens to those who are afraid of heights or suffer severe altitude sickness?" Tiger asked, surprising me - I'd quite forgotten I was here for a reason. He looked much more at ease here. I suppose it was related to the fact he hated Dolphins and there weren't many up here.
Adam looked grave. "We throw them to the ground."
I laughed. I saw Tiger join in but I didn't dare to hope that that was because he was more comfortable around me.
Adam smiled. "No, we don't really. Those whom you describe are usually not Eagles - if there is mixed parentage, the child can be of either race, as you know - and so we try to find them a life with the correct race. The parents are usually willing to go too."
"And if the parents wish to stay?" Tiger asked.
"Well, wouldn't you take in an abandoned fellow Phoenix if he arrived on your doorstep?"
Tiger nodded. "Fair point." He suddenly frowned. "Unless they had been involved with Dolphins."
Adam rolled his eyes. "The Phoenix-Dolphin conflict rather annoys me. Can't you people just get over the past?"
"Not when history might repeat itself," Tiger replied.
Adam shook his head in exasperated wonder. He turned to me. "Well, our paths diverge here. I really would like to see you at the Summer Ball."
I smiled. "I'll try my hardest to be there."
Adam beamed. "Wonderful."
With that, he walked off. Tiger and I followed the Supreme Ruler into the Eagle Emperor's Court. A sense of dread crept upon me as all present fell silent.