Lily was excellent at flying. Better than me, at least. She said it was because I taught her well, but also because she had a bit of time to go through the theory before actually starting. We flew almost sideways over her home, her dad waving at us, before finally ascending towards Valand. As we ascended, I noticed my breath getting shorter.
— Is the air always so thin up here?, Lily asked.
— I had never noticed it before. Either it’s better up the mountain, or you’ll get used to it.
— If you say so…
I was beginning to become antsy. Not much longer, and I’d be home again. We now were at the height of Valand. I warned Lily that there are winds coming from below towards the edge, and just as I said that, we were lifted upwards, just like it was when I started. Lily quickly nosed down, and I caught a glimpse of the edge. The steam boat still was there, so the Captain still hadn’t given up his search. I decided to keep quiet, I wanted to go straight back home, instead of getting scolded by him.
— That’s my city, I cried and pointed towards it in the distance. It was remarkably clear today.
— It’s huge!
— It’s smaller than I thought! It feels bigger when you’re actually inside it!
— Where do I land?
— Wherever there’s a road and few enough people around.
I realized too late that Lily was headed straight to the pompous palace road. Sure, it was mostly empty, but the guards were probably not too happy about having to duck under our wings, and unhappy guards aren’t something you want against you. We finally came to a stop and Lily turned off the engine.
— Hey Dave, I greeted one of the guards storming towards us.
— What in the..? You’re back so quickly? What happened to the crew?
I told the story, first to the guards, then to the king, then to my parents and grandpa. The king was delighted to learn that not only did we find a way beyond the edge, but also found a convenient method to trade with it. My entire family henceforth would be part of nobility, though Lily and me weren’t allowed to live a lazy life just yet – we first had to build a bunch flying machines. Lily in particular would later fly the king to visits of the various lower kingdoms, always making sure to stay low when passing her home village.
As for me, I became an inventor. Always making new things to improve efficiency of processes, because even though we had a whole new world to exploit, resource exhaustion still was a problem, especially now that our fuel was made out of plants that otherwise would become food.