FROM THE GROUND, the bird was an infinitesimal white speck lost against the isoluminescent glare of the midday sky. From the perspective of the seagull, however, the ground and its features were
clearly apparent in all their multiplicity and confusion. Below it now as it circled in its leisurely bank was the sparkling band of the Tongue Water, to its right the smoky bulk of the manufacturing district and beyond that the widening mainland, to its left the great city of Peridol.
There was more than just scenery transpiring down there under the bird's dangling feet, though. The seagull's unhurried path was carrying it around a wide coil of dark smoke that mounted even higher, curling and roiling, until an onshore breeze took it and shredded it into streamers and ragged sheets. Following the pillar of smoke downward took the ey...