Cloudstone

"Mother, mother, why do we fly through the skies?"
"Because the sky has trapped itself in stones, and it longs to stay together."
Cloudstone is the most precious mineral in existence. Without it, the Sky Ships cannot fly. Without it, the Sky Islands would fall into the Sea of Clouds and into The World Below, leading to the death of all those living on them.   Despite it being required to survive, Cloudstone is wasted. Veins are farmed to the point that entire islands tear apart and fall into the clouds. Ships are lost to storms and warfare, and with them every crystal that helped them keep afloat. Arrogant leaders use it to create statues. Alchemists experiment with it and waste their supplies. And sometimes, the Silent Night swallows entire islands. That which keeps people alive, is lost more and more over time, in an ever-decaying world.

Properties

Material Characteristics

Cloudstone consists of small bladed crystals contaminated with other minerals. It has a light blue glittering shine. The purer the Cloudstone, the lighter its colour, approaching transparancy. Despite its low density, Cloudstone is quite hard, requiring sharp tools and great skill to properly split.

Physical & Chemical Properties

Cloudstone is very buoyant. As a result, veins of it can carry entire islands. A few hundred small crystals can already let a large ship sail through the skies. Pure crystals will easily shoot up several hundreds of metres. Heavily weighed down crystals will sink. Once they are weighed down too heavily and approach the Sea of Clouds, they will be dragged into the clouds and never return.   How much of this is due to Cloudstone, and how much due to the air itself, isn't known. Notes of past researchers have all been lost over time. Cautionary tales are the primary form of knowledge-transfer, speaking of the dangers of being too light or too heavy. As such, most people know the basics, but very few know details.   What can be gathered is that each ratio of Cloudstone to weight has its own ideal altitude. The less weight, the higher it will go. The more weight, the deeper it will sink. Those that experiment and calculate the right heights, often make a good living in the Shipbuilding industry.

Compounds

Long ago, crushed Cloudstone was combined with pure silver. However, the knowledge on how to properly crush Cloudstone is now lost, and most of the jewelry created with it has been lost as well. Only the mythical Sky Chains are still known, and even those repeatedly disappeared throughout history.   The primary use of Cloudstone is glued inside stone spheres. Each Sky Ship is created with hundreds to thousands of these spheres inside them, to help keep them afloat. Another use is inside molten metal, that is then forged into bars and cables. These floating materials are used for constructing docks. If any part of these docks break or tear apart, the Cloudstone will prevent them from falling into the Sea of Clouds.

Geology & Geography

Cloudstone is easy to find. Any Sky Island will contain one or more large veins underneath its surface. Veins can be anywhere from a few metres to many hundreds of metres long. Underneath the lowest veins, stone can only be so thick before its weight will tear itself apart and fall off the island. As such, finding the lowest veins simply requires observing the underside of an island. Larger and thicker islands will contain more veins, which can be easily found by just digging a few large holes.

History & Usage

Everyday use

Asides from keeping the islands afloat, the primary usage of Cloudstone is Sky Ships. Built with hundreds of small crystals inside their hulls and masts, each embedded in small stone spheres, these ships are capable of carrying cargo from Island to Island. Ships will be built with a number of stones that allows them to dock both when empty and when at full load. Most docks are multi-layered, however when a ship is too light or too heavy, it will often find itself incapable of docking.   Large buildings may have Cloudstone embedded in them, to prevent their roofs from collapsing. Larger docks will employ it to create safe docking sites, so that if any accidents happen, the building materials won't be lost. Docking chains will also be made with Cloudstone.   There are rare cases of Cloudstone being embedded in clothing or jewelry, though knowledge on how is lost and rediscovered throughout history. Some famous historical Sky Pirates used special gliders to more easily raid their targets, such as Smokes Cloudkicker. Cloudkicker also stole The Sky Chains, priceless Cloudstone-laced jewelry owned nowadays by the Izatt Empire, who claim the Chains show they are destined to unify the skies.

Cultural Significance and Usage

In rare cases, a building or statue will be made with so much Cloudstone in it, that it will float. Only the most arrogant leaders of nations will dare do so. As a result, however, some of their names are still known even though their kingdoms and empires have long fallen.   The twelve floating statues of Orga are famous, while nobody can even remember if Orga was a kingdom or a leader. Rumor has it the statues were stolen by sky pirates mere years after their creation. Whether truth or tall tale, it is a fact that In the past centuries they have been stolen time and time again. The downside of floating property, is that a light-enough ship can easily sneak up on them and steal them, if they are not properly secured.   Another example is the Temple of Chzig, which floats fourty metres above the surface and is chained to keep it from sailing away. The Floating Stairs of Nirag are even more admirable, since they float at exactly the right heights to form a staircase. Even the chains holding it together have Cloudstone embedded inside. The stairs are also large enough that multiple people can walk over them without them falling to the ground.

Hazards

The biggest hazard of processing Cloudstone, is losing it. If a mishap causes it to float into the sky, it could easily end up unretrievable. As such, processing it is usually only done in domed buildings or caverns. Afterwards, they are transported to ship construction sites inside nets. This is also why Cloudstone is embedded in small spheres within Sky Ships, so that if a ship is damaged, lost Cloudstone stays within the reach of nets.   The second hazard is overmining. If an island has too little Cloudstone left, its weight may either tear the island apart, or cause it to sink in its entirety. Only traveling ships will easily notice how deep an island has sunk. Not noticing has caused mining sites to straight up vanish overnight, leaving only their floating building materials. Smarter places use Cloudstones as a height indicator, to prevent a great sinking from sneaking up on them.
Type
Ore/Mineral
Common State
Solid
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Cover image: Zen Cover by Oneriwien

Comments

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12 Dec, 2020 23:20

Nice article, love all the detail you put in!

Sage dinosaurbob
Bob O'Brien
15 Dec, 2020 14:34

Nice concept! Love the "stone balloon" method of containing the crystals. (Have you considered making the shells of lead? Or is that too cliche?

15 Dec, 2020 14:46

Metals cannot be found on many Sky Islands, while stone is everywhere, so the overall preference is for stone.

All my WorldEmber 2020 work, including my main highlights.   Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
15 Dec, 2020 15:51

An incredibly detailed article! Nicely done!

PatheticBarrel, Logo by Sai
Pierrot05
Pierrot the Fifth
15 Dec, 2020 16:26

Lovely article|! I love how much detail you've put into it, and the concept is really interesting!

15 Dec, 2020 16:51

Wonderful article!! I love the opening quote you have, and all the details you include are really interesting. I'm quite curious about these statues of Orga, I hope we find out about more some day :)

sending good vibes <3 - Author of Interarcanum and Shakiraverse