Marvels. Bleak Omens. Promises of bright future.
What clouds are made of
Very early scientific expedition were made to unravel the mystery of the composition of clouds. Less than an Oppollln Cycle after the discovery of the first cloud, a skip led by Akkhlorn brought back a piece of cloud. Half of the crew died in the feat, and the rest were severely bit by the frost.
A short study of the cloud before it melted showed that they are nothing but water solidified by the incredible cold. It was a first, to learn that the water, which surrounds everything, can be something else than liquid. No one could really hold the water. It was considered then as an omnipresent fluid, sometimes given form by the currents, but never a shape. This frozen water was named ice, and multiple attempts have been made to recreate it artificially. It proved impossible however, for ice can only appear in the extreme cold near the Surface.
Another set of expedition highlighted the lack of minerals in ice. Even if it isn't visible, water holds many small crystals vital to life in the Expanse. Though ice is nothing but frosted water, there is next to no such crystal in a fragment. This peculiar characteristic is not yet fully understood, but paved the way to the invention of pure water, a liquid of no impurities and many usages.
Swing along the currents
It is obvious that clouds aren't immobile. Like all things, they are to submit to the will of the currents. Usually, it is no big deal to swim against most of them, except for the greatest. Up there, currents are wild. Between clouds, they accelerate, deviate mid-course and even disappear in some places. This makes navigation in the sky suicidal at best, since very few skips can survive the freezing grasp of the clouds.
These erratic movements are believed to shape the clouds, eroding the rough blocks into amazing forms and patterns. Some theories suggest that it was the flow of water that tears down the Surface continuously, releasing clouds in the Expanse, only for them to be chiseled and eventually swallowed by the water.
The dark skip glided for a long time in silence. The fleet didn't chase them this high, but surely they were standing guard under the sky, waiting for the cold to force them down. Anhvall was slow and showed signs of exhaustion. It wouldn't be long before they will have to make a choice, to freeze to death or to wage a hopeless battle. Suddenly, the voice of Hollene echoed through the skip. "I noticed several cloud sculptors ahead. Maybe we can ask them to come down with us to hide our signature." Everyone pondered the suggestion, asking themselves whether involving innocent people was the right thing to do. A vibrating echo filled the place, settling the matter. The Revealer spoke. "Right. Let's do this. And if it doesn't work, they will fight for us."
With the emergence of a new kind of skip, suited to the environment of the sky and even resilient to the touch of clouds, an art form hatched. A group of younglings from Éhtivl eager to prove themselves realized the feat to sculpt the clouds. Though crudely, using the claws of the skips, they carved a pattern corresponding to their name in another novelty, the Scripture.
Others rushed into the latest artsy trend and quickly developed a way to alter the currents to chisel very precisely the ice. Cloud sculpting split in two schools.
To its adepts, this method is more accessible and easier than the other, without being limited. Wonderful works of art can be produced by raw sculpting. The artist is the skipper, handling cautiously the appendages of their skip to etch the cloud. The downside is that this way tend to shatter the cloud entirely, should the skip make a bad movement, or be destabilized by the unpredictable currents. Also, many argue that it disfigure the natural wonders, and force them to fit the narrow mind of the artist.
Way harder than the other, this school requires skilled skipper and a special gear. The technology, inspired by military pressure beams, uses the force of the sky currents and divert them to erode specific parts of the cloud. Currents sculpting practitioners claim to be in harmony with the natural forces, and their works have indeed a natural aspect, sometimes indistinguishable from real clouds. However, this path is only for the wealthiest, as the equipment is extremely expensive for a niche art.
The brightness of the Surface allows for a most popular activity : during the epipelagic phase of a Sphere, its denizens gather under the sky to admire the wonderful and diverse shapes of the clouds.
During these periods of idle and reflection, many stories are hatched from the thoughts of spectators. However, most of them come from sightseeing species. Since clouds don't have any signature, in Unitone or temperature, sight is the primary way to contemplate them.
Symbolism in the clouds
To many, cloudgazing is the only time in their lives free of any trouble. Clouds then became signs of peace and harmony, and so became the bright and immaculate white they bear as colors. But none ignore that, just like clouds, immaculate peace often hide a painful death when looked up close. Idioms hatched from this contrast and are used in most languages.
For someone to be white as cloud
Means that this someone may appear all nice and sweet, but hide ill intents.
A cloudy omen
Is the anticipation of an event with an either very bright, or very dark outcome.
A sky of no cloud
Is said about something bland without anything that stands out, dull.
To be lost in the clouds/ To have one's head in the clouds
Is to have a hard time in the midst of a swirl of events, either physicals or a turmoil of thoughts.