The Enclouding, also called the Overcast, is a permanent cloud-like substance which covers most of the sky of the Dragaeran Empire. It is of a sufficient thickness to block the direct sight of the Furnace (the Dragaeran name for their sun). It is usually an orange-reddish hue, although it will become more red at sunset. While it is approximately as dense as a thick fog, it is clearly not merely water vapor, in that it has an odd mix of smells, both harsh and tangy-sweet; those who can traverse it rapidly may prefer to hold their breath while doing so. It also differs from any ordinary vapor or particulate cloud, in that the vast bulk of it does not ever dissipate nor precipitate.
The Enclouding can vary in how high it hovers above the ground; it sometimes is low enough that one can pass through the Enclouding by climbing the slopes of Dzur Mountain. Castle Black will also sometimes be above the Enclouding, and sometimes below. It is somewhat protean in shape, and may notably grow or shrink at its very fringes, and may possibly vary in thickness as well, sometimes becoming thin enough to allow some of the light of the Furnace through, near the borders of the Empire.
Sometimes called the "Hand of the Faerie" in the Eastern Kingdoms, it often takes Easterners by surprise when they first come to Dragaera. Conversely, Dragaerans who travel east or west to the edges of the Empire will sometime be surprised at how the thinning of the Overcast allows them to actually see the sky.
There is a superstition that passing through the Enclouding can cause one's soul to be ripped from one's body, and that the substance of the Enclouding is in fact "nothing more than the disembodied souls of those who have entered it". However, this has been demonstrated to be false; more than a few humans have passed through it entirely unharmed. Birds and jhereg fly through it regularly without harm as well.
It has been stated that the Enclouding was caused by sorcery as a kind of residual pollution. Some Dragaerans were convinced of the possibility of a device that would clear the sky of the Overcast, but this effort was later described as something that "never existed, wouldn't have worked, and, if it had worked, would have made no money because no one cares anyway".
- See also Speculation:Enclouding.