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Karvalen is an ambiguous term, used in a number of ways and defined by context.  Literally, it translates to “The Kingdom of the Living Stone,” and for good reason.

Karvalen can refer to a political body largely occupying the territory of the old Kingdom of Rethven.  The Kingdom of Karvalen stretches from the Western Sea, across the Darkwood, through the main body of the old Kingdom of Rethven, through the Eastrange, and two or three miles into the Sea of Grass.  It is bounded on the north by the Averill river and on the south by the Southern Sea.

Karvalen can also refer to the city of Karvalen, the de facto home of King Halar the Undying.  In this usage, it consists of a circular, walled city approximately four miles in diameter, centered on a tall, oddly-symmetrical mountain.  The city is unusual in many respects, but chief among them is an unnaturally high living essence within the stone of the city itself.  This allows it to be strangely responsive to those living within it or on it.  The buildings aboveground are all solid rock, with a peculiarly organic feel to them.  There are few sharp edges or corners, for example.  Belowground, inside the mountain (or the Undercity), the caverns and tunnels are oddly regular and hospitable.  The maps of the city are hard to reconcile because of the willingness of the stone to be helpful to the residents and to obey the commands of the ruler.  It is possible to re-route a street or move a home simply by asking the stone of the city to do so.  It may only move an inch or two per hour, but in the course of a week, any given piece of rock may have moved up to thirty feet from its original position–enough to open a lane between houses.  In a month, a house can move completely across the street without ever disturbing the furniture.