While the term “Karvalen” is often ambiguous and must be judged based on context, the mountain of Karvalen is seldom confused. It is known my several names, usually depending on who you ask. These include “the Mountain,” “the mountain of fire and shadow,” “the lone peak,” “the city spire,” “the mountain that walks,” and “my pet rock.”
According to Karvalen legend, during the exodus of Halar the Undying, when he gathered together those who would follow him to found Karvalen and Mochara, he filled the mountain with some of his own vitality, bringing it to life. It is seldom mentioned how Tamara, High Priestess of the Mother of Flame, also gave it some vital energy in an attempt to determine if the stone was actually alive or not. Both their efforts may have caused a fundamental change in the nature of the stone, creating the first silicon-based life in that world.
During his long absence, the mountain gradually carried out his will, changing itself and the land around it in many ways. It gradually moved away from the Eastrange, drifting slowly eastward into the Sea of Grass. It also grew taller, more symmetrical and conical, while it developed a system of tunnels and chambers within itself. All around it, it expanded a wide belt of stone, “growing” the rock into the shapes and forms of a city. By the end of the interregnum, the mountain of Karvalen was a city which extended nearly two miles in all directions from the base of the mountain, surrounded by a high wall, deep moat, and having stone channels–canals–reaching not only south to the coast, but back to the Eastrange and far to the north and east.
The vitality originally poured into the stone was insufficient to perform all these changes. However, Halar the Undying was not entirely without influence. While he dreamed within the stone, the stone heard or felt his intentions and desires. It is believed that his knowledge and power were used by the mountain to form what can only be described as a magical reactor, or the heart of the mountain. It is a large chamber through which air constantly moves, both ventilating the undercity of the mountain and heating it. The power source is a series of spells to unzip the properties of matter, reducing it to electromagnetic wavelengths, and other spells to absorb and convert that energy into vital force for the mountain’s use and thermal energy. It may be worth noting Eric’s horrified pride in this creation. Had he been awake, he would never have attempted such a construction, recognizing the potential for cataclysmic destruction inherent in such a system. Or, as he put it, he didn’t dream it up, he nightmared it.
Nevertheless, the mountain, while technically a life form, is quite friendly and accommodating, albeit incredibly slow. As pet rocks go, it is blindingly fast… again, blindingly fast for a rock. Unfortunately, this puts it in the same speed class as glaciers and sedated snails. It does its best to assist the residents of the city by being somewhat malleable. For example, placing a wooden door against a wall and leaving it there will, in a matter of days, result in the door being mounted to the wall and a doorway opening forming behind it.
The mountain also expands and grows. It has extended canals and the accompanying roads for hundreds of miles, like great pseudopods. It also incorporates other rock and stone it encounters into itself. The city walls of Mochara, for example, were originally stone and brick, but the mountain’s canals touched them and the mountain’s presence seeped into the stonework. In a matter of days, the spirit of the mountain moved through the bricks and stones, engulfing the whole of the walls, and merging the disparate components–brick, stone, mortar–into a single, giant slab. Since then, the wall of Mochara has grown slightly taller, considerably thicker, and remarkably uniform and smooth. The mountain has done something similar with the city streets, turning mud to rock, smoothing it all over, and even developing underground tunnels for rain runoff and the like. These changes have been met with approval by all concerned, but very few understand that the mountain has also done similar things in spreading itself through the entirety of the Eastrange mountains, making the whole range part of a single, mutable organism. Canals, roads, and riverbeds extending westward into the old kingdom of Rethven have done similar things to the old cities as the mountain has extended itself throughout the kingdom. The King’s Roads–formed of solid stone by the mountain and of the mountain–are line-straight, level, and wide enough for traffic in both directions, connecting every major city in a network the Romans would envy. Bridges, for the most part, are solid stone, with foundations–literally–to the roots of the world.
Despite the terrible implications of this ongoing expansion, the mountain is regarded as a benevolent force–where anyone is aware of it, that is. For the most part, these changes are assumed to be the work of Halar the Undying, not a function of a minion in his service. City walls are higher and stronger, underground sewers are now common, roads are paved and easy to travel, bridges are never washed out, and even private homes and other structures–if made of brick or stone–are stronger and never need repairs. Nonetheless, Eric is well aware of the mountain’s potential to be a slow but horribly effective weapon. It can alter roads and bridges to become impassable barriers in a matter of hours, days at most. It can seal rooms and chambers to trap anyone inside, even shrink such spaces until those within suffocate or are crushed. It has even been used as a restraint device, engulfing and embedding prisoners in walls as though set in concrete, leaving only vital spaces for breathing and the like.