Over the next several days, Oracia meet more members of the Mountain that she ever imagined existed. Tales of the oddlings were common in the kingdom and Oracia had thought she had heard them all. But the numbers on the mountain were far higher than she had expected. The faces peering down during her calling confirmed that.
Stone Mountain had a greater control over their legends than was suspected by any other kingdom. Stories like Drest’s were circulated to instill fear in their enemies and tales like Braith’s were told to create mystery about the oddlings. But some of their best stories, they withheld.
There was Haide, the blacksmith. He was older than Knave, but Knave said there was a legend that when he first entered the mountain, he was pale. Throughout centuries of being a blacksmith, the ash had seeped into his soul and skin and changed him. He was now almost a dark as the ebony gates. Haide’s iron was the strongest in the realm, forged with the iron ore of the mountain – the first ore, it was said, created along with the Earth. His weapons were renowned even if they were hardly ever used.
Due to their long and sporadic life spans, the oddlings needed a skilled healer and Oracia was told that the man Phemedes was particularly gifted. He was one of the oldest to ever have a reading – or, more precisely to have his destiny altered. As a citizen of another kingdom, Phemedes had studied the body for a long time, most of what should have been his natural life. However, his study led him to some revelations and the Fates decided to bring him to the mountain. Knave said his revelations could have saved thousands of lives but his kingdom had rebelled against the Fates and they took revenge. They promised Phemedes a longer life and an opportunity to pursue even more knowledge. And he took it.
There was one oddling to whom Knave could not introduce Oracia: Sabia Wandlimb was the only oddling that did not reside in Stone Mountain. She lived on her own, in the forests. Knave made the suggestion that she was more than a little mad.
“Does she ever visit?” Oracia asked.
Knave shook his head. “Not willingly. She left right after her calling. Drest had to bring her in once, when the goblins were coming too close. But no one has seen her in years.”
“I thought we had to live here.” If she could have felt surprise, Oracia would have been surprised at how quickly she identified with the oddlings. Whispers of a similar emotion pulled at her mind, but she could not tell if that feeling was the magic rising or receding.
Knave should his head again. “It’s not required. But centuries ago there was a king that never left his kingdom after his reading. Set the city ablaze and killed all of his subjects. The surrounding kingdoms started exiling their oddlings – only they did not yet have that name – who formed Stone Mountain.” He looked around at the stunning scenery with a smile. “We’re lucky they could build and were a little artistic.”
Oracia knew the story of King Eiridan and the kingdom of the Cadleigh, everyone in the realm did. When she asked about the creators of Stone Mountain, Knave only shook his head.
“We have a lot of tales written down,” he said. “But the first oddlings didn’t – or couldn’t – write much down. Other than Ganith, there is no record of the others.”