‘Shaving the skelk close’ is a term which is used to describe some fate or consequence which was narrowly avoided. The term originates from an older design of skelk trap which is little used now, but actually involves a falling blade that falls like a miniature guillotine upon a skelk who is lured into the trap by a crumb of bread or cake. When the trap failed, which it often did, it was said to have ‘shaved the skelk close.’
My latest book, the third installment that wraps up the saga of king Strommand Greattrix, and recounts the dramatic demise of his great airship, the Skull Crusher is newly released and available on Amazon.
THE MIGHTY AIRSHIP IS DESTROYED AND THE DARK EMPEROR RULES THE DUSTY LANDS. Having enjoyed his greatest victory against the hated enemy who slaughtered every relative of the royal family, Strommand Greattrix sits, restless upon the throne of Argalas, his vigor fading with the years, and bad habits he had sworn to forever discard creeping back to haunt him. Only when word of the return of his old enemy reaches him is he roused from his stupor. But is he too late to avoid the complete and utter destruction of the city and family he has painstakingly rebuilt from the ashes of the old?
Among the Verm there are born an equal amount of males and females, but unlike many of the other galbran tribes few of their women take up arms in battle—unless in the defense of their own homes. Because of their warlike natures, many of the Verm men are killed in the incessant and ceaseless skirmishes and wars, so there are approximately twice as many females as males in the standing population. To counterbalance this inequity, Verm males are allowed to take up to three wives—though no more, because this would be considered inequitable.
However, it is also dangerous to have multiple wives, because if a Verm male has more than one and another male takes a fancy to one of his wives he may challenge that Verm to combat. If the husband is victorious he is allowed to keep his contested wife. If he is defeated then the challenger may take the contested wife as his own. Because of this a beautiful Verm woman may sometimes find herself the wife of seven or eight different men. If the husband does not survive the duel, any children that woman has borne by a previous husband are cast out into the street to die or make their way as beggars.
With the advent of the worship of the All Father and His One Son, Fedrik Khan declared this practice dead, and a number of Verm have been imprisoned for making such challenges and initiating these duels for the wives of other men. The customs of centuries, however, die hard, and the practice has not yet been completely extinguished in the few months that Fedrik Khan has installed this new edict against the barbaric practice of flesh duels.
Yanouth was a Verm Khan who zealously expanded the borders of his city, driving out a conclave of Muvari who had thought Ledgrim too small and the laws too restrictive and emigrated to a series of descending caverns at the outer edges of the territories where the Muvari maintained outposts. These Muvari, led by a woman named Enper Endredi, who was said to keep two husbands—a violation of Muvari law—had created their own society and were about three hundred strong.
However, Yanouth Khan led a contingent of forty chosen warriors, broke the back of the Muvari resistance and drove them out. Enper Endredi and a dozen survivors made it back to Ledgrim, but Yanouth was tried by a high judge and exiled from Ledgrim—never to be heard from again.
In the meantime, Yanouth Khan made the Terraces, which had an abundant supply of waterfalls a part of Vermopolis and closed off its entrances so that it could not easily be retaken. For many years they were fearful of Muvari retaliation, but that never came. The Muvari had warned Enper Endredi of the dangers of leaving Ledgrim and didn’t feel the need or desire to spend lives taking back caverns they had no use for.
The Martians, who live primarily beneath the ground, have a number of words to describe a cavern. This particular word indicates a cavern that is near the surface and has access to the outside world. The term had also come to describe or name some tribes who dwell close to the surface and frequently venture outside.
An alcoholic beverage which is actually fermented from the fat worms that are found plentifully in the algae pits of Labyrinth.
This is how the galbran tribes often refer to the non-galbran tribes like the Muvari, the Fejuvisi, the Munothi, etc.