Stranded astronaut, Garvey Dire, first encountered Lana Shar when he helped free her from a stasis loop he discovered while stranded on Mars and seeking shelter from an impending storm. Hurled back in time with her, Garvey discovers himself in an ancient Mars populated with rival tribes, strange artifact technology, and fearsome creatures beyond his imagination.
Despite this sudden shift in realities, Garvey becomes intrigued with this six-foot-tall warrior woman who introduces him into the Muvari Tribe. To his great chagrin, Garvey Dire discovers that this woman is married to a council member of the tribe–a renowned and wealthy trader. He immediately puts aside his amorous inclinations and this is aided by his introduction to the widowed Ntashia, Lana’s sister.
Later, when Lana’s husband is murdered by a group of conspirators, Lana, following the tradition of first seeking out the brother-in-law to marry her and take on the responsibility of her children, also becomes of the wife of Garvey Dire. Since the ratio of women in the Muvari Tribe is sixteen to every male, polygamy is not only encouraged but required.
When searching for a mate the oswagi spreads its brightly hued feathers in a brilliant array that forms a crown around its neck and head. For this reason, humans who are ostentatiously adorned or dressed in garb meant to attract the attention of others are said to have an ‘oswagi strut’.
Because of the red dust that the wind whips into the atmosphere, on Mars the sky is most often a reddish hue, and to imply it is blue would be observed to be patently wrong.
The Brothers Venn and Jothmak vied for the position of Khan when their father died of a long illness, which was brought about by degrees of poison administered by a maidservant, Shinka, who had been seduced by Venn. Vermopolis was split asunder by the ensuing civil war, called the War of Ascension. The two forces met on the Spindled Arch, when the jilted Shinka warned Jothmak of Venn’s intention to bring an army against him, and the battle was there decided. Venn was slain and Jothmak made Shinka one of his concubines, but slew her firstborn because he thought it to be the spawn of his brother.
However, Shinka went on to bear Jothmak four sons and three daughters. The eldest son of Shinka, Thegrin, slew Jothmak’s five sons by other wives and concubines, and took the throne of the khan after his father’s death. His own brothers, by Shinka, he allowed to live—but the youngest of these, eventually stabbed him in the back while worshiping before the altar of Naalbrock and took the throne for himself.
This is a cistern of water deep beneath Vermopolis which is lit up by phosphorescent algae, and the water of which is said to have aphrodisiacal qualities. It is considered a romantic destination for Verm couples to make the journey and partake of the waters.
An old saying which is known and used among a number of the tribes, but particularly among the Munothi. Some scholars suggest that this saying has been altered from ‘man’ to ‘woman’ when the male population dwindled so rapidly and severely that females became the protectors and warriors.
This sap is gathered from certain subterranean lichen growth and seeps out. When mixed with dust or earth it can be formed into a rubbery consistency that will not stick to the flesh. One game the Scurm children play is Pummel, where they bounce the ball off a wall using bats and their opponent must return it to them. The loser of the game is struck thrice with the opponent’s bat and this makes for a vicious and competitive game, which sometimes devolves into the youth forgetting entirely forgoing the ball and instead falling to pummeling each other—which really is the main point of this cruel game.