Caladrex or Caladrexian steel was used to forge weapons of superior edge and durability by the blacksmiths of that ancient and now lost city. An entrance to that now buried city was discovered by Garvey Dire and Ntashia Dire through a cavern in the cliffside of the Rift, and there is another known entrance through the Valley of Diamonds.
This lost city beneath the Martian planetary crust was at the time partially controlled by a malicious computer entity known as Sved who could also appear in apparitional or semi-substantial form. Another portion of Caladrex is controlled by Thenylis, High Priestess of the Omnipotent Vackri, who rules over the remnants of the once great people.
Caladrex steel may or may not have been actual steel at all, but in reality an alloy unknown to exile, Galbran, or Muvari, and even to the mad wizard Sar Savaht.
‘Spits nor tacks’ is a phrase derived from a Muvari game in which darts are thrown at increasingly small targets. When a player gets behind in points he can attempt to steal another player’s points by striking or ‘tacking’ the other player’s dart through the feathers. Sometimes players will lick or ‘spit’ on their fingers with the idea that perhaps this will improve their grip upon the dart and allow them to throw more accurately. Because this strategy of ‘tacking’ another player’s dart is extremely difficult, and a bit of saliva on the fingertips rarely helps the throw to succeed, the phrase “spits nor tacks” evolved to indicate a pointless or meaningless thing, gesture or action.
Martian telepathy is possible only between male and female. Even so, it is prevalent only among certain tribes–the Muvari being one of them. Garvey’s ability to communicate telepathically suggests a latent ability in some born of Earth.
Among the Muvari, telepathic communication is generally reserved for use between spouses, as it usually is activated only by touch with one’s partner. There are some notable exceptions to this though, as animal shamans are known to communicate and command their animals telepathically.
Lana Dire broke the intimacy taboos of the Muvari Tribe and used telepathy to communicate with Garvey, a man who, at the time, wasn’t lawfully her husband. When Garvey released her from the stasis loop in which the Warlord Shaxia had trapped her, she found that she and her savior spoke different languages and so touched him to bridge the communication gap. This enabled them to speak and flee the torrack eunuchs who were attempting to slay them.
Her second communication was inadvertent after Garvey Dire had been poisoned in his death duel with Bray Kraz. The communication, Lana knew, had been meant for her sister Ntashia, but she had picked up on it as well.
Since she was, by virtue of Clivok’s death, technically affianced to Garvey, pending the ceremony, this was no longer taboo. The first time she had communicated with Garvey she had touched him, but the second time she had merely been within close proximity.
During their marriage, this ability to communicate without touch increased, but never to the same extent as Garvey and Ntashia, who could pass thoughts at a much greater distance.
The sinthral are a race of monstrous half-human half-spider creatures who inhabit portions of the Rift and perhaps other remote places on Mars. The legendary lost tribe of Brecknar is said to worship the spiderous sinthral and make them human sacrifices.
To the Muvari Tribe, the idea that the life of a tribal member would be esteemed at so little value is revolting. So to the Muvari, to suggest someone be made a sacrifice to the sinthral is to suggest they are utterly worthless to their tribe–an insult of paramount gravity.
Quote from Ntashia: “You weren’t invited to take part in this conversation, and I’d suggest you back off before I slit your throat and throw your carcass into the Rift as an offering to the sinthral.”
Though the average Martian male is about a foot taller than a male of Earth, they are also of a slighter build. An Earthling’s musculature is more compact and muscular to deal with the greater gravity of Earth. Despite Garvey Dire’s lack of height (by Martian standards) he still outweighs most Martian males by a third, and has far greater strength.
The term “aggressive sword” is used among the Muvari and other of the Martian Tribes to describe someone with a fighting temperament; someone who possesses bangstry (the skill of masterful violence); a person who will challenge another to duel with little or no provocation or someone who can always be found in the forefront of battle.
The ‘sharp’ in this Muvari-coined phrase refers to a state or readiness–the term originating in reference to the household weapons of a clan, which are whetted and ready for use in defense of the family.
Eventually, the phrase “safe and sharp” evolved to mean a general state of preparation and alertness. It is still used to mean to refer to battle readiness, but also other such mundane things as having a meal prepared or the tools ready and waiting to go out and harvest a mushroom crop.