Above: Depicts a thumb protection device which is used by some Martian tribes.
“Paying the enemy” is a term that is used by the Muvari and some others of the Martian tribes, which means to return some of the misery that the enemy has already inflicted. These crossbows are known for their power and require levers to pull back the cable in order to fire. Levers sometimes break and a taut cable will snap forward unexpectedly, or sometimes a crossbow will be fired when an extremity is not clear of the cable, and a finger will be lost. The phrase “Cutting of your thumbs to pay the enemy” developed, which loosely has a similar meaning to the Earthling idioms “Robbing Peter to pay Paul,”, denoting an action which has little meaning because of the cost associated with it.
This is the title bestowed upon the most respected and senior leaders of the Muvari Tribe. Also, the bravest and most distinguished warriors of the Muvari may go through a special ceremony in front of the Council of Elders which bestows upon them the honorary title of Shad.
Gutter Muvari are those members of the tribe without other useful skills or abilities who are given the task of keeping the streets clean and the gutters and water channels free of debris and pollutants. Though an important and even vital service, this task is considered menial by many Muvari and ‘gutter muvari’ is used as a derogatory term to indicate someone of low station or of little use.
This saying originates from an incident where a Kranuvi ambassador met with an ambassador of the Tredwari tribe to negotiate a treaty. With one hand the Tredwari ambassador offered up gifts to the Kranuvi and with the other hand he drew his dagger and plunged it into the heart of the Kranuvi ambassador. So when someone is believed to be speaking deceitfully, they are said to be “speaking with both hands.”
The Muvari and other of the Martian Tribes have a number of proverbs, which are used to instruct children and remind themselves of basic truths. One such proverb is:
Trust a hungry hobranx and soon he will no longer be hungry.
This, of course, is a cautionary proverb about the perils of putting faith in those who are untrustworthy … or of turning your back on an insatiable beast.
Some tribes, notably the Ekshant Tribe from which Lambrin was exiled, will administer punishment for violations of law by tying the criminal up to a board and whipping them. In some cases, where the sentence is death they will nail the criminal to the board.
This has given rise to the saying, “I’d rather be nailed naked to a board” when some task or event seems particularly odious.
‘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.