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.
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.
Heel- This term is heard in conjunction with a number of phrases: “I need a crossbow with a little more heel” and “Put your heel into it”, for example. It has come to indicate a measurement of strength or exerted effort.) The latter phrase indicates a need for a crossbow with a stronger/more difficult pull and the former is similar to the Earth expression, “Put your back into it”.
The phrase originates from the loading process of a crossbow. The more powerful types of Martian crossbows can’t usually be cocked by hand, and come with foot stirrups so that the shooter can use his whole body to pull back the cable. The term ‘heel’ is derived from the fact that a shooter must place his foot or heel into the stirrup in order to stretch back the prods of the crossbow and nock the bolt.