Otataral was a magic-deadening reddish ore, generally sold in the form of dust, which superficially resembled rusted iron. It not only prevented the use of magic, it also prevented mages from accessing or opening their Warrens and could drive them insane (this may have been due to otataral itself or the forcible removal of access to their Warren); an attempt to do so, or use magic on an individual holding otataral caused the effect to fail in a gust of chilly air. The effects of otataral could be circumscribed somewhat through encasing the metal in a dense material (such as a granite box) or a weapon's sheath. Elder racial Warrens such as Kurald Galain and Tellann were immune to its effects.
In addition, any individual who was in the presence of the ore for a long enough period (such as by carrying an otataral weapon or inhaling or absorbing otataral dust through skin) would experience unpredictable side effects, at least one of which appeared to be a transfer of the magic-deadening properties.
Another possible side effect was increased rate of healing. This was rather beneficial as it helped make up for the fact that a person thus affected by otataral might be immune to the magic-based healing ministrations of a Denul healer.
Otataral was too brittle to be forged directly into a weapon. Instead, most weapons were forged as normal, then quenched in otataral dust while still hot. Attempting to counter magic with hot otataral could cause catastrophic explosions. One such weapon was the sword wielded by the Imperial Adjunct.
Otataral could be formed due to the passage (or the portal) of the giant jade statues that periodically impacted the Malazan world. The ore appeared to act as a scab, isolating or minimizing the effects of these statues.
In Memories of Ice, it was indicated that the ritual at the end of the First Empire to create Soletaken went out of control, tearing a Warren to pieces and turning the eastlands into molten stone that cooled and became something that defied sorcery.
Otataral was created when the magnitude of sorcery unleashed devoured all the energy it required, the resulting substance defying non-Elder sorcery in its surrounding area.
Mining and control Edit
The Malazan Empire tightly controlled the mining and sale of otataral. The most prominent source was the mine at Dosin Pali, at the edge of the Otataral Desert just off the coast of the Seven Cities. When the mining of otataral resulted in contact with the jade figures, the shaft of the mine was immediately closed as spending time in their presence inevitably caused death.
Otataral was mined from the Tanno Hills on Seven Cities.
Other sources of otataral were speculative, including the Teblor's mountain range in northern Genabackis. The Teblor used this red-rust powder in their Blood-oil. Had the Malazan Empire discovered these sources, it would have probably immediately moved to control them.