Tantalum is a rare, blue-grey metal that is found deep within the chasms of Ferchiun*. Immune to all but the strongest acids, if more had heard of it would be more sought after. It is nearly as hard as adamantine and holds an edge equally as well. Those few who believed such a tale did not return from their quest to gather any, or if they did, it was not to the homes from which they came.
A possible answer to what happens to spells when a mage dies. If the spell is strong enough, say and enchantment or other permenant effect, part of the mages spirit may become lodged in the magic. It may be a way for items to gain some kind of intelligence, but a mage who has knowledge of this fact would be very hesitant about enchanting anyone or thing. He might have other plans for his afterlife than counting the change in your bag of holding.
Preists, I think, would have this sort of thing covered.