Snap! Just like that, and he was gone. Didn't even have time to finish screaming.The Chūduk are a species of chitin-covered lurkers that feed on blighted winds and any poor fool who strays too close to where the Chūduk have rooted. Little more then stalks with hungry teeth and a powerful, four-pronged maw, the Chūduk live only on the surface, burrowed down where the soil is loose. Any Blight-Tracker worth her coin to avoid the sand when they can, least they end up the Chūduk's next meal.
DescriptionThe Chūduk are long, stalk-like creatures with a long, segmented body that ends with a plant-like bulb of rooting tendrils at the very bottom and a closed shell with a maw behind it at the top. The chitin of the Chūduk is rough, with a color similar to bleached bone. Chūduk's reach several meters in length, with older Chūduk sporting distinct ridges along their carapace. Its mouth is covered by four shells that split open like petals when it needs to use it, which accounts for their sometime and often ironic name of 'Bone-Bloomers'. The mouth consists of four tendrils that the creature use both to feel and manipulate errant food-stuff, two elongated and scissor-like mandibles that the Chūduk can lock into an open position to then violently snap shut. The jagged bone mandibles close with such force that even Kawae beasts have been known to be sheared in half. The Chūduk can vomit out a bulbous, gas-filled sac from deep inside its innards which float but remain anchored to the Chūduk through slimy, stringy intestines. This sac is what the Chūduk use to feed on radiation, as well as reproduce.
Some Chūduk sprout blooming fungal stalks along cracks in their carapace as a result of a certain type of parasite. The same infections mar their intestinal pod with colorful growths and moving, eye-like organs.
Life CycleThe Chūduk reproduce asexually. The more they feed, the more their radiation-eating organs grows and bloats inside of them until they forced to disgorged it, then sever the connective tissues by biting them off. These seed-organs will drift off in the winds and until they gaseous sacs that hold them adrift empty and they land. After vomiting out their seed, Chūduk go into a state of hibernation but not all survive it. Without prey and with no way to feed off of the irradiated winds of the surface, a few Chūduk simply starve to death. Starving Chūduk are impatient hunters and become very dangerous, willing to attack nearly anything that wanders nearby. Should they survive, a Chūduk will launch several such pod-organs throughout its lifespan.
The Chūduk's muscle-spasm of a vomit can launch the pods quite some distance and that together with their ability to thrive in all but the most irradiated lands mean they can be found throughout the surface. But not all pods survive; many land in places unsuited for it to survive or are picked apart by predators and scavengers.Once the pod has landed, the Chūduk will begin to root. The pod remains on the surface while the lower body burrows downwards as it grows. The roots are not permanent, but wither away as the creature continues to grow to re-emerge deeper down under the ground. As it burrows and grows, it begins to form its chitinous armor and scissor-maw and will disappear beneath the ground as soon as the hole is deep enough. Before its maw has properly developed, the Chūduk rely mostly on sunlight and radiation for sustenance but as soon as it is able, meat is added to its diet whenever possible.
It's been there so long that it's practically part of the road, now.The Chūduk are ambush predators. They lurk beneath the surface where they have burrowed down and wait for something to disturb the ground above. They have a very rudimentary sense of the size of their prey by the impact of the step and usually avoid striking prey too large for it, but starving Chūduk are much less discriminate. The strike is quick and brutal, with the scissor jaws snapping shut with enough force to shear through metal or carapace. Once they've closed around their prey, the Chūduk will attempt to pull it down into the sand with it for consumption. During the night, the Chūduk emerge from their hiding hole to regurgitate their seed-stomach and bask in the starlight. They feed on radiation, both from cosmic winds and the blight that plagues the Surface of Araea. They never truly sleep, but will always strike when disturbed with a gluttonous appetite. The Chūduk can eat and digest nearly everything, and what it cannot is regurgitated back out. When threatened, they sometimes spray the contents of their stomach towards the threat, a shower of partially dissolved food and acidic juices that have been known to scar even metals.
Some Blight-Trackers use the Chūduk's hunger against it as a source of entertainment, by tossing various things for it to eat and seeing what will happen.Despite what is commonly known, the Chūduk can slowly move from their rooted position but rarely do so and only when their current spot can no longer support their hunger.
Predator and PreySurface travellers know the Chūduk as a common threat to travel and particularly populated patches of land are sometimes marked for others as Chūduk territory. Others hunt the Chūduk, using barbed hooks to entice the creature to strike and then pull it out of the ground for slaughter. It is dangerous work, but the chitin of the Chūduk is a tough, rigid material that finds a number of uses. Unfortunately, while the meat of the Chūduk has a pleasant enough taste, it is highly radioactive and only consumed in the most dire of circumstance as those who do so will certainly suffer from blight-poisoning. But even though humans can't eat them, the Chūduk have their own predators. The Kaha-Kiore can more then match the Chūduk can more then match their speed, while the Mahu'ca simply gobble them up from below. At night, leeches and parasites sometimes nest on their seed-stomach and suckle on it for sustenance.
The Chūduk are a hazard that travelers always need to be wary of. More then a few have stepped too far out into the sand only to disappear, caught in the Chūduk's maw.
Found InThe Surface
Armor made from Chūduk chitin