We could hear its roar even over the storm. It sounded like we were being chased by an earthquake, but I don't know if something that big even notices us.
Mahu'ca are titanic, centipede beasts and remain more myth than fact. Stories tell of entire cities razed by the rampage of one of the Mahu'ca, entire armies swallowed down its ravenous maw. Actual encounters are rare, but those that meet the Mahu'ca do not challenge the legends.
The Mahu'ca mix elements of snake and insect, with a long sinuous body edged with a multitude of legs that end with hooked claws. Its body is covered in a tough, dark carapace with knife-like ridges along its back. It has been seen unfolding two 'wing'-like folds near its head, large enough to blot out the sun. It posses six eyes with three on either side and a enormous maw with too many teeth to count, ranging from sword-sized cleavers to smaller teeth for grinding meat and bone.
The end of the body terminates in a long, whip-like tail that the Mahu'ca sometimes use to stir the dust and or great drumming sounds. The tail has no carapace, covered only by a thick leathery hide of a lighter brown shade than the carapace.
For most of its life, the Mahu'ca haunts the Shrouded Lands
far away from human eyes. When encountered outside of that, the Mahu'ca is aggressive and territorial. Lone individuals will usually escape the creature notice and wrath, but any larger party that cross the Mahu'ca's path are almost guaranteed to be attacked and devoured. The teeth of a Mahu'ca have proven more than capable to crush through metal armor and Khtam
shell a like, while its carapace can turn aside all but the most determined attack.
No two Mahu'ca have yet been seen meeting. It is not known if they simply avoid one another or that the few seen outside the Shrouded Lands are here because they have been driven from some pack or coupling. For a long time, it was believed that only a single Mahu'ca existed but this has unfortunately been shown to be false.
It is known that the Mahu'ca sometimes enter a dormant state and can sleep for years. In this time, they are covered by sand and dust until they nearly resemble mountains. Although dormant, the Mahu'ca has proven capable of rousing itself if sufficiently disturbed.
Little is known about the life of the Mahu'ca. No young has ever been seen and some speculate that the great beasts may be part of a dying breed of primordial titans, each one immeasurably ancient and alone. The Mahu'ca may keep its young deep in the Shrouded Lands
until such a time they reach the proportions seen by those who have encountered them. Others contend that the young Mahu'ca are unrecognizable as such and return to some mythic home to undergo a metamorphosis to their adult forms. Either is speculation.
On occasion, the corpses dead Mahu'ca are found in the wasteland. These provide a banquet for scavengers and parasites, enough to create a small ecosystem off its rotting flesh that can least for months. It can even take years before its bones are devoured or ground to dust by the elements. In the end, even these might titans die and are consumed, like everything else in Araea.
Between the Myth and the Monster
The Mahu'ca are rarely encountered terrors but when they appear they always herald great destruction. In the past, they have attacked settlements and outposts on the Surface and any settlement in the Outer Shell so exposed. Such occurrences are rare and for most t he Mahu'ca are nothing more then myth, terrifying tales that embody the perils of the wasteland.
In spite of all of that, every now and then there are those who come upon the idea of hunting the Mahu'ca. Either born of desperation or hubris, these expeditions are fortunate if they fail to locate their quarry and end in death if they do. The few times a Mahu'ca have been brought low, it has always been at terrible cost but the survivors have been rewarded with a titanic bounty. The flesh of the beast is edible and have in at least one case averted a crippling famine for a full three seasons. The teeth and claws find use as everything from great sword and lances to the tip of javelins, while its carapace is enough to make entire buildings from. Such material remain exceedingly rare, treasured heirlooms or monument for city-states to rally around.
Most sane people consider even such a bounty not worth the risk and the wise stay far away from the Mahu'ca.