Vokhtan Bestiary – Apuh

Apuh [pronounced ‘ah-poo’] are the last of the great predators in the Vokhtan bestiary.
Apuh bodies are segmented, much like terran worms however they are an order of magnitude larger. At rest the segments are usually kept concertinaed together, however at a full stretch an apuh can reach two wingspans from end to end.

Given that a single wingspan is the size of one average Vokh wing fully extended, a full sized apuh can be quite large.

The tapering, cone-shaped head is similar to the business end of a torpedo and allows the apuh to push through the thick, viscous white mud at a speed of two wingspans per minute. Although this relatively slow speed would be useless on land, in the mud the apuh can move significantly faster than their prey.

The flattened end of the cone is an outer mouth which is held closed by a ring of enormously powerful sphincter muscles. This outer mouth protects the apuh’s true mouth which is only extended when it feeds. This true mouth has two circles of razor sharp teeth. Both sets of teeth are angled like fish hooks and lodge into the flesh of the prey, stopping it from being able to pull away. Feeding is done by the tongue which has a bulbous tip covered in extremely fine extrusions that make it act like sandpaper.

Apuh take a long time to pulverise and swallow their prey. In theory, if an apuh were to catch its prey on land the hapless victim would remain alive until the tongue finally reached a vital organ and put it out of its misery. In practice, apuh always hunt and feed in the mud, dragging their victims down and essentially drowning them even as they begin to feed.

Due to the medium in which they live apuh lack eyes and true ears however they do have a ring of hearing receptors on the underside of their cone-shaped heads. These hearing receptors are only used when the apuh lift their heads above the surface of the mud. Whilst they are beneath the mud they rely on their ability to sense even the slightest vibration through their skin.

In a very real sense the skin of an apuh is its major sensory organ but the skin has another purpose as well. Just beneath the skin are millions of tiny glands that secrete a lubricant slime. When this slime comes in contact with the mud a chemical reaction takes place, creating microscopic bubbles of air which are reabsorbed by the skin. When the apuh sleep these air bubbles build up and eventually escape to the surface where they pop, releasing a noxious smell.

When Apuh are ready to mate they use their body segments to drum their readiness through the mud. This unique vibration carries through the mud for long distances and alerts other sexually ready apuh in the vicinity who then beginning drumming as well.  The two closest drummers find each other and mate by twining their bodies around each other and exchanging sperm along the points of contact.

Once the apuh have exchanged sperm they both go their separate ways and begin to build bubble nests. These nests are essentially just air-filled hollows inside the mud. By the time the nests are finished and full of air the apuh are ready to extrude the fertilized eggs. These eggs look like boils on the skin. Mature eggs detach and drop off instead of popping.

After laying their eggs the apuh leave their nests and never return. When the eggs hatch the apuh young grow inside the bubble until they are mature enough to leave. This maturation process can take up to ten circuits and during this time the young learn to hunt and feed by preying upon the weakest of the clutch. Out of a hundred eggs ten to twelve young finally make their way out of the bubble. The weakest of these are then preyed upon by the adults, including their own parents so only the strongest survive to adulthood. This extreme mortality rate is a survival mechanism to stop the apuh from overpopulating their inhospitable environment.

The apuh are hunted by only one creature on Vokhtah – the iVokh healers. Once every year large parties of healers journey to the apuh beds to catch apuh for their oil. This oil forms the basis of a very powerful tonic.

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

20 responses to “Vokhtan Bestiary – Apuh

  • john malone

    it appears in one of her short story collections called ‘Eleven’, all of which are worth reading especially the story about the rat.


  • john malone

    I’d hate to meet up with one of these guys or worse still several; as I read this I can’t help thinking of Patricia Highsmith’s great tale: ‘The Quest For Blank Claveringi’. Have you read it?


  • Candy

    How intelligent are the Apuh? I can’t imagine anything scarier than a predator worm with a formidable intellectual capacity.


    • acflory

      Apuh are pure instinct. There’s not much happening under the hood so to speak. They’re just very good at what they do with next to no thought required. A bit like sharks.


  • geooorge

    I like it that you are actually thinking of the details. Like, they are feeling the vibrations through the skin instead of just “they feel the vibes…”

    Lots of people are forgetting these things, that the more you flesh out something the easier it is to do something with them.


  • metan

    A slow, tongue flaying death by Apuh sounds like an extremely unpleasant way to go… Lick, ouch, lick, ouch, lick, ouch……


  • Ilil Arbel

    Excellent representation of the Apuh; the entire biosphere is extremely life-like and convincing. Your technical writing expertise is coming through in the descriptions of the fauna, and the accuracy and consistency make the book into a universe of its own.

    As I have mentioned in previous comments, I think the drawings are extremely helpful. I would really love to see a Vokh and an iVokh to complete my vision, and perhaps a bit of botany – the reddish-purplish tints of the flora will make the vision of this planet even more nightmarish for the readers. This is getting better and better all the time; had Mr. Frank Herbert been alive, he would have happy to give you a review and a wonderful blurb for the back cover — I am convinced of it.


  • acflory

    -giggles- Please don’t tell your mother-in-law that there’s a monster with her name!


  • alexlaybourne

    They do not sound like very nice creatures. I did have to laugh though. Much like the good Lord above, when I saw the name Ah-Poo all i could think of was my mother in law. I stress the name was the connotation not the image!!!

    It is that when my eldest son was little he couldn’t say Oma (Nanny in Dutch) and so called her Apu. This stuck and all three kids (along with my wife and I ) call her this.

    I like what you are doing though Meeka, introducing the characters and inhabitants of your world to us.


  • lorddavidprosser

    When I saw Ah-Poo at first I thought we were heading for the Kwik-E-Mart but I soon decided this was something I wouldn’t want to meet even in my worst nightmare. Talking of which, I’m glad I’m not you if your mind can so easily conjure up these horrors, I’d never dare sleep again.


    • acflory

      -giggles- What’s that old saying? ‘Better out than in’?
      I’d love to take the credit for all my creatures but most have some basis in our own amazing critters. I just jumbled things up a bit and added a few extra touches 😀


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