Five days had passed since we had entered the mountains of Codarshool. Of all the lands of Decathros, this was by the far the most mysterious and forbidding. Entirely bereft of cities or even villages, it felt as if we were the only humans in the whole of this region. That impression was not entirely inaccurate if what I had heard was indeed true. And yet to remain behind would have certain death. We were marked men, each and every one of us.
I noticed that one of my companions bore a pensive look on his craggy face. ''Some heretics say that the gods live in these mountains. Sometimes they reach out to speak to those who wander through this land''. I raised an affronted eyebrow. Although I am a fugitive myself now, I will never bring myself to give any credence to these vile heresies. Possessed by the demons said to stalk these desolate wilds, the heretics indulge in every kind of abominable vice known to man, claiming that the gods speak to them. May they burn in the fires of hell for eternity along with their accursed demons.
Throughout the course of their lengthy lives, the Vorrkush adopt two distinctly different appearances, each one corresponding to the relevant life-phase that it is currently experiencing. Young or juvenile Vorrkush resemble elongated centipede like creatures that possesses a clutch of three gelatinous orbs at either end of their tapering bodies. As with most insects, these are compound eyes that provide a fragmented view of the world. However, their appearance undergoes a dramatic transformation once they attain maturity at age of a couple of centuries old. Adult Vorrkush look vaguely humanoid, but in an odd, distorted way.
They possess hinged, spidery limbs that enabled them to walk upright. The legs support a vaguely triangular body gives off glimmering obsidian sheen. Heavily muscled, this upper body sprouts two pairs of beefy upper limbs that terminate in two shovel-like appendages. These are made of extremely hard keratin. When operated in conjunction with the impressive chest and arm musculature of the Vorrkush, they enable it to move tonnes of soil and dirt with relative ease. They are a burrowing species and as such perfectly adapted to their subterranean homeland. What is most striking about the physiology of an adult Vorrkush is the fact that it lacks what we would recognize as a head. A massive, yawning maw sporting mandibles is located in the middle of its torso. This operates as the mouth of the Vorrkush and allows it to absorb the detritus that these scavengers feed on. From the mouth emerge two prehensile tongues that are an electric blue. They can move independently of one another and are able to sense the vibrations created by any animal moving in the direction of the Vorrrkush. This enables the latter to escape some of the deadly predators that stalk its underground home as well as sense potential prey.
Culture and life-cycle
The Vorrkush are not born as individuals. Instead, they consist of a separate mass of embryos developing in the egg-sac of their parent. Atypically, at least as far as the standards of conventional creatures are concerned, each of these embryos already possesses more or less sentient minds that are aware of their immediate surroundings. Although completely lacking in sensory organs at this larval stage, each embryo nevertheless possesses nascent psychic abilities that allow it to sense the presence of its undeveloped siblings. By extending subtle psychic tendrils, it is able to register the presence of the other independent entities that reside alongside it in the vicinity of its parents wombs. Eventually however, these separate embryos amalgamate with one another to form the centipede like form that is characteristic of young Vorrkush. Ultimately, the fully developed offspring is disgorged from its parent’s maw in a massive deluge of viscous, grey fluid. This is the remnant of the egg sacs that previously sustained the different embryos. It will continue to feed their voracious appetite until they are strong enough to tunnel through the various substrata of earth in their never-ending search for decaying organic material to satisfy their appetites. In the very instant of its birth however, the immediate impulse of the Vorrkush is to scuttle away swiftly before it prey to the automaton-like hunger of its parent.
Juvenile Vorrkush are endowed with an interesting attribute that serves to distinguish them from most other living creatures. The consciousness of a juvenile is actually a fragmented melange of different minds attempting to cooperate with one another in order to ensure their mutual survival. Despite having emerged physically together to form a single being, the hitherto embryonic entities, nevertheless adamantly insist on retaining their separate minds. They will tap into their psychic abilities to broadcast their various impulses and desires at one another in order to negotiate a common course of action.
This is a process that can take a considerable period of time. Fortunately for the Vorrkush, underlying its multiplicity of squabbling minds is a powerful subconscious instinct that continues to operate its various limbs and ensure that it never stops feeding. Otherwise, in the absence of this vital mental mechanism, it is quite likely that the Vorrkush would simply cease to move and would starve to death while its owners continued to negotiate with one another. Occasionally however rare moments of unity emerge in instances when a Vorrkush is faced with a threat to its very survival. In the presence of a deadly predator for example, all other minds will immediately cede their autonomy of action to the most decisive among them which for the duration of the crisis, will assume sole command of the Vorrkush.
After a period of about two centuries, the Vorrkush commences to spew a brown adhesive fluid that it proceeds to utilize to cacoon itself. A month passes before an adult Vorrkush emerges. Unlike its juvenile predecessor, an adult is completely blind, lacking eyes of any kind. It is also essentially deaf. Only its twin tongues allow it to sense the movements of other living creatures, picking up the vibrations generated by their muscles. Fortunately, by his point in its existence, the psychic powers of the Vorrkush have reached their full potential which is rather considerable now.
Projecting powerful psychic probes outwards, they are now able to access the thoughts and sensations experienced by all living creatures in the immediate vicinity. For the first time in its existence, the Vorrkush finds its mind awash with hitherto alien experiences such as smell and taste. At this stage in their evolution, their psychic abilities have reached such a powerful level that they can tap into the minds of living creatures dwelling thousands of miles above them on the surface. Peering through the eyes of an unsuspecting terrestrial being, they glimpse an alien world vastly different from the one of perpetual gloom that they are accustomed to.
Like all rational, sentient beings, the Vorrkush have tried to devise an explanation to explain the existence of a bright and verdant sunlit realm that would otherwise be inexplicable to these dwellers of the depths. Out of such speculation has emerged a powerful mystical tradition. Eons of Vorkkush have posited that multiple worlds exist in parallel universes, with their subterranean homeland being merely one among others. Millennia of Vorrkush , faced with the awareness of a world so radically different from their own , have shared their thoughts with one another, albeit from a distance safe enough to ensure that they are not driven to devour one another by their inexorable hunger. Out of the commingling of the intense musings of multitudes of searching, fascinated minds, a central theory of metaphysical doctrine has emerged.
Most Vorrkush overwhelmingly belief that their world is actually a cruel prison, one created to imprison them by a nefarious deity that they call Haaamburrn. In such a manner do they account for the relative misery of their own realm which is further exacerbated by their painfully limited physical sense organs. Many thinkers among the Vorrkush have posited that eons ago, the first among their kind must have angered the creator or creators of reality to have been cast into such an un-convivial plane of existence.
This particular strain of thought has gained widespread acceptance among the Vorrkush. Gradually, over the eons, the Vorrkush have largely developed the conviction that by freeing their multiple minds from their bodies, they might be able to attain to a higher plane of existence whereby they will be reincarnated as surface dwellers in the lovely, bright lands above. However, such a boon can only be attained via a sheer act of determination and will-power. Accordingly, many among the Vorrkush seek to reach their promised paradise by attempting to starve themselves to death in the hope that by hastening their death the creator will deem them worthy of salvation. However, most if not all of them find it virtually impossible to override their all-powerful hunger, with the different minds within a Vorrkush struggling to cooperate towards attaining this particular goal . Some minds may possess less of the fortitude required to achieve this ambition than their neighbours, consequently dooming the quest for salvation Paradise continues to remain an elusive goal for this strange race.
Touched by the Gods
There is a sinister aspect to the powerful psychic abilities wielded by the Vorrkush. Many of them upon successfully tapping into the mind of a terrestrial denizen are so enthralled by their newly discovered sensations that they are no longer content with simply being idle observers. Instead, they forcibly take possession of the faculties of their new vessels, turning them into helpless slaves. Sentient creatures are not exempt from the body-snatching tendencies of the Vorrkush and a significant number of humans have suffered this abject fate. With their new overlords in full control, they are compelled to immerse themselves in a wide variety of sensual pleasures that thrill the Vorrkush. Previously faithful wives might be compelled to take on a variety of lovers in order to enable their Vorrkush puppet-masters to enjoy the pleasures of sexual intercourse, while strict teetotalers might become drunkards literally overnight. Interestingly enough, there are some individuals who instead of feeling debased by such impositions, instead become ecstatic at being liberated from strict societal taboos and norms. Many of such sufferers are convinced that the gods are communing directly with them and revealing divine truths. Naturally, many of the possessed have founded orgiastic cults, much to the dismay and chagrin of established religions. Brutal inquisitions have sometimes been unleashed in order to suppress the popularity of such hedonistic religious groups, occasionally resulting in the destruction of entire villages of heretics''.