Ktuvoks

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Ktuvok
Taxonomy: viocta mieril
Habitat: wetlands, ocean
Avg. height: 9 ft. / 275 cm
Population: 200,000
Verdurian: ktuvóc

Ktuvoks (Ver. ktuvóc [qtu ˈvok]) are an intelligent species whose land habitats are restricted to coastal swamps, but which widely range the sea as hunters. Other Almeans almost universally condemn them as evil, due to their practice of creating ktuvok empires.

Physical description

Ktuvoks are imposing beings, half again as tall as humans, with sharp teeth and claws, large blinkless eyes (they are actually protected by a transparent membrane), and a disturbing frill of small tentacles on the head. Their skin is dark, mottled grey, green, brown, or black, and thick enough to resist a knife.

A ktuvok

They can breathe both air and water, but cannot survive long if not close to the water. Their diet is exclusively carnivorous; in their aboriginal state, they mostly ate large sea creatures (chiefly cetaceans), but in their empires they eat meat brought to them by their human slaves. It's said that they eat humans as well, though this is hard to verify, and is denied by some Dhekhnami sources.

They seem to have some sort of mesmeric ability over animals, including humans (but not iliu). Outsiders describe this as a form of possession, though it is probably more accurate to call it conversion, comparable to the ability of our own totalitarian regimes to find willing servitors.

Behavior

Ktuvoks hunt collectively, but live separately. They do not pair-bond, nor do they have sexual intercourse; rather, the male deposits a large sperm packet, which the female takes up, using it both to fertilize her egg and to nourish the fetus. Males consequently do not have a penis, though they have an organ which extrudes during the courtship phase, and deposits the packet. (Human records on this are understandably slender; our chief sources are reports from the Caďinorian conquerors of Munkhâsh; those who did manage to witness the activity generally did not wish to do so again.)

Ktuvok mating is extremely selective, and based on status displays: females will refuse to mate with approximately half the males, and this is based entirely on relative status: spurned males in a large empire may be masters of large territories with thousands of human slaves. Ktuvok empires are, in effect, simply the status displays for powerful ktuvoks.

Ktuvoks sometimes fight among themselves, and more often intrigue in order to seize one another's territory, though they never give in to such behavior when fighting an external enemy. In ages past they fought a long series of wars with the iliu, as related in the Count of Years; but in the last few thousand years their conflicts have mostly been with humans.

Etymology: Elkarîl ktuphuq ‘swamp thing’, Bar. ktuvôk, Ver. ktuvóc; Cuêzi amnigo ‘descendant of Amnās’; Caď. viocta mierae ‘fire spirit’; Ismaîn miryn ‘fire-being’; X. ramasu ‘frog-man’; Munkhâshi gotalh ‘divine master’, Dhekhnami godat, Wede:i gotak; łasdrûr ‘sea-monster’.