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Worms of the Earth is a short story by American author Robert E. Howard which is set in H. P. Lovecraft's fictional Cthulhu Mythos.

Synopsis Edit

In ancient Britain, when a Pictish king disguised as an emissary witnesses an act of unspeakable cruelty by the ruling Roman governor against one of his people, he vows revenge by any means necessary.

Consulting a deranged witch-woman, the king strikes a bargain with her, learning the route to an underground cavern which houses a relic sacred to the subterranean creatures known as the Worms of the Earth before stealing the piece. Once again travelling beneath the earth, he meets with the Worms and agrees to return the relic on the condition that they bring him the Roman governor alive. The Worms agree, but when the governor is presented to the king, he has been driven mad by what he has seen, and so the king puts him out of his misery.

Characters Edit

  • Bran Mak Morn/Partha Mac Othna, a Pictish king disguised as an ambassador in order to spy on his Roman enemies. He is said to be descended from a tribe of men even more ancient than the Picts.
  • Atla, a witch-woman who lives on the fens and has an extensive knowledge of the supernatural creatures of the area. She is only half-human, being the product of interbreeding with the Worms of the Earth.
  • Titus Sulla, a Roman governor of Britain who crucified a Pictish man after a biased trial for striking a Roman trader. Died insane at the hands of Bran.
  • Grom, Bran's manservant.
  • Gonar, the Priest of the Moon and chief advisor to the king.

Behind the Mythos Edit

First published in the November 1932 edition of pulp magazine Weird Tales, Worms of the Earth was later included as the titular piece in a collection of Howard's work in 1975. In 2012, it was given an eBook release as part of Wildside Press LLC's The Cthulhu Mythos Megapack, then as an individual volume by Amazon Digital Services on 17 February 2018.

In December 1976 and February 1977 Marvel Comics released a two-part black-and-white comic book adaptation under their Curtis Magazines label. These were later issued together as a trade paperback in October 2000 by Cross Plains Comics/Wandering Star, this time in full colour.

Mythos References Edit

  • Bran, when swearing his revenge, states that he would invoke even the "Black gods of R'lyeh." R’lyeh is also later used as part of an exclamation by Atla.
  • The lord of the Deep Ones, Dagon, lends his name to several locations in the story, for example Dagon's Mere, a body of water, and Dagon's Ring, a sacrificial henge.

Gallery Edit

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