well_of_souls-hyborian-external.jpgWELL of SOULS

Classification: Magic item;
    Hyborian era (possibly the pre-Cataclysmic era and possibly even the Distant Past)

Creator: "The Elder Gods" (see comments)

User/Possessors: Nostume, Tetra/Pathir, ;
    Keiv and Delmurio entered the Well, but did not reach its bottom;
    A number of Nostume's ghouls fell into the Well and were presumably destroyed upon reaching its bottom

Location: At least formerly within a temple on an unidentified island in the far Western Sea (as the world existed in the Hyborian era)

First AppearanceConan the Barbarian I#177 (December, 1985)

Powers/Abilities/Functions: The Well of Souls was a portal that connected the Earthly realm (at its top) to "the Other World" (at its bottom), where madness and evil reigned.

    It was said that should one of pure heart plunge into the bottomless, sorcerous well, he or she would enter "the Other World," and unrivaled, near limitless power would be his or hers. The price was corruption of the soul, as the spirits of the "Other World" apparently filled and replaced the being's soul.

    To beings less than pure, the Well reportedly only brought death.



(Conan the Barbarian I#177 (fb) - BTS) - The Well of Souls was left by "the Elder Gods" (see comments) on an unidentified island in the far Western Sea.

(Conan the Barbarian I#177 (fb) - BTS) <"Ages" before the main story, which took place around 10,000 BC> - Nostume was shipwrecked on an island in the Western Sea. Stumbling onto a temple, he discovered and was empowered by the Well of Souls.

(Conan the Barbarian I#177 (fb) - BTS) - Fearing that his memory might fail him with the passage of time, Nostume made a map to his island.

(Conan the Barbarian I#173 (fb) - BTS) - Nostume's map was obtained by unidentified parties. It was believed to lead to great treasure, and eventually an owner tore it in half, in hopes of selling it twice.

(Conan the Barbarian I#173 (fb) - BTS) - The Hyperborean Keiv obtained both copies of the map.

(Conan the Barbarian I#173 (fb) - BTS) - Eventually, after one of Keiv's raids of Zingara, Zingaran Captain Delmurio was sent to arrest him, unaware that Keiv had nearly a thousand Picts with him.
    After Delmurio's defeat, Keiv used a dagger to carve a copy of half of the map on Delmurio's chest. 

    Delmurio allegedly later forced Keiv to flee Zingara; the original map which he had copied on Delmurio was apparently destroyed, while Keiv reportedly lost the other half. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#172 (fb) - BTS) - Zacharus of Brythunia obtained the remaining half of the map and traveled to Pictland in hopes of gaining the other half and locating a wonderful treasure. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#173 - BTS) - Seeking the other half of a treasure map, Conan and Tetra confronted Keiv, whom they had heard had the other half; seemingly pressured by Conan, Keiv led the pair toward Nostume.

(Conan the Barbarian I#177 - BTS) - Nostume caused a monstrous sea serpent to shatter the ship carry Conan, Delmurio, Keiv, Tetra, and others as they approached the waters around the island on which the Well of Souls was located.

(Conan the Barbarian I#177 - BTS) - Nostume's ghouls captured Delmurio, Keiv, and Tetra as they approached the island and brought them to his temple.

(Conan the Barbarian I#177) - After Nostume greeted his captives, Keiv broke free and threatened Nostume, but Nostume's ghouls forced Keiv and then Delmurio into the well. Nostume offered to spare Tetra in exchange for certain favors, but when she refused and slashed his face with his dagger, Nostume had his ghouls throw her in, as well. well_of_souls-hyborian-keiv-internal.jpg

    Having braced himself by spanning the well's walls with his immense form, Keiv caught Delmurio and Tetra.

(Conan the Barbarian I#177) - As Keiv carried Tetra and Delmurio back up to the top of the well, Conan arrived and severely wounded Nostume, who teleported away to save himself.

(Conan the Barbarian I#177) - Upon reaching the surface, Tetra told Conan she loved him, but he dismissed her.

    Overcome with pain at this rejection, Tetra stood by the Well and considered jumping in.

(Conan the Barbarian I#177 / Conan the Barbarian I#178 (fb) - BTS) - When an elderly Nostume returned, seeking vengeance, Tetra was sufficiently startled to fall into the Well.

(Conan the Barbarian I#177 - BTS / Conan the Barbarian I#185 (fb) - BTS) - Tetra was empowered by the Well of Souls.

(Conan the Barbarian I#177 - BTS) - As Tetra gained the Well's power, Nostume abruptly lost his power, allowing Conan to slay him.

(Conan the Barbarian I#185 (fb) - BTS) - Tetra apparently perished, but the spirits of the Well of the Souls filled her form; affected by her memories and feelings, this collective sought Conan's love and continued to act as if it was still Tetra.

(Conan the Barbarian I#177 - BTS) - The Well of Souls was buried as the newly-empowered, maddened, and demon-corrupted Tetra leveled the temple.

Comments: Created by Jim Owsley, John Buscema, and Pablo Marcos.

    It's anyone's guess who Owsley meant as "the Elder Gods" that created the Well of Souls. See below for Elder Gods clarifications, but I would think the Great Old Ones or some other group of demons would be the most likely...the Elder Gods of the Hyborian era are certainly possible, but the abode of demons makes it seem less likely to me...

    I thought there was a scene that pictured "the other world" and its demon population...but I either couldn't find it or I was mistaken.

Profile by Snood.

The Well of Souls should be distinguished from:

Elder Gods

images: (without ads)
Conan the Barbarian I#177, pg. 11, panel 3 (temple);
            panel 4 (Well, external);
    #185, pg. 3, panel 3 (Keiv, supporting Tetra and Delmurio)

Conan the Barbarian I#177 (December, 1985) - Jim Owsley (writer), John Buscema (penciler), Pablo Marcos (inker), Larry Hama (editor)
Conan the Barbarian I#185 (August, 1986) - Jim Owsley (writer), John Buscema (penciler), Ernie Chan (inker), Larry Hama (editor)

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

First posted: 02/26/2018
Last updated: 02/26/2018

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