Classification: Semi-humanoid terrestrial race ("Hidden race");
    active in the
Hyborian era, at least, and likely long before (see comments)

Location/Base of Operations: Subterranean caverns accessed via the mound within the Great Crater in the Silver Isles south of Kush in the Hyborian era, at least

Known Members: None identified; their numbers were not clearly shown, but no more than seven were seen at a time

Affiliations: None

Enemies: An unidentified tribe of the bird-riders (notably Bêlit, M'Gora, N'Yaga, Uzumi)

Aliases: Man-Worms

First Appearance: Conan the Barbarian I#59 (February, 1976)

Powers/Abilities: Nearly sightless, the Mound-Dwellers are accustomed to dwelling in darkness, and they cannot stand the light of day.

    The Mound-Dwellers were said to have improved their other senses -- notably smell, taste, and touch -- over the eons, although it is unrevealed whether they possessed a sense of hearing.

    They are humanoid from the waist up, they have a serpentine/worm-like lower body.

    They can dig/tunnel through solid Earth at great speed, and they can erupt through the ground with sufficient force to knock warriors in the vicinity off of their feet. On land they can travel more rapidly than their bulk would imply, keeping pace with the athletic Bêlit running at top speed.

Traits: The Mound-Dwellers were desperate for glowing/luminescent objects that their limited version could perceive/enjoy.

Type: Bilaterally symmetric semi-humanoid-serpentine
: Two (on head; unseen)
: Four (plus opposing thumb)
Skin color: Pale blue
Average height: Unrevealed; their upper-bodies were perhaps 25% larger than that of Bêlit, but they possessed thick, elongated tail sections that seemed to be perhaps 10-20' in length
Other Distinguishing Features: Their worm-like lower bodies that have paired apparently suction-cup tipped pseudopodia running along their length


(Conan the Barbarian I#59 (fb) - BTS) - Their origins unrevealed, at least a group of Man-Worms came to dwell within a mound accessed via the "Great Crater" in the Silver Isles south of Kush. Over "eons" (see comments) they developed enhanced senses of smell, taste, and touch to compensate for near blindness (and uncertain hearing abilities).mound-dwellers-hyborian-size

(Conan the Barbarian I#59 (fb) - BTS) <"Years and years" ago in relation to the flashback that was three years before the main story circa 10,000 BC> - The Mound-Dwellers stole the silvery right eye (see comments) of the carven image of Dagon from within the village of the tribe that included the Bird-Riders.

    Initially considering the eye some sort of trophy, the Mound-Dwellers came to revere the "Eye of Dagon" because it reflected their tunnels' phosphorescence and made the eternal night a bit less dark.

    Over the years, many tribesmen ventured into the dark realm of the Mound-Dwellers to reclaim the eye of the Dagon statue, but none of the warriors sent thusly returned. 

(Conan the Barbarian I#59 (fb) - BTS) <3 years before the main story> - In order for Bêlit to fulfill rites of passage and become a full warrior of the tribe (as she insisted) instead of having to live amongst the Bird-Riders as a woman, chieftain Uzumi assigned her the task of returning the stolen Eye of Dagon to their sacred idol.mound-dwellers-hyborian-face

    While Bêlit refused the advice of her mentor, N'Yaga, that she flee, Bêlit insisted on completing the mission, and N'Yaga secretly slipped a vial of liquid silver (mercury?) into her side-pouch so that she might use it to replace the shiny Eye she would steal from the Mound-Dwellers.

    Hours later, Bêlit discovered N'Yaga's gift.

(Conan the Barbarian I#59 (fb)) - Descending into the Great Crater, Bêlit entered the mound and then traveled down the caverns until she encountered the Mound-Dwellers, watched as they passed the Eye of Dagon amongst themselves. Waiting for the moment when one of the quasi-human monsters passed the Eye to the next one of their number, Bêlit leapt forward and swung her spear into the passer's arm, causing it to drop the Eye, which she retrieved. As the Mound-Dwellers remained eerily silent, Bêlit fled, not taking the time to replace the Eye with the vial of silver N'Yaga had given her.

    The Man-Worms pursued Bêlit with a speed she would not have believed possible as she raced through the dark caverns she had memorized.

(Conan the Barbarian I#59 (fb) - BTS) - When she reached the mound-entrance, she was surprised to find -- rather the expected light of mid-day -- that it was nearly dark as night above (due to a solar eclipse), almost as if night had fallen in the brief few hours to aid the Man-Worms in stalking her.

    Rushing back to the village, Bêlit announced that she had retrieved the Eye of Dagon but that the Mound-Dwellers may be hot on her trail. Uzumi denounced Bêlit for bringing this threat to them during the time of darkness when the Mound-Dwellers may attack them, and he ordered his tribesmen to kill her and Bêlit. However, N'Yaga distracted the tribesmen with the fire-casting powders he had mastered from the priests of Shem, and Bêlit rushed forward and grabbed Uzumi by the throat, accusing him of plotting the timing of her mission to coincide with the dark day. As they felt the ground trembling from the Man-Worms tunneling toward them, Bêlit poured the silvery liquid down Uzumi's throat.

mound-dwellers-hyborian-uzumi(Conan the Barbarian I#59 (fb)) - Immediately thereafter, the ground tremors grew, erupting into a frenzy of quaking Earth and sending the villagers flying, after which the Mound-Dwellers emerged. Sensing the the silver within Uzumi and content to use that as a replacement, one of the Man-Worms coiled its tail around him, and the Mound-Dwellers went back through their tunnel to their twilight world.

(Conan the Barbarian I#59 (fb) - BTS) - The Man-Worms presumably tore Uzumi apart to retrieve the "holy metal" within him.

    With Uzumi's death, Bêlit was proclaimed Chieftain of the Silver Isles and -- after she vowed to retrain them as pirates -- Queen of the Black Coast. These tribesmen were the first of her Black Corsairs.

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Steve Gan.

    They were described as developing enhanced senses over "eons."

    And what are they?

    Why did the Mound-Dwellers only steal the right eye of the idol of Dagon?

Profile by Snood.

The Mound-Dwellers should be distinguished from:

great crater/mound/caverns


     The Man-Worms, aka the Mound-Dwellers, made their homes in the caverns (far right) below a mound (near right) contained within the Great Crater (far left) somewhere in the Silver Isles, south of Kush.

     It would seem likely that the Great Crater was formed by a meteorite, but that is not confirmed.

Conan the Barbarian I#59

images: (without ads)
Conan the Barbarian I#59, pg. 10, panel 5 (great crater);
          panel 6 (mound)
       pg. 11, panel 2 (caverns);
       pg. 12, panel 1 (main/group image);
          panel 2 (face, handing the Eye of Dagon back and forth);
          panel 4 (size, surrounding Bêlit);
       pg. 15, panel 2 (erupting through ground);
          panel 3 (wrapping around Uzumi)

Conan the Barbarian I#59 (February, 1976) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), John Buscema (penciler), Steve Gan (inker)

First posted: 04/14/2023
Last updated: 04/14/2023

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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