worms_of_the_earth-worms-3rdcenturyWORMS OF THE EARTH

Classification: Elderspawn (apparently Serpent Men) hybrids; Hyborian era, the 2nd and 3rd centuries, to the early 20th century

Location/Base of Operations: Subterranean tunnels beneath western Thuria and later Caledon (modern Scotland) with access points at Dagon's Barrow, Dagon's Cave, Kestrel Scaur and Serpent Gorge

Known Members: Atla, Ketrick, Legio IX Infernalis, Quintus Claudius Nero;

Affiliations: Hell-Worm, the Serpent Men, Ssrhythssaa the Deathless

Enemies: Aryara, Bran Mak Morn, Conan of Cimmeria (reincarnated as Jim O'Brien), Publius Calidius Falco, Gaeric (reincarnated as Richard Brent), Gonar (3rd century), Grom, Legio IX Hispana, Liuba, Morgain, Jim O'Brien, John O'Donnel, Picts, River People, Sword People, Tamera (reincarnated as Eleanor Rand), Titus Germanicus, Wolf People

First Appearance: (Historical) "Worms of the Earth" by Robert E. Howard (first published in Weird Tales, November, 1932);
    (Marvel, first mentioned)
Savage Sword of Conan I#16/2 (December, 1976);
   
(Marvel, first appearance) Savage Sword of Conan I#17/2 (February, 1977)

Powers/Abilities: The Worms of the Earth are descended from either devolved Serpent Men, or from Serpent Men mated with other races. They are capable of reproducing with nearly any race, whether sentient or animal, with the offspring often possessing the qualities of both parents. 

    All the Worms are capable of either seeing in the total darkness of their subterranean tunnels with their yellow eyes, or sensing their way through some other mechanism. 

    The primary Worms of the Earth are vaguely humanoid, with clawed fingers, yellowed eyes, and reptilian skin covered in blisters and patches of hair. 

    Worms who were the hybrid offspring of humans were often humanoid themselves, capable of passing as human at first glance, but with vestigial reptilian features such as ophidian eyes, scales or fangs. The part human offspring were deadly warriors when properly trained and equipped, the Legio IX Infernalis being very efficient in Roman military tactics. The human hybrids, however, were vulnerable to sunlight, feeling irritation with minor exposure, to having their bodies burn painfully if under direct sunlight. 

    With less than sentient races, the offspring, generally referred to as the People of the Dark, were often more bestial and savage and far less intelligent, and were often left to their own devices. Their Serpent Men overlords were effectively immortal, but millennium of dwelling underground had robbed them of many of their mystic powers such as spell casting and shape shifting, but they were still capable of working great magicks when focus through their revered Black Stone.

    Using their revered Hell-Worm, the Worms are capable of tunneling beneath the ground to locations far from their tunnels, digging through dirt and even solid rock. A common strategy of theirs against surface dwellers was to excavate the ground beneath their fortifications, causing their walls to collapse and forcing their enemies into disarray.

Traits:

Type: Devolved Serpent Men or Serpent Men/human hybrids
Eyes: Two (variable)
Fingers: Four or five per hand
(variable)
Toes: Four or five per hand (variable)
Skin color: Varies from brown, green, grey, yellow and white
Average height: 5 to 7 feet
(variable)

History:

(Savage Sword of Conan I#7: The Hyborian Age, Chapter 1 - The Pre-Cataclysmic Age; Marvel Zombies: The Book of Angels, Demons, & Various Monstrosities: Set) <circa 1 Million BC> - The race of Elderspawn known as the Serpent Men were created by the demon Sligguth, the offspring of the Elder God Set. The Serpent Men were one of many demonic races that enslaved prehistoric humanity during the Elder Days, and they dominated the lands of Elder Stygia (modern Egypt) and Valusia, Thuria (modern Europe), where they reigned from the city Qar.
    Ssrhythssaa the Deathless was probably one of these Serpent Men.

(Kull the Conqueror I#2 (fb), Savage Sword of Conan I#8: The Hyborian Age, Chapter 2 - The Rise of the Hyborians) <Tens of thousands of years ago> - The prehistoric humans overthrew the demonic rulers of the world during a long and terrible war. The last to fall were the Serpent Men, who were driven out of Valusia, the newer human City of Wonders being built over the ancient city of Qar during the Pre-Cataclysmic Age. The Serpent Men took on human guise to return as priests of the Serpent cult, as well as again ruling Valusia in secret on occasion by replacing its human rulers.

(Kull the Conqueror I#1, Kull the Conqueror I#2, X-Men Annual  I#13/3 (fb)) <18,500 BC> - Kull of Atlantis usurped the throne of Valusia, and as its new king, was responsible for slaying most of the remaining Serpent Men on Earth, although many continued to dwell and reign in Elder Stygia.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#17/2 - BTS, Legion from the Shadows - BTS) <Sometime between 18,500 BC and 18,000 BC> - In the centuries preceding the Great Cataclysm, the Serpent Men survivors sought refuge in the distant corners of the Earth, with at least some, including the Serpent Man sorcerer Ssrhythssaa the Deathless, finding shelter in the forests of western Thuria.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#8: The Hyborian Age, Chapter 2 - The Rise of the Hyborians) <Sometime between 18,500 BC and 18,000 BC> - A number of Picts from the Pictish Isles established a great colony, settling amongst the mountains of the southwest frontier of Valusia, Thuria, to serve as a buffer against foreign invasion of Valusia from their enemies.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#8: The Hyborian Age, Chapter 2 - The Rise of the Hyborians) <18,000 BC> - The Great Cataclysm occurred, causing severe tectonic upheavals across the Earth. The lands where the Serpent Men and the colonial Picts dwelt later became known as the Pictish Wilderness.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#17/2 - BTS, Legion from the Shadows - BTS) - The Serpent Men, reputedly the first race to dwell in the Pictish Wilderness (part of modern Britain), soon came into conflict with the Pictish settlers. The Serpent Men were driven from the surface, forced to take refuge within their burrows and caverns, and either as devolved Serpent Men or crossbreeds between Serpent Men and snakes and other subterranean creatures, gradually degenerated over the millennia. They became known as the Worms of the Earth, the Children of the Night or the People of the Dark, and withdrew deeper into the Earth, as they became more bestial in appearance and their magical powers grew. They revered the Black Stone, a mystical orb of great eldritch power. It is believed that the legends of "Little People" who stole away those who came too close to their sleeping hills were inspired by them.worms_of_the_earth-hyborian-altar

(The Children of the Night) - The Worms of the Earth, driven to subterranean abodes, still retained for a time villages within the deep woods, consisting of a cluster of earthen domes, with low doorways sunk into the ground. These squalid dwelling places were half above and half below the earth, and was connected by underground corridors. Much of their culture regressed with their use of flint tools and weapons. Despite their conflict with the Pictish warriors, other races of humans, including the Aryan descended River People, Sword People and Wolf People, began actively hunting them down as well. Aryara of the Sword People, a young huntsman, was the sentry to his encampment when he fell asleep, promptly allowing the Worms to enter and slaughter his companions, but Aryara, filled with rage, tracked the Worms back to one of their few surface villages and slew many, although he fell beneath their flint weaponry.worms_of_the_earth-hyborian

(Savage Sword of Conan I#8: The Hyborian Age, Chapter 2 - The Rise of the Hyborians; Savage Sword of Conan I#12: The Hyborian Age, Chapter 3 - The Hyborian Kingdoms) - The Serpent Men of Elder Stygia, the most prominent nation of Serpent Men after their loss of Valusia, were eventually overthrown by the East Folk, also known as the Khari, a human culture migrating westward from eastern Thuria and originating from the Nameless Continent (modern Australia). This branch of Serpent Men was decimated by the East Folk after they had assimilated the Serpent Men culture and worship of Set as the new nation of Stygia.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#6/2 (fb)) <10,000 BC> - After the Battle of Venarium at Fort Venarium, Cimmeria, the fifteen year old warrior Conan pursued the Gunderman warrior Gaeric and his lover Tamera from the destroyed fortress. Gaeric and Tamera fled into a cavern, and when Conan gave pursuit, he realized they were within the dangerous Cavern of the Children of the Night. He soon found an abysmal idol to an ancient god to which Gaeric and Tamera had been bound. Releasing them, Conan and Gaeric choose to work together to escape with Tamera, but were quickly beset by the hideously degenerate Worms of the Earth. During their flight, Conan found himself separated from his two companions, soon finding them on a ledge on the far side of an underground river being overwhelmed by the Worms. Tamera slipped and fell to her death, and the despondent Gaeric leaped after her. Conan was unable to intercede and fled the caverns.

(Legion From the Shadows) <Late spring, 128 AD> - Publius Calidius Falco and the Legio IX Hispana ("9th Legion - Spanish" in Latin) of the Roman army advanced northward into Caledon to lay waste to all tribes before them. With 6000 legionaries and 2000 auxiliary cavalry, as well as many women, children and slaves with their baggage train, they moved into the Caledonian Highlands, but were ambushed at Serpent Gorge by over ten thousand Picts. The Picts were led by their chieftains Othna Mak Morn of the Wolf Clan and Utha Mak Dunn of the Raven Clan, as well as the Pictish shaman Gonar. Most of the Legio IX Hispana were killed, but Calidius Falco and others found refuge in a large cairn, the entrance of which Othna then ordered buried.
    The legion, rather than die within the cairn, were captured by the degenerate Worms of the Earth, and their ruler, the Serpent Man Ssrhythssaa the Deathless, forced the survivors to breed with the Worms to strengthen their numbers. Calidius Falco would become the great-grandfather to Quintus Claudius Nero, who was part Worm.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#16/2-17/2; Worms of the Earth) <206 AD> - While at Eboracum, Pictish king Bran Mak Morn (disguised as ambassador Partha Mac Othna) and Grom watched as the military governor Titus Sulla had a Pict crucified upon a cross and killed by the Centurion Valerius, having been found guilty of striking a Roman merchant who had first cheated and then struck him. Giving Grom his bronze seal that would allow him free passage to leave Eboracum, Bran ordered Grom to head north and instruct his ally Cormac na Connacht of the Isle of Erin (modern Ireland) to have his Gaelic forces sweep the frontier north of Hadrian's Wall. This would cause Titus Sulla to send Caius Camillius to lead Roman forces north, while Sulla himself would head west to secure himself in the Tower of Trajan. That night, Gonar, slumbering in Baal-dor, approached Bran in his dreams and unsuccessfully warned him against his intent to summon the demonic Worms of the Earth against Sulla. Bran subsequently escaped Eboracum, riding westward to the mountains of Wales. There he encountered Atla, the witch-woman of Dagon-Moor and one of the Worms, although of more human appearance.worms_of_the_earth-worms-3rdcentury-heads

    Bran had intimate relations with Atla in exchange for information to contact the Worms of the Earth. Bran entered the subterranean caverns below the mound of Dagon's Barrow and stole their revered Black Stone, which he briefly hid in the lake Dagon's Mere. He and Atla then met with the Worms themselves within a cavern, and the inhuman creatures agreed to abduct Titus Sulla. Bran then journeyed to the Tower of Trajan to find it destroyed, before traveling to Dagon's Ring, an ancient circle of stone menhir monoliths. There the Pictish king returned the Black Stone, and the Worms turned over the abducted Titus Sulla, driven mad by the experience, whom Bran promptly beheaded. Bran then departed back north after Atla warned him the Worms of the Earth would come to him again.

(Legion From the Shadows) <Spring, 208 AD> - Bran, alongside Gonar and Grom, marched with an army of three thousand Pictish warriors against a Roman encampment led by Marcus Sertorius Facilis, but they were horrified to discover the camp destroyed and all two thousand Roman legionaries already massacred by the Worms of the Earth. During a later celebration at the fortress of Baal-dor, Bran's sister, Morgain, was abducted by the Worms. Bran was summoned to barrow Kestrel Scaur, where he was by met by Atla, the witch of Dagon-Moor, and Quintus Claudius Nero, the half-Worm great-grandson of Publius Calidius Falco, whose Legio IX Hispana had been buried in Serpent Gorge in 128 AD. The Worms had bred with the human survivors, and now Nero commanded their hybrid descendants in the Roman-styled Legio IX Infernalis. Bran refused their proposal for an alliance against Rome and then barely survived an attack from their Hell-Worm. Bran entered their subterranean lair to rescue Morgain, but was captured by the Worm leader, the Serpent Man Ssrhythssaa the Deathless, who hoped to control him with the Black Stone.

    Morgain escaped through an underground river but was recaptured by Nero, who pressured her into carnal relations before she again fell into the claws of Ssrhythssaa. Bran was rescued by the mysterious Pictish woman Liuba, and together they recovered Morgain, their narrow escape assisted by the appearance of Grom leading Pictish warriors against the Worms. Nero murdered Ssrhythssaa and assumed control over the Worms, soon launching and attack against Baal-dor with the Legio IX Infernalis and the Hell-Worm. The Hell-Worm was driven back to the underworld with fire, and the Legio IX Infernalis was defeated by the forces of Baal-dor and an army of ghosts that Liuba had summoned. Nero fled south to Brittania, only to be captured and crucified by the Romans he so adored. Before she fled into the night, Atla revealed to Gonar and Morgain that Liuba was a threat to Bran. Liuba was soon revealed to be an immortal vampire who had been freed when her barrow Kestrel Scaur was violated by the Worms. A former queen of the Pictish clans of lost Atlantis and a warrior-sorceress, Liuba sought out Bran, but she was driven off by Gonar and Morgain.

(Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth) <208 AD> - While stationed at Hadrian's Wall at Corstopitum (modern Corbridge), Centurion Titus Germanicus hoped to exploit the tribal enmity between the Picts and the Gaels by allying with the Picts against the Gaels, arming the Picts and cultivating an even greater hostility between them and the Gaels. He established a parley with Bran Mak Morn at Eboracum, and Bran agreed to lead Titus through the heart of Caledon, passing the destroyed Tower of Trajan and through several Pictish encampments and forts.

    Their forces came under attack by the returned Worms of the Earth, who sought revenge upon Bran Mak Morn for his earlier actions against them. During the fever of battle, Titus Germanicus perhaps observed the wolf totem of Bran and believed him to be a werewolf, a misjudgment that Bran did not dissuade and in fact embellished upon. Bran and Titus Germanicus battled the Worms many more times, once with Titus even assisting a gravely wounded Bran from subterranean tunnels where their men had been slaughtered.

(Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth) <c. 210 AD> - Bran Mak Morn was eventually slain in battle due to the treachery of Titus Germanicus.

(The Children of the Night) <Early 20th century> - John O'Donnel and Ketrick were among six British and American academics in the study of their friend Conrad, discussing the peculiarities of the development of humans within Europe. Conrad produced a flint mallet that a miner had been found in the Welsh hills, but of no ordinary Neolithic make, being small and oddly shaped. Ketrick took the mallet and awkwardly swung it, accidentally striking O'Donnel within the head, and O'Donnel had a remembrance of his reincarnation as the tribal warrior Aryara millennia prior, who was slain by the Worms of the Earth. Recovering his senses, O'Donnel realized that Ketrick, despite his long Saxon heritage, possessed the taint of Worm in his blood, and tried to unsuccessfully strangle him. Still later, O'Donnel plotted the death of Ketrick, intending on ambushing Ketrick as he walked unknowingly along the moors.worms_of_the_earth-peopledark-20thcentury

(Savage Sword of Conan I#6/2) <Early 20th century> - Scot Jim O'Brien, born and raised on the Scottish border, was a close friend to Richard Brent. However as both men were attracted to Eleanor Rand, Jim decided to murder him by inviting Richard to the remote Dagon's Cave. However, while exploring the caverns, Jim struck his head and remembered his prior reincarnation as Conan the Cimmerian during the Hyborian Age, within these same caves when they were known as the Cavern of the Children of the Night. He also recalled as Conan rescued the lovers Gaeric and Tamera from the Worms of the Earth therein, only for them to plummet to their deaths. 

    Recovering his senses as Jim, he was shocked to discover Richard had brought Eleanor with him to Dagon's Cave, and both were being pursued by one of the People of the Dark, the degenerated descendants of the Worms, now completely bestial with no vestige of humanity remaining. Realizing that Richard and Eleanor were reincarnations of Gaeric and Tamera, Jim gunned the Worm down as it forced him to plummet to the rocks far below, knowing that a debt had at last been paid.

Comments: Created by Robert E. Howard; adapted for Marvel Universe by Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith and Tim A. Conrad.

    The story of Conan the Cimmerian and his reincarnation of Jim O'Brien in Savage Sword of Conan I#6/2 was freely adapted from People of the Dark (1932) by Robert E. Howard, with the primary adaptations being that rather than Conan being a Cimmerian during the Hyborian Age, he was a reaver during the Roman Empire.

    The name of the race of proto-Stygians was not revealed in The Hyborian Age or its comic adaptations, but was given as the East Folk in Savage Sword of Conan I#23: Stygia, Serpent of the South (1977) by Robert L. Yaple and Rick Hoberg, or the Khari in GURPS Conan (1989) by Curtis M. Scott.

    This profile was completed 9/14/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.

Profile by Wolfram Bane and Snood.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Worms of the Earth have  no known connections to:


worms_of_the_earth-atlaAtlaworms_of_the_earth-atla-face-profile

    Atla was the offspring of a union between human and the demonic Worms of the Earth. She was referred to as a were-woman, appearing more human than her Worm brethren, but with atavistic reptilian features, such as mottled skin hidden under unkempt black hair, oddly slanted eyes and sharp fangs rather than teeth. She was not old, but the evil wisdom of ages was in her eyes. She dwelt in a drab hut of wattle and mud in Dagon-Moor, near the western mountains of Wales.

    In 206 AD, Bran Mak Morn sought her out for information to contact the Worms, and in exchange for intimate relations with her, Atla directed Bran to enter the subterranean caverns below the mound of Dagon's Barrow to steal their revered Black Stone, which he briefly hid in the lake Dagon's Mere. Bran and Atla then met with the Worms themselves within another cavern and they agreed to abduct Titus Sulla. Later, Bran and Atla traveled to Dagon's Ring, an ancient stone circle of stone, and he returned the Black Stone. The Worms turned over the abducted Titus Sulla, whom Bran promptly beheaded. As Bran departed, Atla warned him the Worms would come to him again.

    Sometime prior to 208 AD, Atla was summoned to the Worm-infested caverns below Kestrel Scaur, and when they forced their way into the sealed tomb of the barrow, Atla observed the pristine form of the dead Pictish queen Liuba lying on the barrow slab.

    In spring of 208 AD, the Serpent Man Ssrhythssaa, lord of the Worms of the Earth, sought an alliance with Bran against the legions of Rome, abducting his sister Morgain as a hostage. Bran was summoned to barrow Kestrel Scaur and was met by Atla and Quintus Claudius Nero, the half-Worm commander of the Legio IX Infernalis. Bran refused their proposal for an alliance against Rome and then barely survived an attack from the Hell-Worm while Atla and Nero escaped.
    Later Morgain incapacitated Atla and escaped through an underground river, but she was recaptured by Nero.

    Atla watched as Morgain was returned to Ssrhythssaa, but she was soon freed by Bran and Liuba. Nero later slew Ssrhythssaa and usurped control of the Worms, but was himself soon crucified by Romans. Before she fled, Atla, who possessed lingering feelings for Bran and recognized his companion Liuba as a revenant, revealed to Gonar and Morgain that Liuba was a threat to Bran, allowing them to rescue their king from her.

--Savage Sword of Conan I #17/2; Worms of the Earth, Legion From the Shadows


Hell-Worm

    Also known as the Great Old One (unrelated to the Great Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos), the creature known to the Picts as the Hell-Worm was a massive creature at least two hundred feet in length and almost twenty feet thick at its broadest, appearing somewhat like a giant serpent and somewhat like a monstrous slug, capable of burrowing through the earth and solid rock with ease. Numerous fleshy tentacles, some armed with claws and some with suckers, surrounded its great circular maw, itself filled with rows of razor sharp teeth. It possessed a thick, rubbery bulk that rendered it immune to most attacks, but it has proven to be vulnerable to fire.

    The Worms of the Earth had tunnels that connected to its lair, and they regularly made sacrifices to it. The beast appeared to be an abomination of nature, and was controlled by Ssrhythssaa to attack first a Roman encampment, slaughtering over two thousand, and later Quintus Claudius Nero used it to attack Baal-dor, but Bran Mak Morn drove it back to the underworld with fire.

--Legion From the Shadows

Note: The Hell-Worm only appeared in a text story and so there are not images available.


Ketrick

    Ketrick was a British academic in the early 20th century and the associate of five other scholars who gathered in the study of their friend Conrad, discussing the peculiarities of the development of humans within Europe. He appeared to be of pure Anglo-Saxon descent, coming from the Welsh branch of the Cetrics of Sussex, and his lineage is set down in the Book of Peers, showing his line of ancestry to extend unbroken to the days of Canute. However, his friend John O'Donnel sensed a certain reptilian alien aspect in the eyes of Ketrick.

    Conrad produced a flint mallet that a miner had been found in the Welsh hills, but of no ordinary Neolithic make, being small and oddly shaped. Ketrick took the mallet and awkwardly swung it, accidentally striking O'Donnel within the head, and O'Donnel had a remembrance of his past incarnation as the tribal warrior Aryara millennia prior, who had been slain by the Worms of the Earth. Recovering his senses, O'Donnel realized that Ketrick, despite his long Saxon heritage, possessed the taint of Worm in his blood, and he tried to unsuccessfully strangle Ketrick.

    Still later, O'Donnel plotted the death of Ketrick, intending on ambushing Ketrick as he walked unknowingly along the moors.

--
The Children of the Night

Note: Ketrick only appeared in a text story and so there are not images available.


worms_of_the_earth-legionLegio IX Infernalis

    The Roman Empire sent Publius Calidius Falco to command the Legio IX Hispana ("9th Legion - Spanish" in Latin) northward into Caledon to lay waste to all tribes before them. 

    With 6000 legionaries and 2000 auxiliary cavalry, as well as many women, children and slaves with their baggage train, they moved into the Caledonian Highlands, but in late spring, 128 AD, they were ambushed at Serpent Gorge by over ten thousand Picts led by Othna Mak Morn. Most of the Legio IX Hispana were killed, but Calidius Falco and others found refuge in a large cairn, the entrance of which Othna then ordered buried. The Legio IX Hispana, rather than die within the cairn, were captured by the degenerate Worms of the Earth, and their ruler, the Serpent Man Ssrhythssaa the Deathless, forced the survivors to breed with the Worms to strengthen their numbers.

    After eight decades, Quintus Claudius Nero, the half-Worm great-grandson of Calidius Falco, now commanded their hybrid descendants in the Roman-styled Legio IX Infernalis. 

    In spring, 208 AD, Ssrhythssaa determined the advancing Roman Empire would eventually pose a threat to the Worms, so he had the Legio IX Infernalis and their Hell-Worm destroy a Roman encampment led by Marcus Sertorius Facilis. Ssrhythssaa had Nero and Atla propose an alliance against Rome to Bran Mak Morn, but the King of Pictdom refused. Bran and his sister Morgain was briefly abducted by the Worms, during which Nero demonstrated the preparedness of the legion to Morgain, but they were rescued when Grom led Pictish forces into the caverns beneath Kestrel Scaur. 

    Nero subsequently killed Ssrhythssaa and assumed control of the Worms, after which he led both the Legio IX Infernalis and the Hell-Worm against the fortress of Baal-dor, but the Picts immolated the Hell-Worm and forced it to retreat. The Legio IX Infernalis was defeated by the forces of Baal-dor and an army of ghosts that Liuba had summoned. Nero himself fled south, seeking refuge amongst the Romans, but found himself crucified instead.

--Legion From the Shadows



Publius Calidius Falco

    Publius Calidius Falco was sent to command the Legio IX Hispana northward into Caledon to lay waste to all tribes before them. With six thousand legionaries and two thousand auxiliary cavalry, as well as many women, children and slaves with their baggage train, they moved into the Caledonian Highlands.

    In late spring, 128 AD, they were ambushed at Serpent Gorge by over ten thousand Picts led by Othna Mak Morn. Most of the Legio IX Hispana were killed, but Calidius Falco and others found refuge in a large cairn, the entrance of which Othna ordered buried. The Legio IX Hispana, rather than die within the cairn, were captured by the degenerate Worms of the Earth, and their ruler, the Serpent Man Ssrhythssaa, forced the survivors to breed with the Worms to strengthen their numbers.

    In 208 AD, Quintus Claudius Nero, the half-Worm great-grandson of Calidius Falco, now commanded their hybrid descendants in the Roman-styled Legio IX Infernalis.

--Legion From the Shadows

Note: Falco only appeared in a text story and so there are not images available.


Quintus Claudius Neroworms_of_the_earth-nero

    Quintus Claudius Nero was the great-grandson of Publius Calidius Falco, who had commanded the Legio IX Hispana in 128 AD, but was buried in a large cairn beneath Serpent Gorge by Othna Mak Morn. The Legio IX Hispana, rather than die within the cairn, were captured by the degenerate Worms of the Earth, and their ruler, the Serpent Man Ssrhythssaa, forced the survivors to breed with the Worms to strengthen their numbers.

    After eight decades, the half-Worm Claudius Nero now commanded their hybrid descendants in the Roman-styled Legio IX Infernalis. As a half-Worm, Claudius Nero was vulnerable to the sun, as its full rays would peel away his skin in cracked and blistered strips.

    In spring, 208 AD, Ssrhythssaa determined the advancing Roman Empire would eventually pose a threat to the Worms, so he had the Legio IX Infernalis and their Hell-Worm destroy a Roman encampment led by Marcus Sertorius Facilis, with Claudius Nero taking the opportunity to take the red cloak and gold pin from Sertorius to wear. Ssrhythssaa had Claudius Nero and Atla propose an alliance against Rome to Bran Mak Morn, but the King of Pictdom refused.

    Morgain, the sister of Bran, was abducted by the Worms to levy her as a hostage to compel Bran to ally with them, but she managed to escape to the surface through an underground river. She was recaptured by Claudius Nero, who pressured her to engage in carnal relations with her before she was taken by Ssrhythssaa, who displayed disappointment towards Nero. Enraged, Nero slew Ssrhythssaa and assumed control of the Worms, leading both the Legio IX Infernalis and the Hell-Worm against the fortress of Baal-dor, but the Picts immolated the Hell-Worm and forced it to retreat. The Legio IX Infernalis was defeated by the forces of Baal-dor and an army of ghosts that Liuba had summoned.

    Nero, finding his legions destroyed, fled southwards and sought refuge amongst the Romans, willing to provide strategic information about the Picts. However, he was captured by Goth legionaries, whose commander had served under Marcus Sertorius Facilis twenty years prior at the Danube. Having just assessed the destroyed encampment of Sertorius and recognizing the cloak and pin of his former leader, the commander ordered Claudius Nero crucified to die beneath the tortuous rays of the sun.

--Legion From the Shadows

Note: The image is of a cover of Legion from the Shadows, which shows a legionaire riding a horse, and in the novel Nero was the only one who rode a horse.


Ssrhythssaa the Deathless

    Ssrhythssaa the Deathless was a Serpent Man, and thus the offspring or descendant of Sligguth. 

    When the Worms of the Earth, probably either devolved Serpent Men or crossbreeds between snakes and Serpent Men, took refuge in the Pictish Wilderness (part of modern Britain), they were later forced to take refuge within their burrows and caverns by the Pictish settlers, and presumably Ssrhythssaa accompanied them on their exile.

    The immortal Ssrhythssaa found his magicks greatly reduced over the millennia, no longer able to shapeshift like the others of his race, and needing the revered Black Stone to performs feats of advanced sorcery. Within their subterranean world, they revered the Great Old One, a demonic Hell-Worm.

    In 128 AD, when Publius Calidius Falco and the Roman Legio IX Hispana were entombed in a cairn at Serpent Gorge in the Caledonian Highlands, they were captured by the degenerate Worms of the Earth, and their ruler Ssrhythssaa forced the survivors to breed with the Worms to strengthen their numbers.    

    Within eighty years, the results were the Legio IX Infernalis, human-Worm hybrids armed and trained as Roman legionnaires led by Quintus Claudius Nero, the great-grandson of Calidius Falco. With the Roman expansion into Caledon, Ssrhythssaa feared the decimation of the Worms of the Earth. Thus in 208 AD, he had Atla and Nero abduct Morgain, the sister of Pictish king Bran Mak Morn, to force him into an alliance. Bran refused but was soon captured, and Ssrhythssaa failed in an attempt to entrance his mind. Morgain escaped and Nero informed Ssrhythssaa that she was dead, but when she appeared alive again, Nero wanted her as a lover and decided against telling the Serpent Man. Ssrhythssaa discovered the truth and admonished Nero, before retaking Morgain and using the Black Stone to transform a massive snake into her likeness. However with Ssrhythssaa distracted, Nero impaled the Serpent Man with his sword, killing Ssrhythssaa and taking his position.

--Legion From the Shadows

Note: Ssrhythssaa only appeared in a text story and so there are not images available.


images:
Savage Sword of Conan I#6/2, page 17, panel 3 (Hyborian)
Savage Sword of Conan I#6/2, page 16, panel 1 (Hyborian altar)
Savage Sword of Conan I#17/2, page 5, panel 5 (Atla - upper)
Savage Sword of Conan I#17/2, page 13, panel 8 (Atla-profile)
Savage Sword of Conan I#17/2, page 15, panel 11 (3rd century)
Savage Sword of Conan I#17/2, page 15, panel 5 (3rd century; heads)
Savage Sword of Conan I#6/2, page 30, panel 2 (people of the dark; 20th century)
Legion from the Shadows cover (Bran Mak Morn battling the Legio);
Legion from the Shadows alternate cover (Nero on horseback; rear oblique)


Appearances:
Kull the Conqueror I#1 (June, 1971) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation), Ross Andru (pencils), Wally Wood (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Kull the Conqueror I#2 (September, 1971) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation), Marie Severin (pencils), John Severin (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Savage Sword of Conan I#6/2 (June, 1975) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation, editor), Alex Nino (pencils, inks)
Savage Sword of Conan I #7: The Hyborian Age, Chapter 1 - The Pre-Cataclysmic Age (August, 1975) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation), Walter Simonson (pencils, inks, letters)
Savage Sword of Conan I#8: The Hyborian Age, Chapter 2 - The Rise of the Hyborians (October, 1975) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation, editor), Walter Simonson (pencils, inks)
Savage Sword of Conan I#12: The Hyborian Age, Chapter 3 - The Hyborian Kingdoms (June, 1976) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation, editor), Walter Simonson (pencils, inks)
Savage Sword of Conan I#16/2 (December, 1976) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation), Barry Windsor-Smith (pencils), Tim A. Conrad (pencils, inks)
Savage Sword of Conan I#17/2 (February, 1977) - Robert E. Howard (original story), Roy Thomas (adaptation), Tim A. Conrad, Joyce Furman (pencils, inks), Larry Gaydos (inks), Tom Orzechowski (letters)
X-Men Annual I#13/3 (1989) - Peter Sanderson (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Keith Williams (inks), Gregory Wright, Mark Gruenwald (editors)
Marvel Zombies: The Book of Angels, Demons, & Various Monstrosities (2007) - Jeff Christiansen, others (writers), Jeff Youngquist, Jennifer Grunwald (editors)


Bibliography:
Appel, Shannon. "Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, Second Edition - Appendix D: Timeline of the Cthulhu Mythos" (1998)
Harms, Daniel. "Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, Second Edition" (1998)
Howard, Robert Ervin. "The Children of the Night" (1931), "The Hyborian Age" (1936), "People of the Dark" (1932), "Worms of the Earth" (1932)
Inabinet, Sam. "Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth" (1996)
Wagner, Karl Edward. "Legion From the Shadows" (1976)

First Posted: 09/15/2021
Last updated: 09/14/2021

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

Non-Marvel Copyright info
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