“It’s Ayrdamned Urul shenanigans is vat it is! Blasted mammut sized vurms vit bellies full o’ venom and teeth like orick! What rank nonsense. Still… better than Grots I suppose.”
– Sigga ‘Stinkfoot’ Skeggr, Middenman
Also Known as: Middenspawn, Ironworm, Svert.-Torkyoja (Muck eater), Oss.-Purgamentor (Filth monster), Muj.-Saamra (Garbage mouth), Neh.-Bhukira (Hungry Worm), Vic.-Bwaylik (Foulmouth), Tol.-Mewllvurm,
Habitat: Subterranean; Middens, Ruins, Heaps, Dungpiles and other ‘waste’ sources.
Hazard Level: Moderate
Heap worms are voracious serpentine garbage eaters that burrow their way through ruins, middens, and anywhere else where rich waste can be found. These eyeless, serpentine trash eaters grow up to ten meters in length, two meters in diameter, and over 5,000 kg in weight. The species is clad in iron-hard and articulated scales that they use to pull themselves along and possess row upon row of grinding, diamond-hard teeth that turn even the toughest waste into particulate. This food is then forced into a stomach that roils with powerful acids, rendering most materials into component elements that are stored before being excreted in veins for reclamation. Heap worms can deposit considerable riches/wealth upon those willing to tolerate the dangers of their presence since, while they are not directly aggressive towards humans, they are seemingly insensate to most organic life and a simple misstep can see a greedy treasure hunter rendered to their component parts.
The highly functional and often beneficial nature of the species has led many loremasters to suspect they were a creation of the Sige of the Urul Imperium. Supporting this, some experiments by particularly bold loremasters have shown that some elements are beyond the ability of the species to process including Orick, Helion, Arc steel, Glosspetrae and other rare, first age, elements.
Heap worms are alternately known as “Iron worms” due to their appearance; a giant worm with metallic scales. Most only see evidence of the worms rather than the worms themselves which prefer to remain underground, masticating their way through whatever environment they currently reside in. The species vary in colour from black to blue grey and have few distinguishing features. They make a persistent, bass grinding sound with occasional crunching as they work their way through the world and emit no notable smell (none stronger than the often ripe smells of their environments).
The species possesses no meaningful intelligence and their behaviour suggests only a rudimentary perception of the world. They are drawn towards rich waste and spend their lives ceaselessly churning through such waste to digest and disgorge it in veins of contiguous excreta. They are extremely difficult to injure due to their tough hides and attacking one generally provokes a perfunctory defensive response that can nonetheless be lethal; the species will either attempt to swallow an attacker or vomit a gout of liquefying acid upon them before returning to their endless toil.
The species is truly omnivorous, apparently able to sustain itself on both organic and inorganic matter with equal success and demonstrates no meaningful preference for either. When they have depleted a given midden or ruin they burrow deep and then follow some hidden sense towards the next nearest midden. More than one town middenman has awoken suddenly to find a worm inhabiting their midden before vanishing a few weeks later, leaving a rich bounty hidden beneath the former heap.
Heap worms serve a curious secondary purpose, acting as unknowing ecosystem engineers. The caverns frequently left in their wake often become home to other species, secure subterranean hollows inaccessible to more actively predatory and voracious wildlife.
There are no known records of heap worm reproduction or even instances of multiple worms in the same area leading some to suspect the species does not reproduce. The species does appear to be ageless, with reports of the same heap worm being seen in a particularly rich area over centuries and some suggest that what specimens remain may actually be the last of their kind.
Victran and Granden lords have offered significant bounties for the capture of a live specimen for use in resource extraction and reclamation but no successful examples of the species being ‘domesticated’ exist. Attempts to harvest the teeth or scales from dead Heap Worms have been pyrrhic; whatever mechanism keeps the species internal contents stable seems to break down rapidly on death with the effect of specimens being rapidly consumed by their own internal acids shortly after being killed.