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"The Lair of the Ice Worm" is a Conan story by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter, first published in Conan of Cimmeria in 1969 by Lancer Books.

Plot Summary[]

A sojourn in the snowy mountains finds Conan encountering a beautiful girl and a terrifying monster.

Detailed Synopsis[]

  • 1. Conan rides alone through the Eiglophian Mountains which separate the northern countries and the southern kingdoms. He approaches a pass into the Border Kingdoms, through which he intends to ride into Nemedia, but to get there he must cross an allegedly cursed glacier-formed pass known as the Snow Devil Glacier. As he carefully leads his horse through the pass, Conan hears a scream; around a bend a group of large, shaggy creatures surrounds a girl. Quickly, he leaps on his horse and rushes into the throng of ape-like mountain men.
  • 2. Conan's armored and mounted attack tears through the savages, killing all before his horse finally collapses due to injuries. He turns to the girl, Ilga, who says she is the last Hyperborean survivor of an ambush, and though she had escaped, the savages had just caught up to her when Conan arrived. Conan feels some sympathy towards her, but he is more concerned with finding shelter.
  • 3. Ilga is frightened of Conan and refuses to accompany him to safety. Frustrated, he knocks her unconscious and carries her to a cave. He starts a small fire and goes to look for supplies. When Ilga awakes, she can only repeat the foreign word "Yakhmar," which means nothing to Conan. After dinner, Conan finds Ilga receptive to some amorous activities, after which he promptly falls asleep. But Ilga, lies awake until two green eyes appear at the entrance of the cave and the hint of music appears. Almost in a trance, the naked Ilga slips from the bearskin covers and walks towards the cave entrance and out into the cold as Conan sleeps.
  • 4. Conan awakens, sensing something wrong. He finds Ilga's furs on the ground and investigates. He finds, outside the cave, what seem to be the slithering tracks of a serpent. Following the tracks, he comes across the remains of his horse, now picked clean of all flesh, and soon, to the body of Ilga, whose head and upper torso has been reduced to bone, and the remains are frozen solid.
  • 5. Conan recalls the legends of the Remora, a vampiric ice lizard that radiated cold, and perhaps that is what the word yakhmar meant. Conan decides to find the creature, as he feels a responsibility to Ilga for failing to protect her. He returns to the cave for his possessions, contemplating how to kill the beast.
  • 6. Within an hour, Conan tracks the trail to an ice cave in a glacier. Entering, he finds the Remora, and as it begins to emit its hypnotizing song, Conan pulls back his cloak to reveal his helmet has been filled with burning coals, and his axe has been heating inside it. He hurls the axe into the creature's gaping maw and then throws the coals after it. Then he turns and runs.
  • 7. The writhing of the creature begins to cause a cave in as Conan sprints towards the exit. He barely makes it out as the final death throes collapse the entire cave as steam and vapors rush out and a battered Conan limps wearily south.


  • Conan
  • Ilga, Virunian girl


  • The Eiglophian Mountains

Continuity Notes[]

  • Conan is about 23.
Miller/Clark/deCamp Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Frost-Giant's Daughter"
"The Lair of the Ice Worm" Next Story:
Conan the Defender
Robert Jordan Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Frost-Giant's Daughter"
"The Lair of the Ice Worm" Next Story:
Conan and the Spider God
William Galen Gray Chronology
Previous Story:
"The Frost-Giant's Daughter"
"The Lair of the Ice Worm" Next Story:
Conan the Relentless


Publication history[]