Worm Handlers , colloquially called maggot-men , are outcasts of all societies except their own. They live in clans, within enclaves on the borders and fringes of the Sea of Corruption. Worm Handlers received their names because they have domesticated the slugworm.
Worm Handlers occupy the bottom of every social structure; everyone, including Torumekians, Dorok and peoples of the Periphery, look down on them and many have extreme prejudice against them. Often in the manga, characters comment that being around Worm Handlers is defiling , sullying or dishonoring them. Other common complaints are that they are scum, indestriminant scavengers, eager looters of the dead , and smell bad. Worm Handlers in Periphery towns like the Mining Town are denied access to services and treated poorly, even cheated .
Worm Handlers wear helmets with built in visors, a mask system very similar to Shohki Masks, large armored overcoats and pants, and wrapping around their lower face, neck and hands. They adorn their helmets and overcoats with scavenged rings and precious jewelry.
They use trained slugworms as tracking dogs. Each Worm Handler has several trained slugworms and carry them around in large cylindrical baskets that taper towards the top. The slugworms are controlled with leads and goads and the Worm Handlers chant when they set their slugworms on a scent .
Worm Handlers are often used as special commandos and scouts. Both sides, Torumekian and Dorok, used them in the war . A pair of Worm Handlers talk about working for both sides, one had a cousin killed in the Battle of the Acid Lakes on the Torumekian side while he works for the Doroks .
Worm Handlers revere the Forest People and the Forest People claim they have a common ancestor. In addition, Worm Handlers are supposedly descended from the arms merchants that caused the Daikaisho that destroyed the Kingdom of Eftal 300 years ago . This could be one of the enduring reasons they are held in contempt.
Worm Handlers eventually hold Nausicaa in high esteem and call her their princess and a group of them even kill their slugs so that they may be transported aboard a ship to where Nausicaa is.
a See Page Conversions Between Editions to convert Deluxe Edition volume 1 (DE1) to other editions