By Jonathan Wojcik and Rev Storm
ENTRY 28: WORMFACES!!!
I think these are definitely my top favorites in the game. The first we encountered was shrouded in gold fabric, showing only a bizarrely stretched, bent humanoid shape with long, bony limbs and a thick clump of slimy, segmented tendrils hanging down from the unseen cranium. At first this figure only sat in place, leaning on a wooden staff, periodically shuddering and emitting a sound you could equally interpret as sobbing or laughing.
...But get too close, and a "Wormface" goes quickly hostile, looming its long neck over its adversary to douse them in diseased black sludge like a big, walking showerhead, afflicting the player with the dreaded Death Blight! We touched on this status when we discussed Godwyn, but Death Blight dooms the victim to sudden death as jagged roots - made out of fused insects! - erupt from the ground, impale their body and branch out of their flesh, accompanied by a flitting swarm of the same strange little gnats.
Death Blight is connected directly to the Erdtree, but it's not known precisely how or why. It's often speculated to be either the tree's defense mechanism against potential threats, the by-product of contamination by Godwyn's corpse, a parasitic force all its own or a little of all the above. And while multiple enemies in the game can inflict it, none seem to live in more direct symbiosis with it than than these big cutie patooties.
Some Wormfaces wear little to no clothing, revealing a creature like a towering, withered human body with a long neck and almost tubular head. They have humanlike ears, but no eyes, and the "tendrils" or "tentacles" really do look like a bunch of giant earthworms burrowed into their flesh!
And as they rear up to attack, you may catch a quick glimpse of the Wormface's big, circular, toothless esophagus, and it's interesting then that even if you were to remove all the tentacle-worms, you could still describe the creature as having a "worm face" by its mouth and head shape alone.
Most of these creatures are, according to the game code, the "males." The females are much larger, a particularly enormous lady serving as a boss encounter. Thanks to another of Zullie's analyses, we also know that the sole physiological difference between the two is that females have a bundle of smaller, paler worms in their mouths. There is no telling what that means to their biology.
So who and what are these beings? No mention of them is made by any in-game dialog or item text, so they're arguably among its most mysterious denizens of all. The game's code refers to them with the French term "deracine," meaning someone or something that has been "uprooted." The word etymologically derives from the literal definition of pulling a plant out of the ground, but it's generally only used in the figurative sense of someone suddenly forced from their home or way of life. They are also found primarily in only two locations: either the "floating island" known as Farum Azula or concentrated in and around what are known as the "Woodfolk Ruins," and whoever or whatever the Woodfolk were, nothing is left of their civilization but stone foundations and free-standing walls crumbling away in the forest.
Theories as to the meaning of all this have included, but are not limited to:
-That "Woodfolk" is an in-universe term for Erdtree Guardians, who can also be encountered around the ruins, and were perhaps displaced when the Wormfaces encroached on their land.
-That Wormfaces themselves were once Woodfolk or some other being connected to the Erdtree, until they were rejected by it or twisted by a corruptive influence, such as Godwyn.
-That they are instead former vassals or symbionts of the Great Tree, mentioned around the game as something distinct from the Erdtree and possibly what governed the world's lifeforce before the Erdtree took control.
-That they are the bodies of the dead who had merged to some degree with the root network of the Great Tree or Erdtree until unnaturally restored to life.
-That Wormfaces were always Wormfaces, a strange nonhuman race that may have been more peaceful before they became agents of the Death Blight.
Like the Envoys, part of the fun of Wormfaces is what we don't know, or may never know. The scattered, freely interpretable context cues are a lot of what makes this and the games like it so much more interesting than media that spells out and meticulously details its every element. You can glean that there's something sad and tragic about this mystery race, but they inhabit a world where everyone and everything is sad and tragic. They're another piece of "wreckage" left by a disaster that we simply aren't equipped to understand in its entirety. Like an animal poking around a landfill, surrounded by broken things that once had clear meaning and purpose to a world we were never a part of.
But even if we did find out some day precisely what Wormfaces are, I'd still love these lanky, toxic, parasite-ridden mummy people the most of maybe everything else shambling or shuffling or painfully dragging its way around the setting.