Relics Renowned: Objects of Power in the Elric Saga

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Relics Renowned: Objects of Power in the Elric Saga

by Bill Ward

In addition to summoned creatures, elemental pacts, demonic patrons, and chaotic charms, Elric’s strange adventures often hinge on the acquisition or overcoming of artifacts of great magical power and provenance. Whether they be forged in ancient sorcery, remnants of a lost time, or plucked from a another dimension of the multiverse, such objects of power can turn the tide of the most cataclysmic conflict – such as the world-ending power of Stormbringer, Elric’s hellblade, a weapon with which he has entered into a Faustian symbiosis to such a profound degree that it has become an inseparable aspect of his character.

The Actorios Stone

And on the hand which absentmindedly caresses the crown there is a ring in which is set a single rare Actorios stone whose core sometime shifts sluggishly and reshapes itself, as if it were ancient smoke and as restless in its jewelled prison as the young albino on his Ruby Throne.” ( Elric of Melniboné)

Badge of office and source of power, the Actorios stone set within the Ring of Kings has ever been worn by Melnibonéan Emperors, and embodies their age-old pact with elemental and demonic forces.

Melnibonéan Battle-Barges

The thalassocracy of The Dragon Isle, The Bright Empire of Melniboné, maintains its rule not only through command of the elements or dread flights of dragons, but with peerless war galleys unmatched in 10,000 years of war on the waves. These enormous battle-barges, laden with banks of oars, forests of masts, powerful catapults, and a fearsome ram, resemble floating ziggaruts armored in gold:

Through the pale blue light the golden ship sailed relentlessly in their wake. Its proportions were monstrous, its sense of power vast, its gigantic prow sending up huge, foamy waves on both sides as it sped silently toward them.” (The Sailor on the Seas of Fate)

The Ship Which Sails Over Land and Sea

Made long ago in cooperation between the elemental gods of land and sea, this vessel makes good time over storm-tossed waves and rocky hillscapes alike. Coveted by the earth god Grome, Elric’s journey on The Ship Which Sails Over Land and Sea is continually checked and impeded when he steers it over terrestrial terrain.

The ship sped swiftly over rocky slopes and up gorse-sovered hills, she cut her way through forests and sailed grandly over grassy plains. She moved like a low-flying hawk which keeps close to the ground but progresses with incredible speed and accuracy as it seraches for its prey, altering its course with an imperceptivle flick of its wing.” (Elric of Melniboné)

The Dead God’s Book

The mythical book was believed to contain knowledge which could solve many problems that had plagued men for centuries – it held holy and mighty wisdom which every sorcerer desired to sample. But it was believed destroyed, hurled into the sun when the Old Gods were dying in the cosmic wastes which lay beyond the outer reaches of the solar system.” (The Weird of the White Wolf)

Elric, tormented by a grand fate and unchangeable doom; Shaarilla, tragically wingless daughter of the winged folk of Myyrrhn – together seek the panacea of the impossible book through bizarre realms of magic. But the book, like much else hopeful in Elric’s adventures, turns to dust in his hands.

The Noose of Flesh

Beset by a horde of conquerors from beyond the World’s Edge, Elric retrieves a cloth of gold bag filled with a pink powder from the demon-warded palace of Ashaneloon. When scattered around the invader’s army – with the aid of the flying mount of the jeweled “bird of silver and of gold and of brass,” the Noose of Flesh reveals its horrifying nature:

The stuff was like flesh and it had grown so high that the whole Kelmain Host was obscured by the sight. There were noises as they tried to train their battle-engines upon the stuff and blast their way through . . . The substance began to fold in over the Kelmain and Elric heard a sound such as none he had heard before.” (The Vanishing Tower/The Sleeping Sorceress)

The Screaming Statues

The city of Hwamgaarl, dread capital of the sorcerous Kingdom of Pan Tang, is also known as the City of Screaming Statues – for good reason:

At intervals along the walls . . . they saw the screaming statues – once men and women whom Jagreen Lern and his forefathers had turned to rock but allowed to retain their life and ability to speak. They spoke little, but screamed much, their ghastly shouts rolling over the disgusting city like the tormented voices of the damned – and damned they were… The sobbing waves of sound were horrifying even to Elric’s ears . . .” (Stormbringer)

The Chaos Shield

Kept by Mordaga, the exiled god sunk into contemplative sorrow of his own mortal fate, the Chaos Shield – a mere buckler for the giant Mordaga, but shoulder-to-shin protection for Elric – is a round disk of metal bearing the eight-pointed Chaos Star. It is proof against the wild magic of Pan Tang and the Dukes of Hell and the warping effects of the raw stuff of Chaos itself:

. . . beneath him now Elric saw . . . many colours of immense richness, they were all dark and changing constantly, shifting from one extreme of a dark spectrum to the other. It was not water down there now – it was a fluid comprised of materials both natural and supernatural, real and abstract. Pain, longing, misery and laughter could be seen as tangible fragments of the tossing tide, passions and frustrations lay in it also, as well as stuff made of living flesh that bubbled on occasions to the surface.” (Stormbringer)

The Ships of Hell

Big as castles, crewed by the drowned dead, the Sign of Chaos flashing from every sail, the Ships of Hell move though the darkest depths of the ocean under the command of the octopoid Chaos Lord Pyaray. Surfacing for the final battle to determine the fate of the world, the ships move across sea and land through a distorting morass of Chaos energy, transforming everything in their midst, and crushing entire fleets by “altering the nature of their timbers so that they fell apart and the unfortunate crews were drowned or warped into alien shapes.”

. . . he stared at the huge craft, twenty of them, dwarfing everything else on the sea. They seemed covered with a kind of scintillating wetness which flashed all the colours of the spectrum so that their outlines were hard to see and the shadowy figures moving about on their gigantic decks could not easily be observed.” (Stormbringer)

Stormbringer and Mournblade

At his hip rested his runesword of black iron – the feared Stormbringer, forged by an ancient and alien sorcery.” (The Weird of the White Wolf)

The twin hellblades Stormbringer and Mournblade were used by the Emperors of Melniboné long ago in their wars of conquest, but their origins were far older. Existing across many planes of reality and time, in something like the way Elric himself exists as many incarnations of the Champion Eternal, the blades were created through evil sorcery, with the ultimate goal of defeating the evil of Chaos. They are massive, black, straight-bladed swords that glow with red runes, seemingly light as a feather for those who wield them.

The swords were singing. Their voices were faint but could be heard quite plainly. Elric lifted the huge blade easily and turned it this way and that, admiring its alien beauty.

‘Stormbringer,’ he said.

And then he felt afraid.

It was suddenly as if he had been born again and that this runesword was born with him. It was as if they had never been separate.


And the sword moaned sweetly and settled even more smoothly into his grasp.” (Elric of Melniboné)

Elric, born sickly, a slave to energizing drugs, finds a new symbiosis with the vampiric Stormbringer – the soul-sucking blade feeding him with vigor and life-force, just so long as he continues to kill. And the sentient blade, moaning its hunger or pleasure, is less choosy about where its meals come from than Elric would prefer – killing friend and foe alike, twisting in Elric’s grasp to slake its killing lust. Elric, consumed with regret, consigned to his doom, is often still swept up in his dark partnership:

Elric hauled the sword from its scabbard . . . and cried the age-old ululating war-shout of Melniboné, a shout full of joyous evil. Stombinger’s eerie voice joined with his, giving vent to a thrumming song, anticipating the blood and the souls it would soon feast upon.” (Stormbringer)

Mournblade, used by Elric’s hated rival and cousin Yyrkoon, partial architect of Elric’s own grim circumstances, comes to be wielded by the last Dragon Master of shattered Imrryr, Dyvim Slorm, who is one of the champions that fight alongside Elric in the last battle to determine the fate of the world.

The Horn of Fate

Elric bears three artifacts as he flies on dragonback to confront Jagreen Lern and the Dukes of Hell in the final apocalyptic battle of his age: Stormbringer, the Chaos Shield, and the Horn of Fate. An instrument of Law, the horn was “constructed on a plane where logic rules over sorcery.” This plane is possibly our own world, for the Horn of Fate is Olifant, famed ivory battle horn of the protagonist of the chivalric epic The Song of Roland.

‘The Horn of Fate must be blown three thrice before this business is fully terminated. The first blast will wake the Dragons of Imrryr, the second will allow the White Lords entrance to the earthly plane, the . . . third will herald the death of our world!’” (Stormbringer)

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