Literature and Mythology

The Black Sword Stormbringer of Elric of Melniboné

Elric of Melniboné wielding the StormbringerStormbringer is a magical sword that has been featured in a series of fantasy books written by author Michael Moorcock. Created by Chaos forces, it is described as a black sword covered by strange runes that are deeply engraved into its blade. This sword known as the Stormbringer is wielded by the albino emperor, Elric of Melniboné. The idea of the cursed sword that causes evil deeds when drawn goes back to the magic sword called Tyrfing in Norse Mythology, which Moorcock was probably familiar with. In the 1965 novel ‘Stormbringer,’ the true nature of the sword is revealed.

The Power of the Stormbringer

This black blade Stormbringer is an agent of Chaos and a member of a demon race that takes the form of a sword. The edge of this sword is able to cut through any materials that are not protected by sorcery. The Stormbringer also has the ability to drink a human soul upon delivering injuries or even scratch. Aside from its soul-devouring ability, the sword also has a will of its own. Although the wielder, Elric, hates the sword, he is almost helpless without the strength it confers on him.

The Stormbringer Book Appearances

Stormbringer has a brother sword called Mournblade, which was once owned by Elric’s cousin and enemy, Yyrkoon. In most ways, Mournblade is the same as Stormbringer. In fact, in the later stories, it was revealed that there are thousands of remarkably similar demons all in the form of swords. Also, three sibling blades appear in the novel ‘The Revenge of the Rose.’ Subsequently, several more brother blades have appeared in the novel ‘Stormbringer,’ however, only Mournblade and Stormbringer are named.

In Elric’s Saga: ‘Elric of Melnibone,’ Elric and his cousin Yyrkoon engaged in a battle after they found the rune blades in Limbo’s realm. In the story, when Elric and his Stormbringer disarmed Yyrkoon, his Mournblade had disappeared. After defeating Yyrkoon, Elric and his cousin returned to Imrryr, the Dreaming City and capital of Melnibone.

In another Elric Saga, ‘The Weird of the White Wolf,’ Elric returned to the Dreaming City after a long journey. He then confronted Yyrkoon, who, in his absence, had usurped the throne. During that time, Yyrkoon has recovered Mournblade by unknown means and uses it to attack Elric. With the help of the Stormbringer, Elric was able to kill Yyrkoon, and there was no further mention of Mournblade after his apparent death. However, it was later revealed that the Mournblade was recovered by the Seers of the Nihrain and was now obtained by Dyvim Slorm, Elric’s other cousin. Dyvim Slorm subsequently attacked the Imrryr. The Dreaming City was sacked, and the pillagers were attacked by the golden battle barges and dragons led by Dyvim Tvar, the father of Dyvim Slorm. While on the battle, only Elric’s ship, propelled by his sorcery, had escaped.

In the Stormbringer novel, Elric realized that the members of Fate, who represent neither Chaos nor Law, have managed to retrieve the Mournblade from the Netherworld. The Fate presented the rune blade to Elric and told him that these rune blades, including his Stormbringer, were designed to be wielded by those with the royal Melnibonean blood. He then gave the Mournblade to his cousin, Dyvim Slorm, and the two were embroiled in a confrontation between gods. During the confrontation, Elric had summoned other Stormbringer’s demonic race, all in the form of a sword, to fight against Dukes of Hell. These Chaos lords, known as the Dukes of Hell, were brought to the Young Kingdoms by Jagreen Lern, the Pan Tang theocrat.

Elric’s dependence on Stormbringer leads him to his downfall. After the complete destruction of the Young Kingdoms in the Battle of Law and Chaos, it all seems that the Cosmic Balance has been restored. However, Stormbringer killed Elric and transformed him into a humanoid demon to destroy the newly constructed world. The Sword-Spirit then told the dead Elric, “Farewell, my friend. I am thousand times more evil than you!”

In another book written by Moorcock, The Quest for Tanelorn, a man claims that the demon in the sword is called the Shaitan, an Arabic word of ‘Satan.’ Also, in the same book, it was revealed that the demon was able to inhabit either the black sword or the black jewel, a jewel that was once implanted in the skull of Dorian Hawkmoon.

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