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Elric of Melnibone cover art
cover art by Michael Whelan

Michael Whelan's art is available from
Glass Onion Graphics
The name Mournblade comes from deep in Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion mythology. The first incarnation of the Eternal Champion that I was introduced to (and still one of my favorites!) is Elric of Melnibone: albino, sorceror, emperor and all around tortured soul. Elric wields Stormbringer, one of the rune blades, a soul stealing sword. Mournblade is another one of the rune blades, the sister sword to Stormbringer. Mournblade is wielded by Elric's treacherous cousin Yyrkoon.

As an embodiment of the Eternal Champion, which mainly takes the form of a champion of Law, Elric is torn between his ancestry and his destiny. Consequently, as the saga progresses Elric's allegiance turns from Chaos towards Law. He eventually comes to represent a balance between these forces as he develops a hatred for all gods, both of Law and Chaos, for their manipulation of mortals. At the end, Elric's hopes for a world without gods who make a misery of human lives, results in his death while attempting to bring such a world into being.

The Rune Blades were brought to earth centuries before and wielded by the Melnibonean emperors. These blades were turned over to the Gods and placed in the pulsing cavern when they became too powerful to control. They are known by the names StormBringer and MournBlade. They have the ability to give the wielder unparalleled strength. They are also sentient and require feeding to appease them. This feeding is in the form of souls taken during battle. Many of Elric's enemies plead not to be killed by his fearsome blade, StormBringer, as their souls are sent straight to hell for eternity. Although Elric is able to overcome his genetic weaknesses, and for the first time in his life he no longer needs to ingest his sorceress potions to sustain his life, this strength is gained at the price of a symbiotic relationship with his blade. Many is the time he will regret unsheathing it, as StormBringer has a taste for friend and foe alike.
In Elric of Melnibone, Elric and Yyrkoon find the rune blades in a realm of Limbo and commence battle. Elric and Stormbringer disarm Yyrkoon, and Mournblade disappears. Yyrkoon is defeated, and Elric and his cousin return to Imrryr. In The Weird of the White Wolf, Elric returns to Imrryr after a long journey and confronts Yyrkoon, who usurped the throne in his absence. Yyrkoon has regained Mournblade through unknown means and uses it to attack. Elric and Stormbringer kill Yyrkoon, and no further mention is made of Mournblade. All of Imrryr is destroyed by invading forces, so it seems that Mournblade shares the city's fate. In Stormbringer, Elric learns that the representatives of Fate, which serve neither Chaos or Law, recovered Mournblade from the netherworld. They present it to Elric and explain that the runeblades were designed to be wielded by those with MelnibonAcan royal blood as a check against the might of the Dead Gods of Chaos. Elric gives Mournblade to his kinsman, Dyvim Slorm, and the two men become embroiled in a confrontation between the gods. Michael T. Gilbert elric sketch
Sketch of Elric by Michael T. Gilbert
artist on the Elric of Melnibone graphic novel
More information can be found at Michael Moorcock's official website http://www.multiverse.org
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