Deities in the Elric series
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Deities and supernatural beings play an active part in Michael Moorcock’s fantasy series of books about the character Elric of Melniboné. It is nearly certain that a god will be summoned, or at least mentioned, in every story. There are three main classes of gods: the Lords of the Higher Worlds, the Beast-Lords and the Elementals.
Long before the time when the stories take place, the royal family of Melniboné established formal alliances with many of these deities, sometimes through a diabolical pact. As the Emperor of Melniboné, Elric enjoys the right to call on them for aid. The Ring of Kings, set with an Actorios stone, demonstrates his right to summon these supernatural beings and supplies him with the mystic energy to do so.
The Lords of the Higher Worlds
The Lords of the Higher Worlds are the powerful gods associated with Law and Chaos, or with the Cosmic Balance. They include the most powerful gods who are active on Earth at the beginning of the series.
Lords of Chaos
The Chaos Lords have the powers of gods but the behaviour and appearance of demons. When they appear at their worst, they deliberately inflict pain and suffering on mortals for amusement; even at best, they are not concerned with the harmful effects of their creations. The Revenge of the Rose openly portrays Arioch as insane. Sorcerers often gain power by entering into diabolical pacts with Chaos Lords. The Chaos Lords must act under certain limitations. For instance, Arioch must be summoned by Elric before he can manifest on Earth.
- Arioch, Lord of the Seven Darks, Knight of the Swords, Lord of the Higher Hell, et cetera, one of the most powerful Dukes of Hell. He is the patron of Melniboné and has a personal relationship with Elric, who was the first emperor to summon him to the plane of Earth in a long time. He is sophisticated and highly intelligent, and he usually appears in an amazingly beautiful form, usually with blond hair.
- Balan the Grim or Balaan appears briefly as an ally of Arioch.
- Balarizaaf, Archduke, Chaos Lord trapped on the plane of Alptroomensheem (the Nightmare Marches).
- Chardros the Reaper, one of the three oldest Chaos Lords, appears similar to the Grim Reaper. He is referred to as both the lord of destruction and beauty.
- Checkalakh the Burning God, a minor Chaos Lord made entirely of fire, was once summoned to Nadsokor to burn disease from the city. Like his essence, he is constantly hungry.
- Duke Teer in perpetual search for more blood for his castle ('can you not smell its delicious tang?')
- Eequor, a Lady of Chaos, dwelling in a half-world filled with shades of blue.
- Hionhurn the Executioner, a giant, green and gnarled like a tree.
- Mabelode the Faceless is one of the three oldest and most powerful Chaos Lords. He appears with his face in shadow.
- Malak appears briefly as an ally of Arioch.
- Mashabak is a rival to Arioch in The Revenge of the Rose. Count Mashabak is brutal and direct, less subtle than Arioch.
- Narjhan, a rider in black armour whose voice echoes hollowly in his helm, who leads a force of beggars from Nadsokor against Tanelorn.
- Orunlu the Keeper is a purple-scaled giant with a fiery aura. This good-humoured Chaos Lord is charged with guarding the Dead Gods’ Book.
- Pyaray, the Tentacled Whisperer of Impossible Secrets, appears as a giant red octopus. His soul is kept in a blue crystal on his head. Sailors who drown at sea are taken into his Chaos Fleet. One portent of the end of the world is the ascent of the Chaos Fleet to the surface.
- Slortar the Old, the oldest Chaos Lord, appears ironically as a slim and beautiful youth.
- Vezhan appears as a smoky yellow, winged humanoid; at one time he was a patron of Rackhir, a Warrior Priest of Phum.
- Xiombarg prefers to appear as a beautiful young woman but is sometimes referred to with the male pronoun (making a pun of her title Queen of the Swords). She is prone to shapeshifting and carries a giant sword. In Stormbringer, she rides a creature with the head of a lion and the body of a bull (chimeras are typical creations of Chaos).
Other Chaos Lords are mentioned by name only; these include Aesma, Alastor, six-breasted Arnara, Haborym of the Fires Which Destroy, Malohin, Marthim (Balaan-Marthim), Nizilfkm, Saebos, Teshwan, Verdelet, and Zhortra.
Balo, the Jester to the Court of Chaos, is able to move at will between the realms of Chaos and Law because he is not exactly a Chaos Lord. His function at court is to amuse and baffle the Lords of the Higher Worlds. At one point, he tries to convert Earth into his own Realm of Paradox.
Lords of Law
The White Lords of Law are much less developed than the Lords of Chaos. The stories are set in a cosmic cycle when Chaos is most powerful. Furthermore, Elric's alliance with Arioch means that he interacts chiefly with the Chaos Lords. When they appear, the Lords of Law are usually more benevolent than the Chaos Lords, who are seductive but also sinister and prone to losing their temper.
- Donblas the Justice Maker is the spokesman and apparent leader of the White Lords.
- Miggea is a female Lord of Law who goes mad.
- Arkyn appears in the Corum cycle, but as the deities in the Elric and Corum cycles are essentially the same then it can be presumed that Arkyn is also a member of the White Lords. He assists Corum many times before the destruction of the Gods by Kwll.
- Shalod is mentioned (briefly) in the Corum cycle following the defeat of Queen Xiombarg. Just as Arkyn, he can be presumed to be a member of the White Lords.
The Lords of the Inquisition
The Lords of the Inquisition appear in the story "To Rescue Tanelorn," where it is said that they "are pledged neither to Law nor to Chaos but will sometimes help either side if the whim takes them." The Grey Lords take pride, ironically, in their humility. These purposefully neutral gods are gods of the Balance and caretakers of Tanelorn, the city of the Balance.
The Dead Gods
The Dead Gods are a group of gods mentioned in the Elric series. The Dead Gods made a book aptly called "The Dead Gods Book" which supposedly contained the sum of all knowledge, however over time the book disintegrated into dust. The Dead Gods are even less developed than the Lords of Law (or White Lords) only Darnizhaan is mentioned. The Dead Gods (despite their name) did not die but merely left the world because of the fear of Stormbringer and Mournblade which had the power to slay them. The Dead Gods appear to have a chaotic bent as they sided with the Lords of Chaos, however this may be because they assumed the Lords of Chaos would defeat the Lords of Law.
- Darnizhaan was a member of the Dead Gods, possibly their leader. Darnizhaan appeared as a huge man-like figure with the head of an ape.
The Beast-Lords are the patron deities of the different types of animals that live in Elric's world. The Emperors of Melniboné entered into agreements with each of the Beast-Lords, though sometimes these gods mention that they have not been called upon for a long time. When Elric calls upon them for aid, some appear in person, while others help by influencing mortal creatures of their type.
- Meerclar, Mistress of Cats.
- Fileet, Lady of Birds.
- Haashaastaak, Lord of Lizards.
- Nnuuurrrr'c'c' , Lord of Insects.
- Roofdrak, Lord of Dogs.
- Nuru-ah, Lord of Cattle.
- Tangled Woman, unique in the series in that she is a patron of plants rather than animals. Her domain is the rose.
The Elementals are the embodiments of the four elements: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.
Individual (named) elementals include:
- Grome, King of the Earth Elementals.
- Straasha, King of the Sea Elementals and Grome's brother. The two elementals once had a great battle.
- Misha and Graoll, the Lasshaar, powerful air elementals. Also called the Wind Giants, Lords of the Wind, or Kings of the Wind.
- Kakatal, the Fire Lord, one of the Lords of the Flame.
Some third-party role-playing material based on the series postulates an air-elemental ruler named Lassa, the mother of Misha and Graoll, but no reference to such a deity appears in the stories themselves. Similarly, Kakatal is sometimes listed in RPG materials as the ruler of the fire elementals, but the evidence for this in the series is ambiguous at best.
There are also several types of lesser air (wind) elementals mentioned:
- sylphs ("of the breeze")
- sharnahs ("makers of gales")
- h'Haarshanns ("builders of whirlwinds")
- "The Stealer of Souls", included in Elric: The Stealer of Souls (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné: Volume 1), Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 2008.
- "The Dreaming City", included in Elric: The Stealer of Souls (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné: Volume 1), Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 2008.