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Stormbringer being wielded by Elric of Melniboné
|First appearance||The Dreaming City (1961)|
|Created by||Michael Moorcock|
|Function||Consuming of souls|
|Specific traits and abilities||Black, runes|
|Affiliation||Elric of Melniboné|
Stormbringer is the name of the infamous black sword featured in a number of fantasy stories by the author Michael Moorcock. Created by the forces of Chaos, it is described as a huge, black sword covered with strange runes carved deep into its blade. It is wielded by the doomed albino emperor Elric of Melniboné. Stormbringer makes its first appearance in the 1961 novel The Dreaming City.
This powerful enchanted black blade is a member of a demon race that takes on the form of a sword, and as such is an agent of Chaos. Stormbringer's edge is capable of cutting through virtually any material not protected by potent sorcery, and it can drink the soul from (and thereby kill) an unprotected human upon delivering any wound, even a scratch. Its most distinctive features are that it has a mind and will of its own, and that it feeds upon the souls of those it kills. Elric loathes the sword but is almost helpless without the strength and vitality it confers on him.
Stormbringer's hunger for souls is such that it frequently betrays Elric by creating a bloodlust in his mind, turning in his hands and killing friends and lovers. The cursed nature of the sword adds to Elric's guilt and self-loathing, even as he feels pleasure when the stolen lifeforce enters his body.
Stormbringer has a "brother" sword named Mournblade, which was at one time wielded by Elric's cousin and enemy Yyrkoon. It is identical to Stormbringer in most regards. Later stories reveal that there are thousands of identical demons, all taking the form of swords. Three such sibling blades appear in The Revenge of the Rose and many more "brother blades" are seen in the novel Stormbringer, but only Mournblade and Stormbringer are named.
In Elric of Melniboné, Elric and cousin Yyrkoon find the runeblades 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 until it is later disclosed that it was recovered by the Seers of Nihrain, to be wielded by Elric's cousin, Dyvim Slorm. Imrryr is sacked, though the pillagers' fate is not much better, being pursued by the golden battle barges and the few dragons who were awakened, led by Dyvim Tvar. Only Elric's ship escapes, propelled by the aid of his sorcery.
In Stormbringer, Elric learns that the representatives of Fate, which serve neither Chaos nor Law, recovered Mournblade from the netherworld. They present it to Elric and explain that the runeblades were designed to be wielded by those with Melnibonéan 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. Elric summons others of Stormbringer's demonic race (also in the form of swords) to fight against a number of Dukes of Hell, brought to the Young Kingdoms by Jagreen Lern, theocrat of Pan Tang.
Ultimately, Elric's reliance on Stormbringer proves his undoing: after the utter destruction of the Young Kingdoms in the battle of Law and Chaos, just as it seems that the cosmic Balance has been restored, Stormbringer kills Elric, transforms into a humanoid demon, and leaps laughing into the sky, to corrupt the newly-remade world once more. The sword-spirit says to the dying Elric, "I was a thousand times more evil than thou."
In the book The Quest for Tanelorn, a man claims that the demon in the sword is named Shaitan – a variant of 'Satan'. In the same book it is revealed that the demon can inhabit either the black sword or the black jewel, the jewel which was once embedded in the skull of Dorian Hawkmoon. Hawkmoon was an avatar, like Elric, of the Eternal Champion.
Books by Moorcock featuring Stormbringer
- The Dreaming City (1961)
- The Stealer of Souls (1963)
- Stormbringer (1965)
- The Singing Citadel (1970)
- The Vanishing Tower (1970)
- Elric of Melniboné (1972) 
- The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (1976)
- The Weird of the White Wolf (1977)
- The Bane of the Black Sword (1977)
- Elric at the End of Time (1984)
- The Fortress of the Pearl (1989)
- The Revenge of the Rose (1991)
- The Dreamthief's Daughter (2001)
Other media by Moorcock featuring Stormbringer
Tom Strong No. 31 and No. 32, "The Black Blade of the Barbary Coast" parts 1 & 2, feature albino pirate Captain Zodiac seeking the "Black Blade", a black cutlass marked with red runes. This appears to be a recurrence (a favoured Moorcock trope) of Elric and Stormbringer's tale. Almost all of Moorcock's stories about the Eternal Champion include a parallel or analog to Stormbringer, invariably wielded by the Champion.
In popular culture
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- The role-playing games Stormbringer (1981) and Elric! (1993) are both set in Moorcock's "multiverse".
- Hawkwind, a band with a long association with Moorcock, released an entire album about Elric and Stormbringer, The Chronicle of the Black Sword. They have also released both a single and double live album expanding upon this work, Live Chronicles. The double live album package includes an Elric short story. The album itself contains various narrations and poems read by Moorcock.
- The 1980 Blue Öyster Cult song "Black Blade" on the Cultosaurus Erectus album was created as a collaboration between Eric Bloom and Michael Moorcock.
- UK hard rock band Magnum has a song called "Stormbringer," about Elric and his sword, on the reissue of their Kingdom of Madness album.
- The Italian metal band Domine has a number of songs based on the Elric saga and referencing Stormbringer and Mournblade. Additionally, Elric and Stormbringer are featured on the cover art for all four albums. Michael Moorcock himself is specifically thanked and noted as an influence in the liner notes for each album.
- The song "Borrowed Time" by the NWOBHM band Diamond Head on their Borrowed Time album deals with Elric and is told from his point of view. In this song, he refers to himself as "a slave to this black blade." Elric and Stormbringer are also featured on the album's cover artwork.
- The Elder Scrolls video games, the Daedric artefact Ebony Blade is based on Stormbringer and grows stronger whenever its wielder kills friendly NPCs.
- The 1979 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure module White Plume Mountain, written by Lawrence Schick and published by TSR, featured a magical sword called Blackrazor, a black-bladed vampiric blade created from an extra-dimensional being, Schick later said that he was "a little embarrassed to this day by Blackrazor, inasmuch as it's such a blatant rip-off of Elric's Stormbringer; I would not have put it into the scenario if I ever thought it might be published."
- Anglachel/Gurthang, the black sword of Beleg and later of Túrin Turambar; and its twin Anguirel, from The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Dragnipur, a black, soul-devouring sword in the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
- Tyrfing, a cursed sword in the Norse Hervarar saga
- Clarent, a supposed legendary sword given to Josh Newman in the book The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, described as a black sword which supposedly gives the wielder the ability to absorb the memories of the one being slain by it;the blade has an infamous "hunger" for slaughter and is the "brother sword" of the legendary Excalibur
- Stormbringer.net — an overview of the Elric saga