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The Fortress of the Pearl

"And when Elric had told three lies to Cymoril, his betrothed, and had set his ambitious cousin Yyrkoon as Regent on the Ruby Throne of Melniboné, and when he had taken leave of Rackyhir the Red Archer, he set off into lands unknown, to seek knowledge which he believed would help him rule Melniboné as she had never been ruled before.

But Elric had not reckoned with a destiny already determining that he should learn and experience certain things which would have a profound effect upon him. Even before he encountered the blind captain and the" Ship Which Sailed the Seas of Fate", he was to find his life, his soul and all his idealism in jeopardy.

In Ufych-Sormeer he was delayed over a matter involving a misunderstanding between four unworldly wizards who amiably and inadvertently threatened the destruction of the Young Kingdoms before they had served the Balance's ultimate purpose; and in Filkhar he experienced an affair of the heart which he would never again speak about; he was learning, at some cost, the power and pain of bearing the Black Sword.

But it was in the desert city of Quarzhasaat that he began the adventure which was to help set the course of his weird for years to come...."

The Chronicle of the Black Sword
Michael Moorcock, The Fortress of the Pearl.

Thus begins this new installment of "The Elric Saga". In which we are transported back towards the beginning of Elric's saga to learn of a new and strange adventure untold prior to this. Michael Moorcock's tale of The Fortress of the Pearl is definitely one of the best single stories in the saga shedding new light on a time period which has been rather vague. And allowing us to enjoy new insight and new adventures with his classic anti-hero.

The Players

Elric of Melniboné: As always the central character of his times and major player in the deeds to unfold.

Anigh: A young boy who aides Elric at the start of his desert crisis, brought on due to lack of water, he hopes to sell the albino warrior to the higher powers of the city, but instead finds himself held captive as hostage to ensure Elric's compliance with finding "The Pearl at the Heart of the World".

Lord Gho Fhaazi: A member of the Quarzhasaat aristocracy he hopes to win himself a place on the "Council of Six and One Other" the ruling city council. A clever yet unwholesome fellow he bribes Elric with poison and hostage to steal for him "The Pearl at the Heart of the World" so that he may buy his seat on the council.

The Sorcerer Adventures: Made up of powerful noblemen and wizards these groups are headed by the Council of Six and One Other" and maintain the Quarzhasaat kingdom as well as collect wealth and provide security for the Council.

The Council of Six and One Other: Together this body rules all of the Quarzhasaat kingdom. Made up of the highest ranking officials of Quarzhasaat they are lead by the "One" who's identity remains unknown. Those of Nobel rank all plot to someday become members of this group and control all Quarzhasaat.

Manag Iss: A Sorcerer Adventurer and lieutenant of the powerful Yellow Sect Led by the Lady Iss . He has opportunity to aid Elric in his quest, but proves to be of little worth and poor judgment in the end.

Alnac Kerb: A son of a nomad elder he is also a Dream Thief. His assistance to Elric proves of great value but unfortunately his experience and skills are not up to the task of rescuing his only sister.

The Dream Thieves: A guild of individuals who travel from plane to plane in search of interesting dreams to capture and sell at the dream market. The dream thieves skills are legendary and are required to assist Elric in his quest for the Pearl.

Raik Na Seem: Elder of the nomad clans and current leader. His son is Alnac Kerb a Dream Thief and Daughter Varadia who is the nomads Holy Girl.

Varadia: The nomad clans Holy Girl. Repository of all the clans vast history she is revered as an oracle and historian. The nomads believe that with out their Holy Girl time will begin again as they will be doomed to repeat all of their past mistakes in ignorance. She is found in a deep slumber by Elric and Alnac and is instrumental to their quest.

Oone: Dream Thief and leader of Elric's expedition to the heart of the world in search of the fortress and the pearl. She is wise and strong and helps Elric avoid many a pitfall on their journey. Her love for Elric is reciprocated along the way to their goal and she will carry with her the last of the Melniboné emperors when the adventure is complete.

Jasper Colinadous: adventuring companion to the eternal champion he and his cat aid Elric during the first part of his journey towards the pearl.

The Pearl Warrior: Conjured up to protect the Fortress and "The Pearl at the Heart of the World" this powerful warrior does battle with Elric and his companions continually trying to thwart their efforts to reach their goal.

Lady Sough: navigator between the realms of dreams she aids Elric and his party in reaching the Fortress. She also has difficulty remembering who she really is, but the truth is made known as the adventurers approach the Fortress.

Chamog Borm: A Nobel warrior who's perceived failure to protect the Fortress and the Pearl has cost him his knightship and earned him banishment from the court. He lends armor and weapons to Elric and his companions thus allowing them to continue on with their quest.

The Places

Quarzhasaat: Located in the Sighing Desert it was once a magnificent city challenged only by the sorceress Melnibonéans. The city was the center of a great cultural seat for the Young Kingdoms. In its battles with Melniboné its sorcerers made a critical error while casting a spell which upon its release emptied sand for hundreds of miles around the ancient city thus laying waste to all of its beautiful crop land and vast population and leaving it in its current desert state. Through the years it has quietly rewritten its own history denying any place for its conquerors the Melnibonéans and turning instead to maintaining the city as a land mark to their victory over the demon sorcerers.

The Red Road: Made up of red stone and sand formations this road leads form Quarzhasaat to the heart of the nomad camps at the Oasis of the flower along with the Bronze Tent of the ruling Nomad powers.

The Bronze tent: Used as a gathering place for the nomad clans. In it justice is dispensed and the knowledge of nomad history is maintained.

The Silver Flower Oasis: located in the heart of the desert it represents the main camping and gathering area for the desert nomads.

The Fortress of the Pearl: located at the heart of the world this structure was erected to protect "The Pearl at the Heart of the World" and is Elric's destination while traveling in the dream worlds.

Significant Object

The Pearl at the Heart of the World: A fabulous pearl larger then a man's closed fist. It is a treasure that has been rumored to exist and which Elric finds himself in search of.

Part One

"Is there a madman with a brain
To turn the stuff of nightmare sane
And demons crush and Chaos tame,
Who'll leave his realm, forsake his bride
And, tossed by contradictory tides,
Give up his pride for pain"

The Chronicle of the Black Sword.
Michael Moorcock, The Fortress of the Pearl.

As we open the story we find Elric weak due to dehydration and without strength due to the lack of his sorceress drugs, laid out in a small room in the city of Quarzhasaat in the heart of the Signing Desert being tended to by a young boy who's greed will soon outweigh his charity. In a daze Elric recalls his many trials and journeys that have brought him to his current wretched state, and spirits of those who where left behind torment his few half waking hours. Through this episode of self loathing, his will for life is rekindled to the point where perhaps another adventure would be better then the deathly fate that looms before him. A messenger is sent with mysterious words and healing potions for the Albino warrior. He soon meets one of the Quarzhasaat princelings who tells of a fabulous treasure and rich rewards to be gained by one who would successfully seek it. A trick of fate, loyalty, and poison secures Elric's services as Dream Thief to secure the fabulous "Pearl at the Heart of the World" for the cruel Quarzhasaat prince. With no other option apparent the Albino sets forth on the "Red Road" to find the "Bronze Tent" at the "Silver Flower Oasis" and begin his hunt for the pearl. A bout with desert denizens leaves Prince Elric in debt to the Sorcerer Adventures, but soon the debt is repaid with tertiary, as the Albino escapes the sorcerers grasp. A Dream Thief meet and much veiled information is related concerning Elric's quest. At the Oasis the finally pieces of Elric's quest fall into place, and sadly his Dream Thief companion gives more then allowed to try to save the nomads "Holy Girl". A failed attempt at rescue leads to the appearance of another more powerful Dream Thief who will guide Elric to the other side, the place of dreams where the Pearl is said to exist.

Part Two

"Is there a daughter born in dreams
Whose flesh is snow, whose ruby eyes
Stare into realms whose substance seems
Strong as agony, soft as lies?
Is there a girlchild born of dreams
Who carries blood as old as Time,
Destine one day to blend with mine
And give new lands a newer queen?"

The Chronicle of the Black Sword.
Michael Moorcock, The Fortress of the Pearl.

An oath given to rescue the "Holy Girl" and the journey through the dream worlds begins in the Bronze Tent and through the "Holy Girl". Having reached this new plane Elric and the Dream Thief begin their journey through the 7 gates that will lead them to the Fortress of the Pearl. An old acquaintance (thought un -remembered by Elric) with a formidable feline, guides and fights with the adventures to reach the first gate. And although parted with their first companion the quest continues on to and through the 2cd . The approach to the 3rd gate proves uneventful but as they prepare to step through their quest is discovered by one who would guard the Fortress at any cost. On to the next gate and Elric is sourly tested by the illusions of the past and physically tested by warriors of the present. As the questors press on to reach the 4th gate they find themselves in battle with the Pearl Warrior. After what appears to be the warriors death the two questors succumb to the wiles of the Land of Forgotten Love". Having found new strength in the bond between them Elric and the Dream Thief find themselves through the 5th gate . A plane of superficial people and places filled with the fullness of nothing greets the two and a battle with the formerly dead Pearl Warrior proves to be almost to much for the pair, but the arrival of the navigator and her thoughtful persuasions convinces the Pearl Warrior to depart. Having found a guide the quest continues through the 6th gate to the land of madness. The guide's informed conversations leads to discoveries and identities forgotten. A toll is called for to pass the demon guards but a quick Dream Thief trick allows them to pass to the final gate and on to the Fortress.

Part Three

"Is there a brave lord birthed by Fate
To wield old weapons, win new estates
And tear down walls Time sanctifies,
Raze ancient temples as hallowed lies,
His pride to break, his love to lose,
Destroying his race, his history, his muse,
And, relinquishing peace for a life of strife,
Leave only a corpse that the flies refuse?"

The Chronicle of the Black Sword.
Michael Moorcock, The Fortress of the Pearl.

Trough the gate and into better lands the adventures discover a former warrior who failed the Pearl and learn of his story and banishment from the fortress. With armor and shield as aide from the defrocked knight Elric and company continue on to the fortress itself to finally attempt to conclude their quest. Upon reaching the gates of the Fortress the Pearl Warrior appears again to defend the Fortress and the Pearl. With many a convoluted argument the warrior is convinced to give up his unending protection and lay down his task as protector of the Pearl. With his release the true identity and nature of the both the Fortress and the Pearl are revealed to all and the with this information comes the release of the Holy Girl and the successful conclusion of the quest complete with fabulous treasure. Upon their return to the Bronze Tent and with the recovery of the Holy Girl the Desert Nomads have a celebration in honor of the questors and promise unending friendship. However Elric quickly tires of the acclaim and moves to complete his promised vengeance on Quarzhasaat and those who greedily rule her. With his un-looked for return to Quarzhasaat comes much greedy anticipation from the princeling who persuaded Elric to begin the quest. As he arrives in the noblemen's court the boy who helped then betrayed Elric is brought out from his captivity and Elric deals with the priceling as he had been delt with. He then calls for a meeting of the council of "The Six and One Other" to finally dispose of both the Pearl and the corrupt noblemen of Quarzhasaat and after a night of horror and blood letting Elric finally departs the city and the desert in search of more wholesome climbs and populations. The city left to the desert to finally fade into the dust of history.

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Scott <Stormbringer> Lindquist

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All artwork displayed on these pages is the property of the original artists. It is displayed for the express purpose of enhancing the information, opinions, and mood expressed here. Please support these artists whenever possible as their dedication to the fantasy art world is greatly appreciated.