Greeting Autumn with Elric & Moonglum!
Greeting Autumn with Elric & Moonglum!
Good Evening, Everyone,
Autumnal equinox just past outside, epic fantasy reminiscing inside.
Let’s welcome the change of season with an excerpt from one of my favorite authors, Michael Moorcock, in the opening scene from The Sleeping Sorceress.
Here, Elric and Moonglum are in pursuit of Theleb K’aarna, a sorcerer of the Pan Tang Isles, and the season is autumn:
Excerpt from Michael Moorcock, Elric: The Sleeping Sorceress (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné, Vol. 3) http://www.amazon.com/Elric-Sleeping-Sorceress
Chapter One: Pale Prince on a Moonlit Shore
In the sky a cold moon, cloaked in clouds, sent down faint light that fell upon a sullen sea where a ship lay at anchor off an uninhabited coast.
From the ship a boat was being lowered. It swayed in its harness.
Two figures, swathed in long capes, watched the seamen lowering the
boat while they, themselves, tried to calm horses which stamped their
hoofs on the unstable deck and snorted and rolled their eyes.
The shorter figure clung hard to his horse’s bridle and grumbled.
“Why should this be necessary? Why could not we have disembarked
at Trepesaz? Or at least some fishing harbour boasting an inn,
however lowly . . .”
“Because, friend Moonglum, I wish our arrival in Lormyr to be secret.
If Theleb K’aarna knew of my coming—as he soon would if we
went to Trepesaz—then he would fly again and the chase would begin
afresh. Would you welcome that?”
Moonglum shrugged. “I still feel that your pursuit of this sorcerer
is no more than a surrogate for real activity. You seek him because you
do not wish to seek your proper destiny . . .”
Elric turned his bone-white face in the moonlight and regarded
Moonglum with crimson, moody eyes. “And what of it? You need not
accompany me if you do not wish to . . .”
Again, Moonglum shrugged his shoulders. “Aye. I know. Perhaps
I stay with you for the same reasons that you pursue the sorcerer of Pan
Tang.” He grinned. “So that’s enough of debate, eh, Lord Elric?”
“Debate achieves nothing,” Elric agreed. He patted his horse’s nose
as more seamen, clad in colourful Tarkeshite silks, came forward to
take the horses and hoist them down to the waiting boat.
Struggling, whinnying through the bags muffling their heads, the
horses were lowered, their hoofs thudding on the bottom of the boat as
if they would stave it in. Then Elric and Moonglum, their bundles on
their backs, swung down the ropes and jumped into the rocking craft.
The sailors pushed off from the ship with their oars and then, bodies
bending, began to row for the shore.
The late autumn air was cold. Moonglum shivered as he stared
towards the bleak cliffs ahead. “Winter is near and I’d rather be domiciled
at some friendly tavern than roaming abroad. When this business
is done with the sorcerer, what say we head for Jadmar or one of the
other big Vilmirian cities and see what mood the warmer clime puts us
But Elric did not reply. His strange eyes stared into the darkness and they seemed to be peering into the depths of his own soul and not liking what they saw.
Moonglum sighed and pursed his lips. He huddled deeper in his cloak and rubbed his hands to warm them. He was used to his friend’s sudden lapses of silence, but familiarity did not make him enjoy them
any better. From somewhere on the shore a nightbird shrieked and a small animal squealed. The sailors grunted as they pulled on their oars.
The moon came out from behind the clouds and it shone on Elric’s grim, white face, made his crimson eyes seem to glow like the coals of hell, revealed the barren cliffs of the shore.
The sailors shipped their oars as the boat’s bottom ground on shingle. The horses, smelling land, snorted and moved their hoofs. Elric and Moonglum rose to steady them.
Two seamen leapt into the cold water and brought the boat up
higher. Another patted the neck of Elric’s horse and did not look directly
at the albino as he spoke. “The captain said you would pay me
when we reached the Lormyrian shore, my lord.”
Elric grunted and reached under his cloak. He drew out a jewel that shone brightly through the darkness of the night. The sailor gasped and stretched out his hand to take it. “Xiombarg’s blood, I have never seen so fine a gem!”
Elric began to lead the horse into the shallows and Moonglum hastily followed him, cursing under his breath and shaking his head from side to side.
Laughing among themselves, the sailors shoved the boat back into deeper water.
As Elric and Moonglum mounted their horses and the boat pulled through the darkness towards the ship, Moonglum said: “That jewel was worth a hundred times the cost of our passage!”
“What of it?” Elric fitted his feet in his stirrups and made his horse walk towards a part of the cliff which was less steep than the rest. He stood up in his stirrups for a moment to adjust his cloak and settle himself
more firmly in his saddle. “There is a path here, by the look of it. Much overgrown.”
“I would point out,” Moonglum said bitterly, “that if it were left to you, Lord Elric, we should have no means of livelihood at all. If I had not taken the precaution of retaining some of the profits made from the sale of that trireme we captured and auctioned in Dhakos, we should be paupers now.”
“Aye,” returned Elric carelessly, and he spurred his horse up the path that led to the top of the cliff.
In frustration Moonglum shook his head, but he followed the albino.
[End excerpt, Michael Moorcock, The Sleeping Sorceress, pp. 1-2]