Imagine a deadly duel between two of fantasy’s greatest swordsmen.
The setting is some unreal dimension, transcending the boundaries of great works of fantastical fiction. Weird creatures soar through smoky skies, and raging fire-pits pock the landscape.
On a forsaken plain at the heart of this unusual world, two terrible enemies face each other.
To one side stands the newly-crowned King of Gondor, Elessar Telcontar, handsome and fell, and taller than most. His storied sword, Andúril, glints in the light of a nearby fire. Aragorn son of Arathorn is in complete control of his lengthy weapon, and it silently awaits his command. The man’s Númenórean face is wise, and his robust jaw set firmly against his opponent.
A pasty malingerer, Elric of Melniboné, is that opponent. His red eyes fill with hatred as he studies his regal enemy. The albino-mystic-warrior-prince brandishes an awful sword. That sword is Stormbringer, Drinker of Souls, Wrecker of Homes, and it throbs blackly in his hand. Weapon controls man. Elric is in total thrall to his evil weapon, and it toys with him indecently.
Why are the two men poised on the brink of a deadly contest? It is not important. It may be due to some slight, real or imagined. It may be due to jealousy on the part of Elric, or a desire to put the moaning little weasel out of his misery, on the part of Aragorn. Whatever the reason, it’s all about to go off, big style.
With a startling cry in a strange tongue, Elric leaps towards his foe, Stormbringer screaming thirstily as it arcs through the air above the albino’s milky locks. Aragorn immediately brings Andúril up to block the massive blow of the soul-sucking blade. On impact, the report of metal on metal is so loud that maidens in nearby mountain vales hear it, and realise that terrible battle is being done.
Elric is quick, and his evil sword is crafty and possessed with all sorts of mucky thoughts. It lends a furious power to its wielder, and for several intense moments Elric slashes and stabs at the King of Gondor with such speed that even the latter is impressed.
Impressed, but never troubled.
Almost effortlessly the King fends off the frustrated albino’s attacks, his veteran stroke honed throughout long years of skirmishing, from the dense thickets of the Trollshaws in the north to the stone harbours of Umbar in the south, where the dreaded Corsairs roam. Aragorn stikes back powerfully, sapping the strength of his pigmentless foe. The tide of war has turned, and Elric’s initial speed gives way to his growing fatigue.
There are of course various extra-curricular tactics available to Elric the sorceror. He might choose to consume that most obvious of Moorcockian deus ex machinas, the invincibility weed, that would render him temporarily impervious to damage from any blade. He might also attempt to summon assistance from Arioch, debauched hell-chieftan, or any of the other deities he is mates with; deities who fortuitously pop up from time-to-time to help him out of tricky situations.
But even if he could find an opportunity to do so, it would matter not how the warrior-mage-emperor-exile bolstered his powers; for though Aragorn has no combat-magic to employ, nor cheat-weed to ingest, he is simply fucking nails. He seeks not tactics from his weapon. He needs not a demon as his squire.
Deftly, Aragorn ducks ‘neath a wayward swoop of Stormbringer, and brings his own weapon round in a devastating semi-circle. Such violence has never before been witnessed in the world of geometry.
With a scream that is abruptly ended, Elric announces his own demise. For Andúril née Narsil scythes through his pale neck with brutal swiftness. Both carotid arteries erupt in a crimson shower, and the blood goes everywhere. Hectic.
The headless albino mercenary-sorcerer-prince tumbles into a blood-pumping heap. Isildur’s Heir sheathes his noble weapon and strides off to Gondor, to the welcoming bed of Arwen, e’er-nubile.