Elfric (comics)

Elfric is an antagonist of the fantasy comic series "Sláine" by Pat Mills. He first appeared in the story "Time Killer" (2000AD progs 411-434, 1985) as "Elfric Serpent-Eye", the changeling leader of a force of Norsemen in the Battle of Clontarf. Sláine's sponsor, Myrddin, gave Sláine the task of killing Elfric, explaining that Elfric was an agent of the Cythrons, a pre-human race of aliens who sought to alter the course of history by fomenting wars and farming humans like swine.

Elfric is not himself a Cythron. Rather, he is a Dark El (colloquially known as 'Dev-Els', in contrast to the Light Els or 'Ang-Els'); a native of the El worlds (which he calls 'Els-Where'), which are located on dimensions at right angles to our own. These realms are analogous to the Fairy realms, and as such Elfric exhibits many traits common to these creatures of legend, including immortality; immunity to pain and injury; and a loathing of iron. He bears only a passing resemblance to humans, and is usually depicted with blue skin, needle-shaped teeth, and his most distinctive feature: a third eye set in the middle of his forehead, from which he is able to project bursts of deadly energy. He has also on occasions exhibited a talent for shape-shifting, though he usually has to take pains to hide his third eye, making his disguises imperfect. He favours heavy make-up, and often has a mocking, sadistic manner matched by an appetite for debauchery and decadence.

History

A skilled and sadistic warrior and sorcerer, Sláine was only able to defeat him in battle by using his warp spasm, and even then was still mortally wounded: an event he only survived by way of the temporal manipulations of Myrddin and the Ever-Living Ones.

Elfric too survived the battle, but was banished to Els-Where, where he met Sláine and his new ally Murdach, and he was killed in battle once again. His immortality once again preserved him, but under the 'laws of the macrocosm' he felt certain that he could not be defeated a third time. He did not have long to wait for this third conflict. Later, in the realm of Cythrawl (really pre-historic Earth), Sláine orchestrated a revolt amongst the Cythrons' human gladiators. The Cythrons were about to put this revolt down, forcing Myrddin to intervene directly by summoning elementals. This direct intervention allowed Elfric to appear to confront his bitter enemy, and sure enough, Sláine was unable to harm him. Following advice from his goddess, Sláine at least proved capable of matching Elfric, and thus became 'immune' to him.

For the rest of Sláine's sojourn in Cythrawl, Elfric proved to be a thorn in the side of the barbarian and his allies. He pursued them into the tomb of the dark god Grimnismal who apparently slew him. He then reappeared in "Dragoncorpse" (Diceman #2), where he revealed that Grimnismal had merely transferred some of his power to him, and attempted to use a magic shield named "Death's Door" to open a portal to his own demonic realm. Sláine banished him to Els-Where yet again, but this did not stop him from reappearing in the Celtic Otherworld, where once again he harassed Sláine; a conflict that culminated in his assuming Sláine's likeness, taking the role of his fetch, practically identical to the berserker in all respects. Once again (assuming the player completes the gamestrip successfully) this attempt on his enemy's life failed, and he was pierced with a Gáe Bulg -- a weapon Elfric did not have in his possession at the time.

Elfric remained absent from the strip for a few years, reappearing as the chief antagonist in "Demon Killer" (2000AD progs 852-859) and its sequel "Queen of Witches" (progs 889-896). He had resumed his old role of meddling with the course of history, this time aiding the Roman conquest of Britain. A personal friend of Emperor Nero, he set about his task of subjugating the Britons with gusto, personally undertaking the flogging of Boudica and the rape of her daughters. Though dispatched by Sláine, he soon returns with a host of demons and despoils the land. The ensuing battle ultimately leads to the defeat of the Britons and suicide of Boudica, and though Sláine slays him "again", Elfric claims victory. As a footnote to this tragic chapter, the Romans decide that due to the difficulty of keeping Britannia under control, invading Ireland would be too costly, suggesting that Sláine's mission in Roman Britain was not to drive out the Romans, but merely to halt their advance.

Elfric has yet to reappear in the comic, although his brother Morholt (named after the character of Arthurian legend) featured as an antagonist in the "Book of Invasions: Tara" story (prog 2005-prog 1425). Another three-eyed El rider, Morholt wielded a huge pair of shears with which he decapitated his foes. He was petrified at the end of the story, but if he takes after his brother he may yet return.


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