The Crystal Shard - By R. A. Salvatore

Book 1. Ten-Towns Dedication
To my wife, Diane and to Bryan, Geno, and Caitlin for their support and patience through this experience.

And to my parents, Geno and Irene. For believing in me even when I didn't.

Whenever an author takes on a project like this, especially if it is his first novel, there are invariably a number of people who help him accomplish the task. The writing of The Crystal Shard was no exception.

Publishing a novel involves three elements: a degree of talent; a lot of hard work; and a good measure of luck. The first two elements can be controlled by the author, but the third involves being in the right place at the right time and finding an editor who believes in your ability and dedication to the task at hand.

Therefore, my greatest thanks go to TSR, and especially to Mary Kirchoff, for taking a chance on a first time author and guiding me throughout the process.

Writing in the 1980s has become a high-tech chore as well as an exercise in creativity. In the case of The Crystal Shard, luck once again worked on my side. I consider myself lucky to have a friend like Brian P. Savoy, who loaned me his software expertise in smoothing out the rough edges.

My thanks also to my personal opinion-givers, Dave Duquette and Michael LaVigueur, for pointing out strengths and weaknesses in the rough draft, to my brother, Gary Salvatore, for his work on the maps of Icewind Dale, and to the rest of my AD&D game group, Tom Parker, Daniel Mallard, and Roland Lortie, for their continued inspiration through the development of eccentric characters fit to wear the mantle of a hero in a fantasy novel.

And finally, to the man who truly brought me into the world of the AD&D game, Bob Brown. Since you moved away (and took the pipe smoke with you) the atmosphere around the gaming table just hasn't been the same.
Book 1. Ten-Towns Prelude
The demon sat back on the seat it had carved in the stem of the giant mushroom. Sludge slurped and rolled around the rock island, the eternal oozing and shifting that marked this layer of the Abyss.

Errtu drummed its clawed fingers, its horned, apelike head lolling about on its shoulders as it peered into the gloom. "Where are you, Telshazz?" the demon hissed, expecting news of the relic. Crenshinibon, pervaded all of the demon's thoughts. With the shard in its grasp, Errtu could rise over an entire layer, maybe even several layers.

And Errtu had come so close to possessing it!

The demon knew the power of the artifact; Errtu had been serving seven lichs when they combined their evil magics and made the crystal shard. The lichs, undead spirits of powerful wizards that refused to rest when their mortal bodies had passed from the realms of the living, had gathered to create the most vile artifact ever made, an evil that fed and flourished off of that which the purveyors of good considered most precious - the light of the sun.

But they had gone beyond even their own considerable powers. The forging actually consumed the seven, Crenshinibon stealing the magical strength that preserved the lichs' undead state to fuel its own first flickers of life. The ensuing bursts of power had hurtled Errtu back to the Abyss, and the demon had presumed the shard destroyed.

But Crenshinibon would not be so easily destroyed. Now, centuries later, Errtu had stumbled upon the trail of the crystal shard again; a crystal tower, Cryshal-Tirith, with a pulsating heart the exact image of Crenshinibon.

Errtu knew the magic was close by; the demon could sense the powerful presence of the relic. If only it could have found the thing earlier...if only it could have grasped...

But then Al Dimeneira had arrived, an angelic being of tremendous power. Al Dimeneira banished Errtu back to the Abyss with a single word.

Errtu peered through the swirling smoke and gloom when it heard the sucking footsteps.

"Telshazz?" the demon bellowed.

"Yes, my master," the smaller demon answered, cowering as it approached the mushroom throne.

"Did he get it?" Errtu roared. "Does Al Dimeneira have the crystal shard?"

Telshazz quivered and whimpered, "Yes, my lord...uh, no, my lord!"

Errtu's evil red eyes narrowed.

"He could not destroy it," the little demon was quick to explain. "Crenshinibon burned his hands!"

"Hah!" Errtu snorted. "Beyond even the power of Al Dimeneira! Where is it, then? Did you bring it, or does it remain in the second crystal tower?"

Telshazz whimpered again. It didn't want to tell its cruel master Copyright 2016 - 2024