The Crystal Shard Prelude

The Crystal Shard 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 the truth, but it would not dare to disobey. “No, master, not in the tower,” the little demon whispered.

“No!” Errtu roared. “Where is it?”

“Al Dimeneira threw it.”

“Threw it?”

“Across the planes, merciful master!” Telshazz cried. “With all of his strength!”

“Across the very planes of existence!” Errtu growled.

“I tried to stop him, but…”

The horned head shot forward. Telshazz’s words gurgled indecipherably as Errtu’s canine maw tore its throat out.

* * *

Far removed from the gloom of the Abyss, Crenshinibon came to rest upon the world. Far up in the northern mountains of the Forgotten Realms the crystal shard, the ultimate perversion, settled into the snow of a bowl-shaped dell.

And waited.