Robert Salvatore: The Crystal Shard

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Robert Salvatore The Crystal Shard
  • Название:
    The Crystal Shard
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Penguin
  • Жанр:
    Фэнтези / на английском языке
  • Год:
    1988
  • Город:
    London
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    0140111379
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The Crystal Shard: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Akar Kessel, a weak-willed apprentice mage sets in motion events leading to the rediscovery of the magical device, the crystal shard. But is it merely an inanimate device… or is it capable of directing the defeat of Ten-Towns? Or have the barbarians already arranged for that themselves? Their brutal attack on the villages of Ten-Towns seals their fate, and that of the youn barbarian Wulfgar. Left for dead, Wulfgar is rescued by the dwarf, Bruenor, in exchange for five years of service… and friendship. With the help of the dark elf, Drizzt, Bruenor reshapes Wulfgar into a warrior with both brawn and brains. But is Wulfgar strong enough to reunite the barbarian tribes? Can an unorthodox dwarf and renegade dark elf persuade the people of Ten-Towns to put aside their petty differences in time to stave off the forces of the crystal shard?

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R.A. Salvatore

The Crystal Shard

Come gather ‘round Hardy men of the steppes
And listen to my tale
Of heroes bold and friendships fast
And the Tyrant of Icewind Dale
Of a band of friends
By trick or by deed
Bred legends for the bard
The baneful pride of one poor wretch
And the horror of the Crystal Shard

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.

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.

Book 1.

Ten-Towns

1. The Stooge

When the wizards’ caravan from the Hosttower of the Arcane saw the snow-capped peak of Kelvin’s Cairn rising from the flat horizon, they were more than a little relieved. The hard journey from Luskan to the remote frontier settlement known as Ten-Towns had taken them more than three weeks.

The first week hadn’t been too difficult. The troop held close to the Sword Coast, and though they were traveling along the northernmost reaches of the Realms, the summer breezes blowing in off the Trackless Sea were comfortable enough.

But when they rounded the westernmost spurs of the Spine of the World, the mountain range that many considered the northern boundary of civilization, and turned into Icewind Dale, the wizards quickly understood why they had been advised against making this journey. Icewind Dale, a thousand square miles of barren, broken tundra, had been described to them as one of the most unwelcoming lands in all the Realms, and within a single day of traveling on the northern side of the Spine of the World, Eldeluc, Dendybar the Mottled, and the other wizards from Luskan considered the reputation well-earned. Bordered by impassable mountains on the south, an expanding glacier on the east, and an unnavigable sea of countless icebergs on the north and east, Icewind Dale was attainable only through the pass between the Spine of the World and the coast, a trail rarely used by any but the most hardy of merchants.

For the rest of their lives, two memories would ring clear in the wizards’ minds whenever they thought about this trip, two facts of life on Icewind Dale that travelers here never forgot. The first was the endless moaning of the wind, as though the land itself was continuously groaning in torment. And the second was the emptiness of the dale, mile after mile of gray and brown horizon lines.

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