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Crenshinibon is an evil artifact in the Forgotten Realms setting, featured primarily in the novels The Crystal Shard, Passage to Dawn, The Silent Blade, and Servant of the Shard by R.A. Salvatore, though it also appeared as a major plot device in the computer game Icewind Dale. It is a vile relic of immense power, a crystal shard that draws its magical energy from the light of the sun. Crenshinibon is a sentient artifact, and it possesses a never-ending hunger for power and glory at whatever cost; therefore, Crenshinibon is not a reasoning being. It always desires a powerful wielder, usually a corruptible magic-user of some sort, and greatly enhances that wielder’s powers. The Crystal Shard also insidiously manipulates its wielder and would readily abandon him or her for someone more capable of furthering its goals of ultimate conquest. The relic can lure in thousands of evil-intentioned beings with its magical call, creating a grand army for its wielder and so-called master.
Perhaps Crenshinibon’s most magnificent ability is its power to create an enormous crystalline tower, known as Cryshal-Tirith (Elvish, literally meaning crystal tower). In order to create the tower, Crenshinibon first creates an exact duplicate of itself, a square-sided crystal that sometimes glows a green light. The wielder then places the copy of the shard on the ground and recites the words ibssum dal abdur. The duplicate crystal expands, growing into the crystalline tower, still an exact image of Crenshinibon, only now of mammoth proportions. The tower itself absorbs the sun’s light, giving it more strength during the daytime. The tower is impervious; it absorbs all attacks against its mirrored walls and reflects them back on their source. The only vulnerable part of the tower is its heart, the pulsating crystal of strength that was used to construct the tower, and that becomes hidden away within Cryshal-Tirith. The tower’s very door is invisible and undetectable to any beings inherent to the present plane the tower rests upon.
The nature of the artifact is to attain power. This desire transcends the normally established boundaries of what is right and what is wrong.
Crenshinibon was created originally by seven liches who deemed to fashion an item of the very greatest power. As an insult to the races these undead wizard-kings planned to conquer, they designed the artifact to draw its strength from the sun itself, the giver of life. Upon the artifact’s completion, the liches were consumed by the overwhelming power of their joining magic. The conscious aspects of these evil creatures were obliterated by the relic’s sunlike properties and the shattered pieces of their spirits were absorbed by the artifact.
Crenshinibon first came to the material world millennia ago in the distant land of Zakhara. At the time, the artifact was merely a wizard’s tool, though a great and powerful one. It could throw fireballs and create great blazing walls of light so intense they could burn flesh from bone. Little was known about the Crystal Shard’s dark and sinister past until it fell into the hands of a sultan. This great leader learned the truth about Crenshinibon, and with the help of his many court wizards, decided that the work of the liches was incomplete. This sultan, however, had no dreams of domination; he only wanted peaceful existence with his many warlike neighbors. Using the newest power of the artifact, the sultan created a line of crystalline towers that stretched from his capital across the empty desert to his kingdom’s second city, an oft-raided frontier city about a day’s travel away in intervals. He raised as many as a hundred of these towers, nearly completing the defensive line. However, the sultan had overestimated the powers of Crenshinibon. He believed that the creation of the towers would strengthen the artifact, and normally they would if not so many had been created, but he was pulling the manifestations of Crenshinibon too thin. Soon after the sultan’s raising of the towers, a great sandstorm manifested and swept across the desert, shattering the weakened crystalline towers. This sandstorm served as a precursor to an invasion by a neighboring sheikdom. The hordes overran the sultan’s kingdom, and the merciless sheik forced the sultan to watch as his family was murdered. Crenshinibon absorbed a piece of the sultan’s spirit. Finally, Crenshinibon was complete. The artifact, imbued with the twisted aspects of seven dead liches and with the wounded and tormented spirit of the sultan, would now begin its desperate quest to attain and maintain its greatest level of power, whatever the cost. (The sentient shard is thus a tragic 'character'; it is driven to pursue evil or amoral ends because it was scarred by traumatic, tragic events during its formative years; this part of the shard's history was revealed in Servant of the Shard, whose primary characters, Jarlaxle and Artemis Entreri, are also amoral individuals willing to commit unethical acts because they were scarred by tragedy and betrayal during their formative years.)
A powerful demon, Errtu, had been serving the seven liches who created Crenshinibon. When Crenshinibon stole the magical strength that preserved the liches’ undead state, the ensuing bursts of energy had hurled Errtu back to the Abyss, and the demon had thought the relic destroyed. Centuries later, Errtu discovered Cryshal-Tirith, a crystal tower with a pulsating heart the exact image of the Crystal Shard. Before Errtu could obtain Crenshinibon, an angelic being with tremendous power named Al Dimeneira arrived, and with a single word, he banished Errtu back to the Abyss. Al Dimeneira then tried to destroy Crenshinibon, but the powerful relic burned his hands, so instead he hurled it across the very planes of existence, and it came to rest in the snow of a bowl-shaped dell in the Spine of the World Mountains on the material plane.
Crenshinibon has had six owners since that time. In the Black Isle computer game Icewind Dale, the first was a demon named Belhifet who, in a feud with his rival Yxunomei, was banished to the Material Plane. He stumbled upon the shard and formed an army using its powers of suggestion. He erected Cryshal-Tirith in the town of Easthaven, until a wandering group of adventurers (who had also killed Yxunomei) sent him back to the Abyss.
In the novel The Crystal Shard, the next wielder of Crenshinibon was a fumbling wizard-in-training named Akar Kessel. He could barely cast cantrips but with the power of Crenshinibon, he was almost unstoppable. In the end, Kessel was killed by an avalanche caused by Crenshinibon's own heat in a battle with the famed drow ranger Drizzt Do'Urden atop Kelvin's Cairn.
In Passage to Dawn Stumpet Rakingclaw, a female dwarven cleric in the employ of Clan Battlehammer, came across Crenshinibon while hiking on Kelvin's Cairn. The shard quickly escaped her, as her moral code made it too difficult for the artifact to insinuate itself into her mind, by calling to Errtu.
Errtu had finally gotten what he wanted and was the next wielder of the shard. Drizzt, with the help of Wulfgar (whom the goddess Lolth had given to Errtu as a prisoner and was subsequently used as a bargaining chip with Drizzt and his friends), once again managed to banish him to the Abyss.
In The Silent Blade, the drow Jarlaxle tricked Drizzt into giving the shard to him by disguising himself as Cadderly Bonaduce and used it to carve himself a place in the city of Calimport. His lieutenant Rai-guy believed he could control the shard better than his leader and tried to take it. It was stolen by Jarlaxle's companion Artemis Entreri, who had managed to ignore the Crystal Shard's manipulative magic through sheer willpower. Entreri rescued Jarlaxle from his two lieutenants Kimmuriel and Rai-guy and convinced him to come along with him to take the shard to Cadderly and find from him a way to destroy the dangerous artifact. Rai-guy eventually succeeded in capturing the shard, though his possession of it was short-lived.
Crenshinibon was eventually destroyed by the red dragon Hephaestus when Jarlaxle tricked him into breathing fire on it (and its wielder, Rai-guy) whilst it was inside of a globe of magical darkness, the only known way to end the Crystal Shard's evil existence, as discovered by Cadderly.
The Crystal Shard first appeared in R. A. Salvatore's book The Crystal Shard (the first novel in The Icewind Dale Trilogy) and later in Passage to Dawn, The Silent Blade, and Servant of the Shard. In the Black Isle computer game Icewind Dale, Crenshinibon was held by the demon Belhifet.
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