I wrote my novel The Shard mainly because of the characters that I love so much, however introducing the cast would not be complete without mentioning the much cliched magical item that the group must find. I call it 'the shard' because it is a piece of crystal that is all that remains of a legendary magical item.
Around 5,000 years before my story begins there was a terrible war between elves and dwarves. After much death and destruction, both sides discovered that they had been set up by the arch-villain of my series, one of the scientists (now wizards) from earth, named Vladimir (also called Volodya or by his invented 'wizard' name Bilach). The two sides put aside their anguish and animosity and joined forces to defend against the onslaught of Bilach's armies. Eventually they were victorious. The surviving wizards, Xax and Dagur, suggested erecting a monument dedicated to peace between the elves and dwarves.
Over several years the two races labored to create an enormous pillar, called the Peace Spire. At its top was placed a huge magical crystal. It took a tremendous amount of work for the wizards to imbue the crystal with the magic that would help keep peace in the realm. They wanted something that would help 'good' and hinder 'evil', yet those are abstract terms, so they had to do something more concrete. They made the magic so that it would only affect those under great stress, i.e. when adrenaline is pumping. The magic was strong enough to project over vast areas of the land. It could seek out the emotions within one's mind. If one was generally filled with jealousy, rage, or other 'evil' emotions, the magic would fill the person with fear and weakness; conversely if one was generally empathetic, kind, giving, etc. then it would fill you with courage and strength.
The Peace Spire helped the lands remain at peace for more than four thousand years. Eight hundred years before my story begins, Bilach found a way to cast protection spells on a terrible black dragon, which he then sent into the Known Lands to destroy the spire. The dragon only touched the spire, triggering another of the spells which caused the crystal to explode. The dragon proceeded to torch the Eastlands, wiping out the capital city and taking the dwarven city of Kaldorn as its lair.
The great elven hero Kathkalan later visited the destruction and discovered a single tiny remnant of the peace crystal. This shard contained only trace amounts of the old magic. Kathkalan next went to Kaldorn to attempt to slay the dragon. He vanished, and that is where my story comes in eight centuries later. Xax has no idea why the shard is supposed to be able to help the realm; he only knows that he is having visions that contain the shard and tell of a coming invasion by creatures he has never before seen. His visions are generally accurate unless someone actively works to thwart them, so despite his doubts he sets out to gather a group that may be able to survive the perilous journey into Kaldorn to retrieve the lost shard.