Shards were a special race of malevolent artificial construct invented by the Empress Kadaena. They were essentially "tree golems" with a taste for the brains and bowels of those they slaughtered. Their blood was poisonous, with each sub-race having its own kind, which they used to great effect. In the Shadow World history they were infamous for their barbarism, often called "demonic", with one account calling them "cruel beyond hate." It was said that the commander above all other Shards, Shar-Bu, killed one of the three founding Loremasters during the Wars of Dominion and consumed his brain on the battlefield. Though the story is fantastic, almost implausible, it still had to be regarded as possible.
When Kadaena ruled over the region that would eventually become called Darkstone Bay, it was under the command of a Shard called Shar-Ti. These Shards were dormant until approximately two thousand years ago, when they were reawakened by the evil priests of The Iron Wind. These were the Cults of the Dragon and Snow Lion from Mur Fostisyr. They were tasked with the destruction of the forest realm of Lu'nak, which was the "Blue Forest" extending from the Bay across the northern reaches of the continent of Jaiman. It was the recent conquest of a mannish empire builder named Ugus Fost, who had displaced the local Elven population with his war wolves.
The conqueror was killed in what came to be known as the Black Forest of Dir, which was in the northwestern corner of Lu'nak, adjacent to the High Plateau and immediately south of Quellburn. This corresponds to what adventurers called Danjirland, and as far west as the Spider Temple. Shar-Ti ate the brains and bowels of Ugus Fost, and the sorcerous priests divided the lands. The Shards were implicitly the force of terror in the "Red Forest" that vexed the Elven Village, as well as their Iylari masters, and would have been responsible for displacing the gnoll population south to what is now called Cavernhold.
The Shards were organized in groups called "lats." There were six "i-lats" which each contained six lats of Shards, ruled over by Lord Shards called the "I-lat Norg." Kadaena only interacted with these six highest ranking Shards, and their commander Shar-Bu, who had the unique power of being able to kill his enemies with his smile. Within each i-lat was a sub-race with their own characteristic poison, as well as different kinds of bolts fired from the gem eyes of their greater shards. They were supposed to attack by throwing poisoned discs, but the "greater shards" of GemStone III had stingers. They were Level 25 creatures, which was one of the most powerful.
|I-lats||Lord Shard||Lord Poison||Bolts|
|Aarn Voru||Leste Kii Lormas||Muscle||Energy|
The Shards hunted their prey in groups of six, with five lesser shards obeying a single greater shard. They had the senses of Elves, and were somewhat cunning, but above all else they were cruel. They would only attack when they were stationary, but they could start and stop virtually instantaneously, changing directions on a whim while moving very fast. Unless you were in a position to kill the whole lat, encountering Shards in a forest was almost certain death.
The Shards were summoned using strange wooden pedestals resembling enormous tree stumps. These were hollowed out trees with backs there were never less than eight feet tall. There were always six of them together, with a huge gemstone in the back with the color of the i-lat. The Shards were inhibited by daylight, but were blindingly fast arboreal hunters. What Ugus Fost was saying in his last journal entry was that if you see one of these thrones, recognizing it by the gemstone, you will want to find open daylight as quickly as possible because you cannot outrun the Shards. The I-lat of Dir was known to use the color red, and the "glow" refers to the fire bolts from their eyes.
The ritualistically tortured and slaughtered trees of the darkwoodes near Sentoph are remarkably similar in theme to the Shards. Unlike the Shards, the dark shamblers (originally "black stalkers") really were demonic, being demon possessed assassins. These dark assassins were residing in a forest controlled by the priests of the Iron Wind, and thus were probably also related to the story of its masters. The Spider Temple was founded by refugees of Quellburn who fled south.
Behind The Scenes
Implicitly, the tower in Danjirland belongs to the priests behind the Shard invasion, who would have to be necromancers to have bone golems. When the black reaver was released from a box found there, it contained a letter from Zenon, the sorcerer who was corrupted by the Iron Wind to destroy Quellburn. There was later established canon that said one of the high priests had a tower where the Black Forest of Dir meets the northwestern corner of the Blue Forest. There was also a decapitated bear in one of the caves, which is naturally accounted for by the Shards. The Navigators had an obelisk in this part of the forest, which still exists in the game, though it is non-functional for summoning them.