A dark day when Prince Kumura rode in sight of the city called Samzar. Of old a place where caravans came to sell their goods to be loaded onto ships and carried away to sea, it was a port city of ancient wealth and fabled for its beauty. It dreamed beside the deep sea, towers uplifted into the sky and domes gleaming in the faint light. A cloud lay over the city, a shadow that cut away the sun and the sky and left darkness to live within the streets and halls.
He rode to the hillside that looked across the plain to the gates of the city, and he saw a shadow lay over the earth, drawn like a line across the soil and the stone. Under the shadow the plants had begun to fail, leaves curling and the green leached from them, flowers wilted and closing. There was something unnatural here, and he sniffed the wind, not liking the feel of it.
He watched for a time, seeing that even at high noon the light of the sun did not properly fall upon the city, and that very few people passed in and out of the great gate. This was the storied Samzar of legends, and rivers of riches were said to flow in it like blood in a heart. But today there was hardly more than a trickle. He put his hand to his sword, tapped his fingers on the hilt, and then he laughed. It was fitting for a cursed prince to ride to a cursed city.
So he set his spurs to the horse and rode down into the valley of shadow. He felt the air go cold when he crossed the boundary into the darkness, and he thought he knew the feel of it. This was the same power that had given his old sword its magic. This was some scrap of the darkness that lived, and it had gathered in here and sought to work an evil will.