Conan is in the sewer heading in the vague direction of the Palace, but before arriving he is confronted by a horrible slime monster of indeterminate origin. Subduing the monster he continues on his way to the Palace. Deciding that a palace worker would not be questioned, he attempts to subdue a gardner but falls afoul a poorly places halter strap on a horse and is dragged and knocked unconscious. Meanwhile Valatresca has discovered that Hassem was plotting behind his back so he has him thrown in the dungeon by Salvorus who only an hour prior had put Conan there.
However before the thief could be deposited in the dungeon he stabs Salvorus with a poisoned Dagger and then moves to set up Conan for the murder. Conan has one of his excellent lines in this " Send me to hell, but Know I'll be waiting on you when you get there! ". Hassem admits that its General Valatresca who was actually responsible for the death of the princess, and is about to kill Conan when he is hit with a throwing dagger courtesy of Salvorus.
Salvorus unchains Conan since he knows he is innocent now and is preparing to go see the King and unearth the conspiracy when the poison, the deadly black lotus of Khitai, finally subdues him. Planning to return a good turn with another, Conan picks up the captain and his sword and hopes that Madesus can heal the Captain.
Meanwhile Madesus is visited by his old master, Kaletos. We learn that Kaletos passed on the mantle of heading a secret sect dating back to the age of the Lemurian Empire. Kaletos has journeyed to Madesus in order to show him a vision and reveal the person behind the conspiracy, a Mutare Priestess, Azora. The Mutare are an ancient and evil priestess order thought extinct since the Thurian age. Madesus startled by the revelation heads to the palace, and literally stumbles across Conan and the poisoned guard captain.
Madesus agrees to save the captain in exchange for Conan's help in defeating the Mutare Priestess. Conan agrees and the healer gets Salvorus back on his feet. The three are then confronted by General Valatresca and a horde of guardsmen. The ensuing fight is bloody and long, Salvorus's second chance is short lived as he is killed by Valatresca, but not before telling Conan to seek out Khailash the hill man and to warn the king of the conspiracy.
The Healer and the Barbarian find the Hill man and attend to the king. Having seen that he was being poisoned in his vision, the healer says its quite desperate they see him immediately. He then explains a lot of back story about his secret order and the Mutare order and its evil intentions. After Madesus leaves the royal apartments, Khailash is approached by a questioning Lamici. Having discerned he wasn't implicated in the conspiracy by Valatresca he is content to continue plotting.