Part 1 Chapter 1-2
Picking up right after Conan the Defiant, Conan and Elashi last seen heading south, are at the juncture of Brythunia, Corinthia and Zamora. Conan is still carrying the sword he picked up in "The Thing in the Crypt", But it is little protection from Elashi's capriciousness and barbed tongue. But it is good for getting them out of a scrape or two along the road southwest out of the mountains. It is also the seeming goal of a group of bandits lead by a hermaphroditic leader, but after a brief battle Conan and Elashi send the remaining bandit and his leader packing. Leaving Conan to wonder, what is so special about his rather plain and unadorned sword.
At the First inn they come to, stomach and wine cup both filled. Conan observes that there are several more men dressed like the bandits in the common room. Another of the inn's denizens picks a fight with the men and Elashi prompts Conan to intercede. But the other man has it well in hand, His name is lalo and has practiced a Khitaian martial art known as Jit-Jit. He easily bests the other two men, and then purchases Conan a bottle of wine for his trouble.
We learn that Lalo's family had a curse laid on it.. which quickly decimated all of them sans Lalo. He manged to stay it off by traveling around, as the curse is he cannot help himself but to smile and make fun of others. Which of course engenders no end of hostilities. So he learned Jit Jit in order to deal with the consequences of his unwanted hilarity. But we also learn from lalo the name of the hermaphrodite Bandit leader, Harskeel of Loplain. We also learn that this person was once Two people who meddled with magics far beyond their meager abilities and were thus melded into one.. creating a some what unfortunate appearance and seemingly a split personality. This is the reason it was after Conan's sword, A Sword dipped in the blood of its brave owner will supposedly counteract the spell.