Tair and Conan are doing their best to fight off the invaders, and to ascertain what their mission is. But the mission becomes clear all too soon when the shout goes up that the Sacred Seed has been stolen!. And with it missing, the trees of the grove will wither and the tree folk will surely perish. Kleg's hostage taking is as yet unknown to the tree folk, only being noticed after the theft of the seed itself has been discussed. The race is on to retrieve the Seed and Rescue Hok, and Conan is up for the task. The Rescue will not come too soon either, as at this very moment Kleg is bartering Hok in exchange for passage across the Pili desert.
Dimmas new found cohesiveness fades as he in the middle of enjoying an exceptionally fine Aqulionian Vintage, He fumes and curses the wizard who cursed him and Kleg for taking so long. The leader of the Pili who allowed the Selkies passage in exchange for Hok is named Stal and he is at this moment being showered with praise for his thoughtful gift.. Thayla takes interest in the new present, promising to free Hok in exchange for information.. however once its been tendered she revokes her promise and plans to sacrifice him in four days time. But Conan and a Dozen Treefolk are hot on the trail of Kleg and find the meeting place where the exchange happened.
One hundred Pili and fifty Korga are assembled to strike at the Selkies before they can deliver the Sacred Seed to Dimma, Unknown to this force they are observed heading East by Conan..He has chosen to go north to rescue Hok, rather than East to retrieve the seed, letting the other members of his group have that chore. Conan has a brief skirmish with a few outriders of the main force, but quickly gets past them and back on the trail of Hok. Thayla, Queen of the Pili is restless for the day of sacrifice to come, hoping the great dragon will reverse the misfortunes of her people in exchange for the gift..
Conan reaches the Cave of the Pili, and sneaks in stealthily even while tamping down his misgivings.. considering his recent adventures in a similar cave system.. with other foul creatures. But he came to rescue Hok, and he would do it or die trying. He is however observed by Thayla, who takes an instant liking to the Barbarian and plots to have him for herself. So she devises a way to trap him and does so.
The Pili attack force catches up with the Selkie raiding party, Kleg dispatches some dozens of his selkies to stay and fight them, promising food and females for the victors who return. Conan awakens in the same cage as Hok, Thayla interrogates him as to his purpose.. and intimates that for the proper form of payment she would be willing to let Hok go. After a time Thayla approaches and Conan awakens in the cage, they converse and he agrees to her demands without really knowing what they are. She blows a powder into his face and the next thing he remembers is awakening with Thayla standing over him intimating that he has made the payment she wanted, but under the power of a drug, Essentially speaking, she has slipped Conan a rophynol and then raped him.
Klegs plan for dealing with the lizards backfires horribly when he realizes they are using poisoned Darts, he quite smartly legs it. He curses the lizardmen all the while running for his life, his sense of self preservation some how crosses the void and alerts Dimma to his predicament.. While this is happening, Now that the queen's lust is satiated, she sleeps. Conan slips from the room, reacquires his sword, slays two guards, retrieves Hok from the cage and begins to make his escape from the lair of the Pili.