We find our adventurers having walked far to the south and east, away from the ruin of their ship on the banks of the Zaporaska. After several days of walking they chance apon an elongated caravan. Hundreds of merchants with their Turanian guards, along with a troop of 800 Vendhyan lancers sent to escort Karin Singh from Turan. Conan hails the Turanian captain escorting the merchants to ask if they have need of 8 more swords. The Captain replies in the negative, but will ask around to see if any of the merchants need extra help, but for the moment cannot let them come any closer to the main group.
Within a few hours they are approached by a Khitan merchant. He sells whatever comes his way and business hasn't been all that swift. But he does have need for a few swords to protect his two nieces who travel with him. So for a small fee he will hire on the westerners. One of the men with Conan, Hordo remarks that he hopes Conan won't get them involved with a wizard this time, As Conan has a bad habit of getting on the wrong side of wizards. Conan remarks he has no intention of coming within a league of a wizard and the group then goes to join the caravan.
Little known to Conan that another thousand miles to the east, he already is on the wrong side of a wizard. Deep in the heart of Vendhya, Naipal is watching as his plans come to fruition. He has deftly hidden himself from the Black Seers of Yimsha. He has manipulated anyone who might be useful to his plots. He's currently enjoying the first fruits of his labours, but not for long. Urgent matters come to his attention that must be dealt with cause him to ignore his dancers and serving girls. He has a child to sacrifice. Though the act fills him with loathing, he decides it is an act of mercy to spare the waif of its life of poverty and filth.
The leagues which desperate Conan from Naipal are ever dwindling. The Caravan winds on, ever eastward and southwards through the Golden Kingdoms and then into Vendhya, This is the best route to avoid the hillmen of Ghulistan. The Many small kingdoms having been carved out of a fallen Vendhyan empire over 1000 years ago are now themselves decaying into ruin, though they still boast many splendours. There like hitherto unseen by the Cimmerian. Doubtless he will see greater sights as he gets closer to Vendhya.