Conan; Tarsu Khan (Lord of Khawarizm); Nassidren (Tarsu Khan's vizier); Shamgar Shah (Lord of Fort Ghori); Count Bashi (Shamgar Shah's brother); Romm (Bashi's giant bodyguard); Lord Darik (Shamgar Shah's son); Lady Zaida (Shamgar Shah's daughter); Derlidas (Zaida's maid); Rimanni (Shamgar Shah's slavegirl); Aksha-Thushtra (demon)
Acting as bodyguard for Tarsu Khan, Conan is drawn into the political intrigue as Nassidren and Bashi are plotting to instigate war between Khawarizm and Fort Ghori. Nassidren takes control of Rimanni's mind and she causes the death of Darik while dancing at the court. Still under Nassidren's control, she accuses Tarsu Khan of directing her actions. Conan fights his way to freedom, using Zaida as a hostage. Conan flees with Zaida into Nightmare Swamp where they and their pursuers encounter a devil-lizard and half-human beings drained of their souls by the Aksha-Thushtra.