In his youth, he had an enemy at court, a powerful man who stood between him and his ambition. In his lust for wealth and power, he sought aid from the people of the black arts – a black magician, who, at his desire, raised up a fiend from the outer gulfs of existence and clothed it in the form of a man. It crushed and slew his enemy; he grew great and wealthy and none could stand before him. But he thought to cheat the fiend of the price a mortal must pay who calls the black folk to do his bidding. He had a sorcerer bind the fiend in Hell.
But a year ago, word came to Valenso that the magician who bound the fiend had been slain. And Valenso knew the demon had escaped from hell. And so Valenso fled.
Valenso had been followed into exile by a hundred men. Some were soldiers, others were vassals and serfs. Forty were men-at-arms, wearing helmets and suits of mail, armed with swords, axes and crossbows. The other sixty were toilers, without armor but shirts of toughened leather, but were still skilled in the use of hunting bows, woodsmen's axes, and boar-spears. He ends up in Western shores of Pictish territory.
With his entourage came his niece, the Lady Belesa, and her handmaiden, Tina, among other soldiers and retainers. The Count is stunned when he learns that the pirate Black Zarono has landed on his shore, followed by the buccaneer, Strombanni. Both pirates believe that the Count set out for this deserted place in search of the legendary Treasure of Tranicos. The buccaneers are bitter enemies, and bring their feud to the Count's stronghold. During a meeting one night between the Count, Black Zarona and Strombanni, Conan surprisingly emerges from behind a drapery. All eyes are on Conan, as he dominates the room. The fellows learn from Conan that he himself has found the Treasure of Tranicos, and would be willing to share the loot with the others if they help him retrieve it. They reluctantly make a thieves pact, and agree to join Conan, knowing full well that they will kill him once the treasure is in their possession. Conan, on the other hand, had something else in mind for his companions, chiefly trapping them in the treasure room to have them killed by the demon, taking the treasure with the crews of both ships, and sailing away. Conan's scheme fails though, and the sailors find themselves trapped by Picts, who are surrounding the rocky cleft. The pirates once again declare a truce to combat a common foe. Once the pirates escape the cleft, it's a race to the Count's stronghold, with the Picts in hot pursuit. The story ends with the defeat of the Picts, the death of the Count, Strombanni and Black Zarono.