Leaving Princess Sumia in the evil grasp of Vaspas Ptol, we return to the Lost City of Omm where Thongor is trying out his new cloaking device - as you may recall, he's been captured by a vampire warlock, and imprisoned in a room made of nebium.
He's using the time-honoured trick of putting pillows in his bed to make it look like he's still sleeping, then he hides behind the door, his invisibility armlet on.
His keen ear detected the shuffle of approaching footsteps. They came to a stop before the great portal of black nebium. There was the hollow clang of a bolt being withdrawn... then the doors swung inwards, revealing ten of the white-faced, dead-eyed zombie-men, bearing great platters of food. Thongor's lips twisted in a savage, invisible grin. Fatten up the lambs for the slaughter! No wonder they had been fed so sumptuously.... so that Xothun could dine later from their hot, rich blood!
I can't actually read the word "sumptuous" now without thinking of The Duke. But anyway.
The guards drag away Narjan Zash Dromor, who is Thongor's disposable cellmate (I think Ald Turmis is safe, being Thongor's buddy). This is handy for Thongor, as he can now follow them as they take Xothun his next victim.
The rest of the palace is less sumptuous than Thongor's quarters, in fact it's rather run-down and shabby, with the former grandeur eaten away by the nameless agents of time etc etc. Our Hero was initially worried about his ability to find the secret lair of Xothun in this vast labyrinth of a palace, but when they get there it turns out Xothun has a name-plate on his door.
As you might expect, Xothun is not a pleasant-looking fellow.
Xothun was indeed like a spider or a bloated, incredibly fat and loathsome leech. His flesh was spongy, pallid, dewed with perspiration, and it hung upon his body in repulsive rolls and bladders of unhealthy, fatty tissue. His torso was a great, squat globe of bulging flesh. His arms and legs were flippers of dangling blubber rather than limbs.
No thews on him, then.
He's sitting in a laboratory, which is like a typical mad scientist's wet dream: flashing globes of lightning, bubbling vats, bolts arcing between copper rods etc.
But what's this? He can see through Thongor's cloaking device! He flips some switches and Thongor becomes visible again. Thongor panics and starts to attack him, but Xothun says "Don't kill me, let's have a chat instead" and for some reason Thongor agrees.
How did he spot Thongor? Well, apparently he has some kind of device which gathers up all the sounds from the city and pours them through tubes into his ear, thus he was able to eavesdrop on Thongor explaining his plan to Ald Turmis. But now he has "merely rendered its powers negative by countering it with an opposing force of the same vibration and intensity".
Yes, Xothun claims to be a scientist, none of this wizardry nonsense. He shows Thongor another one of his inventions, which is a "videosphere", through which he observed the floater and resolved to nick it, with his Magnetic Ray. And now he plans to steal the secrets of the floater, drink Thongor's blood, then build a new army of floaters to go out and get more victims. Who'd have thought the floater would turn out to be such a vital plot point?
Thongor now lunges for Xothun, but is stopped by a forcefield! However, a forcefield is no match for Thongor's thews. With iron strength he battles his way through the forcefield. Xothun is getting a bit worried now, and turns up the power, so even the mighty barbarian is struggling. But now Narjan Zash Dromor springs to his aid!
End of chapter! Not much of a cliffhanger really though, as we all know Thongor will survive... or will he?