Robert E. Howard set the story in Hyborian Africa. The Teeth of Gwahlur are legendary jewels, kept in the abandoned city of Alkmeenon, in the country of Keshan "which in itself was considered mythical by many northern and western nations". Conan, following legends of this treasure, has travelled to Keshan and offered his services to train and lead Keshan's army against their neighbour, Punt. However, Thutmekri, a Stygian rogue with similar intentions, and his Shemitish partner, Zargheba, also arrive in the country with an offer of a military alliance with another of Punt's neighbours, Zembabwei, with some of the Teeth to seal their pact. The high priest of Keshan, Gorulga, announces that a decision on the matter can only be made after consulting Yelaya, the mummified oracle of Alkmeenon. This is all the treasure hunters require. Zargheba joins Gorulga in his expedition while Conan travels ahead of them.