We last left our heroes returning to the Hayes mansion, having had an encounter with an undead Bloat in a riverside cemetery, which they now realise was the former Colonel Hayes, late of the Confederate Army. There was some discussion of whether to present the monster's wedding ring to Mrs Hayes, but the posse decided this might be just a little too cruel.
Returning to the house, they again had a discussion with Mrs Hayes about Herman Whelan, her former butler. It emerged that Whelan might well have taken a set of keys with him when he left her employ. She was able to provide the detectives with the old man's address in the Lower Ninth Ward. The detectives also asked whether there were any documents relating to the pedigree of the missing poodle, although this was more a ruse to get a look at her safe. Mrs Hayes duly went to her safe to retrieve the documents, and a sharp-eyed Doctor LeBoeuf spotted the dog collars inside it and remarked upon them.
The collars were duly retrieved and examined, and it become obvious they had been used to conceal some form of cylindrical object, leading to much speculation about what it might be. An expensive jewel seemed the most popular theory.
Mrs Hayes was also asked about the disappearance of the Colonel, and related particulars about his fishing habits in the bayou. She mentioned the name of Milus Barbeau, a Cajun boatman who had looked after her husband's fishing boat, and who had moved out to the bayou shanty town of Trois Rivieres since he went missing.
Note - the original posse had decided against going out to interview Barbeau, and indeed, this posse also declined the option, even though he was the last person to see the colonel alive. Obviously, the idea of a trip out into the swamp was simply not appealing. Interesting. In both cases it was the LeBoeuf player who objected the most strenuously.
On with the case. The detectives examined a photo of Whelan with the Colonel, and DeVille noticed the family resemblance to Claudio Ricci (Ricci had denied any knowledge of Whelan earlier in the day). They also checked the salami they had found in the dog kennel, and decided it had been laced with a commonly available sleeping drug.
The detectives drove out to the Lower Ninth, and it was DeVille who kicked in the door of the old man's shack after knocking, just as he was opening it. Thrown to the floor, Whelan had a gun shoved in his face but responded mainly with threats of retribution from the Black Hand. He confirmed Ricci was his cousin.
The detectives proceed to turn over the place, finding dog droppings and white poodle hair, and a sawn-off shotgun. Most interestingly, however, LeBoeuf achieved a couple of raises on his Notice check, and discovered $500 in cash, plus a bag of $1000 in gold coins from the Federal mint in Washington DC. This raised eyebrows, but it was the threat of taking it altogether that got Whelan to open up, confessing his role in the plot to steal the dog.
|Chez Whelan - lovely!|
Whelan confirmed the dog was being held at Sanzone's, and that his cousin Ricci was in the middle of talks with a US spy called Zane to sell something to the Union, a secret weapon of some kind his former boss had stolen in turn from Fort 51 in New Mexico, when he was a guard there in the Great War. Zane had already coughed up some cash to examine the weapon, which looked like a small vial of transparent liquid.
The detectives took $250 of Whelan's money, advised him to skip town, and proceeded over to Sanzone's as dusk was gathering, in order to get there before Whelan could alert Ricci. Their main objective was still to retrieve the poodle; the secret weapon, whatever it was, did not cross their minds. Not much patriotism here.
DeVille and Gordon stayed in a bar across the street from Sanzone's while the other three walked in and Vestal used her charms (raise on a Persuasion check) to get them seated. They noticed a trio of Black Hand goons in a nearby booth, but no sign of Ricci. LeBoeuf scouted the basement of the restaurant, ostensibly on a trip to the facilities, and found a cook (Luigi), feeding the poodle in a side room. The cook was suspicious of LeBoeuf, and ushered him out, locking the door.
As LeBoeuf returned to the table, and the detectives ordered some wine, Ricci arrived, accompanied by Zane and another American spy. They proceeded to sit down and order some drinks. DeVille and Gordon, who had seen Ricci arrive, decided to see if they could get into the restaurant too, dropping Ricci's name to get themselves a seat at the back.
They now had to hatch a plan without communicating with each other. They finally accomplished this by having Vestal head to the bathroom, and signal to Gordon. The scientist followed her and she briefed them on the scheme. I won't tell you what it was, because it is irrelevant to what happened next, only that Leboeuf injected drugged the bottle of wine on their table.
Ricci presented Zane with what looked like a box of cigars, whereupon Zane and his friend got up to leave. At this precise moment Vestal was returning from the bathroom and her meeting with Gordon, and chose to pretend a collision with Zane, knocking over the box of cigars. The cigars went everywhere, particularly in front of the table where LeRalf was sitting. The voodoo priest dropped a serviette over a small, glass cylinder that tumbled out with the cigars. The only person who spotted this was the second US agent but as he approach LeRalf, the Frenchman cast Confusion on him. LeRalf fed more power into the spell, also confusing the three Sicilian mobsters and Zane.
DeVille now decided to walk up to Ricci's table, sit down and ask for the return of the poodle. Throughout the adventure, the Harrowed had been consistently focused on finding the missing dog, but not getting involved in cross-border espionage, and certainly not becoming embroiled with the Black Hand. Now, his requests just threw Ricci into a rage. He jumped up, knocked over his table and started to pull a gun. His guards still remained too confused to do anything. LeBoeuf ran up to them, disarmed one, and shot Ricci!
|"Don't make any sudden moves!"|
This left a stand off between Vestal and Zane, with LeRalph covering the other agent. LeRalf had already palmed the serum. Zane was under the impression that the serum was on the floor somewhere, amid the cigars, while his colleague was still failing to shake off the confusion hex. Hence, the detectives decided now was a good time to beat a retreat, leaving Zane scrabbling on the floor among the cigars for the missing serum and Ricci out cold.
The plot wrapped up pretty neatly after that. Gordon and LeBoeuf analysed the serum and discovered it was actually some form of engineered physical enhancer and fear suppressant. The detectives decided to bury it with the remains of Colonel Hayes - after collecting their fee from Mrs Hayes of course! Vestal wanted very much to file a story with the papers in New York, but DeVille talked her out of it, telling her maybe she should just turn it into a novel. Who would believe it anyway?