Juan Carlos is carousing at the Red Mare, a local gambling den. After winning his latest game of cards, he hastily buys every whore in the room a goblet of wine. Meanwhile, Abe’Lard, who has been chatting up many of the local prostitutes, ministering to them, finds himself at the same questionable establishment.
Abigail’s mother, Lady Anistasia Santos, sends a messenger-boy with wax-sealed letters to both Abe’Lard and Juan Carlos- asking for their help.
Juan Carlos’ letter reads:
My dear Juan Carlos, as I am sure you are aware, having recently lost my husband Antonio Santos to an unforgiving sickness of this harsh land we now call home, I have no other recourse, but to ask for your assistance. My daughter, Abigail, was attacked two nights ago, along with her handmaiden, Isabella.
Abigail merely received minor cuts and bruises, but would have fared much worse if not for Isabella’s selfless act of loyalty and bravery. Although I must admit, I was most surprised at this, as her kind are not typically known for their honor. Poor Isabel met her end most horribly and I will speak no more of it.
An acquaintance of my husband’s, a Lord Douglas Thompson, has made his services available to me, as the local Constable seems to be at his wit’s end. Please arrive most swiftly, as time is of the essence.
Lady Anistasia Contessa Santos
While Abe’Lard’s letter is as follows:
Dear senior Abe’Lard Pinault, I, Lady Anistasia Contessa Santos, am sending you this correspondence, with the hopes that it reaches you in a generous mood. An acquaintance of my late husband, Lord Douglas Thompson, has made his services available to me, as the local Constable seems to be at his wit’s end. Unfortunately, as I am sure you are aware, Lord Thompson is suffering from what his physician calls, “melancholia”- the same affliction which took my husband from me.
As he will be indisposed for an indeterminate amount of time, perseverance suggests that I ask you to assist me, since he cannot. Please arrive with most haste!
Lady Anistasia Contessa Santos
After both Juan Carlos and Abe’Lard finished reading their respective letters, they separately travel across town, posthaste, to Lady Santos’ estate, having no idea that their Fate’s are now mortally entwined!
A brooding Abe’Lard is shown into the estate’s anteroom, where he notes an athletic Spaniard lounging about, loudly demanding refreshments- the brash dandy, Juan Carlos! After a brief embroilment, Lady Santos enters the room, demanding their attention, berating Juan Carlos for his rudeness towards her guest.
Lady Santos gravely solicits aid from the two men, as she knows no one else to turn to, in her time of need. As she stated in her letters to them, the honorable Lord Thompson is bedridden and the local French authorities seem to not have a clue of what to do! Wringing her hands, eyes staring into the distance, Lady Santos recounted the tale of that horrible night, 2 days bygone.
Abigail Santos, and her handmaiden, the Creole Isabella, were attacked by an unknown assailant, while returning from visiting Abigail’s father’s tomb. Abigail lost track of the time, being deep in her prayers and as the two women rushed back to their villa, their attacker pounced upon them, in the encroaching darkness!
Abigail’s handmaiden bravely interjected herself between their attacker and Abigail, putting herself in mortal danger. The poor girl was decapitated. The only clue as to their assailant is a tuft of black, coarse hair that the handmaiden Isabella was clutching in her hand. Abigail is, naturally, distressed with fear and anguish. She remembers only the assailants “fierce, blazing, eyes, insane with malice”.
Abe’Lard, absentmindedly caressing the silvery crucifix at his throat, recounts the accounts of the many paramours he has ministered too. Many of their trade have been the victims of this “butcher”.
So after hearing Lady Santos’ account of her daughter’s ordeal and how she now refuses to leave her room upstairs, stricken with lingering fear, the two men decide to work together to catch the murderer! Abe’Lard, promptly refusing any sort of recompense from Lady Santos, states that the “godly” thing to do, would be to offer aid. Juan Carlos merely shrugs, smoothing an out-of-place wrinkle, his noting the matter to be simply one of honor and acclaim, which must be resolved.
Abe’Lard then suggests that their first destination should be the villa of Lord Thompson, wherein his added intellect may focus their endeavours. Arriving, the two found their plans obstructed by Thompson’s man-servant Wong. Refusing to allow Lord Thompson to be disturbed and harshly reminding Abe’Lard of the fact that the Lord of the manor is currently under the strict care of the physician, Dr. Thomas Thayne.
Lord Thompson has been suffering from a case of melancholia; an ailment caused by an imbalance in one or other of the four basic bodily liquids, known as “humors”. He has been bed-ridden for many days, and with his daily leeching, will likely remain so.
With evening almost upon them, the amateur sleuths decide to travel to the Orleans docks- that being the destination of many “ladies of the night”.
Arriving at the docks, Abe’Lard and Juan Carlos carefully tread through the dark, Stygian night, a thick fog blowing in from the Mississippi River. Juan Carlos strode ahead, while Abe’Lard equipped his brace of knives, strapping it across his chest.
The streets were empty of life, except for the occasional inquisitive rat, which darted across their path. Two figures materialized from the darkness ahead, directly in front of the creeping Spaniard.
Suddenly, a woman’s high pitched scream tore through the night!