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Sunday, 11 March 2018

Wild West Campaign Update: The Contessa's Secret

The session opened up with Jackson, still in East Vegas. He'd been lingering around on account of a prostitute he'd taken a real liking to. But one fine day he was witness to John Joshua Webb putting three bullets into Michael Killiher, a local saloon-owner, when the latter refused to pay an exorbitant $1900 is "taxes" to Hoodoo Brown. No one got why Brown demanded this of him, suspecting it was to make an example of Killiher, who seemed to be trying to expand his own influence in the town and weaken Brown's position. What no one knew was that Hoodoo had been having an affair with Killiher's wife. He'd basically sent Webb to provoke a situation that would give an excuse to get rid of Killiher.

Unfortunately, Brown didn't know that the Santa Fe Railroad was done protecting him.  And because Killiher had a position and connection in Las Vegas, the good people of that neighboring town came down with a posse of heavily armed hood-wearing vigilantes with badges, and systematically cleaned out the town.

John Joshua Webb was captured and arrested.  Dirty Dave Rudabaugh, Mysterious Dave Mather, and Dutch Henry all rode out of town by the skin of their teeth. And Hoodoo? He snuck over to Las Vegas, picked up Killiher's widow and ran off with her. The last anyone would hear of him is that he got to Texas and with his lover crossed over into Mexico... and then into history. The mystery man was never seen again.

As for Jackson, he managed to figure out that it was time to go, and got on the last train out of town with his friend Smiley the Scotsman. They made their way to Tombstone.

In Tombstone, Kid Taylor was settling in with his high-demand wife Frances, the Judge's daughter. While their house was being built she demanded that Taylor maintain her in the lifestyle she was accustomed to, which meant a month of living in the Tombstone Grand Hotel and eating every day in one of Tombstone's two French restaurants. Also, expensive dresses that were arriving in the silver boom-town from distant Paris.

He'd promised her to turn a new leaf, and along with that he was trying to get everyone to stop calling him "Kid". He figured that since he was going to be working with Doc Thomas in his medical practice, he might as well be known as Doc Taylor from now on.

Unfortunately, not everyone had got the message. Virgil and Wyatt Earp both knew him from Dodge, and were having trouble referring to him as anything other than "Kid". He was also sufficiently well-known that when he first met Curly Bill Brocius, the de-facto leader of the Cowboy Gang, Curly Bill would also refer to him as Kid Taylor.

Curly Bill offered Taylor a chance to join the Cowboys, but Taylor claimed he was retired from gunfighting.

The two Millers had begun settling in, and things were proceeding well when Crazy Miller got news of his friend John Joshua Webb's arrest. The first instinct was to get some guns and try to break him out, but cooler heads prevailed, thanks to the advice of Miller's colleague and madame Miss Scarlet. Instead, Crazy Miller wrote to his assistant back in Dodge telling him to hire Webb the best lawyer he could find, and wrote another letter to Bat Masterson asking him for help. Even so, he left it pretty clear that if all else failed and Webb was sentenced to hang, he'd be going to Las Vegas to spring him.

Meanwhile, Jackson and Smiley arrived. Jackson was trying to adjust to Tombstone, which was still a pretty easygoing town but definitely not the lawless place East Vegas was; and that also meant that it wasn't quite as welcoming to a black man, regardless of whether he'd previously been a lawman or not.

Smiley had largely been motivated to come to Tombstone because Miller and Miss Scarlett had taken along Hilda, the plus-sized prostitute that Smiley was in love with. He fawned over her, but she was mostly in it for the money, and when Smiley had quickly spent his month's salary on her, he fell into a depression. Somewhere along the way as he wandered Tombstone in the night heartbroken and penniless, he met some friendly Cowboys, who quickly cheered him up. By the time Jackson found him, Smiley was wearing the red sash of that infamous gang.

This could prove to be a problem, since the rest of the PCs were already getting hints that there could end up being trouble with the Cowboys. Other Miller had (last session) watched them at work, massacring a village full of Mexican banditos. And their friend (and Pima County Marshal) Virgil Earp was figuring it would be only a matter of time before he had to arrest some cowboys for cattle rustling or stagecoach-robbery, which would lead to a conflict between him and the whole 200-strong Cowboy gang.

Jackson, on the other hand, was not bothered by any of this. He figured they could manipulate the rather unintelligent scotsman to keep tabs on the Cowboys. The others quickly agreed to that plan.

Meanwhile, Crazy Miller's childhood friend who was now a Contessa had come to him with a problem: someone was blackmailing her, threatening to reveal sordid details of her troubled past back in Chicago when she'd been the unmarried kept-girl of a gangster. Miller agreed to help and they soon found out that her blackmailer was one of the former men of this gangster, who was now apparently being hunted down by his own former fellows, for having failed to pay back some money. They confronted him and agreed that they'd pay the rather large sum he needed if he swore to leave the Contessa alone from then on. They arranged a meeting for later that night where the money would be exchanged.

Kid Taylor was having his own problems. One of the Cowboys, a young guy who liked to call himself "Kid" Billy Claiborne, was not happy about another "Kid" (Taylor) being in town. It was bad enough for Claiborne that everyone knew Billy The Kid and hardly anyone knew him, but now to have another moderately famous gunfighter in town named "Kid" was just too much for him to bear.

Taylor ran into Claiborne at the Crystal Palace Saloon, where he was accompanied by a sizable number of Cowboys.  Curly Bill was there, along with the deadly Johnny Ringo, and also Ike and Billy Clanton (sons of Cowboys' co-leader "Pa" Clanton) and Tom and Frank McLaury (another important Cowboy family).  They were all drinking there with Smiley.

Fortunately, Curly Bill saved the day, telling the bellicose Kid Billy to back off. The Cowboys didn't want any trouble with a guy who could take out their bullet wounds.  When Taylor explained he didn't want to be called "Kid" anymore, and Billy was welcome to the nickname as far as he was concerned, the situation was defused.

While all this was going on, Taylor's wife had been busy. She'd met a charming and eccentric man named Buckskin Frank Leslie, a former army scout and railroad man who had just arrived in Tombstone with a decent wallet-full of money and was charming all the female guests and staff at the Grand Hotel. Frank Leslie was looking for a partner to buy the Cosmopolitan Saloon, across the street from the Grand, and to rebuild it into a high-end hotel to compete with the Grand.  It was a sound idea, but Doc Taylor didn't have the money for it. Yet this wouldn't stop Frances. She was determined they would get in on this so she wired her father, Judge Wright, back in Dodge. He agreed to lend them the $4000 they'd need, interest free. Like it or not, Kid Taylor was now the business partner with Frank Leslie, who he found a little smarmy. His concerns faded a little, at least, when he learned that Frank wasn't hot for his wife, but for May Killeen, the serving girl at the Grand Hotel; though it turned out she was also married and Taylor figured this wasn't likely to stop Frank.

The two Millers went to pay off the would-be blackmailer, in the alley behind the Grand Hotel. The payoff (using the Contessa's money) looked like it was going to go off just fine, but then suddenly shots started to ring out. The two PCs figured out that the shots were coming from the Contessa's room in the hotel.  Crazy Miller and the blackmailer ran into the corral at the other end of the alley, while Other Miller went up the hotel stairs toward the Contessa's room.

It turned out that the Contessa's husband, the rich Texan rancher, had discovered what was going on, and decide then and there that he was going to shoot the blackmailer dead.  He was willing to forgive his wife, but he would be damned if he was going to let the blackmailer get away with his money. This did not amuse Other Miller even a little bit, who all but called the Texan a coward for firing from a second floor window. The Texan argued that it was the best shot he could take.

Crazy Miller had gotten into the corral, where the blackmailer's horse was. They still weren't sure that the shots weren't from killers sent by the blackmailer's former boss. He begged Crazy Miller to give him the money and he'd get out of there. But Crazy Miller decided to lie and claim he hadn't brought the money. The blackmailer pointed a gun at Miller, and Miller handed over a couple of hundred dollars he had in his other pocket; it wasn't nearly enough to pay off the debt he owed, but the blackmailer decided to take his chances and cut out on his horse.

The next day, the Contessa and her Texan husband left town for good. Other Miller (who was worried Crazy Miller was getting too close to her) was glad to see the back of her.
The day after that, Virgil Earp came back from hunting down the blackmailer. He'd found him, but the blackmailer was already dead, and the money he stole from Crazy Miller was gone. He couldn't say if it had been Cowboys or some of the Chicago mob that had killed him.

That was it for this session. Tombstone certainly looks like it's going to be an interesting town.

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