Dr Armitage’s first assignment to Sister Flora and Det. Falwright was to investigate a news article, provided by a clipping service he employs, concerning a rash of strange animal deaths in a small town in Kentucky. People in Daltonville, in “cave country” near the recently-established Mammoth Cave National Park, have reported finding livestock and wild animals drained of blood. Local preacher Rev. Jim Pelfrey, also an amateur spelunker, opined that whatever was responsible might be an unknown creature coming up out of the nearby caves.
In Daltonville, the investigators interviewed several of the locals. The Rev. Pelfrey directed them to a nearby cave, but poking around in it revealed nothing but an ordinary colony of bats. That night, however, they were awakened around midnight by a loud crash from the woods. There, they found the body of Boyd Dwayne Redfern, apparently crushed by a falling tree, though no tree was evident. Falwright noticed some highly unusual tracks: Cloven-hooved, but easily as big around as an elephant’s foot. These tracks led away into the woods, where the ended abruptly at a gnarled, twisted oak tree.
Or, at least, what appeared to be an oak tree. The shape of the thing reminded Falwright of a description he had seen in a Mythos tome of the “Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath,” a creature described as having cloven hooves, a central body, and four huge tentacles rising up from it. The investigators also noticed fresh blood on one of the thick trunk branches of the “tree.” When they returned to get a better look at the tree in the morning, it had disappeared, with not so much as disturbed earth to suggest it ever existed.
Asking around, they learned that Boyd Dwayne had worked as a landscaper and general handyman for Josef Hofmann, an “old money” sort living on a small plantation house on the outskirts of town. The townsfolk also made vague references to a “girl that broke his heart,” though they were obviously reluctant to elaborate.
Hofmann, however, was less reticent. He explained that Boyd Dwayne had been in love with Viola Pelfrey (the preacher’s younger sister), but that she did not return these feelings. About a year ago, Viola left town with a jazz band, on their way north from Nashville (possibly headed towards New York), particularly in the company of a saxophone player named Clayton Stone. Both Boyd Dwayne and the Rev. Jim were apparently devastated by her departure (when asked about it later, the preacher said, “I have no sister. Not any more,” and refused to speak further).
Hofmann also noted that Boyd Dwayne had borrowed a book from his collection, the Saducismus Triumphatus, by Joseph Glanvill. Hofmann said the book is of more sentimental than monetary value to him, but would like it returned if they should happen to come across it.
Hofmann’s library was a fairly impressive collection of mostly occult works, a handful of histories of Hungary and Eastern Europe, and a handful of minor Mythos tomes. If there was an overall theme to the collection, it was myths and legends (and… more?) concerning vampires. It was around this time that the investigators noticed that they had not seen any mirrors in Hofmann’s home, and indeed every other reflective surface was tarnished or dusty. And that heavy shutters were drawn over the windows during daylight hours. Asked about his interest in vampirism, Hofmann explaned that if you traced his family history back far enough, they originally came from Hungary, that his father and grandfather had started the collection, and he had continued what they started.
The missing book was not in young Boyd Dwayne’s home, but the house had been inexpertly ransacked before the investigators arrived. Telephoning their contacts in New York and Arkham, Falwright and Sister Flora asked Dr. Armitage to ask around as to whether Hofmann was known in rare book collecting circles; and some fellow police officers to try to track down Viola and Clayton in New York. With that, they retired to their rooms to sleep, wait for responses from their contacts, and, apparently, hope for more mysterious creatures to pop up in the middle of the night.