11 December 1936
After a fitful sleep following the raid on the Kingsport Yacht Club the previous night, Mahone and Stumpf decide that it is time to visit the standing stones on Sacrifice Hill. The drop in on Prouty whom is still shaken by what he has seen that morning. They ask if he will accompany them to the stones, but he declines telling them that he thinks it would be better if they were to surreptitiously continue the investigation without drawing the attention of the law to it. He also tells them that word has reached the station about a break in and double homicide at the Kingsport Yacht Club.
The intrepid pair head off to Bolton and drop in on the Sheriff there, Elisha Culberson. When they tell him that they intend to visit the standing stones he gives them an uncomfortably long stare through the familiar pall of cigarette smoke before showing them a map to the location. He directs them up the old Mill Road and shows them where to look out for for a turn off up an even more disused track. Mahone’s instincts tell him that Culberson’s reluctance to aid them is for due to concern for their safety. They find the two tree stumps he mentions, pull over and make their way north through the forest for about half a mile before coming to a large area of open ground with the hill at its centre.
They cautiously make the ascent up the hill and stand among the man high slabs of stone. The pair cautiously sniff the air for hints of ammonia or the putrid reek of burnt juniper berries.
There is no mistaking the stones for a natural formation. Dr Carl Stumpf’s expertise in geology confirms that these stones have been in place for several thousand years and are reminiscent of the stone circles in Europe and England. He also believes that the stone is not native to the area, coming from far to the west. perhaps from the Black Hills of North Dakota, a distance of nearly 2,000 miles. He calculates that each of the stones weighs more than a ton and they wonder fruitlessly how they could have been transported so far 2 millennia ago. Mahone sketches the fragments of carvings that he can discern into his notebook, however, it is clear that they have been worn almost smooth be the passage of time and the elements.
Mahone makes a careful sweep of the area and finds first an 18 inch white thread within the crown of the stones and then, about 15 yards from the edge of the stones, an old syringe. Stumpf determines it to be a common syringe, to be found in any doctors rooms, clinic, or hospital in America. He speculates that perhaps he can determine it’s previous contents given enough time in a well equipped lab.
A harsh shriek like a large eagle in the distance disturbs the pair as they search, but perhaps it is merely an eagle…
As night is coming fast they decide to return to their car and halfway down the hill towards the forest a flock of about 30 birds is disturbed in the forest ahead of them and takes to wing. The are unnerved by the experience and can’t help but feel that they are walking into danger. Gripping their weapons tightly they proceed.
In the forest they begin to sense the presence of others around them. First to the right they start to spot two figures in yellow flitting through the forest parallel to their route. Then to the left they spot another figure as they up the pace to a lope towards the car. When the hear the sounds of pursuit behind them they decide that flight is the soundest approach and break into a desperate run for the car. Several intense minutes of paniced flight later they lose the pursuers to the right, and then shortly later they leave the flagging pursuers to the left behind in the forest. The pursuers to their read however are harder to elude and finally Mahone stumbles and is overrun by two men in yellow robes wearing crowns of thorns and antlers, wielding wicked daggers carved entirely from antlers.
Mahone fires from the ground winging one before they both leap upon him with their daggers, both striking telling wounds on Mahone in his shoulder and thigh. Dr Carl Stumpf halts his flight and turns to assist Mahone, firing upon them with Mahone’s .38. Mahone is wounded again, and only by sheer determination and adrenalin remains conscious, injuring the first assailant using his shotgun as a club. The second assailant, beleiving Mahone to be done for, turns his attention to Stumpf and rushes him; the panicked Doctor’s shot goes wide. A final blow to the forehead of the first assailant saves Mahone from a messy death in the woods and as Stumpf fends off the second cultist, Mahone chambers a shell and drills him from behind. As they start to stagger to their feet, another cultist rushes them from the left. The exhausted pair can not land a telling shot and Mahone’s fate rushes towards him when a shot resounds in the forest, blowing the throat out of the cultists as his gurgling corpse skids to a halt on top of Mahone.
Along the barrel of a shotgun they see the white hat of Sheriff Elisha Culberson come around the trunk of a tree and help Mahone to his feet as they once again resume their flight towards the car, the sounds of pursuit once again in the forest as the cultists left behind are drawn by the sound of gunfire.
They regroup at the Bolton Sheriff’s station and tell Culberson all they know. He is laconic as usual and seems to have a fearful respect for the dangers of wandering in those backways.