Puzzle

Part 1

Deep within the halls of The Institute (two offices past the janitor's closet, to be exact), sat Agent Elite, correlating all the data regarding a murder suspect whose supposed MO was staking and beheading his victims. He was just about to compare the known data against the database of known "Van Helsings" (officially "Hunters, Vampires and Related Beings, Mortal) when two new messages came in.

The first was an urgent message to all Agents regarding the announcement of yet another Vampfest. Regrettably, Elite would not be able to attend this 'Bloodstock,' but considering that he still remembered the pain of the psychic whiplash he suffered when he was abruptly pulled out of the Dream Castle, this was not necessarily a bad thing.

With that out of the way, Elite switched to the second message. It was from Assignments. A murder had been reported to The Institute in a suburban neighborhood, and was believed to be vampire-related. Elite was to check it out. As he left, he noticed workmen were retouching the sign announcing that the building was inhabited by the Church of the Reformed Mysticism. It's amazing what organizations will do to avoid taxes.

Arriving at the specified address, Elite rang the doorbell. When nobody answered, he tried the doorknob. The door opened. No sounds could be heard from inside. Clutching his hand-held crossbow, standard defensive equipment for all Agents, Elite entered and began to look around. It wasn't until he reached the master bedroom that he found the bodies of a young couple.

"Definitely a vampire." Elite muttered as he saw the puncture wounds and the lack of blood. "But why on earth would a vampire leave its victims so obvious? The last thing they want is for the public at large to know of their actual existence! Was it rushed, or just stupid?" In any case, Elite and The Institute no more wanted the public to know of the existence of vampires than the vampires themselves, so Elite pulled out his knife and slashed the throats of both the victims. "But what of the blood?"

As he asked this question, the pets of the house, a dog and a cat, peered into the room, apparently still cowed by the presence of the supernatural being that had been there so recently. Realizing that it was the only answer, Elite whipped out the crossbow and shot the cat precisely through the head. Picking up the body, he let the blood flow over the victim's wounds and into the carpet. Unfortunately, the cat did not have enough blood to make it look realistic.

"Sorry, Rover." Elite said as he reloaded the crossbow, then followed the same procedure with the dog. Between the two animals, there just might be enough blood to fool any policeman not specificly looking at blood loss. Of course, if an analysis was ever done on the blood...but, that was a risk that had to be taken, and it would be a while before the police got there. One of these days, Elite was going to find out just how The Institute found out about these things so far ahead of the authorities.

Now that the bodies were taken care of, Elite could concentrate on the question of why. Getting into a suburban household and slaying the residents was hardly a typical hunting pattern. Looking around, Elite noticed that one drawer of a jewelry cabinet was open. None of the jewelry left inside looked particularly rare or valuable, but just to be sure, Elite took a reading with his portable "magic meter." It registered a faint, but readable, reading, which definitely did not come from any of the objects left behind.

This reading could mean two things. Either the object taken was of great power, but had only been there a short time, or it was of little power, and had been there a long time. Either way, no more could be done here, so Elite covered both his and the vampire's tracks by taking all the jewelry he could find, to make it look like a mundane murder/theft.

Then, he went back to his car, tossing the animal corpses into his trunks for disposal somewhere else, and headed back to The Institute, to research exactly who the victims were and where they could have gotten hold of a magical item.

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