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The Secret Grove panel 1

The Chronicles of the Adventure, Hunting, and Liquidation Committee

Book 1:The Siege of Fort Vagabond

Chapter 5 Part 1: The Secret Grove

Bohdan ran up and down the line inspecting the ad hoc teams of four before settling back in his commando crew’s ranks. His team was designated Commando One for simplicity in this posse. Commando two was led by the once lauded highschool quarterback Mr. Richards from Holdfast’s boys, Mr. Richard’s favorite defensive linemen Mr. Tanner, the lumberjack who’s name was apparently Mr. Dalí y Domenech, his family was Portuguese before moving to Florida three generation back, and a wireley fellow who could scurry in and out of caves like a hairless monkey. His name was Mr. Fridrich, but he insisted on Mr. Fred. They were on point.

Yes, every part of Bohdan’s instincts and personality called him to take the lead. Maybe even point, but that’s how brave yet stupid commanders get their brains blown out and their teams killed. If you were in the front, and bought that sniper bullet no matter how trained your crew was there was going to be confusion before the chain of command took effect. Worse, since you usually had to run up and down the line to keep things flowing you weakened your point team to check on things in the rear. And of course how were you supposed to help the rear if the tail end of the line is ambushed while you're at the tip of the spear? Bohdan listened to his militia training, and father’s advice though he grudgingly only allowed himself to be one team back from the point crew.

Commando one was right behind Commando two, and that was going to just have to be enough for the President. Mr. Holdfast had the rear with Comando four with Mr. Duncan’s son who had medals for his shotgun work at the last competition, and the rest were his defensive line turned hardcore militia boys in their mid twenties. Bohdan had complete confidence that they weren’t going to get ambushed from behind on this caper. Holdfast was a legend when it came to tunnels and ambushes. If anyone could keep the rear guard intact he could.

Last, and right in the middle behind Commando One was Commando Three. They were made up of the most inexperienced members of their crew with one of Holdfast’s guys who incidentally was a vet from a number of hush hush shadow wars in Latin America that may or may not have included fifteen foot giants in the jungle. They liked to call him Sarge even though he’d been some fancy rank like Petty Officer. No one cared around here anymore so Mr. Cantrell was just Sarge for this adventure. His guys were all construction crew, but with a twist. They were the explosives experts for the dig sight. Bohdan was going to use them as combat sappers if this hyena reject got crafty with cave ins or boulders ahead of them. Plus, explosives will stick a demon in physical form.

Thanks to Hollywood and ancient stories from times when all they had to kill monsters was prayers and sharp sticks there was an unfortunate concept of physicalized beings having invincibility or some other nonsense. Maybe they have a weakness. Silver bullets and all that. In reality whenever anything takes on physical form those bodies can and will perish. How long that bit of liquidation is going to take will depend on the mojo behind the creature.

You dealing with just an empty biological husk being a puppet controlled by low demons? Might shrug off rounds like any animal its size. Dealing with a full fledged Prince of the Spirit world? Prayer is going to be far more effective than bullets, but don’t underestimate the damage some good old fashion C4 could do.

The problem of course, was that just because you destroyed the beings current physical form doesn’t mean you dealt with the spirits behind the task. Some things were just animals with bad ancestry. Others were a layer of madness a mortal man was better off leaving to the All Mighty’s more powerful servants if they’re available.

Again. Prayer. Which Bohdan was doing plenty of as they descended farther into the endless black. The President felt a gentle comfort knowing that Hiedi would be kicking all the prayer teams into action topside. All hands would be on deck for this nonsense. They’d have all the spiritual protection they could ask for, but one did better not to wear that protection thin in the field by being a moron and dancing right into an ambush.

Wise as serpents Jesus said. That’s what they were going to be. Bohdan could play the tunnel cat and mouse game, and he meant to make sure what witch or other unimagined fiend paid before the sun sank on the surface far above their heads. To that end they started out with easy success on this hunt.

They hadn’t been in the tunnels longer than five minutes before they found the leftover carnage of Hiedi’s rampage. Scorch marks from the buck and scattered shot was evident, shattered stone where the shots had gone wide, and most important of all a blood trail. That made everyone’s spirits soar.

To the nervous it waylaid their fears about hunting an invisible demon monster. The beast bled, and as old Conan said when playing a commando in the Predator movie if it bleeds we can kill it. To the more experienced, this sign meant they had a trail to follow. Bohdan didn’t say anything, because morall is a fickle thing, but he knew the monster was only hurt. Slowed down if they were lucky. Not dying. These things weren’t so easy to kill.

Regardless, the trail was massive, and a blind man spun around at a sadistic pinata bashing at a twice drunk quinceanera could've found his way along the massive blood splashes. Bohdan gnawed on his lip in thought as he watched the puddles and splashes past them on the passages before them. Too easy.

This thing had to know they were coming loaded bear considering the kind of response Hiedi had given the beast. There was no way the abomination could know how soon they’d be on the thing which was in their favor. Still, ambush seemed likely with the massive trail. Anything with instincts or half a brain would realize the futility of running when you were leaving not so much a breadcrumb trail as much as massive ripped up loaves in your wake pointing at you better than any GPS could in the tunnels.

Still, things were uneventful, but that made every turn stressful. Bohdan kept waiting for the inevitable staccato of gunfire to erupt ahead, or behind him marking the ambush he knew must be waiting for them. The blood was getting fresher so they were getting closer. Where oh where could this Hyena faced Booger be?

Eventually the trail led to a tunnel illuminated by a faint red glow emanating from ore veins in the walls. What type of ore it was was beyond even the true miners in their crew. That was a mystery which needed answers considering how close these unexplored tunnels were to Bunker Boogaloo. Too close for the President’s comfort that was for sure. For now they pressed on while giving the glowing ore a wide berth. You never knew what had nasty mojo when hunting nasty things. The next surprise caught even Bohdan with his proverbial pants down.

Over the red glow the light of purple and light blue wisps began shining out from the tunnel passage they were following. At the end Bohdan was shocked to find evergreen trees. He had no idea how deep they were, but they were nowhere near the surface. Plus, the trees were shining like nightlights with purple and blue hues looking like funky out of season Christmas trees. Commando Two didn’t need Bohdan’s order to stop. When they saw the wood at the end of the tunnel they all took a knee and hugged the wall for what cover behind the jutting rocks at the edge of the tunnel entrance.

Bohdan sent Randall back to retrieve Mr. Holdfast as he studied the anomaly ahead of him. He felt like he was walking into a Tim Burton movie, or a crappy Christmas special in a Korean Soap opera. The underground glowing trees gave the President all kinds of bad vibes. He wanted a second opinion before they scouted the entrance.

The thermals weren’t picking up anything skulking in the grove yet. They were out there though, Bohdan could practically smell them. By the time Randall had brought up Mr. Holdfast that smelling was literal as a horrible rank draft came wafting through the shaft from the luminescent trees. That scent was one that cryptid and demon hunters alike were well acquainted with.

The Story Will Continue Every Saturday.

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Bohdan Blood was a busy young man. Being the President of the AH&L Committee in the middle of World War Three did that, but now rumors of witchcraft and Cartel incursions around his Ozark home were making things downright unhealthy. Together with his wily friends Bohdan and company will dodge drafts, hunt cryptids, and burn witches in style to keep their neck of the woods from looking like a New York hellscape. Just another day for the Adventure, Hunting, and Liquidation Committee.
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