46 A new or maybe an old love story \ ^-^ /

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Soon, Bhagirath and his tropes healed completely and Bhagirath ordered his men to leave back to the palace. They all were shocked but Bhagirath insisted on walking alone for the rest of the journey to find the so-called secret.

He sends the message to his father and his people, that he will return back safely. Left with no other option, his men left him all alone, under his order. Bhagirath bid Darcos farewell and started looking for the path to find the so-called secret.

For the rest of the journey he remains super conscious about his actions. He would pray and greet every single being of the

Black meadows. He won't touch the water before seeking permission. He won't pluck the fruit before asking for it. He would just cherish the beauty of flowers, without separating them from the plant.

It was like he gained the greatest knowledge of the world. That humans might be the superior most beings of the time, but it has only become possible due to the contribution of all the other living beings, who chose peace over war.

That there exists the supreme power, the supreme authority which is watching us, hearing us, knowing us, maintaining the records of our good and evil deeds. Till the balance between good and bad among us exists, we humans exist. The moment that balance started to falter towards the side of evilness, our existence would end up becoming a history to the next superior most species of the Earth.

So, he bowed to never hurt anyone or anything. He would even separate the seeds from the fruits and then sow them in the empty ground with the hope of doing some good for the upcoming generation.

As if his good deeds were appreciated, he got his reward. He found the two oddly connected Banyan trees, who were looking like a door to the netherworld. While there were many hanging vines, looking like the veil which needs to be removed.

He remained alert and checked for any sign of threat. When he didn't find anything suspicious, he stepped in closer to the vines with the intention of removing them to check what was inside.

But the moment he stepped in closer, he was shocked. Because they weren't the vines, but the countless number of baby snakes stuck with each other, to give the illusion of a curtain to any living being. He was so shocked that he stepped backward.

In the hurry, he ends up stepping into the twig which broke,snapping the snakes from their sleep, who turn towards the source of sound. Now countless nightmarish eyes were aimed at Bhagirath, who wondered how dreadful his death would be, after getting bitten by these countless baby snakes.

But the baby snakes didn't move from their place, confusing Bhagirath.

'They are harmless, child. They would only attack the trespassers or predators.' Bhagirath heard the old but wise voice. He turned around only to see a sage, dressed in saffron coloured dhoti and angavastram, with wooden slippers on his feet.

He was wearing the chains made of rudraksha in his wrist, arm and neck. Even his hair which was tied in the bun was held tightly by rudraksha chain in place, tightly.

The man was old but beyond average. At least that's what the supreme glow on his body says. His hair, mustache and long beard was all white, leaving no black hair behind. But despite everything, the man was friendly in nature.

'Namaste Sir. I am Bhagirath, The Crown Prince from a nearby kingdom, looking for the secret of the black meadows. Honored to meet you.' Bhagirath introduced himself to the sage, who smiled brightly.

' Namaste Bhagirath. I am Neelaksh, the sage devoted to Lord Shiva. By the way, what secret are you talking about?' Neelaksh asked. As far as he knows, no human knows or talks about the secret of Black Meadows.

Bhagirath smiled and explained all his story. Letting Neelaksh know that Darcos talked about the secret.

'Oh, so it's like that. If Darcos has sent you here. Then, you are my guest, my child. Come, let's go inside. You must be hungry.' Neelaksh said and he started walking towards the curtain made of snakes, shocking Bhagirath.

'Please be careful, Panditji. They are dangerous.' Bhagirath called him out. But Neelaksh just waved at him, nonchalantly as if denying what Bhagirath said.

' It's all in our mind, my child. If we think they are dangerous, then they are. But if we believe they are just like you and me, the children of the almighty. That they are not dangerous. That they won't harm us. Then, they won't. See' Neelaksh said, while holding the snakes lightly as if lifting up the curtain.

Bhagirath was shocked to see the snakes remain as they were. Their eyes looked for threat, which for sure Neelaksh wasn't, as they didn't even turn towards him, to say nothing about hissing or attacking him.

'Now, come my child. I have to offer my prayers to Lord Shiva before the sunset.' Neelaksh said gently. Bhagirath ironed his will and started walking towards the entrance. As expected, with every step he took, countless eyes started boring holes on his body.

'Calm down, he is a guest.' Neelaksh said, making everyone stare at Neelaksh, then as if they got the message, they once again get back to their sleeping position.

Bhagirath watched the scene and then kept walking, but didn't get any reaction from the snakes, as if they didn't care about him. He entered the other side of the curtain, only to get shocked, the place was simply the definition of paradise.

There was a range of beautiful green valleys, with grass, trees, flowers and houses on it. But that wasn't all, the freshwater, cold river was flowing at the bottom of these valleys separating them beautifully.

There were many humans and animals staying together as one being, as the child of almighty. The view was simply spectacular. Many women were coming their way, holding the earthen pots full of water on their heads.

They all nodded at Neelaksh and the stranger with whatever little movement their head holding the pot could make, then continued to walk on their way.

Neelaksh just smiles at them, while leading Bhagirath directly to his humble abode. He let the young man rest, while he himself took a fresh pair of clothes and left for the nearby lake to clean himself before paying his holy offering to Lord Shiva.

Bhagirath watched the hut, which was spacious and comfortable, as if it wasn't a hut but a palace on its own. It contains the hall, bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen and the courtyard outside. The place was simple but full of homely feelings. He checked the courtyard and it was also huge but cozy and clean. Such a great place for a single man.

He stares at the nearby houses and wonders whether they were the same or not. Soon, Neelaksh returned and gave one of his spare pairs of clothes for Bhagirath, The Crown Prince to wear.

Bhagirath got freshen up and dressed as a sage.Soon, he joined Neelaksh for the evening walk, which led them to an enormous, beautiful, spectacular building. Bhagirath was shocked to find the beautiful, sculpted building as a temple of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati.

~~

Soon, the twilight period came and all the living individuals, be it humans or animals, came together to pray and pay their offering to the god.

Once that was done. Then, all the humans went to the large dinning hall, where humans gathered, chopped the veggies, cooked the meal and served and ate the meal. It was like the people considered each other as a family.

After a warm and happy meal and people gathering, Neelaksh and Bhagirath return back, where Neelaksh prepares a makeshift bed for Bhagirath under the roof of stars and the floor of grass.

If Bhagirath said he didn't like it, then it would be a lie. After all, he had spent half of his life surrounded by the walls. So, this little freedom was the most precious treasure for him.

He kept watching and appreciating the view before he fell asleep.

~~

In the middle of night;

Bhagirath woke up from the sound of the anklet. Firstly he thought it might be his illusion, but the sound didn't stop, though it started to fade. Curious, Bhagirath followed the sound and started walking, not knowing exactly where he was heading to.

He kept walking and walking, until he got closer to the source of sound. He saw the back view of the girl, wearing the anklet, making her way through the jungle to god knows where.

He stared at the girl wearing a yellow silky dhoti, light pink blouse and her angavastram hung loosely around her body and shoulder. Her long braided hair was covered with golden ornaments.

He could watch the ornaments on her waist, arms, wrist, ankles and neck. He kept following the girl, till she reached the lake.