#9 The Stronghold

The distant monument or whatever it was had piqued an interest in me to explore it. So I took the turn to the right in the glade and here I am. I am fast approaching it and the monument keeps on growing in size. I finally figured out that it was a huge castle that sat beautifully in the middle of the meadows with the river flowing to the east of it. And the sweet smell of roses and lavenders are filling the air with the chirping and humming of the fairies that keep flying in the weirdest of all fashions. Some say hi to me and I retort. Some come and sit in my shoulders; all tired from their work and hike a ride on me for a few yards.

The sky is in its pristine blue with the clouds drifting in small hazy patches in it, forming an illusion of boats floating in a huge celestial sea. The stars are faintly visible which I find very amusing and alluring. I haven’t seen them so visible ever in my life. And they twinkle to the joys of the dancing sun. The sun is in its full glory, shining to the farthest corners of the sky and making them bustle with energy. But it is gentle in its heat and as such I fell pleasant to take this walk.

The castle ahead of me has finally casted this huge imposing figure for me. It is made of stones from the oldest of the civilizations and the skill of the masons can been seen from far away. The towers rise to touch the skies. And the sun casts a warm color to the stones, giving it a homecoming feeling. A part of the castle is reflected onto the river and is visible in this clear water. A thousand windows can be seen cut around magnificently in the walls and the watchtowers and patrolling paths are lined with flags of various colors and hues. And they flutter graciously in the spring breeze.

As I walk I come across a town of people. This is where the workers might live, the people responsible for the small menial works of this castle and its folks. And the town is meticulously laid out as if a grand creator had planned it. It is no short of beauty and craftsmanship as that of the castle. The facades are filled with flowers and shrubs and the paths are lined with blocks and there are occasional plazas. To the right a few blocks ahead is their market which is bustling with energy and zeal. People are rushing around with fruits and all kinds of stuff in their hands, shoulders, heads, trying to either sell them or bring them back to the family waiting at home. The market draws me but I keep me gaze straight ahead and continue on. Along the way I meet all kinds of people. People from all race, ethnicity, caste and creed. And they are happily talking to each other and going around their usual routine. Occasional outbursts can be heard here and there and that make it’s a complete town.

Along the way, I find that some people are attracted as I am to the great castle and are drawn towards it. And we walk silently, with the mutual understanding of not disturbing the others tranquility or awe. The castle has this way of speaking its history and saying aloud its timelessness. But the town tries to lure in their preys as well and is sometimes successful in it. The smile of the Caucasian lady or the blush of an English mistress makes some of them sway and take a perpendicular path. Same happens when the curious mind is brought into play with glittering gems and gold and crystals. And so the numbers fade as I approach it.

The road to my destination is something that had caught my interest. Stones formed the base for the path, stones of various shapes and sizes were laid out in perfect harmony and skill so that they formed this flawless interconnected path for its users. And I could figure out the outline of a girl or a boy among them and then it hit me that these were stories that were being unfolded as one walked on it. I don’t know where the story was as of now but the occasional figures of witches and dragons and gods and angels crept in to the stones. And along the edges were these small shrubs that flowered peculiarly for they were live and feeding their essence onto the road and its surroundings. Occasionally there came along some columns of great detail and craft and they basically depicted the walks of the human life. One of them I thought was the Monalisa sitting for her session with Da Vinci.

And slowly the path grew wide and the shrubs disappeared and huge and endless garden was starting to my both sides. Lush green shrubs formed the walls of the garden which were filled with flowers of all the colors a human can fathom. And the fragrance was mind boggling which transcended between layers of exquisiteness to harmony and peace. Fountains poured on water with grace and gentleness onto them and with the help of the sun formed these small carpets of rainbows that floated it and around the various flowers that bloomed here.

Finally I cross this garden and the path becomes all even and textured. I notice that I am alone and the people I was travelling with are nowhere to be seen or heard. I turned back but to my dismay the garden imposed a feeling of infinity in me and I couldn’t find anyone behind me. But I took the step forwards and moved on till I find myself in front of the castle entrance. A huge door stands in front of me. It was flanked by these angelical figures, floating around and filling the place with grace and peace. Their sleek slender faces, long white robes and a reassuring smile bring in courage to me and I continue my walk. They examine me as I approach the door and start to whisper among themselves. I could see their facial expressions were calm and peaceful but their body conveyed something else. Something of unrest or mystery.  I had no clue of what I was about to experience. But since I had nothing to lose I took the plunge.

The huge door is made of wood. It is impeccably seasoned and only the best carpenters could have made such an imposing and giant door look like a work of art. It was plain and all but the marrow of the wooden planks had lives on their own. They weaved their own stories, stories of what lies ahead and inside this castle, what awaits the people who dare to open and enter. It sends out a quiet warning to those approaching it to stay away and return the path they came. And I couldn’t make any of this, so I knocked at the door with its huge brass handles and it creaked open. I was blinded by the ray of light through the opening and I closed my eyes.

I slowly opened my eyes to get acquainted with the light. And to my surprise I find myself staring at my mom opening the windows of my room. The sun was up, bright and warm. She called to get ready for breakfast to which I gave a big yawn. My room is flooded with light and warmth and I no longer find my bed as inviting ad the night before. Lazily I get up and head towards the shower to get ready for the day. And the dreams to follow.

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