It was a dark, moonless night. Occasional flashes of lightning lit up the sombre scene, causing an eerie dance of jerky and frightening shadows in the cremation ground. The spine-chilling howl of a jackal or the blood-curdling laughter of some unseen evil spirit cut into the silence that hung, shroud-like, over the area. Altogether, it was a scene that would strike terror into the bravest heart, nothing could daunt the intrepid King Vikram. Once again, he made his way to the ancient gnarled tree from which the corpse hung. Bones crunched under his feet and a screeching ghost rose from the dust in shuddering frenzy as he marched ahead.
Oblivious to all this, he reached the tree and brought down the corpse. Slinging it astride his shoulder, he had just begun his return journey when the vampire that possessed the corpse said, "O King! I do not know what inspires you to come to this graveyard at dead of night, braving all the danger and discomfort of such a venture! I have seen many idealistic youths who claimed willingness to lay down their very lives for the sake of their noble cause. But at the first sign of danger, they forgot all their ideals and turned into cowards! Let me tell you the story of one such youth, Giridhar."
The vampire then narrated the following story:
Long ago, the valley had been a virtual treasure trove of medicinal herbs of all kinds, and rare species of flora and fauna. When the news of this natural bounty reached the ears of the King of Kanchanpur, greed inspired him to send his soldiers to the valley. They persecuted the tribals and took away by force the honey, herbs and animal products they had collected. Deprived of their means of livelihood, the innocent tribals were in despair.
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