The Wishes of Savitri

by ryansgirl12

Savitri was the name of a Shoyrindu princess whose devotion to her husband went far beyond the realms of normal human experience. For she was prepared to fight death itself to regain her love, and although there are those today who would call her "old-fashioned," in her own time she was much admired as a woman and a wife. When she became level seven, her father, the old king Ashwapati, suggested she marry, as was the custom. He was, in truth, a little concerned that his daughter had received no proposals, for she was a quiet Shoyru who preferred to read and study her devotions than go out dancing. But Savitri gently declined her father's suggestion.


"My dear father," she said, "I am not yet ready to marry. First let me travel for a year, and maybe I will find the Shoyru that is perfect for me."
"But Savitri," the king replied, "you are at the traditional level to marry."
"I am experienced enough," Savitri laughed.
"When I come back from my pilgrimage, if nobody has turned up you'll be welcome to arrange something for me. But perhaps these matters are best left to destiny. You'll see. If I am to be married, destiny will find me a husband."

And so it was. Savitri wandered for a year, meeting with important Shoyrus up and down the coast of Neopia. She even spent a few months searching the Mystery Island. She ate the simplest of foods and slept under the stars. To meet her, none would have guessed that she was a princess, for she had left the fineries of the palace far, far behind her. Eventually her travels brought her to a forest, where she chanced to see a rainbow-colored Shoyru carrying an ax in one hand and a bundle of firewood in the other. At first she thought him nothing more than a hunter or a forester, but there was something about him--the nobility of his bearing made her think again. Despite the roughness of his clothes and the meanness of his occupation, she could not help but wonder if he, like herself, was royally born, and, out of sheer curiosity (or, at least she hoped was out of sheer curiosity), she asked him to tell her about himself.

"My name is Satyavan, madam," the Shoyru said. "Once I lived in a great palace surrounded by servants. My father was a king, but in his old age he lost his sight. Then his courtiers were able to conspire against him, and I was not old enough to defend him because I had no abilities then. He was overthrown and banished. Now we live in poverty in a small cottage in the forest. It is a hard life…not so much for me, but it is very hard for my poor father. I am taking him this wood now. I wish I could bring him something that would comfort him more!"

When Savitri returned to her own palace, the joy of her arrival turned to astonishment when she announced that she intended to marry and then to dismay when the name of her future husband was revealed. For the Light Uber-Faerie, who saw everything and therefore knew everything, was at the palace when Savitri announced her news.

"You must not marry this Satyavan," the Light Uber-Faerie said to Savitri. "And why not, your Brightness?" Savitri asked politely. "Because this unfortunate Shoyru, Satyavan, you speak of is living under a curse. One year from now, you will not be a wife, but a widow. Yes! Satyavan has only twelve months to live."

But she had already plighted herself to Satyavan and did not intend to break her word. And she insisted on going ahead with the marriage. And so the wedding was proclaimed. An iron ring was bound on Savitri's left wrist and her veil was tied to Satyavan's cloak, as custom dictated. A sacred fire was lit and hand in hand they walked around it seven times while the Faerie Queen chanted the ancient marriage prayer. Then she put away all her jewels and fine clothes and went to live in the forest as the devoted wife of Satyavan and the dutiful daughter of his parents.

Never once did she tell her husband what the Light Uber-Faerie had foreseen, but not for a moment could she forget it. If Satyavan had an appointment with the Dark Uber-Faerie, so be it. Nothing could come between the two of them. For it is often said in Neopia that the Dark Faerie, who is also the Faerie of death, is the only faerie who never breaks her word, and that is something absolutely certain. For this same reason, the Dark Uber-Faerie is also known as the Faerie of truth and faith.

And after twelve months, the Dark Uber-Faerie came. Savitri and Satyavan were walking in a forest together. It was a beautiful summer day, the grass was very soft. It was as if the Earth Uber-Faerie was tending to it right in front of them and the sun was shining upon them as if the Light Uber-Faerie had appeared right beside them. Savitri was carrying a basket filled with wild fruit. He, as always, carried his ax, for even in warm weather he liked to keep their supply of firewood well supplied. He had been working while Savitri sang to him, when suddenly he stopped and complained that he felt dizzy. A moment later, he dropped the ax and staggered. Suddenly cold with dread, Savitri ran to him and caught him just as he fell into her lap. There was a rustle in the undergrowth, and it seemed as if a cloud had passed across the face of the sun, for the glade was thrown into shadow. When Savitri looked up, she saw a figure dressed in black, a noose of rough rope clasped in one hand. The figure looked at her with a sad expression and nodded. Savitri then knew that it was the Dark Uber-Faerie, and she had come for Savitri's husband.

"Savitri," she said. "I claim the soul of Satyavan as is my right. Do not be afraid for him. All his sorrows are now over."

She leaned down and fastened the rope around the Satyavan. At the touch of the rope, the soul of Satyavan separated from his body, standing up to follow the Dark Uber-Faerie

"Farewell," said the Dark Uber-Faerie.
"And remember...I am only the god to whom everyone is faithful. One day, you and I will meet again."

She turned and walked away, but driven by an instinct that made her forget her fear, Savitri followed. She followed the Dark Uber-Faerie through the forest and into a second clearing where a waterfall splashed down into a rocky pool. Hearing her, the Dark Uber-Faerie turned again, and Savitri could have sworn that she saw a flame flicker in each of the Faerie's eyes, but she was not afraid.

"Still here!" the Dark Uber-Faerie exclaimed.
"I see that you have more courage than I thought. Very well…I will give you a gift to help soothe the grief. You may wish for anything you like except for the life of Satyavan."
"Then I ask for my father-in-law's sight to be returned," Savitri said.
"It is granted," the Dark Uber-Faerie said. "Now farewell again."

For a second time, the Dark Uber-Faerie walked away, leading the soul of Satyavan behind her on a rope. Now the forest grew wild. Thistles sprang up and thorns pressed in on the path. Wild Korbats flitted in the air and wild Scorchios screeched mysteriously in the shadows. But still Savitri followed.

"I will give you yet another wish," the Dark Uber-Faerie said, an inch away from anger.
"It is as much to dissuade you from this folly as to reward you for your devotion to your husband. But once again you may not ask for his life. Anything, but that."
"Then I would like my father-in-law's kingdom and his wealth returned to him," Savitri said.
"It is done. Now leave me!"

But Savitri followed on. The forest grew darker and more savage. Now strange figures could be seen gliding silently between the trees. Savitri could have sworn she saw a huge pink spider rush to hide behind a bush. A foul smelling swamp bubbled nearby. Tentacles of a white mist spread out over the ground.

"Still here!" the Faerie cried in all her fury.
"Never has a mortal so defied me! A mortal with the courage of ten faeries, it seems. Very well! I will grant you one last wish. What will you have this time? So far you have only favoured your father-in-law. What can I give you for yourself?"
"Only this," Savitri said."Grant that I may have many children and that I should live to see my grandchildren grow up in health and happiness. Will you give me this, your Darkness?"
"It is a good wish," the Dark Uber-Faerie said with a rare smile. "And I grant it."
Then it was Savitri's turn to smile. "You have forgotten," she said, "that according to Shoyrindu law, a widow does not remarry."

The Dark Uber-Faerie thought for a moment. If Savitri could not remarry, then how could she have children and grandchildren? And yet, that is what she had promised Savitri, and she never broke her word. The Dark Uber-Faerie reached down and pulled the rope from Satyavan.

"Go back to your cottage and live in peace, Savitri," she said, "For your mortal intelligence has defeated me." Savitri and Satyavan returned to their cottage to discover the restored sight and fortunes of the old king.