"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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.