'I guess, you are now ready for another story!' The corpse possessed by the Vetal started talking the minute, King Vikramditya pulled the corpse down and tried to carry it with him to the Sage who was waiting for him.
The King sighed when he heard the words of the Vetal. He had been trying to take the corpse to a sage who was waiting for him in the temple of Goddess Kali. The Vetal who had possessed the body was bound to the corpse by some spell. Unfortunately that spell could be broken if anyone spoke. The king had realized it after trying to get the corpse down the first few times. But then the King kept silent as he carried the corpse to the sage.
But the Vetal in the corpse had been clever too. To pass the time in the forest, the Vetal had been telling the king, very interesting stories and had stopped the stories at crucial points and asked the King the reason for the behaviour of the characters in the stories. Unable to stop himself, the king had answered all the questions till now.....and the Vetal had flown back to the tree.
'Ok king! I will tell you the story of a brave, beautiful and intelligent princess! You see I have been thinking and I still cannot understand how such a princess acted out of arrogance and even broke her own word....' The Vetal slyly noted that the king bristled at the words. Probably the king could not tolerate the fact that any princess would break her word. But the Vetal grinned. He had the undivided attention of the King.
'In a far away kingdom was a brave king – Rajendran. He was well versed in arts and Scriptures and he was just and very well loved king. He and his wife had a daughter Princess Sona.
Princess Sona being an only child was obviously the heir apparent to the throne. So not only was she taught the general studies of a princess she was also taught in the arts of weapons and warfare. Princess Sona also realizing that she would have to take over the reigns of the kingdom from her father practiced diligently. She soon became excellent in the art of fighting.
Soon when the Princess reached a marriageable age, her parents asked her whether she was interested in any person and wanted a swayamvara to choose a man for her.
Princess Sona refused. 'Father! Mother! The man I choose is going to be called as the king of this kingdom. Why, he may even be called upon to fight for this kingdom if need be....' The king nodded as the princess continued. 'So I am going to marry only if he is able to defeat me in a one on one fight...'
The king and queen saw the logic behind the request of the princess and happily agreed to the condition. The princess did not voice the other reason behind her condition. She knew that the princes from the other kingdoms would be expecting a weak princess to fight against and would come hoping that they would very easily defeat the princess and take over the kingdom. This way when the princes fought against her, they would realize that the kingdom was being led by someone strong and powerful and would not dare attack the kingdom....
And so the announcement was made in all the kingdoms. Just as the princess had expected people from all over the country came to fight with the princess. The princes had all expected an easy battle, but Princess Sona was nowhere near the class of the princes. She was able to defeat the princes very very easily. All of them went home dejected.
One of the Prince was Prince Uday from the neighbouring kingdom. He noted the unusual condition of the princess and unlike the other princess did not immediately jump to any conclusions. He realized that any princess who could impose such a condition was obviously confident of her own fighting abilities. He decided that instead of challenging the princess he first had to observe and then decide....
And so Prince Uday daily watched as he saw Princess Sona fight the other princes. He had been enthralled when he saw the princess fight. He had never seen anyone fight like this. Her strategies, her maneuvering.... her reflexes were something that even Prince Uday himself knew nothing about. He was watching the last fight of the princess with bated breath. He saw the Princess as she effortlessly disposed off a particularly difficult opponent. Unable to contain himself, Prince Uday clapped appreciatively. 'Well Done! Well Done, princess!That was the best move, I have ever seen you execute, till date!'
Surprised Princess Sona turned as she saw a face in a crowd looking at her with genuine respect. Princess Sona realized that the man who had spoken was definitely not a common watcher. He was someone who had understood the intricacies of the fight and appreciated it. She looked further to acknowledge the man however the face was lost in the crowd....
Everyday after Prince Uday watched Sona he would practise some of the moves he had seen her do and was soon confident that he could take on the princess. And so the day came. Prince Uday challenged the princess. As was the custom in those days, both the opponents had covered their faces to prevent serious damage to the face.
And so a glorious fight started between the princess and prince. Both of them were equally good and Prince Uday thanks to his new found knowledge was able to completely counter all the strategies of the princess. The princess herself was surprised and the crowd watched spell bound as the Princess looked like she had met her match...The crowd was even more thrilled when they saw the Prince win the fight and they all cheered loudly.....
The Prince victoriously removed his mask and turned to see the defeated princess. The princess was looking happily at the man and was about to open her mouth to greet him when the greeting died in her mouth. 'You?' The princess looked at Prince Uday. 'You were the one from the other day....You have been watching my fights for some time now, haven't you?'
Prince Uday nodded his head.
King Rajendran came forward and said. 'Prince Uday! As you have fulfilled the condition of the princess....by the power vested in me....'
'Father!' Princess Sona looked hurt as she turned to her father. 'I cannot marry him!' Princess Sona looked at the stunned king and looked at Prince Uday. 'I am sorry prince! Though I have promised that I would marry anyone who defeats me, I cannot marry you!'
Prince Uday stared at Princess Sona for a few minutes and then nodded his head. 'You are right, my princess! I should not marry you!' Saying the prince walked away leaving a flabbergasted kingdom behind...
'Of all the arrogance!' Vetal ranted as he stopped the story. 'Princess Sona had been beaten in a fight, fair and square and still she refused to marry the man....She broke her word...plain and simple....She could not tolerate the fact that someone had beaten her and she refused to marry the man!And that silly Prince Uday also foolishly refused to enforce the promise made by the princess!' The Vetal said almost fuming.
'No Vetal! You do not understand! They are the most intelligent people I have heard about! The relationship between Princess Sona and Prince Uday was not that of a man and a woman. Princess Sona was for all practical purposes the teacher, the Guru of Prince Uday! Prince Uday had learnt to wield the sword from Princess Sona! The relationship between a teacher and student is sanctified....Both the Prince and the Princess respected it and did not want to sully it....That was the reason they did not want to get married with each other....' King Vikramaditya said almost gushing and then he realized his folly as he heard the laughing voice of the Vetal.
'You must be so clever that you figured that out, king!' The Vetal flew back to the tree....