King Vikramaditya meets Jnanasheela, a siddha at an audience and the latter requests the king of a favour- to abide with him sans followers, as the siddha performs a homa. But when he cuts open the fruit presented by Jnanasheela, an exquisite gem falls out, the king feels something amiss. However as he had given his word, Vikramaditya undertakes the journey.
When he reaches the place- a cemetery near the banks of River Godavari- he is taken aback at the sight before him. Hideous beasts, specters and goblins dance around the fire of the homa, while Jnanasheela, seated before the fire chants incongruously. Nevertheless, the king presents himself and asks Jnanasheela what his bidding is.
‘O, king, if you have come to do my bidding bring me a body suspended form a mimosa tree in the cemetery towards the south of the forest. Do it immediately.’
King Vikramaditya hurries there and finds a body hanging upside down from the tree. He makes the creature out to be a vetal. Propping himself onto a branch, he pulls it down and is startled by a shrill cry. The king asks the creature who it is but receives in reply the same question; with the creature flying back to its old position. Vikramaditya repeats the exercise six times. On the seventh time, the vetal allows himself to be captured. As the king starts off with his burden, vetal asks where he was being taken to. On getting his answer, he tells vikramaditya -and-vetal that his forceful capture would not be possible, ‘I shall ask you a number of questions, but if by any means you answer them, I shall allow you to take me to the siddha,’ tells the vetal.
And so begins King Vikramaditya’s laborious journey with the vetal. Twenty five stories are told to the king and at the end of these, he comes to know the vetal’s story and the fact that his destiny is intertwined with that of the vetal.