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The Legend of Bruncvik

Bruncvik's odyssey only took him away from home for seven years, but it was action-packed enough for twenty.

His wife Neomenia was loathe to see him go, and was worried about him - she begged him not to leave Prague to seek adventure, but Bruncvik wouldn't listen. He tried to comfort his young bride, and he gave her his ring to wear, and took hers, and told her that he would return in seven years' time. He told her that she would recognize him by her ring, and that if he didn't return in time it meant that he was dead, and that she should remarry.

Neomenia bade her beloved husband a tearful goodbye when he set out on his adventures accompanied by 50 men on horseback. They travelled far and wide, and it wasn't too many months into the journey before they reached the sea. This did not faze them in the least, and they took to the sea in a large boat. After several uneventful months on the sea, a storm whipped up in the middle of the night, making them lose control of the boat. The boat was filled with shouting and confusion as the men struggled to regain control of their craft, when suddenly they men were bathed in an eerie yellow glow. Silence fell on the men like a ton of bricks as they all immediately realized the meaning of the yellow light - it was the dreaded Amber Isle, which sucked sailors to its shores like a black hole eats up spaceships. The men pulled at oars and hoisted at the sail trying to keep themselves away from Amber Isle, but it was all in vain. The pull was too strong. Inevitably, the boat landed on the shores of Amber Isle - just as the storm waned to a whisper.

After two years on the island, all of the men and horses were dead except for Bruncvik and the oldest man of his former consort. The old man told Bruncvik how to get away, and Bruncvik promised to take care of the old man's family, should he ever return to Prague.

A large carnivorous bird was just about to make his annual trip to the island, a fact the old man knew from having observed the bird for the two years they were all stuck there. Why on earth Bruncvik hadn't noticed this is not mentioned in any of the recorded Bruncvik legends. The old man sewed Bruncvik into one of the horse skins (which couldn't have been a very pleasant place to be) and left Bruncvik near the top of the Amber Mountain in the middle of Amber Isle.

Sure enough, the bird carried Bruncvik away - and to its nest, as food for its babies. Then the bird flew of for more food, as a carniverous bird's babies are not only also carniverous, but ravenously carnivorous. The bird babies immediately set in to eat the disguised Bruncvik, thereby loosening the stitches the old man had sewed in the horse skin. Bruncvik was more than ecstatic to finally be able to free himself from his smelly disguise. He drew his sword he made short work of the rest of his disguise. Then he made short work of the baby birds. Then he got the heck out of there before the big bird returned.

He travelled as far and as fast as he could, and soon found himself in a deep, wild forest. It was there that he spotted the lion that would become his lifelong friend. The lion was fighting a nine- headed monster, and Bruncvik could see that the big cat was becoming fatigued. Although he was scared, he entered into the fray on the side of the lion.

The lion fainted from exhaustion, and Bruncvik battled the nine- headed monster all afternoon, then all night, the next morning, and the next afternoon. By this time, Bruncvik was fainting away with fatigue, but the monster showed no signs of succumbing.

Just in the nick of time, the lion returned to the clash and together the man and the lion finished off the monster, chopping off all its heads one by one.

It took them another day and night to accomplish this, and when it was all over, they both dropped down with exhaustion. Bruncvik woke up first, and freaked out when he saw the lion sleeping next to him. They had fought the monster together, to be sure - but how could he know he'd not be the wild animal's next prey?

So Bruncvik climbed into a large tree and waited for the lion to wake up and go away. But when the lion woke up, he came to the base of Bruncvik's tree and waited there. Bruncvik was shaking in his foot wrappings, believe you me. He was tired, and sore, and hungry - but he stayed up in that tree, too scared to come down.

On the third day, Bruncvik fell out of the tree. He was sick with fever, and too sick to move. For three more days, Bruncvik lay at the bottom of that tree and all that time, the lion cared for him and brought him food, and nursed him back to health. From that time on, the two were inseperable.

One time, Bruncvik tried to sneak away from the lion while the cat was out hunting. Bruncvik was afraid of what the people he would meet next on his travels would think of him if he had a lion tagging around after him (how very Czech of him to worry about this). While the lion was securing a snack for the two of them, Bruncvik swam out into the sea and climbed aboard a large piece of flotsam. When the lion returned with their food, he saw Bruncvik from the shore - and swam out to join him. After that, Bruncvik stopped being weird and didn't try to pull any fast ones on the lion any more.

Bruncvik and his lion had many adventures together in strange lands, practically all of which were inhabited by demons. In one land, the woman who ruled the people there made Bruncvik marry her, even though he said that he didn't want to because he was already married to Neomenia. It was at this castle that he stole a magic sword that knew how to chop people's heads off all on its own - all Bruncvik had to do is say "Blade, heads off!" and off they rolled.

This is the fate that was met by most of the heads that Bruncvik and the lion encountered from there on in. His magic sword chopped off the head of his false wife and that of her father and those of her family and her subjects - as well as all of the heads at the next court Bruncvik and his lion visited. This next land was inhabited by weird people - some of them were half grey and half white, some were half normal and half red, some had just one eye or one leg, some had a dog head instead of a human head, and their king had eyes in the back of his head as well as the front. But none of these heads stayed attached to their necks for long after Bruncvik's arrival there.

By now, Bruncvik wanted desperately to get home, where all the people had heads that he was used to. But more trials awaited him and his lion. They came once to a land where all the people did was celebrate, feast, eat, drink and dance. All their heads came off when they admitted to Bruncvik that they were demons.

In the midst of yet another head-rolling event at yet another place inhabited by demons, the king of those people pleaded with Bruncvik to stop, promising to fulfil the adventurer's any wish. Bruncvik did indeed stop, and wished the king to arrange Bruncvik's safe trip home. The king did so.

When Bruncvik came home, he was surprised to see everyone dressed in their holiday best. When he asked what they were celebrating, the people told him that Neomenia the Queen was to take a new husband that day.

It had, after all, been longer than seven years. Bruncvik snuck his wife's ring - which he had worn all the time on his adventures - into his wife's goblet of wine. As he left the castle gates, he wrote this message on them: "He who set forth seven years ago has returned."

When his wife drank her wine saw the ring, she recognized it immediately. She called the wedding off, thus sending her ex- bridegroom into a mad fury. He and 50 of his friends set off to track Bruncvik down and kill him.

They did, indeed, track him down - but it wasn't they who did the killing that day. Soon, the 51 heads of all of his rivals were rolling on the ground, chopped off by that magic sword, and Bruncvik was in his beloved Neomenia's arms.

Bruncvik never left home again, and his pet lion never left his side. When Bruncvik died at a ripe old age - leaving behind an heir, Ladislav - the lion died of a broken heart just days after, sitting at the side of Bruncvik's grave.

Bruncvik's lion is said to be the two-tailed lion in the Czech state symbol, while his sword is hidden somewhere. According to the 19th century recorder of legends, Alois Jirasek, the sword's hiding place is inside the stones of the Charles Bridge right next to the statue of Bruncvik that stands below the bridge on the Kampa side - and one day, when the Czech lands are at their lowest point, at the very edge of ruin, St Wenceslas will rise from the dead, take Bruncvik's sword, and save the day (and the nation). As the Knights of Blanik (see Legends page for details) are entrusted with the same task, many have drawn the conclusion that St Wenceslas - with Bruncvik's sword - will lead the Knights of Blanik when that dark hour comes. May we not live to see it.

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