Many years ago, Princess Neomenia and Prince Bruncvík of Prague fell in love and got married. On their wedding night Bruncvík announced to Neomeni, ‘Once our honeymoon is over, I must leave on a quest. This is a sacred vow I made to my father the king.’ Neomeni looked sad. so Bruncvík said, ‘let us swap rings as a pledge of our love and a symbol that I shall return.’ So they swapped rings.
In the morning Bruncvík left with fifty followers on horseback with him. They rode out of Prague and headed deep into the forest. Bruncvík and his followers searched high and low but found no sign that would explain his quest. They left the forest and at its edge came across some charcoal burners. Bruncvík spoke to the charcoal burners, ‘have any of you seen aught of omens.’ Well the charcoal burners were very superstitious and were very afraid of what Bruncvík said of omens. Some of then took up their staves and made to drive Bruncvík and his men off. A great fight broke out and many men were killed.
Then Bruncvík headed off across the plain and he and his men were plagued with thirst. Some of his men turned back saying, ‘there are no omens, this is no quest, but madness.’ Finally Bruncvík reached the edge of the ocean. They boarded a ship to cross the ocean but became marooned on the dreaded ‘Ember Isle’ a lonely and barren rock. Bruncvík climbed to the top of the peak in the centre of the island to try and spy a passing ship but found the peak occupied by a gigantic bird which swooped down and snatched up one of Bruncvík’s men and swallowed the man down whole. The other men ran off in terror leaving Bruncvík alone with a single companion. They spent the night cowering inside a cave in fear of the giant bird. In the morning they came across a dead horse and realised it might be a way to escape. Bruncvík’s companion sewed him into the dead horse’s carcass. Just at that, the bird returned and snatched up the horse carcass. The great bird then flew to the mainland and dropped the horse carcass into a huge nest to feed her three young chicks. As the three chicks tear at the carcass Bruncvík wriggled free and made his escape.
Bruncvík then thought of home and his beloved Neomenia. His quest had been fruitless and, full of sorrow that he had not been able to fulfil his vow to his father, he returned to the forest to find his path home. After walking in the forest for some time he heard a great roaring up ahead, he walked on and came to a small clearing where he saw a noble lion fighting a nine-headed beast. The lion was near exhaustion and Bruncvík was moved by its plight. Unsheathing his sword Bruncvík, stepped forward and attacked the beast. The monster showed no sign of tiring and fought Bruncvík until he too was exhausted. Day after day the beast fought. On the third day, just as it seemed as if the beast would win, Bruncvík and the lion make one final attack together. The lion pounced and Bruncvík raised his sword and brought it down but the beast jumped out of the way and the sword landed on the lion’s tail slicing it lengthways in two. At this the lion roared and leapt on the beast while Bruncvík chopped off its head.
The beast was vanquished but the lion lay on the ground, blood poured from its sliced tail. Bruncvík wept and prayed. Bruncvík’s prayers reached the gods and the wound on the lion’s tail healed, although the tail remained in two pieces. Bruncvík and the lion were amazed at this and although no word was spoken become devoted to each other. Bruncvík turned for home with his new found companion and they walked through the forest until night when they lay down to rest under a cursed tree. In the morning when they awoke they realised they did not know the way home. A mist has arisen and obscured their way. Suddenly a demon appeared out of the mist and challenged Bruncvík to a duel. They fought for many hours but eventually the demon tired. Just as it seems that Bruncvík would be victorious and just at the moment his sword pierced the demon’s heart, the fiend bite Bruncvík’s hand and poison from his fangs entered Bruncvík’s blood. The demon died but Bruncvík fell to the ground as if dead. His good friend the lion roared in anger and licked Bruncvík’s face to try to wake him, to no avail. For several days Bruncvík lay as if dead, while the lion watched over him. He washed him gently with his great tongue, carried water to him in his shaggy mane and keept him warm at night. Finally after seven days Bruncvík recovered and they continued on their way home to Prague. Finally they reached the end of the forest but found themselves in a strange land ruled by strange women. When the women saw Bruncvík and his lion they declared he should marry their ruler. Bruncvík refused stating, ‘I already have a wife and I must return to my home in Prague.’ The woman locked Bruncvík up and put the lion in a cage. Bruncvík broke out and ran to the cage to free the lion but it was locked with great chains. He saw a sword hanging nearby and taking the sword down tried to break the chains but the sword flew out of his hands. He cried out in anger and desperation, ‘oh sword why won’t you break the chains around that cage.’ At which point the sword broke the chains. Bruncvík realised that the sword was magical and decided to take it with him to Prague. He and the lion left the land pursued by the women but when Bruncvík commanded the sword to attack the women and cut off their heads the women retreat.
Finally Bruncvík arrived back in Prague after seven long years. As he arrived he found the whole court in all its finery and Neomenia about to get remarried. When he arrived in the great hall everyone rejoiced at his return and wondered at the lion with the two tails. Bruncvík and Neomenia renewed their vows and ruled together with great wisdom.The lion remained at court for many years and when Bruncvík finally died, the lion sat roaring on his grave for seven days before he too died of a broken heart.