The facts common to both stories:
- Nibelungs, a species of dwoblins and skilled vorpalsmiths, created the alloy and crafted the blades.
- Two centuries ago, Lilienstiel was under Wonderland rule, during the reign of Queen Anne Hearts. Centralization had taken power from most of the hinterland nobles, and the lord and lady of the shire had only fraternal twin children: Edward and Edith, both strawberry blond. Both of them had countless suitors but spurned them all: Edward being "married to glory" and Edith being "married to knowledge".
- When Edward and Edith had come of age, a dragon known as the Jabberwock devastated the realm. Sacrifices of peasant maidens to appease its fury had already begun. Many warriors, knights, and even landsknecht officers had tried to slay the beast, immune even to gunfire: the Jabberwock could only be killed with a vorpal sword.
- Thus Edward von Lilienstiel, breastplated and confident, set off in pursuit of the dragon.
The official story:
Edward found the vorpal sword in the Gray Wolves' lair. Then, he beheaded the Jabberwock. With its severed head, on his way to court, he was intercepted at the Gray Wolves' by a breastplated and masked stranger, who claimed it as his prize. But Edward stabbed the stranger in the left side.
Once at court, the widowed Queen Anne rewarded the young swordsman. Three months later, the stranger came by and challenged Edward to a duel. The Queen (who had illegalized duelling since it claimed her husband's life) agreed to make it a joust. On the lists, the combatants switched swords, and thus Edward fell from his steed with the vorpal blade right through his breastplate and the left side of his chest (at heart height).
Since Edward (buried in the Alt-Lilienstiel vault) was childless, his last words were that Edith should be made heiress to the estate, and so it came to be. Assembling her elderly parents and many servants, she opened the Clever Princess engagement tradition.
The true story:
Edward was intercepted by Gray Wolves in the Dark Forest, and subsequently taken as a live prisoner to their lair. Edith became worried, cut her hair, cross-dressed, and went forth in pursuit of the vorpal blade.
The well-read heroine came to a standstill in a deep crater that contained the entrance to an underground complex or "Trollenschloss". She came to an equerry where there were fifty statues of white clydesdale stallions, ans then proceded to a guards' hall, where there were fifty sleeping pikemen of ostensibly human descent, dressed in pelts and old-fashioned breastplates, leaning on the walls... as well as a table on which there were a loaf of white bread and a sword. Knowing the latter was the vorpal sword, she took it from the table.
In doing so, she unwittingly awoke a raven-haired maiden with blond streaks (and a star on her brow), who slept in an adjacent bedchamber. The maiden Ilse, a warrior princess who had spent decades awaiting a male rescuer, stole a kiss from Edith and prayed for "his" hand if "he" returned within a year.
Ilse also told Edith that the sword could cut a whole army to pieces: "The sword can cut a whole army to pieces" (Chronicles of the House of Lilienstiel, written by Edith the Dark, daughter of Edith the Fair. Henceforth, Chr.). "With the sword, you can slay whole armies" (Giles Grimm's Relics of Legend. Henceforth, GGR).
Encouraged by these words, Ilse came to a kingdom plagued by war, and she killed their foes with the sword. Then she came to more kingdoms in the same situation, and she did the same: "Then she chanced upon a land where war reigned, and the king already thought he must perish, for the scarcity was so great. Then Fair Edith went to him and gave him the sword also wherewith he slew the hosts of his enemies, and could now live in rest and peace. Fair Edith then took back her sword, and then she rode on. But after this, she entered two more countries where war reigned, and each time Fair Edith gave her sword to to the kings, and had now delivered three kingdoms" (GGR). "Thus fair Edith took on her steed and rode until she came to a country desolated by the unfair aggression of ten neighboring peoples. But fair Edith, unsheathing her miraculous sword, cut the enemy army to pieces, punishing injustice at one fell swoop, and she resumed her travels, leaving the kingdom in peace. In ostensibly the same way, she saved, during her travels, two other countries from the scourge of war" (Chr.)
After such pacifying and injustice-punishing endeavour, she beheaded the Jabberwock. With its severed head, on his way to court, she found her brother Edward a captive at the Gray Wolves', and he claimed the trophy as his prize. She was stabbed by Edward in the left side, and subsequently robbed of both the vorpal sword and the dragon's head. Once at court, the widowed Queen Anne rewarded the young swordsman Edward, unaware that he was an impostor. Meanwhile, the Gray Wolves nursed Edith back to health.
Three months later, she showed up at court, accompanied by a child of the Gray Wolves, and accused Edward of being an impostor, who had killed an innocent for fame and glory. The Queen (who had illegalized duelling since it claimed her husband's life) agreed to use a joust as trial by ordeal, the victor being declared innocent. On the lists, the combatants switched swords, and thus Edward fell from his steed with the vorpal blade right through his breastplate and the left side of his chest (at heart height), stabbed by fair Edith herself.
After the battle, in a guest-room at the royal palace of Wonderland, Edward pined away, coughing up blood and half-drunk on brandy. Edith revealed that she was the one who stabbed him, and they asked each other for forgiveness: she had been irate and vengeful, while he had been sexist and jealous. They promised to keep each others' crimes secret.
Suddenly, word came of an invading army, whose progress was stopped when Edith recognized Ilse, her good friend, at its head. Confessing the truth, she let Ilse become a courtier and share bedchamber with the dying impostor. The betrothal took place in bed: the chaplain even blessed the bride and groom in the bed itself. "They were married for three days, and on the fourth day he was still. So fair Edith was called once more to court to console his widowed lady, and to receive his dying will" (GGR-Chr).
Since Edward (buried in the Alt-Lilienstiel vault) felt that he was unworthy of the inheritance, his last words were that Edith should be made heiress to the estate, and so it came to be. Assembling her elderly parents and many servants, she opened the Clever Princess engagement tradition.
Decades later... her eldest daughter and heiress, Dark Edith, chose as her intellectual equal and betrothed the eldest son of Ilse the True.
The retrieval of the vorpal blade
To infiltrate Alt-Lilienstiel, Sophia dresses as a breastplated officer of the garrisoned regiment. As the general and his aide-de-camp Charles Liddell are paying the outpost a visit, her path crosses by chance with that of her betrothed. This incident will prove a turning-point in the lives of both...