Company of Knight Captain Jan Sladký of Hojsa's Watch

Knight Captain Jan Sladký of Hojsa's Watch

"I was there by a forecast near slain, but as Jesus provided me I escaped all their malice and treason."

The company's commander and one of the most seasoned warriors in all of Šumava. Jan Sladký comes from a long line of guardians of the Czech border. Their family has been protecting the kingdom for generations, since the end of the seventeenth century. As guardians, they never asked who they were guarding for. They stood on their watch against the Ottomans and Prussians; they made sure only the right people got into the Hapsburg lands and caught snuff smugglers; and when the First Republic was founded, they secured its borders. When the mobilization came, they manned the fortifications and awaited the worst - and later, when the socialist republic bound its borders in barbed wire, they kept guarding them as well.
Jan Sladký has broken some of their family's traditions. They walk the world wearing the dog's head from their family crest - and when they were young, it shortly got them locked up in an Enclosure. They went through the war with Prague and when the Farm was established, they became one of its guards. They spent twenty years rising through the ranks, becoming one of the Farm's highest military commanders. And then, perhaps for the first time in their family's long history, they abandoned their post together with their most faithful followers. They went off the grid for a few weeks - and reappeared as the Duke of Frymburk's Knight Captain, wearing the title of Hojsa's Watch, which was long kept vacant by Albert Tomáš.



"Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Lord, grant me the courage to change the things I can. Lord, grant me the wisdom to know the difference."

 At first glance, Slithers might well pass as human: their body is hidden in a long robe and their face is covered by a hood. But their arrival with Jan Sladký's company made their allegiance clear. When their hood uncovered a helmet and the helmet showed their scaly face; when it turned out how crooked the hands holding their mighty hammer truly are, then it became clear what kind of creature Slithers is.
The men of the Rose were quite surprised to see an Animal monk, or perhaps even priest. Knights and Animals do not talk of faith very often - while every single knight is a good and devoted Christian and reveres all the saints, the Mother of God, and of course also Šumava the Allmother, Animals are much more diverse. They can be anything from good and godly Christians to complete heathens and infidels. But nobody knows Slithers, nobody has heard of them, and nobody can say a good word of them. The Venerable Sisters and others cannot help but wonder out loud: is it an Animal that has been imbued with the gift of faith and granted a priestly vestment? Or are they a human being, who was cursed for some especially terrible deed and given the terrible face of a snake?


In what distant deeps or skies,
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

Some Animals are simply wild by nature and Lynx - well, Lynx is a specific case even for Animals. They don't attack everything that moves, no, that's not the problem. But their eyes are the eyes of a hunter, sizing you up, obviously finding your weaknesses and ways that they could knock you down, stick a knife between your ribs and tear your flesh with sharp claws and teeth. And then they smile, lick their mouth and politely ask for a bowl of porridge and maybe some meat on the side. A cute kitty; a silky murderer.
Some have heard stories of Lynx's youth. Apparently, they were raised by Badger himself - but nobody remembers how the knight came to be their warden. People just know that the whole upbringing did not end any well and brought them both shame for many years.
Now, there is something strange about Lynx; something new. It's not just the obvious endless teasing and rivalry with Koko. It's not just their silence and distance from Badger, or their obvious devotion to Sladký. Now, Lynx can also be quiet and slowly listen to Slithers hissing, or let Bleeter lean on them when the need comes. They keep their coat and armour meticulously clean, as if every detail was to say that Lynx is a good squire now; and perhaps a knight too, soon. Can Lynx step out of the shadow of a woodland beast?



Slaves to the system there's no way out
Slaves to the system do you have a shout
You've got to beat the bastards and beat 'em now
Sick of policies putting me down

Koko is not from around here. When push came to shove after the second war, Koko's father clearly stood on the side of the revolution and the Triumvirate and went to build a better world. They bought their whole family glamours and everything went fine. Then Koko grew up - and what first started as light drinking, listening to banned music, and your standard rebellious adolescence, soon grew into an open war - with the family and with politics.
Koko partied with whores, puked on the statue of Stalin, tried to steal Gottwald's embalmed corpse, and broke into the radio building, aiming to lighten up the broadcast with some Sex Pistols and their own band, the Kokonauts. Sadly, the nation never got to hear hits such as "Let's fuck dead fairies" or "Prince charming is a dick and a commie" and this time, Koko was really and truly screwed. 
They threw them out from the police academy and their life after that took a new shape: they wandered around the streets drinking, worked as a roadie at illegal concerts, and the more they were getting beaten up and the more they lost money and contacts, the more their glamour faded. And so they ended up in an Enclosure.
Koko's life in the Enclosure wasn't easy. It's not that anything would try to kill them, but they had basically no ability to hunt or obtain food any other way than by ordering in a restaurant or at least rummaging through some bins. They had to rely on the help of others and some occasional stealing, which they hated.
When the next war and the revolution came, Koko stepped up. They even wrote an ode to the Lords of the Rose "Green like weed, red like a cock". It didn't catch on. What did catch on was Koko as a fighter. Their years on the street and their natural strength and stamina meant they were a formidable warrior, and for an Animal, they really knew their way around human weapons. They were also driven by one relentless force: their hate for the rulers who fucked up their life and robbed them of their beloved freedom.
When the war with Prague ended, they came to the Farm and found their calling. They were still themselves, but they also found a job that they could be useful and good at: Koko became one of the first Farm guards, and they were much more a police officer than a soldier. As a police officer, they were sometimes a bit unorthodox and nobody could make them deal with infractions such as disturbing the peace, but on small things they could find an agreement that would suit everybody and with the big shit, they got pissed off enough for it to work. They put on some weight, settled down, and worked.
Then the bees' uprising came and something broke in them. It's hard to say what went wrong, but Koko clearly demanded the harshest punishments for Goldilocks and her gang. But the culprits were pardoned - and when Sladký ripped off his badge and left, Koko went with them. It's not really clear what they left behind and what was driving them forward. They're also not that friendly with the other Animals: they always measure themselves up against Lynx, they make fun of Slithers, occasionally prank Sladký, and never stop throwing sarcastic gags at Bleeter and Badger.
Will Koko find another breakthrough and a new meaning of life here, like they did once at the Farm, or will they keep floating through life on a river of booze?


There's triumph in the room
When that old imperator, Death
By faith is overcome.

Bleeter will catch your eye at first glance. Not because of their size (although the horns help), but mainly due to their gear. Their coat is laden with explosives; all their weapons are equipped with strange devices and attachments; and they exude a strange smell combining sulphur and other, unidentifiable chemicals. Their improvised equipment, based on their deep understanding of technology plus a dash of necessary insanity, gives them an advantage in battle that makes up for their obvious lack of training and strength.
Their peculiar gadgets and homemade enhancements also seem to be what's keeping their body together. A metal patch here, a few strings there, plus a strange tube in their face. Bleeter only came to the Farm in recent years and nobody can tell where they came from, why, and who accompanied them. They mostly just helped the Farm guards with their gear, reloaded their ammo and sometimes patched up their wounds. It was therefore all the more surprising that Bleeter joined Sladký when they left the Farm. Their departure, with a huge rifle on their back, several cleavers, and a limping leg on broken hooves, surprised not only all the Animals, but perhaps even Bleeter themselves. In any case, their path goes on - and from what they sometimes say, it seems they are after revenge.

Sir Badger of Bogland

“Go thou to the good knight of this castle, and tell him here is come an errant knight to joust with him.”

 Since they have joined forces in the war against Prague, the knights of the Rose have been closer to the Animals than anybody else of Our Kind, and one can often see them embracing like cousins. Cousins. Not brothers. There is still some distance, and the servants of the Rose are often repelled not only by the Animals' figures, but also their souls and natures. The Animals' bodies often hide twisted passions, uncontrollable rage, and hatred without a name. And there are no greater champions of all these traits than Badger.
They haven't always been an Animal, but they were cursed for their terrible deeds. But that never stopped them. While other badgers might be content hugging trees in the highlands, the knight of Bogland still dives into carefully planned expeditions - and then loses all control.
Badger is a known grouch who never laughs - or only for a cruel reason. That makes their laughter and joy in the last days all the more disconcerting - they have been finding ample opportunity for jokes since they have left the Farm.