Company of Knight Captain Laurenc František of Richston

The People of Grimness

 Knight Captain Laurenc František of Richston

“Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

For twenty years, Laurenc František of Richston proved his honour. Twenty years of battles and deeds; a happy marriage with the good Lady Alena; one good son; one ward; and dozens of fallen enemies. But glory, and especially honour, those are fickle companions, and fragile like the thinnest glass. Then Laurenc František, a legendary swordsman, feared at every tourney, hesitated when it came to obeying his lord's order - and his subordinate had to do it instead. On that day, Laurenc František lost most of his honour. On the same day, three of his comrades-in-arms left him. Firstly, the one who ventured outside the gates, whose name is no more. Secondly Tadeáš, his ward. And most importantly Gabriel Dominik of Richston, his own son!
When Laurenc, Tomáš, and Eliška left in their search for the cure, some hoped it would be an easy way to an honourable death. But now, to at least his wife's great joy, Laurenc is coming back with some truly, truly strange companions.


Tomáš of Stayley

“If you can avoid battle with honour, do so. If you must strike, strike hard. There is nothing in between”

TTomáš is exceptionally talented in many things. Languages, diplomacy, tracking, etiquette, and trade are all his strong suit. Yet his greatest talent is no doubt his insurmountable ability to get into trouble.
He was in trouble in kindergarten, when he couldn't explain why he had all of the other children's shoes. He sold them sand for them.
He was in trouble at school when he had adventures on the way to the supplies closet, accidentally finding gas masks, a motorboat, and a sleeping gargoyle in the school's cellar. Using a strange combination of the first and the second, he managed to wake the third.
And then on holiday, after he graduated from the grammar school in Písek, he went for a random hike in the woods around his native Vimperk... and well, it was a truly convoluted series of coincidences which led him to fighting for his life, wearing a coat with the crest of the Rose, defending West Hill, outnumbered, against Prague. On the corpse heap, he discovered not only his talent for surviving, but also a true friend. Since then, nothing could separate Laurenc and his eternal squire and negotiator Tomáš. Tomáš stayed despite his master's disgrace and now when they are returning from the woods, triumphant, he is the one who knows best how to talk to their peculiar companions.

Venerable Eliška

It'll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we'll cross the river 

Every Venerable sister has to end her training, her preparations, and her stay at the fort one day, and set off into the real world. Eliška was only supposed to do that a few years later, but when she saw how her Abbess failed in curing the lady of Grimness, she packed her things and secretly waited for the first expedition that would go off in search of a cure. And she wasn't picky!
She obviously did not fare that great on the road -  and those who remember Eliška might know why. She has always been very bright, and perfectly capable of sewing up wounds, brewing potions, or administering medication. Yet it has never been easy to imagine her in the wilderness, far away from warm water, a comfortable bed, or a cooked meal, because one could hardly find a less practical person than Eliška. And in a land where the woods can bring much more than a common cold or a stumble over a tree stump, girls like Eliška are the first ones to die.
Nevertheless, Venerable Eliška came back. Tired, perhaps a bit shaken, but full of energy. She will need it - her young shoulders will need to bear the guilt and weaknesses of others. She will surely stumble - but will she fall?


Long Lake Folk

 When the company of Knight Captain Jan Valerián discovered the Long Lake Folk, the news spread like wildfire. They apparently live in four tribes, each with a different manner of dress and different pagan gods, but they regularly meet, trade goods, and celebrate major holidays. Once they surely spoke Czech, but their language gradually shifted through their long isolation; it got simple, and many knights might say it degenerated. They use a whole range of their own vocabulary; they only speak in simple sentences and use all kinds of gestures, jumping, and sometimes even draw on the ground. In principle, they know of guns, but they are much more at home with improvised bows and crossbows or spears. They wear practical, but simple clothing, which changes completely with the season. Sometimes it looks like shirts and shorts, at other times like ancient camo with a pine needle pattern. Some wear lillies on their clothing, while others prefer red scarves. For battle, they don armour from thickly quilted cloth reinforced with tyres and reused metal scraps. In general, their gear is much lighter and more primitive than that of the knights.
Archduke Vilém II himself extended his protection to them and ordered that they should be traded and negotiated with and helped, but not integrated into his domain yet. Perhaps that is because a step like that would cause a response from Prague; perhaps he just doesn't want to let a horde of such people into his lands. Knights see them as exotic, but still people - their backwards, less clever, and less civilized brothers.



“The last time I felt like this
I was in the wilderness and the canyon was on fire
And I stood on the mountain
In the night and I watched it burn” 

Spark is coming to Grimness as a flicker of hope - most have lost faith that the lady of the fort could still be helped. But then came a message that Laurenc František of Richston's expedition had succeeded after all; that they are bringing a girl with feathers in her hair who is bringing a cure. These are truly good news. Yet Venerable Eliška soon noticed that the girl of the Long Lake Folk has a mysterious, and somewhat worrying power. Anywhere she lies, the grass seems to make a bed; while others bleed as thorns tear their clothes, the branches part for Spark, letting her pass unharmed. The knights also found it suspicious how the otherwise untrusting shaman was happy to let her young apprentice go with them. Soon they understood that the girl would not be easy to handle - Spark is stubborn and now, away from her tribe's watchful eye, she is quickly getting out of control. Did the old shaman perhaps send her out to let the world wisen her up? Or did she just want to get rid of the unmanageable little savage? And how will the pagan tied to the forces of nature be accepted by the good Christians of Grimness?



 “That justice is the one thing you should always find
You got to saddle up your boys, you got to draw a hard line
When the gun smoke settles we'll sing a victory tune
And we'll all meet back at the local saloon” 

Every young warrior must undergo the trial of acceptance before others in the tribe accept him as a man grown. Yet the path of the young Talon is different. The infallible shaman's prophecy states that the son of the mighty Rikitan will perform great deeds for the tribe and save it from an unseen strange threat. But there is a catch: for that to happen, he must become a man according to the rules of outlanders. Yes, Talon is going to Grimness to take part in the tourney and to earn his spurs as a knight; the first knight of the Long Lake. The young rover will therefore have to deal with challenges that others have spent years preparing for. And even if he succeeds, there is another challenge: the new environment will inevitably change him. Will he even want to go back home?
Talon will fight as champion for the company of Laurenc František of Richston.



“This whole world is a foreign land
We swallow the moon but we don't know our own hand
We're running with the case but we ain't got the gold
Yet we're trying to leave something behind”

 Acorn was sent out to Grimness by the tribe's chief to accompany the young ones, and he is the best guide one could imagine. The ageing hunter is as old as the Lipno Dam itself, yet he does not command much respect of his tribesmen or wear a vest full of trophies. Quite on the contrary: something horrible must have happened and this voyage might be Acorn's punishment.
Acorn knows much about Šumava's secrets - and many of the secrets of its people. Yet he will have to face the civilized world and guide the youths through a jungle more treacherous than any forest. A jungle of intrigue.