Previously on Game of Chops:
Elsewhere in the War of the Five Teams:
After losing the first engagement outside Phillisport, the Teamslayer rallied his forces and fought off the Queenstone assault. Meanwhile, the Guard of President’s Landing fought giants and emerged victorious.
The Knights of the Chop now trail all three in the war. Thankfully, they are a mere two battles behind Phllisport, who leads the other kingdoms of the East.
Throughout the Thirty Kingdoms, all men of war know one simple truth: do not trust sellswords. When the battle is tough, they tend to drop their banners and run. Or worse, they will turn cloak to join forces with the enemy. Despite the risk, every kingdom must rely on them to an extent. The wiser kingdoms carefully watch their mercenary companies of the pen, making sure to invest more to keep them happy and safeguard their loyalty. The wisest kingdoms develop their own trustworthy knights to place in positions of leadership within these companies, keeping costs down while securing loyalty.
In the battles since the Phillisport Disaster, the Second Strings have performed honorably for the Knights of the Chop. Luke of Jackson, much maligned after the early defeats, has risen into a position of esteem and leadership within the mercenaries of the pen. The Jester Biddle has performed admirably, and Ser Parsons, Knight of the Grapefruit Tourney, has lived up to his early promise.
But with no true leaders among the ranks of the Second Strings, have Lord Protector Anthopoulos and Lord Hand Snit forgotten the simple truth of sellswords?
The soldiers of the Red Waste approached at sunset. The Hand selected young Ser Fried of the Mounds Guard to lead the defenses once again. The commonfolk had grown confident in the young knight, who had not allowed a single casualty in his defense so far. Although he was not as precise as previous battles, Ser Fried served well.
Meanwhile, the Knights led a devastating charge through the ranks of the Red Waste. Ser Acuna launched a catapult into the enemy, and Ser Johan, the Goat of Camar, led a charge that scattered their forces. The Knights of the Chop secured a firm lead in the battle. Surely the night would end in victory!
But all men must serve, and all men must die.
Ser Fried left the battle after six bouts, and the Hand called upon the Second Strings to continue the defense. But when mercenaries of the pen are not well supplied, they grow dissatisfied with their work. Without reinforcements, the Second Strings were disinclined to participate in battle. “Ziggy” Sobotka was the first to dip his banner, and with him the entire company abandoned its defense.
The seemingly routed soldiers of the Red Waste regrouped and easily advanced past the Knights’ line. Ser Ozhaino attempted a counter-strike to turn the tide of battle, but without the Second String defenses, the effort was futile.
The Red Waste won the opening engagement, putting the SunTrust Stronghold under siege once again.
The next night, Ser Gaus of the Bayou led the Mounds Guard. The desertion of the Second Strings placed a heavy burden on the Knight. He knew that once he tired and left the battle, there may be no one left to continue the fight.
The knight heroically embraced this burden. His defense was efficient and controlled. Almost all his strikes hit their mark, and few blows were wasted. This allowed him to defend long into the battle, and by the time he tired and was forced to retire, he had only allowed two casualties.
Meanwhile, the Knights of the Chop struck early against the sieging enemy. Returned at last by the healers of the Citadel, Ser Mac helped the Knights strike first. Assisted by Nick No One and Ser Dans, he delivered a heavy blow to the soldiers of the Red Waste.
However, after this initial strike, the Knights failed to further their charge. Though at many times they were poised to solidify control, time after time the Red Waste defenders stopped the knights. Even Ser Acuna, recently praised throughout the Thirty Kingdoms for his service throughout the last fortnight, failed to secure victory.
After the usual span of battle, the two armies remained at a stalemate. With no one else to turn to, the Hand selected the Jester Biddle to continue the defense.
The mercenary stumbled out to his defensive position, clearly still drunk from the post-desertion celebration. His stikes were nowhere near the enemy soldiers’, who slipped by him without effort.
The soldiers of the Red Waste easily won the engagement, and advanced atop the castle walls poised to sack the SunTrust Stronghold.
With Ser Folty still unable to take up the mantle as Lord Commander of the Mounds Guard, the Hand called upon young Ser Soroka, who until recently had been tasked with driving away rabble and protecting the good folk near vassal Gwinnett Holdfast. Though lacking in experience in battle against the greater kingdoms of the Thirty Kingdoms, the knight shows great promise, and he is rumored to be a favorite of both Azor Anthopolous and the Lord Hand to serve as Lord Commander in the future.
Across the battlefield, the forces of the Red Waste were led by an equally impressive young commander. The warlock Weaver used his arsenal of spells to beguile and bewilder the noble Knights. His efforts to confuse were effective, and disorganization swept through the ranks of the defending forces.
Despite a valiant effort from Ser Soroka to marshall the troops, the knights were unable to break the enchantment. They wandered aimlessly for hours, and their distraction allowed the enemy to raid Suntrust Stronghold and secure yet another victory.
Once again, the knights were forced to call upon the Second Strings, and once again they were let down.
After losing the Stronghold, the Knights were forced to temporarily retreat from the realm.
In tathers, the Knights of the Chop march north. Though moral is low, they set their sights on Clevehal: a ruined castle at the shore of the Erie Eye lake. Once a monument to a great industrious king who had conquered the territory, Clevehal is now a shadow of its former self. If the Knights wish to regain position in this War of the Five Teams, they must conquer its burnt towers.