From a different story that I'd like to continue one day. This is about a year or two old.
It was already past noon as the sun was seen slowly crawling down into the eastern horizon. Preparations must be made and all he could do is trust his cousin at this point. Janos Rand strolled away from the fortress courtyard with a heart of faith and devotion. His dark grey robes swayed against the gentle breeze as he made his way into the neighboring city. It was long since he was last able to gaze about the city in wonder and a small but proud smile made its return to his lips. Passing by citizens on busy streets, he once more took in the prosperity that was his home: Sothreath, a warm-weathered port city on the southern coast of Azelas.
Sothreath consisted mostly of crude, box-like buildings constructed from stone or whiterock clay. It's structures served as houses, inns, taverns and store-fronts for many a capable merchant. The city had always flourished with business at these hours. Vendors would display a wide variety of domestic and foreign goods from within wooden kiosks along city streets; with most of them covered in tattered sheets of cloth to protect wares and merchants from beating sunlight, or occasional rain showers that were common during the Fall. Among these many curiosities were coats made from tanned animal hides, which were commonly taken from the hunting of feral hounds found in both Shurad and Gravis. Other goods included exquisite textiles and frabrics from the seat of the Empire, Kaliat. Trinkets and jewelry from Tristam and Rast were also reasonably common. It's food markets had always seen repeated business selling meat from cattle and crops from the farm countryside while laborors hauled frieght from the docks to the south. Truly, the land of Azelas thrived from within its heart; the trading hub of Sothreath.
However, he could see the anxiety and fear in the peoples' hearts. The Prefect had not yet addressed the current political concerns to the common rabble, likely out of fear that it would choke economic and moral stability. Despite this, even they could sense that something was terribly wrong. Rumors of House Gravis and its cecession had likely reached them and this was already beginning to shake the foundation of Azelas and its people. It was only a matter of time before the civil unrest to the north would spurn a greater calamity here. If the Empire fell and the land had been divided once more, trade routes between the Houses and Clans would also be fractured. Crime would begin to be a dire problem and the country would be fighting its own people as well as other clans that could view that situation as an opportunity to seize control. All of this would be gone due to Bardock Lang's play for power.
He had to make sure that the men were ready to march soon, but he needed to stop somewhere first.
"Brock, I don't give a damn if you are the Prefect's youngest son or the damned Emperor, himself! You've had enough -- The bottle, now!" cried Ashe, the barkeep of the a popular inn and tavern near Sothreath's Docks. This place was known as the Vermillion Barque, it was frequented by sailors and other soldiers that lived in the district and known for loud, starry nights of drunken revels.
The stout but well-muscled General of the Right, Brock Etavi waved his hand dismissively at the sprightly girl, laughing in drunken stupor while barely able to sit up in his chair. He brushed back the blonde strands of hair in his face, sweeping them back to join the rest on his half-shaven scalp. "You have a lot of fire -hic- ...woman," he said showing a wide grin, glaring at the comely lass with one eye half-open and the other completely closed. "I -hic- like that. It reminds me of me."
"Don't look at me like that, dammit. And you've had enough! Give me...the bottle!" she spat, finally prying the wine bottle from the warrior's shakey grip.
"H-Hey! If I wanted a new caretaker I could have asked for a priestess at Lightshore Temple," he slurred, his voice changing in volume as he clumsily wagged his finger at both of her walking off with a bottle in hand. "But I chose you, lass! It's a... it's a compliment. Hey! Come back... with my wine..."
"I guess you are still in a good mood after all that's been happening, lately." A familiar voice from behind made Brock jerk back in his chair, almost falling over to the side.
It was Robillard Strahn, a trader and economic advisor in the Docks District that had been known for his gift in tactics. He was called Rob by most of the locals, including Brock, whom had been his best friend for many years.
"Rrrraaaahb!" Brock shouted in his friend's face with a wide-eyed smile, his breath reeking of local wine and perhaps even some yensan brew from Tristam.
"Ugh," Rob protested, stepping downwind of his breath. "So, how long have ya been at this, then?"
"Hah...'bout two bottles ago... I think," Brock slurred while gazing aimlessly around the tavern. Finally, he glanced over his shoulder towards Ashe as she was clearing tables, "But some tavern maid had to ruin my fun!" Ashe looked back at them both and sighed.
"Please take him with you," she begged, just as she was carrying empty mugs and glasses back to the kitchen behind the bar.
"Heeey! How 'bout a bottle for my frien'! ...Come back!" Brock blankly hollered to the kitchen but Ashe ignored him and continued cleaning.
"Yeah, I'd like that but we should probably get ya sober and back home," Rob replied. "B'sides, a messenger came by the shop this morning and told me to come get ya."
"Eh? Hic... w-what messenger? What are you talkin' about?" asked Brock with some concern now rising in tone.
"Your brother and cousin both called for you to a War Council," said Rob. "And you-- You didn't go, did you?"
"Nope," Brock bluntly replied. "I was -hic- here all night."
"Of course you were," chimed in Rob with a grin, "Ca'mon, up we go!"
Brock draped one of the his arms around Rob's back, anchoring behind his shoulders and neck while his burly friend helped him out of his chair. Together, they both walked him towards the door leading to the steets. Ashe then peeked her head out of the kitchen for a moment and smirked, "Be careful, you two. Brock, come back when you are more sober... and less unbearable, alright?"
"Hic...Heh, I love ya too, Ashe," the young General muttered with sarcasm before they made it outside. "Now tell me, Rob. What's going on with my brother?"
Rob sighed in reply, carrying his armored friend that was leaning against him while watching for passersby in the way. "Dalan is trying to influence your Dad to join the fight against the rebels... in his usual odd way." He stopped at the side of the street while looking to Brock as he finished, "And only Heaven knows what Janos is doing, right now."
"Wait, you mean they aren't at the council together?" Brock asked him, now attempting to fight off his intoxication. He clinched his fists and forced his glazed, weary eyes to open a bit more.
Rob continued walking him home, towards the fortress. "No," he answered. "They split up a moment ago; Dalan is still in House Etavi, probably in the War Room or his private chambers."
"Janos?" mouthed Brock after a light yawn.
"Like I said, I don't know," said Rob, "But if I had to guess, he maybe left for his wife and kid."
Brock blinked several times, feeling the wine slowly surrender its control again as he drew breath, "Sounds like this is getting serious. Well, you know... more serious," he said.
"Yeah, and from the looks of things and how your brother is acting lately, he's going to need your axe and shield. I don't think you'll be much good if ya can't keep your head out of that wine cask." He teased.
Brock chuckled, nodding up and down while his friend carried him up the steps before he commented back.
"Hic, heh...heh... friggin' smartass."