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Task Poem

JWaldman Dec 23rd, 2019 99 Never
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  1.  Task whispers: ...Reminds me Audree, I have something for you. Assuming you're not unconscious.
  2.  Audree Iessia whispers: ... So how. Did this come about, Commander Task...?
  3.  Task whispers: Mmm...
  4.  Task whispers: Long story. Might be better told in private in truth.
  5.  Task whispers: Has some sensitive information.
  6.  Audree Iessia whispers: I have the time.
  7.  Task whispers: As you say then.
  8.  Task would smile weakly, if warmly to Audree as he led the felinae knight away from the constant hustle and bustle of the city park, puffing away steadily at his corncob pipe as he idly tapped at his new eyepatch with a degree of weariness and discomfort. It was still an unnatural sensation to the bald watchman, and not one he could easily come to terms with even if he put on a tough face.
  9.  
  10. Seeing how Audree reacted long ago....it made far more sense to him now. It was a whole different world.
  11.  
  12. At last, the pair would enter the watch headquarters and swiftly make their way to Task's office, one of the few parts of the building not assaulted by Grandma Gallagher's failed spatial refurbishing efforts that appeared to have warped the space and time about the building in an entirely sorcerous manner.
  13.  
  14. Small victories, at least.
  15.  
  16. Pulling out the seat for Audree before taking his own around the coffee table, Task would sag into his seat with an exhausted droop of his features as he began to rub at his temples, the lines of stress having only built in the recent years in truth.
  17.  
  18. "...Right. So I was in the dojo as usual, doing my best to sharpen my pugilism for whatever threat might next come for the city, and who do I find but a syndicate blood magi brawling with a knight. A familiar one too, one Vasillios Quinn. Iris' significant other."
  19.  
  20. The watchman would shake his head, pouring two glasses of some of Commander Dunstan's fabled scotch before taking a deep sip from his own with a sigh.
  21.  
  22. "I told the others to get out of there, and I faced him down in the back of the dojo. His blood and blade to my fists and energy. It was a close battle, but one that I lost. I slipped up and got distracted, and in that moment my eye was on the ground in a puddle of viscera..."
  23.  
  24. Task would take a long, thoughtful drag from his corncob pipe, tapping the smoking appendage for a time before continuingto speak.
  25.  
  26. "...After he defeated me, I convinced him to turn on the remnants of the syndicate and inform what he has gathered about the village that's been stirring up all that trouble. He then ranted to me that Jasper is some kind of skin walker, and that there's evil afoot."
  27.  
  28. The bald constable would blow a cloud of minty smoke up towards the rafters of his office, before taking a deep breathe from the tangent at hand.
  29.  
  30. "...Suspicions confirmed by the church's inquisition, approved by the upper echelons and the crown in the pursuit of apostasy. An inquisition I was invited to this day shortly after being wounded."
  31.  
  32. Task would sigh.
  33.  
  34. "...It's been a long week Audree."
  35. (Task)
  36. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  37.  
  38.  There is a lot to digest in that, certainly. Her frown forms. But the only word, truly remarkable in that entire happening, is what he implies that this man claims that Jasper now is.
  39.  
  40. A skinwalker?
  41.  
  42. "I am." She begins, flat, and then she pauses. "That is a lot to process. But first, foremost- I am sorry about your eye. I know who difficult such a loss, and an adjustment to a false eye is."
  43.  
  44. The bit about Jasper being some... somebody else in his skin, or something that has taken the shape of him? She can't even begin to process such a thing. Perhaps after that Banshee, she might have to open up even the most ridiculous realms of possibility to figure out what's truly going on, though.
  45. (Audree Iessia)
  46. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  47. "You are sweet, it has....been an adjustment. Not quite sure whether it felt odder with or without this chunk of metal in my head. Still a bit nauseous frankly, the smoke and a bit of drink helps. Until it doesn't, of course."
  48.  
  49. Task would sigh as he took a steady sip from his glass, grimacing briefly as he dragged slowly from his corn cob pipe. Command had worn the watchmen greatly, his migraines had become an almost ever present companion in day to day discourse even before he'd lost his eye.
  50.  
  51. "It is all a lot to...digest. I haven't had much time even to sit down and breathe without another meeting, report, or dangerous interaction with a criminal. At the least, Mister Quinn will prove a wealth of information and insight. But his beliefs, if mildly eccentric, don't sound like lies..."
  52.  
  53. The bald commander would scoot his chair closer to Audree's with an idle screech of the tiles against the wooden feet, wincing lightly before he placed his calloused hand on the woman's shoulder.
  54.  
  55. "My troubles are nothing, how have you been taking everything?"
  56. (Task)
  57. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  58.  She's got new weight on her shoulders, but it is all personal and incredibly awkward and unpleasant, so alas- she will speak nothing of it. She does almost... wince, when he asks of her general affairs, but she uprights, forgetting all the... crying, and the other things.
  59.  
  60. "I have been managing." Her response is quite standard, and flat! "...At first, I was. I was angry. Angrier than I could ever remember being. Most of that was directed at myself, at my own... failings to take control of the situation myself, sooner, with my newfound authority.
  61.  
  62. But I've. I've dialed back the self-loathing, and I'm just trying to take the days slowly as they do come."
  63.  
  64. Somehow, talking about everything surrounding the village felt easier than going elsewhere.
  65.  
  66. "...Pass some drink."
  67. (Audree Iessia)
  68. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  69. Task would offer a weak, warm smile to the felinae knight as he reached across the table, topping off one of the cups for Audree with Dustan's private stash of brandy before carefully setting it down before the knight. Using his steel sabatons, the watchman would scoot his chair up beside her chair for convenience of drinking, setting the bottle at the table's edge with easy access.
  70.  
  71. "Failure is something I've become quite familiar with in recent days. Syndicate rabble have gotten the better of me twice now, each another reminder that I am not nearly as strong as I need to be to adequately fulfill my duties. That ever persistent nagging voice in the back of my head that I'm not quite good enough, I suppose."
  72.  
  73. The bald commander would take a deep sip from his cup, grimacing briefly at the stinging heat of the hard liquor before taking another shortly after. It would be a criminal waste, after all.
  74.  
  75. "...You've always put your best foot forward with these things Audree. Everyone makes mistakes, even legendary knights. It's part of their journey, one that builds character and resolve and they persevere through and strive to do better."
  76.  
  77. Task would sigh, taking a long, thoughtful drag from his corncob pipe as he placed his palm back on the felinae knight's shoulder, visage sagging lightly as he allowed, alone with just his closest companion, to simply be tired.
  78.  
  79. "I believe in you, I know you'll make the best of this situation because you're exactly the sort of woman that can. I won't hear any disagreement on the matter either, I'll add half deaf to my list of injuries if I hear a peep!"
  80. (Task)
  81. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  82. Audree, as she is always seen doing whenever alcohol is at all involved, only knows how to slam it back with hopeful haste that it will work enough to dull her mind and ease her stresses.
  83.  
  84. As usual, even time won't really provide that it does that much. But it's always worth a try. Even just the couple of cry-fits she's had recently feels like it's really loosened her up in the long run.
  85.  
  86. Even though they were all terrible at the time and one was a full blown panic attack.
  87.  
  88. "I always appreciate the votes of confidence, Task." She pauses, hitting him up slightly by thrusting the already empty glass his way.
  89.  
  90. "But we live in the worst of it, now. A lot of questioning uncertainty and order explicitly to do nothing about it until clarity can be established.
  91.  
  92. So I have nothing but time to dwell on it."
  93. (Audree Iessia)
  94. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  95. Task would snort with amusement as Audree hammered away like a weathered sailor at the booze, matching her indulgence stride for stride partly out of a sense of mutual misery, and part because it was tasty brandy. The small pleasures in life were important to take advantage of, one never knew how quickly they might vanish.
  96.  
  97. "I will always be here to provide them as long as I can Audree. You are dear to me, and I wouldn't want to imagine this city without your determined gait by my side."
  98.  
  99. The bald constable would blink with surprise, before erupting in a chuckle as the jabbed out glass hit him slightly up, nodding firmly as he swooped up the bottle before refilling both of their glasses to the full with the former commander's brandy. It was a civic service in truth not to waste the stuff.
  100.  
  101. "...You aren't wrong though. These are dark and uncertain times. I had doubts that a hodunk village in the middle of nowhere could be any real trouble, but hearing that the crown approved Aziz's inquisition, that Mister Quinn's ramblings were at least mildly coherent....it doesn't make much sense at all. None of it."
  102.  
  103. Task would drink deeply, sighing with a light flush of liquor as he turned his tired, one eyed gaze to Audree with a weary, warm smile, placing his arm once more on her shoulder as he continued to do what heroes did best.
  104.  
  105. Drink themselves into a mild stupor in despair when their hands were tied.
  106.  
  107. "I can always use your insights in my investigations Audree, if you're personally ordered to do nothing. You're the brightest woman in this city, I'd be lucky to have your help on some of these cases. There's a long list of names...the missing eye has not helped with all these important meetings I've been forced into..."
  108. (Task)
  109. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  110.  Task says, "Do you know why you were ordered to do nothing? "
  111.  Task says, "That passivity of action seems...strange after the affair with kidnapper. I never took Vandigan for being shy from blood."
  112.  Task says, "Kirai's head rolled quick."
  113.  Audree Iessia says, "... Because those who have gone to the village have repeatedly misstepped."
  114.  Task says, "Ah..."
  115.  Audree Iessia says, "It was because of them that hostilities burned when Jasper's party arrived."
  116.  Audree Iessia says, "It was because we had already extinguished all our good will that Jasper was killed."
  117.  Task says, "Of course..."
  118.  Task says, "..."
  119. Audree Iessia says, "Nemein himself came to the gates and set off the temper of a woman-"
  120.  Audree Iessia says, "Who may have been the same who Jasper clashed with."
  121.  Audree Iessia says, "... I should not say Jasper was killed, until we know for sure and beyond any doubt who we deal with."
  122.  Task says, "...So even an exarch mistepped here, diplomatic relations have been a shit show from the start."
  123.  Audree Iessia says, "They claim that- the witches have threatened them, corrupted their home and their people."
  124.  Audree Iessia says, "I am. I'm really just unsure."
  125.  Audree Iessia says, "Usually, my gut- my instinct, is so keen on these things."
  126.  Audree Iessia says, "But I really just do not know anymore where the lies end."
  127.  Audree Iessia says, "And where truth begins."
  128.  Task says, "And yes...all of that is shaky, but with Aziz implying to me that one of his flock was potentially...kidnapped, I have no more doubts of their ill intent."
  129. Task says, "I....I struggle with the same Audree."
  130.  Audree Iessia says, "I do not know if Nemein misstepped or if they were just using him as an excuse."
  131.  Audree Iessia says, "I do not know what has become of Jasper."
  132. Task says, "There's a fair reality of both..."
  133.  Audree Iessia says, "I do not know any of their sincerities in any of the parlay we spoke after we came together to slay the Banshee that appeared at their gates."
  134. Task says, "The uncertainty is the greatest issue...never has the truth been so difficult to ascertain."
  135.  Audree Iessia says, "All I know is that which I once spoke after the Gala-"
  136. Audree Iessia says, "It is going to get worse, before it gets better."
  137. Task says, "Ever the optimist Audree...it's true though."
  138.  Task says, "It's dark roads ahead....we'll need a lot of light."
  139. Task says, "I don't know what's going to happen, only that it's not gonna get simpler."
  140.  Audree Iessia says, "Not at all."
  141.  Task says, "Who knows what tomorrow brings, if it's my last. I must remain vigilant for the people....they need us now more than ever."
  142. Task says, "Mmm."
  143.  Task says, "Ah, that does remind me. On the topic of uncertain tomorrows..."
  144.  Task says, "I've your gift for your promotion, I never got to properly celebrate your achievement with how busy we've been."
  145.  Task would take another hefty swig from his cup as he shook his head, sighing lightly as he dug through the confines of his cloak with a bit of mildly intoxicated grace. The bald commander could hold his liquor pretty decently, but it was hard not to be a bit flushed with the quantity the pair had chosen to drink in sudden swiftness.
  146.  
  147. "Ever since the situation with Jasper, the prospect that I might die one of these days has become a common thought on my mind. My life lacks no amount of danger, and though I've not ceased my efforts in personal improvement, it's only a matter of time until I slip up against the wrong person and end up a corpse."
  148.  
  149. The bald commander would slowly dredge out a folded piece of parchment filled with a rough scrawl, clearly Task's own attempt at half decent hand writing from the bulkiness of the text in question. Unfolding it steadily, Task's remaining brown eye would sweep over the piece one last time before setting it down lightly in Audree's lap.
  150.  
  151. "If any day could be my last, I'd rather you have something permanent to remember me by. A memento of the fond, simpler times we've shared and of how you've helped me be the man I am today. That way, even if I don't make it back one of these days, you'll always know exactly how I felt, and perhaps you'll keep me in your memory because of it when I'm gone. Since our discourse started early on with my inability to read and write, I figured I'd write you something nice."
  152.  
  153. Task would blush lightly in spite of his usually stern visage, whether from the alcohol he'd consumed or his lack of familiarity with delivering such gestures. The bald constable would glance down at the coffee table with a light sigh.
  154.  
  155. "It's pretty terrible, I'm no great poet. But it's just for you, no one else's in the world. Congratulations on your promotion to exarch Audree, you always had it in you. I'm proud of what you've achieved in the order."
  156.  
  157. The bald commander would take another deep swig from his glass, nearly emptying it with the gesture alone as he puffed once more from his corncob pipe.
  158.  
  159. "...Usually it's supposed to be the knight giving the lady poetry in the stories, but I'm no fairy tale princess. You'll have to fill in for both positions in this case, bare with me."
  160. (Task)
  161. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  162.  
  163. {Item} You drop For Audree.
  164. {Item} You picked up For Audree. Dropped by Task. .
  165. {Item} You drop For Audree.
  166. {Item} You picked up For Audree. Dropped by Task. .
  167.  Ever since the situation with Jasper, the prospect that I might die one of these days has become a common thought on my mind.
  168.  
  169. Task might notice Audree sink in her seat, or he might not- but there is something sore he unknowingly hits on that sours this moment with a sully that he would beg forgiveness if he new he touched on the freshness of.
  170.  
  171. But she swallows it- as she swallows all her traumas, and uprights after a time, an unsteady enough a hand still to tell that there is something very wrong with her temperament as she takes, and begins to read it.
  172.  
  173. In unsurprising Audree fashion, her reactions are minimal, but her voice is soft and affirmative.
  174.  
  175. "...I-I hope you did not struggle too much on this. I do not think I even taught you such a skill in my classes..." She tries, at least, to give him a dry, witty snap firstly, to break what is at this point her own tension.
  176.  
  177. "...It's very sweet, Task. Thank you."
  178. (Audree Iessia)
  179. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  180.  
  181.  "I don't believe there's a struggle large enough in existence that would stop me from undertaking something on your behalf, Dame Iessia. I'm rather stubborn as they say, it comes with the foolishness."
  182.  
  183. Task would flash Audree a wide, missing toothed grin as he scratched the back of his head, cheeks mildly reddening as the commander tried to loosen up for just a bit with the one person in all the city he could let down all his barriers with. She'd always been there when Task needed her most.
  184.  
  185. "...Perhaps your teaching abilities are better than you realized? I admit, it helped that my instructor was awe inspiringly beautiful, it made it quite easy to pay attention to the lessons I confess. It was also a good excuse to spend more time with you, I couldn't complain."
  186.  
  187. The bald commander would snort as he took another sip from his drink, topping it off with the bottle once more as he returned his tired, one eyed gazeto Audree with a sense of warmth, as if finally giving the gift to the felinae knight had loosened some of his own barriers in expressing himself with her.
  188.  
  189. "As long as you're by my side in this city Audree, we can take whatever comes no matter how difficult it is. No matter what troubles come for us or the citizens we're sworn to protect. An exarch knight and constable commander out to be more than a match for any criminal insurgence, I'd think."
  190. (Task)
  191. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  192.  
  193.  Task says, "One of these days, we will need to finally go stargazing...I'll take what moments of peace with you that I can these days."
  194.  Task says, "Perpetually busy as we are."
  195.  Task says, "Whatever comes...no matter the danger or struggles that we might face....you are the person in this city that is more important to me than anyone else Audree. I will never abandon you in whatever plights we face. "
  196.  Audree Iessia says, "... Ah. Perhaps, yes."
  197.  Audree Iessia says, "And I would never expect you to. You know that."
  198.  Task says, "...I know."
  199.  Task says, "I'm glad that you do too."
  200.  Task says, "Well, I've monopolize too much of your time as is. I had a wonderful evening as ever with you Audree, I look forward to many more if the fates are good to me."
  201.  Task says, "When I get more information from Aziz and Vasillios, I'll call upon you. Perhaps our two heads with their assets can figure something out about all this mess."
  202. Task says, "There's no one else I'd rather have as a partner for such a case."
  203. Audree Iessia says, "I hope so- and also dread it."
  204.  Audree Iessia says, "But do keep me up to date"
  205. Task says, "Of course. It's an excuse to stand by your side and whisper to you."
  206.  Task asks, "How could I refuse?"
  207.  Audree Iessia says, "... Of course."
  208.  Audree Iessia says, "I'm going to vanish now, Task. I suggest you do the same."
  209.  Task says, "Of course. Sleep well Audree."
  210.  Task says, "I'll see you soon enough. Stay safe."
  211. Task says, "...Thank you for being you."
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