[GOTHIC/ECHO] Scene 2: Harkin's Introduction

edited September 2009 in In-Game
In the dream, the woman is pulling Harkin down into the waters of the Orre. He has to scramble over the ropes mooring the harbored ships and duck beneath the drying fishnets at the pier, but she just floats through them, turning backwards every so often to make sure he still follows. It is night and no one seems to notice either of them.

"And the fishnets, why are they still up?" Harkin always wonders abstractly.

She entreats him and he follows her willingly down the stone stairs at Smuggler's Grave where they hang the innocent and the guilty alike. Smugglers and mutineers, sentenced to death by the Admiralty courts, their corpses left to reek and to be washed by three tides at the Grave.

She turns again, and holds out her hand. The tide is half out. He takes her cold hand as the waters laps at his boots. There is a grim cadaver on the mossy wall nearby. As a small wave splashes against it, the gaunt and whitened head of the executed lolls towards the pair as though to see them off.

She floats backwards and down into the water, the surface of the water undisturbed. He hesitates at the stair, the water up to his waist now. She tugs at him, insistent.

"Where are we going?" he always asks.

"Please! You'll see..." her voice watery and sad.

***

"Harkin! Wake up!"

Smidgen is tugging at at Harkin's hand. She looks panicked and wide-eyed.

"Harkin, please! You've got to do something! I got away but they've got Whiff!"

Smidgen is a street urchin. Whiff is her twin sister. They're both clever thieves. They've given Harkin dozens of tips on all manner of subjects over the last year or two, almost all of which have held true.

Comments

  • edited September 2009
    Startled awake, Harkin shakes the cobwebs from his mind and fixes one bulging eye on the waif.

    “Blast it Whiff – err….Smidgen! Ye ha' no right to be creepin’ ‘pon me unawares!”

    Brushing away a blanket of hay Harkin lurches to his feet. Stiff muscles and aching bones protest the move, eliciting a groan from the old man. The loft is twenty feet above the ground, but Harkin feels like he had slept on dirt nonetheless. Not for the first time, he curses under his breath the twists of fortune that made him destitute and not a King.

    Then again, I’ve never had any use for Kings. Heh.

    Bits of straw still cling to his whiskers and unkempt mane of graying hair.

    “What be ye prattling on about? Smidgen’s put hersel' in the fire?”

    Harkin often has trouble keeping the two urchins straight in his mind
  • edited September 2009
    "I'm Smidgen! Have you been riding the mares again!?" Smidgen tugs Harkin by the hand some more, leaning back with all of her slight weight.

    "Never that! That doesn' matter! Whiff and I was snowin' some linens from the washerwomen out by the East gate drag. One of the haybags caught on to us and it was crabshells on rooftops!" Smidgen lets go of Harkin with one of her hands to wipe away a tear, leaving a clean smudge on one cheek.

    "We'd gotten clear but just past Paisley when we were comin' down the irons a little baldy man grabbed on to Whiff's rag. I tol' 'er to let 'im have it, but she said it were a silver she weren't willing to part with!"

    "Then the prig sets his bigger baldy friend on her. I pulled my chiv but he just laughs and scoops up Whiff into 'er own linen like she's a bag of riverbottom kits!" The littler one kicks 'is heel into my knuckles and I lost my chiv. Whiff was cursin' and kickin' awful but he just laughs some more and walks off with 'er slung over his shoulder."

    Smidgen starts crying fiercely. "I came here straight away, Harkin. You've just got to help. There's no one else!"

    Paisley Park is only a few minutes away if you know a good shortcut.
  • edited September 2009
    Harkin's tone softens as he lays a reassuring hand on Smidgen's shoulder.

    "Fret ye not, wee lass. Ol' Harkin'd be damned if I stands to let yer sis be roughed!"

    Harkin snatches a well-worn leather scabbard from its hiding place in the bales. It holds a short, heavy blade of the old style, a no-nonsense type of weapon. He straps it to his hip, crouches, and turns Smidgen to face him.

    "We be on th' job now, Smidgen. Follow behin' me, an' be sure t' keep up."

    Scrambling down the ladder to the stables below, Harkin and Smidgen pass out of the murk into the starry night as a few disgruntled horses whinny their annoyance.

    If there is one thing Harkin knows, it's the scum of this city. He would like to use his knowledge of the criminal element to recognize Whiff's abductors from their description and go straight to their den.
  • Harkin's on the job!

    I won't assume your knowledge or means yet. Let's see those rolls and I'll take your direction to know how Harkin goes about it. e.g. He just plain knows who these two are by their description, (two rough-and-tumble bald men one big, one little) and where they're likely to be found, or he asks some of his contacts at some of his favorite haunts, etc.

    Harkin has one Goal for certain: "Discover a Hidden Truth," the required Danger for which is being Put in a Bad Position. If you also in this one roll want to "Infiltrate," you can include the second Goal of finding your quarry without them having any clue Harkin is there. If you do want to do this, it may mean you are "Well Prepared" on any follow-up conflict (assuming success). This would carry a second required Danger of being "Caught in the Act," which would start you at four dice before you make any decisions about Aspects or Ephemera, or adding your own additional Danger.

    For many of these conflicts we will state the Dangers more explicitly, clarifying the nature of the Dangers and thus the true stakes. But I'd like to try this mode for now. Let's learn a bit more about the world from one another before naming our Dangers up front. I will say that Harkin understands that realized Dangers in this case may influence Whiff's state when she is found.
  • GOAL: Find the ruffians who have abducted Whiff
    GOAL: Or be Put in a Bad Position
    GOAL: Sneak up on the abductors without their knowledge
    DANGER: Or be Caught in the Act

    #DiceRoller( 4d6 )
  • edited September 2009
    Whoop! Actually two Goals there and two Dangers there, but can't edit cause it's a DiceRoller post.

    Not too good a roll unfortunately, but you got a 6! Distribute as you like. If you want to actually find them and find them quickly with your 6, you'll have to suck up some realized Danger and/or not surprise them.
  • I thought I did it exactly as you stated.

    Succeed at "Find the ruffians who have abducted Whiff"

    Fail at the others...
  • edited September 2009
    The other three rolls aren't all failures. Assigned to a Goal, the "4" means The goal is partially achieved and the opportunity remains. Assigned to a Danger, the "4" means the Danger partially comes true and the Danger remains.

    Admittedly, it's hard to imagine the narration for being partially successful at sneaking up on the abductors without their knowledge AND totally being caught in the act which may lead you toward assigning the "4" towards the being put in a Bad Position.

    But I can imagine, for example, a situation where the two baldies totally see you coming but the possibility of any "higher ups" not catching on to you remaining as an opportunity. There's ways to interpret almost any distribution, so distribute however you like. :)
  • GOAL: Find the ruffians who abducted Whiff [6]
    DANGER: Be Put in a Bad Position [2]
    GOAL: Sneak up on the abductors without their knowledge [2]
    DANGER: Be Caught in the Act [4]

    Sorry for the fumbling :)
  • No worries. I'm fumbling too. No post limit in these threads that I'm aware of. ;)

    Finding them quickly is of importance and Harkin realized that Goal. Rather than go into detective mode, I'm going to assume Harkin knows exactly who these footpads are and knows straight away where to go to mostly likely find them.

    Whatever happens next, we have our first Danger that is "remaining," floating out there: "THE COLLECTOR KNOWS HARKIN'S 'ON THE JOB.'"


    Harkin knows immediately the two men described by Smidgen as working together are almost certainly Jort and Seth. Jort, the taller of the two is a muscled thug of some intelligence; a planner of schemes. The smaller man, his half-brother Seth, is a bully and an opportunist without much initiative other than towards cruelty. They're no fools, but they're seldom subtle either. Harkin suspects they must have some connections or they'd have been picked off and hung out to dry some time ago. They'll be found in their rat hole not far west of the Ponte della Tette, a hideout convenient for Seth so he can translate his ill-gotten gains into whoring as quickly as possible.

    Smidgen keeps up adeptly with Harkin, her speed aided by sick worry. Her usual stealth serves her well when the two have to avoid a patrol.

    As they approach the bridge it looks to be a slow night and only a couple tired-looking courtesans are still offering services. The holiday tomorrow perhaps. One of them nods at Harkin but stays her usual crude tease when she notes Smidgen nearby.
  • edited September 2009
    A'right then, boys, where ye be holin' up?

    Harkin nods to Marcella and shoots her a steely and meaningful glance. Catching a beam of lamplight from the top-most window, the old rogue creeps nimbly to the comforting shadow of a nearby doorway. Cocking his head, he cups a hand over his ear and listens. High above, through a dimly glowing lucarne, wafts the jocular sound of late-night revelry. Harkin notes the familiar voices of two courtesans - Hattie and Mona, most likely - and of two men.

    Harkin smirks.

    Thought so.

    He beckons for Smidgen. She darts noiselessly to his side.

    "Wait 'ere, poppet. There's likely t' be wet work waitin' upstairs. Won't be wantin' ye underfoot." Harkin tousles her yellow locks and manages a smile. "Harkin'll be down right quick w' yer sis. Stay out o' sight, and keep an eye op'n fer trouble."

    Straightening himself he saunters over to Marcella, offering his arm and a mischievous grin. "M'lady, methinks 'tis time ol' Harkin convoyed ye up t' yon loft. 'Tis time t' join the debauchery, think ye not?"

    Harkin would like Marcella to escort him upstairs and help him gain entrance to Jort and Seth's room.
  • edited September 2009
    Marcella looks at Harkin somewhat quizzically. "All this time with my calling after ye and just now take me up on me proffers?"

    Marcella glances at Smidgen who is already disappearing into the shadows of a corner outside the light of the main. "Did you need the moppet along to give ye the go ahead then?" She looks up to the loft above and hears Mona giggle, then looks back to Harkin.

    "What ever you're up to, I'm expectin' some some coin for my trouble. Don't cause too much crow or get the guard on me," Marcella warns.

    Marcella leads Harkin up some back stairs from the alley and knocks on the door to the loft. Mona's giggling is cut short and then the nasal voice of Seth shouts out.

    "Climb yer thumb! There's no one home!"

    More giggling.

    Harkin's escourt looks at him and arches an eyebrow. At his nod she ventures, "Slow night, loves... Three for the price of two and I'll leave the bridge to the both of ye morrow eve then?"

    Hattie rasps, "I don't know, Marss..."

    After a brief silence Seth yells, "Sounds fit to me," and opens the door wide.

    Hattie, Mona, and Seth are within, all apparently a little tipsy. Jort cannot be seen. The den is full of bricabrac, all manner of stolen goods, though nothing seriously valuable at a glance. Green linens have been streamed across the room here and there at eye-level creating strangely colored lighting from the oil lamps. A couple of mattresses cover the floor near the window to the east. A green linen curtain covers a exit to the north, presumably to a small rear room judging the layout from the street.

    As you proceed, recall you can't sneak up on anyone and have a bad position pending. I have an idea but feel free to put Harkin there yourself.
  • Harkin takes in the scene with aplomb. He steps inside the door casually and picks up a silvered snuff box, examines it briefly, then tosses it carelessly on the disheveled feather bed. "Seth me boy," says Harkin, his steely gaze belying his wide smile and gentle tone of voice. "We seem t' be crossed up, ye n' m'sel'." He walks deliberately through the cluttered room, one hand on the hilt of his blade, right up to Seth. Mona and Hattie back away, cowed.

    The smile vanishes. "Harkin's got a question fer ye, an' 'twould serve ye well to think 'pon yer answer afor ye gives it." Harkin leans in toward Seth until, face-to-face, mere inches separate the two men. "Th' wee lass - where ha' ye stuck 'er? Jus' tell ol' Harkin, lemme snatch 'er back 'ome, an' I walks outta 'ere yer truest mate." His eyes narrow, and his voice drops to nigh a whisper, dripping with malice. "Or we will ha' diff'rences."

    Harkin is trying to bully the younger of the two thugs into giving up Whiff. He hasn't thought about what Jort is up to, right now, and that may prove troublesome.
  • edited September 2009
    The door open, Marcella is already slipping back down the stairs.

    Shocked at first, Seth recovers somewhat. "Hey, now what's this? You're not invited to this affair! Barter hours are past!"

    Mona and Hattie edge towards the side of the room and are clearly headed out the door, neither services nor payment rendered.

    As Harkin speaks his piece, Seth's protests trail off as he eyes Harkin's scabbard. "The wee lass, the little sharper? Oh, aye, I may just know a lil somethin' about that." He moves towards a small desk against the west wall. Harkin's protective instincts force him to turn somewhat to follow his movements, both to interpose himself between Seth and Mona as well as to ensure Seth does not make a break for the door.

    As Harkin turns, corded arms breach the rear curtain and corded leather drops about his neck and pulls tight.

    "Hah, ye fool!" Harkin hears Jort's growl in his ear and smells his foul breath. "Wings take ye! You'll offer the saints no repast the morrow save yer bones!"

    There's your bad position. I expect there's a conflict here. Your actions will determine the required Danger(s). An additional Danger is that Whiff has been harmed.

    Badly.

    Don't roll yet but please describe your initial actions/words as well as your intent/Goal(s).
  • Caught by surprise, Harkin feels the bite of the leather strap into his throat as Jort yanks it tight. There is no time to scheme or plan, just to react. Sagging like a copse, Harkin's dead weight pulls Jort forward and off his balance. In the split second before Jort recovers, Harkin throws both arms high and back, seizing Jort's mangy locks in gnarled fists. With a stifled grunt Harkin heaves desperately, pulling Jort off of his feet and tumbling him head-over-teakettle to the floor. Jort loses his grip on the garrote and it falls away.

    "Ye poxy bastard! Wha' ha' ye done w' the girl?" Harkin hisses, and reaches for his gladius.

    Harkin's intent is to incapacitate Jort and Seth. Being focused at the moment on Jort, he has lost track of Seth in the commotion.
  • Harkin will have to commit to violence of some kind to incapacitate Jort and Seth. The required Danger will be the Harm to Whiff I mentioned above, not necessarily as a direct cause of Harkin's actions, but there in the mix. The additional Danger I'll add in is the lingering THE COLLECTOR KNOWS HARKIN'S "ON THE JOB." So that's one Goal and two Dangers to start: 3 dice.

    Please make any choices about additional Dangers or resources and then roll in one post, and then let us know your distibution in a following post. If you do decide to add yet another Danger, a natural one to choose at this point is that Harkin is Harmed.
  • GOAL: Hamstring Jort and intimidate Seth into giving up
    DANGER: Whiff is harmed, badly
    DANGER: The Collector knows that Harkin is "On The Job"

    Harkin invokes his "Protective" Aspect, fighting for Whiff's safety and all. This uses his lone Fate point.

    #DiceRoller( 4d6 )
  • Yikes. Harkin's in a world of hurt.

    GOAL: Hamstring Jort and intimidate Seth into giving up [3]
    DANGER: Whiff is harmed, badly [5]
    DANGER: The Collector knows that Harkin is "On The Job" [2]
  • Not ideal for sure, but you got a 5; maybe if you hadn't invoked Harkin's Protective Aspect it would have been really bad for Whiff. And I think I'm inclined to interpret G/E with a sort of a "Let it Ride" feature until circumstances change quite a bit; now that Whiff's well-being has been staked and you applied a 5 to it, she'll probably be reasonably okay.

    There's going to have to be a follow-up conflict on your Goal if you want to pursue it. Harkin can make some progress on his goals but not fulfill them entirely. He can also change his Goal(s). Seth might end up getting away or he might stay and fight. Not clear yet. Seth getting away would certainly explain Harkin's activities becoming known to the Collector. Obviously so would Harkin letting them live.


    In the head over tea-kettle tumble, Jort becomes tangled up in some of the linens draped from the ceiling. Still somewhat wrapped by them, he quickly recovers and begins scrambling towards the mattresses against the wall. That's when Harkin sees a weapon hilt protruding from beneath one of them.

    "Come into our walk-up, will ye?!"

    He'll probably reach his weapon unless Harkin quickly hamstrings him.

    Time seems to be crawling towards the grave. Harkin is dimly aware of Mona and Hattie screaming out of the door, probably to wake the dead, but it seems so far off... From the corner of his eye he sees Seth circling around him, headed towards the curtained room. Harkin is not certain, but Seth looks more frightened than bloodthirsty. That's when Harkin, despite the racket, thinks he hears a muffled moan from behind the curtain. A wishful phantom?
  • Finish it, ol' man. Them's that's wailin'll be bringin' more trouble.

    Ignoring Seth, Harkin fixes his attention on the more dangerous of the two. Even for a whore's nest the room is cluttered; boxes and crates and furniture and bags, and all that damned gauze criss-crossing everything. Grabbing a rickety chair with his off hand, Harkin flips it into the air toward Jort's piggish head and charges immediately behind. The short, heavy blade comes free of its scabbard with a ringing hiss. Jort, desperate, fends off the flying chair and fumbles for his cutlass amidst the rumpled bedclothes. Barely in time, the thug seizes the hilt and yanks the notched blade into position as Harkin lands an overhand blow. Sparks fly as gladius meets cutlass. Scrambling to his feet, Jort backpedals to make space for his longer weapon.

    "T'warms m' heart t' see ye w' naked steel in yer mitts, Jort. Never cared t' kill in cold blood." Harkin advances as he speaks, sword low and forward. Behind him, he can hear Seth scrambling.

    Hope tha's scramblin' away.

    Harkin knows that time is of the essence. On top of that, it's pretty clear now that Jort and Seth had unsavory designs on little Whiff and that's got Harkin in a black mood. He's going to run Jort through and through then rip aside the curtain, hoping to find Whiff.
  • Jort's ambush having failed, Seth is intimidated by the prospect of even a two against one fight. Scrambling away, Seth goes through the curtain to the rear. The noise from the back room betrays some hurried collection of trifles and then Harkin hears a some kind of creaking grate as though a small high window is being thrown open. But Harkin's full attention is needed for Jort who is advancing on him.

    "Oh, killin' aye. There's a thing that's easier said than perfomed. Let's see just how warm your blood is." Jort face is cautious and thoughtful but then he lunges forward suddenly.

    Harkin's already commited to violence. Now it's a matter of seeing it through. Jort is a veteran of many a scrap. A Danger is that Harkin is injured (Harm). Fire when ready.
  • Harkin steps aside, and launches a roundhouse strike to Jort's flanks. His cutlass flashes to interpose, quicker than expected. A flurry of blows ensues.

    GOAL: Run Jort through and through. With prejudice.
    DANGER: Harkin gets hacked.

    #DiceRoller( 2d6 )
  • GOAL: Run Jort through and through. With prejudice [3]
    DANGER: Harkin gets hacked [4]
  • It's a battle royale! You've injured one another somewhat (though Harkin is not Harmed in game mechanics terms). I can describe the action or you can, and then I expect you'll want to roll again with the same Goal and Danger.

    Seth takes advantage of the melee to wriggle through the rear window onto the ceiling porch behind the main apartment.
  • edited October 2009
    A brutal melee ensues in the congested space of the courtesans' loft. Jort, capitalizing on his superior size and strength, menaces Harkin with a barrage of brutal slashes and cuts. Harkin, for his part, is the wilier and more experienced of the two and meets Jort's assaults with grim determination and an economy of motion. Back and forth they go, beating blades and knuckles and elbows and knees, smashing each other and the objects around them. In short order the loft-cum-storehouse is rendered a morass of haphazard trinkets and broken crates. As the two combatants pause in their violent ministrations, circling one another warily and looking for advantage, Harkin manages a chuckle. With all their thrashing about in this cramped space, Harkin and Jort find themselves bedecked in lacy green gauze, two comical houris from a sultan's harem engaged in an all-to-cruel dance.

    "Last chance, Jort. Can ye hear yersel'? Huffin' an' puffin' like a page boy what's run all th' way from Barlowe Heath? Ye ken's well's m'sel' yer done for! Walk away, n' we's be square."

    Harkin, for all his rough edges, isn't a bloodthirsty killer. He knows all too well that no killing comes free, there's always trouble to follow. If he can come out of this with Whiff unharmed, Jort need not die. Harkin's intent is to allow Jort one last opportunity to yield the girl and end the conflict. Sadly, he knows Jort will probably not take it.

    GOAL: Persuade Jort to back down and allow Harkin to retrieve Whiff and be on his way.
    DANGER: Seth, meanwhile, has returned with reinforcements.

    Any additional required Dangers?
  • Nice heath incorporation.

    If Jort is persuaded to back down and allow Harkin to retrieve Whiff then the Danger of Seth returning with reinforcements either doesn't mean much (they do what Jort says), or it narratively seems to negate the potentially successful Goal (the odds are now against Harkin and the fight is back on).

    Jort is a killer, but he's also a schemer. Unlike Seth he's not a hothead and can weigh the situation carefully. With all the clamor of the melee as well as the noise made earlier by Hattie and Mona, there's at least a decent chance that trouble Jort doesn't want is on the way. If there is and he has a dead Harkin and a bound and etherized Whiff on the premises, that may be more trouble than he can scheme his way out of. He also fears Harkin may be just a bit better at blades than he.

    I give.


    Jort manages a grim chuckle and pulls off some green gauze wrapped around his shoulders. He steps back and looks out the east window, scanning for either Seth and some bravos or perhaps the Guard. For the moment he sees only Smidgen who had been looking up at the window fearfully, but who immediately steps back into the shadows.

    Jort lowers his cutlass and takes another step back.

    "Take the little bitch, old man," spitting blood on the floor.

    As Harkin moves towards the rear curtain Jort, breathing heavily, rights a rickety chair and sits down next to the window. His cutlass is still drawn.

    His black eyes follow Harkin menacingly. "You're a bloody dead rotter and ye don't even know it. You're a bloody ghost..."

    Whiff is in the back room bound up in the sheet she stole earlier. Her mouth and nose is wrapped with cloth soaked in some kind of sour anesthetic. She is barely conscious but unharmed.

    This scene is probably nearing an end.
  • Harkin picks up the girl and cradles her in his arms. "There now, wee lass. Ol' Harkin's wi' ye."

    He fixes his gaze on Jort. "I'll judge m'sel' dead when m' bones be turned under. 'Til tha' day, I'll assure m'sel' a better man than ye. Gi' me a reason, an' I'll come back n' op'n yer gullet."

    With that, Harkin departs with Whiff. Once safely on the street below, he calls out to Smidgen. "Hurry now, sweet. Let's we both get yer sis some broth an' a warm fire t' sip it by."

    The three slip into the shadows and are gone.
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