[GOTHIC/ECHO] Scene 4: A Reunion

edited October 2009 in In-Game
Harkin pauses in the dim, dingy hallway and draws a breath. Outside, on the street, the sounds of a spirited argument graduate toward those of a violent scuffle.

Easy, now. Them lasses’r safe n’ sound, what wi’ Rigger watchin’ o’er ‘em. Best keeps me mind on me task.

Stepping softly, he moves through the gloom toward a rickety door, its bright outline belying the lamplight behind.

Harkin swallows, hard.

She’s ‘ere.

For a moment, the lanky old rogue reconsiders.

Never too late t’ turn tail, ol’ boy. No shame n’it neither.

Harkin knows, however, that he won’t. He had been drawn to this place, from the minute he learned that she had returned to Meridian. He’d conjured a thousand reasons not to come, but come he had, nonetheless. He could not back out now.
The blade at his side feels heavy and useless, a clumsy thing. Reaching the door, he raps softly – once, twice, thrice – with one gnarled hand, the other clutching the offering he’s brought.

I hope ‘tis enough.

As the door opens, Harkin stifles an urge to flee. Standing tall, he manages a broad, toothy smile and mechanically thrusts forth a bouquet of barrow irises.

“M’lady, ‘tis a wondrous pleasure t’ set me eyes on ye once more!”


  • The woman standing in the doorway was once quite beautiful, but it looks as though her path has worn lines of worry into her face here and there. Her eyes are still quite striking. Grey eyes. An empath's eyes.

    She is surprised. She seems as though she is almost unable to absorb his actual presence. Her eyes float to his smile and to his form but do not yet hold his own eyes.

    "Harkin?" she whispers. Her voice is thin.

    One of the barrow irises fold over on its stem and her eyes follow its movement.
  • edited October 2009
    "Tis me. A bit worse fer th' wear, but me still. But ye! Ye're ev'ry bit as lovely as I remember."

    Uncomfortable, Harkin again haltingly offers his meager bouquet.

    "When I heared ye was come back, I came straight-away." Harkin gives a rueful grin, then adds "Exceptin' fer a wee detour of sorts."

    Seeing that the woman is not taking the flowers, Harkin pulls them back. His voice lowers and softens, his gaze fixes on the floor.

    "I'm old, an' tired, an' wantin' t' make amends."
  • edited October 2009
    Elena steps back a bit, revealing a living space less spare than Harkin might have guessed.

    "I'm tired too, Harkin..."

    A sigh, and then "Ye might as well come in. It's ill luck to let the barrows go thirsty. Invites ghosts..."

    Without waiting for Harkin to enter or respond, she busies herself looking for a vase. She still seems a bit lost. "Ah here tis," turning and revealing a clear blue Ischian urn.

    "Well don't just stand there. Ye've nothin to be wary of as long as you come by. My husband's dead as if ye hadn't heard til now..."

    And as if to break that uncomfortable thought she immediately launches another trireme, "Ye may be old an' tired, but ye're still a liar! Lovely indeed... Well, come in then!"

    Harkin may or may not know that Elena's estranged husband died a month ago and that he lived here. She had been apart from him for some years. He was a glass trader with a moderate income.
  • edited October 2009
    Harkin shuffles into the room as Elena quickly scans the hallway, assuring herself there is no lurking danger, then pulls the door closed.

    Once inside, Harkin turns to face Elena. "Afore we pr'ceed much further, there's a stone on me chest I'd best roll off." He skids a rickety chair back from the dinner table and motions for Elena to take it. "Ye be wantin' t' be sittin' fer this, me thinks."

    After Elena seats herself, Harkin settles into a chair of his own.

    "I be there, Elena. I saw how they did ol' Tom."

    The old man's eyes darken. Unable to meet Elena's gaze, he picks up an empty pewter cup and fiddles with it, turning it slowly in his calloused hands.

    "Tweren't nothin' 'e'd done t' deserve it. I was workin' a bust-n-grab w' Knot n' Slicker down by th' Spire when we sees ol' Tom workin' 'is cart, same's ever. Look'd t' be a meager day, seein's the cart's nigh full well on t' midafternoon. Out o' nowheres four o' them appears. 'What's them Archons got business wi' ol' Tom fer?' I says to Knot. Got nary an answer, as he n' Slicker'd ran off."

    Harkin pauses. Elena, stock still and ashen, says nothing.

    "They 'ad words, ol' Tom n' one o' them Archons what looked t' be in charge. By th' looks o' it, Tom'd right pissed on 'is gumption. I ain't ne'er seed no Archon wi' 'is ire up, n' I ne'er wish to agin."

    With difficulty, he puts down the cup and looks Elena in the eye.

    "Three o' em held ol' Tom, n' the othern opened 'im up like a cod splitter. An' Gods take me, he did it wi' no blade nor implement o' any kind."
  • Elena looks down and doesn't say anything for a time. She is obviously sad, but not surprised. "I knew he'd come to an end like that in time. Wasn't careful enough."

    She slowly arranges the irises in the vase a bit. "S'why he didn't come after me when I left, I expect. Figured I stood a chance..."

    Elena looks at Harkin carefully for the first time, reading him.

    "You're still bringin' cheer 'vry where ye trod, I see." She takes his hand, more sadly and comfortably than out of any tenderness.

    "I never seen an Archon while the sun's at work. Don't recall anyone who had, 'til you. Didn't know they could be out in the day. Things be gettin' worse. Things be changing."

    She stirs from her thoughts and begins to let go Harkin's hand, "I have coffee. No sense in not sharin' it before it goes missing."
  • edited October 2009
    Accepting a mug of steaming coffee, Harkin leans back in his chair. It creaks under his weight, and for a moment the hoary rogue expects it to burst into kindling and deposit his backside on the floor like in the bards' farces at the Night Carnival. He'd come, hat in hand, to deliver this tale of woe to an old, spurned lover. He had expected shock, and tears, and perhaps recrimination. Elena's calm resignation had caught Harkin flat-footed. He, like everyone in Meridian, was a victim of the Shadow in one way or another. The disappearances, the unexpected deaths by macabre means, the tales of horrors stalking Meridian by night - these were accepted truths to any who had come to call the city home. The best one could hope for was to stay out of the Shadow's way, and pray that it passes over you. Clearly, Tom had for some purpose called the Shadow to himself and paid for that hubris with his life. Elena, it seems, knows this to be the case - no, knew it to be so, even before Harkin came stumbling along.

    The apprehension he had felt standing in the doorway, deciding whether to knock or run, paled in comparison to the dread now welling up from the pit of his stomach.

    Just what 'ad th' two o' ye cook'd up, dear Elena?

    Harkin sits up straight in his chair, puts down his coffee and leans in toward Elena. His earlier trepidation had vanished, replaced by outright fear and the reflexive wariness that had kept him alive these many years.

    "I'd nary a clue ol' Tom'd a habit o' bargainin' wi' Shadow." He studies Elena intently, hoping to read her reaction. "Jus' what, 'zactly, were the two o' ye plannin'?"

    Harkin knows that good folk do not truck with Shadow. Elena's response to his gruesome news leads him to believe that she and Tom had crossed that line. Bad things happen to people who truck with Shadow, and to those who find them out, even without meaning to.
  • Elena looks at Harkin again reading his suspicion and frowns. Harkin had always been open to her Intuitions.

    "I'd not planned anythin' with Thomas for a couple years now, Harkin. It's not like the ol' days. And I'm not up to date on what 'e'd been up to imself. I 'elped 'im move glass out past the provinces, but I'd not layed eyes on 'im for months."

    Elena sits again, weary. "Tell you true, I'm not even sure why 'e left me this place. Some heart notions left, I guess. I got the note a short time ago, sendin' for me."

    Wet eyes gaze at Harkin's face and see the fear there. "You've a stoney 'eart, Harkin. Not every schemer's lookin' for something dark, and not ev'ry thief takes ev'ry last bit o' tin. Ol' Tom made some bad deals, some dangerous deals, and that's why I 'ad to go. Couldn't bear it, 'cause I knew 'e'd come to 'arm."

    "Just 'cause you n't been sleepin' well don't mean others n't got a clear conscience. I'm not 'aunted...."

    Elena moves the vase as she speaks, peering at the iris stems through the smoky blue glass.

    Either Elena's got a secret or I'm blocking your offer a bit there. Feel free to have Harkin continue his original direction if you want to pursue it.
  • In the face of Elena's frankness, Harkin visibly relaxes. He allows a tired grin and picks up his mug.


    The hair on Harkin's nape go up once more.

    'Not sleeping well?' How'd she ken m' dreams be givin' me fits?

    An' tha' bit about th' note? Who'd likely send such a thing - an' how? Ol' Tom's th' only one t' ken where she'd be, an' e'd not tell a soul for fear o' bringin' 'er woe. An' ol' Tom'd hid her well, seein' as I'd looked high n' low and got nary a whiff o' 'er scent. Who, indeed, sent this note?

    Harkin lets out a deep sigh.

    You almost 'ad me believin' ye, Elena. 'Tis pity I can no more.

    "Tis fine coffee, Elena. Fine indeed."
  • Elena recognizes Harkin closing off a bit. She stops toying with the vase and crosses her arms.

    "You said somethin' of amends…"
  • Harkin stares into his cup, trying to reconcile deep feelings for an old flame with new-found, dangerous suspicion. After a moment he speaks, softly.

    "I'm sorro'ful, Elena, for ye n' Tom...an' fer Tilly."

    How long's it bin since I spake me own' daughter's name?

    "I should ne'er push'd her away. I lost ye 'cause of it, an' Tilly too. Should o' bin there - should o' snatch'd 'er back afor she was pulled down. I ken there's no good way t' die, but drownin' seems worsen' the rest."

    Harkin finishes his coffee and sets the cup on the table, then rises to leave.

    "But I s'pose it's too late for amends, now. Take care, Elena, an' keep yersel' out o' Shadow."

    He opens the door and steps through, turning one last time.

    "An' I forgi' ye if ye curse ol' Harkin's name."

    With that, the old man shuffles off into the dank night.
  • So Harkin's daughter is haunting him, eh? Interesting. I will add a player knowledge world detail which Harkin may or may not know about. Ghosts are rare and always vulnerable to some form of "capture/turning" by the Shadow. If that happens, their haunting is always malevolent and dangerous until somehow undone. Harkin's life is in danger from this haunting (not a manifest game mechanic Danger... yet) Rook or Lux might know how to help. If he knows the nature of the haunting, Harkin would also know that Elena might be capable of helping

    Elena seems shocked and unsettled by Harkin's mention of their daughter Tilly. Her face moves from a stern and dispassionate aspect to one of extreme vulnerability. She seems too surprised to speak as Harkin finishes his words and leaves.

    Shortly thereafter, Harkin is too far from her door to hear the crash of glass against it or the sobs that follow.
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