Haschel — Relief

“But you, you look like you’re rushing yourself to death, with your life being run by something.”

Haschel is a martial artist — Master of the Rouge School — whose acquaintance Dart made during his search for the Black Monster a few years before the start of the story. Like Dart, Haschel has been wandering in search of someone: his daughter Claire, who ran away from home twenty-five years ago.

He joins the party late into Disc 1 with the intention to help out temporarily, but decides to stay permanently once the Violet Dragoon Spirit chooses him. As an experienced fighter who has seen much in life, he jokes around most of the time, but is serious and level-headed when the situation calls for it.

Respected Equal

Aside from one conversation that adds much to characterization, Haschel and Rose don’t exactly share any personal moments. As far as Rose during the first half of the game is concerned, however, Haschel is noteworthy for two reasons: He is the only one to face the mysterious woman head-on and to treat her as an equal rather than a person of authority, and he takes on a similar role as her within the party. As trained fighters who have seen and been through a lot, both their voices are able to lead the group, which consists of considerably younger members, into the right direction. In that regard, Haschel certainly treats Rose with respect and shows a lot of trust in her expertise.

This is shown specifically at the end of Disc 1, when the war in Serdio has come to an end and the group decides to continue the journey to pursue Lloyd, the man behind the conspiracy. Dart, Shana and Albert each state their motives for heading to Tiberoa; Haschel, however, as the only one without a Dragoon Spirit at that point, wavers:

Haschel: Rose, how about you?
Rose: I told you. I’m interested in you guys.
Dart: So…
Rose: Besides, you feel naked without me, don’t you?
Haschel: If Rose is going… That’s the end of my role.
Disc 1: Black Castle at Kazas

Haschel decided to accompany the group while Serdio was in danger, but when that mission is completed, he evidently thinks highly enough of Rose specifically to conclude that his presence is no longer necessary, that they can handle whatever comes up next. It is only when the Dragoon Spirit chooses him right after this conversation that he changes his mind.

Intuitive Grasp

Unlike Meru, who has difficulties with Rose’s aloof and strict personality, but doesn’t voice it in front of Rose herself, Haschel doesn’t hesitate to criticize her for being overly harsh in presence of the group. He shows no restraint when it comes to teasing her either, even if she rarely shows much of a reaction to that kind of nonsense. Interestingly, he seems to catch on to Rose’s curious interest in Dart and initially misreads it, as even though he expresses support for Dart and Shana’s relationship, his teasing is usually directed at Dart and Rose’s: Upon meeting Rose, he asks “Well, which one is Dart’s sweetheart?”, and when Rose gets impatient with Shana and Dart’s banter in Donau while there’s a task at hand, he asks her whether she is jealous. Then, there’s an amusing scene close to the end of Disc 2 after Dart and Rose have reunited with the group:

Meru: You guys were alone in the cave, weren’t you? Did you guys put yourselves into… um… a romantic situation?
Haschel: Meru! Don’t be silly. Even though you are trying to learn about love it’s too rude!
Meru: Okay.
Haschel: So, Dart. Did you cuddle with Rose?
Dart: Haschel!!
Meru: Haschel!!
Albert: Haschel!!
Rose: Haschel!!
Haschel: Sorry, sorry. It slipped out.
Disc 2: City of Fueno

But just like Meru, who is as much of a people person as he is (more so than the rest of the group), he has a surprisingly good grasp on Rose despite not knowing her personal history. Coupled with his experience and the wisdom that comes with age, that may be the reason why it is Haschel of all people who Rose approaches and has an uncharacteristically long conversation with on board of the Queen Fury (a mandatory conversation at that, unlike, for example, Rose’s conversations with Shana):

Rose: [Haschel…] Are you thinking about something?
Haschel: Oh, Rose. Do you want to talk about your love?
Rose: I was just walking around and happened to be here.
Haschel: Can I ask you one thing?
Rose: Sure.
Haschel: You, why are you with us? I heard that in the beginning it was Dart’s Dragoon Spirit. It seems that’s not all.
Rose: I guess… Maybe this journey is just a little break for me…
Haschel: “Break,” hmm. Well, everybody has different objectives on the journey. But you, you look like you’re rushing yourself to death, with your life being run by something.
Rose: It’s none of your business.
Rose walks away.
Haschel: I guess I was involved too much. I cannot make judgments about other people.

Although Haschel and Rose aren’t close, this conversation shows Haschel’s perceptiveness, which allows him a glimpse beneath the surface. He brings up Rose’s impatience and is perhaps the first one in the party to approach Rose as a person, which in turn seems to make Rose uncomfortable, seeing how she ends the conversation right away. Perhaps she doesn’t want to think or talk about the past, perhaps she’s afraid to actually feel again. The important thing here is that Haschel respects her boundaries; he doesn’t push, though I think he continues to watch over Rose just as he watches over the other members of the group. An example of this is the aforementioned reunion scene, when Rose nudges Dart to go see Shana. Haschel is the first to whisper: “Rose, she has changed somehow.”

Lingering Regret

When you think about it, Haschel and Rose have quite a few things in common:

  • Like Rose, Haschel shows surprising sensitivity for Shana’s feelings for Dart, and tries to make him pick up on them.
  • Like Rose, Haschel has been away from home and friends for a long, long time, wandering with a mission, accompanied by his own regrets: He was too strict to Claire, the sole heir of the Rouge Art, and put too much weight on refining her skills instead of showing her familial love. Not only did he cause her to crack under the pressure, but also drove her away with his anger and disappointment at her failure.
  • Like Rose, Haschel spontaneously decides to join the party — perhaps to take “a little break” from his own mission, as Rose puts it in the conversation above.
Don’t mind me. I have already been looking for her for 20 years. Going with you for a little while won’t make any difference.
Haschel, Disc 1: Commercial Town of Lohan

There’s a subplot in the game with a conclusion not spelled out to Dart or the player, but that leaves enough hints for both of them to arrive at the truth: Haschel’s runaway daughter Claire is Dart’s mother, which makes Haschel Dart’s grandfather.

  1. On Disc 2, when the party notices the Claire Bridge in Fletz, this sparks a conversation about… the statistical possibility of Haschel’s daughter and Dart’s mother sharing the same name.
  2. When the party stays over at the mayor’s house in Furni on Disc 3, Shana hums a child to sleep. Haschel recognizes the tune of the lullaby, as his daughter intended to dedicate it to her future baby. Over two conversations, the player discovers that Shana learned it from Dart, who in turn learned it from his mother.
  3. During Haschel’s personal trial in the final dungeon, he sees the young Claire of his memory, and that illusion beckons to him to follow her. When Dart attempts to do so, Haschel tells him to stay behind because this version of Claire “doesn’t know about [him] yet”.
  4. There’s an optional scene if you approach a piano in the final dungeon: Haschel and Dart both listen to the melody it plays — the melody of the lullaby — and gaze at each other in silence.

None of this directly touches upon Haschel and Rose’s relationship, but it’s interesting to consider when speaking of their similarities. The characters who decide to accompany Dart on his journey are attracted to his personality. Rose is no exception, but both Haschel and Rose’s attraction turn into something deeper as the journey continues — into a feeling of connection, of familiarity. To Rose, Dart resembles Zieg, and she has to sort out her feelings on that front. To Haschel, it’s the dawning realization that Dart may not just be connected to Claire, but that he is in fact his grandson — and that his daughter is long gone. In both cases, Dart may have been oblivious to their feelings as he’s too caught up with all the events and his concern for Shana. There’s an ambiguity as to whether or not he truly realizes the nature of his relation to Haschel, especially since the aforementioned piano scene is optional, and Haschel only hints at it at the end of the game (“Dart, you look just like me when I was young. Did you notice?”).

When looking at Dart, both are reminded of the past: the things that were, and the things that could have been. But Dart, just by being himself, also pulls them back into the present, and reaffirms that this is the place they need to be now. Rose joined the group because they reminded her of her comrades, and she manages to regain some of the emotions she has lost. In a similar fashion, Haschel states: “Being with you young people reminds me of Claire.” And just as Rose wavers after having been revealed as the Black Monster and requires Dart’s words to keep going, to start a new mission after the Moon Child has been captured, so does Haschel realize that there is something in the present that he can accomplish, even with his previous shortcomings:

It’s been 20 years since I left the village pursuing Claire, but what I have found was only my immaturity. As time goes by, I forget the objectives of my journey. But Dart and the others gave me a new one. I think… what I am going through now is a journey to support the passion of young Dart and his friends.
Haschel, Disc 2: The Queen Fury

Perhaps that’s also why both of them are so supportive of Shana and Dart’s relationship, with Haschel addressing it earnestly and frequently. As they have both lost their chance in the past, they now wish to realize the present. Urging Dart so as to guide him toward his happiness is one such attempt — precisely because they sense such strong personal and past familiarity in him.

I didn’t understand my daughter’s pain at all. That’s why I dragged it around until now. Shana is the chosen girl. As the soul to destroy the world… When she discovered it, nobody but Shana suffered as much. When Shana comes around, I don’t know where we will be. But I know one thing, you are the only one who can ease Shana’s pain.
Haschel, Disc 4: The Moon That Never Sets

A Question Unanswered

The biggest connection between Haschel and Rose that is never brought up in the game, however, is the truth behind Claire’s fate. Claire died during the assault of Neet because, after having initially escaped the fire, she ran after Zieg — her husband, Dart’s father and Rose’s past love — in an attempt to save the village. The people of Neet died because of the Black Monster, meaning they died at the hands of Rose. Rose being the person responsible for Haschel’s daughter’s death is left unaddressed, as are some other curious elements of the game’s story.

The question is: Is this a missed opportunity and ought it have been brought up? To both, I answer with a no — it wasn’t necessary. The killing that Rose has carried out and how the tragedy of Neet affected Dart specifically (his parents, his childhood, his home) is addressed in the confrontation between Rose and Dart: Rose has to face a victim of her own actions, while Dart has to face the object of his revenge.

I’d argue that Haschel’s journey, in contrast, is not so much about finding his daughter, but about facing the past along with his mistakes, accepting that it cannot be undone and realizing that he mustn’t let regret stand in the way of the present. All of that is in line with the game’s themes and the development of several other main characters, but for Rose and Haschel, there’s an additional dimension to their new journey: gradual personal healing.

In the end, that’s why I think that their optional conversation on the Queen Fury, initiated by Haschel talking to Rose in the crow’s nest after the conversation mentioned above, best portrays their relationship and similarities, especially their own hurt and perceptiveness:

Haschel: I like sea air.
Rose: I agree. It reminds me of things… And it makes me forget about things.
Haschel: If it becomes too much to deal with by yourself, you are welcome to come here. I’ll listen to you.
Rose: … I appreciate your offer.