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One Piece at a Time

Ravenloft Play - GenCon 1999

By Sean K Reynolds

The Cast

Victoria - Janet Cole
Max - Sean K Reynolds
Olaf the Brute - Shawn Carnes
Len the Strong - Ed Stark
H.G. the Traveling Minstrel - Stan!
Elsa - Miranda Horner
Johan - Steve Miller
Bartok - Doug Steves
Sam the Fantastic - Harold Johnsos
Alhandra the Just - Julie Mazurek

Act One

[Lights up, full stage. A man enters with flowers, escorted by another man. A woman is partly visible on the far side.]

Max: Victoria, my love? I am here!
Olaf: I will take you to her, sir, she is in the library.
Max: No need, Olaf, I know where the study is! I have been there a hundred times working with her father.
Olaf: Yes, but itís my job.
Max: Really, Olaf, I can do it myself.
Olaf: All right. [exits]

[Max walks to other side of stage.]

Max: There you are, my darling! I brought these for you. [hands over the flowers]
Victoria: Flowers, Max? You are so sweet.
Max: I know. When we are married I will bring you flowers every day.
Victoria: Oh, Maximillian, there is no need for that. All I need is your love.
Max: You have that now.
Victoria: True. If only my father had lived through the winter. He would have loved to have seen us married.
Max: He was a good man, and an excellent surgeon. I only hope that I can someday be half the doctor he was. Speaking of which, I must be off. Mrs. Brown is due to give birth any day now and I would like to see how she is doing. I shall call again tomorrow.
Victoria: Goodbye, Maximillian.[they embrace]

[Max exits]

Victoria: [sighs] Four weeks until we are married. What joy. [exits]

[lights down, then up. Olaf and Len are talking at a table.]

Olaf: I canít believe how silly they are together. ďI-love-you-thisĒ and ďHave-some-flowers-that.Ē Itís disgusting.
Len: I dunno, I think itís romantic.
Olaf: Romantic? Bah! You donít need of that stuff to get a woman! You just need to be big, and strong, and confident, and the girls will be all over you! No need for this romance, it gets in the way when you want them to leave you alone.
Len: Well, I can see how well it has worked out for you. Or maybe itís because you still live at home with your mother.
Olaf: Yaaa Ö shut up! My mother is a very kind woman!
Len: Of course she is.

[A loud scream happens offstage. Elsa runs in.]

Len: What is it, Elsa?
Elsa: Itís doctor Maximillian! His horse caught its leg in a hole and threw him. Heís broken his neck! Heís dead! [She runs off the other side of the stage.]
Len: Oh no, miss Victoria isnít going to take this well.
Olaf: Great, now weíre going to have weeks of her crying all over the place. Well, letís go pick up his body.

[They exit]

[lights down, then up. Victoria is sitting at a table, looking grim and tear-stricken. Elsa is trying to comfort her.]

Elsa: There, there now, miss Victoria. I hear it was quick Ė he didnít suffer.
Victoria: [silence]
Elsa: I know this is hard, after losing your father only a few months ago, but you must be strong. They both would have wanted you to be strong.
Victoria: [silence]

[enter Olaf and Len, carrying Maxís body. They place him on the floor near stage rear.]

Len: Miss Victoria, we brought him in for you so you could say goodbye to him. Then weíll take him down to the gravediggerís.
Olaf: Better, hurry, too, or heíll start stinkiní up the place.
Len: [whispering] Shut up, you idiot! Youíre going to make her cry!
Olaf: Youíre the idiot! [smacks Len]
Len: Donít hit me! [smacks Olaf]

[They begin to scuffle. Victoria becomes visibly agitated, and finally stands.]

Victoria: Enough! I will not have you two fighting while my betrothed lies dead on the floor. Compose yourselves and move out of the way. [They do. She moves to the body.] Goodbye, my sweet. If only Ö. [She waits, then stands.]

Len: Shall we take him away now, miss Victoria?
Victoria: No. Take him to the cellar and put him on the ice blocks.
Olaf: What?
Victoria: You heard me! Put his body on ice! And be gentle!
Len: Yes, miss Victoria.
Olaf: Right away.
Victoria: Elsa, I will be in my fatherís study. [she exits]

[Olaf and Len begin carrying the body out]

Olaf: On ice Ö gaa, I hope she doesnít think she can make us eat him or something.
Len: Shut up, Olaf, and donít drop your end.

[they exit]

[Lights down. Victoria, Max, Olaf, and Len take their positions. Lights up. Maxís severed head is attached by wires to a electrical switch on a table with bottles and stuff.]

Olaf: I canít believe she cut his head off. Thatís just plain sick.
Len: I donít claim to understand it, either, but Iím not paid to answer questions, I just lift things.
Olaf: Iím just glad we didnít have to eat him.
Victoria: I have been studying my fatherís notes on the chemical reactions of corpses and the preservation of tissues. He was making remarkable progress in this work, and he believes that he soon would be able to remove a healthy and undecayed part from a cadaver and surgically attach it in the place of a damaged part of a living person. His notes are incomplete, but I have taken his research to heart and think that I can use it to progress to the next step.
Olaf: What next step?
Len: Oh, I think I know where this is going.
Victoria: Shall we begin? [pauses, steels herself. flips electrical switch. Maxís eyes open.]
Olaf: Gaaaa! He opened his eyes!
Len: Wha Ö wha Ö heís Ö
Victoria: Maximillian?
Max: Hello? What happened? Everything is blurry Ö hello? I hear someone there Ö Victoria, are you there?
Victoria: Itís me, Max. Iím with you.
Max: Where am I? I remember riding, and falling? Was I hurt? I canít feel my legs! I canít feel anything Ö have I broken my neck?
Victoria: Yes Ö yes, Max, you were thrown from your horse. You broke your neck.
Max: By Ezraís shield, no! I Ö I cannot be a husband for you if I am confined to a bed!
Olaf: Well, actually, heh hehÖ
Len: Shut up! [hits him]
Victoria: Max, there is more that you need to know.
Max: Yes, tell me Ö ah, my eyes are clearing up, I can see you. You are lovely as ever. My love, tell me what has happened. And why are these wires on my head?
Victoria: You see, Max, you Ö were killed when your horse threw you. I used my fatherís notes to bring you back to life with chemicals and electricity.
Max: I was dead, with a broken neck, and you somehow brought me back? This is amazing! I knew your father was a talented doctor, but this is almost beyond belief! Can you repair my injuries?
Victoria: Yes, I can Ö but your injuries are not what you think they are.
Max: What? What do you mean?
Victoria: If you can Ö bend your neck and look at yourself.
Max: All right, I Ö aaah! Aaaaaah! Aaaaaah! My body! Where is my body? Victoria, what have you done to me? Aaaaaahhhhhh!
Victoria: [runs over and flips switch; Max becomes inert]
Olaf: Well, that could have gone better.
Len: Miss Victoria Ö you cannot do this! It is terribly cruel and a corrupt thing to do! Especially to the man you love.
Victoria: What am I paying you for?
Len: To Ö to lift things.
Victoria: Thatís right, so keep your opinions locked up in that thick skull of yours. And as for doing this to the man I love Ö I am trying to save him! I can take parts from dead bodies and make him whole again. Then we can be together.
Olaf: Thatís just really gross. I donít think I want to have anything to do with this.
Victoria: Really, Olaf? Well, Iím sure youíll find someone else to hire you, but I doubt your wages would be enough to help you take care of your poor sick mother. Iím afraid she would waste away if it werenít for the salary my father established for you.
Olaf: Iím Ö Iím sorry, miss Victoria. Please, I would like to stay.
Victoria: I thought so. Now, you two should lurk about the gravediggerís to see if there are any recent deaths. I shall repair him in stages, starting with the neck and chest, so any new corpse must be intact in those areas.
Len: We are off.
Olaf: [to Len] By all thatís holy Ö who knew that in that love-struck girl there lurked such a bitch! [the exit]

[the men exit. Victoria pauses, then activates the switch again.]

Max: What? Ah, hello? I felt very strange for a moment. Victoria! My love! What has Ö wait. Wait! You have made an obscenity of me! How can ó [she muffles his mouth]
Victoria: Do not scream, Maximillian. Let me explain this to you. You were dead. I couldnít live without you. I have found a way for us to be together again. This is the way. Now I will remove my hand, and we will talk, all right? [she does]
Max: But Victoria, look at me! I am an abomination! I am not a man, I am a thing for a vistani to hide in his tent and charge a small coin to see. What is the point of being together if I am like this?
Victoria: But you wonít be like this for long, Max. With my fatherís notes, I have found a way to transfer body parts from fresh cadavers onto living flesh. I will rebuild your body until you are whole again.
Max: And until then? Look at me, I am utterly helpless! Am I to sit here all day on a shelf?
Victoria: You donít have to remain awake Ö I shut off your mind when you started screaming at me. I can keep you asleep like that except when I have given you new flesh. Then you will see your progress, and you will be pleased. Will that satisfy you?
Max: Yes Ö yes, that will satisfy me. Please, Victoria, make me sleep now. I cannot stand to be like this.
Victoria: Very well, my sweet. Until I wake you again. [she shuts him off]

[lights down. Olaf, Len, and Johan are on stage. Lights up.]

Len: Iím very sorry to hear about your brother, Johan.
Johan: Yes, being stampeded by his own cattle, it is quite a tragedy.
Olaf: So, exactly what were the extent of his injuries? Did he get beat up real good?
Johan: What?
Len: [Glaring at Olaf] What he means is, how was he hurt?
Johan: Oh, well, he was flailing around a lot on the ground, and I guess the cattle broke his legs, stepped on his stomach a few hundred times, and broke an arm, too.
Olaf: Ah, but his chest and the other arm were OK, right?
Johan: I guess so Ö but he died anyway, so I donít see the point of your question.
Olaf: Ah, nothing, just making conversation. So, anyway, sorry about your brother, see you later.
Len: Yes, goodbye now.
Johan: [Looks confused.] Right, I have a smithy to run, after all. [exits]
Olaf: So, got a shovel?
Len: [sighs] Letís get to work.

[lights down. Victoria, Max, Olaf, and Len are on stage. Lights up.]

Victoria: The procedure seems to have worked. Shall we wake him up?
Olaf: Hey, never use the word ďprocedureĒ on a man, itís embarrassing.
Victoria: What?
Len: Yes, miss Victoria, letís wake him up.

[Victoria flips the switch.]

Max: Hello? Ah, I am awake again. What is news?
Victoria: Look down and see for yourself.
Max: Ah, there is more of me! And I have an arm! Now this is an improvement. But what happened to the other one?
Victoria: These parts came from a man that was trampled to death. His other arm was too damaged to use.
Max: Very well, then, this is better than nothing, and remarkable progress. Whatís next?
Victoria: Olaf and Len will have to find another fresh body for us to use. Until then, we wait.
Max: Very well. [gestures with his hand toward her and takes her hand when she approaches.] Forgive me, my love, for doubting you. You are as much a genius as your father was. [kisses her hand] Now, if there is nothing else, please let me have the dreamless sleep, for I wish to be complete again.
Victoria: As you wish, my love. [shuts him off]
Olaf: So now what?
Victoria: Youíll have to find me more fresh bodies, of course. You may have to go to other towns, just so it doesnít seem suspicious that you hang around our gravedigger all the time.
Len: Weíll need some expense money if weíre staying in another town.
Victoria: Yes, of course. Just donít spend it all drinking and come back empty-handed.

[lights down. Max goes offstage, Len and Olaf are sitting at a table. Lights up]

[Victoria storms in]

Victoria: I cannot believe that there have been no suitable bodies in any of the nearby towns! It has been over a month! People die all the time, just not around here, apparently.
Len: We could go to towns that are farther away.
Victoria: No, the deterioration that sets in soon after death makes their bodies unusable for this purpose.
Olaf: Well, too bad, I guess weíll just have to wait around, oh well, what a tragedy.
Victoria: No! I have been waiting long enough as it is. Tomorrow was supposed to be our wedding day.
Len: Hey, congratulations!
Victoria: [waves an irritated hand at him] What am I going to do. [pause] The man who died Ė you said he had a brother?
Olaf: Yep, thatís Johan. Nice guy.
Victoria: What does he do? Is he a farmer? A blacksmith?
Len: He runs one of the blacksmith shops, yes, and has a small farm.
Victoria: Excellent. I want you to invite him here.
Olaf: What, you gonna buy some of his animals from him?
Victoria: Something like that.
Olaf: You think animal parts will work on fixing doctor Max?
Victoria: Something like that. Just invite him over. We can have Elsa make a roast, or you can play cards, I donít care. Just have him over, and soon.

[she exits]

Len: I wonder what sheís up to.
Olaf: I donít care ó Elsaís makiní a roast! Thatís good eatiní!
Len: Youíre easy to please.
Olaf: Mmmm, roastÖ.

[they exit]

[lights down. Olaf, Len, and Johan are seated around a table playing cards. Lights up.]

Johan: Ö and thatís a full house for me!
Len: I donít believe it.
Olaf: Yaaaa Ö fine, you win again. Razziní frazziní full houseÖ.
Johan: You guys are awful at this game.
Olaf: Aw, shaddup. [yells] Elsa, whenís that roast going to be done?
Elsa: [from offstage] Just a few more minutes, now leave me be!

[Victoria enters]

Victoria: Oh, hello, gentlemen. And welcome, Johan. So sorry to hear about your brother.
Johan: Thank you, miss Victoria. I donít think even your father could have saved him. But his spirit is with Ezra now.
Victoria: Yes, I am sure it is. Are you enjoying your game?
Johan: Why, yes, very much so!
Len: Of course you are, youíve won almost every hand. If I hadnít marked these cards myself, I would have thought that you were cheating.
Johan: What?
Len: Ah, nothing, just a bad joke.
Victoria: Johan, did you see that painting over there? [points]
Johan: Which one? [turns to look] [Victoria whacks him on the head with bludgeon]

Len: What did you just do?!?!
Victoria: What do you think I just did? We need his body parts to restore Maximillian.
Len: But Ö you hit him on the head? Youíre going to kill him?
Olaf: Sure, heíd probably prefer that to trying to get about with his chest and arm cut off.
Victoria: Shut up!
Len: Shut up!

Victoria: Quickly, take him to the workroom. I want to finish this before he has a chance to wake up.
Len: Miss Victoria, I canít take part in this.
Victoria: Oh, really, Len? And who are they going to believe killed poor Johan, here? Me? Daughter of a doctor? Or you, a man he was gambling with?
Len: But Ö you canít Ö Olaf, youíll vouch for me, wonít you?
Olaf: [turns away] Iím sorry, Len Ö I have to take care of my mother, and, you knowÖ.
Len: Damn you, and may the mists take you while you walk at night! Now help me move this damn body.
Olaf: Right away.

[lights down. Olaf, Len, Max, and Victoria are present. Lights up.]

Victoria: Well, shall we see how he likes his new parts?
Olaf: Why didnít we use all of Johan again? That would be easier, wouldnít it?
Victoria: I studied Johan before I cut him up. He has a bad knee, and I want Max to be perfect.
Len: How are we going to account for Johanís disappearance. Everyone knows we invited him to play cards tonight.
Victoria: That is not my concern Ė you figure it out. Say he left here perfectly healthy and people will assume he was eaten by wolves on the way back. Now enough talk, letís see how Max is. [flips switch] Max, my darling, how do you feel?
Max: What? That is so incredibly disorienting! Hello! How much time has passed?
Victoria: Over a month!
Max: A month! Amazing! And look, I have two arms and a torso now! Iíve half a mind to be half a man, if I may make a bad joke.
Victoria: How do you feel?
Max: Quite good, actually. My neck itched before, but now it seems to be much better healed. I suppose the same will happen with the other surgeries as well, eh?
Victoria: Max, I promise that I shall soon have a whole body for you.
Max: And then we will be together! Wonderful. Olaf, Len, you look so out of sorts! Cheer up, Iíll be up and about in no time!
Len: Yes, doctor.
Olaf: Yes, doctor.
Max: Well, as I have two arms now, I donít see the need in me sleeping all the time. Perhaps you could leave me awake a while and give me something to read? Iíd ask for something to eat but I donít seem to be that hungry. Of course, Iím quite new to having a stomach again and so perhaps it will take some time for my brain to figure it out.
Victoria: Iíll find you something to read, Max. [exits]

[Olaf and Len move to far side of stage]

Len: So, where are we going to hide Johanís body?
Olaf: I dunno, same as the other one, I guess.
Len: I wonder how long this is going to go on.
Olaf: Until he can walk around on his own, Iíd think.
Len: You realize that once heís whole, she wonít need us any more.
Olaf: Huh?
Len: Sheíll have a husband. They canít live here together, because people know heís dead, so theyíll have to move away. And they wonít want us telling stories.
Olaf: What, sheíll kill us? Iím too big and strong for her to kill me.
Len: Letís just be careful.

[Victoria returns with a book.]

Victoria: Here you go, my love.
Max: Excellent! Thank you very much. I shall begin reading, post-haste.

[Elsa enters]

Elsa: Miss Victoria, there is a minstrel at the door. Heíd like to perform for us in exchange for dinner and a few coins.
Victoria: I donít need a stupid minstrel singing off-key tunes in my home. Just because we live in a manor house doesnít mean that we want Ö wait, no, please show him in, we will be happy to receive him.
Elsa: Yes, miss Victoria. [exits]
Victoria: Max, Iím certain this minstrel wonít understand your situation. You should remain here.
Max: Of course! I have my book to keep me company. Enjoy the singing.

[Lights down. Max leaves. Olaf, Len, Victoria, are seated, with H.G. standing.]

Victoria: Was the food Elsa made for you adequate?
H.G.: Oh, yes, miss, it was quite tasty. You are very generous.
Victoria: So, my maid tells me that you are a travelling minstrel. Are you from around here?
H.G.: No, miss, I was born in the far end of the realm. I have been traveling since I reached my fourteenth year.
Victoria: Remarkable. Have you ever been to this town before?
H.G.: No, miss, this is the farthest I have ever traveled from my home town. I have to say that your home is one of the nicer places that Iíd had the pleasure to perform at.
Victoria: You are very kind. Now, I assume that your initials stand for a given name?
H.G.: Yes, miss, Hoggart Grenberg, but itís a very unwieldy name, so I shortened it.
Victoria: Interesting. Well, would you like to begin?
H.G.: If I may, miss.
Victoria: Olaf, you have been wanting to learn more about singing. Stand near the man and pay close attention to how he uses his voice.
Olaf: Err, miss Victoria?
Victoria: Donít be shy, Olaf, go on ahead.
Olaf: Ah, okay.
H.G.: Well, my first song is called ďThe Ballad of the Endless Century Curse.Ē It is a tragic story of a family whose men were cursed to die at a young age until one managed to live to be one hundred.

[H.G. closes his eyes and takes a deep breath as if to begin singing. Victoria: makes a pointed gesture from Olaf to H.G. Olaf bops H.G. on the head]

H.G.: [in Hadjii voice] Oh, my goodness! [falls]

[Elsa enters.]

Elsa: SCREAM! [exits]

Victoria: Quickly! Take him to the workroom!

[Lights down. Max enters with book. Johan is present in ghost makeup. Lights up.]

[Victoria enters]

[Johan lurks around Max and makes threatening gestures at Victoria for the course of this scene.]

Max: Victoria, I heard a scream! What has happened?
Victoria: Worry not, my love. It turns out the minstrel was actually a thief. He pulled a knife and scared Elsa, but Olaf walked into the kitchen and knocked him cold. They have taken him to town to have the constable locked him up.
Max: So you are safe?
Victoria: Yes, worry not.
Max: Very well, then.
Victoria: Perhaps when they return, they will have heard if another person has died.
Max: Yes, more parts for me. I do feel rather morbid waiting for people to die so that I may be complete again, but I doubt my thinking such things causes anyone to suffer misfortune.
Victoria: Iím sure you are correct.
Max: Well, I am feeling tired, and I donít think I can get comfortable unless I can lie down properly. Would you mind giving me the sleep again?
Victoria: Of course not, Maximillian. Rest well. [walks to switch]

[lights down. 2 minute intermission.]

Act Two

[Max, Victoria, Johanís ghost, and H.G.ís ghost are present]

[Both ghosts hover around Max and threaten Victoria during the scene, but cannot touch her.]

Victoria: Time to see how you like the new additions, Max. [flips switch]
Max: What? Ah, I am awake again. And look, I have legs! Or part of them, at least.
Victoria: Yes, Olaf and Len found that a man had been killed yesterday. They bought his corpse from the family and I used some of him on you.
Max: Only part of the legs, though?
Victoria: Yes, well, he spent all day on his feet and so he had very rough and hard feet. Oh, and his lower legs were somewhat misshapen. I want you to be perfect, and so I thought you would feel better about having no lower legs than having bent ones that weíd have to take away later.
Max: I understand. Perhaps we could get a wheeled conveyance so I could get about on my own?
Victoria: I shall see if I can find such a thing, or have one made.
Max: Thank you. Then we could go outside, where we used to take our walks in the sun.
Victoria: That would be wonderful, Max. I have missed our walks.
Max: Soon, my sweet blossom.
Victoria: [sigh, twitter] All right, I have some things to attend to. Will you be all right with your book.
Max: Yes, it is quite engrossing.
Victoria: Goodbye, then.
Max: Goobye.

[Victoria exits. Max begins reading.]

Johan: Look at him. Heís got one arm from my brother and one from me! Arm thief!
H.G.: Youíre not the only one suffering here, heís wearing my flesh, too.
Johan: This is like some terrible curse. Are we to follow him around forever?
H.G.: I donít know Ö Iíve tried to move from him, but I canít seem to get more than about twenty feet away. Maybe we are tied to him because he is made up of our bodies?
Johan: Maybe. But why isnít my brother here?
H.G.: Did they kill your brother, too?
Johan: No, he was killed in an accident.
H.G.: So his ghost is free to move on, while weíre stuck here because we were murdered. [yells at Max] LET US GO!

[Max starts, and looks around.]

Max: Is Ö is someone there?
H.G.: He hears us!
Max: Hello?
Max: I hear someone Ö who is it?
Johan: ITíS ME, JOHAN!
Max: I canít see who it isÖ?
Johan: IíM A GHOST.
H.G.: Knock it off with the yelling, he can hear you already.
Max: Two Ö two of you, I hear you, what do you want?
H.G.: Weíre ghosts! You wear our dead body parts!
Johan: Your woman killed us!
Max: Thatís not true! Victoria is sweet and gentle, and would never hurt anyone!
Johan: A lie! She struck me on the head herself!
H.G.: And she had one of her servants club me when all I was going to sing!
Max: You lie! She said that the minstrel was a bandit and drew a knife on Elsa!
H.G.: No, she fed me dinner and asked me to sing, and then cut me apart to add to you!
Max: I must be going mad, I canít believe Iím hearing these things. Stop speaking!
Johan: We wonít stop talking to you until weíre free!
H.G.: And we get vengeance for our deaths!
Johan: Vengeance! Yes, vengeance is good!
H.G.: Thank you, Iím quite proud of that one myself.
Max: Stop! Stop it! Get out of my head!!!!

[Victoria enters]

Victoria: Max, Max, whatís wrong, I heard you yelling!
Max: Theyíre here Ö voices in my head, saying horrible things!

[ghosts try to grab Victoria]

Johan: Why canít we touch her?
H.G.: I donít know, keep trying.
Max: NO! Donít you touch her!
Victoria: Max! Stop it! Thereís nobody there!
Max: Sleep, Victoria, make me sleep Ö I Ö urk. [clutches chest]
Victoria: Max, whatís wrong?
Max: Chest Ö pains me Ö please Ö
Victoria: Yes! All of this is upsetting you. [runs to switch and turns him off]

H.G.: What was that about?
Johan: The men in my family have bad hearts. I guess he has the same problem, now.
H.G.: Serves him right.
Johan: Yes, but this isnít his doing, itís hers. We have to find a way to stop her.

Victoria: Youíre oppressed by these walls. I need to get you outside. Forget the wheeled chair, I must find you a good pair of legs.

H.G.: I wonder what poor fool theyíre going to get for that.
Johan: May Ezra protect him.

[lights down. Scene with Olaf and Len walking. Lights up.]

Olaf: So, Len, how are we going to do this one? How am I supposed to know what she thinks are a good pair of legs?
Len: I have it covered. I asked Elsa who she though the most handsome man in town was, and she told me Bartok, the mayorís son. The most handsome man has to have great legs, of course.
Olaf: You have a strange way of thinking. Anyway, how are we supposed to get him to come to the house?
Len: Easy! Heís a handsome man, women like him, he knows a lot about women.
Olaf: So?
Len: So Ö we tell him that youíve been having some trouble with the ladies, and youíd like his advice.
Olaf: Me? Why me? Why canít it be you thatís having trouble with the ladies?
Len: Because I thought of it.
Olaf: Iíll ro-sham-bo you for it.
Len: Nope.
Olaf: Damn.

[Bartok enters from opposite side of stage]

Len: Look, there he is. Bartok, hey!
Bartok: Yes? Ah, if it isnít Len the strong himself! How are you on this fine summer day?
Len: I am well, Bartok, and you.
Bartok: Life couldnít be better. And you, Olaf, you big brute, how are you?
Olaf: Iím doing-
Len: Actually, thatís what we wanted to talk to you about, Bartok. [whispers] It seems that Olaf here would like some advice on meeting young ladies.
Olaf: GrrrÖ. [glowers]
Bartok: Really? Well, I would be happy to give you whatever help I can. Shall we grab a seat at the tavern?
Olaf: [glares at Len]
Len: Ah, no, Olafís a bit sensitive about this and wouldnít want it overheard. Perhaps youíd be willing to have dinner at the manor house where we work?
Bartok: Why, yes, I havenít been there in several years. Quite a tragedy since the old doctor died, and his poor daughter, what with her betrothed being killed as well.
Len: Yes, fortunately she seems to be recovering well, and has days in which she is much like her old self. So, tomorrow night?
Bartok: Yes, I shall come a-calling tomorrow evening. Thank you for the invitation and the opportunity to help.
Len: Thank you, Bartok, for your assistance. You are as generous as your father, and Iím sure my friend Olaf will be helped greatly in his troubles by your assistance. Good day!

[all exit]

[lights down. Voices can be heard.]

Bartok: Elsa, I must complement you on this excellent dinner.
Elsa: Thank you, mister Bartok.
Victoria: Good evening, Bartok.
Bartok: Miss Victoria! It is good to see you!
Victoria: And you, Bartok.

[loud thump]

Bartok: Oof!

[Elsa screams]

Victoria: Quickly Ė

Olaf: Yes, we know, the workroomÖ.

[new scene. Max, Olaf, Len, Victoria, Johanís ghost, H.G.ís ghost, and Bartokís ghost.]

Victoria: Time to wake, Maximillian! [flips switch]
Max: Ah, what? Ah, hello, good to see you, my sweet. How are things?
Victoria: A week has passed. And now you have legs!
Max: Why, it seems I do! Are they strong enough to walk upon?
Victoria: They should be. I would like to see you try them.
Max: All right, I will! [slowly stands] Well, look at that!
Len: I donít believe it.
Olaf: What, after all weíve been through, you donít believe this part?
Len: Shut up, Olaf.
Victoria: Wonderful! Can you walk at all?
Max: We shall see. [slowly starts taking careful wobbly steps, supporting himself if need be.] Not bad, although it seems that I am ought of practice.
Victoria: It will return to you in time. Is there any pain?
Max: No pain. And the itching of the old surgeries has almost completely faded.
Victoria: Well, donít push yourself too hard Ė you still need time to heal and regain your strength.
Max: All right, my love. [sits] Perhaps I could have something to eat? I donít feel hungry, but Iím sure I need it.
Victoria: I will have Elsa make you something light. Come, gentlemen, let him have some time to himself.

[Olaf, Len, and Victoria exit.]

Johan: So, Bartok, it seems that they got you, too.
Bartok: Yes, killed me in the kitchen. And now he has my legs!
H.G.: It seems that my legs werenít good enough for her.
Bartok: So, are we stuck like this, bound to the physical world? What an awful fate.
Johan: Not quite. See, if we talk to him, he can hear us.
Bartok: Really? Does he listen to us?
H.G.: No, he thinks heís going mad when he hears us.
Bartok: Thatís not as useful. But we have to find some way to make him listen to us. [to Max] Hey! HEY! Doctor Maximillian!
Max: What?
Bartok: Doctor, itís Bartok, the mayorís son, do you remember me?
Max: Yes, Bartok, of course! Are you outside the window?
Bartok: No, Max, Iím here with you.
Max: Where?
Bartok: You have my legs.
Max: What? But that would mean youíre dead!
Bartok: Right.
Max: And that would mean Iím talking to a ghost. This canít be! Ezraís shield, protect me! Go away! You arenít real!
H.G.: Heís very real, Max.
Johan: As real as we are.
Max: No! The other voices! Leave me alone!
Bartok: We canít, Max. Weíre trapped here because you have our body parts. Because the woman had us killed to make you alive again!
Max: Lies, all lies! What demented humour in my brain is causing these hallucinations?
Johan: No hallucinations, Max, just spirits that want justice. We cannot rest until we are avenged!
Max: No! I wonít let you harm her!
H.G.: How can you stop us, Max? Weíre ghosts!
Johan: Or just figments in your mind!
Bartok: [to Johan] Stop that, youíll just confuse him even more.
Johan: Sorry.
Max: Go away! Just leave me alone! LEAVE ME ALONE!

[Victoria enters]

Victoria: Max, you were screaming again! Whatís wrong?
Max: The voices Ö my heart Ö oh, my heart Ö it hurtsÖ.
Victoria: Iíll stop the pain, max, Iíll stop the pain. [flips switch]
Bartok: Amazing what power she has over him like that. [goes to her] Set us free, you murderer! [tries to grab her, but his hands are ineffectual] Set us free!
Victoria: What could be wrong with him? My poor Max. I shall have to study my fatherís notes some more. [exits]
Bartok: Damn.
Johan: Damn damn.

[lights down.]

[Max, Olaf, and Len are playing cards. Ghosts are lurking.]

Max: Hit me.
Olaf: Here ya go.
Len: All right, what do you have?
Max: Full house!
Olaf: Huh? Thatís what Johan always got!
Max: Really? Whoís Johan≠?
Len: Heís one of your arms.
Max: Oh. [frowns.]

[Victoria enters.]

Victoria: Well, hello, Max! I see the boys are keeping you busy!
Max: Yes, itís good to have company while my legs heal. You look lovely today.
Victoria: You are far too kind, Maximillian.
Olaf: [makes annoyed faces]
Len: Max is remarkably good at cards, miss Victoria.
Victoria: How strange, Max, you told me you had never played cards before.
Max: I know! Perhaps I have picked up the reflexes of the man whose arm I now possess.
Victoria: Apparently there is more to this process than I had first thought. Anyway, Max, are you hungry? I can have Elsa make you something.
Max: No, thank you, my love. I do not feel hungry.
Victoria: But Max, you eat like a bird. I donít know how you can get by on that.
Max: I do not know, I only know that I am not much for dining and yet my strength continues to increase.
Olaf: Iím hungry, Iíll take something!
Victoria: Iím sure you know where the kitchen is, Olaf. Get it yourself.

[Elsa enters, distraught.]

Elsa: Miss Victoria, there are a couple of travelers at the door. They insist on seeing you! They wish to question you about some of the strange deaths and disappearances that have been happening recently.
Victoria: Send them away, I have no need to talk to them.
Elsa: But miss Victoria, they insist and will not leave!

[enter Alhandra and Sam]

Alhandra: That is correct.
Victoria: Who are you, and who gave you permission to enter my house!
Alhandra: I am Alhandra the Just.
Sam: And I am Sam the Fantastic! We are here under the authority of the constable.
Alhandra: We are investigating the strange deaths and disappearances that have occurring in this town over the past few months. Since most of them occurred near your home or this is the last place these people were seen, we thought to come to you first.
Victoria: Mysterious deaths Ö what mysterious deaths?
Sam: Well, first, we were told that your father died over the winter. Then your fiancťe was thrown from his horse and killed. Then Marcus, a rancher, was trampled by his cattle.
Victoria: That man died on the other side of town!
Alhandra: Still, it is another death, and we havenít yet ruled it out as part of this strange series.
Sam: Then the rancherís brother, Johan, was killed on the way back from your house after a night of gambling, presumably by bandits. And a minstrel was heard talking that he was going to sing for his dinner here. And then your men invited Bartok the mayorís son over, and he hasnít been seen since.
Victoria: And I told the constable that he never made it here! I donít know what happened to his son!
Alhandra: We arenít accusing you, miss Victoria, weíre just going to ask you some questions.
Max: What is all of this, Victoria?
Sam: Who is this man? The constable said you had only three servants.
Victoria: He is my Ö cousin, yes, visiting from another town.
Sam: Really? And how long has this ďcousinĒ been here? As long as these strange deaths going on?
Max: I can assure you, sir, that I have not killed anyone.
Sam: I am afraid that your assurance does little good without any evidence.
Alhandra: Now now, Sam, he doesnít need evidence to prove heís innocent. Logically, the burden of proof lies in those looking for truth.
Sam: Right, right, I always forget that part. So [to Max] you may not have killed them yourself, but do you have any information about the identity of the killer?
Max: Sir, I resent your implied accusation. I Ö urk Ö
Victoria: Max, what is it?
Max: My heart, again, my heart, oh, by Ezraís shield this hurts more than anything I have ever felt.
Johan: Hey, I didnít do anything this time.
H.G.: Me, neither.
Victoria: [to Sam & Alhandra] Look what youíve done!
Alhandra: I am sorry, we meant no harm to your cousin.
Victoria: Get out! Get out of my home! Leave now!
Sam: But we havenít finished asking you questions yet!
Victoria: Len! Olaf! Get rid of them!

[Len & Olaf fight Sam & Alhandra. Finally, the adventurers fall. Elsa screams from offstage.]

Max: Victoria, make the pain stop! Make it stop!
Victoria: [looking at fallen adventurers] I will, my sweet, I will. Olaf! Take Max to his room. Then you two bring these meddlers to the workroom.

[Olaf carries Max and exits. Lights down.]

[New scene. Max in chair. Victoria, Olaf, Len, and Johan, H.G. and Bartok ghosts present.] [Alhandra ghost and Sam ghost will enter when their makeup is done.]

Olaf: He doesnít look any different.
Victoria: The man Johan had a bad heart, which is why Max was having that pain. I replaced his heart with that of the woman. Her heart is strong, and young.
Len: And what about the Sam guy? You had us put him on ice, too. What part of him did you put on Max?
Victoria: [coughs] A lady doesnít discuss such things.
Olaf: Whoa-ho! Miss Victoria!
Victoria: Enough! Itís time to wake up Max again.

[the two men whisper to each other and laugh. She ignores them.]

Victoria: Max, I hope this worked. And I hope you understand. [flips switch]
Max: Yawn! Hello, Victoria! What has happened? I remember a great pain in my chest and a lot of shouting.
Victoria: Some investigators came. They were curious about the deaths of father, you, and the man Johan, and Bartok.
Max: Why were they here? And why was everyone so angry?
Victoria: Because I am not totally innocent in those events.
Max: What??

[ghosts smile and point at each other]

Victoria: We couldnít find any more fresh bodies, and so we had no more fresh parts for you. I was so anxious to have you whole again that I did something I probably shouldnít.
Max: What Ö what is that?
Victoria: I had Olaf and Len bring a man here, and kill him. We used him for your torso and arm.
Max: You killed someone? Victoria, this is horrible!
Johan: [to Max] I TOLD you so!
Max: WhatÖ?
Victoria: Max, Max, I know, it is horrible, but I love you so much and couldnít have you dead or half a man any longer. Can you ever forgive me?
Max: Is there any more you need to tell me?
H.G.: Oh, sheís just getting started!
Victoria: There have been others. A minstrel, and Bartok, and-
Max: You killed the mayorís son!?! No wonder they were alarmed? What were you thinking?
Victoria: I was thinking that you would be with me again!
Max: Who else? Were there any others?
Victoria: Yes Ö it seems that Johanís heart was bad, and so I took the heart of that young woman and gave it to you. I also gave you all of her blood.
Max: Why?
Victoria: I think the voices you were hearing stem from an imbalance in your bodily humours. With the transfusion of her blood, that should stabilize your humors and make the hallucinations stop.
Max: Yes, one would hopeÖ [looking in the general direction of the ghosts.] Victoria, gentlemen, I would like you to leave me alone now. I need to think.
Victoria: Max, please, I-
Max: Victoria, PLEASE! I have been through a lot and this is a lot of news to digest. Leave me be for awhile.
Victoria: All right, Max, I will do as you ask.

[Victoria, Olaf, and Len exit.]

Johan: Now do you believe us, Max?
H.G.: We tried to tell you.
Bartok: Believe us, Max. We are dead Ö killed by the woman you love and her servants.
Alhandra: All we wanted was to find the truth.
Max: Who is that?
Sam: Weíre the investigators, Max. The woman killed us, too.
Max: I am so sorry. Please, forgive me for my transgressions against you. I had no idea this was what was happening!
Alhandra: Itís not you we want, Max. You are innocent of this.
Johan: Itís HER that we want.
H.G.: The woman, Victoria.
Bartok: She has murdered us.
Max: Are you sure you donít want Olaf and Len instead? Iím sure they were the ones that killed you, not gentle Victoria.
Alhandra: Their hands committed the crime, but it was Victoriaís will that causes this to happen.
Max: I canít Ö I canít hurt her. I love her.
Sam: You will have to do something, Max. We wonít be able to rest until she has been punished.
Bartok: Please, Max. You donít know what itís like to be a ghost. It is cold, and torturous to see everyone and not be able to talk to them. [places his hands on Maxís shoulders] All we want is to be able to rest. Youíre the only one we can talk to, and we will talk to you all the time until you do what we want. Go to Victoria. You know what you must do.

[Maxís leg jerks.]

Max: What was that?
Sam: Did you just do that?
Bartok: I donít know, I thought about him going to Victoria, and his legs moved!
Johan: Let me try! [runs to Max, puts his hands on Maxís shoulders. Maxís arm starts to flair about.]
Max: Stop it! What are you doing!
Johan: Look at that! We can control our old flesh!

[the ghosts gather around and treat Max like a puppet.]

Max: Stop it! Stop it! I beg of you.
H.G.: No, Max, if you wonít help us, it has to be this way.
Max: No!

[they force him offstage. Lights down.]

[Victoria, Olaf, and Len are sitting at a table.]

Victoria: He hates me.
Len: Iím sure he doesnít hate you, miss Victoria. He just needs to adjust to all of this.
Victoria: Adjust? What I have done is against everything he and my father taught Ė preservation of life. He will never understand.
Olaf: Thatís a good point.
Len: Shut up!

Max: [calling from offstage] Run, Victoria! Run! I cannot stop them!
Victoria: Max, Max, what is it?

[Max enters, trailing ghosts!]

Max: The ghosts of my dead parts can control my flesh and they want me to kill you! I canít stop them! Run! I love you, Victoria!
Victoria: And I love you, Maximillian! I did it all for you!

[she exits just as Elsa enters]

Elsa: Miss Victoria, wait! [in the direction where Victoria went] The townsfolk are outside and hot for your blood! They know what you have done! [runs after her and exits]

Victoria: [screams]
Elsa: [from offstage] Oh, no, they are tearing her apart!

Max: There! There, you ghosts! You have had your will! My love is dead! Now leave me be and leave this realm!

Sam: Freedom!
Johan: At last!

[similar shouts of joy from the other ghosts. The ghosts exit.]

[Max slumps to the ground.]

Max: Itís over. It is all over. My poor, poor Victoria. [sobs]

[Lights down. New scene with Max, Olaf, Len, and Victoriaís head.]

Olaf: Do you think this is a good idea, doctor? After all that happened last time?
Max: Of course. It is only fair that I try to bring her back to life as well.
Len: But doctor, what about the ghosts?
Max: The ghosts only came because Victoria made you kill those people. All we have to do is wait for natural deaths. I have paid you men for your silence. We will wait.
Olaf: But she got impatient and made us kill people. How do we know youíre not going to do the same thing.
Max: Somehow, this new body of mine doesnít need food or water. I think I may live a long long time if I am careful. I may even be immortal. With all of that time on my side, I can wait as long as it takes to bring her back. And then she and I will be together. Forever. [takes a deep breath. Elsa walks on-stage.] So Ö shall we begin?

[lights down. Play ends. Everyone walks on-stage to absorb applause and kudos.]


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