THEOPHON Imperial man, 24, thief
NIRIM – Bosmer man, 20, thief
SILANUS KRATELY – Imperial man, 51, merchant
DOMINITIA KRATELY – His wife, 40
AELVA KRATELY – Their daughter, 16
MINISTES KRATELY – Their son, 11
Setting: The famous haunted Krately House in Cheydinhal, first and second floors, requiring a stage with a second story where most of the action takes place.
The stage is dark.
There is a CREAKING noise, footsteps on the stairs, the sound of a man breathing, but still we see nothing.
Then, a voice calls from above.
AELVA (off stage): Hello? Is someone down there?
MINESTES (off stage): Should I wake up Papa?
AELVA (off stage): No… Maybe I was imagining it…
A light from a lantern can be seen coming from the upstairs, and the slim form of a beautiful young girl, AELVA, descends the staircase at stage right, nervously.
From the light of the lantern, we can see that we are looking at the second floor of a dusty old house, with a set of stairs going up and another one going down on stage right. An unlit stone fireplace sits at stage left. A table, a locked chest, and a wardrobe complete the furnishings.
MINESTES (off stage): Aelva, what are you doing?
AELVA: I’m just making certain… Go back to bed, Minestes.
As the girl passes the table, we see a Bosmer NIRIM slide gracefully up from behind and around her field of sight, carefully avoiding the pool of light. She doesn’t appear to see him as he creeps closer to her, his footsteps silent on the hard wooden floor.
When he is almost on her, there is a sudden CRASH from down below. This causes the Bosmer to leap away, hiding again behind the table.
The girl does not seem to notice the sound, and Nirim, peeking out from behind the table, watches her.
MINESTES (off stage): Found anything?
AELVA: No. Probably just my imagination, but I’m just going to check downstairs.
MINESTES (off stage): Is there a fire? I’m cold…
Aelva looks towards the long dead fireplace, and so does Nirim.
AELVA: Of course there is. Can’t you hear it crackling?
MINESTES (off stage): I guess so…
Aelva suddenly jumps as if she heard something which we do not. She turns her attention down the stairs to the first floor.
Aelva, lantern ahead of her, begins the descent. She does not seem to notice as an Imperial, THEOPHON, carrying a big bag of loot and a lantern of his own, calmly walks up right past her.
THEOPHON: Excuse me, young lady. Just robbing you.
Aelva continues her slow, nervous walk downstairs, which we can now see thanks to her light. She looks around the low-ceilinged, thoroughly looted room as the action continues upstairs
Theophon’s lantern provides the dim light for the second floor.
THEOPHON: Why are you hiding, Nirim? I told you. They can’t see you, and they can’t hear you.
Nirim sheepishly steps out from behind the table.
NIRIM: I can’t believe they’re all ghosts. They seem so alive.
THEOPHON: That’s what spooks them superstitians. But they ain’t going to hurt us. Just reliving the past, the way ghosts do.
NIRIM: The night they was murdered.
THEOPHON: Stop thinking about that or you’ll get yourself all willy spooked. I got all kinds of stuff on the first floor – silver candlesticks, silk, even some gold… What’d you get?
Nirim holds up his empty bag.
NIRIM: Sorry, Theophon, I was just about to start…
THEOPHON: Get to work on that chest then. That’s what you’re here for.
NIRIM: Oh yeah. I got the talent, you got the ideas… and the equipment. You refilled that lantern before we came here, right? I can’t work in the dark…
THEOPHON: Don’t worry, Nirim. I promise. No surprises.
Nirim jumps when a young boy, MINESTES, appears on the stairs. The lad creeps down quietly and goes to the fire. He acts as if he’s stoking a fire, feeding it wood, poking at the embers, though there is no wood, no poker, no fire.:
THEOPHON: We got all the time in the world, friend. No one comes near this house. If they sees our lantern light, they’ll just assume it’s the ghosts.
Nirim begins picking the lock on a chest of drawers, while Theophon opens a wardrobe and begins going through the contents, which are mostly rotten cloth.
Nirim is distracted, looking at the young boy.
NIRIM: Hey, Theophon, how long ago did they die?
THEOPHON: About five years ago. Why you asking?
NIRIM: Just making conversation.
As they talk, Aelva, downstairs, finally having searched the small room, acts as if she’s locking the front door.
THEOPHON: Didn’t I already tell you the story?
NIRIM: No, you just said, hey, I know a place we can burgle where no one’s at home, except for the ghosts. I thought you was joking.
THEOPHON: No joking, partner. Five years ago, the Kratelys lived here. Nice people. You seen the daughter Aelva and the boy Minestes. The parents were Silenus and Dominitia, if I remembers rightly.
Nirim successfully unlocks the chest and begins rummaging through it. While he does so, Ministes gets up from the ‘fire,’ apparently warmed up, and stands at the top of the stairs down.
The boy’s voice causes Nirim, Theophon, and Aelva to all jump.
AELVA: Why aren’t you in bed? I’m just going to check the cellar.
MINISTES: I’ll wait for you.
NIRIM: So, what happened?
THEOPHON: Oh, they was rip to piece. Halfway eaten. No one ever knew who or what did it neither. Though there was rumors…
Aelva opens the door to the cellar, and goes in. The light disappears from the first floor. Ministes patiently waits at the top of the stairs, humming a little song to himself.
NIRIM: What kind of rumors?
Theophon, having exhausted the possibilities in the wardrobe, helps Nirim sort through the gold in the chest.
THEOPHON: Pretty good haul, eh? Oh, the rumors. Well, they says old lady Dominitia was a witch before she married Silenus. Gave it all up for him, to be a good wife and mother. But the witches didn’t take too kindly to it. They found her and sent some kind of creature here, late at night. Something horrible, right out of a nightmare.
MINISTES: Aelva? Aelva, what’s taking you so long?
NIRIM: Ye Gods, are we going to watch them get killed, right in front of us?
SILENUS (off stage): What’s happening down there? Stop playing around, boy, and go to sleep.
Ministes, frightened, runs to the stairs up. Along the way, he bumps into Nirim, who falls down. The boy does not seem to notice but continues on up to the dark third floor sleeping porch, off-stage.
THEOPHON: Are you all right?
Nirim jumps to his feet, white-faced.
NIRIM: Never mind that! He touched me?! How can a ghost touch me?!
THEOPHON: Well… Of course they can. Some anyhow. You heard of ancestor spirits guarding tombs, and that ghost of the king they had in Daggerfall. If they don’t touch you, what good are they ? Why you so surprised? You thought he’d move right through you, I figger.
SILENUS, the man of the house, comes down the stairs, cautiously.
DOMINITIA (off stage): Don’t leave us alone, Silenus! We’re coming with you!
SILENUS: Wait, it’s dark. Let me get some light.
Silenus goes to the cold fireplace, sticks his hand forward, and suddenly in his arm, there’s a lit, burning torch. Nirim scrambles back, horrified.
NIRIM: I felt that! I felt the heat of the fire!
SILENUS: Come on down. It’s all right.
Ministes leads his mother DOMINITIA down the stairs where they join Silenus.
THEOPHON: I don’t know why you so scared, Nirim. I must say I’m disappointed. I didn’t figger you for a supersitionalist.
Theophon goes for the stairs up.
NIRIM: Where are you going?
THEOPHON: One more floor to search.
NIRIM: Can’t we just go?
Nirim watches as the family of three, following Silenus and his torch, walk down towards the first floor.
SILENUS: Aelva? Say something, Aelva.
THEOPHON: There, you see? If you don’t like ghosts, third floor’s the place to be. All four of em are downstairs now.
Theophon goes upstairs, off-stage, but Nirim stands at the top of the stairs, looking down at the family. The three look around the first floor as Aelva did, finally turning towards the cellar door.
NIRIM: All… four?
Silenus opens the cellar door.
SILENUS: Aelva? What are you doing down in the cellar, girl?
DOMINITIA: You see her?
NIRIM: All four, Theophon?
SILENUS: I think so… I see someone… Hello?
NIRIM: What if there’s five ghosts, Theophon?!
Silenus thrusts his torch in through the cellar door, and it is suddenly extinguished. The first floor falls into darkness.
Ministes, Dominitia, and Silenus SCREAM, but we cannot see what is happening to them.
Nirim is nearly hysterical, screaming along with them. Theophon runs downstairs from the third floor.
THEOPHON: What is it?!
NIRIM: What if there is five ghosts?! The man, the wife, the girl, the boy… and what killed them?!
THEOPHON: And what killed them?
NIRIM: And what if it’s a ghost that can touch us too?! Just like the others!
From the darkened first floor, there is a CREAK of a door opening, though we cannot see it. And then, there is a heavy, clawed footfall. One step at a time, coming towards the stairs.
THEOPHON: Don’t get so upset. If it can touch us, what’d make you think it’d wants to? All the others didn’t even notice we was here.
Theophon’s lantern dims slightly. He adjusts it carefully.
NIRIM: Only… only what if it ain’t a ghost, Theophon. What if it’s the same creature, and it’s still alive… and it ain’t ate nothing since five years ago…
The footsteps begin the slow, heavy stomp up the stairs, though whatever it is, we cannot see it. Nirim notices the light beginning to dim from the lantern despite Theophon frantically trying to fix it.
NIRIM: You said you refilled the lamp!
The light goes out entirely, and the stage is filled with darkness.
NIRIM: You promised me you refilled the lamp!
More footsteps and a horrible, horrible HOWL. The men SCREAM.
The curtain falls.