Here is the next installment. I have some more comments and questions to answer. I'll get to those tomorrow. To bring you up to date, the Demon, Asmodeus and his mistress, Aksinya have traveled to Minsk. The demon wants a servant for Aksinya.
The next thing she knew, Asmodeus was shaking her, “Wake up, countess. I found her. She is just what I expected. I want you to see her too.”
“I just want to sleep.”
“You may sleep all you desire when we have your servant. I will let you sleep the whole day away if you wish.”
Aksinya sat up, and the coat fell from her shoulders. She shivered and pulled it back on. She tied the clasp at the top then she jumped off the chest, “Take me where you want to go, demon.”
The demon led her to the back of the great house. They climbed a wall and walked along it to the window of the dining room. The curtains were not drawn, and they could observe the entire family around the table.
Aksinya stared at the people around the table, “I recognize them.”
“That is the family of Prince Aleksander Simonovich Andronikov. I know them. They visited us at my father’s estate before.”
“Your estate now…” the demon purred. He continued, “They are an aristocratic family, a royal family. They have a servant who takes care of their daughters and waits on the Prince’s wife. She is a lady-in-waiting, and here she is. Near the head of the table, the door opened. It wasn’t a door for a servant since the top was rounded. The girl who came in was petite and beautiful. Her hair was dark and silky. Her eyes were luminous. Her skin was pale and smooth. In all, she appeared very aristocratic and refined. Her clothing, likewise, though not as expensive as the gowns of the ladies around the table, fit her perfectly and brought out the best in her figure and features. It was not unusual that when she entered, the eye of every man and every woman turned toward her. She whispered to one of the older women at the table and sat against the wall behind her.
Asmodeus whispered, “That’s the one.”
“She has all the skills required to look after you.”
Aksinya’s voice was bland, “What’s wrong with her?”
“There must be something.”
“She is the lady-in-waiting to the ladies in a great house, a royal household. She is refined, beautiful, industrious, kind…”
“Everything I am not.”
Asmodeus was silent.
“What is wrong with her?”
“Nothing is wrong with her.”
“Then she must be evil.”
“No more than you.”
“Zatknis'! I order you to tell me what’s wrong with her.”
Asmodeus turned his head away, “Like you, she seeks some power beyond herself. She hasn’t found it yet. The desire is so great in her that it calls out to me.”
“Because you wish to tempt her into some sin.”
“Specifically because I wish to tempt her into the sin of following you.”
Aksinya froze, “Why would it be a sin to follow me?”
Asmodeus didn’t respond.
“Answer me. Why would it be a sin to follow me?”
Asmodeus didn’t speak.
Aksinya let out a shuddering breath, “So her problem is that she seeks a power beyond herself. What about God, the Church.”
“Ha, that guy isn’t for everyone. Haven’t you rejected Him?”
“No! I haven’t rejected Him. I believe in Him. How could I not believe—I’ve seen demons. If there are demons, there is God.” She glanced down, “I don’t trust Him. I knew He would fail me. I didn’t expect you to fail me or my own strength to fail me too.”
Asmodeus picked his teeth with a claw, “I didn’t fail you—you called me too late. You failed, Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna. I didn’t fail and that guy didn’t fail—you failed. Come, you’ve seen her. Now is the time to go.”
“Go where? You said you would make her my servant.”
“I said no such thing. You will make her your servant.”
Aksinya stared at him open mouthed.
“Close your mouth, Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna, now is the time for us to act.”
“I don’t understand you at all.”
They retraced their steps to the chest, and Asmodeus put it over his shoulders, “Follow me, countess. I will show you what to do next.”
This short scene is so full of fun stuff, I don't know where to begin. The best is the point the demon makes, that he wishes to tempt the girl into the sin of following Aksinya. We will soon see how he will achieve that end. The second is that God and the demon didn't fail Aksinya--she herself failed. Plus her own confession that she believes in God, but she doesn't trust him. How Aksinya is like so many of us. She can speak in the presence of the demon all the fears and thoughts everyone has but is afraid to say.