The demon has had his way. Aksinya now has a servant. The demon is moving and making Aksinya accommodate him. This chapter will not have a lot of action, a little, but much begins to become clear to Aksinya about the demon and his limitations. We also see Natalya as a character. Don't discount her because she seems so complacent. Remember, that practiced perfection was bought at a very high price.
Aksinya woke with a start. She touched warm and clean bedclothes. The light of the day was bright. She covered her eyes and yawned. A wide awake voice came to her, “Mistress. Mistress.”
Aksinya focused her eyes on the voice. A girl sat in a chair beside her bed. Aksinya’s thoughts came together at once, and she remembered everything from the night before, “Lady Natalya. Yes, Lady Natalya.”
The girl smiled, “Countess. Would you like to eat first or shall I draw your bath?”
“What time is it?”
“It is very late, almost two. You slept well?”
“Yes, well. I’m starving. Please draw my bath first and bring me something more substantial than breakfast.”
The girl smiled and made a beautiful low curtsy, “Yes, mistress.” She left by a door at the side.
Aksinya pushed back the covers. She wore one of her mother’s silk gowns. It was very fine, but the fabric was a little slippery and slightly uncomfortable. It brought a touch of excitement against her body and lustful thoughts to her mind. Aksinya swung her feet over the side of the bed and glanced at the floor. She didn’t remember putting on this gown, but she remembered making a magic circle around her bed and Natalya’s pallet. The circle was still intact. She noted where the lines were slightly smudged, but they were still whole. The demon wasn’t present. She wondered where he might be.
Natalya reentered the room and helped Aksinya off the bed. Aksinya was too weary and thought filled to care. The girl led her to a grand bathroom and pulled her gown over her head. She helped Aksinya into the bath. Her smile was bubbly, “Mistress, would you like me to wash you?”
Aksinya shook her head.
“I’ll get your dinner. Bathe as long as you like.”
Aksinya lounged in the hot tub. The day outside was cold and windy. She could hear the windowpanes clatter and felt the chill through the floor. She wondered again what the demon was about. Then she remembered the problem she must put her mind to--the bookstand. What made her bookstand different than the one the demon had stolen for her? She focused her thoughts on her cellar in the guesthouse. She saw the bookstand in her mind’s eye. She could have called out an enchantment to remember it exactly—she didn’t have to. She knew the small piece of furniture too well. It was made of oak and aligned at just the proper angle for reading. It had once been part of the small chapel niche in the guesthouse. She had removed it from there. Its sides and front were carved and the carvings were crosses. Orthodox crosses covered its three vertical sides.
Aksinya leaned back in the tub. The cross was rarely an impediment to magic. In fact, many magic circles and magic items incorporated crosses or cross shaped. But perhaps crosses were a problem for demons. That made sense. Her books didn’t say so explicitly, but tradition explained that demons were affected by crosses. They were said to not be able to abide them.
Aksinya wasn’t sure all that was true, but her demon displayed an inability to act through a magic circle and some unwillingness or inability to move a cross. She lounged in the warm water. Many of her own, her mother’s, and her sister’s jewelry were crosses. Suddenly, Aksinya wondered if any of her jewelry made it into the demon’s chest. He wasn’t beyond lying—in fact, Aksinya was certain that he lied most of the time. She thought for a while longer and made a plan. The first step was to ask the demon to show her, her mother’s jewelry. The water was getting cool. Aksinya made the slightest sound in the back of her throat. Natalya knocked on the door, “Mistress, do you need me to warm your water?”
Now, don't tell me you knew that crosses would be a problem for demons. Have you ever met one. One of the funny movie setups is the Vampire who is about to bite someone and they whip out a cross, that doesn't work.. Sure, we expect uniformity in our thoughts--that's why we had to see this evaluation step. Aksinya is still not certain that crosses can contain the demon. She is certain magic circles can do the job. That is the point of bounding the demon. That is also point of the patient revelation of his limitations.