Asmodeus brought Aksinya and Natalya to Aksinya's house. They enter it and explore it.
Asmodeus smiled, “I prepared the place for you.”
Aksinya pushed open the door. She took a step inside. The house had looked completely dark from the exterior. Inside the gas lamps and lanterns were lit. A large wood fire lay blazing on the main hearth. Aksinya stopped and for a moment couldn’t move. The foyer opened into a room so like the parlor of her family’s estate she sucked in her breath. She walked deeper into the room. Natalya still held onto her and came with her. Aksinya stood in the center of the wonderful room and turned a slow circle. Everything was just as she remembered it. She could almost imagine her father’s voice calling to her. Then she stopped. It wasn’t the same. There had been a cross and a crucifix in the room. Another cross used to sit on the mantel, it was not there. The room was almost correct, but not quite. Still it was wonderful. Aksinya could almost relive the memories of her childhood—not so long ago. She recognized each thing. She had to touch each thing and remember her family—her parents and brother and sister. They had each been so dear to her—still she could not mourn them any more than she had.
The demon waited for her then led them both through the rooms in the large house. There were very many. There were almost as many as the rooms in Aksinya’s estate in Russia. The furniture from that place filled each of the rooms. It was placed cunningly to give the impression it was the same place. After a while, the demon took them upstairs. The rooms there were very much the same, but different. In Aksinya’s house in Russia, a crucifix decorated one wall in every bedroom. They were obviously missing here. The bedrooms were slightly changed too. They did not hold the personality of Aksinya’s mother or sister, brother or father anymore. The demon had set the furniture in such a way that the resemblance was certain, but it was enough of a difference that it was obviously not their rooms.
The baths were very modern, like those in the school’s dormitory. They each had a toilet, bidet, and a bathtub. The entire time, Natalya held tightly to Aksinya. The bedroom and sitting room that was filled with Aksinya’s furniture was the largest in the house. It was more finely decorated than any of the others. Yet Aksinya wondered how it could hold her plainer furniture and still appear so much finer. The fireplace in her sitting room held a wood fire. The rest of the rooms including her bedroom had coal fires in their fireplaces. It was warm and soothing. Next to Aksinya’s bedroom was a room for a lady-in-waiting. It was decorated in a style that made Natalya cry out. She ran into the room and touched each thing. She glanced at Aksinya, “Thank you, Countess. I don’t know how you did it, but this is my room. These are all my things.
Aksinya thought immediately about the dresses, but she looked around. In the usual German fashion, the wardrobes from Aksinya’s house covered one wall of each bedroom. The dresses were closed up in these. The demon didn’t have to remove them from their traveling locations.
Aksinya let out a small sigh of relief.
This is the place Asmodeus prepared for Aksinya. The purpose of the house is so she can practice sorcery. He wants to tempt Aksinya to the sin of sorcery and more. The description of the house is important, that's why I spend so much time on it. This is like the house Aksinya had in Russia. It is the same except it is different. The rooms are missing their crosses and crucifixes. Aksinya can imagine her father in it. Note, Aksinya still can't mourn her family. The place is perfect, but not perfect. The rooms miss the personality of her family. The point of this is the character of her family was defined in large measure by their faith and Orthodoxy. The demon can't recreate this. Aksinya notes this.
Natalya holds to Aksinya the entire time. Asmodeus set up a room that is perfect for Aksinya and Natalya. Note the wood in Aksinya's fireplace. The demon has gone all out to make the house comfortable and to affect Aksinya's tolerance. She worried about the dresses because Natalya put crosses on them. She doesn't want the demon to know that little piece of information. Aksinya is fighting back in her small way. Therefore, she lets out a sigh of relief.
On another point, I am writing in chapter 22. I included an entire Orthodox wedding in chapter 21 and that takes up almost the whole chapter. I'm not certain I should leave the whole thing, but it is very difficult to cut the length of such an event. I'll wait until I get there and let you see it. Plus, I'll see what my prepub readers think. I did cut up an Orthodox Mass in another novel because of prepub reader comments, but hey, that's the way it goes. The novel is almost finished. It is almost time to begin the second cut.