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Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Novel, Part 89 The Arm that Offends You

During the weekend, the demon visits Aksinya at her Aunt and Uncle's estate.  Every time he visits, he brings instructions to Aksinya.  What does he have in mind this time.

When the house was dark and quiet, Aksinya heard a knock on her door. She called out, “I don’t wish to speak with you demon.”

The voice behind the door was low and filled with a hiss, “But I wish to speak with you mistress. May I come in?”


The door opened, and Asmodeus strode in, “Next time I won’t ask.”

Aksinya rolled away from him and pulled her covers around her, “I’m tired, and I don’t wish to speak to you tonight.”

“You are wide awake, and you have been longing to speak to me for days.”

“You are mistaken.”

“Why not speak to me, now. You’ve had your fun for the evening.”

“Zatknis'!” Aksinya was suddenly breathless, “You probably encourage it.”

“No, I don’t need to. You are filled with lust all on your own. So therefore I have an easy thing for you to do.”

“Don’t you feel lust?”

“Trying to turn the conversation? It won’t do you any good, Countess, but I will answer your questions. I feel great lust, but I can’t act on it. I rely on you to consummate my sin.”

“But you sin.”

“I don’t sin, Countess—you sin. I told you that before.”

“You stole the bookstand…”

“At your behest.”

“You killed all those people…”

“Because you ordered it. I am simply your tool, your arm, your eyes on the world. I am the eye that offends you. I am the arm that causes you to sin.”

“I wish I could cut you off. I would do it right now.”

“And you would die. That comes of losing an arm or an eye.”

Aksinya is still awake.  You guessed it, so did Asmodeus.  The demon is unhappy.  He is back to demanding and confronting.  Aksinya doesn't want to speak to him, but still you know she does.  The demon understands too.  The demon may not be able to read her mind, but he knows human nature and he knows her nature too well.  He taunts her with her lust, and forces a confession from her lips.  This is his technique and his trick.  Then we learn something about the demon--or how he thinks.  He believes (or lies) that he doesn't sin at all.  He is a vessel of temptation.  The target of the temptation sins, not him--he claims.
He says he is the tool not the sin.  Then he makes a reference to Christ's sermon on the Mount.  He claims to be the eye that offends and the arm that causes you to sin.  Christ told his followers to discard them, and the demon rightly notes, if you do, you will die.  His claim is that if Aksinya could get rid of him, she would die.  The opposite is that if you die, you will be rid of the demon.  That isn't the only reason the demon came to speak to Aksinya, but we will see the rest tomorrow.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A New Novel, Part 88 Secrets

At dinner, the little episode with Natalya is over, but not forgotten.  Do you note the atmosphere.  After a little blowup at your table--isn't it the same?

The soup was served and there was little conversation. Aksinya had a few moments to think about the week that had passed.

The fish was served. Aksinya was still thoughtful. No one had asked about Asmodeus. It was as if he had never existed. Aksinya did wish he had never existed. Still, because of him, she was where she was with Natalya and her aunt and uncle. At the table, she suddenly looked on all of them with a new light. Were they all temptations for her? Or was she a temptation for them?

Freifrau Bockmann leaned toward Aksinya, “Are you all right, Countess?”

Aksinya glanced down, “I’m just a little light headed from the wine.”

Freiherr Bockmann smiled, “Yes, it is a bit strong for the vintage. I find it refreshing. I hope you do too.”

Aksinya nodded. The meat was served.

Freifrau Bockmann continued, “Now about this party.”

The Freiherr glance up from his stuffed Jagerschnitzel, “The Advent party?”

“Yes, I want to introduce the Countess and Lady Natalya to our social sphere.”

“At the party…yes, that’s a splendid idea.”

“I want to introduce all our friends, and I’d like to invite some dashing young men on the register to meet the Countess and her lady-in-waiting.”

“Not many young men left after the war…” the Freiherr was introspective.

“All the more reason to invite them and introduce them to these ladies. You don’t expect them to remain unmarried all their life?”

“Course not, I just hadn’t thought about it much.”

Aksinya and Natalya didn’t say a lot. They answered questions but didn’t volunteer any information.

After coffee, Aksinya and Natalya went up to their rooms. It was the same suite of rooms they had been given before. Natalya prepared Aksinya and herself for bed. They sat together on the sitting room’s couch. Natalya sewed. Aksinya read. After a while, Aksinya put down her book, “Nata.”

Natalya jerked up, “Yes, Countess…”



“Do you remember my courtier, Asmodeus.”

“Yes, he has such a funny name. It reminds me of something.”

“Do you find it peculiar that he isn’t here?”

Natalya glanced around, “In your room?”

“I didn’t mean specifically here, I meant with me, in this place,” Aksinya turned her eyes on Natalya, “That is, don’t you find it odd that he didn’t travel with us? Or that he isn’t here?”

Natalya shrugged, “I just thought he might be at your house.”

“You don’t find that odd either—or that I asked you not to tell my aunt or uncle.”

Natalya brought her brown innocent eyes to Aksinya’s. She smiled, “I’m very used to secrets, Countess…I mean Aksinya.”

“Yes, so you are. Please don’t keep any from me.”

Natalya gave a slight smile and returned to her sewing.

Okay a little introspection.  I don't do it often.  I don't like it, but I wanted to give you a small trick to make you think about this little conundrum of Aksinya's.  The question is: where is the demon and why doesn't anyone realize he is gone (other than her)? 
The other little "inception" (I just saw the movie) I wanted to place in your mind was the idea of temptation.  Aksinya knows where the demon goes, temptation follows.  Are these people and things temptations for Aksinya?  The answer is, of course, yes. 
Freifrau Bockmann notices the tension and wants to break the silence anyway.  This is the way you do it.  Plus, the wine, did you note, Aksinya likes wine--she'll like it more soon.  This is so much part of the temptation of luxuria. 
I also wanted you to see the courses in the dinner, again.  You will see them again too--later.  So, about the party.  This is a repeat.  It's purpose is to show how the thought is fixed in the Freifrau's brain.  I also get to give you a little more info at the times--the war comment and the point of it all, to meet suitors.  This is very important.
The conversation between Aksinya and Natalya gives further light to the Asmodeus issue and lets you see more of the changing relationship between them.  The final point of this part and this conversation is the idea of secrets.  Already, Natalya and Aksinya are sharing secrets.  Listen to Natalya, I'm very used to secrets.  She is telling us that she has secrets--therefore Aksinya's answer to her and the smile.  We are building gradually to a pivotal scene.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A New Novel, Part 87 Aksinya's Temper

The events of the carriage ride and this are interconnected.  This is Aksinya's temper.  Notice this is very controlled and rational.  She is gentle but insistent.  Her problem is not wrath--it is luxuria.  We shall see Aksinya in wrath later.  That is a hint.

The Freiherr greeted them all when they returned to the estate. He escorted them all to dinner. Freiherr Bockmann seated Aksinya.

Natalya began to take her position behind Aksinya. Aksinya stood and grasped Natalya by the hand. She led her to the other side of the table.

Natalya was distraught, “Please, Countess, let me serve you.”

“I wish you to serve me by sitting at table with me, Lady Natalya. Please accommodate me in this.”

“But you promised I could serve you.”

“You will serve me. I wish my friend to sit with me and not stand behind me.”

Natalya covered her face with her hands.

Aksinya held her close and whispered in her ear, “Please, Nata. Only an accident of birth put one of us over the other. I wish you to dine with me. Don’t the ladies in the royal court dine with their mistresses?”

Natalya peeked between her fingers at Aksinya. She nodded.

Aksinya continued to whisper, “Why do you think you were treated like a servant and not allowed to sit with your mistresses—even in your own house?”

Natalya’s eyes opened wide.

Aksinya pulled out the chair for Natalya. When she released Natalya, she quickly sat herself. Then she as quickly stood and waited beside it. Aksinya smiled and walked back around the table. She sat and the others sat. Aksinya noticed, a tiny smile played at the corners of Natalya’s lips.

Back at the estate, they attend dinner, and Natalya moves to her favorite place--where she can serve Aksinya.  You might ask, hasn't she been listening to Aksinya.  She has, but Natalya's greatest joy is to serve--I can't let you forget that fact.  This must be crystal clear for the main turning point of the novel to make full sense and to create the circumstance for the resolution.  Can you see this picture?  I didn't draw it for you.  You drew it yourself.  I know you can see Aksinya towing the quiet, but unhappy Natalya around the table.  Can you feel Aksinya's anger--it is not at Natalya.  Natalya begs Aksinya, and Aksinya's answer, controlled, clear, refined, like what you would expect from a Countess.  The response from Natalya, but you promised... yes Aksinya did promise, but notice, she didn't break her promise.
And Akinsya's answer--you will serve me.  To stand behind is the service of a servant, to sit at the same table is the service of a peer.  She calls Natalya her friend.  Natalya is astonished that Aksinya again called her a friend.  This is foreign in her mind, but not in this culture.  Akinsya is elevating Natalya and Natalya doesn't believe she should be elevated.
Then the coupe, Aksinya tells her the secret that Natalya's previous lady did not--don't the ladies in the royal court dine with their mistresses?  Natalya knows they do.  Then Aksinya sticks in the knife.  The only answer to this very simple question is that Natalya was never treated like a lady.  She was always treated like a servant.  Aksinya in a moment elevated Natalya from a servant to a true lady.
Natalya is so gripped by this revelation she allows Aksinya to seat her--this is completely improper.  That's why Aksinya did it.  It is a trick.  That action by Aksinya causes Natalya's brain to rush back to reality--she stands until Aksinya sits.  Look at the last, this whole show was not lost on Natalya.  She knows what happened, the elevation, the lesson Aksinya taught.  That is the reason for the restrained smile.  How wonderful, Natalya understands in this regard her place as Aksinya's friend and confidant.  This is just a small piece to relate Aksinya's personality and being as well as Natalya's.  As well as to continue building the plot and theme to the peak of the novel.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A New Novel, Part 86 How was School?

I wanted to give you an idea of what Aksinya might look like.  The features of the woman on the left are not significantly unflattering, but they are typically Russian, and they aren't necessarily those of a beauty.  The clothing and hairstyle is very nearly typical of the 1918 period too.

We observed Freifrau Bockmann's appraisal of Aksinya and Natalya.  Now she begins with small talk and then gets to her point--the plans.

The Freifrau Bockmann waited until the carriage had cleared the archway of the convent and school before she asked, “How was your first week?”

Aksinya’s mouth turned into a frown before it raised into a partial smile, “It was pleasant.”

Lady Natalya’s face was set in a bright smile. She didn’t say anything.

“Did you make any friends?”

Aksinya stared out of the window, “We didn’t make any enemies.”

Freifrau Bockmann wasn’t certain what to say. She cleared her throat, “Do you like your teachers?”

Natalya nodded.

Aksinya took a deep breath, “They try hard. Perhaps we can learn here.”

Freifrau Bockmann continued as though she hadn’t heard Aksinya’s last response, “I have made plans for the next week.”

The young women turned their faces expectantly toward the lady. Natalya with her smile, and Aksinya with a crease between her brows.

“The Christmas season is almost upon us, and we usually host a party at this time for our friends and their families. I want to have a coming out and introductory party for you, Countess. That way we will kill two birds with one stone—we can have a wonderful Advent party and at the same time introduce you to the society of Wien.”

Aksinya put her hand under her chin, “But during Advent? When will you have it? Advent is a time of penance. You would have to celebrate it on Sunday for the feast.”

Freifrau Bockmann waved her hand, “Don’t worry about that. I intend to have the party on Saturday after next. We will invite the abbot of Sacré Coeur and the cardinal of Wien. That will make everything right. They won’t dare to miss the party, and everyone will come to meet you.”

Aksinya turned her face back to the window, “I see.”

“Yes, it will be a wonderful party. You both will meet many young and aristocratic men. I wouldn’t be surprised if you both didn’t find suitors during the event.”

“Suitors?” Natalya colored.

“Suitors.” Aksinya rested her chin more squarely on her hand.

Freifrau Bockmann gives them a little time to feel comfortable, then she launches her offensive.  The typical questions you hated from your mother.  Aksinya's answers are sooo proper.  Natalya allows her mistress to speak for her, of course.  Then Aksinya's true nature and aristocratic character comes out--we didn't make any enemies.  Freifrau Bockmann doesn't know what to say--the point of Aksinya was to drive her off the topic.  The Freifrau didn't get the point, so Aksinya gives it to her again--they try hard.  Perhaps we can learn here.  The Freifrau isn't listening.  She has made plans for Aksinya (Natalya is an afterthought to her, but not to Aksinya).  Note their responses--Natalya smiles, Aksinya is concerned.

So, the Freifrau wants a coming out party for them.  In this culture, the point is obvious, to introduce them to eligible men.  Advent is not the time to have such a party.  Aksinya is right on.  Technically, the party should be on a Sunday (a feast day) otherwise that would be wrong, according to the church calendar.  The Freifrau shall make that right by inviting the Abbot and the Cardinal.  That, of course, in her mind will absolve her.  The final point is for the reader.  The idea of attracting suitors is the point of such a party.  I wanted you to see the response of Aksinya and Natalya.  You might wonder about Natalya's blush.  By the way, the Abbot and the Cardinal aren't that important in the scheme of things, but I want you to have the opportunity of meeting them (at the party).  They will be important, though not observed much in the future.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A New Novel, Part 85 Physical Description

I built the setting for chapter 8, so we should expect the focii to be sorcery, the Bockmanns, and German class.  Indeed they shall.  Right now, I use the writing technique of description through another's eyes.  I like to interject this in my novels especially for the main characters.  Unlike many authors, I know what my characters look like, and I have not written a novel where I intentionally made a generic character.  A generic character is one that the reader can directly connect with.  Such a character is intentionally not described well so the reader can associate themself better with them.  On the other hand, my characters are specifically created not to be generic.  I try to draw them crisply.  The reasons for this are first, each character must be unique.  My themes demand this, and I don't want the ERB (Edgar Rice Burroughs) effect where a reader can't tell one of my characters from another.  I write each of my characters in every novel to be their own person, so different from one another that there is no way to mistake them.  Second, the characters make the novel.  If the characters are generic or if they blend, then there is no way I can design a powerful theme.  So, I like to remind you of the characters salient physical descriptions and I especially like to do this thorugh the eyes of another character.  In this case, Freifrau Bockmann.

Freifrau Bockmann gazed at her two charges. The one had a boyish figure and a sharp face. It was so typically Russian it almost hurt to look at her. Her features were not very lovely, but her clothing fit her perfectly and she was dressed exquisitely. Her hair was arranged with a touch of genius. The Lady Natalya had made the most of so little although Freifrau Bockmann thought she could see evidence that it was finally growing out. The young countess before her might not be very lovely to look at but her manner and manners were perfect. She sat and stood and walked exactly as you would expect from a countess or even a princess. Yes, she had the perfect demeanor of a princess. Plus that look in her eyes. The Countess Aksinya’s eyes gave an impression of majesty, strength, and power. That seemed very odd to the Freifrau Bockmann.

The Lady Natalya, on the other hand, was a perfect opposite to her countess. Her face was lovely. Her figure was like an opening bloom. Her proportions were exact and perfect. She looked like the picture plates you found in novels about the royalty. Her appearance seemed like a perfect reproduction in life of one of those still portraits. She didn’t show the exact and perfect decorum the Countess did—her face and actions were much more lively. She seemed the exact counterpoint to the Countess, and the Freifrau Bockmann knew, they were both very intelligent.

There is much more behind this description that simple description.  See Aksinya, boyish figure, sharp face.  If you haven't seen a Russian woman with these types of features, I suggest you take a look at Russian nobility.  Many times, their features are so Russian, they are difficult to look at.  Ugly is not a proper word for such features, but they are exaggerated. Note, the beauty of Aksinya is in her deportment and manners--in this regard, she is perfect.  The Lady Natalya draws out the most from Aksinya's meager endowments.  This is that Lady's gifts.  The Freifrau observes that Aksinya's hair is growing out--do I need to explain why this is important?  Look at the description of Aksinya's deportment--like a princess.  The repetition is intended to seal this idea in your mind.  This is a foreshadowing that won't see fruition until chapter 17, but you've had this foreshadowing before.  The Freifrau also notes the odd look in Aksinya's eyes.  Remember, Aksinya appears young though she is nineteen (changed from the original age of 17) at this time.  The Freifrau notices her maturity, but we knew that. 
Natalya appears physically like a perfect noble lady.  So perfect, the Freifrau compares her to a portrait.  Natalya is much younger.  I'm not certain I told her age, but I intended her to be fifteen.  She and Aksinya are comparable, nonetheless.  Comparable because Natalya appears more mature physically and Aksinya appears less mature physically.  Aksinya's age also indicates she likely won't grow much more.  If you think about this very deeply, you will realize a painful truth for her--she will not change much.  She has reached the peak of her physical beautify and yet, she is not beautiful.  Tomorrow, school from the impression of Aksinya and Natalya.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A New Novel, Part 84 The Beginning of the Weekend

This is the beginning of chapter 8.  I set up Aksinya in her house.  Now we see the progression of her sin and some very important connections.  The first is the Freifrau...

The week continued for Aksinya and Natalya without great problems. The demon led them every night to the house across the street. As yet, he made no other demands on Aksinya. The cellar workroom remained unused for now. The demon didn’t even ask Aksinya to go down to it again.

Chapel was a daily chore. With Natalya beside her, Aksinya could endure it, but it was not pleasant for her. Aksinya spent her time in the evenings working with Natalya on her German. Aksinya’s work in her classes suffered, but the sisters didn’t seem to expect much from a countess anyway. They didn’t praise her, but they didn’t berate her either. Only Sister Margarethe, in German class, seemed to show Aksinya any special attention. No matter what Aksinya did, Sister Margarethe praised her. Aksinya thought, perhaps her German was truly improving because she worked with Natalya so much.

On Friday afternoon, Freiherr Bockmann’s coupe, the covered carriage, came for Aksinya and Natalya. The Freifrau Bockmann herself sat in the coupe. For the weekend, Aksinya and Natalya had taken clothing from the house across the street. They wore something other than their Sacré Coeur uniforms now. Aksinya was dressed like a countess. Natalya like a lady-in-waiting. Both of their jewelry was much more elegant than that which would have been expected any student to wear.

Freifrau Bockmann’s eyes widened when she saw them. She descended from the carriage and curtsied to Aksinya. Then, she greeted both the girls with a kiss. The Reverend Mother came out of the school to see them off. Frau Drescher stood as an after thought in the shadows near the gymnasium’s door.

The Reverend Mother curtsied to Freifrau Bockmann. It was a deep curtsy that included Aksinya, “Freifrau Bockmann, the Countess and Lady Natalya have started well. We are glad you decided to take them under your wing for their social training during the weekends.”

Freifrau Bockmann was effusive, “Thank you, Reverend Mother. I will return them Sunday evening. Please don’t expect them for dinner.”

“Yes, Freifrau Bockmann.”

With the drivers help, they climbed into the carriage. After they were inside, Freifrau Bockmann tapped the ceiling of the carriage with the top of her cane and the driver started the horses moving.

This is the setup of the entire chapter, and this is the means to convey to you the basis of a continuing of action in the novel.  The week continued... then we see their week abbreviated to show only the important parts.  This is a writing technique to move the writing in time and to give the reader the expectation of what is happening without going into great detail.  Detail is left for important parts.  The key takings here is the cellar remains unused, the chapel, Natalya and German class.  Watch the sister and German class closely.
So Freifrau Bockmann comes herself to pick up Aksinya and Natalya.  You can see the small details.  The coupe, the girls are dressed in finery and with jewelry.  This is what gets the attention of Freifrau Bockmann.  They are wearing clothing and jewelry, especially jewelry she didn't expect them to have.  She has no idea about the house.  The Reverend Mother can't miss the opportunity to greet the Freifrau or see Aksinya off.  She is kind, but she is political and wise.  She praises the Freifrau in a manner the Freifrau can't ignore.  The point of all this is so I can detail for you what Aksinya and Natalya are about for the weekend.  At the end of this piece, I give you a little color to show how the world worked at this time.  That is the way to tell the driver to start the horses.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A New Novel, Part 83 The House

Aksinya and Natalya are inspecting the house the demon procured for Aksinya.  The final step is to see the workroom--the cellar prepared for sorcery.

Asmodeus stepped beside her, “Would you like to see your workroom, Countess?”

“Not particularly, but I suppose you will whine until I do.”

The demon bowed. He led them back down the stairs and to the kitchen. Aksinya had a moment to note, it was a very fine kitchen. The door to the cellar was there. The demon preceded them down. There was a fire and lamps lit here too. It wasn’t too dark nor too light. The high windows were blocked with stone.

Asmodeus made a large circle around the dank room and bowed, “Welcome, countess and my mistress, my compatriot in evil. Welcome to your own place.”

Aksinya’s books were set on a beautifully carved bookshelf at the side. All her items were carefully arranged on tables and on shelves. They were all laid out. She didn’t have enough room for them all to be out at once in the guesthouse cellar. The mahogany book stand the demon had stolen for her was in the center of the room on the floor. Everything was in position ready to be used. And Aksinya felt a strong desire to use it.

The demon sucked at his fangs, “Go ahead, countess. Everything is ready for your work and study.”

Aksinya laughed, “Not tonight. It is enough to appreciate your work, demon. You have done a fine job.”

Asmodeus lowered his head so his face was close to Aksinya’s. She tried not to tremble. The demon spoke kindly, “Since you did a bit of sorcery already tonight, I shall not insist, but you should plan what work you will do, Countess. That is the point after all.”

Aksinya remembered her first halting and painful steps at sorcery. The yearning to power. She remembered and was drawn to it. She desired it like she desired nothing else in the world. Yet, she grasped her mother’s crucifix under her dress and pressed it’s burning metal against her breasts. She would not work sorcery again tonight. This she promised herself.

Can you see the demon as he looks at Aksinya?  What does he expect from her?  Does he know the fight within her soul against him?  Look at her response to him--it is so typical Aksinya.  And we see the demon is back to being a servant.  The environment is perfect for sorcery and built for secrecy.
The demon welcomes her as his compatriot in evil.  He welcomes her to her own place.  These words are very important.  I hope you are sucked into this trick as easily as Aksinya is.  The demon has prepared well.  Everything is arranged perfectly for her to use sorcery.  I show you the bookstand the demon stole for her.  See how Aksinya is tempted to do sorcery.  In this one thing she has true power. 
The demon encourages her--this is called temptation.  Asmodeus let her off the hook tonight because she already was tempted and succumbed.  The demon is so cunning.  He will provide her more opportunities to sin.  We shall see.
He tells her again to plan what work she shall do--that is the point.  Then we get a memory that allows us to see a little deeper into the mind and past of Aksinya.  We see that sorcery is her desire--this is the thing that tempts her and empowers her.  But that desire is contrasted with the crucifix that constantly burns her.  She is like most of us, drawn to some sin and unwilling to give it up.  We promise, unsuccessfully, just this time, just this time, we will not sin.  This is like Aksinya, tempted but determined to resist her sin.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A New Novel, Part 82 The House

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.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A New Novel, Part 81 Going to Aksinya's House

The demon announced that the time has arrived to see the house he bought and prepared for Aksinya.  He comes to Aksinya and Natalya's room and leads them in sneaking out of the school.

The demon led them out into the corridor, down the stairs, and to the back exit from the school. The door was bolted and locked. The demon pulled off the heavy wooden bolt. He stood back, “I’m sorry, Countess. I don’t have a key.”

“Then that is all there is for our foray tonight.”

“It is a simple thing for you to open it, Countess.”

“I shall not. I told you before.”

“This place is filled with innocent sleeping girls. There is so much lust I can inscribe on their hearts. Only your good will and complacency prevents me from touching their innocent souls…”

“You can’t harm innocents.”

“I cannot kill innocents nor torture them. I can tempt them as I desire—that is my purpose.” The demon hissed, “Open the lock, Countess. Your follower wishes to see your power again.”

Aksinya made a depreciating sound. She raised her hands and said a group of words in Latin.  The crucifix on her chest burned.

The lock made a slight clicking sound, and the demon pushed open the door, “Well done, Countess.”

Natalya stared on wide eyed.

The demon led them into an alley. The night was cold with a thick frozen drizzle in the air. Aksinya pulled her mink cloak more tightly around her body. Natalya bunched close to her.

The demon led them across the empty street. They heard loud voices from a tavern out of sight on their left. The door that the demon stopped at was finely carved cedar. Aksinya hadn’t noticed it before. The house itself was wonderfully made. It was the house of an aristocrat and in the center of Wien. Aksinya wondered immediately why it wasn’t in use. That is until the demon bought it for her. She almost asked him, but suddenly realized the knowledge would be available at a much less dear price from other sources. She pressed her lips together.

Natalya held onto Aksinya’s mink cloak. At the front door, the demon paused. Aksinya put out her hand, “This is my house, give me the key.”

“I will always be able to open it for you, Countess.”

Aksinya didn’t look at the demon, “Give me the key. It is my house, you told me. And give a key to my lady-in-waiting. Do it now, demon.”

The demon sheepishly pulled out two keys. He handed them to Aksinya, “Give them to whomever you like. They are yours.”

Aksinya grabbed them from the demon’s hand. She put one in her coat and put the other into the lock. It turned with oiled ease.

Asmodeus smiled, “I prepared the place for you.”

The demon is crafty.  Remember, he set up the house so Aksinya could practice sorcery.  He wants her to sin in much more concrete ways, but he focuses on sorcery.  So the question for the demon, how to make Aksinya do sorcery.  The trick is like all temptation.  Place the individual in a situation and then provide the proper impetus.  The demon takes them to the locked door and unhappily, the door is locked.  Aksinya tries to back out.  The demon reminds her that she can open the lock.  Aksinya still refuses and the demon threatens.  Note, he doesn't threaten her or Natalya--he threatens the girls in the school.  If you wondered why the demon wanted Aksinya in this school--here is one reason.
I get to give you further information on the bounds of demons--about harming innocents.  He cannot harm them, but he can tempt them.  This has been his exact actions against Aksinya.  He has generally not harmed her, but he has tempted her.  This is a big clue.  He also plays on Aksinya's vanity--show your follower, Natalya.
Aksinya gives in and uses sorcery to open the lock. (Here is an example of thematic editing.  I originally left off the sentence about the crucifix.  I just added it in.)  Watch Natalya.  She holds closely to Aksinya.  I also give you a foreshadowing--the tavern out of sight on the left.  This will be very very important soon.  We get some description of the outside of the house.  Aksinya is already thinking of using sorcery again, but fights against that temptation. 
Aksinya makes a demand of the demon.  Keys represent control.  (I should note this in some other points in the novel)  She honors Natalya at the same time.  The key turns easily in the lock and the demon gives us a premonition.  He prepared it for Aksinya.  Tomorrow, the interior of the house.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A New Novel, Part 80 Aksinya's House

We have a short transition through the day with the German class as the only detail.  Asmodeus comes to visit that evening.  This is an example of focusing the storyline only on the important details that move it along.

Asmodeus came to visit that evening. He knocked on the sitting room door. Natalya opened it for him. She curtsied. Asmodeus strode into the room, “Countess, are you ready to make a visit to your house?”

“If I must.”

Natalya looked on with curiosity.

Aksinya went back to her reading.

Asmodeus blinked, “The time to visit is now.”

Aksinya yawned, “The school and convent is locked and the hour is late. How do you expect us to go visiting now?”

“I suspect I will not get your help in concealing the both of you, but I can do it for now. I insist you go.”

“You insist?”

“Your acquiescence now will mean a lot less pain and suffering for you later.”

Aksinya tuned a bored look at the demon, “Are you threatening me.”

“Whenever did I not?”

“You are always lying to me, but because I don’t perceive any harm in seeing my own house...”

“Yes, countess. It is your own house. I procured it for you.”

“Then servant, demon, let us see my house.” Aksinya levered herself off the small couch and Natalya went to get her mink coat. Natalya tied it for Aksinya. Natalya put on the heavy woolen coat Aksinya gave her at their first meeting.

Asmodeus looks like a courtier.  Did you forget?  I tried to remind you with Natalya's response--she curtsies.  He looks like a demon to Aksinya.  The demon demands that Aksinya come visit her house.  She isn't very interested.  She knows the house will lead to problems for her.  How right she is, but she is still tempted anyway.  Natalya watches everything.  The demon gives a temptation to sorcery in the comment about concealment, but backs off quickly--remember, the reason for the house is so Aksinya may practice sorcery.  You should also note, the demon used the jewelry box incident to draw Aksinya to the house--she can't have the jewelry box in the dorms, only in the house. Still, Aksinya ignores the demon.  She makes excuses.  They are good ones.  Then the demon threatens Aksinya.  You knew it would get there eventually.  That is how the demon treats her when he gets to that point. There is a fine turn in the conversation about the demon threatening her and his response--when did he not threaten her.  This is a blatant lie and Aksinya picks up on it. 
About lies.  The demon doesn't lie all the time, but he lies a lot of the time and perhaps most of the time.  If you didn't notice, Aksinya never lies.  She is absolutely artless.  She couldn't hide a blemish especially her own.  We can't forget the cloaks.  Aksinya's and Natalya's are significant to them for different reasons.  This sets us up for the trip to the new house.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A New Novel, Part 79 Transition and German

After the interlude with the jewelry and box, Aksinya and Natalya went to school.  Chapel is, of course, first, followed by German.  Remember the Demon's words about the German teacher.

When they went to chapel, the crucifix burned against Aksinya’s skin, but her stomach felt better. She didn’t feel quite as nauseous, but she didn’t feel well either. Natalya still had to help her out of the church at the end. They went to their rooms to retrieve their books. The jewelry box was gone. Natalya served Aksinya tea.

Their first class was German with Sister Margarethe. The sister greeted Aksinya and nodded to Natalya. The sister did help Natalya, but she spent most of her class time speaking with Aksinya. At the end, she placed her hands softly on Aksinya’s shoulders, “Dear countess, your skill with German is very good and improving already.”

When they were outside the classroom, Aksinya whispered to Natalya, “I didn’t even finish my work for the class.” And she laughed. Natalya just looked concerned.

They went to their other classes and finally supper.

The problems with the rosary are a continuing theme through the book.  It indicates the guilt of Aksinya's sin.  One point of resolution would theoretically be that if the cross stopped burning her, then her guilt would be gone.  Aksinya has the classic popular and historical indications of deep spiritual problems.  Could you expect anything else?
When they returned to their room, Asmodeus has removed the jewelry box.  They have their morning tea--notice that Natalya pours.

German class is always interesting and important.  Watch closely.  I hope you remembered the interaction before.  Aksinya doesn't get it, but Natalya obviously does.  You can't miss the fact that Natalya knows more than she likely should and understands much more than she says.  Tomorrow, the demon again.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A New Novel, Part 78 A Gift to Natalya

Aksinya showed Natalya her mother's jewelry box then Natalya saw the rosary and the burns from it on Aksinya's chest.  Natalya is dressing Aksinya.

Aksinya’s shoulders drooped, “I’ll tell you later. Yes, later. Please hurry, Nata. Otherwise we shall be late.”

“Nata?” Natalya put the blouse on Aksinya and began to button it.

“Yes, Nata, and you are supposed to call me Aksinya.” Aksinya slid off the bed and stood.

“I am so embarrassed…” Natalya pulled the slip and skirt up Aksinya’s slim legs. She buttoned and belted it.

“I have a gift for you, Nata, but only if you call me, Aksinya, as you did last night.”

Natalya pulled the sweater on Aksinya and began to button it, “I am sorry, mistress. I will call you Aksinya.”

“Very good.” Aksinya took a small jeweled cross on a golden chain that had been in her mother’s jewel box. “Bow you neck, Lady Nata.”

Natalya bent her head and Aksinya placed the chain around her neck. Natalya picked it up in her hand and stared at it, “Is this really for me?”

“It is yours forever, Nata. Now hide it. It’s definitely against Frau Drescher’s rules to wear jewelry—even a cross.” Aksinya pulled open the top of Natalya’s blouse and let the cross fall down its front.

Natalya gazed at Aksinya, “It doesn’t burn.”

“That’s because you are an innocent person.” She gave a half smile, “I am not.” Aksinya started for the door, “Come on, we’re late, we’ll have to get tea at breakfast.”

Natalya made a strange face, but she answered, “I’m sorry mistress. I already heated the water for tea.”

Aksinya smiled, “You are so very, very good, Nata. Come on, I’ll pour your tea today.”

Natalya put her hands over her mouth, but she quickly followed Aksinya out of their rooms.

Natalya doesn't really get her answer.  You know she figured it out on her own.  Natalya is very bright, but she gives the impression, intentionally, of not being.  That is Natalya.  So, I use some writing techniques to further show her personality and the pressure Aksinya is giving her.  That is, while dressing, Aksinya insists Natalya call her by her name.  She uses the carrot of a gift and then presents it to her.  Note, how it is presented.  This is the way a noble lady presents a gift to an important courtier.  A point not lost on Natalya.  Remember Natalya's origins.  She never received anything of importance.  Here Aksinya presents her with a very valuable cross necklace.  You can guess from the context the point of this little exchange.  Aksinya wants to protect Natalya from the demon.  That is obvious and the underlying context of the gift.  She also wants to solidify Natalya's alliance.  We know that is unnecessary, but Aksinya thinks in terms of nobility--such displays and honors are always necessary.
The jewelry must be hidden from Frau Drescher.  I never told you about this rule until now--remember there were more rules in the dormitory.  I told you then, I wouldn't give you a list.  Here I show you one without making a list--you can guess some others on your own.
Natalya's response to the cross on her skin shows many things.  First Natalya expected it to burn her.  Because it doesn't, she realizes afresh the differences between her and Aksinya.  Remember, Natalya lusts to be the apprentice to Aksinya, but Aksinya wants no part of it.  The response from Aksinya answers another question, one about innocence.  We will find out later why Natalya could not believe that.  That is why she made a strange face at the comment about innocence. 
There is a rush from the beginning of this piece to be out of the rooms and get to breakfast.  Natalya already has water on for tea, and Aksinya spins Natalya's world again "I'll pour your tea."  That shows honor as much as anything.  Again, the response from Natalya. 
So today, we see a very simple exchange that is not simple at all.  There is foreshadowing and information flowing all over the place.  Each of these details is conveyed by an expression of the personality of Aksinya and Natalya.  That is the power of dialog to move the story, plotline, and express the theme.
On another note, I just started chapter 19.  The point is I wanted to mention something about writing in scenes.  That is my major technique.  I have been prepping for the scene I just finished from the beginning of the novel.  I am near the end of the novel, and the astounding thing is I could probably finish it if I just started writing, but if I did, I'd die.  The amount of effort to write the initial draft of anything is very high for me.  It is also amazing to see how a scene develops even when you know its input and output.  I set the scene and let the characters play out the scene within the setting.  I know where the scene is going and I know what should be in it, after that, there is no holds barred.  So the scene many times takes on a life of its own.  This part of the writing process is like magic to me.  The scenes almost write themselves.  They leap on to the page and usually end up very much like I wanted it, but not exactly how I imagined it.  When I get to that point in the pieces, I'll try to remember to tell you how some of the very important interactions became changed from my initial thoughts.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A New Novel, Part 77 I will endure

I'll give you a little more today than usual, because I want you to connect an important part of the story and theme.  I'm writing chapter 17 now.  It is one of the pivotal scenes in the novel.  You have only seen two of the pivotal scenes so far and there are seven.  The first is the incantation--loosely chapter 1.  The second it calling Natalya.  We are building to the third.  After the third pivotal point in the novel, it proceeds until the great confrontation (not what you might think) and the chapters flow from there with the resolution and final conclusion.  Like a mentioned, I'm writing one of the next big surprises in the novel--a scene that everything has built to.

She pawed through the rest of the jewelry and took out a couple of more pieces. Each piece brought back some memory of her mother. She couldn’t stop her thoughts. Aksinya’s stomach ached the whole time, and the rosary burned against her skin, but she would endure it, she would. Sleep began to overtake her, and she eventually closed and locked the box. She wanted to go to sleep. When she tried to lift the jewelry box from her bed, she found it was much too heavy for her to lift. She couldn’t budge it. If she tried to push it off the bed, it might fall and break. The noise would surely wake Frau Drescher, whose own rooms were just below hers.

Since she couldn’t move the box, Aksinya finally curled up in the remaining space on the bed that was left to her—it wasn’t much. She was cramped. She couldn’t move. Her stomach ached. The crucifix burned her skin. She wasn’t certain she slept at all, but she did wake when Natalya shook her in the morning.

Natalya just stared at the jewelry box and at Aksinya.

Aksinya was drowsy. She sat up and stretched, “The de…, Asmodeus paid me a visit last night. He left the box. Would you like to see inside?”

Natalya was enthralled, “Is it something that has to do with you know what?”

Aksinya’s brain was still a little fuzzy with sleep, “You know what?”

“Yes, the things you can do…” Natalya whispered, “Sorcery.”

Aksinya lowered her eyes, “It has nothing to do with that.” She unlocked and opened the box.

Natalya gazed at the jewelry. She let her eyes move lovingly over every piece she could see. Aksinya picked them up and let Natalya see those things underneath. Aksinya tried to hand a couple of pieces to Natalya, but she wouldn’t touch them. After a while, Natalya sighed and stated, “Please mistress, we will be late.”

Aksinya put away the pieces, closed, and locked the box. At the same time, Natalya pulled the nightgown over Aksinya’s head. She stopped when she saw the crucifix.

Aksinya complained, “It’s only half off. Keep pulling.”

Natalya squeaked, “Around your neck…”

“Yes, it was my mother’s. Keep pulling.”

Natalya pulled the nightgown off the rest of the way, “You are burned, countess.”

“Yes, the crucifix did it. It is burning the impurity from my soul.”

“Doesn’t it hurt you, mistress?”

“It hurts like the dickens and my stomach aches, but I will endure this.”


Aksinya’s shoulders drooped, “I’ll tell you later. Yes, later. Please hurry, Nata. Otherwise we shall be late.”

Aksinya looked through the jewelry and reminisced about her mother.  The entire time, the rosary burned her skin.  She intends to fight against the demon--this is her first shot.  The pain she faces is insignificant to her determination. 
When she tried to go to sleep, she realized the demon's point.  She can't move the box and she doesn't have enough room to stretch out.  The demon knows how she would react to his warning.  He didn't tell her to help her but to get her to make the demand.  The end is that Aksinya's demands caused her problems. 
Everything surprises Natalya.  She represents all of us.  All of us who would be equally surprised by the astounding events around a person like Aksinya.  Aksinya shows Natalya, her friend, the contents of the box.  Natalya's mind is focused on one thing--you should know that--sorcery.  Natalya won't touch those things that belong to Aksinya--this is a proper reaction of a servant.  She would touch the jewelry if asked to get them for Aksinya, but believes she has no right to touch them for herself.
Do you like the fun technique I use to draw Natalya's and your attention to the rosary--she pulled the nightgown over Aksinya's head but stopped when she sees the crucifix.  Natalya immediately noted that the crucifix has burned Aksinya on the chest.  Aksinya's answer was intentionally incomplete, but we have to wait until tomorrow to see Natalya's reaction. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A New Novel, Part 76 The Rosary

Asmodeus left Aksinya's mother's jewelry box on Aksinya's bed.  We get a description now of the box.

Aksinya lit the gas lamp. Her mother’s jewelry box was a piece of art itself. It was handmade by a craftsman from the late fifteenth century. The box was decorated on the sides with the four seasons of their estate in Russia. The top showed the house of the Counts of Golitsyna. The façade was almost unchanged from that time to this. The box had been a wedding present from her father to her mother. It was locked, and the heart-shaped key was in the lock where her mother always left it. She remembered the first time she saw the jewelry box when she was a child. She had stared at it for a long time—until her mother finally opened it.

With shaking fingers, Aksinya unlocked and opened the jewelry box. Inside were all her mother’s beautiful things. They were literally a princess’ dowry of gold, silver, and jewels. On top lay a fabulous jewel encrusted crucifix and rosary. It was her mother’s favorite piece. Aksinya always remembered her mother wore it on Sunday, every Sunday. It was too large and fine a piece to wear everyday.

Beside it lay a smaller crucifix and rosary made of intertwined white and yellow gold. On it, the body of Christ was yellow gold and the cross white gold. The tiny adornments, the loincloth, the crown of thorns were white gold. The prayers and decades were white and yellow gold. It was the most beautiful rosary Aksinya had ever seen. Her mother let her wear it on Sunday, but had put it away during the week. She told Aksinya it was her wedding present when the proper time came. Aksinya lifted it in her hands. It was warm to her touch. She bit her lip and quickly put it over her head. It fell around her neck and immediately the crucifix became hot. She felt the heat against her breasts. The heat rose through the prayers and decades and irritated her neck. She felt slightly nauseous. Still, she promised herself she would not take it off. If she lost to this, she felt she would lose to everything. The demon might make her do the most horrible things in the world, but in this very little part she could fight back. She knew at least one of his weaknesses now. He could not move an evident cross. Unless the demon was playing a game with her, he had not taken her sister’s jewelry box, it was decorated with crosses. He had not taken her cross decorated bookstand. He had been able to move her mother’s jewelry box even though it was filled with crosses and crucifixes.

Aksinya didn’t let herself feel encouraged by this little piece of knowledge. It was much too early for that. She simply filed the information in the back of her mind—it was a little more information about the demon and his weaknesses. She would use it, if she could, against him.

Aksinya was asleep and the lights were off when the demon brought the jewelry box to her.  Therefore, Aksinya had to light a gas lamp again.  Perhaps I should have given you a little more description of the little light from the gas lamp.
We see that the jewelry box is truly a piece of art.  It is ancient and beautiful.  We learn it was a wedding present and had a heart shaped key--a symbol of love.  The house depicted on the box is Aksinya's family home.  In this, it represents her home.  Remember, all her family were murdered outside the house.  The box is locked.  This scene is set up to be almost like the first time Aksinya saw the box opened--that is the image I give you.  In this case, Aksinya represents her mother.
The box, like the home is filled with wealth.  Notice, it is a "princess'" dowry.  The first thing on top is her mother's rosary.  It was the rosary Aksinya's mother wore every Sunday.  Beside this rosary is another.  It was the one, Aksinya's mother promised her as a gift for Aksinya's wedding.  You might ask who would get the larger and more beautiful rosary.  Aksinya instinctively goes for the rosary she always admired as a child.  When she touches and wears the rosary, Aksinya feels nausea and pain.  The cross, a symbol of God and Christianity, causes her nausea and pain.
By this, we are to understand a cross will also affect the demon.  Aksinya puts this together--she had before.  If you remember, the jewelry boxes were a test for the demon.  Aksinya noticed Asmodeus couldn't move her cross decorated bookstand.  He couldn't move Aksinya's sister's jewelry box because it was also decorated with crosses.  This is the answer to one question about the weaknesses of the demon.
Aksinya is already preparing to oppose the demon.  The crosses she had Natalya sew into their clothing is meant to affect the demon--we shall see how effective it is.  And we shall see what Aksinya does with this knowledge.  Don't you admire how methodical Aksinya is--this is perhaps the best part of her personality.  You can see how she could become a powerful sorceress.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A New Novel, Part 75 Aksinya as a Temptation

The question at hand is specifically Frau Drescher and generally Aksinya's affect on the school.  The demon just answered the following.  The she is Frau Drescher.

“I wish she would. That would be a definite sin. In any case, I do not wish any other undue attention toward you at this point. In this place, they worship your aristocracy. This is a pleasant little lust for all of them here. A little more mystery might enhance that mystique at some point, but not now.”

Aksinya wondered how much the demon lied at that moment. Was she herself a temptation to others—that statement was likely true. If the jewelry were found here, would that really cause a problem—more temptation? He could be lying and by that lie be informing her that to let the jewelry be found would cause her fewer problems. He could also be telling the truth, that the jewelry would lead to more issues for her and temptation for others. It could all be meaningless. On the other hand, Frau Drescher might be tempted to steal the jewelry and that would be a terrible thing for Frau Drescher and for Aksinya. Aksinya felt a very strong avarice toward her mother’s valuables. She knew she would react in a terrible way if they were taken. After a few moments thought, she responded, “Yes, demon. Tomorrow morning, you may take the jewelry to my house across the street. You promised to take care of these things that belong to me and belonged to my family. See that they are protected.”

The demon bowed, “Yes, mistress.”

“You may go.”

Asmodeus bowed to the door and out of the room. After he left, Aksinya gave him a few minutes. She tiptoed to the door and opened it. The demon was gone. She realized that really meant little. Where might a demon go and how might a demon conceal himself? He might be in the room with her at this moment.

We established that the demon doesn't want more attention paid to Aksinya right now.  That is obvious from his comments.  However, there is more to this than that simple statement.  We know the demon can lie.  We know he has lied to Aksinya before.  The question before us (and Aksinya) is how much does he lie.  We know Aksinya over thinks everything.  I let you see her thinking here.  This is one of the rare times, but I think it is a good technique to use at this point.  I want you to sense her mind and the quandary Asmodeus' short statement put her in.  I want you to know the same indecisiveness she knows.

I also want you to see the depth of her luxuria problem.  You see it in the detail of her mind--she would do anything to forestall the loss of her things.  Aksinya realizes the depth of her problem, but she likely doesn't realize it is sin.  So her answer is to accommodate the demon and therefore accommodate herself.  If you didn't get it before, you should now.  Aksinya is reacting to the demon exactly as he has planned.  He tempts her.  This temptation is so much more subtle than some in the past.  Aksinya seems to accept it hook, line, and sinker.

The demon plays along and continues to acts the servant.  Aksinya is especially vulnerable to this means of approach.  As I mentioned, the demon plays one way then the other.  He knows how to affect her.

Then a small revelation of the how he knows her so well.  Aksinya rightly infers that Asmodeus could be in the room with her at that moment.  He could spy on her at any time.  There are few secrets from him.  At that moment, she recognizes the problem.  She will now show more caution.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A New Novel, Part 74 The Jewelry Box

The demon again comes to Aksinya that evening.  This time he comes with a gift.  Isn't this demon clever?

In the middle of the night, a knock at Aksinya’s door woke her. She sat up and answered without thinking, “Come.”

The dark heavy shape of the demon entered her room. He was more massive in the darkness than she ever remembered, “Countess, as I promised, I brought your mother’s jewelry box. She had more than one. You were not specific so I brought the largest.”

Aksinya’s voice trembled, “That will be sufficient for now. What about my sister’s jewelry?”

“I have not been able to find it.”

Aksinya wanted to cry out, “You liar.” Instead she took a deep breath, “Bring it when you can find it.”

“Yes, Countess.” The demon still held the ornate box, “Where should I put it?”

Aksinya scooted toward the head of the bed, “Here on the bed.”

“It’s heavy.”

“Do I need to repeat myself? Place it on the bed.”

The demon’s fangs were evident in the light from the streetlamps. He might have been smiling. He placed the box near the middle of Aksinya’s bed. Then he stepped back, “You should not leave this in your room.”

“Why not, demon.”

He snarled, “Frau Drescher will find it.”

“Will she steal it?”

“I wish she would. That would be a definite sin. In any case, I do not wish any other undue attention toward you at this point. In this place, they worship your aristocracy. This is a pleasant little lust for all of them here. A little more mystery might enhance that mystique at some point, but not now.”

After Aksinya works on German with Natalya, she is sleeping.  The Demon waits, this time, for her summons.  Do you see how he is playing her.  At one moment demanding, the next responding as her servant.  All the demon's actions are intended to make Aksinya follow his purpose.  The play here, is we think the demon doesn't fully understand Aksinya's actions.  That is a reasonable thought.  I will go further and reveal, the demon can't read her mind.  I think I mentioned this before.  There are secrets Aksinya can hide from the demon, therefore, the demon's actions will be to try to force the secrets from her.  We will see some of these tricks later.  Right now, the demon is accommodating Aksinya because he believes this will aid in his purpose.  The demon doesn't realize that Aksinya intends to use the jewelry boxes to discover more of his bounds (weaknesses).

Aksinya trembles--it isn't in fear.  It is in excitement.  She will now know the answer to her question--can the demon touch or move evident crosses?  This is an incredibly important question to her.  The answer means that Aksinya might have another specific means to oppose the demon.  That's why the question about her sister's jewelry.  At that moment, Aksinya knows the truth.  The demon can't move an evident cross--therefore her reaction.

Now there is a set up for a problem for Aksinya.  You don't get to see it for a little.  The demon asks, where he can put the box.  Aksinya is so excited, she doesn't stop to think.  The demon's smile should have warned Aksinya.  Then Asmodeus tells her not to leave the jewelry box in her room.  We'll see more about this tomorrow, but you might wonder about the demons statement.  Aksinya does, she asks the obvious, but not the best question, and the demon's answer is Frau Drescher.

Then the wake up statement from Asmodeus that we will address from Aksinya tomorrow.  He wishes Frau Drescher would steal the jewelry, but that would cause undue attention toward Aksinya.  His point: they worship her aristocracy.  This is very evident, but the rest is interesting.  “This is a pleasant little lust for all of them here. A little more mystery might enhance that mystique at some point, but not now.”  This is interesting enough that Aksinya ponders it tomorrow. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A New Novel, Part 73 Choose the Evil You Will Do

Asmodeus gave us the strongest statement of his purpose so far.  His job is to do evil for Aksinya.  Her response follows.

Aksinya’s eyes darted from one side of the room to the other, “But I don’t want to do any of that.”

“So long as you accomplish evil, I will be pleased. Choose the evil you will do, and do it well. I only remark the evil that will occur if you fail at your part of the bargain.”

“I made no such bargain. I contracted you to be my servant. That was our agreement.”

“There you are wrong, Countess. You contracted to me using a part of your body as a surety. The contract was to me, the demon Asmodeus. I agreed to do your evil work in the world. That is our agreement—to do your evil work in the world. Since you have chosen to have no plan to pursue evil, I am providing one for you. I am happy to do it. I must confess, I was very pleased with how our relationship started. I am not as delighted with how it has progressed.”

“I hate you, demon. God will surely punish you for every way you torment me.”

“God will surely punish you, Countess, because all the evil I do is in your name. In fact, I myself commit no sins—it is you who sin. I am simply a tempter.”

“Get out. Get out of my room and torment me no more.”

“I will leave you for now. You understand what you must do, Countess.” Asmodeus slipped off the bed. He backed to the door and out of the room.

Aksinya waited a few minutes before she moved. Then she ran to her door and yanked it open. The demon was gone. She took a deep breath and leaned against the jam for a while. Then she closed her eyes and mouthed a prayer. She crossed herself. That small action hurt her heart. She couldn’t hold back a whimper and glanced around. She was afraid she would hear the demon’s laughter come out of the close darkness.

After a little, Aksinya closed her books and went to Natalya’s room. She didn’t even finish the work she was supposed to do. With Natalya, she reviewed her lady-in-waiting’s German work and spoke German with her for an hour. Then she went to bed.

If you didn't understand the demon's purpose, there can be no question now.  "Choose the evil you will do, and do it well."  Then, the bargain.  The point is that evil will occur if Aksinya fails to uphold her part.  We will see the evil in the future, for now, this is a threat and a foreshadowing.
Did you wonder at the demon's claim.  He claims not to sin--that he is only a tempter.  This may or may not be true.  Aksinya, in any case, bears the brunt of the sins the demon accomplishes in her name--that is his purpose.
Aksinya reveals her own desires after the demon is gone.  The act of crossing herself causes her physical pain.  This is presented as real physical pain, but we can't be certain that it is not psychological.
Then the end, Aksinya goes to help Natalya.  She neglects her own work for Natalya's sake.  I'm not certain the demon expected her to do this, but the point is that she takes her evening to help Natalya.  You might wonder at the demon's purpose.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A New Novel, Part 72 The Demon's True Purpose

We heard yesterday that Asmodeus has procured the house across the street for Aksinya to practice her sorcery.  Now we get a little more of his plans.

“I don’t want the Lady Natalya involved in this.”

Asmodeus lay on the bed and idly wrote with his clawed finger on her pillow, “You are too late to stop that also. She has such a strong desire to be like you, just like you. She is your apprentice. You will teach her sorcery.”

Aksinya held her head in her hands, “She must learn Latin first.”

“She is a very adroit study. You will find that she will master the language quickly. You are good to have concern for the Lady Natalya. She might have problems in this German school, this gymnasium.”

Aksinya raised her lip, “Why is that?”

“She doesn’t speak German. If you wish her to succeed and not be left behind, you need to help her.”

“To help her study?”

“I would suggest a little help in what you are the best at. That will go a long way to meeting all our goals.”

“You mean use sorcery to help her? Can’t you understand? I don’t want to meet your goals.”

Asmodeus voice was tinged with false despair, “Why should you meet your goals, and I not meet mine?”

“I have no goals…”

“Other than to be rid of me. I understand you perfectly, Countess. Now listen to me and listen well. You experienced the suffering of your soul in the church today. That guy rejects you. The church will eventually vomit you out. I suggest not going at all—otherwise your secrets will be revealed to all the world. Your sweet helper won’t be spared either.” Asmodeus turned his eyes on her, “Second, do not confess to anyone, anything. It might do your soul well, but it will cause you immense suffering.” The demon sat up, “I do have an instruction on a positive note. The Sister Margarethe is a special person whose attention should be encouraged. She will help you and she will help the Lady Natalya because of you.” The demon gave Aksinya a large fang filled grin.

“Is that all you have to tell me, demon?”

“Do you want more? I can certainly give you more instructions. I really wanted to wait a while.”

“You infuriate me. What if I won’t do as you ask?”

The demon examined his claws, “You have already proven to me, a little pain and suffering goes a long way to encourage your compliance. Beyond that, the Lady Natalya is a very gentle girl who has faced much suffering. You haven’t made her suffer much, yet. That can quickly change. Then…this school is filled with mostly innocent beings whose only guilt was to be in the wrong place with a sorceress as their classmate. The sisters of this convent’s peace is also at risk. Frau Drescher is a sour woman whose life has been very unpleasant for a long time. She hides the excesses of the students because she is truly indulgent and kind—she could change. You see, Countess, I brought you here to this place at this time to give special attention to your and my special abilities. We shall work together to promote evil and we shall bring much evil to these innocents.”

In answer to the demon's demand that Aksinya teach sorcery to Natalya, her apprentice, Aksinya responds, that she doesn't want Natalya involved.  The demon his been working hard at his temptation.  He already set up a situation that Aksinya can't control or stop.  Aksinya set up Natalya as her apprentice and Natalya expects training.  We will later see how much Natalya expects.  Aksinya caves into the demon's expectation, but we shall see she fights him to the bitter end on this issue.
Then the demon brings in a new temptation.  He hasn't been so direct or conniving, that we have seen, but now, temptation is back and it is ugly.  The temptation is to Aksinya's sense of duty.  If she doesn't help Natalya, Natalya will fail at school.  The demon suggests Aksinya use sorcery to help Natalya.  All he really wants is for Aksinya to cause herself problems by spending all her time teaching Natalya.  If Aksinya uses sorcery so much the better, if she doesn't...we shall see.
The conversation turns to Aksinya and all the things she has been thinking or exposed to that is to be rid of the demon.  The demon reminds her that God has rejected her and the church has rejected her.  He threatens that her secret sins will be revealed and that Natalya will be harmed.  He tells her to not confess to anyone, then he adds something that should make you and Aksinya wonder.  He tells her to cultivate friendship with Sister Margarethe.  We will find out later why this is so.  It should worry you.
So Aksinya throws down the gauntlet again, and we get a complete statement from the demon.  He lifts up Natalya, the girls in the school, the convent, Frau Drescher all as potential targets for his attacks.  Aksinya, we know, can't face the suffering of others.  We know she will abide by the demon's decrees.  More tomorrow. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

A New Novel, Part 71 The Demon's Wants and Plans

Aksinya was surprised by the demon.  He came into her room without any warning.

Aksinya put her hand to her throat. She paused a moment before she completely cleared her features and slowly turned, “Demon, I told you to knock first. I am your master. You show me great disrespect by not waiting for my summons.”

“You show me great disrespect by not accomplishing your purpose.”

“I have done all you have asked me—you have not obeyed my instructions in the least.”

The demon snarled, “What instructions are you talking about?”

“I wanted my mother’s and sister’s jewelry. I told you more than once.”

“It just slipped my mind. I shall bring them in the morning.”

“I’ve heard that before from you.”

“Then I shall bring them tonight.”

“That would suit me better.”

“Now to my complaints.”

“How can you have any complaints at all? As you insisted, I traveled to my uncle and aunt’s. I came to this school. I called a servant. I have been the one doing your will…”

“Exactly, and I have more for you to do.”

“You ass, this is not how a servant obeys his master. You would learn a lot from the Lady Natalya’s patient service.”

“Is that how a human responds to a demon?”

Aksinya clamped her mouth shut.

“Now, Countess, as I said, I have more for you to do. You are to study sorcery. Shall I assign you a lesson book and insist that you keep to it?”

Aksinya thought quickly, “There is no need, but I do require my books and things.”

“Ha, you know very well I can’t bring your books and items here to you. They would be discovered by that snarling Frau Drescher at her first search.”

“Does she search the rooms?”

“Every day. Many would be surprised what young women bring into their dormitory rooms. Their parents would be appalled. It might even astound you.”

“Without my books and equipment, how do you expect me to study sorcery?”

“That is the first step for you. I have engaged a place. The building across the street is yours. I shall set up your house there. It will have all the wonderful things you are used to having around you. It is your house. It belongs to you. It has a wonderful cellar similar to the one you used for so many years. There, I will set up everything for you and protect it for you. Tomorrow, you must take the Lady Natalya, and I will show you your new place of study.”

Aksinya didn’t speak.

“Aren’t you going to say something? Aren’t you going to thank me?”

“Thank you? I’d rather damn you to hell.”

“Too late.”

Aksinya is surprised by the demon, but to say that wouldn't be half as good as showing it to you.  She tries to keep her fear from the demon.  She can't be certain that he can read her mind.  In fact, she is becoming more and more certain he cannot--therefore, she blanks her face and she attacks.  This is the same complaint she had before.
The demon's response should be interesting to us.  Aksinya's purpose is the question here.  Again Aksinya attacks.  She wanted the jewelry to test the demon's response to a cross.  The reaction of the demon shows us that Aksinya does have some limited degree of power over him--or perhaps that is the demon trying to trick her.  Aksinya reminds him that he is her servant and puts up Natalya as an example of a good servant.  With the demon's return, she knows she shouldn't have said anything about Natalya.  The demon has used Natalya against her before.
The demon then tips his hand: he wants her to study sorcery.  This is truly sin against God.  That is the symbol I used in this book for sin.  Sorcery is Aksinya's sin, while luxuria is her temptation.  The demon has already thought through Aksinya's excuses and complaints.  He has a place for her to study sorcery.  He has her things.  We do get the short bit about Frau Drescher.  The information is enlightening and pushes Aksinya in a way the demon wants her to go.
The demon tempts Aksinya with her own family's things.  All those things in the wonderful chest will be returned to Aksinya.  All the dresses and jewelry and her items and books for sorcery.  This is a temptation Aksinya can't pass up because her temptation is luxuria and her sin is sorcery.  There is more, so don't miss the next installment.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A New Novel, Part 70 A Transition and the Demon

Everything seems to be going well for Aksinya.  She and Natalya don't exactly fit in, but they have a place at the school, but we can never forget the whole point of everything...

Their next class was mathematics followed by history. Luncheon was simple and there was again tea. Afterwards, they attended literature, science, and theology. Luckily literature was in French. Aksinya translated during science and theology for Natalya. The science was simple for them both, the theology foreign.

They ended their first day at dinner, and the conversation at their table was muted, slightly tense, and definitely less exciting than the first day. They both had time to speak to the students and teachers and although they didn’t make any major inroads with them, they seemed to be accepted to a degree by both.

After supper, Aksinya and Natalya returned to their rooms to study at their desks. The gas lamps provided barely sufficient lighting—their rooms were filled with shadows. Natalya had already prepared Aksinya for bed. Aksinya sat in her silk nightgown with a sweater over her shoulders.

Aksinya struggled with one of the problems in mathematics. She was about to give up and ask Natalya’s help when she heard the door to her room open and close. She didn’t turn away from her desk right away. She was immediately happy that the Lady Natalya felt comfortable enough to come to her room without knocking.

The bed behind her creaked. Aksinya gave a happy sigh. She was about to turn around. The voice of Asmodeus startled her. It dripped with sarcasm and animosity, “Hello, Countess, did you forget about me?”

So we have a short synopsis of the day with a transition.  there is no need to show you directly the other classes or their lunch.  I do in the synopsis give you a lot of information.  At Sacré Coeur the language of literature is French--of course.  Theology is foreign because they are both Orthodox--did you expect anything else?  In this way, I can keep reminding you about their Orthodox roots.  The Catholic expression of faith is similar but different. 
Still in synopsis mode, we see through a window the dinner event.  Again, there is no need for great detail.  In just a few words, I give you the feel: muted, slightly tense, and definitely less exciting than the first day. 

So we get back to the rooms, and here we see some major scene setting.  I don't need to give you details about the room, I need to remind you about what I already told you and then set the differences.  I mention specifically desks and gas lamps.  Do you remember where they were?  That doesn't really matter, but the reason for mentioning desks and gas lamps is the gas lamps were above the beds and the desks.  This gives you an idea.  Then the differences.  The lighting is poor from gas lamp, and I paint you the picture.  You should have a good idea of the environment Aksinya is in.  I then show you a physical description of Aksinya.  She is dressed for bed and a reminder that Natalya dressed her in a silk nightgown, but because of the cold with a sweater.  You should have the entire picture now, cold and dark.

Remember that Natalya is very smart, so Aksinya with a problem in math thinks to get Natalya's help, but then Aksinya hears the door to her room open and shut.  The door is slightly behind her over her left shoulder.  It is dark.  She is concentrating on a problem.  She had Natalya in her mind, like I just put Natalya in your mind.  So you hear next the bed creak.  Aksinya is so happy with Sacré Coeur, Natalya, and her life, she has forgotten.

Asmodeus announces himself.  She did indeed for get about him and so did you.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A New Novel, Part 69 German Class and Sister Margarethe

Important person and important interaction, today we get to meet Sister Margarethe for the first time.  Also, here is Aksinya and Natalya's first class at the school.

The first class was German. The room was filled with ten younger and older students. The teacher was a middle aged nun with a very friendly and elfish face. She greeted Aksinya and Natalya at the door pleasantly in French, “Good morning Countess and Lady Natalya. I am Sister Margarethe Traugott. I teach German, both beginning and advanced. I understand the Lady Natalya doesn’t understand any German and that you, Countess, wish to improve your understanding of the language.”

Aksinya smiled, “The Reverend Mother must have spoken to you.”

The Sister Margarethe gave her a very large smile, “Yes, she told me about you, and we discussed your curriculum. You seem a wonderful young woman to have faced such suffering.” She stared at Aksinya and didn’t give a glance to Natalya. Suddenly, she reached out her hand and touched Aksinya’s face then brushed the tips of her hair, “I’m very glad you are in my class. I hope we can be good friends.” She pointed, “Please take the seats near the window at the front. I will assign you your books.”

Aksinya and Natalya sat where they were directed. Natalya pulled out notebooks and pens for both of them. Natalya began with a primmer, and Sister Margarethe spoke with Aksinya for a long time in German before she handed her a book of advanced German studies. At the end of class, the sister let them out of the classroom with a comment, “Countess, I’ve given you an advanced course of study. If you find your studies difficult, please come to my office. I would be happy to help you.

Aksinya grinned, “Thank you, Sister Margarethe.”

As always, we need to set the scene.  I could give you more on the classroom setting, but I already told you about the school, the rest is your imagination.  Plus, classrooms in 1918 aren't that much different--just more wood and less metal (no plastic).  You know the rooms are small and the classes have about 10 girls.  We see the German class is a mixed class (young and old)--you want to bet the students are not Austrian.  Maybe I should tell you this, but it doesn't drive anything in the novel, so the knowledge would just be gratuitous.

The important point isn't the class, it's the teacher.  Sister Margarethe Traugott is a very important character.  Traugott means "trust in God" and Margarethe means "pearl."  There is a significance to the last name.  Her first name is one of the most popular for girls in Austria and Germany when she was born 1860s.  You don't see much more than her face since she is a nun and wears a habit, so the description I give you is about her face.  By leaving the rest out, height, etc, I leave you with the impression she is average--that's what I want you to conclude.

Right away we see Sister Margarethe is very interested in Aksinya.  Then, we should be surprised.  Out of the blue she remarks on Aksinya's suffering.  I prepared you with Aksinya's comment about talking to the Reverend Mother.  That is obviously the only way Sister Margarethe could know so much about Aksinya.  The Reverend Mother obviously received her information from Aunt Brunhilda.  Then the very surprising part: she reaches out her hand and touches Aksinya's face, then her hair.  It's the hair.  If you didn't get it before, you should now.  The hair is an indicator and indicates that Asmodeus has in some way touched Sister Margarethe.  You get then, the words, "I hope we can be good friends."

Next I also give you description in dialog--there is a window in the room and Aksinya and Natalya are directed to sit at the front by it.  Teachers pet and by the window, could a student wish for more?  You should ask, why.

Natalya takes care of business.  She doesn't get any attention, but Aksinya does, plus an invitation.  We also get that Aksinya likes the attention.  We know she is attention starved.  She is looking for something, she called a demon from the pit for it.  So the first class, we know something is up with Sister Margarethe.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A New Novel, Part 68 Chapel and Spiritual Illness

I put a clue in the title today--I usually don't do that.  I know you'll get the point anyway.  Aksinya and Natalya are ready for school.  They start their first day.  Do you remember, the first event every day at Sacré Coeur is chapel.  I wonder how that will work out?

They went down together for breakfast and more tea. Aksinya was very fond of tea, especially the tea Natalya made for her. They sat together and no one dared to sit with them. After breakfast, everyone marched to chapel in the church. They went through the dormitory to the second floor and entered the nave from the back of the choir. The moment Aksinya stepped through the door, she felt a pain in the pit of her stomach. Natalya took Aksinya’s arm when she faltered and helped her to her seat near the back at the main floor.

In their seats, Natalya put her hand on Aksinya’s forehead, “Mistress, you are pale. Are you well?”

Aksinya bent over a little, “I just feel a little ill. I’ll be all right.”

Natalya bit her lip. She steadied Aksinya when they stood, and when they knelt. The entire time, Aksinya clasped her arms across her chest and couldn’t raise her head. Natalya held the prayer book for her. Aksinya seemed to get worse as the service progressed. She mumbled in Latin, a counterpoint to the priest, but luckily in a throaty whisper that only Natalya could hear. When the bells announced communion, Aksinya gave a groan. Natalya put her arm around her. No one else seemed to notice, or they carefully ignored the two. Natalya and Aksinya didn’t take communion. Aksinya was happy they couldn’t. The very thought made her nauseous. At the blessing, Aksinya slipped out of her seat and hurried to the side door up and out through the choir. Natalya followed behind her.

On the other side of the door, Aksinya doubled over and leaned against the wall.

Natalya held her, “Mistress, you look terrible. What’s wrong?”

Aksinya’s eyes were wild, “I’m wrong. That’s the problem. I’m not sure I can stand this, but I must. I must.” She stood straight and grasped Natalya’s hands, “Lady Natalya, you must ensure I am at chapel every day. This is necessary…for my soul. Please.”

Natalya frowned, “I will, mistress. I promise. Please, I don’t wish you to be ill.”

Aksinya touched Natalya’s face, “Don’t cry, lady. Just help me, I beg you.”

Natalya slipped her arm around Aksinya’s shoulders. Before the crowd of girls came through the corridors, they returned to their rooms, and before the bells announced the beginning of class, Aksinya drank another rejuvenating cup of tea. They walked together to their first class. Natalya carried the official Sacré Coeur briefcases for them both.

The "they" are Aksinya and Natalya.  I don't give you much description about the breakfast room or their breakfast.  In this case, I think a little is enough.  You should have the picture of the school and a little more is generally unnecessary.  If you assume they had breakfast in the dining room or if you assume they had breakfast in a smaller place--either one is good.  The fun information is that no one "dared" sit next to them.

I give you a little more on the way to the chapel.  The entry is through the dormitory, so that is interesting in itself.  Then Aksinya's problem.  This will be a recurring problem until the initial resolution--she gets nauseated when she enters a church.  Sweet Natalya is just too innocent about Aksinya to get it.  This is a recurring theme too.

Natalya thinks Aksinya is ill.  Well she is ill, but her illness is entirely spiritual.  I didn't play this story the way I did Aegypt, but I might eventually.  In Aegypt, the reader was never sure if the main character was completely right about his observations of the events.  In this, I let you see everything, so you assume Aksinya's illness really is spiritual--it could easily be psychological.  Just a minor point.  We get the dialog about the illness, and note, I don't tell you she is nauseous until at the end.  The description is sufficient to give you all the information you need.  I hope you feel her pain.

I also hope you can imagine Aksinya and Natalya in the service.  You should wonder what Aksinya is mumbling--surely not a spell, but is she praying?  I don't tell you.  In any case, the climax comes at communion.  Remember why they can't take communion?  They are Orthodox and not Catholic. 

Aksinya made it to the end.  She almost lost it, but didn't.  Then Aksinya tells Natalya the straight out truth, but we get little comprehension from Natalya.  She still thinks it is a problem of illness.  Then a little trick.  Did you know Natalya was crying.  You might have guessed--she's just that way.  I show you through Aksinya's eyes.  That's a fun way to make a connection.  The important point is the Natalya is thinking entirely about Aksinya, and Aksinya is thinking about Natalya.  That's why Aksinya noticed.

In the end, Natalya cleans up the mess (no literal mess this time)--that is, she helps Aksinya back where she can have tea, and she prepares her for school--again.  At the end of this section, we see Natalya carrying both their books and they are headed for their first class.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A New Novel, Part 67 Scene Setting beginning of Chapter 7

Okay, okay, I know I usually give you more than a paragraph.  I'm not being stingy--this is the beginning of a chapter and there is first the scene setting for the chapter and the details that are necessary for the reader.  In other words, in one paragraph I will set the scene, introduce the chapter, and foreshadow a lot of events.  So here it is.  Pay attention. 

Natalya woke Aksinya in the early morning.  She served her tea, dressed her in the uniform of Sacré Coeur, and arranged her hair.  Aksinya fit very primly into her clothing.  The severe uniform of Sacré Coeur didn’t improve her figure at all.  The cut made her look more boyish than usual.  Her hair simply turned her features from those of a maiden to those of a lovely boy.  Natalya carefully steered her away from the mirrors in their room and bath.  Natalya, on the other hand, appeared like a especially proper and beautiful young woman.  Her figure was very evident even in the unflattering uniform.  Natalya put on her baggy sweater to cover her curves—she hoped Aksinya wouldn’t notice.

Scene setting means the writer tells us where, when, who, what, and how.  Not necessarily in any particular order.  I spent the whole of the last chapter setting the place for you, the where.  We start with when, early morning, and notice, Natalya woke Aksinya.  I don't tell you, but can't you imagine Natalya already woke very early to prepare herself, then woke Aksinya.  The where is in the second sentence, Sacré Coeur, you knew this from the waking, but this little bit reminds you of a couple of things: first, remember the tea preparation in the room and second, the uniform?  These little things are intended to reset the scene for you.  This is all the where.  So we have the when and the where.  The who is right at the beginning: Aksinya and Natalya.  The what is that they are preparing for school  I don't tell you that--I know you can put it together.  Then the how--the how is what wraps everything together.  You see, I am really showing you the how from the beginning.  It is the how that Natalya prepares Aksinya for school, but in that short how--two whole sentences, I already showed you the entire scene and I set the players in it.  This is scene setting.  This is exactly how it is supposed to be done and should and must be done especially at the beginning of a new scene.  Now let's set the chapter.

To set a chapter, the author needs to put into play the introductory events or ideas that foreshadow at least some parts of it.  The beginning is in the setting of the scene, but I begin to set the chapter before that is done.  Look at the last part of the second sentence--and arranged her hair.  We can't ever get away from Aksinya's hair.  The hair is the image or symbol of her contract to the demon.  She can't be allowed to forget and neither can you.  You know already, from what I revealed in the scene setting, that this chapter will be about the school.  It is all domestic, but then to the point.

Aksinya's clothing.  This is obviously an image for the chapter--how she fits into the school.  Look at the description.  She fit primly because Natalya did the fitting, but it makes Aksinya look like a boy and her hair doesn't help anything.  This is a definite foreshadowing.  Kind Natalya steers Aksinya away from the mirrors.  Remember Aksinya's pain and the mirrors before.  Aksinya, we know keeps away from mirrors because of how she perceives her lack of beauty.  Natalya gets it.  Then we get to Natalya.

Aksinya never picks up on Natalya's evident beauty, but we do.  Aksinya, as a true aristocrat doesn't notice many things like this, but we see it because I show it to you.  Natalya goes out of her way to make certain that Aksinya doesn't notice.  We aren't certain Aksinya would ever notice such a thing--especially at this point.

Still, here we are, the chapter introduction in a nutshell.  Aksinya should fit into the school as well as she fits the uniform, and Natalya will try to fit and will stand out anyway.  Natalya will do anything to help Aksinya, but we knew that already.  I'm not going to reveal the foreshadowing at this point, let's let that be a surprise, shall we, but you might guess at a little.  There are lots of juicy hints.