The demon grabbed Aksinya and pulled her away from the coming action at the tavern. Now they are observing the events there. The demon set this up and is the cause of it.
Natalya screamed. One of the men pushed her to the ground. He lifted her skirt and called to the others, “Here’s a beautiful girl to take.”
Aksinya yelled, “Stop. Stop right now.”
The demon’s smile widened, “Do you wish to bring their attention to you. They would gladly rape you even though you are homely and unwomanly. Look they have Sister Margarethe on the ground now.”
The men eyed Natalya’s body. She twisted left and right and tried to push her dress back over her thighs, but the held it up and another man stepped behind her and grabbed her arms. Sister Margarethe lay on the ground now and one of the men had raised her skirts. Another pulled off her habit.
The demon laughed again, “Now they will rape them. The only thing you can do to help them is to use sorcery to stop them. You know how too.”
“You stop them. Stop them, I demand it.”
“Those men are mostly innocent. I can only stop them after they have raped the lady and the nun. Then I will be able to act in your name. I will torture and kill them for you. That will be on your soul. If you wish, you can kill them now. Then your actions will clearly be murder.”
“Murder in the protection of their virtue. To prevent rape.”
“Do it now. I’ll encourage you. I can’t forget how you hate the cold along with your false modesty.” The demon made a motion as if he pulled something from the air.
The hem of Aksinya’s dress and heavy cloak rose an inch but then settled back.
The demon stood awestruck, “What have you done? There are crosses everywhere on it.”
Aksinya forced a laugh, “You can’t take my clothing so easily this time.”
“Then I must encourage you in a different way. Look around, Countess. No one except you will come help them. Observe that gentleman there.” The demon pointed to the alleyway across from them. A handsome young man stood at the edge of it and watched the others as they held the women to the ground, and as yet, gaped at them and groped them. He trembled, about to move to stop them, but obviously fearful, so he didn’t do anything.
Aksinya screamed at him, “Stop them. Stop them, please. Help my friend.”
The young man walked out of the alleyway toward the men, then halted. One of them pulled a knife and pointed it at him, “It isn’t worth your life is it?”
The young man stepped cautiously toward the men again. His voice was hesitant, “It may be worth my life.”
Asmodeus cackled, “He’ll be killed, you know. Killed or raped himself if they are of that mind. Perhaps both. It isn’t that uncommon after I have touched their hearts.”
The men at the tavern have been excited by the demon to a fever pitch. They attack the nun and Natalya. They prepare to rape them. Aksinya tries to do something, but the demon warns her that the men will turn on her and attack her too. The demon gets a dig at her, and I use the demon's words to tell you what is happening at the tavern--this is a writing technique.
Then the demon tells Aksinya what he expects her to do--use sorcery to stop the men. There is a problem with the demon's demand. I haven't told you much about sorcery, but you may have guessed it. Aksinya had to make a protective circle to do "big" sorcery. What exactly is big sorcery? You might have discovered it from the evidence trail I left, but if you didn't that's still good--I purposely didn't leave enough direct crumbs. "Small" sorcery is sorcery that basically doesn't change the world. "Big" sorcery changes the world (calls demons, changes appearance, heals, makes real changes in the world). Again, "little" sorcery doesn't change the world. The demon asks Aksinya to potentially do "big" sorcery, and she knows it. That's why she demands that the demon stop what is going on.
Asmodeus' response is what we should have expected. He claims he can't act until the women are raped. At that point, the demon can torture and kill the perpetrators. The demon wants Aksinya to do "big" sorcery and murder the men. He has tried to get her to do this before, but not so directly. His desire is obvious--then Aksinya would have committed murder. The actuality is not obvious, but it can be discovered, the demon doesn't want Aksinya to act at all. If she doesn't, the women will be raped, the men will be guilty, Aksinya will likely ask the demon to revenge them, that will result in murder of the men and their torture. This is exactly what happened to Aksinya's family. The demon's plans are not obvious, but they are very specific. If I don't lay it all out like this, many readers might not figure it out, but that isn't important. All the details aren't critical to the novel. The reader will understand many of the reasons and motivations without any explanation.
Aksinya's point is well taken: “Murder in the protection of their virtue. To prevent rape.” She is correct. If she could kill the men, that might be a completely ethical and moral position. The demon seems to agree with her, then he tries some of the motivational force he used before. The demon attempts to strip her of her clothing in the street, and finally, Aksinya has a tiny victory.
The demon thinks of everything. He didn't imagine that Aksinya would be able to resist or successfully plot against him. The demon is surprised, but he has more plans within plans. He points out a young gentleman who is across the street. You might imagine that if the demon set up everything else, he set up this too. The gentleman is somewhat a coward, but Aksinya encourages him. The man has a choice to make--he might give his life to help the women and it might not do any good anyway. The demon makes this obvious. That is a direct discouragement against the man and Aksinya. The demon has backed Aksinya into a corner--the question is what will she do about it?