Now it comes. You knew there had to be some resolution with the demon especially in the aftermath of the great enchantment. Indeed there is a confrontation, but never a resolution. I like Jack Vance's writing very much. His confrontations rarely have a resolution, but they do resolve. If the confrontations in my writing seem to have complete resolutions, either I'm not writing them properly or you are being much to optimistic...
Aksinya and Natalya spent a quiet weekend with the Freiherr and Freifrau Bockmann. The Freifrau Bockmann discussed the details of her Advent party with Aksinya and Natalya. Aksinya only listened with half an ear. She wasn’t really interested in a party. She wasn’t interested in much of anything. The last encounter with the demon frightened and yet encouraged her, but she didn’t dare imagine she had been in any way successful. She had given in to the demon. She had used sorcery to save Natalya and Sister Margarethe. Aksinya wasn’t certain what she should or could do next, and she couldn’t imagine what the demon might demand from her the next time. She didn’t have to wait long to hear from him.
Late Saturday evening a heavy knock came to her door. Aksinya caught the scent of sulfur. She rolled over, “I really do not wish to speak to you demon.”
The door didn’t open, “You said that last time, Countess. I request an audience.”
She sighed a great sigh, “And, I do wish to ask you some questions—you may enter.”
The door opened and Asmodeus stepped through it. The smell of sulfur increased slightly. He shut it carefully after him.
Aksinya sat up in bed.
The demon bowed, “Good evening, Countess.”
Aksinya took a deep breath, “Asmodeus, where is my book?”
“You have many books…”
“You know just the book I mean. It was the one I was carrying when you precipitated the attack on my lady-in-waiting and the nun.”
“Ah, you are mistaken, Countess. I did not make any attack on your friends…it was entirely the work of those hooligans from the Golden Adler Gasthaus.”
“Čort poberí , you demon. You confessed to me yourself that you tempted them to it.”
The demon seemed petulant, “I told you before, countess. You can’t curse a being who is already cursed.”
“I don’t care. I want to know, where is my book?”
“I don’t know.”
“You are lying.”
The demon lifted one side of his lips. His fangs glistened in the moonlight, “Ha, why do you think that?”
Aksinya stuck her face forward. Her eyes bore in on the demon’s, “You have lied over and over to me.”
Asmodeus wouldn’t meet her gaze, “How could that be?”
“You lied about Sister Margarethe…”
The demon examined his claws, “I did not lie—she is infatuated with you.”
“You tried to get me to…to get me to…”
“…to seduce her?”
Aksinya lowered her gaze, “Yes, just that. Such a disgusting thing.”
The demon’s fangs were very visible in his face, “Perhaps a misunderstanding?”
“That you fostered. Everything you have told me is a lie.”
“That isn’t so.”
“Then what is the truth?”
We last left Aksinya and Natalya on their way to Grossbock for the weekend. The Freifrau has nothing but the Advent party on her mind. I take a slight omniscient point of view to give you a little from the thoughts of Aksinya. This is part of this easy transition we have been in, you know that can't last. You should expect the next pacing of the scenes to bring you back into tension. Tension indeed. I give you a slight look into Aksinya's thoughts, you might have guessed them already, but I wanted it to be clear. She has both given into the demon and opposed the demon. This causes her great distress. It should. At Asmodeus next visit we should get some idea what Aksinya's opposition means.
In the evening, Aksinya finally receives the visit she had been expecting. I like the little touch of sulfur in the air with the demon. When he knocks on the door, Aksinya lies at first. Notice the consideration the demon shows--he's back to his good demon stage. Remember for him everything is a show. The demon is even deferential to her. He requests an audience. Aksinya does indeed wish to asks him some questions--they are likely the same ones you have.
Aksinya's first question: where is my book... This is the important question to her. The book is new and wonderful. It was a gift from the demon. Yet, the demon's answer is both equivocal and a lie. You should wonder, what is it about this book--or better, where is the book, that its presence must be hidden. Then we get the accusation from Aksinya against the demon--he caused the attempted rape. You knew it had to be asked. The demon lies again. He did confess to the temptation before. He bragged he set up the entire event. Aksinya curses at Asmodeus. Curses always have the same affect on him. You might wonder if he is proud of the curse and proud that Aksinya curses.
Then, again, where is the book. The demon is indeed lying, but you realized that. Aksinya knows it too. The demon is lying--the important thing to learn is why. It does no good to prove or point out to the demon his lies--it just encourages him. Aksinya still can't help but argue.
The next point she wished to attack the demon about is the Sister Margarethe. The demon did lie about the Sister Margarethe's lust. Then again, perhaps Asmodeus simply misunderstood the Sister's desire. Or, the sister does desire Aksinya just as the demon said and lied to Aksinya about it. Aksinya believes she has learned a great truth that you can love without lust. This thought sustains her in some measure--it will be tested in the future.
Aksinya claims Asmodeus lied about Sister Margarethe. He responds that he did not lie. The sister is infatuated with Aksinya--this is truth. We heard it from her own lips. Aksinya's realization goes much deeper. If she had attempted the bidding of the demon and tried to seduce the Sister, she might have succeeded. There is much in this conversation that is unsaid in regard to Aksinya. She has sexual fantasies and infatuations herself, only those fantasies are true fantasies. In many ways she is very naive. She wouldn't know what to do with a man or a woman sexually at all. The idea scares her. I don't mention this to say she should be willing, but rather to set up your thoughts for what will happen next. Aksinya is a perfect countess on the outside, but she is very innocent of human interaction. The demon realizes this and capitalizes on it. Not everything Asmodeus has told her is a lie, but much of it is a lie. Therefore, Aksinya's question that leads us into tomorrow: "Then what is the truth?”