Aksinya is really too nice a girl to be a sorceress. She has a weak spot for people. Her next question to the demon indicates this weakness. She doesn't get an answer...
“What happened to the men at the tavern?”
This time the demon did smile. Aksinya could detect his humor before he spoke, “They are all dead.”
“I did not kill them.”
“They are dead anyway.”
“You are lying.”
“Perhaps you should ask them yourself,” the demon let out a great laugh.
“Then they are alive…”
He chuckled, “I meant in hell.”
“Go to hell, yourself.”
“I’ve been there, Countess.”
“You tempted them…”
“I did not give them anything more than they wished themselves—such is the way with temptation. You, more than anyone, should realize that, Countess.”
“I’m tired of arguing with you. Leave me.”
“Ah, it is time for me to leave. I have just one thing to tell you, Countess.”
“I knew there was more to this visit than pleasantries.”
Asmodeus bowed, “I just wanted to warn you. You have chosen to defy me. None of my other masters ever did such a thing. It is incomprehensible to me. Still, your choices do promote evil. Yet, because you defy me, they will bring you much sorrow. A final warning from your servant, it is a threat. Don’t give away too much of your heart. What you give away may never be returned, and when it is, it will result in great sorrow.”
“You spout stupid platitudes…why should I expect wisdom from a demon.”
“Why indeed, Countess.” The demon bowed out of the room. Before he shut the door, he called sweetly, “Good night.”
Under her breath, Aksinya whispered, “One can love without desire, without lust, Asmodeus. That is the secret that causes all your evil to crumble.”
A soft hiss answered her, “But love without desire is not as sweet, Countess. Just look at how you love yourself.” The words seemed to echo within the closed room.
Aksinya covered her head with her blanket and put her hands over her ears.
Aksinya is really concerned about the results of her sorcery. She planned for no one to be hurt. If you remember, Asmodeus was obviously trying to point Aksinya toward ordering him to kill the men outright or to wait after the rape and then torture and kill them. Aksinya did something the demon wasn't expecting. She still isn't certain that she didn't harm them--this is how powerful her spell was. Aksinya wasn't sure if she harmed the men. After hearing the demon's response, she still doesn't know.
This gives me the opportunity to give a small joke by the demon about hell--this is his personality and his affliction. Then we get back into the meat. The demon comments about temptation, and indeed, Aksinya should realize this more than anyone--she faces temptation all the time, in every variety.
Then, we finally get to the whole point of the visitation. The demon was simply playing with Aksinya, now he tells her his message. This is so important I will repeat it: “I just wanted to warn you. You have chosen to defy me. None of my other masters ever did such a thing. It is incomprehensible to me. Still, your choices do promote evil. Yet, because you defy me, they will bring you much sorrow. A final warning from your servant, it is a threat. Don’t give away too much of your heart. What you give away may never be returned, and when it is, it will result in great sorrow.” This is all foreshadowing and prediction on the demon's part. How much is truth? I will reveal to you: it is all truth. This was the message the demon waited to give to Aksinya. There is much in this message I will not expose to you yet. Most will become obvious as we progress in the novel.
Aksinya's answer is more pointed. She realizes her danger and what is happening. She has opposed a demon. The result...who knows the result, but the one and only one lesson Aksinya has learned is this: “One can love without desire, without lust, Asmodeus. That is the secret that causes all your evil to crumble.” Actually, that is not the secret that causes the demon's evil to crumble, but it is almost the only idea Aksinya can hold on to as truth to fight her own temptation and the demon. Then, the final words from the demon remind her that she does not really understand at all. That is the rub and that is the problem for Aksinya. She is still trying to save herself. Just as she perversely loves herself, likewise, she can't separate love from desire or lust. Her luxuria drives her forward. Tomorrow, the beginning of the Advent party.