The young man, Ernst von Taaffe knows Aksinya's great secret--she is a sorceress. He insists that she must do as he asks or he will reveal her secret...
He noted the look on Aksinya’s face, “Don’t worry, Countess. Your secret is safe with me, but only if you do as I wish.”
“Who would believe you?”
He brought his face close to hers, “I have your book.”
Aksinya gasped and trembled, “You must give it back.”
“No, no, no, Countess. That is not how the game is played.”
“What do you want from me?”
“Anatov Aznabaev, told me you were a special person. He told me I would find everything I desired with you. He is right. I myself have tried for years to study sorcery. I have been, as yet, unsuccessful.”
“Your body doesn’t seem unduly marked.”
“The scars are well hidden by my clothing. It has not touched my face or hands much.” He pulled her hand toward his face and turned it over. He gently stroked the many scars that marked Aksinya’s fingers, “A successful sorcerer, so says my books, has a multitude of knife scars on their hands. They are from the constant use of blood as a sacrifice.” He turned his face toward hers again, “The smell of the use is strong on you now. You can’t hide it from me. Although, I can’t accomplish any of it, I know its smell. I know its feel. I know its marks.” He kissed the scars on her fingers.
Aksinya finally was able to pull her hand from his, “I asked you what you want?”
“I would like to learn from you, but first I must win your affection.”
“What makes you believe it can be won?”
“You courtier, Anatov Aznabaev told me that you long to find love and someone to share your life. I offer myself. You are exactly the woman I wish to love.”
“My courtier is mistaken. I do not need love or anything else…”
“But you need your book.”
“I have memorized it already.”
“Zut! I know you still desire that book.”
Aksinya raised her chin, “How would you know that?”
“Anatov Aznabaev told me.”
Aksinya snarled, “Anatov Aznabaev, Anatov Aznabaev… do you believe everything my servant tells you?”
“In this case, yes. But I have another temptation.”
Now we know--Ernst took the book. Not only does he know about Aksinya's secret, he has proof--the book. How could things get worse for her? This is why someone might believe Ernst, he has a book of magic that he can tie to Aksinya. One of the threats of Asmodeus when they first came to Wien was that he could reveal Aksinya's proclivities and thus ruin her uncle and aunt. That would ruin Aksinya and Natalya too.
Aksinya is afraid and asks the obvious question: “What do you want from me?” Then begins a short dialog that tells us much in some great detail about sorcery and sorcerers. We knew a lot of this informaiton from before, but now, we get it all together and in a focused manner. We also discover that Ernst has been attempting sorcery for a long time, but has been unsuccessful as yet. Ernst's knowledge of sorcery and his knowledge about sorcerers is dangerous to Aksinya. Then we learn what Ernst wants from Aksinya: “I would like to learn from you, but first I must win your affection.” He wants to be her apprentice and her lover. Aksinya already has apprentice problems. She never thought to have a lover--except in her imagination. I told you she was naive and innocent in many ways. Although she is filled with sexual desire--it is not directed toward anyone but herself. She simply loves herself. Aksinya then imagines she can get out from the problem by ignoring the issue of the book, but Ernst has another temptation for her. Do you note that these temptations seem to well designed and thought out. Who might be their originator?
Tomorrow, the other temptation.