Aksinya and Natalya are crossing the road to Aksinya's house. Unfortunately, Aksinya's concealment spell failed. As they cross, someone calls to them...
When they were halfway across the street, a voice called out from the archway through the school’s dormitory, “Countess, Lady Natalya, stop.”
Natalya whispered, “Countess, it’s Sister Margarethe.”
Aksinya snarled, “I can tell who it is.”
They heard the hard soles of the nun’s shoes on the frozen cobblestones. Their own soft slippers were cold, but quiet.
The nun ran toward them and crossed through a circle of gas lamp light very close behind them.
Aksinya hissed, “She can’t find out about the house. Nata, run. Run down the street and try to hide.” Aksinya pulled then pushed Natalya down the street toward the tavern. Natalya ran. Then Aksinya followed at a run herself. Aksinya called again at Natalya’s back, “Stay in the shadows and duck down an alley when you can. I’ll try to hide us.” Aksinya began to chant a Latin verse under her breath. Before she could finish it, a clawed hand grabbed her heavy cloak and dragged her into an alley. The strong smell of sulfur came to her. Sister Margarethe crossed right in front of her without noticing her at all.
Aksinya turned immediately, “Help me hide Natalya, or Sister Margarethe will discover everything.”
The demon hissed, “I told you to seduce Sister Margarethe.”
“I couldn’t do that. Do you wish us to be discovered?”
“Ah, a little truth right now might be a good thing. Perhaps you should find out what is going on just around the corner before you ask me anything.”
“What is going on?”
“Come let us take a look.” The demon grasped Aksinya’s hair and dragged her out of the alleyway. They only walked a few steps until they saw Natalya and Sister Margarethe. They were surrounded by the drunken men from the tavern. The men baited them and pushed them from one man to another. Their heavy hands groped at them.
In spite of the cold, the men were sweating, and Aksinya felt something else—a sense that there was no control within them, “Demon, stop them.”
Asmodeus laughed, “Why should I stop them. All this took so much of my effort to accomplish. I had to get them appropriately drunk. Not too much nor too little. Then at the proper time, a few sensual thoughts. A little bit of appropriate temptation that they turned by themselves into lust. Can’t you feel it in them? Additionally, I had to get that Sister Margarethe to watch for you every night. She checked your rooms—she has a key. When she found you gone, she came to watch for you. She’s been watching for three nights. You finally slipped up a little with your concealment spell tonight.”
A voice calls out and Aksinya recognizes it immediately. This is the person she has been fearful of since the demon encouraged Aksinya to seduce the nun. Since then, Sister Margarethe has been on Aksinya's mind. I give you an aural indicator of the action--the nun's hard soles on the cobbles. Then she runs toward the girls. She crosses the area of light. This reminds you it is dark, but also is a technique to drive the action. The nun is moving and they aren't.
Then Aksinya swings into action. In Aksinya's mind, the best they can do is run. How much danger can there be in that. She doesn't want the nun to find out about the house. Aksinya intends to use sorcery to hide them and to keep the nun at bay. This should be a simple spell. Right in the middle of Aksinya's run and spell, Asmodeus drags her into an alley. One edit I want to note for you is the sulfur reference. I went back and judiciously added this scent indicator to almost every scene that includes the demon. I'll point on the reason when we get to the proper point, but this marker is both a great scent indicator in the text (helps add the sense of smell to the reader) and second, becomes a marker of the demon's presence.
Aksinya asks the demon for help. Then his displeasure comes out. He is unhappy Aksinya didn't seduce the nun. You know this is only an excuse. He didn't need a reason, but his true purpose is much greater than this--he is again putting a thought in Aksinya's mind. This increases Aksinya's fear and apprehension about Sister Margarethe, beyond that, it simply lets the demon berate Aksinya.
Aksinya's answer is a simple and direct one--does the demon want them to be discovered? Asmodeus' response is absolutely unexpected--a little truth? We know there is no truth in the demon. He has a purpose in asking the question--it reminds Aksinya that she has been lying and keeping the existence of the house from the teachers and others. Remember, the demon likes to gloat over Aksinya's sin. He also intends to use her guilt for other purposes.
Then he remarks they should see what is going on in the direction Natalya and Sister Margarethe ran. At the tavern just down the road, we heard the sounds of the patrons more than once (that was the reason for the foreshadowing way back a couple of chapters), Natalya and Sister Margarethe are being attacked by the patrons. The men are baiting and groping the women.
Aksinya may be insensitive to some things, but we know she is sensitive to sorcery. I don't tell you, but I give you a look through Aksinya's eyes to the unusual condition of the men--they are out of control. Aksinya should know better, but she again asks the demon for help. He honestly answers her to tell her how he brought it all about--he is proud of his temptation. The demon tells us everything we suspected. He has created this very situation. He brought the men of the tavern to a fever pitch of lust. He encouraged the sister to watch for Aksinya and Natalya. We guess that he caused her concealment spell to fail. The demon set up this entire situation and now it must all play out as he has planned it.
What does the demon want from Aksinya? What could he hope to get her to do or wish to happen? We shall see more tomorrow.