We are watching Aksinya in a slow train-wreck and Natalya in a role reversal of great magnitude. Ernst von Taaffe brought this upon them, and Asmodeus was behind it all. Aksinya and Natalya are discussing sorcery and Ernst...
A knock came from the door. Aksinya jumped. Natalya turned toward the sound, “You may enter, sister.”
Sister Margarethe opened the door and brought in the tea service. Natalya pointed to the tea table. Sister Margarethe placed it on the top. Natalya pointed again, “Sister, you may pour.”
“Sister Margarethe poured the tea.”
Aksinya sat quietly in her chair.
Natalya picked up her cup, “Thank you, Sister Margarethe, we have everything we need. I’ll put the Countess to bed.”
Sister Margarethe curtsied and stepped back to the door.
Natalya called at her back, “I’ll prepare the Countess for school tomorrow. If you could please see to our breakfast?”
“Yes, Lady, I shall tell the novice sisters.”
Sister Margarethe closed the door.
Natalya waited a moment, “When will you teach me sorcery?”
Aksinya stared at her, “Nata, I don’t ever intend to teach it to you. It does me no good and only causes me to suffer. If you only knew…”
“I do not know. I only see the good you do. I don’t understand why you won’t do this for me.”
Aksinya let out a breath and glanced down, “I have already begun to teach you Latin, but I do not intend to teach you sorcery.”
“Why Latin? What is the purpose of it?”
Aksinya mumbled again, “It is the words.”
“I’m sorry Aksinya. I couldn’t understand you.”
“I said, it is the words. Sorcery can be accomplished in Latin or Greek. Latin is more common. The words and the sounds are critical. They must be said precisely. If they are spoken incorrectly, at best, the enchantment will not work, at the worst, it will injure you. The first step is to learn the language of sorcery.”
“Why Latin or Greek?”
“Although I have heard that sorcery has been successful in other languages, I have no evidence of it. The documents of the church were first in Greek and next in Latin. Those have been the languages of sorcery since then.”
“What of Hebrew?”
“There is a possibility of sorcery in Hebrew, but I don’t know the language, and I have never seen any books. The books are necessary.”
“Why necessary? You have made enchantments without your books.”
“If a single piece of the enchantment is wrong or incorrectly done, it won’t succeed. The books give explicit directions to make it work. If you forget, or if you make a mistake, your life or your health can be forfeit.”
“But you do it so easily.”
Aksinya took Natalya’s hands, “Listen closely to me, Nata. I spent nearly every free moment of my childhood studying sorcery. I had no friends. I had no one, so I read the books. I collected the items. I practiced everything over and over until I perfected it. When I began, I quickly discovered the danger. My fingers were covered with wounds. I have scars on my body from every failed enchantment.”
Natalya’s voice was low, “I have scars on my body and nothing to show for it.”
“I am happy to have you for my friend. I will do anything to keep that including teaching you sorcery, but I suspect I will not be able to let you ever do it. I will be too afraid to allow you to harm yourself.”
Nata stood, “It is late, Aksinya. Let me prepare you for bed.”
Natalya took Aksinya’s arms and lifted her up from the chair. Aksinya passively stood and Natalya began to remove her clothing.
Strangely, the demon didn’t visit Aksinya this night either.
Aksinya is jumpy and agitated. The world is out of her control for the moment. Natalya, at this moment, is making all the decisions and is totally in control. Watch how she addresses Aksinya--she easily uses Aksinya's name. She directs Sister Margarethe and instructs the sister to pour the tea. This is the responsibility of the lady of the house, not Natalya. But nothing is amiss.
When the sister is well away, Natalya gets directly to her point--it was the same point before the interruption: “When will you teach me sorcery?” Aksinya does not lie. She tells Natalya straight out that she does not intend to teach her. Natalya asks the same question we might. She has only seen good come about through the sorcery--so what's the problem with it. Natalya is not conniving, but she knows what she wants--you might ask why she is so suddenly forceful and direct with Aksinya. Then we get a primer on sorcery. Aksinya mumbles when she doesn't wish to reply, but she will not lie. Natalya is a very bright girl. She asks very hard questions. We find out about the origins of sorcery in the definitions of this novel, and we get the reasons for the books of sorcery. I don't tell any of this to you; I show it to you through the dialog of these characters.
That's when we learn more about Aksinya. We knew she was a lonely child with few if any friends. Now she tells us a little about it and why she turned to sorcery. We also discover the danger of sorcery, but we already knew some of that. It was alluded to before. Natalya's argument about her scars is a body blow to Aksinya. How could she deny Natalya's request after that?
Aksinya's response tells you how far she is willing to go for Natalya, but because she loves Natalya, she is unwilling to allow her to use sorcery. This is a strong paradox, but one we face in many areas ourselves--like letting go of out children. Natalya is still in charge here. Aksinya is depressed and out of her league. As I mentioned, her world is out of control. Her passivity indicates this. The demon didn't show up, but tomorrow a letter will.