For those who haven’t been following this blog, let me introduce it a little. I am currently blogging my 21st novel that has the working title Daemon. The novel is about Aksinya, a sorceress, who, to save her family from the Bolsheviks, called and contracted the demon, Asmodeus. Her family was murdered anyway, and she fled with the demon from Russia to Austria.
Ernst kissed Aksinya and confessed his love. He wants to give her an engagement ring and for her to accept his proposal of marriage. Aksinya doesn't know what to answer him. She wants to know if Asmodeus has been encouraging Ernst...
Aksinya stared out into the darkness and whispered, “This is a temptation to me. It is surely a temptation.” She spoke more loudly, “Did Anatov Aznabaev put you up to this?”
“Your courtier? I haven’t seen him in a long time.”
“Have you been engaging in sorcery?”
Ernst put up his hand, “Not since I met you. I realized then, I could not achieve any of it. I told you already, I don’t have the skills or the power to do it. I want to give you this ring.”
Aksinya raised her eyes to his, “I’m not sure of what I will answer to you. I’m not certain if I love you.”
“Isn’t it enough if I love you? I swear I will give you everything in my power.”
Aksinya cried, “Do not swear. Do not swear anything to me. Don’t use those words around me. Don’t you realize how dangerous that is?”
“Dangerous to swear what I am truly willing to do? I do swear it. I swear to Aksinya that I love her, will do anything I can for her, and will marry her.”
Aksinya pressed her hands over her ears, “Don’t swear. It is enough to say you will do it, but do not swear it.”
“Will you accept my ring?”
“I cannot—not yet.”
“Will you accept my love?”
“I must think on this—it is too difficult for me to decide right now. My mind is in turmoil.”
“Will you allow me to continue to court you?”
Aksinya sighed, “Will you kiss me again?”
“I will, but only if the Lady Natalya will not scream.”
Aksinya turned a little toward Natalya, “Lady Natalya, I wish to allow Ernst to kiss me again. Will you please let him?”
“Kiss him? You should hit him.”
“I wish to kiss him. Please allow me. I shall not ask for more than one tonight, but I would like to kiss him once more.”
Natalya’s anger was evident on her face, “I shall turn around for ten seconds. By the time I have counted to ten, I expect you to be at my side. If you are not, I shall certainly yell for your aunt and uncle.”
“Thank you, Lady Natalya.” Aksinya didn’t wait to see if Natalya turned, she ran to Ernst and put her arms around his neck. She clumsily brought her lips to his and lingered there in a measured kiss. He put his arms around her and held her tightly. They parted at eight seconds and Aksinya ran to Natalya’s side. Natalya noted Aksinya beside her with an impatient nod and began walking. Aksinya glanced back at Ernst. His eyes lingered on her. They did not leave her the entire time until she lost sight of him when she exited the parlor.
The most important question for Aksinya is the part Asmodeus has played in Ernst's confession and proposal. You know why this is so important to her. She realizes that Asmodeus has been setting her up to accomplish evil--that is his purpose. In every case, in every thing that has happened since Aksinya called the demon, he has tempted or manipulated her to evil. Even when she succeeded in thwarting him, Aksinya still ended up doing the demon's ultimate will. She hopes this is not the case now. We know how this situation must work out, but we are waiting for the other shoe to drop. We hope Aksinya can find happiness with Ernst. We hope everything can work out well for her and for him. We can hope...
Aksinya knows. She tells us and herself, this is a temptation. Still, she is reassured by Ernst's reply--he hasn't seen Asmodeus in a while. She asks about sorcery--he hasn't been attempting it. His reaction to a person who has mastered such a skill is reasonable--he has given it up. He still wants to give (tempt) her with the ring.
Aksinya can only tell the truth at this moment. There is no reason for her to lie. She isn't certain if she loves Ernst. Ernst is lovestruck. His answer is the one sided loves eternal answer--isn't it enough that I love you. He then swears. That is a mistake. Aksinya tries to prevent him from continuing, but Ernst doesn't understand. He swears to her. Do you remember, the demon always attempts to illicit a promise. To swear is to make a contract. That would be okay with anyone else in the world, but around Aksinya, spiritual forces battle (or perhaps the forces of evil dominate). To swear around Aksinya is tantamount to a red flag in front of a bull. Remember each of the promises made in this novel. Remember everything that was sworn. They will not stand--they cannot stand.
Aksinya realizes all this, but she won't give up hope. She won't give up hope because she is tempted and she has great desire. She wants Ernst to love her and to give her luxuria. She really would like to love someone. She would like to indulge her desires. But...she is afraid to do any of that because she knows the demon is behind everything. Thus, her answer: “Will you kiss me again?” Aksinya wants to indulge in her desire. She thinks she can get away with this luxuria, with this small indulgence.
Aksinya asks Natalya if she may kiss Ernst again. Listen to Natalya's response. The power is in the hands of Natalya now. For some reason, the control has shifted to Natalya, and her animosity is obvious. We would have expected Natalya to applaud Aksinya's courting, but at this moment, for some reason, Natalya is bothered by it. In spite of her discomfort and her anger, Natalya allows Aksinya to indulge herself in this temptation.
Aksinya kisses Ernst, and she and Natalya exit the parlor together. The lovelorn Ernst watches Aksinya until she is out of sight. Tomorrow, the Graf gets involved.