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.
Aksinya is drunk. Natalya is angry. We learn why Natalya is angry. While Ernst courted Aksinya everything was well; when he made a claim on her physically, Natalya could not help herself...
Natalya tugged a little harder against Aksinya’s hair.
“Nata, please be more gentle. I’m listening to you. You are only fifteen.”
Natalya’s voice was very hard, “I hate them. They promised to take me away. They promised to rescue me. All they wanted was my body.”
“And you gave it to them?”
Natalya took a deep breath, “To be free from the beatings and hatred, I would give away anything.” She began to brush Aksinya’s hair again, this time much more gently, “You were the only one who would rescue me, Cou…Aksinya. You gave me new life. You don’t know how important that was to me. I would have done anything to be free from what that household did to me. But only you really did anything. The others took me and gave me nothing back.”
“Ernst isn’t like that…”
“They all are like that. He will tire of you, just as they tired of me.”
“They? I am so sorry, Natalya.”
“I am not sorry. I am only sorry that you did not come sooner. I would die for you. I will protect you from this man.”
“But, I’m not sure I want to be protected. I think I might like him. I am tempted by his love.” Aksinya giggled, “And I left the party before midnight.” Her voice trailed off, “Will the new year even come if I’m not there...?”
Natalya continued to brush Aksinya’s hair. She didn’t say anything more that evening.
Finally Natalya left Aksinya alone. With the thought of Ernst’s kisses in her mind, Aksinya tried to pleasure herself, but her body was too drunk to respond properly, and she kept falling asleep.
Natalya confesses that she was abused by the men from her household in Minsk. We know that Natalya was beaten by the mistress of the house. She was whipped and forced to serve like a slave. She wanted to escape. On the night Aksinya called Natalya, Natalya was beaten until her legs were bloody. Natalya begged Aksinya to rescue her, to take her away.
We didn't know that Natalya had begged others to take her away too. She is lucky to be alive. If her past mistress knew what she was doing, she might have thrown her out or beaten her to death. The men from Natalya's past told her they would save her. They told her that they loved her. She traded her virtue for the hope of freedom and ended up with nothing. You can see the smart, quiet, usually gentle, beautiful, noble Natalya was under great physical and mental abuse--as Asmodeus stated she was seeking (an understatement). Natalya was seeking to escape from hell. Do you remember? All of Natalya's comments form the past become very clear. Her statement: “To be free from the beatings and hatred, I would give away anything.”
Now, you can properly evaluate how Natalya views Aksinya, and you can begin to see what Natalya might do. Aksinya is Natalya's savior. She is like a god to her. Natalya worships Aksinya. Before, in her household in Minsk, Natalya allowed herself to be beaten without much complaint because she has such great control. With Aksinya, Natalya's power and control is evident. Natalya would do anything for Aksinya, but Natalya's thoughts and understanding of the world are driven by her past. Even the words Natalya uses to describe Aksinya are powerful: "...You gave me new life. You don’t know how important that was to me. I would have done anything to be free from what that household did to me. But only you really did anything. The others took me and gave me nothing back.” Aksinya did indeed give much to Natalya. She gave friendship and a kind of love. She gave Natalya safety. She gave her a purpose and a place to live and study. Aksinya blessed Natalya with everything Natalya didn't have before. We know that Aksinya gave much more for Natalya than Natalya could ever imagine.
Aksinya's response to Natalya is naive: “Ernst isn’t like that…” Aksinya doesn't know much about Ernst at all. We don't either. We only know Ernst from his actions, and those aren't very destructive, but they aren't super encouraging either. Natalya's response only gives us more information. There was more than one man in her life who promised to take her from the abuse she faced in Minsk. They all discarded her. Then Natalya makes a very important promise to Aksinya: "...I would die for you. I will protect you from this man.” This is a foreshadowing and important information. Aksinya should be listening closely, but she is drunk. It is not certain she will remember this conversation at all. She is tempted by Ernst's love. This is something Natalya is completely opposed to. Aksinya's last words are a kicker--“Will the new year even come if I’m not there...?” This is also a foreshadowing. The number of people Aksinya has touched in her short time in this city is astounding. For Ernst, the Graf, the Freiherr, the Freifrau, the Reverend Mother, Sister Margarethe, the Abbot, the Cardinal, and Natalya, Aksinya is entwined dangerously in their lives. If she were to suddenly disappear, the New Year for them all might indeed come. The danger isn't that Aksinya would be gone, but rather that she is here--and the demon.
I give you a final glimpse of Aksinya. The metaphor in her actions and her situation should be evident. Her descent into luxuria makes her own private perversions impossible. She hasn't fallen as far as possible yet, but this is an easy sign of where she has come. This is also the end of chapter 13. Tomorrow, we begin chapter 14 with scene setting and chapter setting.