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.
We learned that Aksinya has given up any pretense she had before. The world has changed for her, and she is in a new mode we have only seen small glimpses of in the past. There are more revelations afoot...
That evening before dinner, Sister Margarethe helped Aksinya and Natalya prepare to travel to Grossbock for the weekend. Aksinya was dressed in finery and Natalya not less than a degree below that. Aksinya held the book of Heka wrapped in brown paper in her lap. She wouldn’t let anyone else carry it. While they waited together in the parlor for Aunt Brunhilda to arrive, Aksinya lounged and Natalya sat in the large overstuffed chairs. Sister Margarethe stood and held their cloaks. Sister Margarethe cleared her throat.
Aksinya sat up, “Yes, Sister Margarethe, you wish my attention?”
“Yes, Countess. The novice sisters told me this afternoon that they saw a strange man remove your post.”
Aksinya made a frown, “Ah, that must be my courtier, Asmodeus.”
“Yes, perhaps you have not met him.”
“Then he has been intercepting the post?”
“I expect the bills and any official communications. There were no letters today for me?”
“No, not today, or at least I don’t think there were. So he has been allowing your personal correspondence to go through?”
“Yes, I expect so.”
“They thought they saw him take what looked like personal letters from the box.”
Natalya turned her head away.
Aksinya stuttered, “They were likely letters concerning my business.”
“So your courtier takes care of all your bills and business. You should introduce me to him.”
Aksinya’s voice was suddenly very weak, “The bills…the bills, they have all been paid—have they not?”
“Oh yes, every one. I have heard no complaints and the larder continues to be filled.”
Aksinya’s voice shook with relief, “That is good. It is as it should be.”
“Your courtier must be very efficient and a careful steward. Everything seems to be in perfect order. Everything comes on time and is of the very best quality. He must choose your goods very carefully, and he must tip very well.”
“Yes. I’m certain he does.”
Natalya turned Aksinya a strange look that Sister Margarethe and Aksinya both did not see.
Aksinya and Natalya are both dressed to the hilt. They are preparing to go to Grossbock. This is a reminder of Aksinya's love of luxuria. Sister Margarethe is helping them prepare. Note that Aksinya holds her new book covetously. She will not let it out of her hands. Aksinya lounges and Natalya sits properly in the fine chairs in the parlor. This isn't odd, but it is odd that they are using the parlor. In this culture the parlor is used, not for waiting, but for receiving.
Sister Margarethe brings up a strange topic. The novice sisters saw a strange man remove Aksinya's post. I use this archaic term for mail intentionally here--for the historical significance and to bring the readers attention to it. Remember, Aksinya has not seen Asmodeus for a long while. Asmodeus bought the house for Aksinya. She has been assuming that he has taken care of the bills and the official communications. She has not thought about this subject for a while.
Aksinya assumes Asmodeus has been taking care of her mail and bills. The personal correspondence he has let through because she received and sent letters to Ernst. In this case, the novice sisters thought they saw Asmodeus take personal letters from the post as well as the bills. Aksinya has a sudden thought--that is about the bills. She asks if they have been paid--note, in her concern over the bills, she forgets about the personal correspondence.
Sister Margarethe reassures Aksinya that the larder continues to be filled--therefore the bills seemed to be paid on time and with a little extra because they receive such high quality foods and goods. Sister Margarethe doesn't really answer the question, but Aksinya is reassured.
Natalya's response is odd. She turns both the Sister and Aksinya a strange look they both do not notice. We could assume this is a reference to the bills, but it could equally be a reference to the personal correspondence. We are led to believe that Natalya knows more about this circumstance than either Aksinya or Sister Margarethe. We have already guessed that Natalya has been working or speaking with the demon behind Aksinya's back.
Here is a hint and a revelation both. I won't explain it more than this, but Aksinya does not have the energy to worry about this topic--she should. We know she should. Austria has come out of a terrible war. The people have little food or anything else, but her larders are filled; her house is very fine and filled with wealth. Did you ask yourself how Aksinya can continue to live as she does--it is all completely in the hands of the demon. This is what this little scene is supposed to remind you. With these hints, you might be able to guess what could happen. You will not see the fruition of this short conversation for a while, but it has dire consequences for Aksinya. Tomorrow, Sister Margarethe has more she wishes to know.