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 and Aksinya learned that Asmodeus has been intercepting the bills to take care of the house and the provisions, but he might also be intercepting some of Aksinya's personal letters. We also learned that Sister Margarethe wishes to remain in Aksinya's household. Freifrau Bockmann has come to pick up Aksinya and Natalya for the weekend...
Inside the coupe, Aunt Brunhilda looked Aksinya over for a moment. She tapped the side of the glass window and held the strap as the carriage moved forward, “Good evening, Countess, Lady Natalya.”
“Good evening, Aunt Brunhilda,” Aksinya smiled. She couldn’t help smile when she said her aunt’s name.
“Aren’t you going to share your decision about Herr von Taaffe with me? You will certainly tell him, yes, on Monday.”
Aksinya looked out the window, “I haven’t informed my confidant, the Lady Natalya yet. I am not ready to let everyone know. On Monday, you shall all know everything.”
“You haven’t told the Lady Natalya yet?” Freifrau Bockmann pouted and put her chin on the back of her hand. She glanced at Natalya, “Then there is not reason for me to try to cajole the answer from her?”
Aksinya frowned and didn’t turn from the window, “None at all.”
“Lady Natalya, the Countess has told you nothing about how her heart swings?”
Natalya shook her head.
Aunt Brunhilda snuck a look back at Aksinya, “Surely you will say yes to him.”
“I just had this conversation with Sister Margarethe, and I really don’t wish to be interrogated about it again.”
“Yes, Countess,” Freifrau Bockmann stared at her hands with an unhappy look on her face.
At Grossbock, Aksinya and Natalya went to their suite of rooms immediately after dinner. Aksinya would not answer her Aunt or Uncle’s questions during the evening. After Natalya had prepared Aksinya for bed, Aksinya sat up in her bed with the large book of Heka on her knees. A large magic circle encompassed the room. Natalya watched her through the servant’s door. Under Natalya’s covers was a very bright light. Aksinya didn’t notice it. She made a bright light of her own to read the book. Natalya just watched. A look of absolute contentment filled her features.
The lovely foreshadowing and imagery you can build with a simple scene like this are astounding. I give a little overlap in time between scenes. I really should have broken the chapter, but a double space is sufficient to break the scenes for the reader--plus there was a kicker at the end of the last scene. That was Sister Margarethe watching the carriage until it was out of sight.
Inside the coupe, I show you a luscious part of history. It is a repeat: how to get a carriage moving (signal the driver) but the strap is new. You could have guessed that carriages and especially coupes had straps, but you don't see them in most old west or European movies--look for them next time.
The Freifrau greets Aksinya, and Aksinya gives her a personal and friendly greeting in return. I remind you about Aksinya's state of mind and her humor at her aunt's name. The Freifrau launches in immediately. She wants to know Aksinya's answer to Ernst, of course she does. Aunt Brunhilda is pressing. She and the Freiherr want Aksinya to answer yes. They can't pressure her directly, but they are encouraging her as strongly as they possibly can.
Aksinya, in spite of herself, is still kind. She deflects attention away from Natalya, because Aksinya knows that her aunt will badger Natalya all weekend. Aunt Brunhilda knows she can't badger Aksinya, and she will be looking for some target. Aksinya's words are prescient and a foreshadowing. They are also ironic: "On Monday, you will all know everything.” You and they will indeed know everything on Monday.
The Freifrau badgers Natalya anyway. Natalya has learned her lesson, but notice, she still answers the question--perhaps because Aksinya is looking away. Natalya shakes her head. Aunt Brunhilda just can't let the question go: “Surely you will say yes to him.” Aksinya shuts her aunt down in very strong terms for this time. She is a Countess, after all.
This is the end of the chapter, and at Grossbock, we see the picture of domestic tranquility. Aksinya sits up with her book of sorcery on her knees; Natalya watches her with worship in her eyes. Tomorrow, the beginning of the end--Monday and the answer to Ernst.