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 discovered yesterday that Natalya and the demon conspired to have Aksinya make a great enchantment to change Natalya's features so she appeared like Aksinya. Natalya then visited and seduced Ernst. We also know that Natalya took the sorcery books from Ernst and brought them to Aksinya. When Ernst came to get the answer to his proposal of marriage, he received much more than he expected...
Ernst pleaded, “I love you, Aksinya. I don’t love anyone else.”
“But you slept with her,” Aksinya thrust her finger at Natalya.
Ernst put his hands over his face, “I thought it was you. I only wanted you…”
Aksinya pushed him away, “You defiled her, and you defiled yourself. Do you think I would have slept so easily with you?”
Asmodeus voice was droll, “She would have.”
Aksinya barked at him, “Shut up, demon.” She whirled toward Ernst, “Get out, Herr von Taaffe. I don’t wish to see you again. I am not damaged goods, and I will not accept damaged goods.”
Asmodeus laughed again.
Aksinya ignored the demon. She scowled at Ernst, “Leave my house. You stain my honor by remaining here.”
Ernst ducked his head, “But, I didn’t know. I still love you. I want to marry you.”
“Do you think I could love you now? Do you think that after you took the virtue of my servant I could ever think of marrying you? I am not so low. You may have had her, but you will never have me now.”
Asmodeus gave a yawn, “The Lady Natalya had no virtue remaining to give. Others took it from her long before Herr von Taaffe. He was just one of many.”
Natalya bowed her head a little lower.
Aksinya stared at Natalya then jerked her eyes back to Ernst. She didn’t look in his eyes, “Herr von Taaffe, you disgrace my house. I already told you to leave.” She motioned violently toward him.
Ernst ducked his head and bowed, “I am sorry. I will leave. May I contact you later?”
Aksinya screamed at him, “Do not try to speak to me again. I will not entertain your letters or abide your presence again.”
“Very well. I do still love you. I am sorry.” He dropped to one knee.
Aksinya kicked at him and missed, “Take your apology and get out. Now!” She pulled back her hand and this time connected with the side of his face.
Ernst stood wide-eyed. He took one other glance at Aksinya then backed out of the door into the foyer. They heard the outer door open and close. The fire rose and fell among the coals.
There are small ironies throughout this scene. Ernst still loves Aksinya. He pleads with her. Notice a small irony here. Ernst was seduced. This is obvious, but if he had managed to not fall to the temptation of Natalya and Asmodeus, he wouldn't be in the situation he is at this moment. If Aksinya had not succumbed to luxuria and become drunk on Wednesday night, if sorcery were not her skill, none of this would be a problem. Although the main actor in this entire problem is Natalya, Natalya was tempted only to help Aksinya. We will find she did everything for Aksinya's sake. Irony upon irony. There is more.
Aksinya is a product of her culture as are Ernst and Natalya. The act of sex before marriage is prohibited for good reason in this culture--it is too easy to become pregnant. Sex outside of marriage is considered a great sin. It leads to cultural and social ostracism. It leads to religious ostracism. The reaction of Aksinya is part of this, but there is much much more. Aksinya feels that she was betrayed. Although Natalya thought she was doing Aksinya a favor, that is not how she views it.
The demon adds fuel to the fire. Aksinya would have slept with Ernst. We know that, she knows that, perhaps Natalya realizes that--maybe that was part of her reasoning too. Damaged goods refers to the culture's view of those who have had sex before marriage. Aksinya turns all her anger on Ernst: "You stain my honor by remaining here.” She calls Natalya her servant. Aksinya has called Natalya her friend and confident--she rejected calling Natalya her servant before.
We know Ernst is at fault here, but there are various levels of guilt. Aksinya has been pushed past the point of control and of reason. The demon is an equal opportunity tempter and offender: “The Lady Natalya had no virtue remaining to give. Others took it from her long before Herr von Taaffe. He was just one of many.” Poor Natalya acknowledges this. She was seduced and used, abused by many men. She only wanted to be free from the pain and suffering of her previous household. That means nothing to Asmodeus.
Aksinya loves Natalya. She doesn't love Ernst. Ernst is easy for her to reject and remove. Watch the techniques I use to escalate the situation. Aksinya is screaming now. She is gesticulating wildly. When Ernst falls to a knee, Aksinya kicks at him. Aksinya has been almost completely unphysical in the past. She has not reacted with physical attacks before. She is past the point of control. She finally connects Ernst's face with her hand. Ernst can't take anymore. He isn't a coward, but he isn't good with confrontation--don't you remember the incident in front of the tavern.
The buildup in this scene is important--I worked on it for a long time to try to get the exact strength and measured increase. It will likely take more work to make perfect. The end detail relates to the demon and to the times: The fire rose and fell among the coals. We will eventually see how important an incident this is, but for now, Ernst is gone and tomorrow, Aksinya turns her ire on Natalya.