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 struck Ernst and ran him out of her house. He was shamed and defamed. Next the demon turns his attention to Natalya...
Asmodeus inspected his claws, “He got off easy. If he had taken you, he would be dead. There is still the problem of your handmaiden.”
Aksinya whirled around. She stared at Natalya as though seeing her for the very first time. Natalya was so beautiful. She was so much more beautiful than Aksinya. Aksinya wondered why she hadn’t noticed before. No wonder Ernst or any man would choose Natalya over her. Aksinya moved slowly toward her lady-in-waiting, “Natalya, you took him from me. You took away the only man who ever loved me.”
Natalya crumpled in on herself, “I did it for you, mistress.”
Aksinya’s voice rose to a scream, “For me? For me? How could you do such an evil a thing for me?”
Asmodeus smacked his lips, “Actually, it was my idea.”
Natalya cried, “I didn’t want you to lose it.”
Aksinya’s voice rose again nearly inarticulate, “Lose what?”
Asmodeus smirked, “I told her that if a man took your virtue, you would lose your power to accomplish sorcery. The Lady Natalya knows how important that is to you.”
“But that was all a lie. I could have loved him.” Aksinya’s furious features were distraught.
Natalya raised her eyes, “But not any more. Now, you can do what you love the most. You can have what you love forever. I love you, mistress. I could not see you hurt like that.”
“Hurt? Hurt?” Aksinya’s eyes were wild she sought anything around her that she could take into her hand. She ran to the side of the fireplace and removed the poker from the implements there, “I will let you know how much this has hurt me.”
Aksinya struck Natalya’s side, and she fell to the floor on her face. Natalya put her hands over her head and Aksinya struck her shoulders again and again with the poker. Aksinya’s blows were so wild half of them hit the floor. Curses and cries flowed from Aksinya’s lips, and bright blood suddenly appeared on Natalya’s dress. At each blow, a breath burst from Natalya’s lips. Dark red stains drenched Natalya’s back, but the girl didn’t make any other sound. While Aksinya raised feral and shrill screams, blood began to streak the floor. Sister Margarethe rushed through the door. She grabbed Aksinya’s arms and wrestled the poker from her. Aksinya fell back. She cursed the nun with her remaining breath. After that Aksinya’s mouth only opened and close without a sound.
I told you this novel is a semi-allegory to the book of Tobit. I mentioned before about what happened to the men who tried to bed Sara, the heroine in Tobit. All seven of them were murdered by Asmodeus. Thus, the statement by the demon: "If he had taken you, he would be dead." This is an important foreshadowing.
Something important to note here is what would this situation be like if the demon was not present? There is another question; what would have happened if there was no demon at all? If there was no demon to tempt each of the players, do you understand, they might have done the exact same thing. The demon is a wonderful tool that I use in this novel to personalize temptation, but the novel could still proceed without him. It wouldn't be as well developed or tied together. The demon is like glue that binds everything with his brand of temptation--luxuria (lust).
We see, the demon has not finished his work: "There is still the problem of your handmaiden.” Do you see how the statement of the demon could easily be the prompting of thought in the mind of Aksinya. The demon is tied (contracted) to her. The demon is like an extension of her. His thoughts in many ways are hers. This is similar to the statements of Paul in the New Testament: "I do those things I don't wish to do..." Aksinya is tempted, and she falls into evil because she listens to the tempter (the tempter is her own mind). I use Asmodeus' words to directly show you this temptation.
Then within Aksinya herself, the temptation drives her thoughts: She stared at Natalya as though seeing her for the very first time. Natalya was so beautiful. She was so much more beautiful than Aksinya. Aksinya wondered why she hadn’t noticed before. No wonder Ernst or any man would choose Natalya over her. Aksinya moved slowly toward her lady-in-waiting, “Natalya, you took him from me. You took away the only man who ever loved me.” I repeat this paragraph because of its importance. We have seen this before, but I haven't pointed it out so directly, and I didn't make it so direct before. This is a different type of temptation driving Aksinya. Aksinya never thought this way before. She never placed another person above herself. Note, that Aksinya didn't say, "You took away the only man I ever loved." She doesn't love him, and she knows it.
Natalya did everything for Aksinya. We observed and know what suffering Natalya went through to seduce Ernst. I didn't show you the gory details, but the side conversations and the many hints showed you how much Natalya was disgusted with giving herself to Ernst. In this moment, to Aksinya all this is meaningless. The reason for the actions are immaterial to her. Indeed, Natalya did an evil thing for Aksinya--in the name of Aksinya. Remember back to Asmodeus' comments over and over--I accomplish evil in your name. His purpose is to do evil in the name of Aksinya.
The act of seducing Ernst was Natalya's sin, but the demon himself claims to have promoted it--it was his idea. Then we find the demon lied to Natalya. He told her that Aksinya would lose her sorcery if Aksinya had sex with Ernst.
Because Natalya loves Aksinya so much she worships her, because sorcery is so important to Aksinya (it is what she loves), Natalya could not let a man stand between Aksinya and her sorcery. There is much wrapped up in this statement. I dedicated pages and pages, scenes and scenes to showing you this very important connection--Natalya and Aksinya, Aksinya and sorcery. So, do you see the irony here? Natalya gave up everything to protect the sorcery that Aksinya truly loves. Remember however, that Aksinya hates this part about herself. Aksinya has been on a path of self destruction through the entire novel. Natalya has been upholding her on this path, but it is a path Aksinya loved. Natalya had the bad luck to want to give Aksinya what she really wanted--sorcery.
Aksinya cries out: “But that was all a lie. I could have loved him.” We know Aksinya can't love anyone or anything while sorcery (luxuria) fills her heart. Remember how the desire for it takes over her mind. Natalya's statement is precise and exact: "Now, you can do what you love the most. You can have what you love forever. I love you, mistress. I could not see you hurt like that.” You don't have to have all this information to viscerally understand what has happened here, but Natalya's words explain exactly what I took a few paragraphs to explain. This is why I love novels and writing novels. I can build a story, plot, and theme to a point and everything can be made clear in a single statement. It is indeed clear that this is Aksinya's love. This why what follows happens. Natalya touched the raw nerve that is the core of Aksinya's being. The claims about Ernst are secondary and even unimportant to this.
At this point, Aksinya is completely out of control. We have never seen her like this. She has been provoked by her own actions and own thoughts into a murderous rage. Do you remember from the very beginning, the demon desired Aksinya to personally murder and sin. He murdered in her name, but he wanted her to take the actions herself. This indicates the true state of everything. Only Aksinya can answer for her own sin and own faults. Asmodeus knows this. He has driven her to the point where Aksinya is willing to act in a murderous rage, an uncontrolled rage that might achieve the demon's goals.
And so Aksinya beats Natalya with a poker until the floor is red with blood. The world has come full circle. Aksinya called the demon to prevent the deaths of her family--now she is murdering a member of her household. Aksinya accepted Natalya as her friend to rescue Natalya from abuse--now Aksinya is beating her friend and confidant. Aksinya was determined to fight the demon--she has succumbed to the demons' temptation and is murdering her own friend.
The only thing that stops Aksinya is Sister Margarethe. Still Aksinya curses the nun for her actions. She has screamed so much and so long, she can't speak anymore. Tomorrow, the aftermath and more.