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 beat Natalya until she was bloody and motionless and ran out of her house. She ran through the streets of Wien until she could not run any further, and she falls before a door. The door opens...
The darkness enveloped her and she fell again. The cold ground was hard against her burning cheeks. She lay there panting for a long time. Then before her, a door creaked open. Light streamed through the opening. Aksinya raised her face from the cobbles. A voice called out in the darkness, “Who’s there? Who is it?”
Aksinya thought she recognized the voice. She couldn’t immediately place where she had heard it. She squinted into the light, but she couldn’t make out anything except a dark silhouette. Without much thought, without much more than a whisper, Aksinya cried out, “Save me. Please save me. I’ve nothing left. I’m dead to everything.”
A step came next to her ear. Someone knelt beside her. The voice came to her again, “Who is it?”
“Aksinya. It is Aksinya.”
A hand grasped her arms and lifted her up, “Are you alright, Countess?”
Aksinya didn’t answer.
Another voice came from the doorway, “Father Dobrushin, what is it?”
“I think it is the Countess Golitsyna.”
“Here? At this time of night? Do you need help?”
“No, Father Makar, she isn’t heavy.”
Aksinya felt herself lifted from the ground. Father Dobrushin held her close and carried her through the open doorway. Aksinya heard the door shut behind them.
Someone touched her face and felt her forehead. The hand was soft and gentle, it brushed the hair away from her face. A woman’s voice this time, “Is she ill? I don’t think she has a fever.”
Aksinya couldn’t speak properly. Her voice was rough and torn, “Father, father, please confess me. I must confess, for I am guilty of much evil.”
The woman’s voice chuckled, “Confess you, Countess. Let us take you back to your house.”
“I have murdered. I can’t go back there. They will be coming for me soon, and I must confess now before it is too late.”
Aksinya’s eyes flashed open. The light was too bright and she closed them again. She panted still in a hoarse whisper, “I am a murderer. I must confess.” She held out her hands.
“They are covered with blood…”
Now you know, Aksinya's steps took her straight to the Ecclesia, the Orthodox church in Wien. If you remember, I told you, the Ecclesia was a ways straight down the street where Aksinya lived and Sacré Coeur is. I set this up from almost the beginning. If you remember, the Freiherr and Freifrau took Aksinya and Natalya to the Ecclesia. You have been there with them at least 4 or 5 times. You know they went there regularly. I introduced the two priests and the wife of the archpriest to you. You know they are Father Makar, Father Dobrushin, and Matushka Ekaterina. The reason I so carefully and painstakingly brought in this place and these characters was for just this moment. This is how you develop and set up such a situation so it is not cliched or a deus ex machina. The trick is to place, populate, and familiarize your readers well before hand. If Aksinya rushed out of her house and ran through the streets to the only Orthodox church in Wien, some of you might buy that, but I hope not. On the other hand, if the enraged, grieving, and obviously guilty Aksinya rushes straight down the street to a place she has been many times before and happens to arrive at exactly the place she needs to be, that is almost expected. It certainly isn't surprising. It is artistry instead of accident. That's the point, in your writing, few if anything can appear as if it is an accident.
So, from yesterday,m we have this delightful metaphor about darkness. The darkness, the door, the opening of it, the light from it. These are all metaphor and analogy. Their import should be obvious. Aksinya is seeking. Someone has found her.
Aksinya thinks she recognizes the voice. This is to produce excitement and tension in the reader. As of yet, we don't know where Aksinya is, and she doesn't know either. This is an example of not knowing anymore than the main character. Listen to Aksinya's words. She hasn't practiced them. They come from the depths of her soul. Isn't this the words you knew she would say? Listen again: “Save me. Please save me. I’ve nothing left. I’m dead to everything.”
The person who called out to her comes to Aksinya's side. He asks her who she is, and her reply is simple. The person immediately recognizes her. Aksinya doesn't answer because this is completely surprising to her. She came here, but she didn't expect to arrive here. Then we find out where Aksinya is--where else could there be a Father Dobrushin?
Then we can identify Father Makar. Notice, nowhere do I tell you they are at the Ecclesia in Wien. Isn't that tricky? I make an entire setting in place without telling you where you are. I'm happy to share this writing technique.
At the same time we and Aksinya are learning where we are, the priests are discovering who is at their doorstep. Already Father Dobrushin has lifted Aksinya. I tell you that, but Father Dobrushin's response tells you more "She's light." Then the father lifts her in his arms. I don't tell you how, but you know he lifted her into his arms and held her close as he carried her into the building. All this time, I'm trying to let you sense the world through Aksinya's experience. Her eyes are closed. All these events are happening around her and to her.
Next someone very gently touches her face and forehead. You know Ekaterina is checking for fever--just like a mother. I don't need to tell you this, it is obvious from the context and then the dialog shows you.
When Aksinya knows where she is and who is with her, she croaks through her injured throat: “Father, father, please confess me. I must confess, for I am guilty of much evil.” Is this so unexpected? We know Aksinya wanted to confess since she came to Wien. Do you remember the demon? He told her not to confess. Ekaterina makes light of it. She can't imagine what Aksinya might wish to confess. Isn't that like many people? They have a great need to confess, but when they finally can, their friends try to tell them there is no need. But we know Aksinya has a great need to confess.
The unbelievable (to the priests and Ekaterina) comes out of Aksinya's lips. We know what she has been through and what she has done. They don't have any idea. Aksinya reaches out, and Ekaterina sees the blood on Aksinya's hands. This is an important metaphor--there is blood on Aksinya's hands. It happens to literally be on her hands right now. We continue in the Ecclesia tomorrow.