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.
After disgracing her fiance, beating her friend bloody, and cursing her servants, Aksinya ran to the Ecclesia in Wien the priests and the Matushka (wife of one of the priests) welcome her and try to help her. Aksinya has reached the end of all hope--she just wants to be confessed...
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…”
The Father Makar’s voice spoke too gently, “Just a few scrapes—a little blood.” The tone of the voice lowered and changed slightly, “Father Dobrushin? Will you confess her?”
Aksinya cried out, “You must all listen. You must know what I am.”
“That isn’t the way it is usually done, child.”
“For me, you must listen to my confession. Then you must give me over to them. My life is forfeit and my soul is forfeit, but I will die knowing I am confessed.”
The woman’s voice, “She sounds serious.”
Father Makar replied, “Ekaterina, she’s delirious, unbalanced. Such a confession is irregular, and a confession from an unbalanced mind…”
Father Dobrushin clasped Aksinya a little more tightly, “I will hear your confession, Countess.”
“Don’t call me that. I am nothing now. I am nothing.”
“Take her into the Ecclesia.”
Ekaterina spoke, “I’ll light the candles.”
Father Makar’s voice was tired, “I’ll get the sacrament.”
Father Dobrushin carried Aksinya little farther. Aksinya felt the crucifix between her breasts begin to heat. They passed through a doorway, and the heat increased suddenly and nausea overwhelmed her. She gagged and bile filled her mouth. She breathed in and vomit burned her nose and throat. Father Dobrushin made a sound, “Are you all right?” He placed Aksinya on the floor and lifted her head.
Aksinya couldn’t stop retching. Her body writhed. The priest held her until she couldn’t retch anymore. The crucifix still burned against her skin.
Father Dobrushin gave a great sigh, “She is ill.”
Aksinya croaked out, “Not ill. It is the evil in me.” She opened her eyes and tugged at his cassock, “You must confess me.”
Aksinya is at the end of everything. She knows the demon betrayed her (what else could she expect). Natalya betrayed her. Ernst betrayed her. She believes that everyone and everything in the world has and will betray her. Whatever the truth, she testifies that she is a murderer and that she wishes to confess. She offers her hands as proof. Ekaterina sees blood. Father Makar sees "just a few scrapes". This is intentional. In the real world, we generally don't see direct contradictions or opposite conclusions like this. In a novel, I can show you this great contrast in the way Ekaterina sees Aksinya and the way Father Makar sees her. Father Makar has worked with the insane. We will find this out later, but it is worthwhile to note here (an early revelation). He is used to this kind of wild behaviour. He thinks Aksinya is insane. We, on the other hand, know much about Aksinya. She is not insane at all, but how do you imagine her story will sound to others.
You have all been living a dream with me about the unlovely Countess Aksinya. The dream about her seems so real, but now, now the sudden daylight will flood over her dream and your dream. How will that dream appear to the world, to the church, to the powerful people in Wien?
Watch Father Makar, his voice always gives him away. He thinks he can hide it from others--that is he believes he can hide his thoughts, but he is too transparent and too truthful. He has worked with the insane for a long time. He will not confess Aksinya. Aksinya's confession is not private. She knows it can't be private. Is this another trick of the demon or just self destructive behaviour from Aksinya?
Father Makar warns her. Even the confessions of the insane are keep confidential. Listen to Aksinya's words. They are filled with truth: "My life is forfeit and my soul is forfeit, but I will die knowing I am confessed.”
Ekaterina is the voice of empathy. That is the point of her character, as you will discover. She is listening to Aksinya. She feels for Aksinya. Perhaps the same kind of hopelessness overflowed her heart at some time. We don't know, but we feel the empathy in her words. Father Makar applies a pure rational understanding. He knows about unbalanced minds. We will find that Father Makar is not a voice for empathy at all.
The too serrious Father Dobrushin, clasps Aksinya more tightly. He will hear her confession. He does know her great need, at least on some level. Aksinya denys her heratige and her name. She is nothing--she has reached the lowest point in her life.
We aren't certain who orders them into the Ecclesia--it seems like Father Makar. Perhaps he is relenting. He is not totally spiritually unaware. Ekaterina will light the candles. Father Makar will get the sacrament. Father Dobrushin will confess Aksinya.
As they approach and enter the Ecclesia, the cross around Aksinya's neck reacts. It is reacting to Aksinya, not to the Ecclesia. Likewise, the evidence of Aksinya's spritual fall, she becomes nauseous. She vomits and Father Dobrushin has to put her down. We can see the father as a compassionate character. You can imagine the mess he is having to put up with. I don't mention it because it can be implied from the descriptions and the dialog. This has happened to Aksinya in varying degrees since the beginning of her time in Wien. It is just a simple extension of that. Where this would be a cliche, if it just suddenly happened, can't be a cliche, it has occured every time Aksinya entered a church. It represent's Aksinya's spiritual turmoil, therefore, it is worse now than at any time.
Father Dobrushin is afraid Aksinya is ill, both body and mind. This would make a confession impossible. Still, Aksinya insists. Tomorrow, the confession.