A New Novel, Part 187 I am a Sorceress
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 begins her confession. She is in the singular place where she faces great pain. She is in the middle of an act Asmodeus ordered her to not commit...
Aksinya began to tremble and the crucifix over her heart felt as though it was on fire.
Father Dobrushin held her hands more tightly, “Go on...”
Aksinya continued, “Father, I am a sorceress.” Aksinya raised her face and cried out, “Let me confess. You can’t stop me. All the pain in the world will not stop me from confessing.”
Father Dobrushin stiffened, “Who is stopping you?”
“All the devils in hell are trying to stop me in this.”
Father Makar’s voice came from the side, “She can’t confess. She is not right in her mind.”
Father Dobrushin commanded, “Tell me, Aksinya, your sin. I will listen.”
“I brought a demon up from the pit. He was the Demon Asmodeus. You must know of him. He was the demon who tormented Raguel's daughter, Sarah. He killed her bridegrooms when they came to her. He was the one that Solomon wrote about in the Testament of Solomon. Tobias forced him into upper Egypt, but he came to me when I called him, and I bound him to myself in a contract. Asmodeus is the demon of luxuria and lust. I have worked much evil through him and he through me, but the worst is that I am truly a sorceress.”
“Can there be such a being? She is insane.” Father Makar’s exasperated voice came again.
Father Dobrushin turned his head a little, “She believes it with all her heart. Such a thing can be.” He faced Aksinya again, “Please, confess everything you wish, Aksinya.”
“I desired to seduce Herr von Taaffe, but my lady-in-waiting was encouraged by the demon to sleep with him for my sake. Because of that, I sent Herr von Taaffe away and I beat the Lady Natalya. I think I killed her.” Aksinya gave a cry. “I am guilty of so many sins, I can’t begin to tell them all to you. I used sorcery to kill. I used it to harm. I have done nothing but harm others for my entire life.”
Matushka Ekaterina stepped beside them, “Father Dobrushin, something is burning. I thought it was the tapers, but I can see smoke near you.”
Aksinya cried out again. She yanked her hand from the priest’s and placed it over her heart.
Ekaterina yelled, “She is burning.” The Matushka ripped the front of Aksinya’s dress open. The fabric was charred. The camisole beneath it was smoking. Ekaterina pulled the burning fabric away from Aksinya’s chest. Her bare skin was singed. The beautiful gold crucifix was almost glowing. A repeatedly blackened mark marred Aksinya’s small breasts. It was shaped like a cross. Ekaterina grasped the chain and pulled the crucifix away from Aksinya’s skin, “Let her continue. She must continue.”
Aksinya seemed oblivious to everything. She whispered, “If I were to confess everything I would be here on my knees for weeks, and I’m not certain I have the strength for another minute.”
Ekaterina called out, “Absolve her. Absolve the girl so I can do something to help her.”
Father Dobrushin placed his right hand on Aksinya’s head and loudly announced, “May God have mercy upon you, and may He guide you to everlasting life through the authority of priesthood which was entrusted by our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples who, in turn, entrusted it to their successors until it was given me; I who am weak and sinful, absolve you, Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna of all the sins that you have confessed and are repentant of them, as well as of all the transgressions which have escaped your memory in the Name of the Father, amen, and of the Son, amen and of the Holy Spirit for everlasting life. Amen.”
Aksinya screamed and arched her back. Ekaterina held her tightly. Father Dobrushin rose and lifted Aksinya up with him. He kissed her cheeks. The crucifix was suddenly cold. Aksinya, senseless, fell forward into his arms.
Now, on to the confession. You knew some of what Aksinya had to confess, but unless you went and read Tobit, you didn't know the half of it. Do you imagine, the great and wise Aksinya would have chosen a demon without knowing exactly his origins and being? Do you imagine that she did not know exactly who she was calling on?
Aksinya plainly tells Father Dobrushin that she is a sorceress. I told you yesterday how her confession might be received. You can see now exactly how it was accepted. Father Dobrushin, caught up in the moment, seems to believe her, but Father Makar thinks she is crazy. Aksinya's actions during her confession seem reasonable to us, but listen closely to them--they sound insane to Father Makar, and the other two aren't certain what to make of what she says. We'll find out more later.
So, now you know all about the demon Asmodeus. There is some more, but most of that I've fed you through the novel, and you don't have to worry, I'll give you the rest before the end. You will be well acquainted with this particular demon. I chose him because we have so much common and ancient information on him.
Father Makar does not believe there can be demons. He doesn't believe there can be sorcery. Doesn't his testimony shock you out of the ideas I've shaped in your mind for the last 15 chapters? For those chapters, there was no question. Sorcery was real, and the demon was real. Aksinya was sane, and slightly strange, a wild girl, but not insane. Now, suddenly, Aksinya is not sane, sorcery is not real, and a demon can't exist. I'm not going to play with your mind the way I did in Aegypt, but I want to draw your attention to a plot device I chose not to use. I do hope you are now concerned about how the world in the novel will view Aksinya, but I have not fully caught you up in that dilemma. In Aegypt, I made you wait until the bitter end to realize whether Paul Bolang was imagining the agent that affected his world. In this novel, I'll let you alone and allow you to know in your heart Aksinya is sane, and the demon is real. In another novel, I will perhaps not let that be.
From Aksinya's lips we get a synopsis of what has happened and we hear what we knew already, but had not been said directly. Her confession ends in hyperbole, but why should it not. It is not a lie--Aksinya can't imagine a time when she did not seek luxuria and sorcery. This was a great harm to herself and others--it was also a great help to others, but that's another issue.
Now to the great kicker here after the climax. I take you back to the reality of the book. I promised I would. I did not design this novel to leave Father Makar's ideas unchallenged. The Matushka Ekaterina notices smoke near Aksinya. The cross is burning Aksinya's skin and her clothing. Ekaterina sees that Aksinya is burning and rips open her dress to reveal the cross and its effects.
Ekaterina is wise. She directs Father Dobrushin to absolve Aksinya so she can be fully confessed. The absolution is the traditional Orthodox translated into English. The result of the absolution is a catharsis--it should be. This is exactly the right point. The uncontrolled actions of Aksinya are a foreshadowing. Tomorrow, we see the direct aftermath of the confession.