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Friday, May 20, 2011

A New Novel, Part 228 I Think the Prisoner is Dead

20 May 2011, A New Novel, Part 228 I Think the Prisoner is Dead

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 is locked in a cold dark cell under the residence of the Cardinal of Wien.  Asmodeus visited Aksinya in the depths of the night.  He told her, again, his purpose was to ruin her life.  He left her naked in the cold...

In the morning, the old woman came to the cell door and tried to rouse Aksinya, “Sorceress.”  She knocked against the wooden frame with her stick.  Aksinya didn’t move.  In the early morning darkness she squinted at Aksinya, “Sorceress, where is your dress?”  She struck the wood harder, “Wake up, sorceress.  I have your breakfast.”  Still Aksinya didn’t move.  The old woman hobbled back up the corridor.  She cried for the guards.  They wouldn’t enter the corridor—they had been warned by the Archbishop’s secretary not to enter it for any reason.  The women in the kitchens ignored her.  She finally made her way up to the archbishop’s secretary’s office.  She lifted her stick and thought better of it then she tapped hesitantly at the door with her fist.  The door immediately opened.  The secretary’s servant stood there with a surprised look on his face.  When he recognized the visitor, his look turned to anger.  The old woman curtsied a little crookedly.
The servant was about to shut the door, but the old woman stuck her stick in the jam, “I need help…the prisoner.”
The secretary’s voice came from the depths of the room, “What is wrong, Otto?”
“It is Frau Mauer.”
“What does she want?  She has her instructions.  She is neglecting the Cardinal’s prisoner.”
Frau Mauer curtsied as deeply and evenly as she could, “Sir, I think the prisoner is dead.  She is naked in her cell, and she won’t wake.”
The secretary rushed to the door, “Naked, dead.  This cannot be.  I instructed you to care for her.  If something happens to her, the Pope’s inquisitors will be down on our heads.  Do you wish that?”
“You told me not to open the cell door.”
“I told you to watch her carefully.”  He snarled, “Otto, get a kitchen woman and come with me.  There can be no delay.”  He motioned to Frau Mauer, “You come with us too.”  They started down the steps toward the basements.  “How long has it been since you found her?”
Frau Mauer was breathless, “I tried to get the guards to help, then the kitchen women.  No one would help, that’s why I came right to you.”
He glanced at his pocket watch, “Dear God, frau, it is already seven and you were to serve her at six.  Already an hour.  Quickly.”  He moved more quickly.  They paused at the kitchens to retrieve a blanket and a lantern.  Secretary Schwab called for Frau Becker, the mistress of the kitchen, and she followed them past the guards, where the secretary collected the key to the cell, and then into the corridor.

The demon didn't have to torment Aksinya, the world itself did that.  Without any clothing in the middle of a cold winter, in a cold basement, the outcome was almost predetermined.  Perhaps Aksinya is dead.

The old woman, whom we learn is Frau Mauer hobbles to get help.  She can't find anyone to help her and ends up at the quarters of the Cardinal's secretary.  Do you remember the Cardinal's secretary.  I introduced you to him at the Advent party.  I specifically mentioned in that commentary that we would meet him again.

We also get to meet Otto, the servant of the Cardinal's secretary.  Still, Frau Mauer's information gets immediate attention.  The great fear is that the Pope's inquisitors might lose their sorceress.  I played much of this with a touch of humor.  Not too much--the idea of a young woman dying from the cold in a cell is too serious for much humor, but for the same reason, the tension needs a little break. 

You can see the humor in the approach to the problem as conceived by the secretary.  He gets a lantern and a blanket.  If Aksinya is dying of cold, that's likely not nearly enough.  Luckily, he will have help: Secretary Schwab called for Frau Becker, the mistress of the kitchen, and she followed them past the guards, where the secretary collected the key to the cell, and then into the corridor.

Tomorrow, we shall see the result of the demon's torment.

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