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 and took her dress. In the morning, the woman guard finds Aksinya unresponsive...
At the cell door, the secretary took one look inside and turned his face away. With his face averted, he unlocked the door and pushed the kitchen mistress, Frau Becker, inside, “See if she is alive.” He handed the blanket to her.
Frau Becker paused a moment but the look on the secretary’s face drove her more than any words. She laid the blanket over Aksinya’s naked body, and put her face close to the girl’s. The woman called over her shoulder, “She’s still breathing.”
“Thank God,” exclaimed the secretary. “What’s wrong with her?”
“What did you expect? She’s naked and freezing.”
“What should we do?”
The woman tucked the woolen blanket around Aksinya’s body, “It’s too cold in here for a thin girl like her. Bring warmers and hot water bottles. Hot tea and food later.” She stated almost accusingly, “Where are her clothes. Was she molested?”
Frau Mauer called from the corridor, “Her dress is out here on the floor.”
“Bring it to me.”
The secretary nodded at Otto, “Get warmers and hot water bottles. Go now.”
Frau Mauer brought the dress to the open cell door. Frau Becker barked at her, “Frau Mauer, bring that here and help me dress her.”
Frau Mauer grumbled, but entered the cell, “She did it herself. I’m sure.”
The woman began to pull the dress over Aksinya’s head, “Secretary Schwab, this dress is too light for this place. Did you want her to die from exposure?”
He stared accusingly at Frau Mauer, “The girl was fine when she came here.”
“She is certainly not fine now.” They pulled the dress over the rest of Aksinya’s body. Frau Becker held her close and rubbed her hands.
Otto returned with two coal packed metal warmers, “The hot water bottles are being filled.”
“Go back and tell them to bring them right away.”
He nodded to the kitchen head.
She stopped him, “Bring another two blankets.”
“Yes.” He ran back down the corridor.
Frau Becker laid Aksinya down again and placed a warmer near her head and one near her feet. The kitchen head ordered Frau Mauer, “Take off her shoes and rub her feet.”
Frau Mauer jumped, “Her feet?”
“I’ll do if it you won’t. Here, take her hands and be gentle. When the circulation returns she will be in great pain.”
Frau Mauer shook her head, “I’ll rub her feet. I don’t want to be that close to her.”
In this scene, the overtones of the times play out wonderfully. The secretary turns his face away from the naked Aksinya. His actions are for her dignity and his temptation. What a perfect balance of one and the other. He sends Frau Becker, the kitchen mistress, to check on Aksinya.
Aksinya's life is important to the Cardinal for a couple of reasons. He isn't a bad man, but he has inquisitors in his city and his house. He doesn't want to bring the wrath of the Pope on him--who knows they might investigate him. The other reason is that the Cardinal doesn't wish to have a young woman, even a sorceress, die in his custody. We will see the result of this care later.
I'm still playing the humor, but when we find that Aksinya is indeed alive, I can bring it out a little stronger. The secretary asks a dumb question, and Frau Becker responds:“What did you expect? She’s naked and freezing.”
I love observations from other characters. They bring great depth to the writing. This is exactly what we get from Frau Becker's impression of Aksinya: “It’s too cold in here for a thin girl like her." Then the question: "Was she molested?” This seems innocuous to us, but in this time, it is a big deal. We know Aksinya was not molested, but they don't. The problem with such an idea, is that it would ruin Aksinya's reputation even more. Not to mention the black mark on the Cardinal's house. You know the demon had this in mind the entire time.
I give you details of the flurry they make in helping Aksinya. They dress her and we get Frau Becker's impression that the dress is too think for the environment. As I mentioned, I give details of the no nonsense way Frau Becker takes care of warming Aksinya. She warns about the returning circulation--ouch. Can't you see the demon's plan. He doesn't wish Aksinya to die--he wishes to torment her. If she died, the exquisite suffering of the upcoming revelations would fall flat. If she died, she couldn't experience the pain of returning circulation. The demon is about torture not just temptation. Tomorrow, more treatment for Aksinya.