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 on trial in Wien, Austria. The presiding judge decided to try Aksinya's fraud case first. He has called for the first witness, Herr Tauber. Herr Tauber has just testified that Anatov Aznabaev contracted the house in Aksinya's name...
Judge Richter made a sign with his finger, “Captain Gerber, you have my permission to leave the court and alert your force to apprehend this man Anatov Aznabaev. If at all possible, I wish him as a witness. In any case, I want him arrested for fraud.” Captain Gerber stepped to the bench and Judge Richter handed him an official paper with the judge’s seal on it.
Aksinya spoke, “It will do you no good.”
Captain Gerber paused. Judge Richter paused, “What will do no good, Princess?”
“Anatov Aznabaev is the name my demon, Asmodeus, uses. Because he is a demon, he will be impossible for you to find.”
Judge Richter smiled, “Let us try, Princess. That will keep all things in good order for my court.” Captain Gerber conferred with the judge for a moment. Judge Richter raised his head, “Herr Tauber, do you have any idea where Anatov Aznabaev may be found?”
“Herr Tauber shook his head, “I thought he lived at the house I sold. It is empty now.”
Captain Gerber nodded and exited the courtroom.
Judge Richter glanced back at his notes, “Herr Tauber, was the house damaged?”
“You have it back in the same condition you delivered it?”
“Yes, but I lost three months interest…”
“I see that is your claim.” The judge glanced to the left, “Prosecutor Trauen, do you wish to question the witness?”
“No, Your Honor.”
Father Dobrushin jumped up. He spoke quickly, “Herr Tauber, the Countess had the use of your house for less than three months, but you had a surety of earnest money that is greater than the interest and you received the house back without loss. As far as I can tell you came out positive in this venture. What actual claims remain that you wish to make against the Countess? It seems to me, that you owe her money.”
“But the contract…”
“Herr Tauber, this is a criminal court. The question is one of theft. It appears to me, that the Countess did not legally make a contract with you. That rather your contract was with this person Anatov Aznabaev. In any case, you should return the surety and be paid the interest. How much would you then owe the Countess?”
Herr Tauber’s lips quivered, “I suppose a thousand Marks.”
“There is no indication of theft here at all, that is theft by the Countess from you, rather you have potentially conducted a theft from the Countess. If I were her, I would sue you in civil court and ask that you be tired for criminal theft.”
Prosecutor Trauen stood, “I object to the questioning of the witness.”
Judge Richter seemed surprised, “I’m not certain Herr Lopuhin is not correct. This is a criminal trial against the Princess, but the actions of Herr Tauber are close to criminal and civil fraud. It does not seem to me that there is any indication of theft, in this case, by the Princess. Herr Tauber, you are dismissed.”
The house owner stood on shaking legs. He bowed to the Princess and exited the courtroom.
At this point, the trail seems to move slightly in Aksinya's favor. First, the judge sends Captain Gerber to arrest Anatov Aznabaev--you remember the good Captain. He was sent to arrest Aksinya in the first place. Of course, they will not find Aznabaev--he is a demon. Aksinya tells them, but they don't believe her. It is evident that the judge has determined that Aksinya is not wholly guilty of fraud.
Second, we find that Aksinya's house was returned in the same condition it was received. A loan had been taken out on it. The judge makes this point. We also find out that the claim of Herr Tauber is the loss of interest. The prosecutor has no questions--the point about the use of the house has been made.
Third, who made the contract and who is responsible? Father Dobrushin has many questions about this. The main one is the surety versus the interest. In a contract, a surety is paid and if the owner defaults, the surety goes to the holder of the loan. Technically, the one who takes out the loan must pay all if they default. If Aksinya didn't make the contract, then she does not owe the surety or the interest. The claim of interest against her would be frivolous. Father Dobrushin is pointing this out. The judge pulls the points together that Aznabaev is the one who is guilty and owes the surety and the interest and not Aksinya.
This is also a metaphor for the demon's contract with Aksinya. Aksinya gave a surety and the demon gave a surety. The question of default is similar to the question of default on the house. Aksinya's contract was not for her soul. Her soul now belongs to someone else, and she is no longer free to release it.
Tomorrow, more questioning.