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.
During the ecclesiastical trial, once the Archinquisitor succeeds in determining there is a witness to Aksinya's sorcery and after Natalya, Ernst, and Sister Margarethe acknowledge Aksinya's sorcery, the Archinquisitor is ready to pronounce judgement...
The Archinquisitor smiled, “I think the guilt of all these individuals can be attributed to the Princess Aksinya. Therefore, I am ready to pronounce my verdict on all of them. This verdict shall stand unless revoked by
.” He paused for a moment then continued, “If I had the authority, I would ask that you,” he pointed at Aksinya, “be burned at the stake. I don’t have that power, therefore, I pronounce the Princess Aksinya guilty of necromancy and sorcery. She is not Catholic and therefore cannot be excommunicated. She shall be denied communion and succor from the Holy Catholic Church all her life long. She is a notorious sinner who has brought many to ruin. She will not be allowed in any building or property owned by this Church. She shall not be acknowledged by any leader of the Holy Catholic Church as nobility nor aristocracy. She is to be shunned by commoner and noble alike until her life ends. This edict with a similar recommendation shall be sent to the Orthodox Church and to all other official Christian bodies. They shall judge her themselves.” Rome
Aksinya smiled and nodded.
“As to these others.”
Aksinya growled, “I accept your punishment. It is just. Do not judge these others. I renounce any association with them.”
The Archinquisitor chuckled, “They must answer for their own sins. It is not up to you to judge, little girl. Herr von Taaffe, you are allowed communion after proper repentance and penance to be determined by the Cardinal of Wien. You are accused and guilty of seduction and acquaintance with sorcery. Repent of this, and you shall be freely given the succor of your
. Equally, you, Sister Margarethe, are guilty of acquaintance with sorcery. You shall not be allowed to teach for the rest of your life. After proper repentance and penance, you shall be allowed to continue as a novice of your community until such time as your Reverend Mother and Abbot shall accept you into the Holy Orders again.” He took a deep breath, “You, Lady Natalya are a victim of this woman. Upon repentance and penance and if you are confirmed within our community, I allow you to join with our Holy Catholic Church.” Holy Church
Aksinya’s lips turned slightly up. That quickly became a frown.
The Archinquisitor continued, “Reverend Mother Kluge, you allowed this sorceress to enter Sacré Coeur and bewitch your sisters and your students. You shall be reduced to a sister of your order and not hold the position of Reverend Mother again. The Abbot, Father Abend, is equally guilty of this sin and shall also be reduced to a priest without authority until properly elevated. I pronounce the school, Sacré Coeur, to be closed until a full accounting of the evil that was committed within it is determined and purged. It shall open again only under these conditions are met.”
The Reverend Mother gave a cry. The sisters around her held to her.
“The convent shall be under a full review and shall accept penance until the time the Cardinal of Wien shall lift that penance. No new novices shall be accepted nor sisters elevated until that time.”
Aksinya panted, “You already had planned all this before you heard anything, didn’t you?”
“You, little girl have nothing to say to me. You are meaningless now. You will soon face your accusers in another court, a court of secular law, and you should pray they are as lenient as I.”
Aksinya stood, “I accept the just punishment for my sins. I admit to them and confess them all to you.” She dropped to her knees, “I beg your pardon for any and all suffering I have caused. I have no excuse for my actions. I only wish I could take your suffering on myself. Forgive all these. Please, in the name of God, forgive them and only punish me.”
The Archinquisitor made a dismissive motion with his hand and signaled for the guards, “Your penance and pleas come much too late, little girl.”
So, now we realize the reason for the trial and for the Archinquisitor's actions. His purpose was not to simply try Aksinya, but rather to determine the quilt of as many other people whose lives Aksinya touched. You can see this was the demon's purpose as well. Asmodeus told Aksinya that he would destroy as many of her friends as possible. The Archinquisitor is simply doing the job of the demon. He is very effective at it.
The Archinquisitor starts: “I think the guilt of all these individuals can be attributed to the Princess Aksinya. Therefore, I am ready to pronounce my verdict on all of them." This is the authority of the Archinquisitor. He pronounces his judgement. Notice how detailed his punishment is. You might think he practiced it--for effect.
Aksinya accepts the punishment--to her this is just. She wanted to be punished and although she imagines this punishment won't affect her much (it will in the future), she accepts it. But then the Archinquisitor moves on to "the others."
The Archinquisitor calls Aksinya, "little girl," again. Remember, this is the exact term the demon used. The Archinquisitor moves on to Ernst. Ernst seduced Natalya and acknowledge he had a part in sorcery. We might imagine these punishments as small and unimportant--the result will be devastating. The idea at this time in the world for a person to be condemned by the Church has social and cultural repercussions. The simple point that Ernst was found guilty of seduction will destroy his reputation. His penance, required by the Church, will destroy his position in the community.
The Archinquisitor doesn't stop with Ernst, the Sister Margarethe falls under his judgement. Remember that the sister loved to teach. Her whole life was teaching--that is until she met Aksinya. Her whole life was the Church and her order. Everything important in the life of Sister Margarethe has been wiped out in a second.
Natalya gets off easy. She already confessed to seduction, sexual relations with Ernst, and being an apprentice to a sorceress. Her life in Wien is ruined. The reason Aksinya's lips turned up is because she imagines that Natalya will never wish to be a member of the Catholic Church. On the other hand, there are many reasons Natalya might wish to become a member of the Catholic Church.
The Archinquisitor moves on to the Reverend Mother and the Abbot. He wipes out their loves and their lives. He closes Sacré Coeur. So the Reverend Mother loses both her position and the school she loves. The same for the Abbot.
The convent doesn't escape the Archinquisitor.
Aksinya tries to stop the Archinquisitor. She should know be now that she can't stop the evil of the demon. That evil is expressed at this point by the Archinquisitor. He reminds her that she will soon face another court. He is gloating--just as the demon likes to gloat. Aksinya pushes her last defense: "Forgive all these. Please, in the name of God, forgive them and only punish me.” Unfortunately, Aksinya's penance comes too late for the Archinquisitor. It always is too late. This is the end of chapter 18. Tomorrow, we begin chapter 19 with scene and chapter setting.