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 in a cell under the Rathaus in Wien. She is awaiting her secular trial. Father Dobrushin and Ekaterina have come to visit her...
“All of that was the demon’s doing. He visited me while I was in the Cardinal’s house. He told me he had planned everything.” Tears choked Aksinya’s words, “He told me he allowed my family to be killed.”
Ekaterina pulled Aksinya’s head against her and stroked her hair.
Aksinya moaned, “I caused them all such pain. I wish I were dead. If I were dead, the world would have been such a better place for everyone.”
Ekaterina shook her gently, “You are not dead, and the Dear Lord doesn’t wish you dead. Now, your life’s work must be to right this wrong. Do you wish to add more sin and evil to what already exists.”
Aksinya sat up and drew her sleeve across her eyes, “I’m afraid what I’ve done can never be made right.”
Father Dobrushin sighed, “Perhaps it cannot, but likewise, you can’t bear all the blame for what has happened.”
“I willingly bear it.”
“You may not bear any more than that which is your own sin. Others made choices. They can only be held responsible for those choices—not you.”
“I face a trial in the courts of Wien, now.”
Ekaterina smiled, “And we will do everything we can to help you.”
“Their mind is already made up too. When I had my preliminary hearing, they told me, I will go to the workhouse to pay off my debt. I will go to prison for beating Natalya. My aunt and uncle won’t help me. They hate me. They lost their position in the community and among the nobility. Herr von Taaffe has lost the backing of his father. I sent him away before. He cannot help me. I have no money. All of my goods, jewelry, and clothing have been sold. They still weren’t enough to pay my debts. I, even now, have a contract with a demon, and I pray to God I could be rid of him.”
Father Dobrushin pressed his hands together, “There may be a way to be rid of the demon.”
“You shouldn’t speak about such things too loudly even in jest. I know he watches me. He waits for more ways to destroy anyone close to me—to torment me.”
Aksinya turned her face away, “You shouldn’t use that address with me. Aksinya is enough.”
Aksinya clenched her jaw.
Aksinya wishes she were dead. How often do we when we have caused grievous harm wish we could have ended that harm. The problem is that nothing we do can ever repair the harms we inflict. There is never enough payment and never enough penance or repentance for many harms. Aksinya has caused these type of harms. They are grievous and may affect the recipients for their entire lives.
Aksinya has reached the bottom of another point in her journey--she has realized the depths of the harm she caused. Many never reach this point. Most imagine the harm they caused can be easily wiped away, but harm we cause others are like tears of ink--they stain the soul and they can't be undone. Even death can't repair this kind of harm. That is the point Ekaterina makes--she tells Aksinya that her life's work must be to undo the harm. Father Dobrushin rightly tells Aksinya that she can only be guilty of her own sin and not the sin of others. Aksinya changes the subject, or rather, she points the subject in a different direction--about her secular trial. Yes, this is what we want to know about.
The reason Aksinya is in despair is that she has heard the charges against her during the preliminary hearing. Her crimes are her debt and her attack against Natalya. Then, Aksinya tells us what has happened to her friends and relatives. We realize that these must have been issues during the hearing. You can see how far Aksinya has fallen. Where before, she had everything, now she literally has nothing. The end is that Aksinya has one thing in the world left--her contract with the demon.
Father Dobrushin suddenly tells Aksinya something that may give her hope: “There may be a way to be rid of the demon.” Do you remember that he has been studying about the demon. This is what we have been waiting for since the beginning of the novel. Aksinya worries more about what might happen to Father Dobrushin and to Ekaterina than she does for herself. Aksinya has made a great transition in thought. It isn't all about Aksinya anymore. She even puts aside her title. She is not to be called Princess because, in her mind, she has lost that as well. Tomorrow, more about the possibility of getting rid of the contract with the demon.