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...
Father Dobrushin’s face displayed great anger for a moment. He turned toward the wall then back toward Aksinya. She picked at the bandage on her arm. Father Dobrushin asked, “What happened to your arm?”
Aksinya stared at the bandage on her forearm and hand, “It was necessary.”
“What was necessary?”
“The clothing must all be marked with crosses or the demon can remove them. He tried to freeze me to death in the Cardinal’s house.”
“He, you mean the demon? What does that have to do with your arm?”
“I…I cut myself to mark my dress and blankets so the demon could not take them again.”
Ekaterina asked, “You marked them with your blood?”
Aksinya’s shoulders rose, “They wouldn’t give me anything else to mark them with.”
Ekaterina grabbed the hem of Aksinya’s dress and scanned it. She looked at the blankets, “Are these the ones you marked?”
Aksinya smiled, “Frau Becker let me keep them. That was very kind of her.”
Father Dobrushin asked, “Have you seen the demon since you were at the Cardinal’s house?”
“No. He has ignored me since then, and that makes me very happy.”
“I pray for you every day, Princess. I want you to be free of this creature. I also don’t want you to be punished for something you did not do.”
Aksinya’s stared at him wide-eyed, “What do you think I am not guilty of?”
“Whatever your sins, this trial is only about your assault on the Lady Natalya and your debt. There is nothing else that they will try you for and the outcome and guilt is uncertain.”
“Uncertain. I did indeed beat the Lady Natalya. I did allow my household to fall into debt…”
“Princess,” he interrupted her, “Have they assigned a defender to you?”
“Like the Inquisitor Esposito?”
“Yes, like the inquisitor.”
“They have not.”
“I will defend you.”
Aksinya laughed, “I don’t think it will do any good, but I shall permit it.”
“I was not of a mind to give you a choice.”
Aksinya scowled at him, “If the court will allow you, I shall be happy to have you defend me.”
A knock came at the cell door.
Ekaterina touched Aksinya’s arm, “We must leave. Would you like us to bring you anything?”
Aksinya pressed her hands together, “Yes, please bring me the Greek Bible Father Dobrushin lent me. I only know the Gospels and Acts. I wish to memorize Paul’s letters.”
Ekaterina stammered, “Memorize? Certainly. I will bring it tomorrow.”
Okay, okay, I admit it. I've told you before that I intend to repeat important ideas in such a way that you can't miss or forget them. This is the reason I don't like to "tell" you that one character explained some sequence of events to another character--I'd rather "show" you through the conversation.
In this case, I repeat the incident about the crosses. The crosses are very important to the entire theme of the novel. The degree of pain and suffering that Aksinya will go through to be rid of the demon is important. Plus, I can drown you in the pathos of the situation that Aksinya finds herself in through the repetition. Therefore, Aksinya picks at her bandage and Father Dobrushin asks about it. There is more in this than simply repeating the why and the event. I want you to see Father Dobrushin's concern for Aksinya. There is something very important in this too.
Through Ekaterina and Father Dobrushin's reaction, I let you see their minds and the agony Aksinya went through. To Aksinya, everything was necessary. Do you see how that sounds to her friends? This leads to the transition to the demon and then to Aksinya's guilt again. This leads naturally to Father Dobrushin's question. “Have they assigned a defender to you?” The answer is no. Therefore, Father Dobrushin tells her that he will act as her defender. Look at the their interaction. Aksinya is still acting like a Countess, a Princess. She can't not act in this way. Father Dobrushin was not going to give her a choice.
There is much in this that relates to the ultimate theme of the novel. Aksinya is guilty. She was found guilty (as were all her friends) in an ecclesiastical court. She will face a secular court. She had no defender before, now Father Dobrushin has stepped forward to defend her. I told you before, this work is a semi-allegory of the book of Tobit. It is also a novel about temptation, sin, and salvation. There it has been said. For Aksinya, salvation is to be free of the demon. She is indeed guilty. She does deserve punishment. We know she is not guilty of many of the crimes she was accused of or found guilty of. We shall see if she is found guilty of those crimes a secular court can try.
The ultimate question is her guilt in the ultimate court. I give you a hint about Aksinya's soul at the end of this piece. She is not enamored of sorcery anymore. She wishes to memorize Paul's Letters. So a simple metaphor for the transition she has made. There will be more. Tomorrow, the beginning of Aksinya's secular trial.