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 charges against Aksinya were read, and she has proclaimed that she will remain silent on the point of guilt. The next step is to question Aksinya on the facts of the case...
“Very well.” Aksinya faced the judge, “Of guilt I am certain that I am guilty of many sins, but of this trial, Father Dobrushin tells me I should at least remain silent. He is my priest, and I follow his commands in this.”
Judge Richter covered his face again. After a moment, he glanced at Father Dobrushin and shook his head, “Was she like this at the ecclesiastical trial.”
“I was not there, Your Honor, but I expect so.”
“She is truly artless. It seems she cannot lie.”
Aksinya stared at the judge, “Did I say something wrong?”
A titter ran through the court again.
“No, Princess, you did not say anything wrong. You are very fortunate that Father Dobrushin, that is Herr Lopuhin, is advising you.”
Judge Richter studied his papers for a moment, “Now, Princess Aksinya, I wish to ascertain the facts of the case as you understand them.”
“There are specific details of time and place, but generally, tell me about your house across from Sacré Coeur. How did you acquire it and how did you take care of the bills.”
“My courtier acquired the house for me. I was both surprised and pleased to learn of this, because that allowed me to have a place for my family’s household items.”
“Your courtier? Who is this person?”
“He is the demon I called from the pit. His name is Asmodeus.”
A quiet groan went through the courtroom.
Judge Richter put his head in his hands, “Princess Aksinya, do you realize by making such claims I could incarcerate you in a mental institution?”
Aksinya clenched her fists, “Your Honor, the Pope’s ecclesiastical trial found me guilty of calling a demon and sorcery. If you must send me to such a place, I insist you send my ecclesiastical accusers as well.”
The judge’s mouth fell open. He steepled his hands and lowered his head, “You do have a point there, Princess.”I give you the last paragraph to place you properly in the conversation. The judge can't believe that Aksinya can be so inexperienced with the world. She just doesn't act or seem like a criminal. This is not lost on the judge or the spectators. The judge makes an interesting statement: “She is truly artless. It seems she cannot lie.” We know this is not true. The Aksinya we knew was quite proficient at lying. She does seem to have changed--yet, we realize, this is not just an act or an indication of her change, this is just Aksinya without the trappings of evil. She is really a simple person and not as sophisticated as she thought. And yet, we know this is an indication of a great change within her. This Aksinya wishes to face punishment. This Aksinya is willing to take responsibility for her actions. She is a changed person.
Then the short humorous exchange between Aksinya and the judge. She wonders what she might have done wrong. He tells her how fortunate she is to have Father Dobrushin--ah, Herr Lopuhin defending her. Did you note how I used a technique to remind you about this? Aksinya is happy to have Father Dobrushin advise her. This is an important idea--we shall see where this goes later.
Next we get to the interrogation of the accused. This is the way it is done in Austria. The judge questions the accused. The judge goes first for the charge of fraud. Aksinya tells the judge everything she knows about it. It isn't much. I know I led you along through the book. I hope someone had an inkling before the novice nuns told her that Asmodeus was taking the post. I left this as a foreshadowed incident that culminated when out of view, Aksinya's goods and house were taken to pay the bills.
In Aksinya's statement, she doesn't make much of it, but do you note the poignancy? She had a house for her family's things--now, they are all gone.
When the judge asks about Aksinya's courier, she answers truthfully (could she do otherwise at this point?). Remember what I told you about this entire situation? Everything we accepted about Aksinya will point to insanity. Thus the reaction of the courtroom and the judge. Aksinya is really a bright woman, she turns the point directly back on the judge: “Your Honor, the Pope’s ecclesiastical trial found me guilty of calling a demon and sorcery. If you must send me to such a place, I insist you send my ecclesiastical accusers as well.”
Aksinya is right and her point is well made. Tomorrow, we shall see more of this.