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 deposition of the accused is taking place. The presiding judge has finished asking his questions and passes the questioning to the prosecutor....
Judge Richter stared at her for a moment, “Very well. Those are the questions from the bench. Prosecutor Trauen, do you have any questions you wish to ask the Princess?”
The prosecutor stood, “No, Your Honor.”
“Herr Lopuhin, you may question the defendant.”
Father Dobrushin stood, “Thank you, Your Honor.” He walked to the bench, “Princess, concerning the question of the houses and goods, did you meet any of these merchants.”
Aksinya shook her head.
“Remember, Princess, you must speak your answers aloud.”
“No, Father, I never met any of them.”
“Did you sign any documents for the house, loans, or goods?”
“Did you ever carry any money?”
“Of course not. I’ve never carried money ever in my life.”
“Concerning the Lady Natalya, did you trust her?”
“Yes,” Aksinya’s tone was indignant. “I trusted her with everything. She took care of my jewelry and clothing. She was my confidant and friend.”
“Thank you, Princess.” Father Dobrushin turned to the bench, “Your Honor, at the moment those are all my questions for the Princess.”
Judge Richter pulled out his pocket watch, “We shall take a short break. Following that we will reconvene and begin to question the witnesses. At your permission, Princess Aksinya.”
Aksinya nodded and the judges stood and trailed out through their doors behind the large desk. In response to Father Dobrushin’s motions, she returned to the table where he sat. He stood and waited for her to sit. She sighed and turned toward Father Dobrushin, “Am I really artless?”
“Can you tell nothing but the absolute truth?”
“That is a rhetorical question. I’ve lied many times before. I might be able to lie…”
“…but you are uncertain if you could lie right now.”
“Should I lie?”
Father Dobrushin frowned, “No.”
You don’t have to be snappish. She moved her mouth to the side, “I didn’t realize you were a lawyer.”
“In the seminary, like most universities, we study theology. Post graduate work is in law, theology, or medicine. I studied law. One of the reasons the Orthodox Church sent me here was to help in the legal matters for refugees.”
The presiding judge finishes questioning Aksinya. He hands the questioning to the prosecuting attorney. He has no questions because Aksinya has basically declared her own guilt. So, the questioning turns to Herr Lopuhin (Father Dobrushin). Again, this is a way to keep you from forgetting the change in this character. Remember, it is a change that Aksinya doesn't fully understand.
Father Dobrushin's questioning is to show that Aksinya herself never made any contract or had any direct contact with any of the men who accused her of fraud--everything was done in her name, but she had no control over it. It is yet to be seen if this strategy will work or even if it will do any good. For now, it is the best Father Dobrushin can provide. The point about money is cultural. Nobles rarely carried money--they had servants who were entrusted with this responsibility. Father Dobrushin brings out the point--he knew Aksinya was a noble's noble. She would certainly never carry money. Her courier or Natalya would have been entrusted with it. He also brings this trust for Natalya into the court records.
The court takes a slight recess, and Aksinya and Father Dobrushin speak together. The first question is meant to convey Aksinya's change to you. She knows she once lied, but she has determined not to lie again. Father Dobrushin's query is due to Aksinya's seemingly self harmful responses in the court. He doesn't wish her to lie, but he wishes she wouldn't tell everything.
Then we get some information about Father Dobrushin. You might have guessed he was a lawyer. He is a trained lawyer--much as Martin Luther was trained as a lawyer. We also get the reason he was sent to Wien--he is to take care of the Russian immigrants using his skills. This is new and in depth information for us and for Aksinya. Tomorrow, Aksinya's status and the first witness.