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. Natalya is in the witness chair. She is about to tell the court why Aksinya beat her...
Aksinya stood. Natalya stood. Half the courtroom stood. Aksinya pointed her finger, “Lady Natalya, I forbid you to tell them why I beat you.”
Father Dobrushin pulled Aksinya back into her seat, “The press has already published the reason in the papers. She announced it during the ecclesiastical trial. There is no reason for you to stop her testimony.”
Aksinya held her head in her hands, “She shouldn’t have to say it again.”
Natalya sat back down, “The reason the Princess beat me was because I seduced the man she wished to marry. I seduced Herr von Taaffe. Because of that, the Princess rightly became enraged. I deserved to be beaten by her. I deserved every stroke. I did not wish to proffer charges against her. The ecclesiastical court presented them in my name. I wish for this court to absolve the Princess of every charge related to this. I know she asked my pardon, and I know from my priest that she has confessed. I wish to absolutely forgive her and pardon her for this sin against me, because I was the cause of it. I only wish she could forgive my sin against her.”
Judge Richter pressed his palms against the top of the desk, “Are you certain of what you say Lady Natalya?”
Natalya nodded vigorously.
Aksinya spoke almost automatically, “Lady Natalya, you must speak your response aloud.”
Natalya turned and smiled at Aksinya, “I do mean everything I have said. I did not bring any charges against her. I committed a more grave crime than she. I admit this freely.”
Judge Richter turned to Prosecutor Trauen, “Prosecutor, there are no other charges against the Princess. Do you have anything else you wish to propose or anything you wish to ask this witness?”
Prosecutor Trauen stood and tapped his glasses against his hand, “Your Honor, without any remaining charges, there is no reason to continue this trial.”
We know already why Aksinya doesn't want Natalya to tell the truth--even though she herself told Natalya to tell the truth, Aksinya wants to be punished. She doesn't want her friends to be punished in any way. The demon, Asmodeus, promised to ruin Aksinya's friends--this is what Aksinya wishes to stop, but she can't. It is too late--the press has already published everything with who knows what gory details.
Then Natalya says the reason--she seduced Ernst, the man Aksinya expected to marry. This was an enormous cultural, social, and legal problem for the time. But Natalya goes further, she forgives Aksinya and asks the court to remove the charges. When the accuser takes back the charges in a court of law and provides a reason like this for the accused, there isn't much the court can do. It is possible under some legal systems for the state to proffer charges in the name of the injured, but if the injured party absolves the accused of the charges under most legal systems, there isn't much the court can do. Not only that, in this time and culture, Natalya's actions would be considered deserving of such a beating. In this case, Aksinya might even be absolved of the murder of Natalya under the laws of the turn of the century.
Thus Judge Richter's response--the injured party is asking that the charges be removed.
I use the joke about speaking your answers aloud in the court to break the tension and to provide a setup to Natalya's response: “I do mean everything I have said. I did not bring any charges against her. I committed a more grave crime than she. I admit this freely.”
In this scene we have the absolution of Aksinya and the forgiveness of Natalya. We know that Aksinya did confess and did repent. We know that Natalya did repent and was confessed. We know that all is not right in the world, but between these two people, the world has become whole again.
Thus, the end is the end of the charges against Aksinya. The judge begins to work the details of this with the prosecutor. Tomorrow, more problems and more details.