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 told the court the reason Aksinya beat her was that she seduced Ernst. She followed that with the statement that she never brought any charges against Aksinya in the first place. This leaves Judge Richter with few options...
Prosecutor Trauen stood and tapped his glasses against his hand, “Your Honor, without any remaining charges, there is no reason to continue this trial.”
“I agree, however, in good order, I wish to confer with the other judges before we pronounce our judgment. There is another issue in relation to this person that must also be decided.”
Father Dobrushin stood, “Your Honor, I beg you not to make any decision that might affect the freedom of the Princess without conferring first with me.”
Judge Richter nodded. He stood and led the other judges back through their respective doors.
Natalya moved over to Akisnya’s table and Father Dobrushin gave her his seat. Aksinya kissed her cheeks again and held her close, “Lady Natalya, I am so sorry for the suffering I caused you. I do beg your pardon.”
“And, I you,” Natalya laughed, “Tears. When did you ever shed tears for any reason Princess? I am afraid that beyond this moment, we will not be able to see one another again.”
“Why is that?”
“You have no household and likely will have none, and I am kept by Herr von Taaffe.”
“And you wish to be with him?”
“I would rather be with you, but Father Dobrushin has recommended against it.”
“Does Herr von Taaffe treat you poorly?”
“No, just the opposite. He treats me too well. Almost as well as he treated you before.”
“Are you jealous?”
“I should be, but I am not. I never loved Herr von Taaffe. I loved the things he could provide me. I suspect you never get drunk when you go out with Herr von Taaffe.”
Aksinya smiled, “What does Herr von Taaffe plan to do since his father has rejected him?”
“He has business ventures of his own. It is not as great as his family’s, but they are substantial. He wishes to move away from Wien and pursue this work.”
Aksinya sighed, “So long as you are pleased and taken care of.”
Natalya laughed, “I have never been taken care of in my life. I care for others, that is what I am called to do. That is also what pleases me.”
The prosecutor agrees--there is no reason to continue the trial. Judge Richter declares that he must confer with the other judges and that there may be another issue. Do you remember, the other issue is that of immigration status. This could send Aksinya directly into the hands of the red or the white Russians. This is why Father Dobrushin makes his comment. He is warning the court that he will not sit still and allow them to deport Aksinya without a fight.
The judges leave and that gives Aksinya time to speak with Natalya. Aksinya apologizes again to Natalya and Natalya to Aksinya. Then through the conversation of Natalya, I show you that Aksinya is crying. I don't tell you--I show you through the conversation. Then the clincher, Natalya tells Aksinya they shell never see each other again. We learn that Natalya is being kept by Ernst. In this culture, to be kept means to be a mistress in the household of. This is a turn you might not have expected. It also likely means that Ernst intends to marry Natalya. Ernst's reputation in Wien and in Austria were destroyed by the revelations of the ecclesiastical court. His only way to recover some of his honor is to marry Natalya. The match is good and even with her issues, Natalya is a competent person.
Note that Father Dobrushin has been advising Natalya. He recommended against returning to Aksinya's household. You can guess the reasons for this. The only way for Natalya to redeem herself in the culture is to marry Ernst. Their marriage will make many things right. Although Ernst may love Aksinya, and Natalya may love Aksinya, only a match between Ernst and Natalya can clear their social and cultural problem.
Aksinya's next question is how Ernst treats Natalya. You know if he was cruel or abusive, Aksinya would rescue Natalya. Natalya tells Aksinya that Ernst treats her almost as well as he treated Aksinya. This is good and somewhat expected. Ernst is a gentleman.
Aksinya is not jealous because she knows she never loved him. Aksinya has learned about love and she understands herself. Note the statement about drunkenness. Natalya was always in control of herself. Note also that Natalya has been brought into the personal counsels and information of Ernst.
The final part of this is a kicker that characterizes Natalya: “I have never been taken care of in my life. I care for others, that is what I am called to do. That is also what pleases me.” Natalya is taking care of Ernst. This is what she means. She has not changed her love, but she is trying to transfer some of her love toward Ernst. Tomorrow, the verdict of the court.