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Sunday, October 31, 2010

A New Novel, Part 28 The Disguise

Here we see a neat technique to describe a person through the eyes and conversation of another.  Likewise, we see a means to describe a change in appearance that isn't actually physical.

Natalya stared at Aksinya. Her hands reached up to touch her own face, but it felt no different than before.

Aksinya smiled, “You may speak now. The enchantment is finished.” She turned away a little, “Put away my things, demon. I did as you wished.”

Natalya stuck out her hand, “Countess, you look so different. Like an old grandmother. Your beautiful dress is now rags.”

“Look at yourself in the next dark window glass we pass. You are an ancient granny yourself. You will find you smell like one, look like one, are dressed as one, and sound like one. In time, our appearance and clothing will turn back to what it should be. That is, unless I make a second enchantment. Unfortunately, we can’t change our clothing until then.”

“You will not be able to bathe.”

Aksinya muttered under her breath, “It is simply another torment from my personal demon.”

Natalya might not have heard her, “I’m sorry, countess.”

Aksinya didn’t turn toward the demon, “Asmodeus, I did as you wished. We are ready to go.”

“You performed well, countess. Are you certain you don’t want to wait for the young, drunken Bolsheviks?”

Aksinya half turned her head and scowled.

The demon continued, “I know you are feeling that desire.”

Aksinya bit her lip then she began to pray. She had made a rosary as part of the costume of the old women they had become. She couldn’t truly touch the rosary at her fingertips, but by every appearance, she touched it. She began to pray it, and her desire decreased. Asmodeus frowned. He lifted his lips so his fangs showed clearly.

Natalya laughed, “Certainly, old women would pray. They pray continually.” She began to tick off the prayers by counting her rosary. She was completely caught up in the amazement of having something that appeared to move in her hand, but that had no real substance. Even so, the rosary reacted as though she touched it.

Aksinya took Natalya’s arm and together, both praying in almost synchronicity, they walked toward the train station. Glumly, Asmodeus followed behind them with the heavy chest on his shoulders.

We also get to see another small act of rebellion by Aksinya.  We will see that her rebellion comes with repercussions.  The demon is not obvious with his attacks, but we will see the results--remember they are tied directly and indirectly to her actions.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A New Novel, Part 27 Abuse and Disguise

The last time the demon tempted Aksinya, he used physical discomfort and threats to "win" her over.  If that works, why not use it again.  As I mentioned, the "puppy" method is very effective.  One of my readers noted that the demon and Aksinya have a classical abusive relationship going.  Ah, yes, so it is.  Is temptation any different than such a relationship.  If you think about the similarities, you will see amazing parallels.  There is much more in the writing that I have not revealed to you.  That wasn't intentional or unintentional.  It's just that I am really busy and sometimes I have more and less time to spare on "revelations."  Plus, some of the revelations of the multilevels of the writing should be obvious.

They only had to walk about a block before the railway station came into sight. It was brightly lit and filled with activity. They approached the station from the rail side. At the sides of a set of tracks, the demon stopped suddenly. He laid down the chest and turned, “The trains are especially dangerous for you, countess. They will be equally dangerous for your lady-in-waiting.”

“Then why did you bring us this way, you fool?”

“I brought you this way to give you yet another opportunity.”

Aksinya’s head dropped, “What do you want me to do this time?”

“My request is simple. I wish you to make an enchantment that changes both of your external appearances. This way you may travel in safety and comfort.”

Aksinya put her hand over her eyes, “If I won’t do it?”

“If you don’t make this magic, you could walk all the way to Austria. Or, I could strip you like I did before.” The demon grinned around his fangs, “I could strip your lady in waiting. Perhaps I could tempt you to whip her. That would be something she is very used to.” Asmodeus leaned against the chest, “In any case, if you don’t make an enchantment, a group of young Bolsheviks will soon come along these tracks. They have been drinking since noon. They will rape your lady-in-waiting and attempt to rape you. I will have to step in to protect you and do your bidding. I suspect you will be so mortified you will ask me to kill them. For rape, I can even torture them in front of you before I kill them.”

“You are cruel, demon.”

“I have been called that many, many times, so it must be true. Quickly, what is your decision?”

Aksinya whispered, “I will do as you ask.” She spoke more loudly, “What of Lady Natalya? Didn’t she hear what you said to me? How you threatened me?”

“Only what I allowed her to hear. She will be very pleased to see you make such a great enchantment. And it must be great. You must make it strong enough to last seven days.”

Aksinya spat at the ground, “Get my things and my book. The great brown one.”

Asmodeus obliged. Natalya stared as Aksinya drew a magic circle large enough to encompass them both. Aksinya placed candles at the five corners of the pentagram. She gathered wax and clay then bits of cloth from a box. She shaped them a little with heads and arms and legs then stuck sprigs of an odd herb in them. She lit the candles and a brazier of incense. When she was done with her preparations, she sat in the center of the circle with Natalya beside her and the book on the stolen stand before her. She closed her eyes, “Listen, Lady Natalya, you must not say anything. No matter what you hear or what happens, don’t make a sound from your mouth, from your vocal cords. This is very important. I will be speaking in Latin. The forms and the words are very important. It is like a word and sacrament in the church. The words are those I must say for the enchantment to work and the implements are sacraments. They are the corporal things that will cause the world to change. Remember don’t say a word.”

Natalya nodded.

Aksinya began to speak. The great book was opened to the correct page, but she didn’t need to look at it. She knew the words to say, knew them by heart. This was one of her favorite enchantments. She could make herself look any way she wished for a long time. The enchantment could easily last at least a week if she desired. She had done that before—tweaked her clothing and her face. She once changed the color of her hair for over a month.

Aksinya moved her hands and touched the clay and wax models she had formed. The words she spoke endued them with the clothing and characteristics she wished to place on herself and Natalya. She picked up her dagger and nicked her finger. She let a heavy drop of blood fall onto one of the wax models. Aksinya grabbed Natalya’s hand. Natalya had been holding it out to her, ready. Aksinya cleanly sliced the lady’s index finger and gently milked a drop of blood from it. It fell on the other piece of wax, clay, and cloth. When Aksinya released her hand, Natalya stared in amazement at the newly healed cut.

Aksinya lifted both wax models and placed them in the brazier. Immediately it began to pour out heavy smoke. She censed Natalya then herself. The scent of the incense was thick and cloying. It smelled of cheap perfume and age. It was heavy like the scent of an old woman. Under that was the smell was sweat and dirt. Aksinya repeated the censing and impressed the words on them both. The brazier suddenly stopped and slowly the thick smoke rolled away.

The demon uses threats this time.  He doesn't even have to force her.  Aksinya acquiesces on her own.  This is the primary teaching of resistance training: don't let your antagonizer, your torturer have easy victories.  Aksinya has given the demon an easy victory.  We will see that this a prelude to some of her resistance.  Don't forget the sewing case. 
I also hope you like the revelation of the way sorcery works.  This is designed in the classical understanding: words of power and items of sacrament.  In this we have a reference to the Church.  Obviously, what propels the demon and Aksinya is the world with God.  How would the sorcery work, if it was not a rejection and sin against God.  How can there be demons if there isn't God.  This is the obvious logical conclusion--Aksinya even said it once before.  We will continue to see this theme--it is the point after all.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A New Novel, Part 26 The Sewing Case

The Lady Natalya is a skilled and well trained lady-in-waiting.  Unfortunately, she was taught to be too deferential for her position.  I didn't expect you to get this unless you are very familiar with aristocracy.  We will see how this plays out in the future.  This is a revelation that shows the depth of the research in the writing, but that is largely unimportant right now.  This will become a clearer revelation in the future.  What I want the reader to see is the care and patience of Aksinya.  The reader may only see this in retrospect to these incidents.

Aksinya and Natalya ate a light supper in Aksinya’s bedroom. Natalya would not sit, and in spite of Aksinya’s protests, ate hers in the bathroom. Aksinya did convince her to leave the door open so they could converse. They dressed for travel. Asmodeus brought a wardrobe out of the magnificent chest so Aksinya could choose the clothing for Natalya to adjust.

Aksinya gave a flitting smile, “Why don’t you find my small trunk, and we shall transfer the clothing I wish the Lady Natalya to work on. That will make it much more convenient for us all.”

Asmodeus stared suspiciously at her for a moment, but brought out the trunk and Aksinya’s sewing case but not the jewelry box. After he left, Aksinya, with Natalya’s help, chose from among Aksinya’s mother’s gowns. They packed some into the trunk and put one in the sewing case.

When the glass panes in Aksinya’s window turned completely dark, a rap came on the door, “It is I, Asmodeus.”

Aksinya waited a moment before she replied, “You may enter.”

The demon came in and glanced around, “You are both ready?”

Aksinya nodded and Lady Natalya parroted her. Aksinya pointed at the packed trunk and her sewing case. Asmodeus held the trunk under his arm and carried the sewing case.

The demon gestured with the case, “Very well, follow me.”

Aksinya stood and Natalya placed the long mink coat over her shoulders. She tied the clasp at Aksinya’s throat. Then Natalya pulled the heavy woolen cloak Aksinya had given her over her own shoulders. She closed her eyes and buried her nose in the collar for just a moment, then she tied the clasp.

Asmodeus led them out the back door of the inn. There he placed the trunk and the sewing case into his great chest and lifted it onto his shoulders. He headed into the darkness. Natalya gave a gasp each time she saw something come in or out of the amazing chest. And though Aksinya had seen it happen so many times, she was a little surprised herself at it.

The Lady Natalya whispered, “It is like Koschei’s chest. Does he also keep your soul in it for you, countess?”

Aksinya glanced at Natalya, “I am simply mortal, and not at all like Koschei.”

Natalya followed Aksinya into the frozen darkness. In spite of Natalya’s reference to Koschei, Aksinya believed the Lady Natalya saw the demon as a handsome courtier and certainly not as he really appeared. At least she thought her lady-in-waiting did. Aksinya controlled herself from taking a peek at his current appearance.

The important part here is the sewing chest and the clothing.  Aksinya is making her own plans to protect herself and Natalya.  You don't know what she is up to, but you might guess.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A New Novel, Part 25 Preperations for Travel

The relationship between Aksinya and Asmodeus begins to change.  This is what you should be observing.  Natalya in the mix becomes the major difference.  Note how she reacts and remember, only Aksinya can really hear and fully understand the demon's words--or so the demon tells her.

A solid knock came at the bedroom door and it flew open. Asmodeus strode into the room.

Aksinya didn’t look at him, “You should at least wait until you are invited in.”

“I heard my name mentioned.”

“You were mistaken. Where have you been?”

“Taking care of your business, countess.”

“And that would be?”

“Our travel arrangements.”

“The next time you arrange for my room, ensure there is a sitting room.”

“My choice doesn’t please you?”

“A countess and her lady should have a sitting room. Then you will not be able to burst directly into her boudoir.” Aksinya carefully blanked her mind, “I would also like some things from my baggage.”

“Yes,” the demon’s voice was silky.

“I need my mother’s jewelry box so I may make some choices before I step down to supper.”

“You are not going anywhere for supper.”

Aksinya whirled around with a glare.

“There are Bolsheviks watching this inn. You shall not go down to supper. We shall leave tonight.”

“I wish to look through my mother’s jewelry.”

“You may when the time is right. It is not the right time for such frivolity.”

“There are jewels that I may use for enchantments.”

Asmodeus cocked his head in an attitude of listening, “You are telling the truth.”

“Of course I am telling the truth.”

“I will see what I can do. Is there anything else you wish?”

“I wish my sewing things so the Lady Natalya can begin to fit my mother and sister’s clothing to me.”

“Perhaps I wish you to appear as bedraggled as you first stood before me—or like you did last night.”

“Such dress would tempt no one and only embarrass your vanity.”

Asmodeus’ lip rose, “You unfairly judge your enticements. At the proper time, I will retrieve your sewing things from the baggage.”

“Thank you. You might take on a more civil tone when you speak to me in front of the Lady Natalya. You would not want to shame her or you.”

The demon bowed. “Which gown would you like to wear tonight?”

“My green traveling gown and the green padded boots. What will the Lady Natalya wear?”

Natalya ducked her head, “I repaired the back of my blue dress. That will be sufficient.”

Asmodeus smiled, “I took the Lady Natalya’s clothing from her room in the servant’s quarters. She does not have much.”

Lady Natalya spoke quickly, “I had…, have plenty. Three dresses and five petticoats. They were finely made…”

Aksinya put out her hand, “And hand me downs. When we have an opportunity, I will buy you something new. For now, which would you like to wear?”

“My green dress.” She glanced down, “I shall wear green too.”

Aksinya glanced at the demon, “You have your instructions. Are you happy to not have to draw my bath and serve my meals?”

“Yes,” laughed Asmodeus, “And to not sew your clothing.”

“When will we leave?”

“When the sun is fully down.”

So, are the really ready to travel--the demon has his plans.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A New Novel, Part 24 Initial Natalia

Returning to the last paragraph of the previous piece of Daemon.

Aksinya wasn’t sure all that was true, but her demon displayed an inability to act through a magic circle and some unwillingness or inability to move a cross. She lounged in the warm water. Many of her own, her mother’s, and her sister’s jewelry were crosses. Suddenly, Aksinya wondered if any of her jewelry made it into the demon’s chest. He wasn’t beyond lying—in fact, Aksinya was certain that he lied most of the time. She thought for a while longer and made a plan. The first step was to ask the demon to show her, her mother’s jewelry. The water was getting cool. Aksinya made the slightest sound in the back of her throat. Natalya knocked on the door, “Mistress, do you need me to warm your water?”

“I’m getting out.”

Natalya rushed through the door and helped Aksinya out of the tub. She put a towel around her and adroitly dried her and her hair. Natalya already had a silk dressing gown ready and a heavy robe. She dressed Aksinya in them and led her back into the bedroom. A large meal was arranged on the table in the room. Natalya seated Aksinya and served her. After a moment, Aksinya asked, “Have you eaten, Lady Natalya?”

Natalya colored at being addressed so personally by a countess, “Yes mistress, I have eaten breakfast and dinner in the kitchen.”

“Are you still hungry?”

“No, mistress.”

“Where is Asmodeus?”

“Your courtier?”


“He has gone to make arrangements for you to travel.”

Aksinya glanced up from her meal, puzzled, “Where are we?”

“You were so tired last night, countess. Your courtier carried you here.”

“But where is here?”

“We are at a very fine inn on the vul. Kazinca near the railway station. Last night, you could barely stand, but after I dressed you for bed, you insisted in drawing these circles around our beds.” Natalya gave a broad smile.

“Did you sleep well?”

Natalya pressed her hands together, “I have never slept better. I was so excited that you took me into your household. My heart was so free that I couldn’t stand it. I thought I would never get to sleep, but I did.”

“You needn’t be afraid of me, Lady Natalya. I will not mistreat you.”

Natalya pressed her lips together, “Did you know?”

“I know.”

“I tried to hide it from everyone.”

“You must be cautious of Asmodeus.”

“Is he dangerous to…to women?”

Aksinya face twitched in a slight smiled, “He is dangerous. You must be cautious around him. You should tell me anything he says to you. You don’t need to worry about your virtue, but perhaps about other things.”

Natalya’s face turned into a frown, “Other things?”

“I don’t want you to worry about them, just be cautious of him. When you are with me you should be safe.”

Aksinya is beginning to take steps against Asmodeus.  We shall see if she is successful.  We will also see some delays before she can test her ideas.  The question is: how much does the demon realize?  We have some idea about how much Aksinya knows, but little about the knowledge of the demon.  We know he can't be omniscient, but the degree of his knowledge seems great.  He also seems to think out his plans to a degree that is much greater than humans can or will.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A New Novel, Part 23 Realizations

The demon has had his way.  Aksinya now has a servant.  The demon is moving and making Aksinya accommodate him.  This chapter will not have a lot of action, a little, but much begins to become clear to Aksinya about the demon and his limitations.  We also see Natalya as a character.  Don't discount her because she seems so complacent.  Remember, that practiced perfection was bought at a very high price.

Aksinya woke with a start. She touched warm and clean bedclothes. The light of the day was bright. She covered her eyes and yawned. A wide awake voice came to her, “Mistress. Mistress.”

Aksinya focused her eyes on the voice. A girl sat in a chair beside her bed. Aksinya’s thoughts came together at once, and she remembered everything from the night before, “Lady Natalya. Yes, Lady Natalya.”

The girl smiled, “Countess. Would you like to eat first or shall I draw your bath?”

“What time is it?”

“It is very late, almost two. You slept well?”

“Yes, well. I’m starving. Please draw my bath first and bring me something more substantial than breakfast.”

The girl smiled and made a beautiful low curtsy, “Yes, mistress.” She left by a door at the side.

Aksinya pushed back the covers. She wore one of her mother’s silk gowns. It was very fine, but the fabric was a little slippery and slightly uncomfortable. It brought a touch of excitement against her body and lustful thoughts to her mind. Aksinya swung her feet over the side of the bed and glanced at the floor. She didn’t remember putting on this gown, but she remembered making a magic circle around her bed and Natalya’s pallet. The circle was still intact. She noted where the lines were slightly smudged, but they were still whole. The demon wasn’t present. She wondered where he might be.

Natalya reentered the room and helped Aksinya off the bed. Aksinya was too weary and thought filled to care. The girl led her to a grand bathroom and pulled her gown over her head. She helped Aksinya into the bath. Her smile was bubbly, “Mistress, would you like me to wash you?”

Aksinya shook her head.

“I’ll get your dinner. Bathe as long as you like.”

Aksinya lounged in the hot tub. The day outside was cold and windy. She could hear the windowpanes clatter and felt the chill through the floor. She wondered again what the demon was about. Then she remembered the problem she must put her mind to--the bookstand. What made her bookstand different than the one the demon had stolen for her? She focused her thoughts on her cellar in the guesthouse. She saw the bookstand in her mind’s eye. She could have called out an enchantment to remember it exactly—she didn’t have to. She knew the small piece of furniture too well. It was made of oak and aligned at just the proper angle for reading. It had once been part of the small chapel niche in the guesthouse. She had removed it from there. Its sides and front were carved and the carvings were crosses. Orthodox crosses covered its three vertical sides.

Aksinya leaned back in the tub. The cross was rarely an impediment to magic. In fact, many magic circles and magic items incorporated crosses or cross shaped. But perhaps crosses were a problem for demons. That made sense. Her books didn’t say so explicitly, but tradition explained that demons were affected by crosses. They were said to not be able to abide them.

Aksinya wasn’t sure all that was true, but her demon displayed an inability to act through a magic circle and some unwillingness or inability to move a cross. She lounged in the warm water. Many of her own, her mother’s, and her sister’s jewelry were crosses. Suddenly, Aksinya wondered if any of her jewelry made it into the demon’s chest. He wasn’t beyond lying—in fact, Aksinya was certain that he lied most of the time. She thought for a while longer and made a plan. The first step was to ask the demon to show her, her mother’s jewelry. The water was getting cool. Aksinya made the slightest sound in the back of her throat. Natalya knocked on the door, “Mistress, do you need me to warm your water?”

Now, don't tell me you knew that crosses would be a problem for demons.  Have you ever met one.  One of the funny movie setups is the Vampire who is about to bite someone and they whip out a cross, that doesn't work..  Sure, we expect uniformity in our thoughts--that's why we had to see this evaluation step.  Aksinya is still not certain that crosses can contain the demon.  She is certain magic circles can do the job.  That is the point of bounding the demon.  That is also point of the patient revelation of his limitations.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A New Novel, Part 22 Acceptance

Aksinya has called the Lady Natalya to her.  She desperately tries to get the lady to leave.  The demon produces a temptation that Aksinya will not ignore.

Aksinya frowned, “I don’t want you for my lady-in-waiting or my apprentice.”

Asmodeus waved his hand. The world seemed to stop outside the magic circle. He glared at Aksinya, “I will only tell you once. I can destroy this girl. You will accept her gladly as your lady-in-waiting and your apprentice.”

“You swore not to harm her.”

“I will not harm her.”

“Plus, she is innocent. You cannot kill her.”

“I said I will not harm her.”

“You can’t make me do anything I don’t wish to do while I am inside this circle.”

“You are so naive. I did not set all this up for you to be able to reject her. Look.” The demon strode over to the unmoving girl. He turned her around, pulled off her light cloak, and ripped open the back of her dress. Whip scars crisscrossed the girl’s back. He lifted her skirt at the back. Her thighs and buttocks were covered with new whip cuts. They were still raw and oozed blood. “Didn’t you wonder why it took so long for her to respond to your call? You are the greatest sorceress on the face of the globe. She should have come running, but she couldn’t until the Lady Andronikov finished this work. The girl could barely walk here much less run. The prince’s wife and lady well knows this girl is his child. She never intends to ever let him forget it. The Lady Natalya believes she is punished for her frequent mistakes. Countess, she never makes a mistake. She goes over things in her mind again and again, certain she has done each step correctly, and the lady of the house punishes her every day for false errors.”

Aksinya sighed, “You tempt me again, demon.”

“Yes, this is indeed temptation.”

“Make time run right again. I will accept her. Get me a great cloak worthy of the lady-in-waiting to a countess.”

Asmodeus turned Natalya back around. He went to his chest and pulled out a warm long cloak. He raised his hand, and suddenly the girl was released. Natalya took a deep breath. She fell forward on her face. She cried again, “Please, Countess, accept me as your lady-in-waiting. Anything. I would do anything…”

Aksinya called out a couple of Latin words. She struck her dagger against the ground and a spark rose up. She spoke again and the world was filled with light.

Natalya jerked up from the ground. She raised her head. Aksinya stepped out of the magic circle. She clasped Natalya’s arms and lifted her up. Asmodeus held out the cloak. Aksinya took if from his hands and draped it around Natalya’s body. Aksinya embraced the girl. They were almost the same height. She held her and kissed her cheeks. Aksinya stated clearly, “Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska, I Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna accept you into my household as my lady-in-waiting and as my apprentice. Welcome, Lady Natalya.”

The girl began to shake. She clasped Aksinya, and her tears fell hot and wet against her neck. They stood together for a long time.

Acceptance was inevitable.  The demon created a situation and choose a lady-in-waiting that Aksinya could not and would not reject.  The question at hand is the culpability of Aksinya in everything. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A New Novel, Part 21 the Lady Natalya

Aksinya was coerced by the demon to use sorcery to call the girl they observed that evening.  Now Aksinya begins the ceremony, and we learn a little more about the limitations of the demon.

When Aksinya first began this business of sorcery, she had to be so careful, and it took her hours to set up everything for a simple enchantment. Now she knew her business so well, she knew the exact and precise steps to properly make everything happen. From years of practice came such simplicity. At the peak of the ceremony, Aksinya cut a sprig of the herb and whispered the girl’s name into it, “Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska.” It was so much simpler with the whole name. Aksinya placed the bit of herb in her brazier. It flared up and the incense caught it. She heard the name quietly repeated as she censed the five corners of the pentagram. A puff of incense went out calling the girl to come. It called her to come here to Aksinya. With a glassy-eyed smile, Aksinya continued to cense the points of the pentagram. Thought she knew one time was enough, she sent out call after call. When the incense was nearly all gone, she put down the brazier and prepared the second part of her work.

Asmodeus glanced at her, “What are you doing now, countess?”

“You wished a show for her. I will make her a display of power.”

“I asked you what you are doing.”

“Read it from my thoughts, demon.”

Asmodeus stood in silence.

“Yes, it is no secret now, is it? Neither your body nor your mind can cross this magic circle. What other things are impossible for you, demon. I didn’t expect a confession from you, but there is much more you haven’t told me.”

“You can’t remain within that circle forever.”

“No, I cannot, but it is enough to know, isn’t it?”

A noise startled Aksinya. She ducked.

Asmodeus laughed, “What do you fear, countess? You have encountered demons.” Then he raised his head and spoke excitedly, “She comes.”

Aksinya stood straight. She was too embarrassed to speak.

A shadow flitted between the tombstones. It moved closer and closer. It was the girl, the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska. She was dressed in the clothing she had worn earlier. She had a light cloak over it. She moved warily and cognizantly. She made her way to the edge of the pavement and stared in amazement at Aksinya. She studied the magic circle and the pentagram. She gazed at everything on the pavement, but she didn’t step onto the flat stones. Finally, she swallowed, “Did you call me?”

Aksinya smiled a wide smile, “I called you, Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska.”

“How do you know my name?”

“I watched you tonight.”

“What do you wish of me?”

“I think you should run. I think you should go quickly away from here.”

Asmodeus stepped from the shadows. He waved his hand, “You will not go, Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska. If you try to move, you will find you cannot.”

The girl stuck her chin forward, “I don’t wish to leave. I want to know why she called me.”

Aksinya scowled at her, “Why don’t you run? Don’t you see the demon before you?”

Asmodeus grinned, “You are an idiot. She sees me as I wish her to see me.”

Aksinya spoke her Latin words and saw a handsome courtier.

Asmodeus addressed Natalya, “Lady Natalya, let me introduce the Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna. She is the one who called you, and she is a most wonderful and powerful sorceress in this world. She can teach you to be just the same as she. She called you here because she needs a lady-in-waiting and an apprentice. Would you care to join yourself to her? Would you like to become her lady and her apprentice?”

As if Natalya was waiting all her life to hear those specific words, she fell to her knees and cried out. The tears were obvious in her voice, “Dear lady, I would do anything to become your lady-in-waiting and your apprentice. If you would only take me away from this place. Please take me away from here and never bring me back.”

Aksinya frowned, “I don’t want you for my lady-in-waiting or my apprentice.”

It worked.  Aksinya's call worked.  All of her spells work.  I think this is remarkable in a storyline.  In most stories about magic or sorcery that I'm familiar with, the magic is tentative and the magicians incompetent.  You have a few works where the magic is real and actually does what it is supposed to.  You will find that Aksinya is very competent at sorcery.  How else could she call a demon.  This is more important an idea than you might think.  If she wasn't competent, you might imagine that she accidentally called the demon.  The point is that she is competent, and she competently called the demon.  Therefore, she is appropriately guilty for her actions.  If it was an accident, you might forgive her--you cannot.   She also competently called the Lady Natalya.  The point here is that Aksinya then tried to thwart the demon's plans.  You will find that she will be unable to thwart him right now, but she is trying.  I thought it was a fun twist that the Lady Natalya wanted Aksinya to take her away.  We will discover very soon why.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A New Novel, Part 20 The Bookstand

In the previous scene, the demon forced Aksinya to the act of calling the girl they had observed.  Now, Aksinya begins the sorcery that will call the girl to her.  It is an act that the demon claims will show the power of Aksinya and convince the girl to follow her.

Aksinya lowered her head, “I will take it on myself. I will do as you ask.”

The petticoats and dress appeared on her body. Her shoes and stockings were suddenly on her feet and legs. Asmodeus himself laid the thick warm mink coat over her shoulders again, “Call the girl. Call her, and you may dine and sleep and experience your erotic fantasies.”

“Zatknis'! Get me my things.” She stomped to the center of the pavement.

The demon lifted his hands and opened the chest. From inside came Aksinya’s staff and her dagger. Her chalk and her candles settled at her feet. A bundle of fresh herbs and a brazier of incense followed them. One of Aksinya’s heavy books sailed through the air toward her. She caught it midair. Aksinya pulled her coat more closely around her shoulders. She glanced from the side of her eyes at the demon, “I want my bookstand.”

“Which one?”

“The one that I used when I called you.”

“I didn’t bring it.”

Aksinya whirled toward him, “Why didn’t you?”

“I didn’t.”

“What else didn’t you bring from my house?”

Asmodeus didn’t speak.

“I order you to tell me what you didn’t bring from my house.”

“Your request is neither evil nor within my desires.”

“I want a bookstand. Steal one for me.”

“Very well. I am pleased to steal for you and add this sin to your account.”

In an instant, the demon was gone. Aksinya knelt on the freezing pavement and drew a circle and a pentagram. She put up a tallow candle and lit her brazier and incense. She cut the herbs with her dagger and prepared to make a calling for the girl. For this simple spell she wouldn’t need a possession from the girl, she had seen her already. She wouldn’t even need her name. The face was clearly set in Aksinya’s mind.

After half an hour, Asmodeus returned with a fine mahogany bookstand. He laid it before Aksinya outside the circle and pentagram. She watched him carefully. She reached out and picked it up and placed it in front of her. She put her book on it and opened to the right page.

“I know what you are thinking, countess.”

“Perhaps you do and perhaps you do not. You are practiced at lying, demon. I didn’t trust you before, and I trust you even less now. Don’t bother me while I am at this work. Tell me the girl’s name.”

“You don’t need her name to do this.”

Aksinya barked, “But I want to know it, and I want to call her by name. That is a surety in this business.”

“Very well. Her name is the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska.”

Aksinya turned a little toward the demon, “Is she the illegitimate daughter of Prince Aleksander Simonovich Andronikov?”

“Yes, very perceptive of you. How did you know?”

“Her patronymic and her family name. There was a rumor in the court about a Lady Obolenska. Does Lady Natalya know?”

“She is pleasantly unaware but suspicious. She only knows her mother abandoned her, and that she is a servant in the house of Prince Aleksander Simonovich Andronikov. She is a brilliant girl whose intellect is well above those she waits on. She doesn’t yet realize she hates them for this reason.”

“Do you know I am beginning to despise you, demon.”

“Only beginning. I though your hatred would be well grounded by now. Wrath is one of the seven deadly you know.”

Aksinya clenched her fists, “Yes, I know.” She pulled herself up to her full height, “You brought me out here to this place. Light my tallow candle. I can’t light it in this wind.”

“I cannot light anything within the magic circle, and I can’t continue to keep it lit when it is inside.”

Aksinya hid her smile from him, “Then find me something to block the wind.”

Asmodeus opened his chest and pulled out a heavy candle lantern. Aksinya recognized it from the cellar of her house. He placed the lantern outside the circle, and Aksinya retrieved it. She put her candle inside and lit it. When each thing was in its place she began to speak the Latin words.

As I mentioned and as a contributor suggested, objects in the text tie the scenes and tie the ultimate secrets Aksinya discovers about the demon.  The question I want my readers to ask themselves at this point is the same one Aksinya is asking herself--why didn't/couldn't the demon bring her bookstand?

Friday, October 22, 2010

A New Novel, Part 19 Coercion

I love this scene.  It is pivotal for more than one reason.  I think this will get the demon's point across to you and to Aksinya.

They retraced their steps to the chest and Asmodeus put it over his shoulders, “Follow me, countess. I will show you what to do next.”

Aksinya muttered under her breath, “I’m not sure I want to know what to do next.”

“You don’t have to speak your thoughts aloud for me to know them, and muttering behind my back is certainly not polite.”

“I didn’t intend to be polite to you.”

“I know.”

Aksinya followed the demon out of the alley and into the street. The wind had started to rise. Aksinya didn’t notice it at the back of the house. Now, it howled down the cobblestone streets. It was bitter and cold and foretold the winter that was already upon them. They walked past many great houses until they arrived at a large cemetery.

Aksinya stopped and glanced around, “Here?”

“Yes, here.”

“I am so tired. What do you want me to do?”

“Follow me.” The demon led her into the cemetery and toward its center. They came to a large area of flat stone that was very smooth. It had been finished with heavy mortar. Ice and snow didn’t cover it. The demon stopped and put the chest down on the snow covered grass.

Aksinya stumbled to the smooth area and stopped. She wrapped the fur coat more tightly around her, “I am cold, and I am tired of walking. Can’t we eat and find an inn? Please, I’m freezing.”

“Good. You are tired, hungry, and cold. This will make it much easier for me.”

“Wha…what do you mean?”

“You saw the girl. I want you to call her here.”

Aksinya shook her head, “Call her here? Why call her here?”

“That girl seeks power. She has never seen true power. You, countess, have true power. I want you to call her here with your sorcery and let her see your power.”

Aksinya’s hand moved slowly to her mouth, “That’s what you meant when you said you wanted to tempt her to follow me?”

“You are a smart young woman when you put your mind to it. I’m surprised I can tempt you so easily.”

“I won’t do it.”

Asmodeus stood. He raised his arms. He made a motion like he was pulling something through the air. Suddenly, he held the thick warm coat that had been around Aksinya’s shoulders. Asmodeus stroked the coat, “It is still warm from your body. Are you cold countess?”

Aksinya shivered, “You are supposed to protect me. How is this protecting me?”

“You aren’t dead. I never said I was here to prevent you from suffering. Didn’t the great pain and agony you already experienced in your legs teach you that? To achieve my ends, I’m willing to let you suffer quite a lot.”

Aksinya stepped toward the demon, “I order you to give me my coat.”

Asmodeus opened the chest and threw it inside. He closed the chest with a snap, “Get it yourself.”

Aksinya ran to the chest and tried to open it. It was solidly locked. She couldn’t budge the latch.

Asmodeus laughed, “Are you cold enough.”

Aksinya’s teach chattered, but she didn’t answer.

Asmodeus raised his arms and made another motion. Aksinya almost fell. The demon held her high-button shoes and her stockings. Aksinya grabbed for them, “Give them back to me. They are mine, not yours.”

Asmodeus only laughed and the shoes and stockings followed the coat into his chest.

“Čort poberí! Give me my shoes and coat.”

“Cursing me will do you no good. Plus, I am a devil already.”

“Give them to me.”

“Are you still not convinced?” The demon lifted his hands again. He raised them, and he held Aksinya’s dress and petticoats in his claws.

Aksinya stared at him in dismay. She wrapped her arms over bare breasts and tried to cover herself. She crouched on the stone and tired to make her naked body as small as she could. The wind whistled around her. She cried out, “I am your master. We have a contract. I order you to give me back my clothing.”

“I can’t hear you mistress.” Asmodeus examined his claws, “Countess, you won’t freeze for a long time, but you will be very uncomfortable. I know nudity bothers you. I know you hate your naked body. Ah, there you are, your worst nightmare.”

“Why won’t you obey me? Why won’t you do as I ask? Our contact requires it.”

“You should have read the contract more thoroughly. It requires me to do evil in your name. This isn’t evil. I am at liberty to serve you as I choose in all other things. If you asked me to do evil, I can certainly accommodate you. If you ask me to take the clothing from someone else or to steal it, I gladly will. However, that will be laid against your accounting. There are some other rules. Particularly, I’ve already told you, I can’t murder the innocent. For you, I can murder those who are not innocent. I can deliver torture as you desire but only in proportion to the sins a person has committed in this life. You dear countess have committed grave sins, and so I may torture you, but… I don’t wish to torture you.”

Aksinya crouched and whimpered on the pavement.

“Can’t you speak, countess. You are usually very fond of it.”

“Čort poberí! Čort poberí! Čort poberí!.”

“I told you I am already damned. Cursing will do you no good.”

Her voice was weaker, “Merde, merde, merde.”

“Changing the language you curse me will do you no good.”

Aksinya bit her lip, “Promise me you will not harm this girl.”

“I will not harm her.”

She screamed, “Swear it.”

“I swear I will not harm her, countess. You will.”

Aksinya lowered her head, “I will take it on myself. I will do as you ask.”

Next we will see the calling of the servant.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A New Novel, Part 18 More Answers

Some more questions and comments from a reader of this blog.

Interesting discussion on 'setting the scene'. A few question some to mind:

1. How do you know when you've got 'just enough' vs too much info to set the stage and pique the reader's, get the milieu (world) of the scene's story?
I don't.  I rely on two things: 1. does it entertain me, 2. Does it entertain my prepub readers.  I think I'm harder than anyone else on my own writing.  If I don't feel that it is entertaining, I write it over and over again until it feels right.  In terms of setting the scene, as opposed to the interest of the reader, I do know what to do for that, and I am constantly tweaking the writing to improve it.  The first is this: the scene must be set in terms of time (date and time of day), place (environment, weather, all the details), characters (appearance, clothing, equipment), and reason.  This information doesn't have to be recited right at the beginning, but it has to be put right up front and focus the reader.  It is like a stage play.  The play can't go one until the stage is set (not an empty stage here).  The scene like a stage must be set.  The writer has powerful tools that can allow the reader to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste everything that is going on in the scene.  You have written enough when your readers can experience the scene through all of their senses. 

2. Just as a novel has a whole structure, prume,so does each individual scene. So wondering, do you have a general rule of thumb which stipulates how much attention, to spend on developing a given scene?
(I'm not talking about short transitional scenes, which simply bridge, and don't require special treatment...I'm talking about substantial scenes.)
To me all scenes are substantial.  In other words, if the novel is unchanged when the scene is left out, then the scene is unnecessary and should be left out.  Even a "bridging" scene must be important.  I try to make them important or I try to fit them at the end or beginning of an important event.  So each scene theoretically gets the same attention as every other one.  That doesn't happen.  Pivotal scenes are just that, they are so important that I can't help but think about them for days until they are written.  Sometimes I find that unprogressive.  I make lots of notes and hope I don't lose the strength of the writing before the scene comes together.  The trick it to try to give as much attention to those scene leading and following a pivotal scene to ensure they are strong in themselves.

Also, I presume, you've got an objective or need for each character in a scene...and, you're trying to create rising tension..(to satisfy the need) throughout the scene's progression....
This is a great point.  Like the purpose of the scene itself in the novel, every word is carefully chosen, each bit of punctuation is placed to make the most of the entire scene.  Likewise the characters are each necessary, their entry is specific and their descriptions are critical.  I use the Arlo Guthrie method of introducing a character (and place) with at least 100 to 300 words of description.  This ensures the placement of the character and the theme.  After the place and the character is introduced the first time, you may then use defining characteristics to set the character or the scene the next time you bring them on stage.  For example, if a character has a big nose, you can easily wax eloquent about the nose in the first introduction.  You then just make the point about Lou's big nose when you bring him back again.  That allows your readers to immediately see the character in their mind again.  For a place the description might be the smell of the mold from the old furniture.  When you go back to the house, a reminder about the smell sets the scene again.  One thing I dislike in some authors is that they fail to introduce or reintroduce their characters properly.  I get confused when confronted with just a name without any description.  Writing without sufficient description is like a blank mask on your characters or an empty stage. 

3. Do you primarily use dialogue or actions of the characters to create a compelling scene? Rule of thumb, or ratio?
I try to make all the writing dialog or action narrative.  In other words, if the story isn't going through with dialog, it's because it is moving with action (showing you what is happening).  I prefer dialog.  To me, dialog is truly life.  This is how the world really runs.  Who cares what a person did. What is more compelling is when that person tells why they did it to another person--or lies about it.  That's when you begin to understand about the characters.  There is no ratio, but I find that 80 percent of my writing or more is dialog.

4. Do you give alot of thought, to the "point of attack" ...the point at which you have the character enter the scene? Is it usually at an entry point, mid point or exit point of a scene? Any rule of thumb?
Ah, these are screenplay terms.  In general, the setup for a scene is at least one character.  The other characters enter based solely on the storyline for the scene.  So, in my way of looking at scenes, I have a scene input and a scene output.  The point is the input and the output.  The stuff in between is the storyline.  That storyline must fit into the plot, and that plot must fit into the theme.  So they enter and exit just based on these points.  I'm not sure I can be more general than that.  Let me use the example of the very first chapter and scene of Daemon.  We have Aksinya conjuring a demon.  The scene is set.  Aksinya goes about her business and you have a demon.  The input of the scene is Aksinya's sorcery.  The output is the contract with the demon.  The demon appears at just the important point in the scene.  His appearance supports the storyline, plot, and theme. 

5. How much attention to you give to the "back story" or exposition? that is... elements of the character's biography that are crucial to the story developing?
Obviously, good (believable) novel & screenplays contains back story because every believable character brings a certain amount of baggage to a drama.
I want to give these details through mostly dialog with other characters.  In other words, you get it when the other characters in the novel get it.  This goes back to my point that I want my readers to know as much as the characters in the story know.  I don't like omniscient storylines.  In Daemon, at the beginning, I do give you some information about Aksinya's back story as description--that's because the reader needs some tangible info to set the scene.  Note, I don't give you anything about he demon except external description.  And all you get from that point is almost 100% external description and dialog.  Thus in dialog, you learn so much more about Aksinya.  That's the trick, every time she opens her mouth, you learn a little more about her.  Some of it is back story.  Some is mundane, but you find out what moves her soul.

6. What are some effective ways of weaving different scenes and storylines together?
Wow, this is a very hard question to answer.  The primary means is through the characters themselves.  The last time I addressed comments, there were some wonderful points about items--things.  I said watch for them in the development of the novel.  Items, like those mentioned before--we will see a bookstand becomes an item that weaves the scenes and storylines together.  A crucifix will do the same.  Aksinya's mother's dresses.  Sorcery weaves together the overall scenes and storyline.  The idea of temptation.  Like the multiple levels of the plot that I am trying to write into this novel, the multiple characters, items, and ideas provide the glue that holds the scenes and storyline together.

7. Do you have a preferred technique for revealing facts about a, props, clothing, makeup, language (accent), behavior, musing, dialogue?.
I love to use language differences to bring out compelling things about a person.  The wrapper is important to me, but not as important as the words.  When Aksinya tells the demon to "shut up," you know he has touched a nerve.  I don't have to have her say anything else.
I suspect most back story, however, is conveyed through dialogue. After all, good exposition doesn't stick is presented in a believable context.
Yes, great observation.  Mostly through dialog, some through description.
(Suspect it's easy to overload the reader with too much information.)
I'm not sure that is possible with dialog.  It is certainly possible with description.  The point of dialog is that it is ultimately entertaining.  Just as we like to discuss subjects, readers like to eavesdrop on the character's discussions.  If the dialog is entertaining, the reader won't care how much information you are pumping out.  In fact, the information flow can be enormous and as long as the reader is entertained with the repartee, they won't get tired of it.  For example, in the last bit of dialog between Aksinya and the demon, I laid a bunch of heavy stuff on the reader. 

“No! I haven’t rejected Him. I believe in Him. How could I not believe—I’ve seen demons. If there are demons, there is God.” She glanced down, “I don’t trust Him. I knew He would fail me. I didn’t expect you to fail me or my own strength to fail me.”
Asmodeus picked his teeth with a claw, “I didn’t fail you—you called me too late. You failed, Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna. I didn’t fail and that guy didn’t fail—you failed. Come, you’ve seen her. Now is the time to go.”

You have to admit, this is some really deep dodo.  The reader may or may not take the time to think about these statements.  I do believe they are entertaining in themselves, so most readers will just keep reading, entertained and yet musing about the astounding things the demon and Aksinya just said to one another.

8. Do you tend to reveal background info early in the story, but, withhold certain facts for dramatic effect. I've heard come writers say secrets are the most powerful form of back story, and whole dramas can revolve around them. Do you employ it, often?
I suspect, knowing how and when to expose details about a character's past is a real art form.
I don't call them secrets (although that is a perfect characterization of it).  As I mentioned, I don't want my readers to know more than the characters in the story.  Now, we know there are things the characters haven't shared with us--like Aksinya's real father.  You might have guessed there is an issue here.  I may not have laid enough clues.  That's what further run throughs do is allow the writer to improve the foreshadowing and the proper revelation of these points.  Indeed a secretive character might have secrets and a nonsecretive character might have secrets.  The point is that we never know all of anyone's "secrets" even if we know them well.  The same is true for characters in a novel--we don't know everything about them and, indeed, those things of importance to the plot are revealed in their proper time.  Just like the observation of the servant in the last installment.  I've tried to excite the readers about who this servant is and the proper revelation of these points.  Indeed a secretive character might have secrets and a nonsecretive character might have secrets.  The point is that we never know all of anyone's "secrets" even if we know them well.  The same is true for characters in a novel--we don't know everything about them and, indeed, those things of importance to the plot are revealed in their proper time.  Just like the observation of the servant in the last installment.  I've tried to excite the readers about who this servant might be.  I didn't give any clues at all.  The demon didn't drop hardly any.  When you finally see her, what is your response?  Relief? Fear? Wonder? Excitement?  Does it make you wonder more, like Aksinya, just who is this servant?

9. Do you employ set-ups & pay offs; like screen writers do? That is, a set up introduces a bit of action, that will become significant later on and lead to a pay-off.
Yes, big time.  I just don't refer to them as setups and pay offs.  Generally, the foreshadowing, items, characters, settings in a scene are all setups for further scenes.  Just as the dresses and the jewelry boxes mentioned in chapter two, the sorcery books and items in chapter one, the hunger, cold, and tiredness of Aksinya in chapter three everything is a setup.  Each will bring some large or small pay off.  Otherwise, what's the point of mentioning it.
10. Do you usually close out a scene on a button? You know, something to seal off the scene with a punch....maybe, some type of narrative tool to make the scene stand out, and alone.
More screenplay terms.  Yes, I attempt to close out every scene with a specific punch.  No scene should just peter out.  They have to have some tight ending to wrap them up and push the reader into the next scene.
The true end of the last scene I gave you:
“Close your mouth, Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna, now is the time for us to act.”

“I don’t understand you at all.”
“You will.” - there is your "button"

The one prior:
Aksinya watched him move toward the back of the house.  When he was out of sight, she sat on the chest.  After a bit, she curled up on the top of it and pulled the coat close.  Her breath came in white clouds.  She closed her eyes. - there is the "button"  She closes her eyes and that closes the scene.

Prior to that:
The streetcar came up, and they boarded.  Asmodeus paid the fare.  They rode the streetcar past the city center and out toward the west side.  Aksinya sat and Asmodeus stood.  Certainly the world changed to accommodate a nearly seven foot tall demon who carried a gigantic chest on his shoulders.  He seemed to fit on the streetcar without trouble.  The entire world suddenly seemed less solid to Aksinya than ever before. - the "button"
The end of each scene is unique.  It leaves a thought in the mind of the reader, or it closes the scene like a curtian on a stage.

That's it until tomorrow.  I'm trying to decide how to break up the next very important (pivotal) scene.  This is where Aksinya calls her servant.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A New Novel, Part 17 The Servant

Here is the next installment.  I have some more comments and questions to answer.  I'll get to those tomorrow.  To bring you up to date, the Demon, Asmodeus and his mistress, Aksinya have traveled to Minsk.  The demon wants a servant for Aksinya.

The next thing she knew, Asmodeus was shaking her, “Wake up, countess. I found her. She is just what I expected. I want you to see her too.”

“I just want to sleep.”

“You may sleep all you desire when we have your servant. I will let you sleep the whole day away if you wish.”

Aksinya sat up, and the coat fell from her shoulders. She shivered and pulled it back on. She tied the clasp at the top then she jumped off the chest, “Take me where you want to go, demon.”

The demon led her to the back of the great house. They climbed a wall and walked along it to the window of the dining room. The curtains were not drawn, and they could observe the entire family around the table.

Aksinya stared at the people around the table, “I recognize them.”

“You should.”

“That is the family of Prince Aleksander Simonovich Andronikov. I know them. They visited us at my father’s estate before.”

“Your estate now…” the demon purred. He continued, “They are an aristocratic family, a royal family. They have a servant who takes care of their daughters and waits on the Prince’s wife. She is a lady-in-waiting, and here she is. Near the head of the table, the door opened. It wasn’t a door for a servant since the top was rounded. The girl who came in was petite and beautiful. Her hair was dark and silky. Her eyes were luminous. Her skin was pale and smooth. In all, she appeared very aristocratic and refined. Her clothing, likewise, though not as expensive as the gowns of the ladies around the table, fit her perfectly and brought out the best in her figure and features. It was not unusual that when she entered, the eye of every man and every woman turned toward her. She whispered to one of the older women at the table and sat against the wall behind her.

Asmodeus whispered, “That’s the one.”

“Why her?”

“She has all the skills required to look after you.”

Aksinya’s voice was bland, “What’s wrong with her?”


“There must be something.”

“She is the lady-in-waiting to the ladies in a great house, a royal household. She is refined, beautiful, industrious, kind…”

“Everything I am not.”

Asmodeus was silent.

“What is wrong with her?”

“Nothing is wrong with her.”

“Then she must be evil.”

“No more than you.”

“Zatknis'! I order you to tell me what’s wrong with her.”

Asmodeus turned his head away, “Like you, she seeks some power beyond herself. She hasn’t found it yet. The desire is so great in her that it calls out to me.”

“Because you wish to tempt her into some sin.”

“Specifically because I wish to tempt her into the sin of following you.”

Aksinya froze, “Why would it be a sin to follow me?”

Asmodeus didn’t respond.

“Answer me. Why would it be a sin to follow me?”

Asmodeus didn’t speak.

Aksinya let out a shuddering breath, “So her problem is that she seeks a power beyond herself. What about God, the Church.”

“Ha, that guy isn’t for everyone. Haven’t you rejected Him?”

“No! I haven’t rejected Him. I believe in Him. How could I not believe—I’ve seen demons. If there are demons, there is God.” She glanced down, “I don’t trust Him. I knew He would fail me. I didn’t expect you to fail me or my own strength to fail me too.”

Asmodeus picked his teeth with a claw, “I didn’t fail you—you called me too late. You failed, Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna. I didn’t fail and that guy didn’t fail—you failed. Come, you’ve seen her. Now is the time to go.”

“Go where? You said you would make her my servant.”

“I said no such thing. You will make her your servant.”

Aksinya stared at him open mouthed.

“Close your mouth, Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna, now is the time for us to act.”

“I don’t understand you at all.”

“You will.”

They retraced their steps to the chest, and Asmodeus put it over his shoulders, “Follow me, countess. I will show you what to do next.”

This short scene is so full of fun stuff, I don't know where to begin.  The best is the point the demon makes, that he wishes to tempt the girl into the sin of following Aksinya.  We will soon see how he will achieve that end.  The second is that God and the demon didn't fail Aksinya--she herself failed.  Plus her own confession that she believes in God, but she doesn't trust him.  How Aksinya is like so many of us.  She can speak in the presence of the demon all the fears and thoughts everyone has but is afraid to say.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A New Novel, Part 16 Comments and Questions

I've been passing a little bit of my new novel, Daemon each day.  Today, I'm going to answer some questions and comments from a reader.  My comments/answers are in italics.

Have been enjoying each new installment on your novel; and, have a few comments, and questions, I'd like to share w/ you. I warn you up front, these are just 'free flowing' ideas, opinions & questions, jump backward/forward in your unfolding novel.  I like any comments/questions--even if they are criticism.  This way I can improve the writing.

Big picture, my questions all center around the theme of how/why the girl is being tricked, controlled & progressively conditioned by the demon, both by his word, his act & the surrounding; and, why she doesn't appear to recognize it's going on.  The novel has just begun, she is young, and I have been feeding only about one page a day lately.  In novel time, she has only been with the demon a few days.  I want to really place the hook before I give Aksinya any line.  This lets the reader see the character of the girl and the demon.  I do understand your frustration.  I have to control myself in the writing all the time.  I want to resolve each situation and let her have some upper hand in the incidents.  That will not happen until chapter 8--I just wrote a pivotal scene there.  Part of the point is to let the reader see the methods the demon uses to tempt.  I still have many methods to get through.  In the current chapter we will see a blatant one.  Most of the early methods have been subtle or tricks.

1. Can you explain why more warning flags aren't being raised in her, realizing that demon is tricking, tempting and conditioning her? ( Restated another way, is it too early in the story's development for her to start mulling over the recent events in her mind's eye, to start to look for clues, or examples of the half truths, or whole lies, the demon's is spinning? )  I like your observation because, as I revealed (perhaps too much) the demon almost always lies.  He does not tell her the truth.  He is a perfect observer of human activity and emotions (as you would expect), but can he really read her mind?  That is still in question.  She begins to catch a clue in this chapter (chapter 3).  Unfortunately, she can't do much about it yet, but she does plan and begin to act.  We will see the beginning of her actions soon.  Part of the problem is that she is unsure if the demon knows her thoughts.  Plus there is the shock factor.  I tried to show this in her lack of interest in life after the death of her family.  She has little motivation--revelation, I tried to show that the demon motivated her when she just wanted to curl up and die.  Kind of a paradox that the demon would seek to encourage her.  This is part of the bounding of the demon's abilities.  We will see more of this.  As Aksinya learns about the demon's limitations, we will also learn about them.

2. Reason I ask, it is clear to me, the demon is attempting to making subtle claims of semi-omniscience (all knowing)....or should I say, more precisely, implied claims at inherent omniscience (reads her mind) vs total omniscience (reserved for God). But, she doesn't seem to grasp that. Why?  Great observation.  I tried to show subtle hints that she is realizing it a little.  The key was even his initial claims that she refuted, "You weren't there at the beginning..." etc. 

To elaborate: Why isn't the girl starting to question the demon's claims, actions & authority over her, over their physical world? Why doesn't she begin to challenge his claims more, "read my mind". Or perhaps, command him to retrieve multiple objects from her home, from the chest he carries..... to either validate or invalidate his (implicit) claims at semi-omnipotence.....w/ his many feats, and abilities. That's coming.  I'm trying to place little clues for the reader and Aksinya.

3. Speaking of the demon retrieving & storing the objects from her home... that whole scene seemed a bit extraordinary...awfully hard to swallow. Now, I realize we're dealing with the supernatural world here, but, stuffing everything into a chest? Is it really happening? is it a illusion or deception? Is it (chest) a portal to another supernatural realm? Doesn't it warrant further elaboration, for the sake of reader? (Maybe, ref. to past demonic folk lore, or Russian folk lore, etc.) This is a great question, and likely the writing requires more elaboration.  There are some great Russian tales that talk about sacks and closets that can fit unbelievable amounts.  I like the idea of presenting more information--especially related to Russian folklore.  On the other hand, I don't want to give too much explanation.  Part of the excitement of this kind of book is that there aren't pat explanations.  There are inexplicable mysteries.  For example, I intentionally don't give any of the spells in Latin or English, the reason is that I want the reader to imagine the words without having to try to develop some fancy phrase that locks the verbiage and the ideas of the reader.  There is also another aspect of the chest--it is supposed to be funny.  It is really a subtle joke, but when I told you the demon was carrying a chest on his shoulders filled with all of Aksinya's family's goods (including the carriage), in my mind, that's just funny.

5. Also, speaking of objects from her home, why didn't you have the girl walk through her home, gazing upon different family objects in different rooms, to evoke memories...which will be later explored..maybe a source of happiness, hurt or longing.....which helps maybe explain her family relationships, or why she turned to sorcery in the 1st place. Yes, I noticed some subtle clues, regarding her sense of self identity, her description of herself in the mirror, etc; but, not much explored. I think that was a missed, golden opportunity. This is a great idea.  I intentionally didn't have her walk through at the beginning.  I may have made a mistake, but my reason is that I wanted to move the novel along at first.  This is the kind of novel where there are not many action scenes.  I'm trying to pace the action vs. less action scenes to properly pace the novel.  We shall see if that is a good balance or not.  She will walk through the belongings later and in another location, chapter 7, I think. 

6. Have you considered her retrieving a family artifact of (implied) spiritual or social significance, say a family photo, crest, locket, or photo that (perhaps) might speak to her mother's (Orthodox) background, or her father's background. Great idea.  Since I've already written the next parts I can tell you, in this chapter she will make a connection with an item (a bookstand) and that is the beginning of many of the answers to the questions/comments above.  Next, she will make more connections with her mother's possessions--a crucifix to be exact.  That is already happening with the dresses.  The demon delays some of this action, but we will not be certain if he is doing that on purpose.  There is also the connection with the demon's surety--the locket.  I dropped that early, and intentionally, but I didn't complete the idea.  That's a fix that is required in the early chapters.

(You know, an object, that may be a key for future use, coinage for future passage, or signpost for redemption etc) Definitely.  I like the way you are thinking, it shows I am getting across the points of the story.  I do want the reader to anticipate, but I don't want the reader to predict.  Predictability is death to a great novel--anticipation is life.

Such a a symbolic item, whether it be a physical key, a locket, a dress or a family crest, could be stashed, ignored by the demon, and later retrieved by the girl..or, periodically pulled out, considered, mulled over. ( Sorta like the Ring, in the Hobbit..or the war/healing equip Aslan gave the Naria children to combat evil. )
I like this idea.  I haven't included this much.  In general, the item specifically will cause her much pain.  The mulling over and considering is a great idea--I will include that.
Or it could be something to wake her up from her evil stupor, say a childhood creed, or poem or memory.... (such as the name of Aslan called out by the Prince, in the Silver Chair). Or maybe, something to act as a symbolic sign post... to help point her back in the direction of repentance & redemption. Yes, definitely.  I won't use just one.  The problems Aksinya is encountering are not solved simply.  I have to take her a long ways along the path before she can begin to have some success.  Plus, there is her problem... 

Could be as benign as an old child's dairy, which the demon overlooks, w/ words or creed or child's prayer, from her mother's Orthodox faith. Anything benign, which is now brought along, largely neglected, but eventually act as an 'ace in the hole' to help her combat the demon, in that final fight for control/contract over her soul & spirit.  Great ideas.

7. Are you intending to place the girl through a series of temptations, each linked to one of the (7) deadly sins, or simply focus on one of the seven sins? If so, which one? Is it a secret for the reader to unravel over time...with hints, clues, etc.? Revelation here.  Generally, the demon is trying to get her to sin intentionally without his intervention.  I'm revealing a lot here.  The worse sins against other humans are murder and adultery.  These are the specific sins the demon will try to get her to do.  The means of temptation will be the seven deadly.  This is one of the points I am trying to make, the seven deadly are really temptations, the sin are the actions as a result.  The demon's specialty is lust.  This is a theme in the novel.  Aksinya's problem is luxaria which is overall lust.  His temptations will be related to this idea. 

The reason I ask; the choice of temptation of f1 deadly sin vs 7 deadly sins will greatly influence the storyline, character development, scenes, the dialogue between the demon & girl, and the private musings or thoughts that are in her mind. And, it will greatly influence, how the reader picks up on these clues. I try to not have any private musings.  There will be a few, but very few.  In general, the entire story should reveal itself through the conversations and actions of the characters.

8. Related question, what is the primary purpose of the successive temptations? Is it to move the story forward, temptation to temptation, or to incrementally highlight the moral & spiritual decline she's well as more fully expose her vulnerability? This is a great observation/question.  In general, I've set up the situation that Aksinya has reached the bottom of her decline.  Her problems are specifically related to sorcery--this is her issue.  The demon's temptations are to make her sin.  The storyline moves because of these temptations.  Therefore, that is the exact point.  The plot moves on many levels--one of these levels is the temptations the demon places before Aksinya.  He gives her few choices and tries to drive her into a corner.  In many cases, we will see, as the demon sees, she does not really sin.  In the words of the rabbis, coerced sin is not sin.  For example, killing in defense is not sin.  Killing in defense of others is not necessarily a sin.  While the demon seeks her decline, she is struggling to fight him and to fight against his temptations. 

Kind of like Edmond (Narnia), craving/eating Turkish Delight, though the more he is taken in by temptation, the more he wants, and desire it, a powerful drug that toxifies his soul, into abandonment of all he hold dear, and virtual slavery (to the wicked white witch).  Yes, this is sorcery to Aksinya.  Later when we see how it motivates her and controls her.

9. Please discuss the different plot devices, and mechanisms you've employed to highlight (underscore) her growing dependence on the demon. From the mundane (physical needs) to the more elaborate (sorcery)... to heal her bruises.  This is a great observation.  The demon is playing her.  I really don't want to reveal too much yet because we haven't even seen her servant and we certainly haven't seen much of the gamut of his temptations.  I will make some general comments, perhaps too revealing.  One of the major plot devices is the puppy dog ploy (I promise it won't be tasteless or so direct in the book).  in the puppy dog ploy, a controlling character gives the dependent character a dog (something to love).  The point is for the dependent character to become dependent on the dog.  The controlling character then uses threats against the dog, attacks against the dog, and threats to take the dog away to further torment and control the dependent character.  We have already seen the demon do this.  He first grovels before her and tells her he can read her mind.  Next, he takes care of her and seems to sympathize with her.  He injures her--he did this intentionally knowing how he could use it.  He suggests revenge when she is at her lowest point, and she agrees to murder of those who killed her family.  He tempts her to sorcery by mentioning how it can heal her.  Again, he caters to her needs to bring out her pain and suffering.  The only reason he drew her bath was to ease her mind and let her temptations grow.  He fed her so she would eventually feel more pain.  His point, in every case was not for her benefit, but rather to drive her to do as he wished--to sin.  He intentionally tricked her to luxuria by leading her to choose to take everything from the house.  He used her vanity to trick her into using sorcery to assuage her curiosity and know what he looked like in the streets of Minsk.  Right now, in Minsk, we know she is cold, she is hungry, she has been walking all day.  The demon could feed her, carry her, clothe her, warm her.  He doesn't do any of these things and he doesn't give her any idea that he can, or that she can relieve her own suffering.  

10. Very interested in your use of sorcery (witchcraft); would be delightful if you took the time to speak about it's historical, anthropological, religious & mythological contexts...within this story, given it's setting, era, religion, etc? I should go back a little and add more.  I did plan to explain more later in the book.  I hope that will be sufficient.  We will see that Aksinya will be called and demanded to teach sorcery to others.  This will allow me to explain some of the bounds.  By the way, I use Frazier's ideas from The Golden Bough for my magical (sorcery) concepts.  This is the basis for most thought about this subject.

11. I like the metaphor of sorcery as a drug she takes, to alleviate her physical & emotional discomfort is great...but, is much more than a simple metaphor...especially if the reader take the time to research the root words of both...drugs & sorcery.  Wonderful observation.  We will see that Aksinya's real problem is sorcery.  She is good at it, and she is driven to it.  Her most difficult problem will be her desire for sorcery.

Sorcery is like a drug, prescribe by the demon go gain control over her, but, she's undertaking it to alleviate her physical & emotional ailment. She's taking it in limited duration, but, becoming more clear, she's becoming addicted to it; foresee, it will become taken on a more regular basis, justified to combat her chronic, than, that leads the reader to ask....what is her 'chronic disorder?" That is a fantastic question.  I'm not sure I want to reveal this at this point.  One could observe that all sin is a lack of proper relationship with the Creator.  I think I'll leave it at that for now.  I do not intend a perfectly clean end to everything.  I don't believe in such things.  There is never perfect resolution in any human life.  In salvation resides the propensity to sin.  In redemption is still temptation and failure to act in a redeemed manner.

You've been given several little clues...

Thanks for reading and thanks for the questions.  I tried to formulate answers that are cogent and reasonable.  I hope they are as helpful as the questions/comments have been for me.  More from chapter 3 tomorrow.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A New Novel, Part 15 The Demon's Observation

One point I want you to note in the writing is a technique I use that you could call constant scene setting.  You can see it very clearly in the last piece, but you can observe it in this piece too.  I constantly remind my readers what the characters are doing and what they look like.  The purpose in this is to help the reader visualize the characters.  I can do this with a simple single statement or a little beat--for example, Asmodeus examined his claws.  This reminds you that he is a demon and has claws instead of finger nails.  When I mention something even as simple as this, you remember the demon and visualize him.  In the last example and this one too, I remind you about the chest.  A simple mention of the large chest reminds you that the demon is walking with the chest on his shoulders--first you visualize it, and second, you realize how odd everything is: a demon and a girl walking the streets of Minsk.  It isn't a joke, but reminding the reader puts everything back into context.  One of the things I hate about some writing and especially poorly executed writing is where the author doesn't set the scene properly or remind you about important characteristics in the scene.  You are going along with the narrative and suddenly a character pulls out something and you wonder--where the heck did that come from.  The author could have given a foreshadowing or at least mentioned the object or the whatever before at some point.  This is another reason for constant scene setting.

Asmodeus woke Aksinya. She lifted her head and stretched. The streetcar was almost empty. They arrived on a quiet street well to the west of the city center. It was a wealthy neighborhood. Aksinya recognized many of the names and coats of arms on the large houses. The demon led again when they exited the streetcar. Aksinya complained, “When are we going to stop. I’m hungry, and I want a bath. I’m sleepy. It’s night. We can’t keep walking forever.”

The demon turned his head to give her a look but didn’t stop.

Aksinya glared at him, “I can’t keep walking forever.”

“I wish to finish this business tonight. I do not want to have to draw your bath or serve your food again.”

“Why does this have to be about what you want? You are my servant.”

“Already, I have shown you the things I can tempt you to do. Don’t you realize yet, you are the mistress of a demon. I tempt humans into sin. I have tempted you into sin after sin. I will continue to do this, and if you don’t grant me this simple desire, it will be more than the grave sin of sorcery and onanism that you will be guilty of. You chose this, I did not.”

“Onanism is not a sin.”

“You believe it is.”

Aksinya struggled to catch up to him. He stopped at a very great house. It was fully lighted with gas lights and some electrical ones. Asmodeus stared at the place for a while then he led Aksinya to an alley at the far side. He put down the chest and sighed, “Now, countess, please wait here a moment while I check on your servant.”

“Please don’t be all night. It is getting colder.”

The demon opened the chest and pulled out a heavy long mink coat that had been Aksinya’s mother’s. Asmodeus put it over her shoulders then he closed the chest, “I will not be long.”

Aksinya watched him move toward the back of the house. When he was out of sight, she sat on the chest. After a bit, she curled up on the top of it and pulled the coat close. Her breath came in white clouds. She closed her eyes.

The next scene we will observe Asmodeus choice of servant for Aksinya.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A New Novel, Part 14 In Minsk

Now you get to see Asmodeus use a new technique to get Aksinya to sin.  Watch closely.  I'll start back with the rest of the paragraph.  As you remember, the demon led her to Minsk and they are now traveling in the city--they are looking for a servant for Aksinya.

The demon smiled and turned. He started out again along the side of the road. Aksinya heard a couple of snide remarks, but no one followed them or threatened her. As they went deeper into the city, Asmodeus led her to a streetcar stop. They waited there for a streetcar. Aksinya gladly sank onto the bench while the demon stood beside her. On the way, he had returned to his normal form, at least in her sight. She could not ever forget that he could change his form and perhaps hers. That made her think. “Demon.”

“Yes, countess.”

“How can I see the form you present whenever I want to?”

“Ah, I’d rather not say.”

“But I want to know. I order you to tell me.”

“There is perhaps a phrase in one of your books that would do quite well.”

Aksinya let a Latin phrase trip off her lips. Immediately she could see the demon in his current guise. “That will do satisfactorily. Thank you, demon.”

“And thank you countess. It is indeed a pleasure to see you accomplish sorcery.”

Aksinya sucked in her breath, “You tricked me.”

“Again, yes. You feel desire again too.”

Aksinya blushed and squirmed in her seat, “Not at all.”

The streetcar came up, and they boarded. Asmodeus paid the fare. They rode the streetcar past the city center and out toward the west side. Aksinya sat and Asmodeus stood. Certainly the world changed to accommodate a nearly seven foot tall demon who carried a gigantic chest on his shoulders. He seemed to fit on the streetcar without trouble. The entire world suddenly seemed less solid to Aksinya than ever before.

The trick in the writing is to constantly try to surprise you just as Aksinya is surprised.  I hope these little events sneak up on you.  Are you watching the demon closely--you know he lies, and you know his purpose is to tempt into sin.  If you keep this clear in your mind, everything he does or doesn't do will become very clear.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A New Novel, Part 13 Minsk

We left Aksinya and the demon in the city of Minsk.  That's a place in Russia, actually Belarus, but that was part of Russia at the time.  I will likely ask my publisher to include a simple map when the work is eventually published.  Minsk is a rather large city.  I tried to capture it at a time without too much turmoil due to the Russian revolution.  I like to use foreign language term when they seem appropriate.  Here I began to use the term, Zatknis'!   Zatknis'! means "shut up" in Russian.  Later in this chapter I use some great Russian curses and a little French.  My publisher doesn't allow English curse words in the writing.  They have allowed me to use French words.  The settings and use of the words are very appropriate.  In the published version, they will be footnoted with their translation.  I hate works that don't translate their foreign words and phrases.  Even if you read the language, the intended translation from the author may be easily missed.

Aksinya ran to catch up to the demon, “What place is this?”

“We are in Minsk, countess.”

Aksinya stopped cold, “Minsk? It cannot be Minsk.”

Asmodeus halted as well and turned toward her, “Why can it not be Minsk?”

“Minsk is more than two days by carriage from my house…What did you do?”

“I made the world bend a little.”

Aksinya raised the hem of her skirts enough to glance at her legs, “They don’t pain me more than a days walking.”

“You didn’t touch me.”

“Then it is not levied against my soul for you didn’t carry me either.”

“That shall be seen. You have enough on your soul already.”

“Zatknis'! Demon,” She put her fists on her hips, “By the way, you are a demon carrying a large chest across your shoulders and we are surrounded by people, but no one looks at you oddly.”

“You are my mistress. You see and hear me in truth. I don’t allow them to view me like that. Would you like to see what I seem to them?”

Aksinya chewed her lip a moment, “Yes. Show me what you seem to them.”

The demon blurred a bit and suddenly came into perfect focus. He appeared like a small ancient servant. His face was kind and his hair was white. He had a long beard that made him look a little like an orthodox priest or at least a deacon, but his clothing was that of a highly placed servant. He carried a heavy casket like a jewelry casket on his shoulder. His face was ruddy and made more ruddy by his supposed exertion. He looked like he had been carrying the casket for a long time. His clothing perfectly matched the style and the cut of Aksinya’s own. She was obviously his mistress and to all the world she would certainly look like a cruel one.

Aksinya’s eyes flashed, “You idiot demon. Do mean to embarrass me to everyone in the streets of Minsk. Why did you choose to look like that?”

“Countess, I would select your words carefully. Already you are in danger because you appear to be an aristocrat. There are many who would begrudge you that, but you certainly leave the stink of the bourgeoisie in a very proletarian city.”

“You caused this. You made this happen, and you must protect me in any case.”

“That I must, but I don’t have to make you look good, and if I have to protect you then you will compel me to harm them.” The demon pointed with his thumb at the passersby who stopped to watch the arrogant young lady berate her ancient kindly-looking servant.

Aksinya stood straight. She glanced around. Finally, she cleared her throat, “Go on, Asmodeus. Lead me where you must. I’m tired, and I’m certain you are too.”

The demon smiled and turned. He started out again along the side of the road. Aksinya heard a couple of snide remarks, but no one followed them or threatened her. As they went deeper into the city, Asmodeus led her to a streetcar stop.
I hope you liked this short piece that revealed a lot of information about demons and about how Asmodeus is manipulating Aksinya even when she doesn't realize it.  Did you also note, the demon can't help but tell her.  He rubs her nose in it each time.  This isn't because I don't think my readers will catch the nuance of the demon's work--this is the demon's personality.  It is the personality of all temptation and sin.  Is there any realization of sin or knowledge of sin without recognition of sin?  Of course not.  It isn't any good to the tempter if the tempted doesn't realize their own sin.  That's the point.  A tempter wants to tempt, but he also wants the other to know they were tempted and that they eventually sinned.  Right now, the actions of the demon are relatively passive.  We shall soon see the full gamut of his willingness to force Aksinya to sin.  Another revelation for you.  I chose sorcery as a sin for Aksinya because I can do a lot with it that isn't horrible or salacious.  In other words, I can have her doing a lot of sinning without having to write embarrassing or unacceptable storylines.  The point of lust leading to sorcery and sorcery to desire is also a subtle theme I am developing.  The ultimate point, as we have already seen, Aksinya's sin (sorcery) has already led to murder and will soon led to other sins.  Don't lose heart, I am writing to a redemptive theme.  She will figure some things out--in this chapter.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A New Novel, Part 12 On the Road to Minsk

The next bit.  So Aksinya has been tempted and forced to go along with the demon.  He packed up the house and packed up Aksinya.  They are on their way to she doesn't know where.  He is taking her to the perfect servant he has found.

Aksinya walked wearily behind the demon. He carried a large banded chest across his wide shoulders. In it, so he said, was all the goods and wealth of her family. It was impossible to imagine that such a small space held everything, but she herself had seen her bed and linens and all her clothing go at the last into that chest. Everything. She knew it was possible and that it might be true. Her sorcery books showed her how to make such places to conceal large parts of the world. She knew how to do it herself, but to see it done on such a scale… It was incredible.

The demon didn’t flag. She did. He had served her a fine dinner laid out on her family’s china. That was a few hours ago. Now, she was ready for supper and for bed, and she had no idea where they would stop for the evening—her family’s estate was well away from any large city or town.

Her shoes meant for Paris street were not designed for travel on frozen dirt roads and the snow covered countryside. Her feet hurt, she was cold, and she was hungry. She wondered more than once why they had not taken the carriage. As she understood it, that was also packed in the wonderful chest.

Unfortunately, the horses had been stolen by the Bolsheviks and were not returned. That’s what the demon told her. She wasn’t sure if she should believe him. She trudged behind him with her eyes on the dark frozen dirt road.

“At least it is not wet,” called Asmodeus back to her.

“I’m ready for supper and an inn.”

“You can’t stay at an inn in this part of the country.”

Aksinya was dismayed, “Then where shall I stay—a farmhouse?”

“Don’t worry, countess. I shall take care of your needs. Your first need is for a servant. I know of a perfect one that will meet your requirements—and mine. That is our first step.”

After a short while the frozen dirt road became surrounded by trees and they walked in a forest. Still, there was almost no traffic on it. The road turned abruptly in to stone paving and they entered a large town. The sky was already turning dark, and Aksinya was very tired. People began to populate the edges of the place. Traffic began to fill the streets.

Aksinya ran to catch up to the demon, “What place is this?”

“We are in Minsk, countess.”

Just a short piece from the beginning of chapter 3 to give the travel of Asmodeus and Aksinya from her estate to Minsk.  More to come... 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A New Novel, Part 11 A New Life

I hope you weren't too shocked to see Aksinya's issue.  It isn't specifically a sin, but lust drives her in many ways.  The temptation of this specific one of the seven deadly sins (they are really temptations and not sins) is extravagance specifically from Latin, luxuria or unrestrained excess. Extravagant behaviour includes the frequent purchase of luxury goods and forms of debauchery.  Aksinya doesn't necessarily lust after things or individuals, she lusts after knowledge and specifically the knowledge of sorcery.  We will see this later.  Her own desire becomes the symbol for both this luxuria and the culmination of her acts of sorcery.  The point is to give the readers symbols that relate directly to the actions of the characters.  This provides the fulcrum that moves the plot toward the theme.  This doesn't mean the storyline or the plot is an allegory, but rather that the plot becomes a vehicle for the theme through the use of these symbols.  They make the reader immediately relate back to certain characteristics that illustrate the theme within the major characters.

The last bit of chapter 2:

In the morning, the demon stood at the side of her bed. Aksinya didn’t blink, “I did not invite you into my room, demon.”

“Countess, I have your breakfast. Would you like to eat it here or in the dining room?”
Aksinya sat up, “Here, please.”
“Would you like me to draw your bath?”
“What would you like me to pack?”
Aksinya chewed on a crust of bread and took a sip of tea before answering, “Take all my mother’s dresses and mine. Also my sisters. Bring the china and silver and any of the fine artwork. The money is in my father’s safe and in his room. Get it all. If you know my mind, you know where all of it is.”
“I know where it all is.”
“Don’t forget my mother, sister, and my jewelry. Bring my sister’s shoes. They fit me.”
“Do you want me to take the furniture also?”
“Can you?”
“I can.”
“Then take it all—everything in the house and guesthouse. By the way, where will you put all of it?”
“That is my secret. What about your books and things…” he drew out the word.
“Put those on the top where I can get them at any time.”
“Very good, countess. When you are finished and dressed, we may leave. What clothing would you like me to put out for you?”
“My blue traveling dress the one with the puffy sleeves and the lace. I’ll wear my blue button-up shoes. The ones mother brought me from Paris. And don’t forget my blue traveling hat—the one with the feather.”
“Very good. I’m glad you are feeling better and in such good spirits. It’s amazing what giving in to a little temptation can do for you.”
Aksinya dropped her toast. She choked and bowed her head. After she got back her breath, she whispered, “That’s what I did, didn’t I.”
“Yes, splendidly. I was so proud of you.”
“I’m suddenly not so proud of myself. I’m not hungry any more.”
“Eat, countess. I’ll not be put off. When I am done with the packing, we shall depart. I have in mind to get your servant, and I have in mind to leave this house before the Party visits it this evening.”
“Will they?”
“My sources tell me they will.”
“And who are they?”
“I’ll not bore you with the details.”
“I should speak to the villagers before I go.”
“They know your family is dead. They assume you are too.”
Aksinya took a deep breath, “How did they know?”
“While you were a slug-a-bed, they came to check on your father. They found the bloodstains and the fresh graves in the plot.”
“I should have had you hide it all.”
“It wouldn’t do any good. They would find out eventually.”
“Surely they see the lights from the house. We have been burning them since, since, since that time.”
“I have given the impression that no one is here. I have kept it all still as the grave and hidden any signs of life. It is as if you were dead.”
“Yes. I see.”
“Because, you are dead to this life, countess. You start a new life today. Today, we shall leave for Austria and your family there.”
Aksinya mouthed the words, “So you can do evil there.”
“No, so we can accomplish evil there.”

The story must move out of Russia and to the west for many reasons.  There is little scope for the demon to act and too much scope for Aksinya to act (in the mind of the demon).  This shift of scene will allow the focus of the story to move--from just the demon and Aksinya.  The most important consideration is the problem the demon will have with Aksinya in Russia.  She will be much more vulnerable after she has been disconnected from her roots.  I may be revealing too much here, but I thought I might give you some insight to the purpose of the demon.
By the way, I've already thought of some important changes I want to make to the first chapter.  Specifically, I will add snow to the scene--this will give it more of the proper feel for the time of year, and I will be able to make some strong comparisons to the blood on the snow.