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Monday, January 31, 2011

A New Novel, Part 120 I Have Your Book

The young man, Ernst von Taaffe knows Aksinya's great secret--she is a sorceress.  He insists that she must do as he asks or he will reveal her secret...

He noted the look on Aksinya’s face, “Don’t worry, Countess. Your secret is safe with me, but only if you do as I wish.”

“Who would believe you?”

He brought his face close to hers, “I have your book.”

Aksinya gasped and trembled, “You must give it back.”

“No, no, no, Countess. That is not how the game is played.”

“What do you want from me?”

“Anatov Aznabaev, told me you were a special person. He told me I would find everything I desired with you. He is right. I myself have tried for years to study sorcery. I have been, as yet, unsuccessful.”

“Your body doesn’t seem unduly marked.”

“The scars are well hidden by my clothing. It has not touched my face or hands much.” He pulled her hand toward his face and turned it over. He gently stroked the many scars that marked Aksinya’s fingers, “A successful sorcerer, so says my books, has a multitude of knife scars on their hands. They are from the constant use of blood as a sacrifice.” He turned his face toward hers again, “The smell of the use is strong on you now. You can’t hide it from me. Although, I can’t accomplish any of it, I know its smell. I know its feel. I know its marks.” He kissed the scars on her fingers.

Aksinya finally was able to pull her hand from his, “I asked you what you want?”

“I would like to learn from you, but first I must win your affection.”

“What makes you believe it can be won?”

“You courtier, Anatov Aznabaev told me that you long to find love and someone to share your life. I offer myself. You are exactly the woman I wish to love.”

“My courtier is mistaken. I do not need love or anything else…”

“But you need your book.”

“I have memorized it already.”

“Zut! I know you still desire that book.”

Aksinya raised her chin, “How would you know that?”

“Anatov Aznabaev told me.”

Aksinya snarled, “Anatov Aznabaev, Anatov Aznabaev… do you believe everything my servant tells you?”

“In this case, yes. But I have another temptation.”

Now we know--Ernst took the book.  Not only does he know about Aksinya's secret, he has proof--the book.  How could things get worse for her?  This is why someone might believe Ernst, he has a book of magic that he can tie to Aksinya.  One of the threats of Asmodeus when they first came to Wien was that he could reveal Aksinya's proclivities and thus ruin her uncle and aunt.  That would ruin Aksinya and Natalya too.

Aksinya is afraid and asks the obvious question: “What do you want from me?”  Then begins a short dialog that tells us much in some great detail about sorcery and sorcerers.  We knew a lot of this informaiton from before, but now, we get it all together and in a focused manner.  We also discover that Ernst has been attempting sorcery for a long time, but has been unsuccessful as yet.  Ernst's knowledge of sorcery and his knowledge about sorcerers is dangerous to Aksinya.  Then we learn what Ernst wants from Aksinya: “I would like to learn from you, but first I must win your affection.”  He wants to be her apprentice and her lover.  Aksinya already has apprentice problems.  She never thought to have a lover--except in her imagination.  I told you she was naive and innocent in many ways.  Although she is filled with sexual desire--it is not directed toward anyone but herself.  She simply loves herself.  Aksinya then imagines she can get out from the problem by ignoring the issue of the book, but Ernst has another temptation for her.  Do you note that these temptations seem to well designed and thought out.  Who might be their originator?

Tomorrow, the other temptation.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A New Novel, Part 119 I Know Who and What You are, Countess

The moment Natalya goes to refresh Aksinya's wine, a young gentleman approaches Aksinya, goes to one knee, and addresses her...

He glanced at her hand and then at her face again and smiled, “You are truly the one, Countess.”

Aksinya took a deep breath, “The one…?”

His smile broadened, “I have met you twice, but we have not been introduced. Please don’t think me forward if I introduce myself. I am Ernst Franz von Taaffe. My father is the Graf von Taaffe. So, you see, we are of nearly equal rank.”

Aksinya tried to pull her hand from his, “Why should that matter to me?”

“Because, first, I am infatuated with you. I warn you, I will do anything to have you. Second, I know exactly what you are…”

Aksinya pursed her lips and yanked her hand back. The man would not let it go. “Where did you meet me?” She hissed.

“Outside the Golden Adler Gasthaus.”

Aksinya’s free hand stole to her face, “You were one of the rapists?”

The furrows in Ernst’s smooth brow deepened, “Dear Countess, surely you don’t count me with that sort. Search your memories. You stared directly at me. You spoke to me. I carried your sweet body back into your house and placed you in your bed. Your blood ruined one of my good suits, but I purposely haven’t thrown it out.”

Aksinya’s eyes widened, “You were that man.”

Ernst’s lips drooped, “Yes, that man…”

Aksinya’s eyes filled with fear. She tried again to pull her hand from his grasp, “Why were you there? What did you see?”

Ernst grinned, “I was there because your courtier, Anatov Aznabaev told me you would be there.”

Aksinya shook her head, “Wait, Anatov Aznabaev.” She whispered a sentence of Latin words under her breath, “Say that name again.”

Ernst repeated, “Anatov Aznabaev.”

And clearly to Aksinya’s ears came, “Asmodeus.” She puffed out her cheeks, “Scheize.”

“Countess! I was led to believe you were a completely refined woman.”

“I don’t care.” She stared at the man, “What do you know?”

“That you are a most wondrous sorceress. I saw everything. You made a great enchantment without any protection. Such power, unbelievable power…” He noted the look on Aksinya’s face, “Don’t worry, Countess. Your secret is safe with me, but only if you do as I wish.”

Now, the plans of Asmodeus are coming to fruition.  Did you imagine the actions and the events outside the tavern were there only to tempt Aksinya into sorcery.  That was less than half of it.  There is much mush more that will come out of that single incident.  It is like the widening ripples when you throw a stone into a pond.  These ripples will not stop until the accomplishment of everything the demon desires. 
The gentle claims to have met Aksinya twice, but he only tells us about one time. The other is left in obscurity and Aksinya doesn't ask him.  He introduces himself--this is a faux pas in that culture, but he is of almost equal rank--his father is a count.
I love the imagery of Aksinya trying to pull her hand from his.  Do you see that.  This isn't the last time.  Ernst has made a demand on her--she doesn't wish to accept it.  Then the confession of Ernst von Taaffe.  He is infatuated with her, and he knows what she is.  The what is important.  Aksinya asks the obvious question.  The answer surprises her.  This shouldn't surprise us, Aksinya doesn't look at these details.  Unless they are beholden to her, people are unimportant to her.
Ernst reminds her about the events we learned only second hand.  That he hasn't thrown out his ruined suit should tell you, he has it bad.  Aksinya gets it--he was the man Natalya and Sister Margarethe told her about.  The reason Ernst was at the Gasthaus was that Asmodeus told him to come.  We see the demon's plans inside of plans inside of plans.  We also learn that Asmodeus is acting on his own as Aksinya's courtier.  He uses the name Anatov Aznabaev.  Aksinya uses sorcery to confirm what she realizes--Anatove Aznabaev is Asmodeus.
Aksinya curses.  This surprises Ernst.  It shouldn't.  He knows she is a sorceress!  He saw the enchantment and seems to understand what it meant.  He knows Aksinya's greatest sin, and her greatest secret:  “Don’t worry, Countess. Your secret is safe with me, but only if you do as I wish.”  Tomorrow, we find what Ernst desires from Aksinya.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A New Novel, Part 118 The Gentleman

Since Aksinya was introduced at the Advent party, no one except the Abbot and Cardinal have spoken to her.  This is just a little too strange.  Aksinya has her issues, but she desires to make the acquaintance of someone.  Even if it isn't the potential groom her aunt mentioned, she doesn't want to be ignored.  She already imagines she is ugly, what does this do for her self-esteem?

Aksinya leaned against the arm of her chair. She put her hand under her chin and gave every indication that she was bored. She was bored. The crowd seemed to move a little further from her. Slowly the party wound down. No one else approached her or her lady-in-waiting. The crowd cleared out a little and Aksinya noted some late arrivals who had not been introduced to her. They didn’t approach her either. They were mostly young men without a female companion or women with an older male escort. Aksinya felt a little piqued that they had not greeted her.

After a while, Aksinya glanced at Natalya, “Lady Natalya, please get me another glass of wine.”

“Would you like something to eat?”

“No, just wine. The very sweet wine Uncle opened just for me. Ask him to open another bottle... or two.”

Natalya smiled then frowned and hurried off.

Almost immediately a young man moved from the ballroom floor and stepped directly up to Aksinya. He dropped to his left knee and bowed his head. He was dressed in finery. Not as fine as the clothing Aksinya wore, but very formal and slightly out of fashion. Aksinya’s Uncle would have approved. His frockcoat was charcoal and his pants were cream colored. His shirt was also cream and everything was pressed to perfection.

Aksinya straightened her back. She couldn’t see anything of his face only the top of his blond head. She wondered if, with such a display, he mocked her. The young man didn’t stand. He lifted his face to hers and reached for her hand. Aksinya was too slow to keep him from taking it. His face was gentle and pleasant. It matched his voice which was almost melodic. Aksinya might have described it as like a snake in a more pointed moment, but it was sweet and calm. His eyes were blue and met hers without apology. He glanced at her hand and then at her face again and smiled, “You are truly the one, Countess.”

Aksinya is bored.  No one comes to speak to her (except the least available men at the party).  No one asks her to dance.  She is stuck in her chair and the protocol of the times doesn't give her any options.  Aksinya's main problem is luxuria.  Luxuria is the untoward desire (lust) toward anything.  Aksinya's desire isn't just peculiarly sexual.  It isn't just sorcery.  It is also clothing, food, drink (especially wine), furnishings, etc.  So, when she is bored, the first thing she desires is to relieve her luxuria.  She has been drinking, she sends Natalya for more wine.  This is why Natalya smiled then frowned.  She realizes Aksinya's problem--at least the luxuria part.
That's when it happens--when Natalya is away.  You might have thought it was planned.  A young man approaches her and drops to his left knee (that is the way you honor nobility that is at a rank higher than yours).  He is well dresses and obviously a gentleman.  He is forward, but his manners are impeccable--except when he takes her hand.  In polite society, you only take a lady's hand when it is proffered.  His words to her: “You are truly the one, Countess.” Tomorrow, who is this gentleman and what does he want?

Friday, January 28, 2011

A New Novel, Part 117 The Cardinal

The Abbot of Sacré Coeur has been conversing with Aksinya.  The Cardinal of Wien comes up to them and addresses her...

The Cardinal and his secretary came up beside the Abbot, who moved to the side, “Good evening, Father Abbot.”

The Abbot bowed and made a slight genuflect, “Your Eminence.”

Aksinya nodded and Natalya curtsied. The Cardinal bowed deeply to Aksinya, “Countess, we are very happy to have you within our spiritual care, but we do understand that you are Orthodox and not Catholic.”

Aksinya nodded.

“Have you had the opportunity to acquaint yourself with the Orthodox community in Wien?”

Aksinya tilted her head, “We have attended the Ecclesia where Father Makar presides.”

The Cardinal smiled, “I would like to win you over to our church, but I promise, I will not attempt that. You must take the time to become familiar with the Orthodox community. You will be very helpful to them especially with all the refugees coming across the Russian boarder at this time. I will speak to the Archpriest Makar about you. He is a good friend of mine and may not realize how close your residence is to the Ecclesia.”

“I didn’t realize Father Makar was an Archpriest. Thank you, Your Eminence.”

“That is my pleasure, Countess. I hope the Father Abbot explained how important you are to us.”

“He mentioned generally, but he didn’t say anything about my importance.”

“But you are, dear lady. The people today look for help following this disastrous war. The revolution and now civil war in Russia only made things worse. The people need a strong aristocracy and church to help led them in these times. Our own aristocracy is weak in numbers and control. The Russian nobility, on the other hand, is very well established. Although it is a loss to Russia, we hope to strengthen our own nation with more expatriates like you. We pray you can integrate yourself into our society and culture in a very positive way.”

“My Uncle and Aunt are of a similar mind. I hope I can live up to your expectations as well.”

“Yes, please keep up your studies for their sake. I think your uncle would like to see you as the jewel in the crown of our city some day. He is very proud of you.”

“Thank you. My Aunt and Uncle have been to me like the mother and father I lost in Russia. I am indebted to them.”

The Cardinal glanced from the sides of his eyes, “You are a very pleasant noblewoman. I can see that you will go far.” He smiled, “I will gladly help you all I can. You may contact my secretary, Herr Schwab.” He pointed at the layman beside him, “If you have any needs.”

“Again, thank you, Your Eminence.”

He bowed. The Abbot bowed. They both bowed their way back to the floor of the ballroom.

I added the secretary late because he is a bit character later.  I wanted to make a foreshadowing and introduce you in thought to him.  This is  the delightful part of controlling the world of a novel.  The characters much follow all the rules of the real world and the world that is developed for them, but the depth of the novel begins and ends with the interweaving of the important and less important interactions. 
When the Cardinal approaches Aksinya, we see the typical honors given such men in the time.  The Cardinal begins by displaying his knowledge of Aksinya.  The Cardinal is a pleasant man who is very interested in his charges and their spiritual needs.  This is important to note because the Cardinal will be guilty of much later.  He is mentioned, but doesn't make an appearance--the reasons will become obvious.  He banters with Aksinya and overpraises her.  As I said, he is a very pleasant man. 

The Cardinal reveals some new information to us that Father Makar is an archpriest.  This is at least the equal of a Bishop and close to an Archbishop in the Orthodox church.  This means the Cardinal or Wien and Father Makar are about equal in rank.  The Cardinal goes on to tell Aksinya how important she is to the community and to the people in Austria.  His views are very typical for the times and for his position.  The church is a part of the nobility, after all.  The Cardinal praises Aksinya and then we get the name of his secretary.  I don't want you to have to memorize this, but when you hear the name again, I want you to remember that you heard it before.  Plus, the Cardinal's promise is ironic.  The two priests leave and leave Aksinya alone again at a grand party.  What's going on?  We shall see tomorrow.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A New Novel, Part 116 The Abbot

I hope you find my commentary cogent most of the time.  I work 40/40 on my day job and my other jobs.  If you don't know what I do, just take a look at my websites.  I should post my schedule.  Just so you know, I prep this blog the night before and release it into the wild before I have to get ready for work at 0700.  As I said, I hope it is cogent.  I thought by releasing this novel, I would make the blogging easier.  Perhaps it has ensured sufficient material for commentary.

That said, the Advent party at the Bockmann's has just begun.  Aksinya followed by Natalya have made their appearance.  Now, they take their positions...

Freiherr Bockmann took Aksinya by the arm and led her to one of the great fireplaces. A wood fire roared within it. He sat Aksinya in a chair that faced the ballroom. Natalya stood at Aksinya’s side. At first, the Freifrau and Freiherr sat and conversed with Aksinya about the people she would meet that evening and the weather. When the guests began to arrive, they stood beside Aksinya and greeted each one. The guests were announced by the house steward and directed to the Freifrau and Freiherr. Freifrau Bockmann introduced each guest to Aksinya. She did so formally and with gravity and used Aksinya’s full name, Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna. She then introduced the Lady Natalya.

Aksinya’s memory was excellent, but after the first fifty couples, she lost track entirely. Then the young single men arrived followed by the Catholic churches’ leaders in the city. Among this group, Aksinya remembered only the Cardinal of Wien and the Abbot of Sacré Coeur. The Cardinal was a pinch faced older man with an Italian accent. His secretary, Herr Schwab followed him everywhere. The Abbot was jollier and a little younger with a great smile and a back country tone to his German. They both seemed pleasant men.

When all the guests had been received, Aksinya was left enthroned in her seat at the fireplace. Natalya brought her a glass of wine and a plate of food. Most of the guests stood a polite distance away from Aksinya as though they were afraid to approach the Countess although they had been introduced. Eventually, the Abbot stepped up beside Aksinya. He bowed, “Dear Countess, I understand you are attending Sacré Coeur.”

“Yes Father Abbot, my lady-in-waiting and I are both attending.”

“That is what I heard from the Reverend Mother. Your progress…”

“Is less than expected.”

“Yes, I’d heard that too. Is our curriculum not to your liking?”

“Not at all. Lady Natalya is learning German. The language is new to her. I must ensure she gains this skill before I can focus on my studies.”

“Oh, I see.”

“I thought I made this clear to the Reverend Mother.”

“The Reverend Mother is entirely complementary toward you. She has not said a negative word concerning you at all. I have other sources. My job is to keep an eye on the school and the convent. You are one of our most important students, so I keep an eye out for you too.”

“Thank you, Father Abbot.”

“The pleasure is all mine. I hope Sacré Coeur can be like a family to you. We do wish you to feel comfortable... and to succeed.”

“I shall apply myself as well as I can. My lady-in-waiting is very bright and is nearly ready to advance in her basic language knowledge. I think in the next semester, I will be able to focus on my other work.”

“I will hold you to that.”

“Please don’t. The needs of my servant and friend are much more important to me than my own progress.”

The Abbot took a sharp breath.

“You needn’t be so surprised. This is what my father taught me. He oversaw a very large estate in Russia with thousands under his care. The needs of the people are necessary to maintain their dignity and your honor.”

The Abbot bowed, “Even so, you are very wise, Countess.”

Aksinya’s smile slipped, “Not so wise as cautious, but thank you.”

The Freiherr settles Aksinya at her place.  Note the location and the deferential attitude of the Freiherr and Freifrau.  The house has a wood fire, and Aksinya gets to sit in the warmth before it.  Aksinya's aunt and uncle entertain her until the party really begins.  Then the guests start to arrive.  Aksinya is the new toast of the town--the sweetheart of the nobility.  Like everywhere, the excitement is with the novue and the unusual--Aksinya is both.  The party is obviously well attended, and then we get with the single men along with the Catholic church leaders.  I give you a short description of each of the leaders because I want you to remember them--we will meet them again.

Finally, the guests have all arrived and Aksinya is left...alone?  She was the toast of the ball and the town.  You might wonder about that.  In any case, Aksinya gets her food and her wine, but little company--until the Abbot steps forward.

The Abbot is interested in Aksinya's studies.  He knows a lot about her.  Aksinya tells the truth.  She has no reason to lie.  Aksinya reports to him the same thing she has told the teachers and the Reverend Mother.  The Abbot didn't really believe the Reverend Mother (obviously).  Then we find out, the Abbot is keeping an eye on her.  That's when Aksinya gives the full bore to him: "The needs of my servant and friend are much more important to me than my own progress.”  We have addressed this before.  Aksinya has the mind of a perfect Russian aristocrat.  We expect her to be overbearing and perhaps a little rude (she is), but we should also expect her to take care of those who look to her.  Just as Aksinya's father managed the people who were beholden to him, she oversees those whom she is responsible for.  The Abbot's response is very fine, Aksinya's turns the table, for though he called her wise, Aksinya's last response is even wiser: “Not so wise as cautious, but thank you.”  When you are an aristocrat, you ensure the positive behavior of your people by your mature treatment of them.  Aksinya knows this lesson--that is why, in the end, it will backfire on her.  Tomorrow, we hear from the Cardinal.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A New Novel, Part 115 Advent is for Fasting?

Asmodeus laid down the gauntlet to Aksinya.  His threat was dire but coated in gentle advice.  We will see how the advice of the demon plays out.  For now, Aksinya and Natalya set up housekeeping and return to school.  The next Friday is the Advent party...

Aksinya and Natalya took up residence at the house across the street. Sister Margarethe lived there with them. She waited on Aksinya and on the Lady Natalya. Aksinya insisted. Now, Aksinya and Natalya had tea together every afternoon. Sister Margarethe brought the tea and Natalya poured.

They went to school, and although Aksinya didn’t progress well, Natalya began to speak reasonably fluent German.

When the coupe met them the next Friday, Freifrau Bockmann was in it. Before they set off for Grossbock, she inspected the dresses and jewelry Natalya had chosen for the party and nodded her approval.

When they arrived at the Freiherr’s estate, the decorations were already in place. The front of the house, the foyer, and the ballroom were wonderfully adorned for the Advent Ball. Seasonal decorations more akin to Christmas instead of Advent filled the hall. A couple of large Christmas trees loaded with candles and decorations sat next to the great fireplaces. Freifrau Bockmann led Aksinya and Natalya through the rooms and showed everything to them. It took a while. Aksinya was grateful to finally sit down to dinner. Afterward, she and Natalya went to bed.

In the morning, everything in the house was about preparation for the event that evening. By noon all the Freiherr’s servants were dressed in their archaic festal livery. The maids and women servants were adorned in dresses and aprons from a style over a century old. Everything seemed to match the overall festive décor. In the afternoon, Natalya dressed Aksinya in a wonderful maroon dress with gold piping and lace. The gold was real and the dress was ancient satin. Natalya brushed it for hours to make it shine. The bodice was tight and fit Aksinya well. The dress was petticoated and whaleboned. Still, it was from an age younger than the livery Freiherr Bockmann loved so much, but older than the current fashion of the time.

Natalya wore a dress that had been Aksinya’s sister’s. It was white and red with a little more modern flair, but still appeared as though it would be appropriate in the court of an emperor.

When Aksinya stepped down the stairs into the ballroom, everyone stopped to watch. Freifrau Bockmann gave an audible gasp. She and the Freiherr ran up the stairs to greet her. The Freiherr went to one knee on the landing. Freifrau Bockmann curtsied and took Aksinya’s hand, “Dear Countess, you are ravishing.” She looked Aksinya up and down then took a surreptitious glance at Natalya that quickly returned to Aksinya, “You are so beautiful.”

Aksinya cocked her head, “Lady Natalya is very skilled.” Her voice sunk to a whisper, “She even made my hair look pleasant.”

“Pleasant, it is wonderful. She is incredibly artful. You are so elegant and make our simple home seem like an aristocratic court.”

Aksinya smiled, but the corners of her lips didn’t follow.

I like to repeat important details, and I think you will find most good authors do.  We already made the point about the house across the street, but it doesn't hurt to use it as a simple transition.  It doesn't hurt to remind you that Aksinya isn't doing her work, but rather, she is teaching Natalya.  It is important for you to see that Sister Margarethe lives there, but she waits on Aksinya... and Natalya.  Natalya has the high privalege of pouring the tea--a very big deal in this time.  
The next scene this transition drives to is the Advent party.  On Friday, Aksinya and Natalya ride in the coupe to Grossbock.  Freifrau Bockmann inspects their dresses and jewelry.  When we arrive, we see the large number of decorations, but they are like Christmas.  Do you remember Aksinya's comment when she first heard about an Advent party.  To her, this is like having a Lent party--you just don't do it.  Her Aunt and Uncle have adorned the house for Christmas but it is still Advent.  This is very important in this time and to "good" Catholics everywhere--you don't celebrate Christmas until Christmas.  At least they weren't singing Christmas carols.
I give you descriptions because I want you to be able to see how everything is put together.  You know the house already.  I give you a few reminders--fireplaces etc. then show you the differences.  I also want you to see the servants and the kind of ancient nobility Aksinya's uncle aspires to but can't truly emulate.  I also wanted to remind you how great a lady-in-waiting Natalya is.
When Aksinya is introduced, she makes a big splash.  Her aunt and uncle ensure this is true.  Aksinya appears ravishing.  Remember she could never believe that, everyone else does.  Aksinya can never forget her hair--if you have been paying attention, this is obvious self depreciation.  Aksinya can't ever be happy when she is being praised.  You should have noticed this too.  These are characteristics of her personality.  You know where they come from.  You know why she has such problems.  We shall see where they lead her tonight at the Advent party--that is tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A New Novel, Part 114 Love without Desire?

Aksinya is really too nice a girl to be a sorceress.  She has a weak spot for people.  Her next question to the demon indicates this weakness.  She doesn't get an answer...

“What happened to the men at the tavern?”

This time the demon did smile. Aksinya could detect his humor before he spoke, “They are all dead.”

“I did not kill them.”

“They are dead anyway.”

“You are lying.”

“Perhaps you should ask them yourself,” the demon let out a great laugh.

“Then they are alive…”

He chuckled, “I meant in hell.”

“Go to hell, yourself.”

“I’ve been there, Countess.”

“You tempted them…”

“I did not give them anything more than they wished themselves—such is the way with temptation. You, more than anyone, should realize that, Countess.”

“I’m tired of arguing with you. Leave me.”

“Ah, it is time for me to leave. I have just one thing to tell you, Countess.”

“I knew there was more to this visit than pleasantries.”

Asmodeus bowed, “I just wanted to warn you. You have chosen to defy me. None of my other masters ever did such a thing. It is incomprehensible to me. Still, your choices do promote evil. Yet, because you defy me, they will bring you much sorrow. A final warning from your servant, it is a threat. Don’t give away too much of your heart. What you give away may never be returned, and when it is, it will result in great sorrow.”

“You spout stupid platitudes…why should I expect wisdom from a demon.”

“Why indeed, Countess.” The demon bowed out of the room. Before he shut the door, he called sweetly, “Good night.”

Under her breath, Aksinya whispered, “One can love without desire, without lust, Asmodeus. That is the secret that causes all your evil to crumble.”

A soft hiss answered her, “But love without desire is not as sweet, Countess. Just look at how you love yourself.” The words seemed to echo within the closed room.

Aksinya covered her head with her blanket and put her hands over her ears.

Aksinya is really concerned about the results of her sorcery.  She planned for no one to be hurt.  If you remember, Asmodeus was obviously trying to point Aksinya toward ordering him to kill the men outright or to wait after the rape and then torture and kill them.  Aksinya did something the demon wasn't expecting.  She still isn't certain that she didn't harm them--this is how powerful her spell was.  Aksinya wasn't sure if she harmed the men.  After hearing the demon's response, she still doesn't know.
This gives me the opportunity to give a small joke by the demon about hell--this is his personality and his affliction.  Then we get back into the meat.  The demon comments about temptation, and indeed, Aksinya should realize this more than anyone--she faces temptation all the time, in every variety.
Then, we finally get to the whole point of the visitation.  The demon was simply playing with Aksinya, now he tells her his message.  This is so important I will repeat it: “I just wanted to warn you. You have chosen to defy me. None of my other masters ever did such a thing. It is incomprehensible to me. Still, your choices do promote evil. Yet, because you defy me, they will bring you much sorrow. A final warning from your servant, it is a threat. Don’t give away too much of your heart. What you give away may never be returned, and when it is, it will result in great sorrow.”  This is all foreshadowing and prediction on the demon's part.  How much is truth?  I will reveal to you: it is all truth.  This was the message the demon waited to give to Aksinya.  There is much in this message I will not expose to you yet.  Most will become obvious as we progress in the novel.
Aksinya's answer is more pointed.  She realizes her danger and what is happening.  She has opposed a demon.  The result...who knows the result, but the one and only one lesson Aksinya has learned is this:  “One can love without desire, without lust, Asmodeus. That is the secret that causes all your evil to crumble.”  Actually, that is not the secret that causes the demon's evil to crumble, but it is almost the only idea Aksinya can hold on to as truth to fight her own temptation and the demon.  Then, the final words from the demon remind her that she does not really understand at all.  That is the rub and that is the problem for Aksinya.  She is still trying to save herself.  Just as she perversely loves herself, likewise, she can't separate love from desire or lust.  Her luxuria drives her forward.  Tomorrow, the beginning of the Advent party.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A New Novel, Part 113 What is Truth?

Aksinya and Asmodeus are engaged in a very important conversation.  Aksinya wants answers, the demon doesn't want to tell her anything except that which he can use to manipulate her.  We have an argument of lies that comes to Pilate's question in the mouth of Aksinya...

“Then what is the truth?”

“Ah, that is the question. Isn’t it? What is the truth?”

“Tell me, demon.”

“But, Countess, I cannot. The truth is a trade secret.”

Aksinya made a depreciating sound and turned her head, “Just tell me, where is my book?”

“I don’t know. That is the truth. I suspect it will turn up. Why don’t you seek it yourself—you have the skills?”

“I have no desire to trade more of my virtue for so trivial a reason.”

Asmodeus voice rumbled oddly, “That is the rub, isn’t it? You have traded a great deal of your virtue for so little. You knew that to make such a great enchantment without protection would greatly harm you. You knew that without the items as symbols and the proper sacrifice, your body would have to bear entirely both the symbol and the sacrifice. You knew that mixing those new spells with the old would be dangerous. You defied me and that in itself was foolish. You almost died, you know.”

“I almost died. But, I traded all to save my friend, and...” She turned her gaze back to the demon, “I still think you are lying. I want my book. It is dangerous in the hands of others.” Aksinya put her hands down at her side, “Now, why did you disturb my rest?”

“I tried to come late enough that I didn’t disturb your own personal perversions.”

Aksinya just stared.

“Ah, so you have realized that also have you.”

“Your temptation is little more than a discomfort.”

“Because you have surrounded yourself with crosses,” the demon spat.

Aksinya allowed herself a tiny smile. She plucked at one of the petite crosses Natalya had sewn into her nightgown.

“I came to see how you fared. I’m glad you didn’t die. I have not completed all the evil I intend through you.”

“So, why did you come here tonight?”

The demon’s lips slightly rose over his fangs.

Aksinya tapped the covers under her fingertips, “I have another question for you.”

“Ask all you wish, Countess.”

Aksinya snarled, “Because you will not tell me the truth anyway.”

Asmodeus shrugged.

“What happened to the men at the tavern?”

This time the demon did smile. Aksinya could detect his humor before he spoke, “They are all dead.”

Aksinya's question is ours as well--and I don't mean just in this novel.  This is the question Pilate posed to Christ.  You might find it interested as well as illuminating that Aksinya asks it of the demon: “Then what is the truth?”  The demon's flip response is characteristic of him--it is a trade secret.  Of course it is, how would a demon know truth--he can't even swear on anything.  Aksinya realizes this, thus her response and she returns to her important question--where is the book.  The demon half-heartily tries to tempt her into more sin (sorcery).
Then, bang, we get a bit of truth from him.  From the very beginning, Aksinya has traded her virtue for very little.  She lost her family.  She has involved herself in great sin.  You know the demon's words in response are true--that is, the words about the great enchantment Aksinya made.  Additionally, can't you feel the anger of the demon.  She defied him and is still defying him.  She goes back to her question about the book.  She hopes he will answer her in truth this time, but she is mistaken, so she gives up on it and moves to the true point--why is Asmodeus here now.  You knew no matter what he says, he has something to tempt her with.  The demon turns the conversation to Aksinya's perversions--again typical of him, but Aksinya has figured this out.  She doesn't bite, but the demon does.  He is irritated about the crosses--they do protect her in some measure.  Just like the crucifix around her neck.  The demon has not finished the evil he desires through her, but he is not ready to reveal all, yet.
Aksinya brings up another point that bothers her.  This is about the men from the tavern.  We will have to wait until tomorrow to see what may come out of his response: “They are all dead.”

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A New Novel, Part 112 The Book Again and Seduction

Now it comes.  You knew there had to be some resolution with the demon especially in the aftermath of the great enchantment.  Indeed there is a confrontation, but never a resolution.  I like Jack Vance's writing very much.  His confrontations rarely have a resolution, but they do resolve.  If the confrontations in my writing seem to have complete resolutions, either I'm not writing them properly or you are being much to optimistic...

Aksinya and Natalya spent a quiet weekend with the Freiherr and Freifrau Bockmann. The Freifrau Bockmann discussed the details of her Advent party with Aksinya and Natalya. Aksinya only listened with half an ear. She wasn’t really interested in a party. She wasn’t interested in much of anything. The last encounter with the demon frightened and yet encouraged her, but she didn’t dare imagine she had been in any way successful. She had given in to the demon. She had used sorcery to save Natalya and Sister Margarethe. Aksinya wasn’t certain what she should or could do next, and she couldn’t imagine what the demon might demand from her the next time. She didn’t have to wait long to hear from him.

Late Saturday evening a heavy knock came to her door. Aksinya caught the scent of sulfur. She rolled over, “I really do not wish to speak to you demon.”

The door didn’t open, “You said that last time, Countess. I request an audience.”

She sighed a great sigh, “And, I do wish to ask you some questions—you may enter.”

The door opened and Asmodeus stepped through it. The smell of sulfur increased slightly. He shut it carefully after him.

Aksinya sat up in bed.

The demon bowed, “Good evening, Countess.”

Aksinya took a deep breath, “Asmodeus, where is my book?”

“You have many books…”

“You know just the book I mean. It was the one I was carrying when you precipitated the attack on my lady-in-waiting and the nun.”

“Ah, you are mistaken, Countess. I did not make any attack on your friends…it was entirely the work of those hooligans from the Golden Adler Gasthaus.”

“Čort poberí , you demon. You confessed to me yourself that you tempted them to it.”

The demon seemed petulant, “I told you before, countess. You can’t curse a being who is already cursed.”

“I don’t care. I want to know, where is my book?”

“I don’t know.”

“You are lying.”

The demon lifted one side of his lips. His fangs glistened in the moonlight, “Ha, why do you think that?”

Aksinya stuck her face forward. Her eyes bore in on the demon’s, “You have lied over and over to me.”

Asmodeus wouldn’t meet her gaze, “How could that be?”

“You lied about Sister Margarethe…”

The demon examined his claws, “I did not lie—she is infatuated with you.”

“You tried to get me to…to get me to…”

“…to seduce her?”

Aksinya lowered her gaze, “Yes, just that. Such a disgusting thing.”

The demon’s fangs were very visible in his face, “Perhaps a misunderstanding?”

“That you fostered. Everything you have told me is a lie.”

“That isn’t so.”

“Then what is the truth?”

We last left Aksinya and Natalya on their way to Grossbock for the weekend.  The Freifrau has nothing but the Advent party on her mind.  I take a slight omniscient point of view to give you a little from the thoughts of Aksinya.  This is part of this easy transition we have been in, you know that can't last.  You should expect the next pacing of the scenes to bring you back into tension.  Tension indeed.  I give you a slight look into Aksinya's thoughts, you might have guessed them already, but I wanted it to be clear.  She has both given into the demon and opposed the demon.  This causes her great distress.  It should.  At Asmodeus next visit we should get some idea what Aksinya's opposition means.
In the evening, Aksinya finally receives the visit she had been expecting.  I like the little touch of sulfur in the air with the demon.  When he knocks on the door, Aksinya lies at first.  Notice the consideration the demon shows--he's back to his good demon stage.  Remember for him everything is a show.  The demon is even deferential to her.  He requests an audience.  Aksinya does indeed wish to asks him some questions--they are likely the same ones you have.
Aksinya's first question: where is my book...  This is the important question to her.  The book is new and wonderful.  It was a gift from the demon.  Yet, the demon's answer is both equivocal and a lie.  You should wonder, what is it about this book--or better, where is the book, that its presence must be hidden.  Then we get the accusation from Aksinya against the demon--he caused the attempted rape.  You knew it had to be asked.  The demon lies again.  He did confess to the temptation before.  He bragged he set up the entire event.  Aksinya curses at Asmodeus.  Curses always have the same affect on him.  You might wonder if he is proud of the curse and proud that Aksinya curses.
Then, again, where is the book.  The demon is indeed lying, but you realized that.  Aksinya knows it too.  The demon is lying--the important thing to learn is why.  It does no good to prove or point out to the demon his lies--it just encourages him.  Aksinya still can't help but argue.
The next point she wished to attack the demon about is the Sister Margarethe.  The demon did lie about the Sister Margarethe's lust.  Then again, perhaps Asmodeus simply misunderstood the Sister's desire.  Or, the sister does desire Aksinya just as the demon said and lied to Aksinya about it.  Aksinya believes she has learned a great truth that you can love without lust.  This thought sustains her in some measure--it will be tested in the future.
Aksinya claims Asmodeus lied about Sister Margarethe.  He responds that he did not lie.  The sister is infatuated with Aksinya--this is truth.  We heard it from her own lips.  Aksinya's realization goes much deeper.  If she had attempted the bidding of the demon and tried to seduce the Sister, she might have succeeded.  There is much in this conversation that is unsaid in regard to Aksinya.  She has sexual fantasies and infatuations herself, only those fantasies are true fantasies.  In many ways she is very naive.  She wouldn't know what to do with a man or a woman sexually at all.  The idea scares her.  I don't mention this to say she should be willing, but rather to set up your thoughts for what will happen next.  Aksinya is a perfect countess on the outside, but she is very innocent of human interaction.  The demon realizes this and capitalizes on it.  Not everything Asmodeus has told her is a lie, but much of it is a lie.  Therefore, Aksinya's question that leads us into tomorrow: "Then what is the truth?”

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A New Novel, Part 111 Reverend Mother's Attention

The chapter has been set and we move into the details of clean up of the situation with the school.  The first step is to get Aksinya ready for school...

After breakfast, Natalya and Sister Margarethe dressed Aksinya in her school uniform. Sister Margarethe marveled that except for some strange cross shaped burns on her chest, Aksinya was not even bruised anywhere on her body. They walked across the street to Sacré Coeur together.

When they arrived, the Reverend Mother was waiting for them. She curtsied to Aksinya, “Countess, I’m so glad to see you well.”

Aksinya nodded, “Thank you, Reverend Mother. I am well. Sister Margarethe has been a great help to me.”

“I’m glad to hear that. When you finish your classes today, please come visit me in my office. You may bring the Lady Natalya and Sister Margarethe.”

“Yes, Reverend Mother.”

Frau Drescher stood in the shadow of the doors. She didn’t say a word.

Aksinya and Natalya went to chapel together, and in spite of her grievous sin of the day before, Aksinya didn’t feel any worse than she usually did.

They attended their classes together and at the end of the day, found themselves before the door to the Reverend Mother’s office. Before they could knock, Sister Margarethe came up beside Aksinya and rapped on the door.

From inside the office came, “Please enter.”

Sister Margarethe opened the door and Aksinya followed by Natalya entered the room.

The Reverend Mother stood and curtsied. She pointed to the seats before her desk. Aksinya sat and pulled Natalya into the other chair before Sister Margarethe could sit there. Sister Margarethe stood behind them.

The Reverend Mother sat and propped her chin on the back of her hands. Her look was piercing, “Well, Countess, Lady Natalya, you are both full of surprises. I do wish you had told me about your accommodations before now, but we will have to make do.”

Aksinya cocked her head, “Make do?”

“Yes, dear Countess. There is no way, I, the Abbot, the Cardinal, or the Freifrau Bockmann could allow two unmarried young women to remain in a house alone unchaperoned.”

“We have been there for almost two weeks.”

“That may be so, but it cannot continue as it has.”

Aksinya’s eyes slitted, “What did you have in mind?”

“I can allow you two to stay in that house only if Sister Margarethe oversees you.”

Aksinya straightened, “Sister Margarethe…”

The Reverend Mother wriggled her fingers, “Yes, Countess?”

Aksinya lowered her eyes, “Sister Margarethe will be acceptable.”

“Good, you may continue to dine with us here, as you desire, but I wish to also provide some of the novice sisters to keep the house.”

“More sisters?”

“The Lady Natalya and Sister Margarethe can’t be expected to take care of a house that large by themselves.”

“I didn’t expect to entertain.”

“The novice sisters will just take care of the cleaning and the laundry. Lady Natalya and Sister Margarethe will continue to act as your servants.”

“The Lady Natalya is my lady-in-waiting and not my servant.” Aksinya glanced back at Sister Margarethe, “She will be my servant?”

“She has been all this time. What do you think a teacher really is?”

“I see.” Aksinya stood. Natalya stood as quickly as she could beside her. Aksinya continued, “Thank you, Reverend Mother for being so thoughtful. You have been kind to me and to my lady-in-waiting.”

“We wish you both to be successful here. Why should we not accommodate you in these simple things?” She curtsied.

Aksinya and Natalya walked to the courtyard where Freifrau Bockmann’s carriage was waiting to take them to Freiherr Bockmann’s estate, Grossbock.

This is a transition scene that doesn't appear to be a transition scene.  The input of the scene is the return to school (following the incident of the great enchantment).  The point of the scene is to establish officially Aksinya's household.  The output of the scene is the return to the Bockmann's estate to prepare for the Advent party.
One of the recurring ideas in the novel is the crucifix that burns Aksinya's chest.  Whenever she is involved in sorcery, I can indicate her decline through this image.  The competing image is her illness when she gets close to the trappings of the church (of God).  These contrasting images are important because Aksinya puts up with them to attempt her own salvation from the demon.  She is constantly trying to save herself.  She puts up with the pain and suffering from both these causes because she will not give up her luxuria or her sorcery.
The Reverend Mother greets Aksinya when she arrives at school in the morning.  You know she had been watching for her.  The importance of this might be missed by the reader.  The Reverend Mother is wise in many ways.  She also knows how important Aksinya is.  We will discover this during the Advent party still to come (hint).  Then, the invitation from the Reverend Mother to visit in the afternoon.  I don't make a big deal of this, but you should be able to discern the tension such a request brings to Aksinya.  That's Frau Drescher in the shadows. 

We get the contrasting image of Aksinya in the chapel--it's not too bad for her.  I transition you to the end of the day when the meeting with the Reverend Mother is to occur.  There is no need for anything extraneous here.  Now we get to the meat.  Sister Margarethe was obviously waiting for Aksinya and Natalya.  She makes certain they all get there together.  Aksinya pulls Natalya into the seat beside her.  She is making a declaration to the Sisters and to Natalya.  She has bound them together in this business.  She might not realize how this is.  Natalya is buoyed by it.  The Reverend Mother can't miss it.  You already know that Sister Margarethe aspires to be like Natalya.  Sister Margarethe is relegated to the servant's position behind them both.  This is a new development. 

The Reverend Mother realizes this.  That is why she addresses the both of them.  Then, where we were expecting a reprimand, the Reverend Mother just acknowledges the fact that Aksinya has a house across the street.  This surprises Aksinya.  She thought she was going to be reprimanded too.  The worry is that Aksinya and Natalya are unchaperoned, and the worry comes from the Reverend Mother, the Abbot, the Cardinal, and Freifrau Bockmann.  This is pretty high attention.  Aksinya's response is a reaction to this attention (attention she didn't expect), and to the potential problems this might be for her.  Notice, she isn't worried about the demon's reaction or actions in this change of events.  Aksinya wants the freedom the house gave her.  Asmodeus wants Aksinya to have the freedom of the house--its purpose was so she could do evil.  Then the solution surprises Aksinya--Sister Margarethe shall oversee.  Aksinya didn't expect this at all.  This Sister will keep Aksinya's secrets.  She knows enough to need supervision from Aksinya.  Sister Margarethe has already been pulled into Aksinya's evil.  The solution is perfect for Aksinya (and perfect for the demon).

Then comes the insistence of novice sisters to keep the house.  This is an unexpected turn.  Aksinya will have to watch over herself.  Aksinya is slightly obtuse--perhaps intentionally.  She is trained to be a great lady, but she is not as knowledgeable about a household as she should be.  On the question of servants, Aksinya throws down the gauntlet about Sister Margarethe.  I gave you many hints and even told you.  Aksinya does not want the Sister to be like Natalya, and there is more than one reason why.  The most telling is that she doesn't want another apprentice, and she doesn't want to be responsible for the Sister's fall.  It is really too late for Aksinya to make corrections there, but the necessary place of the Sister is set.  Likewise, the Reverend Mother wisely reminds Aksinya, the place of Sister Margarethe is as a servant.  Aksinya realizes almost everything that is going on here.  She is honestly grateful for the Reverend Mother's help and consideration.

The end tells you today is Friday and Aksinya and Natalya are off to the Bockmann's.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A New Novel, Part 110 The Book--Where is it?

This chapter is about the book.  I promised you the setting would tell you that, we finally get to that point in the setting of the chapter.  I included the last paragraph to give you the context from yesterday...

Aksinya kissed Natalya’s tear streaked cheeks again, “Yes, dear Nata, you are very good at that, but you are an especially great person. I pray you learn that before you fall as I have.”


Aksinya placed her fingers over Natalya’s lips, “Hush. I need to know where my book is.”

“The new one?”

“Yes, I dropped it in the street…”

“Yes, when you made the great sorcery.”

“Hush, don’t say it that way. And especially don’t say it with any trace of pride in your voice. I dropped it, where is it?”

“I’m sorry, mistress….” She noted Aksinya’s look, “I mean Aksinya. I hadn’t thought of it since then. We were so worried about you. The young man carried you back here and placed you in your bed. If he hadn’t been around, I don’t know what we would have done.”

“Did you see the book when he picked me up?”

Natalya shook her head.

“Čort poberí , that blasted devil.”

Natalya covered her ears, “What you said…”

“…is true. He must have taken it.” She glanced back at Natalya, “Have you seen my courtier?”

Natalya shook her head.

“I’m certain he took it.” She grasped Natalya’s hand, “After we have breakfast and before we go to school...”

“We are going to school today?”

“Yes, before we go to school, look in the cellar for my new book. Check the shelves, but don’t let Sister Margarethe see you and don’t forget to relock the door.”

“Yes, Aksinya.”

“Good, now draw my bath. I feel wonderful today.”

Natalya smiled.

I've been asked about the pacing in and of scenes.  This isn't the best example, but I'll forget about the topic if I don't get to the point.  Within a scene, the careful writer attempts to control the pace that the action moves with the way the scene is written.  For a quick back and forth dialog, the writer will not give beats (he smirked, she glanced) or conversational indicators (asked, told, replied, the dreaded said (I try to never use it) etc.).  Likewise when it is important to slow the conversation and make the reader dwell on the words, the writer will insert more than the normal beats or indicators.  In fact, the purpose of the little markers in conversation, for example the first one today: Aksinya kissed Natalya’s tear streaked cheeks again, “Yes, dear Nata, you are very good at that, but you are an especially great person. I pray you learn that before you fall as I have.” was to make you slow down to a reading crawl so you would note the statement Aksinya made--hers is a very important statement.  The actions of Aksinya draw out this point in the conversation.  You might note the many "glances" in my writing.  I don't have a glance fetish.  I use this as a means to get to you imagine the other person in the conversation or the scene.  If you focus on the other person, just as the character is at that moment, you too will begin to imagine the whole of what is going on within the scene.

In action scenes, the writer shortens up the verbiage and the sentences to give the reader a sense of the action.  Also, the writer can slow the action down intentionally to draw out the important points.  If the purpose of the writing is the theme, this is much more than the pace of the story or the plot.  In other words, when you read in my writing an action scene, I don't write it the way many of my contemporaries do.  They might write wholly for the action--the entire scene is terse and tight.  I want to draw out the theme and the plot as well as the story.  When I pull up the reigns, you know there is a reason.  That's pacing in scenes.

For pacing of scenes we are talking about how the scenes fit into each other.  Something I dislike in contemporary fiction is one action scene backing directly into another and another and so on.  It is like a string of jokes without a punchline.  I try to pace scenes to build and build and build to a climax--what I've called a pivotal scene before.  A pivotal scene is the scene that literally the whole novel (or parts) have driven to.  The power in this type of writing is that the reader feels the depth of it and knows the writer isn't wasting their time.  If every bit of the writing supports the overall storyline, plot, and theme, nothing is wasted.  Further, in the pacing of scenes, the reader gets a reprieve from the action.  Don't get me wrong, there is still action going on, but the reader can take a breath.  The reader can take a sip of the writing and not a gulp.  The reader can feel comfortable again.  The example of this is the attempted rape of Natalya and Sister Margarethe.  You knew something was brewing for a long time.  You could feel it in the story and plot (the theme should have you always a little tense in this novel).  When Aksinya made her great enchantment, it was as if the world was suddenly resolved.  When she was healed, the world came right for the reader.  The pacing in the scene was slightly fast with breaks for key points to be made: the gentleman, the conversation with the demon, etc.  The pacing of the scenes was action (the great enchantment), then relief (the aftermath), then action (healing Aksinya), then relief again, and now this gentle interlude.  Such pacing is not and should not be formulaic, but it is keyed into the plot to give time for the reader to feel comfortable again and yet with an underpinning of tension as we build to the next climax (pivotal scene).  Through this journey, as I mentioned, the reader should capture that the writer isn't wasting their time with anything extraneous.  The novel moves on, and every tiny gesture and word has a place that cannot be changed without harm to the whole.  Pacing in and pacing of scenes.  

The transition from Aksinya's statement about her fall to the book is an example of this.  Look at the action implied and explicit in this small transition: "But…” then Aksinya placed her fingers over Natalya’s lips, “Hush. I need to know where my book is.”  You know why the book is important to her.  This is just another link and a incomplete piece of the plot you know must come whole at some point.  Within the trappings of this small exchange, we get more and more out of Aksinya.  The small keys in the dialog: “I’m sorry, mistress….” She noted Aksinya’s look, “I mean Aksinya. I hadn’t thought of it since then. We were so worried about you. The young man carried you back here and placed you in your bed. If he hadn’t been around, I don’t know what we would have done.” In this, I remind you about the gentleman--he is an incomplete piece you know will come whole.

Then Aksinya curses: “Čort poberí , that blasted devil.”  Natalya's reaction should be expected--good girls don't curse, but Aksinya is not a good girl.  Aksinya thinks the demon has taken her book.  Then more setting, they are going to school.

I never mentioned that I like to place a small kicker at the end of every scene.  You should expect it in my writing--it is my style.  Note the trust Aksinya has given her lady-in-waiting--Natalya has the keys to the household (lock the door to the cellar, she has a key to Aksinya's sanctum).

Finally, the end of the scene and the kicker: “Good, now draw my bath. I feel wonderful today.” then Natalya smiled.  Why did she smile?  Remember, nothing is extraneous in the writing.  She smiled for many reasons.  The first is that when all is right with Aksinya, all is right for her handmaiden (her worshiper).  Second, the trust Aksinya gave to Natalya and not Sister Margarethe (the key, the cellar, the mission to look for the book).  The third, Natalya is happy (with school, with Aksinya, with her world).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A New Novel, Part 109 Before You Fall

We begin chapter 10 with the setting.  I throw you directly into the action this time.  The pacing requires it.  In the last chapter, we had an exciting beginning and a resolving end (little resolution, but releif).  Now, we begin again with a little action (not much this time).

“Natalya! Natalya!” Aksinya called from her room while she rang the tiny servant’s bell. Her voice was ten times louder than the bell, and it formed a soft counterpoint to her cries.

Sister Margarethe and the Lady Natalya came running.

The moment they were through the door, Aksinya pointed at Sister Margarethe, “You, sister, prepare my breakfast. I shall have tea and something more substantial than the school provides. Sausages with eggs would be fine. Please scramble the eggs in butter.”

Sister Margarethe’s brow rose, but she just curtsied and went down to the kitchen.

Aksinya waited a moment, then she raised her chin and spoke loudly, “Natalya, please draw my bath.” Then she whispered, “First come here—beside my bed.”

Natalya didn’t hesitate, “Yes, mistress.”

“Yes, Aksinya.”

Natalya blushed, “Yes, Aksinya.”

“Next time, I want you to drink tea with my guests as well. I did not embarrass you when Lady Bockmann and the Sister Margarethe were in my room, but I will next time.”

“Y…yes, Cou…Aksinya.”

“Now, close and lock the door.”

Natalya ran to the door and locked it.

“Come over here.”

Natalya stood at the side of the bed.

Aksinya grabbed Natalya’s arm and pulled her down to the bed. She put her arms around the girl and kissed her cheeks, “Nata, you saved me yesterday. I didn’t have a chance to tell you before. You saved me. You are truly my best friend, and I love you. You don’t know how important you are to me.”

Natalya held Aksinya close and sobbed in her hair, “Mistress, Aksinya, I was so afraid I would loose you. I love you. You are like the sister I never had.”

“And you are much more than the sister I lost. I can’t shed a tear for her either, and I don’t know why.”

Natalya’s embrace tightened, “Let me shed your tears, mistress. That is something I am very good at.” A laugh tinged her sobs.

Aksinya kissed Natalya’s tear streaked cheeks again, “Yes, dear Nata, you are very good at that, but you are an especially great person. I pray you learn that before you fall as I have.”

Aksinya calls for her help.  Remember, they have not spent their days in the house--they always snuck back to the school.  They usually ate breakfast at the school.  Aksinya wants breakfast and, as an aristocrat, she knows how to get it.  She has her bell and her voice.  This is supposed to give a little levity and a little realization of the culture of the times.  Aksinya isn't used to the Austrian methods of calling servants.  Don't you wonder who gave her the bell?  Either the Freifrau or the Sister obviously.
About setting the chapter.  You can guess where we are going with this chapter.  You'll get more tomorrow.  Hint: where is the book.  The setting is simple, I use what the reader already knows.  The bedroom in the house is reasonably well known.  We understand from the breakfast order that it is likely the morning.  The presence of Sister Margarethe tells us the same.  Unless the Reverend Mother gave her the day off from teaching.  We will find out more.  In setting the scene, especially when the reader is familiar with the setting already, you can ease into it with some revelation.  I like to use this technique, that is, the world exclusively through the eyes of my character, and I have used it to drive entire novels before--not so much with this one.
When Natalya and Sister Margarethe come to her, Aksinya gets rid of the sister.  It is a distribution of duties, but it serves Aksinya well.  Aksinya speaks loudly because Sister Margarethe might be listening.  Once Aksinya has Natalya in her grasp, she lays down the rules of her house.  There wasn't any need of rules when there was just the two of them--now they need rules.  First, Natalya must call Aksinya by her name (in private, of course).  Second, Natalya isn't a servant, she is a lady in the house.  She will be served tea, and not have to serve the tea.  We are already seeing what Aksinya will do with the Sister.  Then Natalya must lock the door.  It would be improper for a Countess to show such tenderness to her lady-in-waiting.
Aksinya is a kind person, but she does not show much emotion.  We get a repeat of her response at the death of her family.  Aksinya can't cry for herself or others.  This is a critical marker in her personality and in the novel.  She can express herself, but Aksinya can't let out her emotions.

Natalya and Aksinya share a tender scene, and we have a foreshadowing--I hope you learn how great a person you are before you fall as I have.  This statement is prescient and important.  There is more, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A New Novel, Part 108 Secrets on Secrets on Secrets

Here is the rest of chapter 9.  We continue from the very revealing conversation between Aksinya and Sister Margarethe.  Sister Margarethe is convinced that Aksinya's power must be good.  Aksinya knows it is not...

“That is yet to be seen.”

Aksinya laughed, “That is the truth. How long are you to stay here?”

“The Reverend Mother said I am to reside with you until you are well. We will work out the details later.”

“I am hungry. Would you ask the Lady Natalya to prepare my tea? Please ask her to make it a heavy tea.”

Sister Margarethe stood. She held Aksinya’s hand until the last moment, “When I am filled with fear or apprehension, I find that prayer helps me very much.”

“I do too, but I don’t believe my prayers are ever heard.”

Sister Margarethe reached out again, “Why would you think that?”

“It is because of who I am. I still don’t trust you, Sister Margarethe, but I will allow you to serve me and stay here, at least until I am well.”

During tea, Freifrau Bockmann came rushing into Aksinya’s room. She stood just inside the open door to the sitting room, “Countess.”

“Yes, Aunt Brunhilda, we are just having tea. Would you like Natalya to pour you a cup?”

Freifrau Bockmann pulled off her gloves, “Please.” She came over to the side of the bed and sat down, “You don’t look like you are at the edge of death. Was the Reverend Mother’s report wrong?”

Sister Margarethe put out her hand, “Perhaps we exaggerated the event a little in our concern. The Countess was injured.”

Lady Bockmann cocked her head, “And you are?”

Aksinya put down her cup, “She is Sister Margarethe, our German teacher.”

Sister Margarethe bowed in her chair, “The Reverend Mother has assigned me to watch over the Countess and Lady Natalya.”

“I see.” Freifrau Bockmann glanced all around the room, “This is a beautiful room. Are these all your things from Russia?”

Natalya poured a cup of tea for the Freifrau Bockmann and handed it to her.

Aksinya answered, “Yes.”

“We didn’t realize you had set up housekeeping and brought your family’s things out of Russia.”

“We were lucky to get them out.”

“Yes, very lucky. You picked a lovely house, although it is in the city. It is convenient to the school.” She flopped her gloves at Aksinya, “Really, Countess, you should have told us before you made such an important decision.”

Aksinya stared at her, “I am not used to asking anyone’s advice before I make a decision.”

“Yes, of course. Your uncle could have helped you. He is a Freiherr and well regarded in Wien.”

“I’m sorry. Your help would have been valuable. I will endeavor in the future to ask both your advice before I make such an important decision.”

“That is kind of you. Thank you, Countess.”

“You do understand, apart from my injury, except for the Lady Natalya and me, the existence of this house would have remained unknown? That was my point. I wanted a private and secret place where I could feel the comfort and closeness of my family’s belongings in this city.”

“Oh, I see. I think I understand.”

“I really don’t wish everyone to know about it.”

“Ah,” Freifrau Bockmann sat back. She took a sip of tea, “I, we won’t let the cat out of the bag. You know you will have trouble keeping it secret.”

“I know.”

“We shall not let anyone know.”

“I hope the Reverend Mother is as accommodating. I will discuss our details tomorrow.”

“You and the Lady Natalya will still be able to come home. I mean to Grossbock.”

“Yes, we will continue to come to Grossbock for the weekends. You entertain us well.”

Lady Bockmann bowed. She took another sip of tea and nipped a biscuit from Natalya’s tea service, “Now will you explain how you were injured and how the Sister Margarethe became involved. I already spoke with the Reverend Mother, and I’m not clear on anything.”

Sister Margarethe smiled, “The Countess fell in the street. She was slightly injured and we were all very concerned.”

Lady Bockmann responded, “I see.” But her look said she clearly did not.

The conversation turns to a point that is very important to Aksinya.  She didn't want supervision.  First, she believes she doesn't need any, and second, she wishes to accomplish her sorcery without interruption. The details are important to Aksinya because she wants the latitude to do the evil she doesn't desire to do.  Aksinya asks for tea--heavy tea.  She hasn't eaten.  Sister Margarethe thinks Aksinya's problems are simple or just a girl's normal problems--she has no idea, or she hides the truth from herself.  She loves Aksinya so much.  Aksinya doesn't trust the Sister--she should.

Then at tea, Freifrau Bockmann rushes in.  Aksinya acts like nothing has happened.  Notice that Aksinya calls her Aunt Brunhilda.  I tried to make this address have some meaning in the novel.  I haven't been consistent and I'm not certain how consistent I should be.  I intended that Aksinya use the appellation Aunt Brunhilda when she was uncomfortable--it is her joke to herself.

We learn ancillary data.  The Reverend Mother's knowledge and that she immediately called for the Freifrau.  Sister Margarethe is introduced to the Freifrau.  This, by the way, is the highest the Sister will be in the household.  We get a little more about the house and the things from Russia.  Then a strong foreshadowing.  I won't reveal anything about it, but I will remind you when it happens.  Listen to the Freifrau's words, “Really, Countess, you should have told us before you made such an important decision.”  Aksinya's tells the absolute truth, she doesn't ask advice--but she didn't make this decision, the demon did.  Then Aksinya makes a promise she can't keep.  She makes many of these--she's under the thumb of a demon, but she still wishes to do the right thing.  Then Aksinya tells her reason for keeping the house secret.  Part of this statement is true.  Aksinya's problem is luxuria.  I havent' reminded you of that for a long time.  The belongings fill her with lust and desire.  Then more foreshadowing from the Freifrau, "You won't be able to keep it secret for long."  There is more to this, but we shall see.

Then the end of chapter kicker.  It isn't very strong, but it is telling.  It underscores the entire chapter.  Everything is known, but nothing is known.  Everything is revealed, but nothing is revealed.  There are secrets and secrets and secrets.  The kicker: Lady Bockmann responded, “I see.” But her look said she clearly did not.

Tomorrow we begin chapter 10.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A New Novel, Part 107 Trust in Aksinya?

Aksinya is finally able to confront Sister Margarethe.  During the conversation, we learn more about the great event in this chapter and we learn more about Sister Margarethe.

“I do not know. I have no idea what you did, but it is obvious to me, that you bled your heart and your soul to save me and the Lady Natalya. When we brought you here, you were dying. The doctor who examined you was astounded. The way we described your injuries, he was certain you would be already dead when he arrived. Instead, you were and are the picture of health.” She stared at Aksinya, “How do you explain this, Countess?”

Aksinya flounced back into her pillows, “I will not…cannot explain it.”

“Will not and cannot are two very different things, Countess.”

Aksinya glanced at the sister from the corner of her eyes. She didn’t speak.

“I know you don’t trust me. You said it to me directly, but you must trust me. I will not tell anyone about this. I will keep your secrets. This I promise.”

“This is something you should not promise.”


“Because you love God.”

“And I love you too.”

“Do you swear you will not and do not have lust for me?”

Sister Margarethe looked at Aksinya eye to eye, “I do love you. I am infatuated with you. I’m not sure why. In all my years, I’ve never been attracted to someone like this, but I don’t feel desire for you—not that kind of desire. I feel as if you were my little sister and I just want to hold your hand and make your life better. I don’t think your life has been very pleasant for a long while.”

Aksinya put out her hand, “I still don’t trust you, but you may hold my hand.”

Sister Margarethe carefully took Aksinya’s hand in hers.

Aksinya looked away from the nun, “Who was the young man who carried me here?”

“In the excitement, we never got his name. He had been trying to help the Lady Natalya and me when we were attacked, but it was you who finally saved us.”

“My memory was a little shaken, but he was dressed like an aristocrat.”

“That he was. His clothing was a mess by the time he laid you in your own bed.” Sister Margarethe paused a moment then continued, “What happened to the men at the tavern?”

Aksinya shuddered, “I don’t know.” She gave a quick glance back at the nun, “They are not dead.” She looked away again, “I did not kill them.”

“What did you do?”

“I will not say.”

“It was a miracle.”

“It was the opposite of a miracle.”

“The opposite? It saved both your handmaiden and your teacher from being violated. I think it was a miracle.”

“You must not think that.”

“Why not. If it was the cause of good, how can it be anything but good?”

“Because I am not good…”

“That is yet to be seen.”

I repeated the last paragraph of yesterday's dialog.  Today, the conversation centers on a very important question.  This may be a question that you have had.  In many cases Aksinya's sorcery has led to some degree of good.  In the current great enchantment, Aksinya saved Natalya and the Sister from rape.  Aksinya herself made that comment to the demon--to commit sorcery to save the virtue of the two women, is that really wrong.  I am intentionally providing you a paradox.  The rabbis tell us that the commission of one sin to prevent a greater sin is not wrong.  That is, to bear false witness to save a life, or to heal on the Sabbath.  Jesus gave the same answer, but it was already known in the Mishna and later in the Talmud.  The other Rabbinic train of thought is that any sin adds to the evil in the world and is to be avoided.  This is the ultimate problem that can't be justified.  Aksinya's sorcery did save, but at the same time, it increased the evil in her being and in the world.  It led to Sister Margarethe's fall as I mentioned yesterday.
Sister Margarethe wants an explanation about the sorcery.  This is something Aksinya cannot do.  To do so would drag the Sister deeper into sin.  Still the Sister presses.  Then we get the extent of Sister Margarethe's fall.  She will keep Aksinya's secrets.  A relief to Aksinya, but an indication of the depth of the sister's descent.  The conversation with Sister Margarethe about God could be almost the same with Natalya.  The Sister and Natalya have both given their faith over to Aksinya.  Sister Margarethe's confession of infatuation just confirms Aksinya's and our fears.  That Aksinya allows the Sister to hold her hand is an indication of the acceptance of the Sister's faith and trust. 

Then we get more about the young gentleman.  You should expect more from this.  Remember, there is nothing extraneous in my novels.  I gave you the young man in the pivotal scene.  The Sister and Aksinya have mentioned him twice in this conversation.  This is a means of foreshadowing that puts the idea in the reader's mind in more than one way.

The questions move toward the men in the tavern.  Is Aksinya's pronouncement of their safety a lie or does she know what happened to them?  Then we get the exchange that focuses the point of the dialog on evil vs. good again.  The Sister thinks Aksinya's sorcery was a miracle.  For us this also is a relief.  Perhaps Sister Margarethe has not fully placed her trust in Aksinya.  Perhaps God is still first in her mind and heart and Aksinya only a second, but this isn't certain.  Tomorrow more of this very important dialog.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A New Novel, Part 106 Love without Lust

The aftermaths of this pivotal scene in the novel are still coming.  The issue of Sister Margarethe is a critical point that must be addressed by Aksinya.  Do you see that she must resolve this point?  The Reverend Mother has given Aksinya into the oversight of the Sister.  If Aksinya can't come to some resolution, she only can envision a horrible end to the situation.

Sister Margarethe’s voice finally returned. It was breathless, “Who told you that?” She reached forward to grasp Aksinya’s hand. Aksinya spoke a couple of words in Latin. There was a flash in the room, and Sister Margarethe sat back in her chair, “I don’t know what you did, but it doesn’t make me love you any less.”

Aksinya raised her chin, “I took away your desire and forced you to tell me the truth.”

“Love isn’t all desire. My love for you has little to do with physical attraction and nothing to do with a sexual urge.”

Aksinya’s look said she didn’t believe a word.

Sister Margarethe glanced at her feet, “Countess, I’ve spent twenty years of my life consecrated as a bride of Christ. I feel no desire for Him. I simply love Him.”

“What about your feelings for me?”

“I think you mistake my actions and my desires. I do love you.” Sister Margarethe turned her face, “And I do admit, I love you in a way I haven’t loved anyone else…”

“There, you said it.”

“I do love you, Countess, but twenty years of loving God has shown me I can love without desire.”

Aksinya’s look was surprised, “You can love without desire, without lust?”

“Yes, without lust. I don’t desire you sexually, countess. I want to be for you in the same way you are for your servant, the Lady Natalya.”

“I don’t trust you.”

Sister Margarethe sighed, “I understand.”

“There is much more here that you don’t understand.”

“Then tell me. I will be your confessor.”

“I’m afraid I am not ready to be confessed yet…”

“I know you are involved in great sin.”

“You have no idea how great.”

“I saw what you did in the street…”

“Then you know?”

“I do not know. I have no idea what you did, but it is obvious to me, that you bled your heart and your soul to save me and the Lady Natalya. When we brought you here, you were dying. The doctor who examined you was astounded. The way we described your injuries, he was certain you would be already dead when he arrived. Instead, you were and are the picture of health.” She stared at Aksinya, “How do you explain this, Countess?”

Sister Margarethe is shocked by Aksinya's accusation.  She can only respond with a question.  This is the sister's greatest secret.  She tries to cut off the situation by making the biggest mistake those who love with a one sided love can make--she tried to touch Aksinya.  Aksinya's response is a small enchantment.  Remember "big" enchantments change the world.  "Small" ones affect the appearance or the symbols in the world.
Sister Margarethe's reaction is peculiar: “I don’t know what you did, but it doesn’t make me love you any less.”  If you were looking for a confession, there it was.  The why is answered by Aksinya in her next statement: “I took away your desire and forced you to tell me the truth.”  The truth is that Sister Margarethe does love Aksinya.  The question is in what way does she love...  The Sister must tell the truth.  Whether she wishes to or not, she must.  By the way, this is obviously what she desires to do.  She wants to tell Aksinya the truth.  Aksinya's reaction is odd--she made an enchantment to know the truth.  She, of anyone, should realize that the sister must tell the truth.  This truth is so important, I will repeat it for you: “Love isn’t all desire. My love for you has little to do with physical attraction and nothing to do with a sexual urge.”  The Sister's reasoning is enlightening too.  She compares her love of Aksinya with her love of Christ.  This is a hidden comparison, but it is obvious in the text.  The Sister does love Aksinya in a way that is unusual or that is different than the way she loves others, but Sister Margarethe's love is a love without lust.  Then the dangerous statement from the Sister--she wants to be as Natalya is.  That can't stand.  Aksinya will not let that be, plus we know that the Sister has a power she looks to (God), Natalya's power is Aksinya.

There is a lot of danger here--there is danger that will not go unpunished and for Aksinya revelations that are necessary.  The conversation turns in an instant to the power that Natalya does look to.  This power is Aksinya's.  This is the part that the Sister doesn't understand, but she will accept because she loves Aksinya.  Watch carefully her response and remember, the Sister loves Aksinya and wants to be like Natalya. 

Within the conversation, the question of confession comes up.  The Sister wants a confession because she wants to understand.  Aksinya is truly not ready for a confession.  Sister Margarethe knows Aksinya is involved in great evil, she just doesn't know what it is, and she doesn't want it to be wrong.  Aksinya was wrong, the Sister has fallen under Aksinya's temptation.  The sister has become part of Aksinya's sin.  Aksinya has seduced the Sister with her sorcery.  She has accomplished the desires of Asmodeus.  The Sister realizes something is up, but she doesn't want to really know it herself.  Tomorrow: “How do you explain this, Countess?”

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A New Novel, Part 105 The Accusation of Lust

Aksinya made a great enchantment to save her friend.  She made another great enchantment to save her life.  When she woke the first time, the woman she most fears was beside her.  When she wakes again, the same woman, Sister Margarethe is there.

When Aksinya woke again, Sister Margarethe held her hand. Aksinya pulled it out of the nun’s grasp, “Don’t touch me.”

“I…I’m sorry, Countess.”

“I don’t want you in my room.”

“The Reverend Mother said I could look after you.”

“Why are you here, anyway?”

Sister Margarethe closed her eyes and put her hands together.

“I asked you a question.”

“The Lady Natalya and I have been looking after you since you collapsed in the street.”

“You brought me back here?”

“No, a young man carried you here. The Lady Natalya suggested it.”

Aksinya closed her mouth.

“The Lady Natalya told us that this was your house. She explained about how you had to flee Russia and set up everything here. You didn’t need to keep it a secret.”

Aksinya glared at her.

“I realize you wanted to keep the existence of this place from us. I think I understand how you wanted to blend in with the other girls…”

“Then why did you follow and spy on me?”

“The Reverend Mother instructed me to keep a special eye on you…I didn’t mean to spy. We were worried about you.”

“Why do you care about me at all?”

Sister Margarethe colored, “You are one of our students. You are a special student.”

“Is that all?”

Sister Margarethe glanced at the door, “I…we love you.”

Aksinya wrinkled her lip, “Love me. I realize what you think about me. You feel lust in your heart for me. You want me that way…that’s why I don’t want you alone with me.”

Sister Margarethe stared in shock. She didn’t say a thing.

Aksinya looked smug.

Asmodeus convinced Aksinya that Sister Margarethe has sexual desire for her.  This shocked Aksinya so much that she didn't take the time to question the demon's statements.  This was a revelation that the reader will not know (yet might guess), but I wanted to give you a heads up.  This explains Aksinya's reaction--and perhaps the Sister's.

Aksinya's statement that she doesn't want the Sister in her room is direct and partially misinterpreted by the Sister.  In this dialog, the two are talking passed each other.  Aksinya doesn't dare state what is on her mind--for many reasons.  In spite of this, we learn a lot about what is going on.  Aksinya interrogates the Sister.  We find that the Reverend Mother knows about the house.  We discover that a young man carried Aksinya to her bed.

Sister Margarethe tells us that they understood that Aksinya wanted to blend in so she kept the house secret.  This is a blatant misconception.  Aksinya never tried to blend in anywhere.  That idea was never in her mind.  That the sisters thought it of her was informative on lots of levels.  Aksinya lets that one go by--it's a worthwhile misconception for her to use.

Aksinya drills in on the point she wants to know, but she does it from the side.  Sister Margarethe's reactions are informative.  I...we love you.  Then Aksinya pounces.  Sister Margarethe is in shock from Aksinya's accusations.  Is her shock due to the revelation.  Is she astounded that Aksinya would make such an accusation.  Is it because she is embarrassed or offended or angry?  Aksinya thinks she has it all figured out.  Do we.  Do we know what is really going on here.  I've tried to direct and misdirect you.  If you review the writing, I never told you one way or the other about the truth or falsehood of the demon's claims.  My writing was intentionally ambivalent.  Tomorrow, the answer to this important question, and an important marker in the potential redemption of Aksinya.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A New Novel, Part 104 The Great Enchantment

Aksinya is dying and Natalya helps her set up her sorcery.  We have an idea what is being done, but we are not certain, yet.  Natalya knows everything that Aksinya will do--she has obviously been watching her accomplish sorcery...

Aksinya grabbed for the bag of wax and couldn’t reach it. Natalya opened it and put the whole lump in Aksinya’s hands. Aksinya fumbled for the bag of herbs. Natalya opened that one for her too. Aksinya held the wax in one hand and the herbs in the other.

Aksinya motioned Natalya back with her chin. Natalya ran to the other side of the room. She wanted to watch. She could not take her eyes off Aksinya.

Aksinya’s lips moved slowly at first, but then faster. Her hands brought the wax and the dried leaves together. Aksinya didn’t look at her hands, but in them formed a small figure made of wax. Pieces of the herbs filled the lightly transparent material and stuck out in places. Aksinya’s voice almost increased to the level that Natalya could hear her, but it rose and fell in volume and the words were strange.

Finally, Aksinya grasped all around her. She nearly fell, but kept upright. Natalya didn’t know what to do. Aksinya’s hands moved slowly but frantically on the floor at every side. Natalya knew what Aksinya wanted, it was the dagger. She saw it just to her side.

Natalya called out, “There mistress. Your dagger is on your right.”

Aksinya mouthed, don’t speak.

Natalya fell silent, but without crossing the circle, she pointed at the dagger.

Aksinya reached out and took the knife by the blade. Natalya grasped, it bit into Aksinya’s fingers. Blood trickled from the fist that held the dagger. Aksinya dropped it and seized the wax doll. Blood covered it.

A low sound filled the room. The wax melted and was gone. The blood was suddenly gone. The tallow candles were out, and a bright flash filled the magic circle. For a moment, Natalya couldn’t see Aksinya. She was about to cry out, but she bit her lip. Natalya blinked her eyes, and Aksinya lay prostrate in the center of the magic circle. Natalya ran to the edge and hopped from foot to foot. She didn’t dare cross the circle. She didn’t dare speak. She didn’t dare do anything. Finally, she couldn’t wait any longer, “Countess.” She screamed, “Countess, are you all right?”

Aksinya raised her head and nodded, “Come, sweet Natalya. All is well. I just must sleep now.” Her head fell back to the floor, and she didn’t move.

Natalya ran across the circle to Aksinya’s side. She put her arms around her mistress and held her close. She listened covetously to her breathing and her heartbeat. She kissed her cheeks. Slowly, tenderly, she dragged Aksinya to the bed and lifted her onto it. They were almost the same weight, but Natalya was determined. Then she cleaned up the magic circle and put away all of Aksinya’s items. She laid back the rug. When everything was perfect, Natalya checked on Aksinya again. She kissed her forehead and went to get Sister Margarethe.

Aksinya is accomplishing a great enchantment.  The circle was properly made and encompasses her.  She takes wax--it is the item that will represent her physical body.  She takes herbs.  The body has form, the wax, and parts of the living earth, the herbs.  Natalya gets out of the way, but she wants to watch everything.  This is an amazing thing in the world--the work of a master sorceress.
The words are the Latin that Aksinya has memorized to make the enchantment occur.  With the words and the item properly formed, the last ingredient is the sacrifice.  Previously, Aksinya herself was the sacrifice--that was what injured her (along with the backlash from the power of God in the world).  Natalya helps Aksinya find the dagger.  Since Aksinya can barely manipulate the items, she just grasps the razor sharp dagger and allows it to slice her hand.  With the addition of the blood sacrifice to the wax and herb figure, along with the Latin words, the enchantment is complete, and we see the result.
Natalya's greatest concern is for Aksinya.  This is always true.  The enchantment was a success and Aksinya needs to rest.  Natalya takes care of everything--Aksinya knew she would.  She gets Aksinya back into bed and everything is right again in their world, or is it?  Aksinya is whole again, but much has happened.  Sister Margarethe knows about the house, and the sister is inside Aksinya's house.  The demon has been thwarted by Aksinya.  He disappeared, but is he truly gone?  The men from the tavern, are they dead or alive?  What about Aksinya's book of sorcery?  What about the gentleman who was outside the tavern?  What will happen now?  I told you this was a pivotal chapter.  You can see how everything has been brought together to make these events happen at this point.  The world has changed radically for Aksinya and Natalya--the world has changed for many of the participants in this novel.  We shall see how it plays out.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A New Novel, Part 103 Another Enchantment

Sister Margarethe is out of the way.  The door is locked.  Now Aksinya can do something other than die.  This is both a foreshadowing as well as a description of Aksinya's continuing power.

Aksinya croaked out a weak cry, “My things. The drawer.”

Natalya ripped open the drawer of the night table beside the bed. She already knew where everything was. She came in when she could and stared covetously at her mistress’s wonderful items. She had never touched them before, but only looked at them. She wondered every day when she might learn to use them.

“Get them all,” Aksinya hissed.

Natalya pulled out chalk and tallow candles. She took out Aksinya’s dagger. She took out a bag of herbs and another of wax.

Aksinya struggled to get off the bed. Natalya eased her to the floor. She knew what Aksinya wanted. She threw back the wonderful oriental rug and cleared a space. She dragged Aksinya into the center of that space.

Aksinya gasped, “Chalk.”

Natalya handed it to her. She had to hold it in Aksinya’s hand.

Aksinya began to draw a circle on the floor. It was impossible for her to move enough to do it.

Natalya took the chalk from her. She had seen Aksinya do this often enough. She drew as perfect a circle as she could around Aksinya.

On her hands and knees, Aksinya examined the entire line of the circle. She pointed to a couple of spots and Natalya retraced them. Aksinya gasped through a bloody cough, “Penta…gram.”

Natalya nodded. She drew a pentagram within the circle. She knew it wasn’t as beautiful or perfect as those Aksinya drew so easily, but it came out correctly and looked almost symmetrical. Aksinya examined the points. They were all touching and not outside the circle. The lines all came together properly. Natalya drew Aksinya up so she could kneel in the center of the circle.

Aksinya pointed to three of the tallow candles and directed Natalya where to set them. One at the top and two at the bottom at the points of the pentagram. Aksinya wheezed, “Light… them.”

Natalya was ready. She pulled a taper from the fireplace and lit each one.

Aksinya is dying.  Natalya must help her or she will die.  Notice that Natalya knows where all of Aksinya's things are.  She covets Aksinya's items for sorcery.  Aksinya's sin calls Natalya to sin.  Natalya has watched Aksinya so much that she knows exactly what to do.  I give you the details of the sorcery again.  Natalya helps Aksinya make the magic circle.  Aksinya checks the details to ensure they are exact.  I'm not sure how much more to describe from this piece.  The sorcery comes form Frasier's The Golden Bough and ideas about magic from his theories. The sorcery is all based on these rules.