A Stepmother’s Marchen - Chapter 64
On the left and right sides of the huge fireplace, where orange flames fluttered, a statue of the Holy Father and the Virgin Mary, the size of a real person, faced the cardinal with a stern face.
The Cardinal’s face, stained with warm light, was quite beautiful, but it gave a rather eerie impression due to his dark eyes, which stood in contrast under his bright dark brown hair. It should be said that the color was not a problem, but rather because of the eerie madness that flashed in the darkness. No wonder even older cardinals took a cautious attitude that was comparable to that of the Pope when dealing with him.
Cardinal Richelieu was such a man.
Born as the youngest of a series of counts of five brothers, and since entering the priesthood at the age of six, he has been whipping himself so that there is not a single shame under the eyes of God until now.
Compared to other priests who pretended to be faithful on the outside and enjoyed all sorts of ugly pleasures behind the scenes, he could be said to be almost perfect. The only truth in the world for him was the Bible to the extent that he firmly believed that all the clergy in the capital would escape even if they were to fall into a blazing hellfire. While thoroughly following all the strict doctrines, cleanliness, and oath of purity, he never once doubted his faith.
Sometimes, very rarely, a physical desire came upon him like a devil opening his mouth, but he has thoroughly restrained himself.
No matter how beautiful a woman he saw, no matter what promiscuous priests’ festivals he faced, he was never swayed by desire.
And that fact would also be evident in the eyes of the Holy Father and the Virgin Mary standing across from him.
But…… The black eyes staring at the statue of the Virgin Mary holding a baby in one arm, flashed as if on fire. It was a passionate flame that almost resembles anger. Was it anger or resentment? Maybe it was despair. No matter how much he prayed all night, no matter how much he condemned himself and practiced asceticism, the seeds of sin that had once settled in him had no sign of disappearing, quickly sprouting without stopping. God knew better than anyone that of all men in the Empire, there was no one so pious.
But… …but why did he test him like that? Why did even that burning flame look as beautiful as her hair? Cardinal Richelieu first saw Mrs. Neuwanstein about two years ago when she came to pray with her husband. She was only fourteen years old at that time, but in Richelieu’s opinion, she was prettier than the Pope’s mistress, Katerina. At any rate, he was frightened by his own state of being unable to take his eyes off the fairy-like girl sitting next to the marquis, and believing that his fragile body was testing him again, he ran straight to the prayer room and spent half a day atonement. Then he soon forgot her appearance.
No, he thought he’d forgotten… …until he ran into her again, who had recently lost her husband and became a temporary owner of the Marquis and went to Parliament. His dark eyes, recalling the figure of the woman who grew more fascinating than the first time, began to spark a different flame than before, and if it was anger and resentment toward God earlier, it was now burning with far-reaching hatred and longing for her. It wasn’t just a matter of his own… …at least in his opinion.
Other cardinals in parliament, as well as other aristocratic heads, were reluctant to attend, but could not take their eyes off her.
What a ridiculous and ironic scene it was. If she had made her social debut, not a widow whose husband died, the society would have been in a state of turmoil by now.
It was beyond his ability to make a resolution to turn a blind eye to her every time he encountered her, even though he repeatedly promised to turn away completely. It was overshadowed by repeatedly repeating to himself that she was the devil who came to destroy him, and she seemed to flash in front of his eyes when eating, praying, reading the Bible, confessing, and even performing asceticism.
Her pink hair waving in the sunlight, her bright green eyes, her sweet face like a delicately crafted doll, every gesture like the flapping of a pigeon’s wings, showed no sign of letting go of him and followed him tenaciously.
Did the devil appear in her image to distract him from his eternal faith? If not the devil, who could inspire such longing in him? Before he knew it, he was entering a state of extreme danger, he thought that he could throw everything he had if he could just brush his fingertips against her hair. Meanwhile, Crown Prince Theobalt began to show interest in her.
He had never liked the crown prince who was different from the outside, but this time he was overwhelmed by the obligation to rescue the crown prince who was possessed by the witch.
No, he tried to brainwash himself. He brainwashed himself that it was not a vulgar jealousy, but a mission to rescue the heir of the empire as a servant of God. Rather, he might have dismissed it and laughed at it if a middle-aged man had been flirting with her. But his opponent was the crown prince, a person who was born of a much higher status than him.
He couldn’t stand to see it. That was why he gave a clue to the blonde boy who was always in trouble.
But how come the devil was so much stronger than man? Why would people play with souls in ways that humans had never imagined? How could a person have such a holy and noble appearance?
The woman’s behavior in that day’s trial was the kind of thing he had never imagined. What kind of woman in the world, especially a young widow, could do such a thing in front of the whole world to protect her stepchild? According to the Bible, the devil approached humans in completely unexpected shapes. Indeed, it was true. Who would have imagined a demon seeking proof of purty to protect a boy’s future? He could not believe that what she did that day was due to her pure affection or motherhood.
The boy in the defendant’s seat was the next Marquis, only two years younger than her.
He could never believe their relationship was really as innocent as it seemed. Thanks to what happened that day, she was going to get more attention in the future. Since it was nothing short of proving purity, the crown prince would also have nothing to worry about. The marquis’ boy would also be more blindly attached to her.
Was it just an illusion that the flames of the burning fireplace looked like the flames of hell at first glance?
His hand, clutching the rosary on his knee, was clenched. He clenched it so tightly that veins spurted out from the back of his hand. Contrary to popular misunderstanding, Cardinal Richelieu was far from a lust for secular power outside of faith. The papal credibility and reputation among the clergy were all collateral rewards for his faithfulness… …at least until that day.
A heavy sigh escaped from his lips. It was more like a groan of pain.
Pity us, Father. Our Lady, have mercy on us…
Being driven to the brink of desperation, he had only two choices from now on, either take it thoroughly or destroy it thoroughly.