ITDHL (Novel) Chapter 119

C119

Estella was a very beautiful girl. Her pink hair resembling Lariette's was lustrous, and her blue eyes resembling Asrahan's were clearer than the autumn sky. 

Beautiful eyes, thick eyebrows, naturally curled long eyelashes, a slender nose, chubby lips, and a slender face. There was no corner of her that wasn't beautiful.

As soon as Estella was born, Hallstein cried tears of joy, declaring that the most adorable child in the world had been born. 

Anne also continued to marvel at how much prettier she was than Lariette in her childhood. 

However, the most beautiful aspect of Estella was her heart, not her appearance.

The girl didn't cry much even as a baby, and she would smile faintly when she looked at people. She grew up with a sweet and loving demeanor as the years went by. Although she was five years younger than Evan and Edwin, Estella was their sister. It was because her heart was incredibly kind.

"I'm going to eat it!"

"You've already eaten everything! Are you a pig? A pig?!"

"I use my body in a very different way from people like you!"

One day, Evan and Edwin were arguing for non-trivial reasons, as usual. Neither Lariette nor Asrahan were present, nor were the attendants who usually took care of the children, so the fight grew increasingly fierce. But someone unexpected intervened to stop them—it was Estella.

"Brother, brother..."

The child, who was only a few months old, murmured "brother" with a face that didn't know what to do. At the same time, it was to increase her portion of baby food. 

Faced with that appearance, Evan and Edwin stopped fighting and sat silently, no longer able to surprise their delicate sister.

Estella was a very cute girl, but at the same time, she was also the most painful child for Lariette and Asrahan.

Unlike her siblings, Estella was not born with mana or magic. It would be fortunate if she were just normal, but due to her weak body, she often suffered from illnesses. 

By the time she turned three, the days when she wasn't sick were fewer than the days she was.

Sometimes, her fever would worsen, and she would wander aimlessly. Curiously, Estella was born without divine power or healing magic, and Lariette's magic worked a little, but it was best to preserve her life. 

Even in the midst of scorching heat, Estella would laugh and try to ease the worries of her parents and siblings. However, her fragile figure hurt even more, causing Lariette to cry, pounding her chest alone.

"God, why are you giving us such a good child? I'd rather... I'd rather you take me instead. Please don't let Estella get sick."

Lariette would cry and pray every morning, while Asrahan held her tightly, sobbing and murmuring that everything would be alright. Could God have granted her wish? On the day Estella turned four, a miracle occurred.

"Madam, madam! The princess has divine power...!"

When Hallstein's urgent voice came rushing into Estella's room, an astonishing scene unfolded. A bright light emanated from Estella, who was asleep. A great divine power surrounded the child; she was a child beloved by God. That was Estella.

Divine power and healing magic didn't work well, and Lariette's mana drastically diminished after giving birth to Estella—all because of that. Asrahan took strong measures to ensure that the temple never found out that Estella was gifted with divine nature.

It was because the child could be taken away once it became known at the temple. To be precise, as Asrahan had no intention of sending the child, it would mean the beginning of war. After that, everything went well. 

Since Estella's divine manifestation, she has been healthy without a single cold. She ran around the mansion with her brothers and also joined a group for rowing while sailing with Lariette. 

Lariette and Asrahan prayed to God, giving thanks every day for seeing their children grow up without worries. 

But that didn't last long because despair returned, taking them to a deeper and more terrible hell than ever before.

--------------------

It was an exceptionally cold winter day. Evan and Edwin, now thirteen years old, had grown into decent boys. 

Both were taller than boys their age, and their faces were sharp, so they had grown quite well. On the other hand, Estella was small and slender, but after her divine nature manifested, she was very strong. 

Thanks to the divine power protecting the child, she hadn't fallen ill even once.

"Mother, mother! Can I go to the pond with Estella? It's frozen, let's see."

Evan, who jumped up eagerly, asked with a bright smile. Seeing that he was fully dressed in winter clothes, it seemed like he was already prepared and requested formal permission.

"Isn't it too cold? You might catch a cold..."

"Is it okay to walk around in just short sleeves on a colder day than this?"

"Estella, I'll take good care of her, don't worry."

"Mother, please, pretty please?"

Edwin and Estella joined forces and defeated Lariette.

"You have to play carefully. No climbing on the ice."

"Yes!"

Lariette pondered for a while but ultimately succumbed to the three children's pleading eyes. Asrahan, who was by her side, said that their eyes were just like hers when they had a date.

"Because there's Edwin and there's Evan, everything will be fine."

Evan, who inherited Asrahan's martial arts, had already surpassed the usual knights in swordsmanship. He was a handful because he was so energetic, but Edwin would handle him well with magic.

Furthermore, Estella's divine power now rivaled that of the High Priest, so she wouldn't get hurt. 

Even if she tumbled down the stairs, she would be fine. 

That's why Lariette watched the children running away from their worries, unaware of the crisis that awaited them. It was only an hour later.

"Mom! Uh, mother!"

"Dad! Help, dad!"

Thud.

Her heart sank. Lariette rushed to the children with a pale face. She still didn't know what was happening, but she had a more ominous premonition than ever before.

"Why can't I hear Estella's voice?"

Estella loved her brothers dearly, and when they laughed, she laughed, and when they screamed, she screamed along with them. She was also a chatty child. 

But strangely, Estella was now completely silent. When Lariette finally reached the children, she could see why.

"Mother, Estella, Estella..."

Evan sobbed with tears. In the boy's arms was Estella, who had lost consciousness. Her bloodless face resembled that of a person who would soon die. 

He said she suddenly collapsed while running with excitement. She wasn't caught on a stone or slipped; she simply lost consciousness as if a candle had been blown out by the wind.

Lariette embraced Estella, murmuring, "Everything will be fine, it won't be a big deal." The child's body was stiff and cold. If it weren't for a faint breath coming out of the child's nose, they would mistake her for dead. 

Soon, the priests and hired healing mages from Candel arrived and tried to heal Estella. Lariette also joined forces to deploy and unleash her magic. 

But it was in vain. Even if it weren't, healing was impossible when divine nature resided in the body, where healing magic didn't work properly.

"The mana circuit is severely twisted," explained the priest with a grim expression.

"It's slowly consuming my daughter," naturally came to Lariette's mind as she collapsed in despair. Everything seemed to be her fault. Asrahan, clinging to his wife's body, bit his lower lip hard. He had to find a way somehow.

"Then, how can we heal her?"

"Healing is impossible unless the divine power is much stronger than that of the Princess."

"Then summon the Pope."

Asrahan ordered quietly. The Pope was not someone they could easily summon, but as the Duke of Candel, he had the ability to have the temple listen to his requests. If the Pope came, he would recognize that the child had been chosen by God, but that would be a story for later. Whether it led to war or not, the child's life had to be saved. However, the priest silently shook his head. The same words followed like an ultimatum.

"His Holiness's ability is not enough."

Pope Benedicto, who was crowned five years ago, had less divine power than the former Pope. 

Both men who were mentioned as candidates for Pope died or fled and disappeared, so among the remaining high priests, the one with outstanding divine power was taken immediately. In other words, it meant that no one could heal Estella.

"...I think you need to prepare your heart."

Lariette, shedding tears, looked at the priest like a madman. A venomous voice arose.

"What preparation?"

Lariette reached out to the priest. It seemed like she wanted to grab his collar, but she had no strength.

"Are you prepared to watch your beloved daughter burst and die before your eyes? Is that how you 'prepare'?"

She knew it wasn't the priest's fault, but she couldn't bear the sense of being distraught. 

Lariette cried with a moan, and from Asrahan's embrace, a sob-like scream escaped. Evan and Edwin, who had been listening from outside the door, opened it and cried.

"Um, Mom, I'm sorry. I took Estella out, and I... it's my fault... Ahhh...!"

"Estella, what will we do, our Estella, my sister..."

Hallstein stood up, hugged the crying children, and reassured them. However, it had been a long time since the old man's eyes were moist.

"Why don't you take an old man like me, my Princess..."

Why does Estela have to die, she who hasn't lived for long? Why does God let love slip away and take a life so unnoticed? Tears were shed by everyone in the duchy for the fate of the enchanting princess. And then, Gerard urgently ran to Estella's room.

"Sir, sir! A guest is here!"

What kind of guest are you talking about at a time like this? Asrahan looked at Gerard again, his face stained with deep sadness and anger. Gerard seemed somewhat strange, shame was seen in his trembling pupils and joy at the slightly upturned corners of his lips. 

Just as Asrahan was about to chase after him, someone appeared behind Gerard. As his gaze lifted and the face beneath the hood was revealed, his eyes widened in surprise. Soon, a charming voice captivated everyone.

"The reception of guests is terrible."

The silver hair that fell to his chest shimmered like moonlight, and the bright golden eyes fluttered within his fox-like eyes. Lariette opened her mouth in incomprehension and looked back, seeing a face as beautiful as a god. In one moment, a man she resented, and in another moment, she felt a great deal for, stood before her eyes.

"It's been a long time, Rie."

The man, Doha, greeted her with a smile, as young as ever.

"Here, how..."

"Well, let's just say that God brought me to this place."

Explaining his foresight ability was complicated, so Doha stumbled. Then he approached Lariette, or more precisely, he headed to the bed next to her.

"You asked not to see me again, but this case seems a bit special. Won't you kick me out?"

Doha made a playful gesture with his hand towards Asrahan and looked at Lariette. 

The smile on his lips was as beautiful as before, but his eyes were dull as if showing the accumulated loneliness over the years. 

Lariette stared at the mask that he had restored and tears welled up again. She opened her dry lips and sobbed.

"Help me, Doha."

It was something that could be called reckless when seen by others. It was so unbecoming, and now she was begging for help, even pleading.

"Please, help me..."

But Lariette could do anything to save Estella. She could save her daughter, but what would be so difficult to swear or promise?

Lariette shed tears and prayed, and Asrahan also bowed his head in request.

"It's alright, stop crying."

Doha approached and spoke to Estella, who lay on the bed.

"My lady, you don't have to ask me."

Do you know Lariette? The happiest memories for him were still the days he laughed and chatted with her. With that memory, he endured a decade of solitude and endured it once again.

"I only have the right to ask."

Then, a holy light flowed from Doha's hand. Lariette feared that Estella's power would reject even Doha's, yet before Estella, he was loved by God, and he was still favored, so even though he had left the temple, he hadn't lost any power. 

Therefore, Estella absorbed Doha's energy as if she had been waiting for this very moment. Shortly after, the pale face of the child began to regain color, and her breathing became much more comfortable. A fern-like hand waved, soon her rosy eyelashes lifted, revealing blue pupils.

"Who... is...?" Estella murmured, looking at Doha's face in front of her. He was so beautiful that they mistook him for a god.

"Estella!"

"Oh, my God, darling...!"

When the youngest daughter, who was thought to be dying, opened her eyes, Asrahan broke into tears and embraced the child. Lariette also cried as she touched Estella's cheeks. Doha looked at the family crying without emotions. 

Children who resembled the Duke of Candel and the girl who resembled Lariette, it was a perfect familiar figure. Doha had never had that.

"Doha, thank you so much...!"

Lariette, who had been embracing Estella and crying for a long time, raised her head and expressed her gratitude. However, he had already disappeared.

"Doha?"

"He just vanished, there's no trace of him."

Gerard replied, scratching his neck. It was also strange that a man who was once an enemy had become a benefactor, but he felt even more embarrassed to disappear without receiving any compensation. Lariette and Asrahan went to find Doha to properly thank him, but they couldn't find him. Still on the run, he disappeared without a trace.

"Are you happy?"

Lariette asked in her mind, recalling Doha's face still filled with shadows. Unlike Lariette and Asrahan, who were entering middle age, his face, which still looked like he was in his twenties, was somewhat sadder. 

Despite her desperate wish for his happiness, Doha had never had a happy day after breaking up with Lariette. He thought it would probably be forever, but just as there was no eternal happiness, there was also no eternal misfortune. 

For Doha, someone seemed to pull him out of the shadows.

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