Can't Come Back - Chapter 61
“You’ve all put in a lot of effort. Your efforts for the empire’s peace are more valuable than anything.” The Notium Empire’s Emperor addressed the nobles and knights bowing before him.
It was the Imperial Castle’s largest hall. Most of the Notium Empire’s nobles were present at this place dedicated to commemorating those who had distinguished themselves in the recent war.
“We will create a new duchy on the Talisbon lands that Notium has conquered this time. It will be under the rule of the empire. It will be known as the Tbilisi Duchy. We shall turn it into a military fortress to ensure that Talisbon never again threatens Notium.”
The atmosphere was solemn, but everyone was cheerful.
“Count Handel, I bestow the fiefdom of the Kansen region upon you. I also bestow the title of Marquis upon you.”
“Thank you very much, Your Majesty. I gladly accept it.”
The Emperor showered honors on deserving nobles. It was now Cain’s turn.
“And now, Duke Cain Hildayden, please take your place.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Cain knelt before the Emperor, responding to his summons. He was the most deserving guy who had guided this battle to a decisive victory.
“Duke Cain Hildayden, you have contributed the most to this war. I believe no reward would be too great to honor you.”
“You are flattering me, Your Majesty.”
“No, tell me what you want, and I’ll give it to you.”
The provocative statements of the Emperor roused the assembled lords. It was a noticeable differentiation from the other honors bestowed. It was an incredible opportunity to be told to ask for anything one desired.
Everyone was waiting for Cain to respond. Wealth, power, and prestige. It was a chance to have anything, and they were intrigued by his choice.
“Is that true?”
Like everyone else, Cain was taken aback by the Emperor’s offer. He hadn’t expected such an offer.
“Of course. Say what you want.”
Cain began to speak after a bit of quiet as though evaluating what he wanted.
“…Your Majesty, the truth is, I am a sinner.”
Cain’s confession that he was a sinner spilled from his mouth. No one in the room, including the Emperor, could understand what he was saying.
“What are you on about? Why would you want to profess to be a sinner? Duke Cain Hildayden, you are an imperial treasure. Thanks to your efforts, we were able to reduce the damage caused by Talisbon. Say what you want.”
Nobody thought Cain, who had done much for the empire, could be a sinner. The Emperor encouraged him to express his intention.
Cain’s later story, however, revealed surprising words.
“I’ve always had feelings for my brother’s wife. Lady Berlia Hildayden, the Duchess, my sister-in-law, is the woman I adore. As a result, I am a sinner. If you want to punish me, I will endure any punishment. I’m also willing to give up my status as Duke. But if you could grant me one desire…”
Cain took a big breath and hesitated for a moment. Then he expressed to the Emperor his long-held desire.
“It’s all about acknowledging our relationship.”
Cain’s remarks were stunning. The room shook even more as the Emperor asked him to express his request. Everyone was perplexed by what was going on. It was shocking to learn that Cain Hildayden, a noble with a good reputation, had committed adultery. Everyone was taken aback. The unexpected response surprised even the Emperor. He looked at Cain, puzzled, and inquired,
“So, you’re saying… you love the deceased Dean Hildayden’s wife, your brother’s wife?”
The Emperor expressed his disapproval of Cain’s reaction. Cain and Berlia were still related to Dean Hildayden, despite his death. This was just as heinous as adultery. The empire’s hero confessed to an affair in a public spot where most of the empire’s nobles gathered. The Emperor had said to speak one’s wish, but he was now torn. Even if he were to recognize someone for their outstanding contribution, acknowledging an unfaithful relationship would be difficult.
“Your Majesty, may I humbly speak?”
Crown Prince Hakarton then took a step forward and stated,
“What exactly is it, Hakarton?”
“With Berlia Hildayden, Cain Hildayden made a grave error. However, this is a personal matter. Isn’t it time to recognize Cain Hildayden for his outstanding achievements in the war against the Talisbon Kingdom?”
“So, what do you suggest?”
The Emperor inquired about Hakarton’s ideas. Hakarton responded without hesitation,
“I beseech you to appoint Cain Hildayden as Duke of the Tbilisi Duchy.”
“As Duke Tbilisi?” he asks.
“He is dependable and capable. He will do more to stabilize the new duchy than anyone else.”
The words of Hakarton made sense. Initially, the Emperor intended to install one of the empire’s nobles as Duke Tbilisi. Cain was an excellent choice.
“May I also add something?”
Claudia took a step forward. The Emperor approved with a nod.
“In the Talisbon Kingdom, if an elder brother dies, his younger brother takes the elder’s wife as his own. The soon-to-be-formed Tbilisi Duchy may be part of the Notium Empire, but its roots may be traced back to the Talisbon Kingdom. Its culture and rituals will surely carry Talisbon’s essence. Will Cain Hildayden be cleansed of his sins if they travel there?”
She had a valid point. The newly formed Tbilisi Duchy was, in essence, a different entity profoundly anchored in the traditions of the Talisbon Kingdom. Cain and Berlia’s relationship would be naturally acceptable in such a setting. The Emperor nodded his head in agreement after hearing Claudia’s statement.
“Good. A great talent cannot be turned into a criminal. Duke Cain Hildayden. I have recovered your title as of now. And I shall designate you, Grand Duke of Tbilisi, to administer the Duchy of Tbilisi.”
“I will obey your orders, Your Majesty.”
“Yes, you will govern the Duchy of Tbilisi as Cain Tbilisi from now on. And make sure Tbilisi grows so that Talisbon never again overlooks us.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
* * *
On the border between Talisbon and Notium, a new duchy was founded. It was known as the Duchy of Tbilisi. Grand Duke Cain Tbilisi, the former Duke of Hildayden, was to rule over this country.
Cain settled all of the Hildayden Duchy’s mansions and grounds. The 300-year history of the Hildayden ducal house vanished from the Notium Empire due to the emperor’s edict. Cain also bought a new castle, Tbilisi.
He went there as the Grand Duke of Tbilisi. Berlia, of course, was with him.
And now they stood face to face in the fortress of the nascent Duchy of Tbilisi.
“Berlia, will you become the Duchess of Tbilisi?”
Cain knelt in front of her. Berlia turned to face Cain, who presented her with a ring encrusted with a stone that mimicked her eyes.
“Berlia, I love you. I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”
Berlia was overcome with emotion. It was something she had desired. She was receiving a proposal from Cain, whom she couldn’t help but fall in love with. It was a scene she couldn’t even envision when she married Dean and became the Duchess of Hildayden. How could she not be content?
Berlia extended her left hand to Cain with a cheerful voice. Cain smiled happily as he heard her response.
The ring was placed on Berlia’s left ring finger by Cain. Berlia gave him a friendly smile in return.
Their wedding ceremony was held in their castle a few days later.
“The couple here who will walk together forever.”
Cain gazed at Berlia, who was dressed in all white. She was the world’s most gorgeous and beloved wife. She was now officially his wife.
Berlia’s smile was brighter than ever today. All of the people in attendance wished the pair a happy marriage.
“Do you both swear to trust and rely on each other and be together for life?”
Cain and Berlia’s relationship was no longer a hidden one that required them to meet while avoiding the gaze of others.
They were now a couple who had promised eternity amid numerous gifts.
“I declare Cain Tbilisi and Berlia Tbilisi as husband and wife.”
Berlia was therefore elevated to the position of Duchess of Tbilisi. After nearly four years, the two eventually discovered their place in each other’s lives.
Grand Duke Cain Tbisili and Grand Duchess Berlia Tbilisi.
As a result, the two had the same surname once more.
(End of the main story. Side stories will follow soon.)