Kenshin quietly sipped at his cup of tea, while he watched the passing of the clouds far above him from the comfort of the porch of the Kamiya Kasshin dojo. He was old now. His skin was wrinkly, his senses dimmed by the passage of time, and his once famed speed and power as the legendary Hitokiri Battousai had long since faded away. Whatever his past might have been, now he was like any other man his age. Yet, even so, he was happy.

This peace that he was enjoying was one of his greatest pleasures in life, and there was a certain sense of... pride? No, that wasn't correct. He was certainly glad that there was peace, but he could never be proud of it. He had done far too many dirty things in order to help establish the peace to ever be able to be proud of it. It was a strange thing, and Kenshin found himself at a loss, unable to come up with a word that accurately described his feelings. They were too contradictory, too muddled. It was a sense of accomplishment tempered by guilt, sadness, and insignificance.

Guilt, because this peace was one with a bloody foundation. It was a peace built from the deaths of countless number of lives, many of which he had taken himself. No matter how necessary each death may or may not have been, every single life that he had ended weighed heavily upon his soul to this very day. Sadness, because death and war was necessary to bring about the peace. And insignificance because Kenshin realized that this peace he had worked so hard to achieve was pitifully transient. Even now, Japan was looking to expand its sphere of influence outwards in order to reach the level of global power of the western nations. It did not take a genius to realize that as they did so, they would naturally come into conflict with other countries. Perhaps not now, perhaps not even in the near future, but someday, war would definitely come.

Whenever Kenshin thought about that, he realized that there was ultimately nothing he could do to help. Not anymore. He was old, and his time had long since passed. He could only trust that the younger generations would be wise enough and strong enough to be able to take the right path on their own.

No, that's not exactly right, Kenshin shook his head, mentally correcting himself. It is because I have devoted my life to the sword that there is nothing I can do anymore.

A swordsman lived by the sword and died by the sword. That was an unequivocal, immutable truth of the world. But what happened when the sword no longer had a purpose? What happened when there was nothing left for the sword to do?

The answer was as simple as it was lonely: It simply faded away, either lost and forgotten to the ages or vaguely remembered as a relic of the past.

Kenshin smiled. Though it might mystify others, he was strangely comfortable with that thought. He was satisfied with the notion that he would be forgotten by the people he had fought to protect. He did not care about fame or wealth, though he could have easily attained both throughout his life. He only cared that the people could live in peace and prosperity for as long as possible.

Happiness. Long ago, Kenshin had thought that happiness was not something that would be granted to him. Not after what he had done. Not after what he had become. A sword was a weapon, and thus kenjutsu was the art of killing. Whatever pretty words were used to dress it up, that was its true nature. It was for that reason that just as a swordsman accepted the responsibility of ending another person's life, so too did he accept that his life may also be ended by the blade of another. Even if a swordsman managed to survive, the weight of the lives he carried could crush him in a second. But in spite of that, Kenshin had managed to obtain happiness, and it was a source of great strength and comfort for him.

Even now, his friend, Sanosuke Sagara, traveled the world, seeing new sights, exploring new places, and always, always testing his strength. On occasions, when he was able to sneak back into the country, he would return to Tokyo. When he did, they would talk for hours on end, discussing the past, present, and future.

Megumi Takani was, to this day, atoning for her haunted past as an aide to an opium dealer by working as a doctor. Her skill had reached such levels that she was heralded around the nation as one of the most skilled doctors in the country, if not the most skilled, and her disciples spread all across the country doing much good for all.

His wife's disciple, Yahiko Myoujin, was the current headmaster of the Kamiya Kasshin school of swordsmanship. More, he had married Tsubame Sanjou (not that this surprised anyone), and had a fully grown son who was preparing to inherit the position of headmaster, as well as two daughters who had each married good men and started a happy family.

Kenshin's own son, Kenji Himura, was also now a fully grown man. He still had a certain reckless streak to him that Kenshin was quite certain had been inherited from his mother. And while the years had done much to temper such recklessness with maturity and caution, it was still there, vibrant and strong. More, though it was past time for him to do so, he refused to settle down. Instead, ever since he had turned fifteen, Kenji had taken to journeying around Japan in order to right whatever wrongs he came across and become stronger. Kenshin vaguely wondered if he had somehow picked this trait up from Sanosuke. Kenji had always been fond of "Uncle" Sanosuke, after all.

As for his wife, Himura Kaoru ...

Kenshin closed his eyes and offered a silent prayer for her spirit.

It had been about five years ago when a wave of the deadly cholera had swept over the city. Unfortunately, Kaoru had been afflicted with the disease, and given her old age, she simply did not have the vitality to fight an illness that even those far younger and stronger than her would have succumbed to. She did not survive that week.

Kenshin mourned for his loss, her passing. In remembrance, he made sure to always visit both hers and his first wife's, Tomoe Himura's, grave every month. Yet, despite the grief he felt over their deaths, he held his chin high and remained optimistic, refusing to fall into depression. He knew that neither Kaoru nor Tomoe would want him to remain in perpetual sorrow. To accept and to move on, that is what they would want of him. He understood that.

"Ussha," Kenshin groaned, as he slowly rose to his feet and stretched his body. His weary bones and joints creaked in protest, but Kenshin forced himself to walk slowly in order to limber up his body. With Yahiko out on some errands with Tsubame before the first students were to arrive, Kenshin was currently the only one inside the dojo. He decided to take this chance to do some cleaning around the dojo that he had been putting off for quite some time now. He could do that much, at least.

However, when the deafening sound of an explosion accompanied by the cacophony of dozens of terrified screams suddenly resounded through the air, Kenshin instantly froze and turned to face the direction from whence it came. Judging from their volume, whatever was happening was happening not far away. And whatever it was, it was bad. He could feel it.

As fast as he could, Kenshin half hobbled, half ran out of the dojo grounds and towards the source of the distress. It had come from the market district of the city, where many of citizens plied their trade and made their livelihood. Different to the normally peaceful vista, when he arrived, he was met with the sight of a hell that made Kenshin feel as though he had been thrown back in time to the Bakumatsu. Fire. There was fire everywhere, and corpses littered the ground like so many pieces of offal. Rivers of blood flowed as thickly and freely as water, so much so that the streets were nearly completely dyed crimson, the very soil having soaked too much of the lifeblood to absorb anymore. As Kenshin stood in shock at the scene so out of time with the peace he had been enjoying mere minutes ago, he wondered, what had happened to cause all this? What had happened that was causing the surviving citizens to run away desperately in naked fear? What were they running from?

But as similar as the scene was to the Bakumatsu, there were things that made it sharply different as well. The scorch marks that came from not fire but lightning was one. So too were the very large spears of ice that had destroyed homes and pierced the earth like stakes.

What was most different of all, however, were the ones responsible for causing the disaster.

Like demons or monsters straight out of myth, five men with batlike wings were floating in the air higher than the rooftops of the burning homes. From their hands, they hurled fire, ice, and lightning down upon the escaping humans as easily as a child might toss pebbles at ants. Though Kenshin's vision was not what it once was, he could still plainly see their mouths split open in gleeful laughter as they reveled in the massacre.

Kenshin clenched his fist so tightly that his knuckles turned white. These creatures, whatever they were, were killing people for fun. This was to them as a ball game might be to small children. No, more accurately, it would be like a sadistic child tearing off the legs of an insect and watching it squirm. Kenshin could not allow that to happen. He would not allow it to happen. But what could he do? He was old and slow and, more importantly, unarmed. It was absolutely impossible for him to defeat these strange beings.

Kenshin nearly let out a harsh bark of laughter at that thought. To think that the years had taken away not only his power and speed and senses, but also his courage was pitiful. Whether he was capable of defeating these winged men was not the question. It was whether he decided to fight or to flee. In his youth, Kenshin would have picked the former, no matter how badly outmatched he might be. He would have done his best to stop them, and if that proved to be impossible, to at least save as many of the still escaping people as he could.

The auburn haired man steeled his resolve. Even if he could no longer beat these monsters, he could at least buy some time for the rest of the people to escape, even if it was at the risk of his own life.

Looking around, Kenshin noticed the corpse of a young boy not much older than fifteen. In his hand, he held a shinai. Kenshin grimaced at the thought that such a youth, still in the prime of their life, had been killed so cruelly. Hastening over to the body, Kenshin plucked the bamboo practice sword out of the boy's hands.

"Everyone!" Kenshin called out as loudly as he could to all the fleeing civilians. "Get to the police station!"

Honestly speaking, Kenshin felt that saying such a thing was rather redundant, considering that running away was exactly what they were doing in the first place. However, he hoped that by giving them a clear, simple order, he could at least stabilize their chaotic state of mind and send them to the safest place in the city.

Then, ignoring the civilians and focusing instead upon his enemies, Kenshin took his stance, sword drawn and held with both hands directly in front of him. This was not the stance of the battoujutsu, the art of the drawing of the sword, that he had once been famed for. This was a basic stance that every school of swordsmanship in Japan taught to the beginners. Too old to use the Hiten Mitsurugi style, Kenshin had instead opted to use the most basic of basics of the sword fighting arts. And with that stance, he steadfastly faced the winged killers alone.

Perhaps curious of how one old man was standing before them, seemingly armed and prepared to meet them in battle instead of fleeing like the rest, the winged men descended to the ground. Good. It would have been terrible if even just one of them ignored him in order to continue their slaughter.

"Oh? You aren't going to run, human?" the first winged man, presumably the leader judging by the way he postured himself, sniggered, as they touched ground. "It's not a game if you don't try to run away."

"Who are you people?" Kenshin asked coldly. He glanced at their wings again. "What are you people?"

The leader stepped forward, still chuckling. "I'm taking this one myself," he called back to his comrades. "This might be fun in its own way. Don't interfere, all right?"

"That's not fair!" one of the subordinates protested, stomping his foot down onto the ground. Kenshin noted with mild surprise the way such a casual gesture created a small but noticeable crater in the earth. "How come you always get to get first pick?"

"That's right! Share sometimes, dammit!"

"Be silent!" the first man snapped. "Tch. Fine. I'll try not to kill him so that you guys can have a turn at him, too."

"Try?"

"If I mess up, I'll at least let you guys take first pick of the women, all right?"

Grumbling sounds of acceptance rose from the rest of the winged men. Though none of them liked the notion, all of them accepted it. Kenshin narrowed his eyes, both for concentration and to squint in order to try to see a little bit better. He had a feeling that the one before him was likely the strongest of the bunch if the rest of them had obeyed him, despite their reluctance.

Quickly, Kenshin took stock of the situation. The winged men numbered a mere five, which as far as numbers went, were not terrible odds. However, each of them had demonstrated unearthly powers of sorcery, which made a single one of them comparable to at least dozens or even scores of ordinary men. Victory was a total impossibility. There was no way he could hope to defeat these creatures. Even mere survival seemed unlikely, at best.

Kenshin smiled. He had faced worse odds before.

The winged man rushed towards Kenshin with blinding speed. His black robes and hair made him appear like a dark blur that streaked through the space between them like a living shadow. Had Kenshin relied solely on his sense of sight and his reaction, he would never have been able to dodge. Instead, Kenshin trusted his intuition and his ability to "read" his opponent in order to narrowly avoid the bull rush tackle by sidestepping away. Even so, the sheer speed with which the creature moved made it a very close thing.

The winged man skidded to a stop perhaps fifteen or twenty paces away from Kenshin.

"Ooh, very good," the black winged man said, his eyes fiercely lit up with delight. "I didn't think you would actually manage to dodge that. Not bad, old man."

Kenshin said nothing as he turned to face the winged man squarely again. Though it had taken all that he had in order to dodge that one attack, he now understood he possessed certain advantages. The first was that though this winged man was fast and strong, he was unskilled as a fighter. His movements had many unnecessary motions, which inhibited his true speed and power, and made it easy for Kenshin to predict his next move. In that case, all he needed to do was to match his timing and land a counter strike. Of course, that was only the case if the winged man stuck to using purely physical methods of fighting.

"Now, let's see how well you dance, human," the black haired man cackled, as he began hurling balls of fire from his hand towards Kenshin's legs.

"Tch!" Kenshin grunted, as he began dodging the fireballs one after the other with smooth, fluid, almost dancelike movements.

Despite the life threatening situation he found himself in, Kenshin couldn't help but marvel at the novelty of this situation. It was the first of its kind for him, not because he was fighting some man who could apparently use sorcery, but because he was actually being toyed with – a fact that was exemplified by the fact that the fireballs were not being aimed at any vital parts of his body.

The name of Hitokiri Battousai and the art of the Hiten Mitsurugi style had always been names that inspired great fear and respect. Certainly, there had been those that had believed they were strong enough to match him or those who had thought him less than what he truly was, but to be looked down on so completely, to be treated so insignificantly, like a cat might to a ball of yarn; a child to a captive insect? That had never happened to him before in his life as a swordsman.

But that was also the most important of his advantages. The fact that he was not being treated as a serious threat meant that there would be gaps and windows of opportunities to take advantage of.

Of course, that was assuming that he was capable of taking advantage of those windows. Unfortunately, as he was now, there was simply no way for him to close the gap between him and the winged man. All he could do was wait for the winged man to come to him. And in a test of endurance, Kenshin would be the first to fall.

"Gah!" Kenshin cried out in pain when his body finally failed him and caused him to stumble slightly, allowing for a fireball to burn his left leg badly. Kenshin collapsed, his remaining leg unable to bear his weight by itself in the wake of the sudden injury. Wincing, Kenshin glanced at his leg. The leg of his hakama was burned completely to ashes and his skin was charred black. There was no feeling left in that limb at all. Chances were good that if he somehow managed to survive this fight, he would need to have the leg amputated.

"Heh. Guess that's it," the winged man sneered. "It was fun while it lasted, but now it's time to die, human!"

The winged man charged towards Kenshin, just like before. In that instant, all of Kenshin's past experience ingrained into his very flesh exploded at once. He rose to his knees, ignoring the pain of his burns, and brought his bamboo sword up across his body and parallel to the ground. And then, he thrust it forward.

The winged man's eyes widened in shock, but it was already too late. As fast as he was moving, he simply did not have the time to come to a halt or change directions. And so, with all the force of the momentum of his forward rush behind him, the creature's throat met the rounded tip of the practice blade.

However, when the two collided, it was the shinai who first gave way. In an explosion of splinters, the bamboo slats were utterly destroyed, and though the counterattack took much of the force of the tackle, it did not completely halt it. Like a boulder, the winged man slammed into Kenshin, sending him hurtling back onto the ground, dazed and wracked with pain all over his body.

"I'll be damned," one of the winged men said, letting out a low whistle of admiration. "The human actually beat Alzab." He looked around at the rest of his comrades. "Now what?"

The others shrugged back unknowingly.

"I guess we kill the human and wake Alzab up," one of them offered.

"I suppose so," another agreed. He grinned. "We are never going to let him live this down, are we?"

"Definitely not," the chorus of response came back with unconcealed merriment.

One of the winged men rolled his shoulders as he walked calmly over to Kenshin, who could do nothing more than lie there and await his fate. No matter how much he wanted to fight back, he could sense that too many of his already brittle bones had been smashed into pieces. The creature bent down and grabbed Kenshin by the collar and lifted him bodily into the air. Glancing past him, Kenshin looked towards the one they called Alzab. If there was one piece of consolation, it was that he had managed to defeat the being, who lay unconscious on the dirt. Looking back towards the one who now held him in his grasp, Kenshin glared defiantly down at him.

"Heh. You're a brave human, aren't you? You won't be scared, not even a little?" The man smiled cruelly. "Then let's see you squirm."

Without ceremony, the winged man threw Kenshin down to the ground shoulder first. Kenshin could feel his collar bone and several more ribs shatter, and he let out an involuntary cry of pain.

"Ah, that's better," the winged man nodded satisfactorily. With a pleased smiled, the man pointed a finger at Kenshin's face. A small spear of ice roughly the length of the grip of a katana and the width of a finger formed in front of the man's finger. "Well, time to die, human."

But just as the icicle was fired, a small ball of purest black streaked through the air and flew between Kenshin and the winged man. In its wake, both the ice and the hand that had created it simply vanished. With a now gaping hole opened at the end of his arm, creature's blood began pouring out like a torrent.

"AHHH!" the winged man shrieked and reeled back, clutching at his arm.

"Now, that is quite enough of that."

Lightly floating down from on high, Kenshin saw a man with hair even redder than his own land gracefully in front of him, his back faced towards the fallen human.

"Sirzechs," the wounded man hissed furiously through clenched teeth, clutching at his stump of an arm. "What are you doing here?"

"I could ask the same thing," the red-haired man, Sirzechs, said icily. "It's one thing if you target those I fight for. That is understandable, since we are at war. But to attack innocent human lives? That I will not allow. It would be wise if you and your ilk keep the unrelated out of our fight."

"You damn false devil," the wounded man snarled. "You think you can tell us what to do?"

"Though I do not like saying it, as the Lucifer, yes, I do," Sirzechs replied.

"You are not the Lucifer," the wounded man spat. "You might bear his title, but we will never accept you as the Lucifer."

"It is unfortunate your side cannot be made to see reason," Sirzechs sighed. "Take your wounded and leave. I think we both have our own matters to attend to, and fighting with each other will not help either of us."

"Grr..." the wounded man growled; a rumbling sound that came from his throat. "Fine. We will retreat for now. But this is not the end, accursed usurper. One day, we, the true devils, will restore all of devil kind back to its former glory."

With that, a glowing, dark purple circle appeared in mid air behind the winged men. As if it were an open door, each of the winged men walked right into it and disappeared, one of them carrying Alzab with him. Once the last of them had stepped through, the circle vanished without a trace.

Sirzechs let out a long, drawn breath. He turned to Kenshin and knelt down beside him. "Here, let me take a look at your wounds." With exquisite care, Sirzechs examined Kenshin's burned leg, and then carefully pressed a finger to Kenshin's chest, causing him to hiss in pain. The red-haired stranger let out a displeased sound. "Tsk. I got here too late. If I had been faster, your wounds could have been prevented. I am sorry."

"I do not mind," Kenshin whispered, the pain of his broken collar bone and ribs making it too painful to talk louder. "More importantly, what of the others? Were the people able to escape safely?"

"Yes," Sirzechs said. "Thanks to your efforts, those devils were too preoccupied to continue their pursuit. They have escaped safely. The law enforcement troops should be here shortly."

"Then all is well," Kenshin sighed gratefully.

Sirzechs cocked his head curiously. "Stranger, might I ask something?"

"You saved my life," Kenshin said hoarsely. "I will answer what I can."

Sirzechs gave a brief nod in gratitude. "Why did you not run? When all those around you were fleeing, why did you alone remain in order to protect them? No other human would do as you did."

"On that, we disagree," Kenshin replied. "There will always be those who will rise up to defend the weak in the face of evil, no matter the cost."

"That did not answer my question."

"No, I suppose it did not," Kenshin agreed. "I fight to protect the peace, for the lives of the innocent. That is the oath I made to myself long ago. I have not abandoned it since."

"But you are an old human," Sirzechs said. "You can no longer fight."

"I think that one they called Alzab would disagree," Kenshin said, and despite himself, he couldn't help but laugh softly. Predictably, he winced. "Ow."

Sirzechs blinked blankly, then joined Kenshin in his laughter.

"My name is Sirzechs Lucifer," the red-haired man said, letting his amusement die away in dimming chuckles. "What is yours?"

"Kenshin Himura."

"Kenshin," Sirzechs said seriously, "I have one question for you. A request, actually."

"What request would you have of a dying man?"

"Will you become my servant?"

Kenshin stared at Sirzechs in mild surprise. "What do you mean by that?"

"I'll keep this short as I can," Sirzechs said, "as I'm certain that you are in a great deal of pain."

"A great deal," Kenshin agreed.

"As you've probably guessed, neither I nor those men who attacked you and the people are human."

"Indeed," Kenshin said. "Devils, wasn't it?"

"Yes," Sirzechs nodded. "As it stands, you will have to have your leg amputated and your bones will never heal properly, given your advanced age. They'll remain far more brittle than they were before. You will live a weakened life from now on. You might even die of infection, or some other complication. However, I can help you. My friend, Ajuka Beelzebub, has recently invented a new system that he calls the 'Evil Pieces' system in order to help bolster our forces. The actual process is a bit technical, but basically I can turn you into a devil as part of my peerage, my family. A devil has a naturally hardier constitution than humans, and there are methods with which I can help you provided you are one of my kind. If you become mine, you could survive this stronger than ever."

"Your offer is generous," Kenshin said, "but I have no intention of living a life obeying the orders of another."

Sirzechs shook his head. "You misunderstand. I have no desire for a puppet. What I want is someone who can stand at my side and face my enemies with me, and to cover my back even in the midst of a the most chaotic of battles. More than a servant, I want a partner whom I can trust with my life."

"Why?" Kenshin asked. "For what reason do you need such a person?"

"To explain that, I would need to explain a bit of history. Would you mind?" Sirzechs said. When Kenshin shook his head, Sirzechs continued. "Long ago, all devils were united under the banner of the four Satans: Lucifer, Beelzebub, Leviathan, and Asmodeus. However, they were killed near the end of the last war with the forces of heaven and the faction of the fallen angels, Grigori. In their absence, there were certain devils – we'll call them the old devils – that wished to continue the war. Conversely, there were others that wanted peace – the new devils. This ideological difference eventually led to a civil war between devils that we still find ourselves in to this day. I am one of the new devils, and in order to bring peace to the Underworld, I fight with all I have."

"That is a little similar to the Bakumatsu."

Sirzechs cocked his head. "The Bakumatsu? I must confess, I am not overly familiar with this country's terms or its history."

"A civil war that was ignited by ideological differences."

"Ah. Similar indeed, then," Sirzechs nodded. "Continuing on, I am one of those who is almost always at the forefront of the fight, and there are many times when I must do so alone. But I am just one man, and there is only so much I can do alone. That is why I want someone to fight with me. I want someone to help me end this war and bring about peace, not just for devils, but for humans as well. The sooner the war ends, the sooner the crimes the old devils commit against humans will stop."

"... I would like to ask my own questions first."

"Please do."

"Those devils, Alzab and his companions," Kenshin said, "why did they suddenly show up? Why did they begin attacking innocent people?"

"That would be due to the stalemate that has been going on for quite some time now," Sirzechs grimaced distastefully. "Due to lack of progress on either side, many of the old devils have become extremely frustrated. Thus, they have taken to killing and kidnapping humans for sport. I believe they chose this country due to the lack of presence of any of the new devils or angels in this land. The people here, the people who died, were unfortunate to have become their targets."

"But you stopped them."

"We did," Sirzechs said softly. "I was lucky that I was able to come at all. Our forces are stretched too thin to allow for me to do this as much as I would prefer."

"I understand," Kenshin said. "Then that means that these 'Evil Pieces' were born not out of convenience, but necessity."

"Indeed," Sirzechs said.

"But why me?" Kenshin said. "As you said, I am an old man who can no longer fight, not as I once could, anyway. Why waste such efforts to recruit this elderly human?"

"It's true that you are old and slow," Sirzechs admitted. "But even near the end of your own natural lifespan, you still defeated a devil. I can only believe that you would be an even greater force to have at my side if you were given a youthful body once more."

"And you can do that?"

Sirzechs nodded. "If you were to become a devil, you would gain a body that surpasses that of any human. It would be hardier, stronger, faster. You would gain the strength of your youth and so much more."

"I see. In other words, you ask me to take part in another war," Kenshin said softly. "You ask me to take lives."

"It's an unpleasant task," Sirzechs grimaced, "but a necessary one."

"I know," Kenshin sighed, suddenly feeling very weary for reasons besides that of his injuries. "However, I have long since given up the killer's sword. Even for a good cause, I will never kill again."

"I see," Sirzechs said with mild disappointment. "Then I take it your answer is a no?"

"Not quite," Kenshin shook his head. "I understand your need, and I sympathize with your goals. If you will accept this humble swordsman, then I will fight for you in order to protect innocent lives, but I will not take even a single life."

"You mean to fight directly in a war without killing?" Sirzechs said, bemused. "I must confess, such a thing would be considered insanity by any reasonable person, human or devil."

"I will do it, regardless," Kenshin said determinedly.

Sirzechs smiled. "Interesting. Very well, then. We have an agreement." From his pocket, Sirzechs withdrew a small, blood-red object seemingly carved into the shape of a horse's head. He placed the item on top of Kenshin's chest, and chanted his spellwords: "I, Sirzechs Lucifer, reincarnate thee, Kenshin Himura, to rise as my servant. To you, I grant new life. My Knight, I welcome thee into my servitude!"

The horse figure suddenly shined with a crimson light, as it slowly sank into Kenshin's body. It was an odd feeling, somewhat like warm blood being carefully poured into a nonexistent hole in his chest. Yet, despite that, it was not uncomfortable, merely strange. The warmth spread throughout his body for a few seconds, and when the light and the horse completely vanished, so too did that sensation.

Very slowly, stiffly, Kenshin rose up to a sitting position. His once grievous wounds, while still there, no longer seemed to pain him as much as it had before.

"It is done," Sirzechs said. "Welcome to my peerage, Knight Kenshin."