Seven Years.

Seven Years of Bloody Conflict.

And the movement of peace starts from the ones who started it.

The Legion.

Well, it was not the current legion who was fighting, the previous Legion, The Blackstones were the one who instigated the bloody warfare. After causing the Warborn and the Chosen to attack them, the Iron Legion reformed itself and rebelled, paving the way for the Blackstone's downfall.

The empress Ayu laid down on the hard bed in the Citadel, pondering about the offer Cross had given. Normally she would remain in the Emperor's Palace and sent a representative, but The Emperor's Champion insisted on her taking a break.

So here she was, with a handful of bodyguards, in the territory of an enemy.

Strangely, Stigandr, the Jarl of The Warborn was also here, also accompanied by his own bodyguards to see the offer Cross had given.

It was a strange meeting, instigated by The Warden, who was now The Lord of the Iron Legion. At first, neither of them talked, merely sitting in silence as Cross tried to make small talk.

Then, he started talking about how he met The Warden.

Cross talked about his strength and his valor; How he drove the Vikings to starvation, and how he left the Legion once he realized what Apollyon was planning to do. Stigandr then took up the torch, talking about how the Warborn shattered into minor clans as they fought for survival, the appearance of The Raider, how The Raider united the clans and his idea of raiding the Samurai lands for food.

The expectant look at her by both Cross and Stigandr made her sigh, remembering how she told them about the exploits of The Emperor's Champion, how she held off Stigandr's Great Raid and allowed Ayu to unite the Samurai Clans. Eventually, Ayu would march on the Blackstone fortress, working with the Iron Legion and defeating Apollyon.

They all knew what happened after that, seven years where the knights, the vikings and the samurai fought viciously for revenge, how so many villages were razed to the ground. How thousands of each soldier had died in the war.

Now, Cross is making an offer of peace, asking them to think it over, it made the former damiyo shiver at the thought of it. Why were they asking for peace when their forces were still strong? Even the Samurai were hard pressed to make any ground after capturing the Blackstone Fortress. The Warden was an effective leader, able to hold the line against both Viking raids and the Chosen incursion. Neither faction were able to make any progress in forcing a surrender.

The sheer thought was making Ayu stay awake, making her grumble as she got off the bed. Putting on her Kensei armor, she looked at her nodachi, placed near the bed.

Toying with the idea of leaving it behind, she decided against it, walking out of the room with the oversized Japanese sword in her grasp.

Her bodyguards could sleep in for now, there shouldn't be any assassination in a castle held by a faction asking for peace.

She wandered aimlessly along the courtyard, observing the stars and the moon. It had been a long time since she could simply stop thinking and enjoy the scenery, what with coordinating all the soldiers to defend and attack the enemy. Seven years where paranoia was high, and no enemy was taken prisoner.

Hmm... perhaps The Emperor's Champion was right, she needed a break.

A rustle snapped the Sword Saint out of her thoughts, drawing her nodachi in preparation. Footsteps made her wary, who was out here at this time? The guards would not patrol the courtyard, not when the walls were not breached.

A hooded figure dashed forward, leaping with her blades pointed at her head. With ease, Ayu parries the longer blade, throwing the woman off to the side. She wore the robes of the Iron Legion, making Ayu narrow her eyes in anger.

It was a trap, Cross was never planning for peace.

Shouting out in frustration, she throws her entire weight into an overhead strike. The peacekeeper quickly sidestepped to the left before striking her again, this time sending the Kensei stumbling backwards. The peacekeeper follows up with the shorter dagger, stabbing at her stomach before she could react.

"Grr... Legion scum." She growled, pushing her assailant back when the woman tried to grab her. Ducking low, she twist her body to land another overhead strike.

"Let's have an honorable showdown!" She yells in Japanese, slamming her nodachi into the peacekeeper. Caught unaware of the sheer force, the peacekeeper stumbles backwards, a deep gash running from her left shoulder to her stomach.

"Nghh!" The peace keeper made to advance towards Ayu again, intending to continue the duel.

"Hey!" A shout comes out from a distance, making both women look off to the side. A man dressed in silver armor and green highlights came running in towards the two, sword drawn and ready to attack. The helmet was not one she recognized, making her wary about him attacking her as well.

"Wha- Hey!"

Without warning, the peace keeper takes off, running off towards the castle gates. Ayu made to chase her, but her lungs tensed up, causing her to cough of some blood from her mouth.

"Shit..." Exhaustion began to set in, having little to no rest the whole night, Ayu instead retreated back to the room her guards slept in, knocking on the door.

Damn you Cross, you have a lot to answer for... She groans as the door opens, revealing a Nobushi half dressed in a summer kimono.

"Eh, what is- Ah, you're hurt, Empress-dono!" The Nobushi yelps, pulling her into the room. As Ayu rested on the table, the Nobushi wakes up her partner to treat the wounds of her master.

As they removed the Sword Saint armor from her and tend to her wounds, Ayu's consciousness drifted off to sleep.