The three lords and their heirs; Kouga, Inuyasha, and Miroku, sat in Higashi’s study and looked at each other. They had heard damning testimonies against the queen of these lands against her daughter and they didn’t even have to question the daughter. They spoke softly about the five guardsmen that they had spoken with, three of them were going to be handed to their lord, but the last two were too dangerous to keep alive and as such were going to be handed to the taiji-ya. As they came upon that decision, they spoke softly about whether or not they wanted to talk to the fallen queen.
“We should hear what she has to say,” Minami advised the younger lords as they each looked at him seriously.
“I honestly don’t see what the point is, beyond digging that hole she’s in a little deeper,” Inuyasha replied as Kouga nodded in agreement. “Nothing she says at this point can redeem her for what happened to Nikki.”
“No, you’re right,” Kita said in agreement as he sighed and thought. “I can’t believe she attacked the girl on her human night.”
“If anything, maybe it’ll answer the last few questions,” Nishi replied as Kita nodded in agreement. “I don’t think there is any closure for Nikki or the boys in this.”
“No, definitely not,” Miroku muttered shaking his head. “A parent is supposed to be someone a child looks up to, not worries about their safety with.” Minami nodded in agreement as he looked at his own son and sighed as he thought about it.
“We need to hear the testimony,” Kita told them, “it might be the final things her family hears but it needs to be done.” They all nodded as they headed out to see Higashi with the boys speaking softly. Sesshomaru was nowhere in sight and they didn’t expect him either.
“We’re going to speak to Mai,” Nishi informed Higashi and his sons. “If you’re not ready to hear this, don’t be in that room.”
“No, we’re going to be there,” Seiji answered as his brothers nodded. “Mother didn’t just betray Nikki; she did all of us when she had her attacked on a night she should have known better than to do so.” Nishi nodded as they all returned to the room, Sesshomaru appearing with the last person anyone expected to see in there.
“What are you doing?” Higashi demanded as Nikki stood beside her court and faced them all.
“I am here to listen,” she answered as everyone in the room looked at her in muted shock. “She attacked me, I want to know why.”
“Nikki, I don’t think this is a good idea,” Higashi tried to reason with his daughter as Sesshomaru shook his head.
“Yes, I’ve heard that already,” Nikki mused as she nodded to Sesshomaru. “My mental health can’t handle facing my attackers yet, you worry I’ll hurt myself if I face the truth, I am too weak to handle it right now…am I missing one?” Higashi looked at her stunned as her brothers all gaped at each other as they tried to figure out what to do. “If you lot are going to do this, so am I.”
“Everything was explained when the guards were questioned,” Nishi told her as Nikki looked at them all while they all stared at her surprised.
“Then why question her?” Nikki demanded as they all looked at her surprised. “You think you’ll get some glimpse to the madness that is in her mind that will explain why she did what she did? What happened to her fifty-one years ago to make her go insane? You’re not going to find out.”
“Because you haven’t in all that time,” Inuyasha replied as she crossed her arms and sighed as she looked up at the ceiling.
“My mother used to be good and kind,” Nikki replied as the boys all looked at her surprised. “You know, she actually knows how to sew herself, you’d never really know it now. She used to make our play clothes for when we’d go out with father and train or just to play in the mud of one of the gardens. She’d laugh as she’d scrub us clean from that mud, the sweat, and the tears when we’d fail to learn our lessons for the day.” Everyone within the hall was silent and surprised to hear the fondness in Nikki’s voice as she spoke and seemed to stare off into space.
“I turned fifty and we had a party, those stopped that year mind you,” Nikki said as her eyes darkened. “I don’t know what it was about that year…she just stopped being mother. There is no method behind her madness, well none that we’ve ever seen. None that would cause a perfectly sane person and give them reason to attack their child on a night no one should be near her for her own safety, and hand her off to a youkai with no conscience.”
“I want to hear it from your mother,” Nishi admitted to her as his sons both looked at him surprised. “I want to see what happened to her that this is acceptable because it’s unfathomable. I can’t even imagine it happening and it did.” Nikki nodded as she listened though she was obviously falling off into her own world. “But I do not advise you to stay here during her questioning. I don’t believe it to be a wise endeavor for your brothers to be here either. Your father may need this, but you six have endured enough with this mess.” He turned and he looked at the three heirs helping them. “In fact we don’t need any of the pups here to hear it.”
“What?” Miroku asked surprised as Minami nodded in agreement.
“He’s right,” Kita said as he crossed his arms and looked at them. “As of this point, for the final testimony only the three lords will be acting as judge. For the questioning of Lady Mai, the only ones welcome within the room is the lords and ladies, but not the children.” Nikki crossed her arms as she stood defiantly before them. “I’m sorry princess, but I don’t think this is something a child would ever be ready to hear yet.”
Nikki turned and stormed off, Sesshomaru in her wake as her brothers all filed out as well. Inuyasha looked at his own father as he nodded and motioned for him to follow them as Miroku, Kouga, and anyone else not welcome within the room left as well. The invitation to the ladies was extended and all three of them sat in the room as well, Kagome keeping an eye on Eri for Izayoi as they sat there.
“Nikki is furious,” Naoko mused as her mate sighed and nodded. “I’m proud that you all stood to your beliefs.” He chuckled and nodded, they all knew Nikki was stronger than they’d ever give her credit for but no one was this strong.
“Let’s get this over with,” Minami groused, no one was looking forward to it. He waved his hand and the guard brought in Mai, shackled and chained as the rest of the prisoners, her kimono dirtied and disgraceful looking, but as she walked in she held her head up as if she were still a queen in a fine ball gown.
“State your name and rank,” Minami ordered her.
“I am Lady Mai, Queen of the Eastern Kingdom,” she stated proudly.
“Do you understand the crimes of which you are charged?” Kita asked her.
“No, my lord, I do not,” Mai answered causing them all to look at her surprised.
“Don’t lie, Mai, we can tell when you’re lying,” Kita warned her.
“I would never do such a thing,” Mai replied coolly. “I genuinely don’t understand what you’re going on about.”
“What’s so hard to understand, Mai? That you had your daughter kidnapped on her human night, that you ordered them to beat her when she didn’t answer your questions, you trapped her in a dungeon to punish her for not finding a court, that you left her alone with a guard who took advantage of her human night another time and raped her,” Nishi demanded as Izayoi looked at them surprised, Naoko and Kayura looking down and shaking their heads. “What part of that don’t you understand, please enlighten me.” Mai looked at him surprised as she listened and thought about her answer.
“I would never harm my daughter,” Mai replied as if she were insulted.
“Your daughter confirmed it all,” Minami informed her as she looked at him and was obviously thinking. “As did all five of the guardsmen involved with this mess. Of those five, two of them are dying because of you.”
“I didn’t harm my daughter,” she informed them.
“Oh, what do you call what you did?” Kita demanded. The lords were getting angry, their mates were getting very nervous, and Higashi was off in his own world as he listened.
“I punished my daughter for being an insolent little disgrace!” Mai snapped at him. “I punished my daughter for being disobedient when I was trying to show her, her place in society!”
“By throwing her in a dungeon, having her beaten, raped, threatening to sell her to the highest bidder as a slave, and then ordering to have her killed?” Minami demanded as Mai glared at him.
“My daughter…” Mai started as she tried to defend herself against the three of them.
“Was found hanging in your dungeons,” Nishi replied coolly, “beaten, raped, and almost completely broken mentally. Your daughter was treated as a wild animal.”
“My daughter was a wild animal!” she screamed back as everyone looked at her surprised. “My daughter is probably acting better now than she has in years because of my punishment. She is acting like a proper lady, she will have a proper mate and home, and it’s because of me! You think you’re in a place to judge me because she ended up in the dungeons to get there? I took those risks; I made the decision to break her!”
“What is your daughter’s name?” Minami asked her coolly. Mai looked at him confused. “When is her human night? When is her birthday, Mai?”
“What does any of that have to do with anything?” Mai demanded.
“Your daughter trusted you and you treated her as an abomination,” Minami growled at her.
“Because she is,” Mai spat back. If she could growl she would have as they all stared at her stunned. “I have six hanyou children, six! My mate thought it best they all learn how to fight because of what humans and youkai think of them. He turned my daughter into a wild beast under the guise of protecting her! And look how well he taught her, she still was captured and thrown in a dungeon, still beaten within inches of her life, and tortured horribly….” Mai glared at the three lords before them as she remained standing. “My daughter is not some wild creature like his daughter is; my daughter is good and obedient and will be a lady!”
“That’s enough!” Nishi bellowed at her. Mai backed and cowered at the inu lord as Izayoi looked at him surprised as waves of anger flowed off of him. Higashi stared in awe, knowing his friend was defending someone who couldn’t because the accused was obviously under the mind frame she was innocent.
“Mai, you leave us no choice,” Kita informed her softly as everyone stared at the three before them, “Princess Nikki wanted to sit on this session, she had avoided all of the others, and I’m happy we decided that she shouldn’t. We were in all honesty, hoping you’d have found a way to redeem yourself, but that’s obviously not the case.”
“The priestess will come to remove your mate mark,” Minami added as Mai shook her head as the guardsmen behind her prevented her from backing away and running. “We have decided there is no redemption for you, Mai, and that the wild animal was not your daughter but you.” The three ladies looked at their mates, they knew what was coming. “As such, we condemn you to die.” Mai looked at them floored as the two guardsmen grabbed her at the signal from Nishi and took her away. Higashi sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose as he tried to figure out what he was going to say to his own children.
“Guard,” Kita called and one walked into the room, “please bring in Princess Nikki and her brothers, we need to discuss something with them.” He bowed and walked off as Higashi sighed and scratched the back of his head. He looked up as his five sons were walked in and by the looks on their faces, they already knew the outcome.
“Where’s your sister?” Izayoi asked confused.
“There is a way,” Rinji answered softly as Higashi looked at them stunned, “to eaves drop in on the throne room.”
“We tried to stop her,” Seiji finished softly. “But you know Nik.”
“Where is she?” Higashi demanded as he stood up. The five shook their heads.
“She heard what mother had to say, tears were streaming down her face,” Jiro answered as he looked at his father confused, “she ran off before any of us could stop her. Sesshomaru took off after her.”
“We’re sorry,” Naoko said as she got up and hugged each of them, “that that’s how you had to find out. We were just trying to do what was best for you six.”
“We know,” Shinta said nodding as he scratched the back of his head a little as he tried to think.
“It’s just hard to believe,” Ryo added as the others nodded, “our mother hated us as much as everyone outside this castle.” Higashi looked at them surprised as he heard it from his own kitten’s mouth. “If we’re so horrible…I guess I can see why Nikki can’t figure out what she’s supposed to do, how she was never right.” Higashi pulled each of his sons into a bone crushing hug before heading out of the room.
“Higashi, where are you going?” Minami demanded.
“To find my daughter,” Higashi called over his shoulder, “we were right when we said she wasn’t ready for this.” He left the throne room to hunt for his daughter as he worried about where she was and what she was doing, though the consolation of Sesshomaru being with her was there. Unlike Sesshomaru, Higashi knew where his kittens liked to hide when they were upset. Nikki would use two particular spots especially when her mother infuriated her.
Higashi found her up on one of the towers of the castle looking out over the horizon, he could hear her sniffling as she stood there staring. Shaking his head he moved forward slowly but stopped once he noticed her move forward a little.
“Stay away from me,” she whispered as she stared off crying. Higashi sighed as he looked at her as he tried to think about what to say.
“Kitten, get away from there,” her father said softly as he watched her. She remained where she was as she shook her head.
“No,” she whimpered and used her arm to wipe her tears away.
“Nikki, you could fall,” her father protested as she glanced over her shoulder. “We’ve endured a lot, sweetheart, you most of all. Please, for your brothers’ sakes, get away from that edge and come here.”
“It’s all my fault,” she sobbed as her father saw her hand come away from the wall she was holding on to.
“No, kitten, it’s not,” her father pleaded with her. “Just get away from that wall, we can sit down and talk.” She shook her head, her hair blowing gently in the wind.
“Why talk? I’m a monster…” she whimpered as she glanced over her shoulder once more before turning and falling back.
“No!” Higashi roared as he flew forward to see another dive in and catch her before pulling the two back up. “Sesshomaru…thank heavens…” Sesshomaru nodded as he breathed heavily; holding her tightly against himself, back against the wall as he sat down. Nikki just sobbed against him as she shook, Higashi also on the ground shaking as he stared at his daughter and tried to think of what the best thing to do for her was.