Dear Lady Nikki,
I hope that this letter finds you well and that your mother hasn’t pushed your buttons too far. That is apparently my job.
The longer we fight, the better the battle goes against the rebels. Father feels by harvest we should have our victory and be able to return home. Father highly anticipates returning to Izayoi and Eri, already she is crawling around the castle apparently. Inuyasha has been ordered home to help keep the castle safe as we anticipate any move they make.
We have traveled all over the Western Lands, father is upset with all the lives that were lost from his subjects. So many innocent have died because of the rebels, he is ready for it all to end so the suffering ends as well. This final strike, the one calling all the lords in to assist us, should help with that. I wish I could tell you more, I’m highly curious about your opinion of it and if there’s anything you could do to assist us, but I can’t at this time. I can remind you of your surprise once this is all over, which should be coming to you soon.
Sesshomaru paused writing as he sighed and thought of what he wanted to tell her. He wasn’t sure what else there was to write at this point. He wanted to bring up discussing his courting her, which was the surprise, but he worried that if he did it any way but in person he’d scare her away.
“I hope you make it through it, Sesshomaru,” she said softly as she looked at him surprised. “If there is anything you’d like me to do….”
“I wish for you to write me,” he replied as she looked at him surprised, “even if it’s just to create an argument.” She chuckled and nodded in agreement.
“I think we can work something out,” she murmured, “I don’t know how it’ll sound, an argument on paper…” He nodded in agreement, he was certain they’d work something out.
“Your family is all set,” he observed as he noticed her father looking for her as her brothers helped her mother into the carriage. Nikki turned and nodded as she watched them as well.
“Good luck, Sesshomaru,” she said with a weak smile as she turned to face him, “though I know this isn’t our final meeting.” Sesshomaru chuckled and nodded as he gathered her in his arms for a tight hug. She hugged him just as tightly as she thought, there were a million things she could say to him but none of it seemed appropriate or wanted to come out. “And just remember, a female has her own reasons to pick on a male.” Sesshomaru merely nodded, putting his emotionless mask back on to lead her back out to their families. “Don’t ever change,” she chuckled amused.
I highly anticipate your response.
Lord of the Western Lands
Sesshomaru sealed the letter and sat back as he sighed and thought. His plan could easily backfire in his face either way, but he had determined he’d rather her reject him in person than never hear from her again because of a letter. He got up and stretched some before heading out of the tent to find a runner.
“Sesshomaru,” his father called as he noticed him walk out, “finish your correspondence to Lady Nikki?” Sesshomaru just looked at his father, his mask working wonders as it never showed the surprise of his father’s knowledge.
“I’d presume the runner told you,” he replied as his father chuckled and raised his hand with the correspondence from the various lords.
“Higashi is on his way,” his father informed him as Sesshomaru handed off his own letter and then followed his father into another tent with a few of their generals. “Kita and Minami are about two days out.”
“And then how long before this is all done?” Sesshomaru demanded as Nishi looked at him. This was the most important piece of information anyone could ask him at this point.
“If we corner them, like we did in the forest, that’ll be it with the assistance we’ll be receiving from the other kingdoms,” his father answered softly as he thought. “But it’s more along when we can do that, I know where I want them, but at this point it’s just a matter of them getting here and us taking the opportunity given to us.” Nishi fell off the topic as he seemed to stare off into space. “It’ll be good to be home again, though, won’t it? You and Inuyasha can finally start to court your chosen females.”
“That indicates that this Sesshomaru has found a female to court,” Sesshomaru replied as he eyed his father warily.
“How long have you been writing the Eastern princess?” his father demanded. “Because if you’re giving her false hope, you won’t be returning home.” Sesshomaru looked at his father intrigued.
“How would this Sesshomaru be giving her false hope? She doesn’t want a mate,” Sesshomaru demanded back. “She’d be happier running naked through the forest doing her own thing, a mate would only hinder that.” Nishi looked at him surprised. “Beyond that, we have been communicating since the ball.” Nishi nodded as he thought about it.
“Are you planning on courting her? Or attempting to bring it up, if she’s truly as reluctant as you say she is,” Nishi asked him curiously. Sesshomaru nodded a little before looking down, unable to face his father.
“Only when she’s ready for it to happen, will it,” Sesshomaru replied softly as he thought. “This Sesshomaru isn’t quite ready for a mate either. There is no sense in rushing what should not and cannot be rushed.” Nishi sighed and nodded as he looked at his oldest son, he was truly happy his youngest son was getting ready to mate.
“I’m not trying to rush or push you into anything,” Nishi informed him calmly, “I am doing as any parent should do, and I’m merely concerned with your welfare and future. Besides, you don’t know what you’re missing without a mate.” Sesshomaru wanted to roll his eyes. He returned his father’s attention to the next plan.
Meanwhile, in the Eastern Lands, Nikki wasn’t having a very good day. Her mother, to test her sewing skills, had assigned her to make several kimonos for herself, a mate, and several potential kittens. Nikki didn’t quite understand the point of this exercise, she figured she’d call on a seamstress like her mother did for kimonos and such. With the time spent arguing with her mother, Nikki had learned which battles were worth the fight, this was not one of them.
“They are quite beautiful,” her mother mused as she eyed the various kimonos softly. There were three; one for herself, one for a future mate, and one for a future child. She had guessed on the sizing for her mate and child’s kimonos. “The stitching is flawless on all three of them. This is good, because you’ll be wearing yours tonight to dinner, as we will be having a guest over.” Nikki eyed her mother warily.
“We will?” she demanded as her mother smiled and nodded, a sure sign that was not good for the young princess.
“Yes, he’s from a lower lord in the north under Lord Kita,” she informed her, “His name is Lord Hojo.” Nikki groaned as her mother looked at her surprised.
“What part of I’m not mating anyone, is so hard to believe?” she demanded of her mother as Mai looked at her annoyed.
“I’ll not hear another word,” her mother responded crossly, “you will meet him, be on your best behavior, and we will see what happens from there.” Mai stormed off as Nikki sat down, rubbing the bridge of her nose in irritation,
“Yes, Mai?” Higashi asked as she stormed into his study angrily.
“What’s all this?” she asked amazed as she noticed all the paperwork and forgetting about their daughter.
“Have a seat,” Higashi replied as she looked at him surprised and did so. “I’ve received word from Nishi, he and the boys need help finishing the rebellion. So, I have agreed to take the boys and half the troops here to assist him.”
“So, who is staying behind?” Mai asked as she prepared for the worst. Higashi shook his head as she looked at him alarmed. “Who, Higashi?”
“None of them,” he answered softly as she shook her head. “We need the leaders for the various battalions and such, I can’t leave any of them behind. I’m leaving half the troops here, Nikki will be able to keep them under control. While I’m gone, I’m going to leave you with a list of various things that I’ll need you to do for me. We shouldn’t be gone more than a month, maybe two months tops.”
“No,” Mai said shaking her head as she got up from where she sat down, “you are not taking all of my sons into battle. What if something happens? Not only are we putting all of our cards in one area to be hurt there. What if something happens here? We are defenseless females left alone in a castle with half the troops that are normally here to protect us.”
“You are not defenseless females,” Higashi droned on as he looked at his mate annoyed, “you’ll have Nikki here, she’s more than trained to lead the troops here and fight if need be.” Mai’s temper seemed to flare at that. “This is to help Nishi, he’s been away from home for almost seven months, and he’s not seen Izayoi and Eri in that whole time. I wouldn’t do it if it weren’t to help him go home to his family as well.” Mai shook her head as she paced and thought of what he was saying. “Now, what brought you in here?”
“We are having a guest over for dinner and your daughter is being difficult, again,” Mai replied without thinking as she paced. Higashi rolled his eyes and shook his head as he realized it was another suitor here for their daughter.
“Who is he?” Higashi demanded warily. Mai stopped and looked at him innocently.
“He is the son of a prominent lord of the north under Kita,” she answered as he nodded and waved his hand for her to continue, “His name is Hojo. I figured it’s appropriate for Nikki to continue to meet with suitors until she finds someone who makes her happy.” Higashi sighed and shook his head.
“Nikki has told you multiple times, she is not ready for a court,” her mate grumbled at her.
“It doesn’t happen overnight, Higashi,” his mate reminded him. “Since none of our friends seem to have suitable sons for our headstrong daughter, I figured we’d bring in some other suitors for our daughter to find someone to her liking.” At this point he knew she was unstoppable so he wasn’t going to argue, until she got too demanding of Nikki.
“Alright mate,” he sighed, “what time does the boy arrive?”
“He’s already here, in a guest chamber, preparing for dinner,” Mai answered with a smile. Higashi shot her a warning look as she sighed and nodded. “Yes, I took liberties behind your back, but you’ve been coming to her defense so much. You agree that the boys need mates, but not our daughter, it’s both confusing and unfair. Of all of them, she needs to be taken care of.”
“No, Shinta and Ryo need taking care of as they are the most miserable of the lot,” Higashi said shaking his head, “Nikki is far more independent than you like to give her credit. She’ll find a mate in a male that appreciates that fact, if she hasn’t already and hid it from you because you insist on taking over everything she tries to do.” Higashi shook his head again and got up as he now had to prepare for dinner since they had an unexpected guest.
“I don’t know why I even bother,” he muttered as he walked out of the office and still within earshot of Mai, “it’s not like you ever listen to what anyone else has to say.” Mai glared at his retreating form and stormed off to find something else to do while her mate was in their chambers.
Higashi knocked on Nikki’s door some time later as everyone was preparing for dinner. Like Higashi and Nikki, Mai was surprised to find all five of her sons protesting having a guest over for dinner. Higashi poked his head in Nikki’s room at her okay before entering fully to see her dressed in one of her homemade kimonos and currently putting her hair up. If Nikki didn’t find a way to remove Hojo, he knew he or one of the boys would have to.
“Yes, father?” she asked as she finished putting up her hair.
“Your mother has come to me stating you’re fighting the idea of visitors,” he began.
“And why shouldn’t I? I’m not allowed to make a single decision of any kind here; what I eat, drink, wear…everything is chosen for me! I’m tired of not being asked my opinion, of what I want.” She charged as he looked at her surprised.
“That, unfortunately, is the life of a princess, dearest,” he said as he thought about it. “If I could give you the freedom of the boys, I would. But your mother will always be there with the reminder, you’re a princess and it’s inappropriate.”
“I know,” she said with a sigh as she deflated, “I know. And as such a puppet for anyone who gets me. I just hope if I ever find a suitable suitor that mother won’t say no to he’s more open minded than these morons she seems to find.” Higashi chuckled as he thought about it. He figured eventually Sesshomaru would step up for Nikki’s hand, since they’ve been writing and all, but he didn’t want to ruin it for them.
“Maybe you should tell her you’re writing Sesshomaru,” he suggested.
“Oh no,” Nikki said shaking her head and facing him with a scared look, “do you know what that woman would do? My wedding would already be planned, if it’s not now! She’d take every decision I have away from me without a second thought…he wouldn’t even get the option, and yes then he’d hate me for something else.” Higashi looked at her surprised. “Sesshomaru isn’t going to court me, father, he just wanted a friend to write to. Someone who understood and could listen without a million questions. Do you see any other princesses like that?”
“Sweetheart,” Higashi said as he thought about it. He pulled her into a hug with a sigh; he didn’t know how to explain to her that the letters were obviously ways of getting to know each other better and in a form of their own courting. He couldn’t explain that he knew deep down that when this war was over, Sesshomaru would be on their doorstep demanding Nikki as a mate. He sighed as he felt her snuggle into his embrace and smirked a little at her affections.
“Please, you must promise me,” She begged softly as they parted, “you will not tell her about the letters.” Higashi nodded hesitantly, he knew this would be a way to get Mai off of Nikki’s back. But at the same time, he knew his daughter was right as well. Everything would be planned immediately and Nikki would be punished if Sesshomaru never showed up to claim her.
“I promise, kitten,” he replied gruffly as she sighed in relief and nodded. He took her hand and together they headed off to dinner dreading the night before them.