Higashi created a rotation for the protection of his daughter. His sons each were taking their turns with Sesshomaru as they stood outside the room. The healer and one maid were constantly in and out of the room as Nikki’s physical wounds healed. The healer met with Higashi daily to inform him of Nikki’s current condition.
Mai was moved from her chambers, to the surprise of her sons, and into the dungeons with the guardsmen. Higashi had thrown in the dungeons almost half of his guard until he could pick through them to figure out who was innocent and who was guilty. None of the guard, both free or imprisoned, once they found out what had happened blamed him for his reaction. They were all more or less stunned they were still alive.
“How is she?” Higashi demanded as the healer stood before him. He waved for her to sit and she did so with a heavy sigh.
“Her wounds are healing, my lord,” the healer informed him as he nodded and listened, “but she is still afflicted in other ways. She was traumatized while locked in that dungeon. Despite all of our work, getting her physically back to as close to perfection as possible, I am highly concerned that the princess may undo it all.”
“What do you mean?” Higashi asked her concerned.
“Your headstrong and vibrant daughter was captured, locked into a dungeon for absolutely no reason, beaten, and raped,” the healer said as Higashi grew a dark look as he was reminded of the original report from the healer, “her mind is not well from that torture. She has doubts, blames herself for what happened to her. I don’t know how much we can explain to her that it’s not her fault, that she did not deserve what she received. I don’t know how long she was down there, what was said to her, but at this point her own mind is the most dangerous thing to her. I have seen creatures in such conditions before, they usually resort to violent measures to end both the disgrace and the pain.”
“No, not Nikki,” he said shaking his head in denial, “she’s stronger than that. When can I see her?”
“When she is ready,” the healer answered. She was exasperated with how Higashi was taking the news, though understood his determination for Nikki to be strong, he always said she was. “I am not keeping you from her, my lord, she is.” Higashi sighed as he sat back and thought about it, trying to figure out a way to convince her to allow him in to see her.
For several more days, two weeks having passed since her rescue, Nikki remained confined to her room. Every time Higashi or one of the boys knocked on her door they were refused by a maid or the healer with an apology. Nikki avoided most living people but continued to write to Sesshomaru as if he weren’t in the castle. She would send her letters to him via the maids. It was infuriating to Sesshomaru, but she still refused to see him as he asked her about it in every letter. He grew worried the less she wrote back in her letters.
“We must force our way in and check on her,” Sesshomaru demanded angrily as Higashi looked at him wearily. “She is on a self destructive path.” He put her latest, shortest, letter down on the desk and waited as her father read it. Higashi looked at him surprised as he looked up from the letter.
“Where did you get this?” he asked him curiously.
“Nikki’s maid,” Sesshomaru answered bitterly, “she will not allow this Sesshomaru in to see her, but she will write and permit her maid to deliver the letters like we’re not in the same kingdom.” Higashi sighed and nodded. He had been trying to figure out a way to get permission to enter his daughter’s room, but most plans had a very foreseeable future of failure.
“We can’t force her,” Higashi said calmly as Sesshomaru looked at him agitatedly. “I fear doing so would force her hand in harming herself.” Higashi sighed as he looked at Nikki’s letter again and thought. “Though, she may be forcing us to do so at this point.” Sesshomaru got up and left the office. Higashi sighed as he tried to think of what to do for his daughter, in a situation he never could believe her to be in.
Sesshomaru walked up to Nikki’s door to find one of her brothers, Jiro, and a guardsman there. He crossed his arms as Jiro looked at him expectantly.
“Remove yourself from this Sesshomaru’s path,” he growled as Jiro smirked at him and shook his head.
“You know I can’t,” Jiro reminded him as he pointed his thumb to the door. “I won’t have her getting upset if she doesn’t need to be.”
“We have no choice, either I go in there and force her to face us or she’ll harm herself to avoid us forever,” Sesshomaru argued as Jiro sighed and looked over his shoulder at the door. He knew she was close to it, she could hear them. He shook his head as he looked at the guard and motioned for him to stand down.
“I’ll be close by, call if you need help,” Jiro replied as Sesshomaru nodded. He slid the door open, her delicate scent of cherry blossoms and spring rain hitting him in the face as he entered, and closed the door behind himself. He had decided if he’s going to piss her off, he didn’t need an audience this time.
“You ignored my demands,” a soft, hoarse voice said from behind him. Sesshomaru didn’t move, waiting for her to come around and face him.
“You’ve been hidden away for far too long,” Sesshomaru replied over his shoulder, “I came all this way to see you with your surprise, I have much I wish to discuss with you.”
“I fear your trip was wasted,” she whispered as he heard her fight back the sobs, “I’m sorry.” Sesshomaru turned and looked for where her voice was coming from. She was huddled in a corner behind the door; her silky black kimono clung to her tiny, obviously malnourished frame. Her hair was pulled up, her pale skin glowing in the morning light and her large emerald eyes sad and full of misery, almost haunted looking. He wanted to pull her out of the corner she cowered in, shake her, and force the vibrant personality he loved out of her. He stopped himself though as his thoughts shook him some.
“Why?” He asked her softly as he sat in front of her instead, “There’s no reason to apologize. From what I understand, everything that has led to now is not your fault.”
“I was weak,” she whispered, her voice cracking as tears filled her eyes.
“I’m positive that is not correct,” Sesshomaru informed her as she looked at him confused. “You are anything but weak, ever. You even stood up to me while I was furious, that takes strength beyond measure.” He noticed her smirk weakly before looking down. “Nikki, your father and brothers are worried, I threatened Jiro so I could get in here because I was worried. It’s time to leave this room.”
“I tried…tried to hold them back…” she said softly as the tears streamed down her face. “I couldn’t…” He gathered her in his arms as Sesshomaru leaned against a wall and held her tightly. He silently supported her as she sobbed silently. Sesshomaru suddenly understood how Higashi felt, the urge to go into the dungeon and rip each person down there to pieces was great, but he would not move, he couldn’t move. She started to doze as she calmed down, the maid and healer coming in, both surprised to see him.
“Go get her something hearty to eat,” Sesshomaru ordered the maid; he was not fond of this emaciated Nikki. The maid left as the healer watched him shift her gently but remain holding her.
“She’s very fragile,” the healer said to him as Sesshomaru just looked at her.
“She’s going to heal,” Sesshomaru informed her confidently, “though this Sesshomaru has concerns about her reliving the events will do to her.” The healer nodded in agreement as she sighed and thought about what she could do for her lord’s youngest kitten. She watched as he fawned over the princess, someone who should have been treated as gold but was terribly tarnished beyond recognition.