Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.
Author Notes: So sad… Ok, I'm not going to spoil your fun. Enjoy!
Too late to rescue
After two horribly long days Mai finally reached Kanazawa, the capital of Kaga. The huge castle was surrounded by a large town. As her captors along with her were making the way towards the castle, the girl peeked out of the palanquin. She was careful not to lose her balance, as her hands and legs were tied. It happened, when she lost the control over her temper and punched that evil bastard Goemon squarely in the face. Although she was now bound, she was a little bit satisfied as well – she managed to grace Lord Maeda's face with huge black bruise.
To Mai's discontent, Goemon approached her. She looked away, not wanting to see the lying face of his.
"At the sunset you will join your fiancé in afterlife." He informed her. Mai frowned, as the sadistic bastard was repeating it much too often for the last two days, expecting her to lose hope and beg for life. No way in hell – she had her pride. Goemon smiled at her with faked gentleness. "Do you still think, that your youkai lover will come for you?"
Mai turned her head towards him and cast the most poisonous glare she could manage.
"He is not my lover. And, yes, Sesshomaru will come for me." She said stubbornly. Although she kept saying this to Goemon with confidence, she believed that less with every passing hour. Didn't Myoga find him? She had a terrible hunch, that the flea reached Sesshomaru and he refused to save her. Mai knew, that she should have stayed with the inu-youkai all along – she would be safe by his side. She cursed her stupidity. Now she will die because of it. The hope, that Sesshomaru will come and rescue her was the only thing keeping her sane. If not it, she would go crazy from the fear of dying. Now she felt, that she was beginning to lose that hope.
Her palanquin along with Goemon and the guards passed through the castle gates. Once inside, the servants ushered the girl out of the cart, after they cut the ropes on her legs. Two muscled guards grabbed her arms, immobilizing her almost completely and dragged her after Lord Maeda, who casually strolled along the corridors of the castle. They climbed many stairs and reached the room, that was on the highest floor. Mai was brutally dragged into it. The room was spacious, but nearly empty. In the middle of it was a wooden pillar with solid iron shackles attached to it and a long table. Something was on it, but the girl couldn't tell what, because a cloth covered it. Goemon turned around and looked on his servants.
"Cuff her and leave." He ordered sharply. Mai struggled, as the men dragged her to the pole and put the shackles on her wrists so that she had her arms above her head. The girl tried to fight with all her strength, kicking and hissing at them, but she had no chance against them. The men bowed and left the room, leaving her alone with the madman. Between the girl and him was the table.
"Are you wondering, what is underneath this cloth?" Goemon asked, pointing at the table.
"Tch! I don't care!" Mai hissed furiously, glaring at him. The lord smiled maliciously.
"How can you say such a thing, princess?" he said with mocked indignation. "Are you not curious, with whom will you spend the last night of your life?"
"With whom?" Mai repeated, staring at the shape on the table. Just don't tell me, that…
Goemon slowly, with a certain dose of care, removed the fabric and threw it on the floor. Mai gasped, horrified. Bones. On the table laid a human skeleton, with the remains of dried flesh and hair. It was clad in tattered clothes. The attire was a rag now, but there was no mistake – those were the clothes Gorouza, the princess's fiancé, wore on day of his death, when Sesshomaru kidnapped Mai.
"I see, that you recognized your fiancé and my beloved brother." Goemon grinned, caressing the skull with the tips of his fingers. "I am sure, that he would be glad if his and your bones would rest in the same grave, joined forever."
Mai frowned with disgust.
"He wouldn't." she responded firmly. "He wasn't like you. Gorouza was a good man, unlike you, you twisted lunatic!"
Goemon laughed at her outburst.
"To hear such words coming from your lips, sweet Amayami…" he mocked her. "From you, who betrayed my brother for the sake of a worthless monster!" he spat at her. Mai narrowed her eyes. Now, she had nothing to lose – she would die anyway in an hour or so. Maybe Sesshomaru was a pain in the ass and left her to die, but she didn't blame him for that. She was at fault too.
"Sesshomaru is not worthless, you piece of shit!" she screamed at him. "Maybe he's a cruel demon, but he knows more about honor that you ever will! Once he comes, he'll rip you in shreds!"
Goemon hissed, angered by her response, but he regained his composure after a moment.
"You speak so highly of your youkai, but where is he now?" Lord Maeda smiled, what made Mai feel sick. "Why didn't he come to save you?"
Mai didn't answer. She felt like it, but she refused to break in tears. She wouldn't give this monster the satisfaction.
Goemon played with the hem of Gorouza's tattered kimono.
"This is the fate of the women, who side with the youkai. Do you think that he would weep, seeing your lifeless body?" He said, a smile playing on his lips. "I must leave you, my dear Amayami. I have to join my retainers on the walls of the castle, for my spies told me, that a certain general named Hiroyoshi Shinji will try to capture my capital while the main forces attack your homeland. He is a friend of yours, isn't he?"
Mai stared at him, not willing to answer.
"Pity, yet another man will die because of you." He said, grabbing a candle from the table and walking towards the exit. "Well, I suppose it's time to say goodbye, princess. Join my brother in afterlife."
With this words he opened his palm, letting the candle fall on the floor and just walked away. Mai watched with horror as the flames engulfed the tatami, slowly reaching the paper walls. The girl desperately struggled to free herself, but she only hurt her wrists, drawing blood. Soon, the flames were everywhere around her. The room was empty, so they couldn't reach her yet. She would die either of suffocation or under debris, when the roof would fall. How cruel Goemon was – not only wanted to kill her, but also wished her to die in a long and painful way. Mai felt the hot gusts on her face and the scuffles were heating up, hurting her arms. The girl coughed, finding it more difficult to breathe, as the oxygen from the air got burned away. Her lungs felt like burning from breathing in the hot air. She whimpered, knowing, that the agony was near. She didn't want to die. Not yet. Mai's vision began to blur and her legs gave up, leaving her hanging on her arms. She stared into the flames, that danced around her.
"Sesshomaru…" she uttered. The girl heard roars of the flames and howling. Was it howling of the fire or something else?
"Hurry, Sesshomaru-sama, it's almost sunset!" Myoga exclaimed, as he was gripping the fur of the dog-demon in his true form. Sesshomaru was flying towards the Kanazawa castle at his greatest speed, but the time was almost up. Myoga was worried both for the girl, who was a very nice person indeed, and the Inu no Taisho's son. The old flea-youkai was in a situation like this before and it didn't end well. Then, Myoga spotted the buildings. Under the castle walls two human armies were battling and the castle was burning, the attackers probably set the fire. Myoga squinted his eyes, trying to spot Mai among the other humans. He didn't succeed, but he noticed someone else – that evil lord Goemon. He must know where the girl was.
"Sesshomaru-sama! The leader in blue armor must know, where Mai is!" the flea-youkai cried and fled.
Shinji slashed his opponent and cursed. Someone must have warned Maeda of their attack. If the forces of Kanazawa weren't mobilized, Shinji and his men could have stand a chance, but now it was a suicide. Not that Shinji didn't know how slim their chances were from the start – but he had to rescue Amayami, the girl meant world for him. If only he could behead Lord Maeda…
The young samurai skillfully dodged the blow and killed two other opponents. Shinji looked around, assessing the situation. The enemies outnumbered his men. If he didn't order to retreat now, they all would be slaughtered. Yet, he hesitated. Retreating would mean sealing Amayami fate.
"Men of Echizen!" a voice echoed above their heads. Shinji looked up. Maeda Goemon, lord of Kaga, was standing on the walls, mocking them. The young samurai gritted his teeth and gripped the hilt of the sword tighter. The lord continued. "How foolish of you was to come here! Your princess can't be saved now!"
"I won't forgive you!" yelled Shinji, throwing himself desperately at the enemies, blinded with fury. He will avenge Amayami, even if he dies. The man was slashing the enemies as though he was possessed, his wrath fueled by the Goemon's laughter. Shinji barely realized, when he killed all his opponents. Panting, he stood among the dead bodied, the blood dripping from his blade. The samurai looked up.
"What…" he began, seeing a huge white shape descending from the sky. He squinted his eyes and gasped, as he recognized it – it was the enormous dog demon, like that from the old tales of the powerful inu-Taiyoukai, who ruled the western provinces. The demon roared and approached the place, where Shinji, Lord Maeda and the soldiers were. With a huge impact, he collided with the wall, near Maeda Goemon, so that rocks were flying everywhere. Shinji covered his eyes with the arm, as the flash of purple light blinded him. When he lowered his hand, the samurai saw a man standing not three meters from a startled Lord Maeda. The newcomer's long silver hair billowed in the wing, along with the sleeves of his fine haori. When Shinji looked closer at the man, he decided, that he was no human for sure – he must be the dog-demon. For a while, both he and Goemon stayed silent, glaring at each other. Finally, the lord of Kaga spoke.
"So, eventually you came for your princess?" he asked with a malicious grin. The demon narrowed his golden eyes.
"Where is she?" the inu-youkai demanded harshly. Lord Maeda laughed cruelly.
"You came too late, youkai. Maybe if you came sooner, she wouldn't die a long and painful death in the flames."
The demon shot a furious glare at Goemon and quickly looked at the burning castle. Lord Maeda began laughing uncontrollably, obviously amused by telling the youkai of princess's death. Shinji stepped back, as he saw a powerful demonic aura starting to swirl around the silver-haired demon, as his eyes turned red. He reached Maeda Goemon in one swift leap and grabbed his head. Startled Goemon stopped laughing, when he realized, what was happening. With only a twist of the wrist, the demon literally ripped the lord's head from the rest of the body, throwing it away. Then he jumped into the air and soared toward the burning castle.
Shinji saw Goemon's head rolling towards his feet. The young samurai bent down and picked it up.
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