Malina and the Border Banners, Chapter 5 (A Story for B)

Began here.

Chapter 2 here

The Princess of many names (who we will refer to as Malina for simplicity’s sake) looked between a sand map of the city and the sand-cat sitting on the throne. Staring back at her from the map was a figure that seemed to represent her, and staring at her from the throne was a cat. 

The cat stretched and turned around twice on the throne.  “You are correct. Not just the map, which is usually right about these things, but the land here,  the tower here, this whole place. All of it believes you are important.”

“Because I’m named after a grandmother?”

“Well, several of your names certainly help in the process.”  The cat reached up towards the top of the throne, claws piercing the upholstery.  “There is a power in names, you know. There is a strength in them, and that power gives you, say, a tool.  But the person using the tool is just as important.”

“I’m just, well,  I’m here because I got lost at a party, because I got tired of the crowds,” Malina protested.

“No.  You were in the desert because you left the party.  You are here because we found you. And we found you because, in finding your way into the desert, you found the border lands.”  The cat aimed a stare at her. “I am certain that you do not realize how few people could have found a single banner-tree. How many did you find?”

“Three?” Malina hazarded.  “Before the one you and the mustang brought me to,” she clarified.  “Three, all of them very old.”

“The border is very old. The treaty, the Final Treaty, is ancient. Of course the banners are tired. It is all very tired. And here you came. Straight to the borderlands.”

“That was the cacti,” she protested. “They led  me astray!”

The cat snorted.  He jumped down from the throne and walked over to her, nudging at her legs. “The cacti led you exactly where you needed to be, Princess.  And now that you are here…”

“Now that I am here,” she answered with some asperity, “I would like a place to rest and some water, perhaps a little food if there is anything in storage, and if I am dreaming – and perhaps I am – something in which to soak my feet.”

“Sit on the throne,” the cat urged.  “Sit down on the throne and repeat yourself.  Tell it – tell it the map will wait. The papers will wait. I need these things first.”

Malina raised an eyebrow. “Has any ruler in history said the business will wait, just let me get a nap in first?”

“If they were a cat, perhaps they did. If they were a cat, almost certainly they did. Have you ever known a cat who would let anything get in the way of their nap?”

“And how many cats have been queens or kings?” she countered.  The throne looked soft and very comfortable.

The cat lept on to the table full of paperwork, skidding as it landed on ancient parchment. “How many cat rulers? Only 1 at a time, Princess. Only 1 at a time.”

It was an answer which had no retort, so she did not try.

Instead, she sat down slowly on the throne.

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