Malina and the Border Banners, Chapter 6 (A Story for B)

Began here.
Chapter 2 here
Chapter 3 here.
Chapter 4 here.
Chapter 5 here.

There was a girl named Malina Serafina Anastazja Dominika Naveed Jeleń nic Cecília O Alexandre, and because she had been named this, or at least that was what she’d been told, she sat down on a throne.

The throne was in a tower which had been left as if its inhabitants planned on coming back any moment.

But they hadn’t, and Malina, led by a talking sand-cat & carried by a mustang, had.

She sat down gingerly on the throne, worried it might crumble to dust, even though it had held the cat fine.

The throne held her weight; the cushion was so soft and comfortable that she could see why the cat had wanted to stay there. It was too large for her, as if it had been meant to hold a very large person, but if she scooted forward, she could see how the arm rests had been carved to fit hands, so they’d rest comfortably and royally while the person there did whatever they did in this room.

The thing was, it wasn’t a Throne Room. Malina’s parents had a Throne Room; it was large & beautiful. 

Her parents’ Throne Room had room for dozens if not hundreds of people to come and see them, to hear the announcements, to bring their complaints to them.

This – “this is a war room,” Malina murmured. “So why does it have a throne?”

“Because.” The cat lept onto her lap. “Because sometimes when things are the worst – when at war, perhaps, although Sand Cats do not war – then the one on the throne must remain especially regal. And sometimes one’s allies will visit one here, and not down there.”

Malina leaned back in the seat. “I see. And this war room -“

“Was not needed anymore after the Final Treaty. The war was over. The need for monitoring the borders was done. The Borderland was now its own place, and it was out of the way of anything that might come.”

“But just because you’ve signed a treaty doesn’t mean there won’t be war again. You can’t just trust to the treaty. The world doesn’t work that way!” Malina’s tutors had spent years teachers her that. “You can’t just… trust.”

The cat turned around twice in her lap, kneading, poking claws through the thin fabric of her skirt. “This is not trust in people. The Final Treaty is not a piece of paper signed by people. The house cats signed this treaty, human. Do you think that it is an ordinary treaty?”

Malina glared down at the cat. “I know only what you’ve told me, and that has been sporadic and cherry-picked to make your points. If this treaty is not on paper and is not maintained by people, can it be read?”

The claws stopped. The cat stopped moving altogether. He tilted his head to one side and made a noise like a rumble deep in his throat – not a purr, more of a “mmmmm” that seemed to have some meaning behind it she couldn’t divine.

“This… this should be possible, for the person that you are. For a Malina who is a Dominika who is an Alexandre, it should be possible. Tomorrow, when the sun has set & risen again, tomorrow. Tonight, you need food, water and rest, thus you should call for those.”

“I am also an Anastazja, a Naveed, & a Jeleń, you know.” She wanted food and rest, but- “I am the daughter of Cecília Portela Dominika, the daughter of Tiago Jeleń Alexandre, great-granddaughter to Serafina who brought home the sun. I am not just a Dominika!”

The cat looked at her and turned around twice yet again. “And right now, what you are to this place is a Dominika who is sitting in the throne. The rest is important, yes. None of it is as important as who you are, you beyond the names.

“You, Princess.” The cat stared her in the face. “You are what is important. Call for food and for rest, and it will come to you. Do this now, and tomorrow I will find a way to get you to the Final Treaty. Do this now, & I, too, can have some rest.”

She closed her eyes. She pulled up every bit of court protocol she had learned. Was it appropriate here? The border lands, the cat had said. She had no protocol for the borderlands.

She had protocol for being Queen. “I hunger. I thirst. I tire.”

Malina opened her eyes. There was a sprite in front of her, no bigger than her closed fist and looking like nothing so much as a brightly-colored fish.

“Follow it,” the cat suggested – clearly a suggestion this time – and jumped off her lap.

Malina considered how far she had come so far since she had lost the party. She considered the throne room and the sand map.

She stood and allowed the fish-sprite to lead her from the tower.

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