Malina and the Border Banners, Chapter 13 (A Story for B)

Began here.
Chapter 2 here
Chapter 3 here.
Chapter 4 here.
Chapter 5 here.
Chapter 6 here.
Chapter 7 here.
Chapter 8 here.
Chapter 9 here.
Chapter 10 here.
Chapter 11 here.
Chapter 12 here.

The Princess Malina  – Malina Serafina Anastazja Dominika Naveed Jeleń nic Cecília O Alexandre, who had always considered her long name to be more of a formality of being born a princess, rather like a carpenter’s child would have some sort of wood in their naming and a weaver’s child would have some sort of fiber, but now was learning that her name was some sort of way of anchoring her to some ancient magic, along with everything else she was learning during this particularly weird time – finished her breakfast and dressed herself in the silks and sandals provided by fish-sprites. 

She smoothed the clothes down over her body and found that she looked very old-fashioned, but so old-fashioned it was like she had stepped out of a history book, rather than like she had borrowed her grandmother’s clothing. 

“I’m not going home, am I?” she asked, more to the air – strange air, still smelling of dust and sand – than to the cat who was politely not watching her dress. 

“I could argue that you are home, here more than any place in the world.  But for what you mean – yes.  Yes, you will go home, Malina, child of the Alexandre, and possibly sooner rather than later.  You may go home into a different role than you expected; you may go home changed by your time here, but you will go back to your parents and your sister and their palace.  This I can assure you, and this I can always assure you.  But what will change is that this place will also be home to you.  That is the nature of – it’s the nature of what’s happening.”  The cat fell quiet. 

Malina looked at the tiny cat, not much bigger than a kitten.  “Where do we start today? You said there was much to be done, but what is it?  What am I supposed to be doing here?  I looked at the work room, I slept in the Queen’s bed, I told sprites I thought they did a good job…”

“And now, now you are going to survey this place, you and I.  You should have the scepter, and preferably the crown.”  The cat lept down from the table and paced over to a cabinet, which he pawed open.  “It will tell the – the walls, I suppose, the magic – that you are here to rule.”

“But I’m not,” she protested. “I’m not the crown-wearer, my parents are.”

The cat turned to stare at her.  No, to glare at her.  “In this place, your parents do not rule.  In this place, the crown and the throne of the land you came from do not rule.”

She took a step backwards, not entirely voluntarily.  “I – but then -“

“You come to this place through specific grants, most of which your parents do not have.  You are not usurping. You are not abdicating.”  The cat hesitated. “You are not abdicating.  You are not stepping on their tails. This place, this border land, is yours, and you need to claim it.”

Malina took another step backwards. “Claim it.  Crown.  Scepter.  You’re – no!  No, that’s-” Her elocution tutor, she thought, must be rolling her eyes, wherever she was at the moment. 

Probably still at that party, drinking fizzy wine and laughing about the latest joke cycle to sweep the capital city. 

“You were raised by who you were born to, to be a ruler.  Yes?”

“Well, yes, although my sister-“

“And you are here, and you were named to it, yes?”

The cat sounded impatient.  Its ears were back.  Malina straightened her back and stepped forward again. 

“You have told me that I was named to it.  You have brought me here. You have told me that this place is for me. The sprites appear to be interested in serving me; is that because I am born of Dominika, as you say, or because there is a person here for them to serve?”

“Both. But nobody not named to this role, even if your parents were not entirely aware of what they were doing, could have gotten this far.  Nobody not named to it could have wandered from a party and found themselves looking at the border line, reading the banners.  You are here for them to serve because you’re meant for it.  Like me.”  The cat stretched.  “Like me, like the Mustang.  We didn’t find you by chance, Malina, born of Dominika.  You found us.  Because you were born to find us.”

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