“Why thank you very much, Meister Barleyseed!” declared Malina, kicking her feet against the chair. “It was a pleasure! Buh-bye!” She turned to Breus le Fidelé . “Could you take off Uncle Nissy’s special hat?” she asked sweetly. “My arms can’t arm enough to get it.”
Breus gave a bow. “Of course, Your Precious Grace.” He lifted the cumbersome device off the little Dev’s head. “And may I state you handled that very well, and very maturely.”
Malina gave a satisfied nod, while rubbing her little horned head. “Course I did! I’m a big girl who is almost eight!”
“I’ve known Peers of Leonais who would not handle it better,” declared Pelleas. He gave a rueful chuckle. “Then again, I’ve known Peers of Leonais who could not read nor write their own names.”
Malina looked at the King excitedly. “Ooooh! I can do that! I can do that very good!” She rushed to a nearby desk and grabbed a piece of paper.
Breus glanced at Pelleas. “So… how do they… sign things?”
“They make their ‘marks’,” said Pelleas. “Half of which are Xes. The other half of which are blots. You should see an official Conciliar Edict of Leonais. The bottom portion would make you weep. Last I checked, there were perhaps fifteen members who could properly sign their names. And Eustace de Calx usually sneaks in some vaguely obscene doodle.” He regarded the Seneschal for a moment. “So--this will work?”
“It should,” answered Breus. “Of course, I am unaware of it ever being attempted before--at least on this scale--but I consider that a benefit in many ways.”
Pelleas nodded quietly. “Sometimes you know, during my… imprisonment, I felt as if I were asleep and dreaming. And sometimes I felt as if all of Leonais was asleep and dreaming. And that feeling… it hasn’t gone away. I have begun to fear that this present war may be the only way my nation will ever wake up.”
“I know the feeling,” said Breus. “During Lord Shaddad’s rule, there were times…” He shut his eyes. “A Fidelé
swears to serve, not to judge, because that path when stepped down leads in dangerous directions. But even so… even if it shamed me before my ancestors, with him, I was tempted.” He shook his head. “Over and done with now. Over and done with.”
“Not really,” said Pelleas. “When I was younger, it used to annoy me, listening to the old men relate their tales of days gone by. But now I am an old man, and I know it is because the days do not go by. They linger, and the present day is built of them. And so I try to trace what actions of mine lead me to my present circumstances, so that I can better understand them.” He looked at the Seneschal frankly. “Not that I deny that the process can be quite annoying to onlookers. And that I regularly get sidetracked. Especially as I’ve had so many days gone by at this point…”
“Indeed,” said Breus, allowing himself a stoical nod.
“All done!” said Malina, placing the piece of paper before them. “Look! Look! My name! It’s my name, and I wrote it! At least umpteen times!”
“Very good, Your Precious Grace,” said Breus looking over the paper with the name ‘Malina’ written on it over and over.
“Dotting the ‘i’ with a flower is a very nice touch,” added Pelleas.
“Yes,” declared Malina proudly. “That is what I thought.”