Throne of Ursine, Part 2

Cherro grasped the test tube carefully, as a scientist, this was supposed to come easily, but as a four hundred pound bear, his early experiments consisted of simply trying to pick up frail equipment. He tipped the vial into a small beaker currently resting above a controlled flame, placed the beaker back on the table, and then proceeded to run for the safety of a three-foot high wall running through one side of the room. A close observer, if they cared to get that close to a worried looking black bear, would hear him counting under his breath.
Safely behind the wall, he peeked over, eyes on the larger beaker. If he did the math and mixed the levels of honey correctly (and part of that relied on the very specific training of a branch of the local swarm), then it should be a few more seconds until...
The door opened on the other side of the room, and Cherro was spurred into a panic to see Queen Grendolia and her assistant stride in. "Back! Back! Get out!" he shouted, leaping over the short wall and racing across the room.
Grendolia had enough time to take in a charging Cherro before she saw a beaker on the worktop beginning to simmer before the black bear tackled her and Forsyth, bringing them both to the ground.
She was about to ask what was going on when Cherro leapt back onto his hind legs, and slammed the double doors shut, and heard him mutter "...Fifty Nine, Sixt-" before a flash of light emanated through the cracks in the doors and a sudden resounding thud shook through the hallway. Cherro slumped against the door, breathing hard, then began laughing gently to himself. She stared at him for a moment or two, confused and slightly worried before he seemed to remember that he had tackled royalty to the ground.
"Oh, hell, your Majesty, forgive me for the mishandling of yourself and your...page?" Forsyth, picking herself off the floor, shot him a dirty look. "I was only just testing the latest sample of the charge honey and forgot to put a notice on the door..."
"Quite alright, Cherro, and I forgive you on the caution that you remember the notice in the future. I gather you've perfected the timed reaction of the charge honey?" Grendolia pulled herself off the floor as Cherro experimentally opened the door to the test-room a fracture.
"Very close to it, I believe, your Majesty. That was only the first test," he said, waving a paw in a fruitless attempt to clear smoke away, "but the timing was correct for a dose of that size. And that was only a tenth of the size we hope to employ in the battlefield. I've been working with Warlord Oberton very closely on this, and we hope to more than meet the original parameters of the Charge-Honey postulation."
Grendolia smiled, albeit coughing while doing so as smoke wafted into the hall, despite Cherro having shut the door and pulled the lever for the ventilation to kick in. "That is good news, Cherro. Unfortunately, it's the matter of the Charge-Honey project that I need to talk to you about. Could you find the Warlord and bring him to my secondary meeting-den in an hour's time?"
"Certainly, your majesty. Is there anything I should warn Oberton about? You know he's grumpy during the traditional Hibernation Season."
"Tradition holds us back, Cherro," Grendolia said, motioning to Forsyth to follow her as she walked back the way she came away from the still smoking test-room doors. "We have to move with the times, and grow with progress, or else," she added darkly to herself, "be buried by a mountain of fools."


Throne of Ursine, Part One

She was worried, though her stoic features betrayed none of this. Even in national panic, it would Not Do for the Overqueen to appear anything other than calm and reserved, no, she would have to go about this the hard way. That is to say, Grendolia could not help but proceed through the nightmare of bureaucracy and the dance of diplomacy before she could make any kind of decree, let alone a political movement or military action. How she longed to throw the oaken table of the Meeting Den aside and swipe her well manicured but powerful paws across the face of the offending diplomat, after which fangs would be bared, insults snarled, and blood shed until a champion stood over a mangled corpse, the victory howl would be picked up and carried on by vocal cords from den to wood to forest, till it reached the pointed ears of the mountain dwellers.
Of course, this was civilization. Honesty and Courage could only wait until after at least five winters passed in hibernation inducing meetings, paperwork, diplomatic tea parties (she despised the little cakes the Gnomes favored). And while Borst, the mentioned diplomat who occupied the chair at the other end of the table, certainly deserved several more creative types of punishment for his ill deeds, beginning a war with the Mountain Gnomes over mere reputation and hearsay would be devastating to her entire race. Not to mention it would exacerbate the similar talks with the Garden Gnomes and completely destroy the precarious allegiance with Humankind.
“In closing, your majesty,” when Borst finally wound down from his petulant droning, “You can see quite clearly that any Ursine deaths along the Eastern borders were clearly coincidental, and was in no way related to our continued mining defensive measures.”
“Defensive measures?” Grendolia raised a furred eyebrow, displaying innocent curiosity. “Defense against what, Borst? If indeed your Gnome leaders wish to achieve peace through these talks, why must you fortify your defenses? And furthermore, defense against what? The only bears that live along those borders are simple Bee Herders and experimental Honey Alchemists. Hardly a force capable of moving your mountain.”
Borst, nonplussed, raised her an eyebrow and saw her a look of honest doubt. “Clearly, your Majesty, you have not heard the reports from your own subjects that your Honey Alchemists have devised an attack honey that, when applied to bare rock, causes it to explode with alacrity.”
“What my brightest minds get up to when they are bored is their own business, Borst, and far from officiated at the highest level. Though their discovery should have a considerable effect on your mining, I believe you are still using the pick and shovel method? Hardly keeping with the times.”
“Tradition rules in the Gnomedom, Queen Grendolia, as you should be well aware, and we are made stronger for our commitment to the old ways. I believe that is everything for this week, shall we arrange our meeting for the next Cycle? Same as this time, at the time of the Half-Moon?”
“Agreed. Forsyth,” she said, turning to her Chestnut coated scribe, “make a note of it. And now, Borst, I’m sure you can see yourself out.”
She waited until her guards had shut the door behind the retreating Gnome, and silently counted to ten before slamming her paw down on the table in anger. “Damn and blast, Forsyth, how did they find out about the Charge Honey? And do they know of the Attack Swarm? Send a message to the Chief Alchemist, He and I are going to have Words.”