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.”