Chapter 590: The Delegation pt 4
Though the Queen probably wouldn't describe herself this way, to Enid, she was quintessentially a grandmother who was tired of her children and grandchildren fussing around her. To the elderly mayor of Renewal, this was something she could immediately empathise with.
[It's irritating when they don't take your word at face value, is it not?] Enid asked.
The Queen nodded, a dip of the antennae, in ant body language.
[I am frustrated when they claim on the one mandible that they have the utmost respect for my wishes, and on the other they go behind my back to circumvent me at every turn.]
[I wouldn't put it that way, Mother!]
The antenna twitched and Coolant fell silent, again.
[I wouldn't have been able to participate in the siege of Rylleh had Vibrant not told me about it, something I assume that she was specifically told not to do. This is exactly the sort of thing I'm referring to.]
The Queen's gaze was calm and still, yet Coolant could do nothing but wilt in the face of those implacable eyes. This was the ant who had raised the Colony up from nothing, literally by herself. Where it not for a quirk of fate, the respect afforded to the Eldest would instead fall on this individuals shoulders. There was little the Council could do when confronted by their mother directly, which is why they tended to scheme behind her back in an effort to keep her from harm's way.
Enid found herself feeling sorry for the poor mage and stepped in to redirect the Queen's attention.
[It can be frustrating, that is true,] she sympathised, [I have experienced the same thing myself, many a time. I do find that it is important to remember that their concern comes from a place of love. They do not wish for you to come to harm, because they care for you.]
The mayor shot Coolant a glare before she could pipe up again and get herself thwacked. Where had the intelligent and calm negotiator gone? Enid could only lament. It appeared that being exposed to their mother turned all of the ants' brains to mush. The Queen, for her part, only looked confused by what had been said. She absentmindedly raised her forelegs to clear her antennae as he pondered it.
[I do not understand,] she said finally, [if harm were to befall me, the colony would only suffer in the sense that the egg production I provide would need to be replaced. This is something that our family has the ability to do. Hundreds of my children come to harm every day, if what way am I more special than them?]
Although she was talking to Enid, the Queen's soft gaze drilled directly into Coolant's carapace. She wasn't sure how she'd come to adopt this role of conflict resolution between the ant council and their parent, but Enid found herself enjoying it immensely. If Anthony were here, would he squirm just as badly as Coolant? She had to wonder just how often it was necessary for the Queen to knock him back into line. If she had to guess, it would be a frequent occurrence.
Coolant adopted a pleading stance toward Enid and the old woman once again stepped in on her behalf.
[It might be possible that this idea of emotional attachment to an individual is new in the Colony, but it is quite common amongst all the Sapient races, not just humans. It is also natural for most organisms to feel a bond to their parent, just as a parent feels a bond towards its children. I'm sure you would agree, Queen, that you care for your children and wish the best for them. Likewise, they care for you and wish the best for you.]