Aw, Rachel, I love you, but you are kind of an easy target in a political argument at this stage of your life. Gravedust’s defense is relatively solid, but E-Merl trips himself up as usual, Frigg doesn’t DO diplomacy and Scipio knows that this part of the conversation is largely pointless.

If the gnomes wanted to start an actual fight, they’d’ve already done so: waiting them out means he can press them after they’ve exhausted their first wave of outrage… or, as here, after the suspects have grown uncomfortable with the threat the Peacemakers’ presence represents and have thus drawn attention to themselves.

I had zero intention of bringing Mich and Franz back at all after their appearance in Chapter 7, let alone promoting them from minor diplomatic annoyances to secondary villains, but sometimes when you see an opportunity to retroactively make it look like you planned things, you just have to go for it.

Turns out they serve this story a lot better than I could’ve anticipated, serving as polar opposites to Bandit. Yes, they’re both criminals, but Mich and Franz are the high-level white-collar, mostly-get-away-with-it kind, and they’re willing to sell out anything for their status while Bandit, as we’ve just seen, was willing to sacrifice what little status she had left in service to a higher cause.