The Prince Who Fell From the Sky

The Prince Who Fell From the Sky by John Claude Bemis

Book: The Prince Who Fell From the Sky by John Claude Bemis Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Claude Bemis
Tags: Ages 8 & Up
growled.
    When the dog hesitated, Dumpster said, “I told you it was cur nonsense.”
    “The Auspectres are witches,” the dog said quickly. “Carrion hunters. By eating the dead, they can divine what is to come.”
    “I don’t like this,” Dumpster said.
    “Well, the cub isn’t yours!” the dog snapped.
    Dumpster lashed his tail. “He’s not yours either, no matter how bad you long for a Companion.”
    “Right,” the dog said, his hackles twitching. “He’s the bear’s, and his fate belongs to her. I’m not suggesting we go to the Auspectres. Believe me, if I never have to see them again, I’ll be grateful.”
    “So you’ve been to them before?” Casseomae asked.
    “Once.”
    “Why?” she asked.
    “Same as everyone who braves those witches,” the dog replied. “I had a question.”
    “What did you ask them?”
    He glared sideways at Dumpster. “I don’t want to say.”
    “But what they told you,” Casseomae asked, “were they right?”
    The dog shrank a little, his remaining ear flattened. “Yes. They were right.”
    Casseomae felt a surge of strength fill her body. She rocked back and forth eagerly. “Then let’s go. Let’s see them now.”
    “They don’t live near here,” the dog said.
    “But you know how to find them?”
    “I do.”
    Casseomae nudged the child with her nose. “Come on, cub.” He chirped and sluggishly got to his feet.
    Dumpster gave a shrill note and ran up to Casseomae, clicking his incisors at her. “But what about my mischief? We can’t leave the highway. I’ll lose track of them.”
    Casseomae hated the thought of leaving the rat out here alone. He was tough and he’d come a long way already on his own, but she couldn’t imagine that he’d survive for long.
    “My responsibility is to the cub,” she said grimly.
    Dumpster sank back on his hind legs.
    Casseomae figured there was danger any way they traveled. And Dumpster knew things about the cub and his kind that she never would have known otherwise. “Can we still follow the highway?” she asked the dog. “Will that lead to the Auspectres?”
    “Yes, but like I said, it’s a bad idea.”
    “But will it get us there?”
    The dog looked over at the trembling rat. “It will.”
    “Then lead us that way,” Casseomae said.
    Dumpster snapped his tail in satisfaction and clambered onto her back more gently than before. As the dog set off down the highway, the cub slogged beside him, patting his head as they walked together. Casseomae was glad he liked the dog. She was glad to have another she could trust to protect her cub. He would need the dog if something were to ever happen to her.
    They had only traveled until midday before the child slumped to the ground, whimpering and clutching his stomach. Casseomae lumbered over and licked his hand worriedly.
    “What’s wrong with him?” the dog asked, joining her.
    “He hasn’t eaten in a while,” Casseomae said. “He needs food.”
    “There’s food all around,” the dog said. “I’ll catch him a viand.”
    “He needs Old Devil food,” Dumpster said. “His kind doesn’t eat fresh kills.”
    “Sure they do,” the dog argued.
    “No, they don’t.” The rat clicked his teeth. “Only canned carcasses.”
    “Carcasses?” the dog replied with a bark. “I enjoy something dead and pungent on occasion, but I know the Companions don’t. My ancestors hunted for them. We caught their meals, and they were fresh, not half-decayed.”
    “You don’t know what you’re talking about, cur,” Dumpster said.
    “Wait here. You’ll see.” The dog flitted off the highway and into the underbrush.
    While Dumpster leaped down from Casseomae’s back and began to rattle off the many reasons he despised dogs, Casseomae found a cane of ripe raspberries. She had nearly gotten her fill when the dog came back with a squirrel in his teeth, wagging his tail proudly. He dropped it before the child and gave a bark.
    The child looked down at the limp squirrel

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