The Bear Prince
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
The young prince snuck into the kitchens, hoping to find some tasty morsels left behind after the banquet. He was still bitter about not being invited; he was six years old after all. His grandfather and father, the king and crown prince respectively, had agreed that he was too young. No amount of arguing, cajoling, or crying had changed their minds.
All day long the young prince had been tortured by the enticing smells of roasting meats, baking breads and pies, and countless unnameable delicacies. All he had eaten for supper was a bowl of stew, haphazardly left for him as an afterthought. It hadn’t even been very warm.
The kitchens were much quieter than usual, the massive fires had burned down to coals, barely lighting the room. He assumed it was because all of the kitchen staff were helping serve the banquet, especially after the loud ruckus earlier. Whatever it was had put his nursemaid into a tizzy of fussing over him. The prince hoped he had waited long enough to slip past her and it seemed his patience had paid off.
The desserts were still on the great table in the middle of the kitchens. That meant that people would be coming back to get them soon, so he would need to move quickly. They were glorious masterpieces worthy of anyone’s adoration, and the young prince knew exactly the person for the job. One cake in particular caught his attention. It was decorated to look like the castle, down to the sugared guards that stood sentry at the gates to the magnificent confection. The young prince made for the creation like his hunting master had taught him.
A shuffling and snuffling froze him in his tracks. A great, shaggy bear head rounded the corner, its nose to the air. The prince bit back a scream and scrambled back as silently as he could. He had heard somewhere that bears had poor vision, and hoped desperately that whomever had told him that was right, and that the low light in the kitchen was enough to hide him. He backed into something huge and musky and felt, more than heard, the rumbling growl from behind him. This time he did scream and stumbled forward.
“You’re out of honeycomb and oats,” the second bear told him, smacking its lips and cleaning off what looked like both of the mentioned ingredients. “Also the wine smells of hellebore,” it added with a snort. The prince could only whimper in response.
The first bear shuffled into the aisle and sat beside the prince with a huff. “Meat’s rancid too,” it added with a grumble. It then gave the boy a bored sniff, sighed, and shuffled off again. “There’s rust in the good iron pans.”
The prince blinked and swallowed. He tried to say something but only squeaked. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Who are you?” the prince asked, as politely as he could.
The first bear swung its head back into the aisle and blinked. “Why, we’re the Bad News Bears,” it told him, “and the stone work is crumbling in that corner.”
The prince stood up and brushed himself off. He straightened his tunic before bowing.
“Welcome to our castle,” he said. “I am the prince here.”
The second bear shook its head with a snort. “No, lad. You’re the King.”
Click here for the audio recording of The Bear Prince.