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"Welcome to the show, my dear kikitties! Make yourselves at home. I'm your divine benefactor, your great pink power, and your host: Ecaflip, in the flesh (and fur)! Since I'm in control of Temporis this time, I've decided to run my own show too: the Wheel of Destiny. My disciples and my own progeny have sometimes experienced extraordinary fates. Did they become heroes? Legends? Or just pretentious boors? That's for you to judge! As for me, I just spin the wheel, meow! Round and round it goes… Aaaaaah! Well, this should start things off on the right paw… Friends, today I present: the tale of Atcham and the hunters three!"

The story I'm about to tell you is completely true. It takes place way back in the 380's. Those were the days… Bonta had possibly the best minstrels of all time… But I digress.

The place where these events took place was the complete opposite of the idyllic White City. In a dark and forgotten back alley in Brakmar – dim, dank, and altogether dodgy – the only sounds were the drip of dirty water and the squeals of dying rats… Until a metal box suddenly fell from a trash bin.: "Watch it, Lemi!" the Ouginak chief barked over his shoulder. "Sorry, boss…" answered the skeletal silhouette of an embarrassed Sram. As bold as injustice, with a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun in his gloved hands, the Rogue known as Cezar Salas brought up the rear with his square jaw tightly clenched. Then he stopped and twirled his handlebar mustache.

Jung Kyardagg knew that his right-hand man was onto something whenever he started stroking that glorious facial hair. "You smell something?" The thickset Rogue continued to fiddle with his whiskers for a moment, then announced: "Nothing, boss." The Ouginak rolled his one visible eye; the other eye was hidden by a leather patch that didn't quite cover an impressive scar.

"Nothin' is right, boss!" added Osso Lémio. "I don't understand nothin' about any of this! Why would some Ecaflip runt as precious as him come nosin' around here? If you ask me, your so-called informer is nothin' but a fake! There, I said it!"

- "Yeah, that guy… he didn't smell right," added Cezar, with an unsettlingly serious tone for such a bland observation.
- "You're just in a hurry to get back to the inn!" Jung snapped. "It's warmer there…"
- "And it smells better, too… yuck!" sneered the Sram as he pulled off his oversized gray hat to cover the lower half of his face.
- "That's enough out of you, Lemi! You don't even have a nose…" said Jung as he continued to warily prowl the alley. "If the reward for that wanted notice is as hefty as they say, you can spend the rest of your days visiting every inn in the World of Twelve for all I care, but for now…"
- Ssssss! Ssss… Ssss…

The Ouginak suddenly pulled an iron-and-bone mace from his coat and pointed it threateningly into a dark corner.

"Show yourself!" he growled.

"How much isss that reward of yoursss?" hissed the stranger, who seemed to have a distinct preference for sibilant sounds.

- "I might tell you… if you know where Ecaflip's son is. Otherwise, you'll owe me a tidy little sum yourself for wasting my time."
-  "Aw… poor little puppy…"

A feline silhouette stirred slightly in the shadows. Atcham had sniffed out these three maniacs as soon as they'd entered his neighborhood. The only reason he hadn't already robbed them blind was because he wanted to know more.

"Tell me about thisss wanted noticcce, and I'll tell you what I know, bounty huntersss…"

- "I don't like the smell of this, boss," Cezar observed as he took aim at his target.
- "Looks like we've got a bone to pick, pal!" Lemi boldly shouted as he shifted to attack position, a chafer bone nunchaku in each of his hands.
- "Hold it!" ordered Jung. "You would have already attacked us if you had nothing to gain here. You know something…"

The Ouginak hooked his mace back onto his belt. His two companions lowered their weapons, but remained alert.

"There's talk of a huge bounty for capturing a certain formidable Ecaflip…"

At those words, Atcham felt his chest swell with pride.

"Go on…"

- "A reward like none I've ever seen in my twenty-year career… So I was suspicious. What could possibly justify that kind of cash? The guy must have cheesed a lot of people off. He'd have to be an extraordinary adventurer and a valiant fighter…"
- "Mm hmm…"
- "But it turns out, the real reason the bounty is so high is 'cause the guy is the son of Ecaflip himself! A rumor like that tends to raise the stakes, see?"
- "Cccertainly…"
- "Some want him dead, others alive. Some just want his scalp, while others want legendary items from his inventory."
- "Wait a minute…"
- "One lady even wanted me to make him into a bedside rug so she could wipe her little feet on his super-soft fur every morning! Man, she was a crazy one!"
- "His fur…" Atcham repeated as a wave of unspeakable hate surged within him.
- "Apparently he's Ecaflip's favorite son, if that helps at all…"
- "KERUB!!!" Atcham spat out the name like an insult as he stepped out of the shadows.
- "Right, pretty sure that's it. I've got a little list of these divine runts and he's right at the top. But y'know what… There's another one lower down on the list. A lot less demand for him. Nobody asked me for his skin… turns out it's all wrinkly, without a single bit of fur on it!"

Atcham was fuming, just about to explode.

"And not only does he look like a snake on four paws, they ssssay he even hissses like one too!" chortled Jung.

- "Hang on, boss," said Lemi. "Don't you think the guy right in front of us looks like the one you're talking about? He sure does to me…"
- "I knew this didn't smell right!" warned the Rogue yet again, pointing his double-barreled shotgun at the Ecaflip.
- "Oh…" Jung's tone softened. "I could have sworn that for a minute there… you thought we were talking about you. Right, Atcham?"

The feline's face hardened as the Ouginak took another step towards him.

"Poor little kitty-cat…"

In a flash, Atcham drew his katanas and disarmed Cezar and Lemi, who were stunned by his raw speed. Jung had one paw on his mace, but Atcham's leg sweep sent the Ouginak crashing to the ground. Finding a blade to his throat, Jung had to admit defeat. The Sram and the Rogue, warned by the hairless Ecaflip's second blade, put their hands up in turn.

"Ssssstupid bounty huntersss! Jussst keep underessstimating me, and I'll keep lining my pocketsss with your kamasss! Now empty your coin purssses into my dish there – right next to my mimilk – and go back where you came from before I change my mind and ssslice you to bitsss!"

The three bounty hunters hastily followed his orders and turned to leave.

"Hold it!"

They froze in fear.

"Jung! Before you and your two flunkies ssslink off with your tailsss between your legsss, you're going to leave me one lassst thing. A little trophy, shall we sssay…"

*****

With a tear in his eye, Cezar Salas walked away, rubbing his upper lip where his luxurious mustache had been just moments before. Jung Kyardagg was just happy that Atcham had only claimed his beard. As for Osso Lemio, he had to hand over something as well, and so was left without his prized hat…

Settling back in on his tattered cushion, Atcham carefully arranged his trophies in a small chest. Then one of his ears suddenly pricked up. Someone had come to pay him a visit.

"If I were you, I wouldn't have let them off so easily," said a firm female voice.

- "Yesss, but you're ruthlessss, Julith. You never give an inch to anyone. As for me, I try not to beat up on people in the sssame sssad sssituation as me any more than I have to."
- "Your kindness will be the death of you, Atcham…"