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Meow-meowoooo! What a pleasure to see you again, moumouse hunters! My last tale was a blast, wasn't it? I thought it was pretty funny. Well, let's see who we're destined to learn about today… by spinning that wheel! Around and around it goes – feels like the day after Saint Potrick – ANDDD… it's Ush Galesh! One of my most dreaded children! Aren't you just a bunch of lucky devils… Now discover his story with me!

The (mis)adventure I'm about to share is true in every respect, from start to finish, and in the middle as well!

At this time, Ush Galesh had a soft spot for any kind of Masqueraider relics or works of art. He was lucky enough to own almost as many as the most distinguished collectors – and he still had his kitten fuzz. The recent discovery of a mask that had never been seen before, the iMask, had left him delirious with excitement. There was no doubt in his mind: He had to have it.

Housed in the Twelvian History Museum of Bonta, sitting under a bell jar – itself protected by a reinforced metal cage – the mask caught everyone's attention. Curious visitors from all over the World of Twelve lined up to admire it. I might add that it was believed to possess immeasurable power, akin to that of a god. And supposedly, just gazing upon it could bestow you with divine grace and good luck in love and gaming. This claim was compelling enough to inspire a stampede of roulette aficionados from Ecaflip City, who weren't exactly in the habit of visiting stuffy old museums, so determined were they to gain the gods' favor.

Ush is an Ecaflip (no surprise there). As such, he is naturally flexible and agile. And he had honed this aspect of his feline physique. Trained tirelessly every single day. What does this have to do with the iMask? I was getting to that! Gosh, so impatient… To have any chance of obtaining the item he so coveted, Ush would have to get around quite a few traps. Like I said, the mask was kept under a glass case inside a steel cage, safe from wandering hands. But that's not all! To keep its precious find even more secure, the city of Bonta had designed a system of ropes that would trigger at the slightest movement, set up around the cage like an arachnee web. It was enough to deter the bravest souls… But not the maddest.

It's 4:00 in the morning. Too late for there to be any bow meows loitering, and too early for the World of Twelve to have arisen from its slumber. The perfect time to pull off a heist. Ush emerges from a dark alley, his face hidden under a hood, the golden shimmer of his dilated pupils appearing from time to time. He is covered head to toe in a gobbly-leather jumpsuit. To be sure, his natural coat already blends in with the pitch-black night – but there's another reason. The smallest piece of fur left behind could turn out to be a valuable clue. Why should he take that risk…

"Hup, hup! Hup! Ahhh… HUP!"

Ush is in a chipper mood. He's been planning this for months. Jumping off walls and onto gates, he finally grasps the front of a building like an arachnee would. It's the museum of Twelvian history. His claws, embedded deep in the stone, hurt like the devil. No matter – he'll suffer as much as necessary to get his paws on the object of his desire. Now here he is, climbing up the structure.

In a final push, he gathers momentum, his hind legs bent as much as physically possible, then leaps to complete his path to the roof. Crouched down and on the alert, he glances around. The view over Bonta is stunning. It's never looked so beautiful to him… The city seems to belongs to him alone. Like it's one of his gutter cats… As much as Ush wants to savor the moment, time runs short.

He takes a map out of his bag and unfolds it, the crinkle sound breaking the nighttime silence. That's odd… Nothing seems to match up. He must've made a mistake when he reconstructed the site. How unlike him! He blames himself. How could this be? Normally he's so thorough, almost pathologically so… He quickly pulls himself together. This is no time to fall apart. To err is Twelvian, after all! He'll just have to improvise…

There! A window at ground level, the only way inside. Ush doesn't hesitate for long. If plans have changed, so be it – he decides to follow his gut. He pulls a razor-sharp dreggon claw from his boot, then begins scoring the glass in the form of a circle big enough for him to reach in with his paw and unlock the window. He fumbles around, leans forward a bit more, sticks his tongue between his canines to concentrate, and… BINGO! The window latch makes a small but satisfying metallic sound. Now the real work can finally begin. Ush hops up and down.

From his bag he takes out a 10-kameter-long coil of thick rope. He fastens the rope to a chimney cover, then tests its strength by sharply pulling on it in a few different places. One last look around him, and then – zwiiiip! STOP! No lower than that. Since his floor plan is obviously outdated, Ush doesn't know exactly where he is. So he has to be cautious… It's as dark as a deep, dank dungeon. Ush can't see a thing. The Ecaflip had opted not to take a light source with him, in case a Bontarian patrol were to pass by. He would have to rely on his feline eyesight. As he tightly grips the rope, it takes a minute or so for his eyes to adjust. Finally, he can see! To his right, he glimpses a number of shapes set against the wall. Probably Masqueraider masks. He'll grab those later on. One thing at a time… Ush turns his head. To his right this time, he makes out the contours of a frame hanging several feet from the ground. It must be the Iopa Lisa… Ush now has a better sense of where he is. If his calculations are accurate this time around, the iMask should be located 30 degrees north. He takes a compass with an inconspicuous glowworm from his bag, memorizes the direction he wants, and then puts it away again. As light as a piwi feather, the Ecaflip continues gliding down the rope, then stealthily lands without making a sound.

He's made it. This moment is utterly thrilling. He savors it while remaining watchful. Ush is completely still, not even breathing, his pose reminiscent of the many statues in the museum. It's only a few seconds, but the wait feels endless. No mechanism or alarm has been triggered. Everything’s fine. Ush begins tiptoeing around, his back arched. If the stakes weren't so high, his current gait would make him chuckle.

Another quick peek at his compass. Ush corrects his course. Before him stands an imposing shape – it's a sculpture of the Great Dragon, he's sure of it. It doesn't interest him. Not at the moment, anyway. The Ecaflip continues on, until he stubs his paw on something. In the darkness, his trained eye perceives what looks to be wands. Dozens of them, slicing through the air. They're arrows – no doubt about it. The tomcat immediately somersaults, his path leading him behind a column. Ush realizes the museum's security system must have been upgraded, that his information was out of date… He's annoyed with himself. But it's too late to turn back now. He'll have to be twice as careful and anticipate any traps he could run into. The Eca leaves his hiding spot. After glancing at his compass once more, he decides to move forward by crawling. Theoretically, the rope system should be three kameters ahead. Theoretically. Ush can't be sure of anything anymore…

Just as he begins to lose hope, he spots it. Dozens of lines crisscrossing, as if traced and suspended in the air. The final stretch. Most likely the trickiest part. But once he's past this, the rest will be smooth sailing.

Ush slowly stands back up, then reaches in between two ropes. So far, so good. Now it's time for him to assume the downward bow meow pose he learned from his Pandawa master. With his butt in the air, he performs a wave-like movement to slip under the ropes closest to the floor. The tension is palpable. He feels his heart pounding against the cold tiling. With his paws on the floor, he exerts pressure to drag his entire body a few feet forward. His nose is running. This is much harder than he imagined. The stress, absent during training, throws off his balance. Ush tries to snap out of it and keep in mind that at the end of all this, he'll find that gem he's wanted for so long…

Lightly rolling onto his right side, he gently unfolds his back to stand up. Something isn't right. Dangling in front of him, the intertwined ropes are nothing like what he studied. Once again, he's out of the loop… Ush bites the inside of his cheek. He's getting angry. What could've caused him to be so off his game?

The Ecaflip takes a deep breath. He crouches down and puts his left paw out to the side before sliding along again. He almost appears to be doing a frog pose.

"RIIIIP!"

No! His jumpsuit has torn open, and right in the crotch. Where he has the most fur… He prays to Ecaflip that no bit of fur left behind betrays him… After arduously flipping over, he raises himself up on a single paw, avoiding one rope after another. As he masterfully swings his leg in a circular motion, his pawpads brush against something. Ush holds his breath, closes his eyes, and winces, awaiting his fate. This time, his number is up.

A few long seconds pass by. That's surprising… He didn't set off any alarms. And yet he definitely felt the rope touch his skin – he would bet his life on it. The Ecaflip opens one eye. Nothing.

Well… almost nothing. From far off, he hears something creaking along with wheels turning. This time, he stays perfectly still. The muscles in his supporting leg are so taut that it hurts. Trembling, he nearly loses his balance several times. He's bound to give out soon enough. Suddenly, a blinding light fills the room. His pupils shrink, and his fur sticks straight up.

A stocky fellow with a blank expression stands in the doorway, a blazing torch in his hand. Behind him, a cart filled with brooms and assorted cleaning supplies. Ush meows in disbelief.

The Twelvian's presence isn't what he finds most concerning. No… What really puzzles the Ecaflip is the place he finds himself in. It's a brightly colored, small-scale environment. There are dozens of colorful little tables and chairs, all near the floor as well. Before him is a chalkboard with a faint, half-erased impression of yesterday's date on it. To his left, the masks hanging on the wall are made of papier mâché. Ush suddenly remembers that the Too Faux Karnaval is coming up. He also remembers making the same sort of "artistic creation" back when he was little… Bewildered, he slowly sets his paw down.

"Ow!"

The floor is littered with an assortment of crayons, like a game of pick-up sticks. What he had thought were darts…

Ush realizes that the tangle of ropes around him is nothing more than one of those climbing sets you can find in playgrounds. He's in the middle of a classroom, being judged by an approximate recreation of the Iopa Lisa that was made using layers of little handprint paintings, collaged treechnid leaves, and gobball wool.

Ush is deeply confused, but more than anything else, he is deeply ashamed… The museum, the dark night, his less than stellar eyesight… He messed up across the board, and royally so. Fleeing his failure, he jumps up and clings to the rope, then climbs up at lightning speed, before disappearing into the night…

Never heard this tale before? Really? How strange… I guess Ush didn't see fit to shout it from the rooftops! Ha ha ha!" What can I say! I'm a truth-teller… Besides, it's a good example of being on the ropes… Wouldn't you agree?