It was a brisk fall Saturday morning, but the nippy weather didn’t stop the residents of Zaphias from venturing out of their homes to do some shopping in the Market District. Smoke floated from the chimneys of the apartments in the Citizen Quarter, and you contently inhaled the smell of burning wood as you exited from your apartment complex. Autumn weather was your favorite time of year by far. Fireplaces, cute sweaters, breaking out the cold weather boots, the beautiful red, orange, and yellow foliage – you just loved it all. Your dog and best friend, Shayla, had quite the opposite opinion as she had just sneezed for the umpteenth time that morning. She whined and glared at you, but you simply rolled your eyes at her.
“What? I realize you have allergies, but every time I don’t take you out for a morning walk, you sit there, stare at me, whine, and when I ignore you, you tear up one of my socks every ten minutes until I take you out,” you said to her.
Shayla growled at you then turned her head away and stuck her pink nose up in the air. You grinned and leaned over to pat her on the head, being careful not to knock off the red rose hairpin that was clipped in front of her left ear. Despite her diva attitude, you couldn’t imagine your life without her. When you were sixteen – four years ago – you adopted Shayla from the Imperial Knights when she was a puppy as they only allowed male dogs in their ranks. Her beautiful tan and white fur and baby blue eyes had made you instantly fall in love with her. Your older brother, who was an Imperial Knight and still is, hadn’t been overly fond of keeping a dog in the apartment, but fortunately, he always had a hard time saying no to you.
“C’mon Shay, let’s go see if there’s anything good in the market today,” you said.
Not overly fond of crowds, Shayla scowled, but she followed you anyway. The two of you swerved through groups of people until you finally reached the flight of stairs leading to the Market District below. You looked down to make sure Shayla was still next to you before you started down the steps. Saturdays were always the busiest day in the Market District, so it took you and Shayla a few minutes to reach the bottom.
“Man, there are sooo many people,” you said to yourself when you stopped in front of one of the fresh produce stalls. “I can’t even see the next stall over…”
“Yuri Lowell! Get back here!”
“Halt, I say, before we are forced to use our unfathomable strength to stop you!”
You and Shayla stopped browsing the fresh produce in the stall in front of you and turned to see what the commotion was about. After pushing your way through other curious bystanders, you watched as a young man, who looked to be around your age, with long purple hair and black clothing ran down the main road in the Market District. A dog that was a little larger than Shayla with blue fur compared to Shayla’s tan fur was right on his heels. At first, you thought the dog had been after the man until you saw two knights from the Schwann Brigade, one of them short and fat and the other tall and skinny, hauling ass behind them.
You watched as the shorter knight tripped over his own feet and his partner, who obviously had not been paying attention to his immediate surroundings, tripped over his head and fell face-first into the ground.
“Adecor, watch where you are going, you big buffoon!” yelled the short, fat knight.
“Boccos, I say, you are the one who needs to watch where they are going!”
The man they had been pursuing, whom you presumed was named Yuri Lowell, stopped at the top of the stairs you had traveled down to get to the Market District and grinned at Adecor and Boccos as they struggled to get to their feet.
“Nice try, guys! Maybe next time!”
You watched Yuri and his dog run towards the Lower Quarter. Blinking a few times, you slowly turned back to the produce you had been looking at earlier and pretended you didn’t hear the bickering knights in the background.
“What a weird morning…”