This city was slowly changing to fit the romantic dreams of people who would never visit it. Houses became inns, and markets gave way to cafés and restaurants. It was a city of artists and lovers, entrepreneurs and refugees.
There was only one animal that roamed its streets. Cats. Thousands of them. They had chased away the birds that littered every other city in the world. They had outlived the stray dogs by being smarter, and better climbers. They had killed the rats, one by one. Back when the streets got so narrow that most couldn't even fit a single carriage, even the horses had been sold off in heaps and sent elsewhere. Now only the cats remained.
Mara's feet made no sound against the cobblestone. She belonged to the group representing the city's biggest pride; the thieves. Even the artists in their attic galleries would often let out tender sighs, imagining the daring life of a masked burglar. The thieves were shrouded in veils of mystique and legend. Rumors would have it that they trained cats to steal for them, had a secret society on the rooftops and called each other by pseudonyms. Being the victim of one was an essential, and even exciting, part of the tourist experience. They would write eager letters home about how things had disappeared from their inner pockets, and their rooms had been ransacked at night.
The watch felt heavy in Mara's hand. She didn't dare to take it out and look at it, but felt the edges with her fingers. Chipped. Wouldn't be worth much. She had to find herself another purse before she could call it a night.