Attack on Titan: The Harsh Mistress of the City, Part 1 (進撃の巨人 隔絶都市の女王（上） Shingeki no Kyojin: Kakuzetsu Toshi no Joō (Jō)?) is a light novel based on the Attack on Titan manga. It is written by Ryō Kawakami and illustrated by Range Murata.
In this first of two parts, Wall Maria, humanity's outermost defense, has just been breached, and Titans roam what had once been the interior. Situated along the Wall like the fallen Shiganshina District, the town of Quinta finds itself surrounded on all sides by the monstrosities and severed from the rest of humankind's last bastion.
A stand-alone side story to the mega-hit comics franchise, this novel tells of the increasingly harrowing travails of Rita Iglehaut, a Garrison soldier trapped in Quinta, and her well-to-do childhood friend Mathias Kramer, who managed to flee the district in time only to face challenges for which he seems ill-suited.
On the day after Wall Maria is breached, Garrison recruit Rita Iglehaut tries to help with the chaos as the remaining half of the population of Quinta District is escorted to Wall Rose. She tries to help the citizens escape and finds a young child who she then saves, joining her comrade Wilco as they are ordered to retreat into Quinta. Arriving at Quinta, Wilco is killed in an accident during the Garrison's attempts to ward off the approaching Titans, and Rita hands the girl over to a middle-aged woman upon their arrival. Fighting breaks out among the citizens as the order is given to close the inner gate of Quinta, and despite all her losses, Rita tries her best to maintain order over the citizens under pressure.
In Fuerth District, Mathias Kramer dreams about his past with Rita before waking up in his family's townhouse, having been in the first group of citizens to evacuate Quinta. He finds one of his family's servants, Suzanne, and asks if she knows if the rest of Quinta District has arrived yet, but she reluctantly informs him that half the population has been cut off by the Titans and never made it out. Most of the Garrison was slain as well. Mathias realizes that Rita is probably dead, but with no confirmation, he cannot stop thinking of a way to find out.
Though not part of the royal government, the Kramer merchant family has a lot of influence, so Mathias tries persuading his father Jörg to mount a rescue mission. His father has other plans in mind though, and firmly turns Mathias away. Dejected, Mathias heads out to the refugee camp at the edge of the district.
While there he finds a line of men signing up to serve as volunteer soldiers to plug the hole in Wall Maria. Several of them are refugees, but others are poor people from Fuerth hoping to earn some money. Once he realizes that the volunteers will be allowed to leave Wall Rose, he tries to sign up as well, hoping that he can find out what happened to Rita, but the recruiters recognize his name and, due to his father's influence, deny his application.
After the fighting dies down outside the Walls, Rita leads the remaining Garrison soldiers and members of the Training Corps on a search for survivors. To her distress, they do not find any and her former classmate Amanda forces her to realize that she is the highest-ranking soldier in a command position. Though she is from the same class as the surviving Garrison soldiers, Rita is the only one who was made a team leader.
Worse, the Military Police Brigade has already abandoned Quinta District, as have all of the governing officials. There is no longer any government in place.
When looting breaks out, Rita takes charge. She sends Duccio, a trainee, off to get guns for the remaining soldiers and to summon reinforcements. Meanwhile, she personally apprehends the scofflaws. To ensure she has control of the situation, she openly declares herself as the acting commander of the Garrison and assumes control of the city.
In Fuerth District, Mathias continues to try finding a way to return to Quinta. Overhearing that his father had left behind his valuable art collection, he looks for a military recruitment officer who might be unscrupulous enough to sign him up in exchange for the location of his father's hidden fortune.
He nearly gets killed in a seedy tavern, but is saved by an oddly confident group of fresh military volunteers. They introduce themselves as Bernhardt, Jarratt, Klaus, and Nikki. As Mathias suspects, they are not ordinary recruits. Bernhardt used to be in the Military Police Brigade until he was sacked for rerouting supplies to the black market and turning a blind eye to the criminal activities of the other three. Now the four of them have signed up for the opportunity to loot towns and villages along the way to Wall Maria, and it would not be much of a bother for them to create a diversion towards Quinta.
Mathias does not entirely trust them, but he suspects they are capable of getting him to Quinta so he agrees to tell them where the treasury is located, but only once they arrive. Klaus protests that Mathias will slow them down and could be lying, but Jarratt thinks it is worth taking a look.
Back in Quinta District, Rita has a dream where she recalls a portion of her childhood from before she met Mathias. There is a man she knows who is hunched over a wooden box that he loves very deeply. When she touches his body it is cold and she catches the scent of decay.
Bernhardt and his crew sneak Mathias into the group of volunteer recruits heading out to Wall Maria. The Garrison soldiers are wearing vertical maneuvering equipment, but the volunteers are only armed with rifles and shotguns. The military's plan is to look for survivors on the way to Shiganshina District and they stop in a village two hours out from Fuerth. They find the regurgitated remains of the villagers, but no survivors.
While there, Mathias, Bernhardt, and the others search a homestead and manage to find some supplies as well as two cows they plan to slaughter for the meat. Before they can though, a 7-meter Titan emerges from behind the farmhouse. The Garrison soldier supervising them yells at them to shoot it since Jarratt is already holding a gun, but Bernhardt stops him. Bernhardt grabs one of the soldier's own blades from his vertical maneuvering equipment and kills him with it. Jarratt, Klaus, and Nikki run for their wagons, intending to take this opportunity to break away from the main group and head to Quinta.
When another Garrison soldier shows up, Bernhardt activates the vertical maneuvering equipment's anchor to shoot the soldier in the heart. He fires the other anchor into the Titan's eye, temporarily blinding it and causing it to slide off the farmhouse. Bernhardt then takes the vertical maneuvering equipment from the dead soldier and runs for the wagons the others have brought. He grabs Mathias and throws him inside so the group can escape.
Mathias protests about the necessity of killing the soldiers, but Bernhardt explains that he had very little time in which to decide their escape. Sure, they could have waited for an opening without killing anyone, but there was no guarantee if or when that would happen, and disabling the soldiers without killing them would have been no kindness. If Bernhardt had knocked them unconscious or crippled them, not only would it have been riskier for him, but they would end up eaten by the Titan and that would have been a far worse death.
Bernhardt makes it clear that his bargain with Mathias only lasts as long as it takes to get to his father's treasury. His crew has no obligation to take Mathias back out of Quinta along with them. Mathias has second thoughts about the people he has teamed up with, but proceeds with them regardless. Though they see a few Titans along the way to Quinta, the group is able to escape them.
Meanwhile, in Quinta, Rita finds herself mediating disputes between citizens. She feels inadequate for these sorts of administrative tasks and attempts to put stopgap measures in place until a real government can return. Rita has not slept in two days and the soldiers she is leading are overworked and too few. Duccio reports that the baker has given them extra cakes so they can look after her bakery better. Though the food would be welcome, Rita recognizes that it is also a bribe, so she orders Duccio to take it back before any corruption can take place in the soldiers' ranks.
That night, Mathias, Bernhardt, and the others make it to the point where Wall Maria and the district wall of Quinta meet. They avoid being seen by Quinta's patrols and Bernhardt uses the vertical maneuvering equipment he stole from the dead Garrison soldier to ferry everyone over the Wall to the other side.
Once inside, the five of them split up, with Klaus and Jarratt going to procure a wagon while Bernhardt, Nikki, and Mathias head for the Kramer estate. Mathias would rather go find Rita, but Bernhardt and the others do not let him leave without confirming the existence of the treasury. He takes the two outlaws into his family's courtyard and shows Bernhardt the secret door leading into the underground chamber. Bernhardt heads underground alone to investigate and has Mathias shut the door behind him.
Nikki takes up a post by the Kramer manor, with her rifle now unslung. Mathias realizes that once Bernhardt confirms the contents of the treasury, his own life could be forfeit, since he would be the only person able to identify the thieves. That combined with Nikki drawing her weapon leaves him jittery and on edge. He decides to discreetly take out his shotgun when he is startled by a sudden appearance of a young soldier, Duccio, who points his rifle at him.
Mathias panics and accidentally fires his shotgun, blowing off the right side of Duccio's head. Rita appears, having been on patrol with Duccio, and runs up in time to see his body fall. Before Mathias can properly explain, Nikki intervenes, firing her rifle to ward off Rita and grabbing Mathias. She forces him to escape with her and they slip out into the streets of Quinta where they meet up with Klaus and Jarratt. They ask what happened and Nikki writes Bernhardt off as captured.
As Mathias leaves with the outlaws, he wonders how everything has managed to go so wrong.