Book I

Chapter II – Swords Made of Letters

9th of December, 1938
Interrogation Room Nr. 2
Colmar, Alsace
6:50 PM

There was nothing they could pursue.

From the little window of the adjacent room, Alexandre watched as small snowflakes gently dropped from the white winter sky, drifting through the air until they latched on the cobbled streets that were teeming with snow. Those words came back to him, the words of that war poem, but between them the words of those two youngsters flashed inside his mind. Their declaration of allegiance, so open and so brazen, left Alexandre brooding. There was no remorse. And there was no remorse from their killer either in that room. It had been swift and calculated and somehow the assassin knew about the room. Alexandre and Klaus left the room intact, waiting until the local Colmar police would come. Klaus went outside by himself for some air but Reythier stood behind and waited by the window of this little chamber opposite of the interrogation room. Beneath his heavy overcoat the service pistol was in the pocket of his pants, easy to access should the need arise again. With two spies interested in the Maginot line, and a killer who killed them both, there was nothing else they had. They were blank.

Just like the snowflakes gently drifting through the streets of Colmar.

Alexandre turned round from the window and glanced around the little chamber. There was nothing in it, apart from a little desk with three chairs, two on one side and one on another. There were two other chairs in the back of the room but everything else was a simple yellowy wallpaper and the window he watched the snow from. He glided out of the room, down the small flight of stairs and reached for the door. He hesitated for a moment, keeping his hand in the middle of the air. With one quick movement he spun sideways and glanced back to the stairs and towards the two rooms. The room with the window led to a small backstreet. But the interrogation room had the window right into a major street of this little town. They had been noticed from outside. And someone knew that this building was used for police interrogation.

Reythier smirked. He spun on his heels, back towards the door and exited into the gentle snowstorm of Colmar.

Huddling inside his overcoat, with a small cloud of steam rising from his hands as he clutched two mugs of hot tea, Reythier watched as Klaus slowly approached him. He gave is mug-carrying friend a smile and pointed towards the building.

“Go inside, I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”

Klaus frowned. “Where are you going in this storm? The constable is away, he won’t be here for a while. He’s been notified and he is coming to us as soon as he can.”

“Yes, I realised that. I’m going for some fresh air, keep the tea warm for me.”

Without a second glance, Reythier adjusted his hat and left Klaus to his tea, steam columns and a strong desire to enter the building to escape the cold. He turned left, going around the interrogation building and up a little hill that junctioned with another main street of Colmar in a T shaped intersection. From the top of this small hill Alexandre turned on his heels and glanced at the police building. He was right. It wasn’t that hard to spot the building, and worse, the window was low enough for someone on the hill to look directly into it and glimpse some random figures. As the interrogation room had no curtains, something he just realised right now, Alexandre could only frown in disbelief. He did not even had to look at the other streets or even the buildings around it. The attacker could have easily seen what was going on within the room.

Dismayed, Alexandre could only alternate between a nervous laugh and a clenched fist. His eyes drifted from the hill further upwards to the street that ended with a row of timber-framed houses on the top of it. In fact, most of the houses in Colmar were timber-framed and despite their similar shapes, they somehow managed to look different because of their exterior decoration. The interrogation building had no decoration except the timber-framing. But all the other houses near it had some sort of exterior decoration. Alexandre raised an eyebrow.

He returned less than ten minutes later back into the room on the left, the chamber now invaded by the aromatic scent of green tea. Klaus glanced at him from the edge of the table, holding the mug tight in his hand to capture the warmth of the tea into his palms.

“You said fifteen minutes.”

“Yes, well, that took much earlier than expected.” Alexandre pointed to the little hill junction. “All it takes is to just look closely and maybe jump a bit.”

“What are you talking about?”

“It took me less than five minutes to understand how it happened. The window of the interrogation room is so low that it can be seen from an angle on the little hill behind this building. You cannot see it if you’re standing directly underneath it but from the junction it’s clearly visible.” Alexandre waved his finger. “And why are there no blinds for this thing? The attacker saw everything.”

“Are you sure?”

“All it took for me was to walk up and turn around.”

“And you saw this how?”

“I did not even have to try, Klaus. It was there for me to see. Look at it in a slanted angle, just twist your body sideways, and you will see at least a portion of the interrogation room.”

“Did you look from the other sides?”

“There was no point. I saw everything from the hill. All he had to do was walk around and see us.

Klaus sighed, his hands still clutched on the mug. “Was it on purpose?”

Alexandre drew up to the table and raised the mug of warm tea.

“I think we were set up on purpose.”

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