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Thread: Swords Made of Letters

  1. #41
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Chapter IX.

    Part 3 of Night Train.

    ------

    Colmar, Alsace
    9th of December, 1938
    9:35 PM



    10 minutes later, they left the police station and headed off back into the cold, the snow and the crackling sounds of white powder crumpling underneath their leather boots. Reythier said no word of their early departure, moving on without a word away from the police headquarters with Klaus trotting alongside him in silence. As they passed the petite boulangerie by the edge of the bridge over the Lauch, Klaus took a quick look behind him and patted Reythier slightly on his left arm.

    “We left more than twenty minutes earlier than the train. It takes us at most five more minutes to get there.”

    Reythier nodded, walking onwards without a side glance. “I don't believe Pernod.”

    “Because of what I told you?”

    “That too. But I have my own doubts. The story he told us is far too fantastic for me to even believe it.”

    “What if he's right?”

    Reythier shot Klaus a dubious glance. “What are you saying?”

    “Pernod might be right.”

    “The Lauch has higher chances of defrosting in a snowstorm than Pernod being right.” Reythier nodded over to the train station, slowly becoming visible in between the timber frame houses of Colmar. “No chance.”

    “Then what are we doing here now?”

    “Looking for three men.”

    Klaus rose his hands in despair. “So you believe him!”

    “Partly. He's got three accomplices, that's true.”

    “How did you guess?”

    “You'll see.”

    “What are we looking for then?”

    “Three men casting weird looks around this place. Should be easy to spot them.”

    “In a crowd?”

    “What crowd? Colmar doesn't even have five thousand people any more because of the threat of the war. What crowd? Who comes here in the middle of the winter? Ten people at most will come from the train. Look closely.”

    “And if they're not there?”

    “Then you keep looking.”

    They arrived at the train station approximately one minute and a half earlier before the train arrived, allowing them to slide away from the station itself and into the waiting room. A dim light illuminated a small room on the side of the little house that dubbed as an office for the chief of the station and a waiting room, separated by a hastily constructed wall that was part white part grey because of improper finishing. A row of chairs were set on the right side as they entered, with their backs against the windows, which forced both Reythier and Klaus to take them and switch them around so they could see the incoming train. Both men stood down and placed their hands inside their pockets, clutching the grips of their pistols as they waited for the earlier train.

    One minute later, already overdue even by their estimates, the black locomotive chugged along in the station and dropped off around twenty people who soon went to their business into Colmar. Because of the windows that overlooked the train tracks rather than the station, they could see neither of the passengers, forcing Klaus to protest with a measured gesture of his neck towards the train. Reythier watched his gesture but moved his head slightly downwards in disagreement. Unmoved, but fidgeting slightly, the two men waited for another thirty seconds in total silence until one man dressed in a black fedora and a woolen overcoat entered the waiting room.

    “Bonsoir,” said Reythier, smiling slightly and inviting the man to sit down.

    The man stopped for a brief moment, his hands still on the edge of the waiting room door.

    “Bonsoir.” The man watched them from the edge of the entrance, somewhat confused and unsure of the two well dressed men sitting in the waiting room, chairs overturned towards the incoming train. “Are you waiting for the train?”

    “Well, no. I am waiting for someone.”

    “Ah. Well, everyone has left. It is just me now.”

    Reythier moved his head. “Is it?”

    Reythier's measured words somehow made the guest react hastily. Before he could pull out the pistol from the pocket of his overcoat, Reythier lunged at the man from the chair in one single swoop, smashing him against the wall of the waiting room. Immobilised, the man tried to react against the sudden fury of a tall Parisian who dealt two successive blows to his ribcage, shattering two ribs and forcing him to collapse sideways in pain. Overcome with pain and fear, the man could only watch as Reythier dealt a furious jab to his forehead, knocking him out cold right beside the entrance of the waiting room. The man slumped to the ground, inadvertently kicking the window of the waiting room door that was enough to alarm his friends.

    Before Reythier had a chance to untangle himself from the battle, two men entered the waiting room from the opposite side, pistols at hand, aiming directly for Reythier's torso and head. But as Reythier had hoped, Klaus took out his own pistol in a clean arching maneouver, firing three successive rounds into the two assailants. Two of the bullets hit the first assailant in the right leg and right arm, forcing him to drop his pistol and collapse against the wall of the waiting room. The last bullet hit the remaining assailant in his left kneecap, throwing his face down against the cold pavement of the waiting room. All of them were still alive, but neither of the assailants were able to put up a fight any more.

    Satisfied, Reythier motioned to Klaus who kept his pistol outstretched. The tall Parisian took the knocked out guest and dragged him over to the chairs in the wails of his comrades who were slowly bleeding on the waiting room floor.

    “Shouldn't we get an ambulance, Alexandre?” asked Klaus.

    Reythier looked at his watch. “Eight minutes. It's already on the way. I left a note for the junior policeman who helped me earlier.”

    “Junior policeman? How come you trusted him?”

    “Eager to serve the headquarters. The only one who could be trusted.”

    Reythier sighed. The assailants were quickly searched and their pistols taken away, a precautionary measure to prevent any mishaps like four hours ago. He looked at the pistols and while two of them were of French origin, the last one, which belonged to the knocked out guest, was made by Walther Firearms. German. He raised the pistol to Klaus.

    “Walther PPK. Foreign spies.”

    Klaus looked at the two bleeding assailants. “How in the world did you guess, Alexandre?”

    “Two details.” Reythier lifted up a finger. “Who knows the interrogation quarters of the police headquarters apart from Pernod or his close men? It's a random house hidden in the middle of a small town named Colmar. You want me to believe these foreign spies knew about it? Those two young men... Pernod knew about them. And the shooter was one of ours. Frenchman. Born in Alsace.”

    Klaus muttered under his breath some words. “Second detail?”

    “Pernod left the headquarters immediately after we spoke with him, instead of staying with his men to continue his investigation. That made me suspicious, along with what you told me, of him fidgeting during our quick conversation. So I figured out it had some connection with the night trains that come because of the note he gave us. But you would think of the night train that it would be the last one. Not the one before.”

    “He tried to throw us off.”

    “Correct.”

    “Tres bien. I give up now. Tell me how you managed to notice the first one.”

    “Pernod's police cap.”

    Klaus rose an eyebrow. “His cap?”

    “Constables wear a slightly different cap than the rank officers. And Pernod happened to be a reasonably important constable around here, so he had his own fashion touch to it. A blue and white ribbon.”

    Klaus frowned. He took a glance around at the injured conspirators and took one of the hats lying on the floor, immediately noticing a small blue and white ribbon attached on the edge of the tip. Small, but noticeable. He showed it to Reythier.

    “This?”

    “Yes. That ribbon. It's their own mark of identification without having to talk.”

    Silence quickly followed. Reythier watched as Klaus stood stumped with the hat in his hand, drawing his fingers slightly over the edge, right over the blue and white ribbon that somehow represented the flag of France. Or at least a portion of it. Reythier's friend held up the hat.

    “And, what now? What happens with them?”

    “Pernod left, but he will caught soon. I spoke with one of the policemen to deliver a note to the secret services in Lyon. Pernod is just a cog. We're in for bigger problems.”

    Klaus threw the hat in one of the conspirator's faces and turned to Reythier.

    “I'm worried.”

    “You should.” Reythier adjusted his own hat. “Pernod is a little wave, something you feel when a wave touches your leg when you go to the sea in Biarritz or Saint-Tropez. We're in for a large wave, a destructive wave, that will sweep us away. Away, or sideways, either way it will be violent.” Reythier sighed. “Klaus, we're in for a war.”


    ---

    Feedback welcome!
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

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  2. #42
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Reythier explanation of his deductions about the foreign spies is well done and I like the metaphor of a destructive wave.

  3. #43
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Chapter X.

    Swords Made of Letters will be split into books, and this is the end of Book I.


    ----

    Hurr, crackle, roar.

    From the inside, it felt like a lazy afternoon stroll down the boulevard. But once in a while a double tailed exhaust grumbled behind, crackling and roaring on the dainty streets of Munich. Despite the mechanical whirring of the steel orchestra and the heavy weight of the car, the ride was remarkably smooth on the leather bench in the Mercedes limousine. With a soft hum in lower gears the Maybach V12 engine pushed the massive limousine forwards but the cylinders groaned heavily whenever the chauffeur pressed the pedal, unleashing a sudden burst of acceleration that felt distant, almost like in a movie replay on slow motion, on the soft leather seats. Elbe cushioned himself against the backseat, leg over leg, his arms outstretched and his eyes set heavy on the expansive Prinzregentenstrasse of Munich. There were no words between him and the chauffeur, only nods and simple pointing of fingers. That's all he got and he knew that was all he was going to get.

    At least the ride was smooth.

    He stopped in the Munich Train Station some six hours after he left Aachen, a train event as uneventful as it could get. No one stopped him, no one questioned him. As he exited the station, tucked behind a row of columns and hidden in a corner reserved for military cars stood the chauffeur with his Mercedes-Maybach limousine. The man stood in his military uniform and pointed two gloved fingers towards Elbe, indicating him as the package that needed to be... delivered. The limousine snaked its way from the train station and onto the royal boulevards of Munich carefully expanded by the Party. They left the main streets rather quickly to switch to quieter side roads where the whirring of the V12 was the only thing they were hearing. Forty five minutes after they left the station the car stopped in front of a four storied building on the outskirts of the city. Elbe recognised the neighbourhood because of the junction only metres away. The building sat at the junction between the Autobahns leading to Berlin and those towards Vienna.

    Without any words, the chauffeur nodded his head towards the building.

    Elbe got out of the limousine and headed to the entrance of the building. Four storied, and not particularly impressive, the building was a combination of eclectic end of 19th century design, adorned with stucco architectural details and large windows. He rose up a flight of stairs and entered the building where two officers immediately saluted him.

    "Herr Elbe. Wilkommen. You are expected on the fourth floor."

    Fourth floor. At the top of the building. Elbe returned the salute and glided up a massive marble staircase that adorned the middle of an expansive hall that doubled as the entrance but probably was a ballroom in the better days it had seen. First floor, second floor, third floor... fourth floor and silence. The whole floor was split into two parts, with the north-eastern side of the building occupied by eight rooms, four on each side of the corridor while the north-western side had just one single office. Elbe headed to the office on the north-western corner of the building, find the door to the study wide open.

    It was expansive, to say the least, as Elbe noticed when he stepped inside the well-furnished study. Long, teak panelled furniture doubled as shelves for hundreds of books, adorning the beige coloured walls. The study was homely, inviting even and Elbe was not the least bit surprised when behind the main desk just underneath a window stood a small fireplace. The hearth was filled with crackling logs, orange leaps of fire jumping joyfully within the small enclosure. It smelled of burning wood but also of tobacco and oud, probably for the perfume of the commander. Which Elbe had not seen.

    Lurking behind the door stood Oberkommandant Wilhelm, Prussian junker blood just like him but more devoted to the country and party phase than Elbe would ever be. Elbe turned around on his heels after Wilhelm coughed to get his attention, spotting a man in his late fifties in full military garb and a white moustache that seemed to copy Chancellor Bismarck. Oberkommandant Wilhelm wore glasses whenever he was on headquarter duty, giving him the look of a man who could easily replace Motlke the general in a World War I portrait. Elbe made the salute, which Wilhelm replied to with a customary salute, a nod and an invite to sit down.

    "Make yourself at home, Richard. Prussians are always welcome in my home."

    Elbe smiled. "I have never been to the headquarters when you were around. Every time it was either someone from the Heer or someone from the other branches, or even your lieutenants."

    "I know, Richard, I know." Wilhelm sat down on the brown leather chair behind his mahogany desk. He took a brown cigarette from a gold-plated metallic box on the desk and placed it underneath his nose. "Say Richard, how is everything in Aachen going?"

    "Well, Sir. We have some issues accross the border but we are

    "Issues?" Wilhelm raised an eyebrow.

    "Yes. I lost two men in Colmar because of inexperience."

    "Ah." Wilhelm lit up the cigar. "Just that?"

    "For the moment. We will see for the rest."

    "I understand."

    With economical movement, Wilhelm slipped a hand underneath his military jacket and produced a white sealed envelope with the same insignia as the one Elbe saw before in Aachen. Richard took the envelope and opened it, revealing a host of folded maps of the French defenses along the borders, information about strategic points and about informants.

    "Your orders are simple Richard. Down the path of the Maginot Line and all of the defences of France down the Rhine, Ruhr and Saarland you will be tasked to find points of weakness. I want the weaknesses exposed and when you can expose them by yourself, do so. Your orders are immediate, you can carry out your own orders and you have full command of your men."

    Elbe glanced at Wilhelm's stern expression. "I carry out my own orders?"

    "Sabotage the lines. That is all that is required of you."

    "Only that?"

    "And direct disinformation campaigns." Wilhelm put down his cigar and smiled. "Remember, swords are made of letters too, after all."

    -----
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  4. #44
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    I enjoyed your descriptive writing, which involves sounds and smells as well as appearances - and I like the way that Elbe noticed the absence of sound on the fourth floor. The use of the title of your story was a nice touch. The revelation about Elbe's mission makes me want to read on, so I look forward to the first chapter of Book II.

  5. #45
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Thank you very much Alwyn.

    Working on the next parts! + some surprises!
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  6. #46
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Sabotage. That sounds as if it's going to be interesting!






  7. #47
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Book 2 of Swords Made of Letters.

    Chapter XI - House of Cards

    ----
    10:30 PM
    White Club
    Mayfair, London
    9th of December 1938


    Horace placed his hands gently on the teak-paneled bar counter.

    "Where's the chief?"

    Martin, a rather burly bartender with a thin French moustache, gave Horace a curious glance. The bartender was washing the glasses, cleaning them meticulously with his hands running on every single inch and side of the crystal objects he had been handling for hours by now. He smiled to Horace. Martin knew better than to simply point in a direction or another in such a setting. With a curt smile, he dropped his head slightly downwards and to his left, indicating the little tables that stood by the edge of the staircase that led to this second floor of the White Club. There were eight tables, most of them with two plush chairs each, but only two of them were occupied. And one of them was occupied by Lord Howe, the chief of the intelligence services and Horace's very own superior.

    Horace handed a five pound note to Martin and strutted with swagger towards Howe's table. He gave a curt but warm smile and shook Howe's guest' hand. Turning to Howe, he saluted in a military fashion, who was rather amused at the theatrical gesture. Almost bald, but with two piercing emerald green eyes, Howe was of a tall stature and always fitted in three piece pinstriped suits. Blue, as it was often the case, was the colour of the night. That was his own trademark and no one else around the White Club could match it or even imitate it. Howe smiled and rose his whisky glass, a touch of amber-coloured liquid swirling around the clear ice poured by Martin earlier.

    "Horace! What a pleasure!"

    Horace smiled. "Good evening, Sir. Please excuse my rather direct approach, but may I please request your presence in the Ivory Saloon in approximately five minutes? I say that this is of the utmost importance."

    Lord Howe rose a thin eyebrow, placing his whisky glass on the wooden table. He brought his palms together and glanced at Horace.

    "May I ask why, Horace? This is private duty after all, we're not at our offices."

    "Sir, private duty is of no matter now. This is public duty."

    Lord Howe glanced at his guest then back at Horace. "Very well Horace. I trust your judgement, I see you have a sense of urgency. But may I remind you this better be worth the time. I shall see you in five minutes in the Ivory Saloon."

    Horace bowed and left Lord Howe with his guest.

    ***

    Ivory Saloon, as it was labelled on the ivory-coloured door, had some connection to the ivory trade back in the old days but the saloon now was all teak wood, some marbling on the supporting colonnades and above all, a massive fireplace in the midst of it to bring warmth and cosiness to the guests. It held an oval table in it's midst with eight chairs around it, two of them at each "top" of the oval. The top of the table near the fireplace was empty but on one side, to Horace's left, stood Lord Howe, flanked by Lord Beckett, while on the other side stood Howe's guest, a bookish man at around forty years in a red suit jacket and two men clad in black suits which Horace presumed worked in the intelligence just as he did. Howe's guest in fact was a member of the House of Lords commissions on internal matters, which made all the more sense, Horace thought. From the other top of the oval, Horace brought his hands together and made a sweeping gesture.

    "Sirs, I thank you all for coming. Lord Howe, Lord Beckett, Sirs, I have called upon you all to discuss a matter of grave importance I have recently found out." Horace made a pause for effect. "It concerns Lord Beckett."

    Howe turned to Beckett. "What have you done, Beckett?"

    Beckett shrugged. "I do not know, Sir. Maybe Horace here will care to enlighten us." Beckett pointed towards Horace as he spoke, shooting an icy glance when he finished his words. Horace nodded in return.

    "Yes, Mr. Beckett, I understood that ugly glance. It concerns your mistress, should you be so interested to know about this."

    Beckett snorted. "My mistress?"

    "Yes, Mr. Beckett, your mistress. The English mistress you have been dallying with in the past months."

    Beckett clenched his fist. "My personal matters is none of your concern, Horace."

    Horace shook his head. "Sire, it is in fact."

    Howe held a hand. "What is this, Horace?"

    "Sire, Lord Beckett's mistress is in fact a German lady with a husband who is part of the enemy services, the branch of the airforce. Matter of fact, during your drunk escapades into her arms, all of the info that you have slipped to her without wanting, or perhaps wanting, has been regularly conveyed back to the enemy lines. She married this man because it was imposed on her, but you had no idea and yet somehow all of the information was leaking to our foreign spies. Your dalliances with her are of great concern to us because of the information leak."

    Beckett slammed a hand on the table. "Horace, your mouth. Keep it sealed."

    Howe swished his hand. He gave Beckett a sharp glance. "Go on, Horace. Beckett seal your mouth or else I will."

    Beckett growled underneath his moustache but could not say anything. He waved off to Horace.

    "Mr. Beckett has been seeing Miss Mathilda Muller for approximately four months, during which he has requested that I keep an eye on her at all times when I am off duty. I will not avoid the subject of that. Mr. Beckett has been most kind as a benefactor for me to earn more than my regular salary. However, my concerns about Miss Mathilda, despite them not being my business, have not been taken into consideration despite them being no longer a private duty but rather of public interest. I repeatedly told Mr. Beckett to be warned about her, to not say any private information to her, but it seems that it had no effect."

    Howe cleared his throat. "How did you find out, Horace?"

    "Mr. Beckett ordered me to follow her, but I had had enough, so I went to her apartment to inform her. I had enough of the spying."

    "And?" asked Howe.

    "As for that, well, during my encounter it turns out her husband was there. He attacked me when he saw me and the fight for my pistol turned into two shots. They hit him, but he survived. Four men came to pick him up twenty minutes later."

    Beckett rose to his feet. "You shot Mathilda?"

    "Her husband, Sir."

    "Is he alive?"

    "Yes, Sir."

    "Horace!" shouted Beckett.

    "Beckett! Sit!" growled Howe.

    Beckett sat down in a chorus of mumblings.

    "Where is the husband?" asked Howe.

    "In a hospital in London."

    "And Mathilda?"

    "Outside, in my car, under close guard."

    "Where was this?"

    "By the Court Road, Sir."

    Howe narrowed his eyes. "This happened in the middle of London?"

    Horace nodded. "Yes Sir."

    "When?"

    "Last night, Sire."

    "That's all that happened between you and him?"

    "Yes Sir. I spoke with Mathilda afterwards, after I had taken her from the apartment and into my car to protect her. It was there that she told me everything, but I still have my doubts."

    Howe flicked his hand. "Doubts on what, Horace?"

    "She's not telling the whole truth. Mr. Beckett told her some confidential information because apparently her husband has been roaming around the country with access to all sorts of factories and industries that pertain to our own national defence."

    Howe ran a hand over his face in despair. He stood like that for a couple of moments until Martin entered the saloon with a piece of paper in his hand. He bowed to Horace and showed him the scribbling.

    "The man is fine Sir. He is under close guard."

    "Thank you Martin."

    The bartender exited, leaving Howe and Beckett fuming but for different reasons. Without any expectation whatsoever, Howe rose from his chair and tapped Beckett on the shoulder.

    "Four men heard this story. You better come up with a good defence in Parliament, Beckett." Howe left the table and headed for the door. "Horace, you've got minutes to go downstairs. I will see you at the office and I need all of the details. Including Mathilda."

    Horace could only nod in acceptance.


    -----

    I hope you enjoyed it and as always, feedback welcome!
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  8. #48
    Tigellinus's Avatar Citizen
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    I'm pretty sure it was 4.00am when I was reading this on my phone.

    I ended up reading the last Chapter first, no idea why, just happened that way. But I enjoyed it so thoroughly that I then went and read it from start to finish!

    One of the best reads on TWC I've had, loved it! Fantastic stuff!

    Kind regards,

    Tigellinus




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  9. #49
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    I enjoyed this! I like the way that you use details and small movements to tell us about the personalities of characters, such as the bartender's meticulous cleaning and Horace's swagger. I wonder whether Horace's suspicions about Mathilda are true, and if so what secrets are yet to be revealed.

  10. #50
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Gentlemen, I thank you so much for your kind feedback.

    It is very much appreciated!

    Tigellinus, it's the best type of appreciation for a writer who keeps his readers awake. Sorry not sorry
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  11. #51
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Chapter XII - Paris Briefing

    Continuing the story, picking off in Paris.


    ---
    12th of December, 1938
    7:00 PM
    Paris
    France



    Wisps of steam formed around the edges of his mouth, slowly evaporating in the cold area of a December night in Paris. Reythier wilted ever so slightly, his black leather boots clacking with a specific and rather satisfying sound on the cobblestones of the Parisian street. He always liked to hear that sound, for some odd reason. It made him smile, it made him feel in a position of power. Particularly when he walked towards a mission. That clacking sound was ever so recognisable by his subordinates, preparing their orderly salutes in fashion before he even arrived. One thing he did not like however was the direction his boots were taking him. After all, it took two days. Two days had passed since Colmar and all he got was a summoning to Paris. No other explanation. Reythier left his friend Klaus in charge of the little border town and took a red-striped train to Paris, arriving in a rather quick four hours in the midst of the French capital. After a rather short taxi drive to the 7th Arondissement, Reythier climbed out of the Citroen Traction Avant and headed up the street.

    It took him a slow walk of fifteen minutes to arrive at the villa.

    Reythier arrived in front of a Parisian villa on the outskirts of the 7th rd Arrondissement, an edifice built in the 1890's with an air of merchant wealth surrounding it. Mildly imposing, with one story and an expansive attic, finished with Greek colonnades and round corners, the villa was used often as a conspirator safe house for those who had links with the Deuxieme Bureau. The Bureau, or what the foreign intelligence services were called in France, called him up for an impromptu meeting. Reythier had no choice but to duly oblige. Careful to conceal his identity before entering, Reythier rose his overcoat lapel, covering his ears. With one swift change of direction he entered the house.

    It was warm, and the steam went away in an instant. He took off immediately his black hat just as he was greeted by an uniformed military policemen.

    "Good evening, Mr. Reythier. In the saloon please."

    The saloon was barely lit, being no more than an oversized kitchen built in one of the round corners of the house. The kitchen counter ran from end to end and all that was in it's midst was a small, four person table. A man stood with his back turned to Reythier, motioning with his hand in a circular motion as he turned around. He was in his sixties, having been born immediately after the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. Rank by rank, he rose up to an important position in the Bureau, coordinating the efforts of the foreign intelligence along the eastern border of France. Of mid height, with greying and balding hair, Reynauld Chartier was the main link for Alexandre Reythier. Chartier came to the table just as Alexandre did.

    "Good evening, Alexandre."

    Reythier nodded. "Bonsoir, Reynauld."

    Reythier was about to take off his coat when Reynauld stopped him.

    "Don't. This will be brief."

    Reythier fastened back his overcoat and slid his hands in his pockets. "I'm listening."

    "You're going to meet someone in another safe house. In fact, it's going to take you a while until you solve that thing in Colmar. So your best bet is to find out from the underground what they know."

    "Aren't we the underground?"

    "Not quite. There's another layer between us."

    "And they are?"

    "The streets. The street sometimes knows details that we don't. So go meet the street."

    Reythier narrowed his eyes. "I don't get it."

    "Beggars. Street handlers. Local workers. The lot who stays on the street and knows every bit of gossip in town." Reynauld took a sip of the coffee. "And even about mistresses."

    "You're asking me to meet beggars?"

    Reynauld put down his coffee. "Not quite. You need to meet their chief. In the outskirts of Paris."

    Reythier growled under his breath. He hated being given straight orders, particularly with no more info attached to them. Respectful, he saluted Reynault and left the house.

    Fifty five minutes it took for Reythier to arrive outside a house on the southern side of the city, flanked by small two storied houses and surrounded by a small courtyard with an oversized gate. Reythier pushed the gate aside and entered the courtyard which to his surprise dabbed as a small farm, a smithing workshop... and a gun armoury. With the house to his right side and the workshop to his left embedded in the wall, the back of the courtyard displayed a wooden wall which had over thirty types of small guns, ranging from shotguns to rifles, muskets and even a small pistol. As he delved deeper into the courtyard, a mid-sized, wiry man with a slight moustache approached him. Well built, muscular, dressed in a white shirt and black pants, his green eyes gave Reythier a quick scan.

    "You're Reythier?"

    Reythier nodded. "Yes. I presume you're Alain Poitou."

    Poitou extended his hand. "Good to meet you. Tell your boss Reynauld he owes me a good payment for this. Come inside."

    They entered the house, a small, simple building inside that could have been replaced by any other typical French farmhouse. But this one was owned by an underground chief, one who housed thirty weapons inside his home. They sat down in a small, bookish room, flanked by books and the occasional smattering of heavy dust floating around in the air. A small fireplace crackled in the corner, bringing some much needed warmth and relief. On the table however were tens of dossiers, stacked together in a huddled mass that could have tumbled down at any minute. Poitou smiled and

    "This. This is what you need."

    Raising a thin eyebrow, Reythier took the dossier. "This? What's this?"

    Poitou took another smoke from the cigarette. "The man you should be looking out for."

    Reythier glanced at the name. Richard Elbe.

    "Who's this?" asked Reythier.

    "A local commando chief."

    "Why are we interested in a local chief?"

    Poitou grabbed him by the hand and led him to an extended, detailed map of the French - German border.

    "Elbe leads the Aachen commando group, which is here." Poitou pointed to the city. "Not that far off. He coordinates things from there."

    "So you're saying he dealt the whole Colmar attack to us?"

    Poitou nodded. "That's what you're after, non?"

    Reythier smirked. He pulled up a chair, sat down and beckoned for Poitou to do the same.

    "Now explain to me why and how did you get this info."


    ----

    Last edited by Basileos Leandros I; January 29, 2018 at 04:08 PM.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  12. #52
    NorseThing's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    I pulled book one with a copy and paste and read it over the night. Well done and an easy read.

    One question though. Do not answer if it spoils something. You are dividing this into books -- is there a reason? I know that I would be tempted to break up a longer series of episodes with convenient breaks such as a change in character emphasis, solving a short mystery, or other such natural changes to the story. Also -- why not declare book one complete and it can then be archived? It is always nice to get some sort of completion as you go along. Oh, and a very belated congratulations on your competition award in August.

  13. #53
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Hi Norse,

    Thank you so much for the feedback, enchanted that you like it!

    I decided to split it in multiple parts which I called books. Nothing specific. Just pointing out separate "trains of thought" for the book.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  14. #54
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Good update! I wonder whether Chartier's terse order will help or hinder Reythier and also where the new information will lead.

  15. #55
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    It seems that was something of a shortcut to information about the Colmar attack. Some information, at least. I wonder whether Reythier will find it easy to discover anything more...






  16. #56
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Thank you gentlemen.

    You will see that Reythier will execute but also take the lead.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  17. #57
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Chapter XII - Secret Briefing

    Small step forwards.

    ---
    9:45 PM
    Intelligence Villa
    Westminster, London
    United Kingdom


    "Have a seat, Horace."

    Stuffy it was, filled with the smell of leftover cigar smoke that embedded into the tapestry, the chairs and even the curtains. On the second floor of a small Victorian villa a couple of streets away from the major landmark of the neighbourhood, the meeting room hoisted a number of plush velvet chairs around an ivory coloured lacquered table. Two windows brought enough light into the room where it was only Horace and Lord Howe. The chief of the intelligence sat down at the top of the table, with Horace standing by the chair on the opposite end, casually slouching into the chair with his hands folded.

    "I'm listening Horace. You've made a fuss of it, and you're accusing a member of the Parliament. That's no easy thing."

    Horace straightened his posture, drawing his jacket downwards to project a feeling of strength. And to buy more time.

    "Lord Howe, I don't do this lightly. And I was supposed to turn this in to my superiors anyhow since I had enough of this."

    "What did he ask you to do, Horace?"

    "Follow his mistress. He was afraid he was cheating on him."

    Howe raised an eyebrow, almost smiling. "His mistress, cheating on him? Doesn't he have a wife?"

    "He does, Sire."

    Howe smirked. He cleared his throat, making his heavy, throaty voice even stronger. "Dubious. Continue, Horace."

    "Lord Beckett has known Miss Mathilda for quite some time already, I believe that it's already been a year." Horace shifted slightly on his legs. "More than a year in fact. We discovered the information leak quite late."

    "A shame." Howe brushed his hands against his fists, his eyes straight on his subordinate.

    "She was... well known to us. In fact, she is the daughter of a diplomat, which raised some alarms.

    "And nobody bothered to tell him that?"

    "Nobody listened to us, Lord Howe."

    Howe raised his head, his eyes viewing Horace at an odd, titled angle. "Nobody?"

    "Beckett gave us no importance."

    "Good job, Beckett. Go on."

    "I had been following her for almost a year when the first reports came to me."

    "A year. Good job, Horace!"

    Horace shifted again. "Sire, I tried to warn him."

    "Relax, I understand. Go on."

    "Bekcett employed me privately and I followed her continuously for some time. Initially it was just a number of nights, then it became my entire off duty."

    "And why did you stop?"

    "With her, I wanted to tell her that I had enough and that Beckett was following her, so just be careful. Turns out she was married already, so she was cheating on Beckett, but with her own husband."

    "Who's the husband?"

    Horace tapped his shoulders. "Air force officer, probably a pilot. Maximilian Elbe."

    Howe flicked his hand in the air, implying that he wanted more info. "Anything we know about him?"

    "Not much as of this moment. I found out what he had been looking for through a report passed down to me by my colleagues in the Internal Security department. Multiple people reported of a tall man lurking around various important objectives for days on end, sometimes seen with a photography camera in hand too."

    "What exactly are those objectives?"

    "Do you have a map, Sire?"

    Howe's assistant brought a large map of the United Kingdom three minutes after the request, which the two men unfurled on the table. Patches and patches of various sizes and colours were applied on certain spots around the map, indicating various levels of importance for the places highlighted by these items. Horace held up four fingers.

    "Four different objectives. One just south of London, an armament factory. Second one slightly westwards close to Cornwall is a power station supplying the whole south of the country. Third, eastwards, close to Grimsby, he was spotted around the naval dockyards which he did again in the north close to York."

    Howe pointed to the patches. "Right, all of these are of national security importance. How sure are we it's the same guy?"

    "Extensive notes taken by our Internal Security, based on what the locals were telling us. He did not use the same car twice but it was easy to recognise him by the third try. They had one man follow him throughout the journey."

    "All right, but how do you know him?"

    "Mathilda told me who he is."

    Howe brushed his palm over his face. "Fair. Did you send her in?"

    Horace nodded. "Yes, Sire. She's on her way to the interrogation room in our central headquarters."

    "Good." Howe returned to his chair and picked up the jacket he left on the back of the chair. "Horace, I'm off to the headquarters. Return to the scene, find out more information about him and keep an eye on Beckett."

    Howe drew up his man, locking his grey eyes on Horace's own.

    "I don't trust Beckett. Follow him."

    ----
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  18. #58

    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    I'll have a lot to catch up on, seeing as I've only had time to complete Chapter 1. What I have read though, you set the stage very well with where you wanted the story to go, capturing the setting and timeframe to captivate the reader's attention into wanting more. Once I've gotten through a couple more chapters, I'll be sure to share my thoughts.

    If you haven't already, please check out my story and leave a critique as to what you thought of it.

  19. #59
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Hi HunterKYA,

    Thank you very much for your comments. Glad to see that it draws people in, after all, that's the whole purpose!

    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

  20. #60
    Basileos Leandros I's Avatar Writing is an art
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    Default Re: Swords Made of Letters

    Chapter XIII - Carry It Out, Officer

    A new chapter, focused on Elbe.


    ---
    14th of December 1938
    9:32 PM
    South of Stuttgart
    Baden-Wurttemberg Region
    Germany


    A certain sound, formed by the gushing of rain stomping on the pavement, on the earth and on the cars. That sound formed a nighttime orchestra that echoed throughout his mind, like a little blanket put behind his back to shield him from the cold. It was cold outside, a dreary December night in the south of Germany where everyone stood huddled around fireplaces and not outside waiting for official permission to continue. They stopped at a military checkpoint, approximately thirty miles south of the city of Stuttgart, heading for a military retreat deep in the woods of Baden-Wurttemberg. The watchman checked their papers and phoned in at the headquarters for clearance, which Elbe and his driver duly received after another inquisitive glance from the young guardsman. The Mercedes sedan roared onwards, the heavy radial tyres munching through the muddied gravel road that led to the military retreat. The twelve minute road to the retreat through the dense forest was not particularly welcoming as the trees themselves cast heavy shadows over the road, a slight mist and a game of darkness floating above the two yellow electrical eyes of the car.

    Twelve minutes onwards and the car braked in a small plaza, each side of the square central point flanked by a certain type of military building. To the west and north were three military barracks, guarded behind by a taller armoury while in the midst of the plaza, slightly off centered towards the east, stood an imposing villa with a watch tower. Eight cars were parked beside the entrance of the villa whilst three armoured personnel carriers stood by the entrances of the barracks. The whole plaza was silent, mist roaming around the tops of the armoury and the villa, the only sound being the drenching of the rain as it flushed through the graveled paths.

    Elbe's driver drew up the Mercedes at the entrance, forcing Richard as quickly as possible outside the car and into the villa. The intelligence officer entered the foyer of the villa, immediately greeted by two uniformed men who smiled at him. Maximilian Ober and Richard Muller. Both of them good friends of his, both of them in the army. And both of them his liaison with the miltary. Maximilian, of average height but with a charming smile and golden tresses by his sides, stepped forwards and gave Elbe a heavy hug.

    "You gained weight, Richard. Aachen must be good for you," quipped Maximilian.

    Elbe faked a brushing of Maximilian's tresses. "Don't get too confident Ober, I'm here to get your position. Aachen is boring."

    "Well, not for long it won't be. Up we go, come on!" replied Maximilian.

    They hurried to the first floor of the villa and were ushered inside a command room filled with military maps hung on the walls, automatic rifles were dropped on an adjacent table, uniforms were tossed in a corner. The villa was a military compound, a local headquarters, and it showed. Two men stood huddled around the map

    "Good evening Richard." said one of the men.

    Maximilian glided around Elbe and put himself between the two generals and Elbe.

    "Richard, allow me to introduce Herr Gunter and Herr Willich." Gunter, rather tall and his head covered by the army cap nodded whilst Willich, shorter but with a rather fierce expression stood motionless. "They will be your liaison, Richard."

    "Herr Gunter, Herr Willich, glad to meet you."

    Neither of the two men said anything except but give the smallest of nods. Gunter, with a rather economic flick of his hand, motioned Elbe closer to him and to the map.

    "Herr Elbe, as we understand, you command the Aachen group. Correct?"

    "Correct, Herr Gunter."

    "Good. As we know, Aachen is very close to the border and will be of imperative importance to our future operations that we may decide to conduct. All of them are considered."

    "All?"

    "Yes, all of them. That includes military options, Herr Elbe."

    Elbe scratched his nose, slightly bowing his head. "Understood, Herr Gunter."

    "Good. How many men do you have? I have been told you have 26 in total."

    "Forty six in total, but twenty of them are auxiliaries."

    "Strong enough. Have they carried out missions before?"

    "Yes, they have."

    "Good, very good. How fast are they? Do you rate them as capable?"

    "Yes."

    "Then you have a mission."

    Gunter took a long cane from the table and pointed westwards of Stuttgart, somewhere along between the Ardennes Forest and the city of Strasbourg, converging around the pocket of Colmar.

    "The Maginot Line."

    Herr Gunter smiled for the first time to Richard. "Carry on with it, Herr Elbe. Maximilian here will guide you."

    "Herr Gunter, please, if I may, I already had a meeting with Oberkommandant Wilhelm. He traced some guidelines for me already."

    "Correct, Herr Elbe. Oberkommandant Wilhelm is our superior and he wanted to judge how eager your team is to carry the duty for our fatherland. He judged as you as capable so he sent you to meet with us, to get your actual orders. Now, if you will excuse us, we have to plan other things."

    "Yes, Herr Gunter."

    "Carry it out, officer. And fast."

    Despite knowing very well his job, Elbe left the room with a smirk and a sour taste in his mouth. Gunter's orders were demeaning. A simple pawn he was now. He scurried down the stairs with Maximilian in tow who grabbed him by the arm as he was about to exit the villa. Maximilian looked at him directly in the eye, raising his chin slightly.

    "Your reaction is odd."

    "My men are more capable than just sabotaging some railway lines, Max."

    "Those are the orders, Richard."

    Richard brushed aside his friend's arm. "Guard your place, I'm sick of Aachen, get ready to step in my place and me in yours."

    "I'm not worried. Just make sure you take Gunter's place instead."

    Elbe smiled.

    "Happy sabotage, Richard!"

    "It will be. I didn't come for another pointless meeting just to get some useless orders."

    ---
    Ja mata, TosaInu. Forever remembered.

    Swords Made of Letters - 1938. The war is looming - and Alexandre Reythier does not have much time left to protect his country.

    Visit ROMANIA! A land of beauty and culture!

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