Dario looked down on the Rathaus square and wondered how many times he had studied this scene over the decades that he had perched here on Saint Michael’s sword. He lifted his gaze from the Weihnachtsmarkt and stared at the Tannenbaum on the island in the Alster – a shame, he preferred the fountain.

None of the people below enjoying Glühwein and Flammekuchen had any idea that what appeared to be a raven perched high above them was not so simple a creature after all. He took some personal delight in their ignorance.

The wind was whipping by, and Dario was cursing Julius’s desire to meet in Hamburg. Why not Venice, after all it was December; why choose somewhere so cold? He supposed that Julius had business near by that would not keep, at least he hoped that was so, not that Julius was amused by Dario perishing up here in the wind off the Elbe.

A large Barn Owl landed on the parapet below Dario, bobbed in greeting and then he heard in his mind;

“Hello old friend, I haven’t kept you waiting I hope..?”

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