Prologue: steel and meat The spiral staircase was steep. As Halana and the child just reached half of the way upward, they heard from below the bursting of the tower-door. As they reached three quarters of the way, they met, in front of them, with two stations of the Duke. And behind them heavy steps now stamped up the stairs.  „Big Destroyer!“, the warrior sighed, pulled both swords, placed herself densely  with her back to wall and instructed the child: „Go crouch together before me,  make yourself as small as possible and protect your head with your arms.“ Then, she held one sword down, the other up the stairs and waited on the attack.    The painful throbbing wound in her leg reminded Halana, that she actually was  not in the condition for fighting against four soldiers of the Black Duke  simultaneously. But the options are rather restricted if you sit in the trap. Ha! And she had been so sure, to be already escaped the lope Duke Cosa had cast after her. But now, after all it seemed nevertheless to lie down about her neck.  Even worse: Above in the tower, almost without protection, something was  waiting. Something that the Duke desired so badly. Something that he needed so  much to make his next move in his murderous plan. A chess-move, in which  Halana was the farmer that could be sacrificed without hesitation. Halana was really deeply in the Sh... Very deep. And why this all of it? The answer was quite simple: Because of a love-night. A wretched, pointless love- night, which was the reason she had become assailable und vulnerable in one,  really in only one single point. The one point listened to the name Ruff and had  seen the light of the world barely ten months after that love-night.  … seven years before: Petrinas ears glowed red and her mouth had fallen open. Although she had been  told to hold the earthen water-bowl for her mistress, she was so disgusted, that for  a moment the young women just thought to leave the midwifes tent. But  somehow… it also was fascinating. Petrina, tall, with dark short hair and well  boned body, came from a farmer-family of the North-Country. The inhabitants  were rough like the country, and so the young helper was already accustomed to  strong words also with her 15 years. But this… This dreadful woman insulted even the child she carried in her womb with the nastiest words imaginable – and some  not imaginable. The young warrior, who now, standing in front of Petrina, was  dresses only in a short, wide linen shirt, hardly couldn’t be much older as the Girl  of the North-Country herself. The hair of dark maroon with a barely perceptible  reddish tinge was well shoulder-length at normal days, but now it was tousled,  stuck to her forehead and temples. The face, at which the tanned complexion still  could be guessed, now was pale and sweaty. The brunette clamped herself  frantically to a strap of the birthing-bar, which, anchored firmly to two posts, runs  diagonally across the tent. And she was swearing and abusing in a full volume by  now nearly an hour without a single break. Through which Petrina wouldn’t have  made a bet, whether she heard in this hour just one curse for a second time. Just a moment before the young woman had cursed the child’s father as well, and  the swearing finished with a very visual description, what a plentiful number of  bad illnesses should accomplish with a certain body-part of the man, before it  finally should loose contact to its owner with the help of some here not closer  specified tools. Giula Waterwoman had to laugh. She was the barber, the amputator and the  midwife of this war-campaign, and now she said appreciative: Really, my little  one, this is not at all the first time I work in the service of a War-Master, and so I  am used to some nice words. But you surprise even me. I wouldn’t like to be in the shoes of this man that rounded your pretty belly so nicely for you, when you meet  him again. “  In this moment, the young woman's body was shaken by agonizing labours and  she screamed: „YESSS! If I only could identify this damn bastard! – The Big  Destroyer should get him!“ Petrinas eyes got still bigger. Even Giula pulled up an eyebrow while she dabbed  the forehead of the young warrior with a damp cloth and replied: "Now, this really  surprises me, my little one… Halana, no? Well, actually I hadn’t had the  impression that you are blind. REALLY FUNNY!“, Halana yelled at the midwife, then, the labours faded and she  hissed: "I was not blind, and certainly not out of love too... I was merely drunk.  The first time in my life…“   „How old are you then?“   „Eighteen. I believe anyway.“   „Eighteen?“, did the midwife say and this time a little warmth swing in her voice,  „and already with a war-campaign? And you only believe that you are eighteen?  From your age... You are a child of the Death-Zone?“ From the place where Petrina stood there could be heard a terrified intake of  breath, while the earthen bowl shattered on the ground with a muffled clank.  ...   As a little appetizer, here the first two pages of the book Halana and the Tower of the Black Duke: