1356 A.D.
Falkirk, Scotland

"M'laird…a missive from yer Uncle," Bowen announced with a cough and averted his eyes as the towering intimidating laird rose from the giant bed to slip on his braies.

The laird splashed his face and chest with some cooling water from a basin and dried off slowly as he contemplated what Bowen, his chief man-at-arms and closest friend, had heralded. Bowen cut his eyes towards the lumpy form entangled in the bed sheets. He scrunched his nose and made a disgusted look as he tossed his head. Bowen heard his laird and friend snicker.

"'Ware, Bowen." The laird shook his head as he dried off, a small smirk playing on his lips. "Now, what is this missive from my uncle that calls me on this early morn?"

"I doona ken, m'laird. Messenger says it's urgent. Looking mighty fashed, the lad." Bowen crossed his arms and leaned against the stones of the doorway as his laird roused the drowsing woman on his bed rather abruptly and carelessly.

The woman rubbed her eyes with the palms of her hands as she made a harsh noise between her teeth that she had been wakened so gruffly. Unheedingly, the sheets of the bed fell to pool at her waist, exposing large breasts as translucent and pale as the moon. Bowen coughed as he caught a glimpse of mouth-sized bruises on her white skin, scattered around her bosom. The woman glanced his way and smiled slyly as she thrust them out, only to have her hastily get out of the bed and gather her clothing when the laird threw a cold look her way. Bowen averted his gaze, hurriedly moving out of the threshold to let her pass. He looked back at his laird who had come to stand by the inn's window reading over the missive in the early dawn's light.

Bowen moved to close the wooden door and slump unto a chair, stretching out his long legs and laying his head back against the chair to view his laird through narrow slits. He frowned when he saw his laird go ridged and a deadly glower graced his face, the glower rumored to set strong men quaking in their boots with the superstition that signal their deaths. Bowen sat up straighter in the chair, knowing this could be an exciting change of plans. He quietly watched as his laird crumpled the missive in his large hands, his muscled forearms straining while veins pulsed and bulged by the angry pressure, his forehead lay on his fists and his teeth gritted as he bared them.

"Something amiss, laird?" Bowen snickered in excitement, shifting the slightest when the tall man looked at him through the narrowed edges of his eyes. "Or does yer uncle bid ye a 'good morrow, nephew'?"

"Nay, Bowen." He didn't say anything else, he just ducked around grabbing his plaid and linen shirt, as he stuffed his feet into his boots.

Bowen straightened as he grinned and handed his laird's sword and dagger. "Alas, a feud, then?" He was only teasing, but grew wary when his friend didn't reveal anything other than a deep growl, his blue-coal gray eyes darkening in anger. "Och, it is…"

"'Atween my uncle and I, aye." The laird flicked his wrist and the cloak swerved unto his broad sinewy shoulders as he stomped his way to the door only to have it almost ripped out of its hinges. "The old man urges to have the point of my sword to his throat."

Bowen followed quickly, his men already outside grew increasingly quiet as the laird trudged heavily towards them. Much to his relief, the horses were already set for the four-day journey towards the keep.

"I doona deny the man has been itching ye, but I would like a story to tell the king when ye kill one of his oldest knights once yer thrown into the dungeons." Bowen laced his satchel unto his horse and swiftly mounted, noticing all the men-at-arms quickly do the same. Grinning again when he glanced at the grimace and scowl that twisted his laird's face at his jest.

"Yer a plague, Bowen," he snapped and sighed heavily in defeat. "My uncle challenges to hold Jaud-Gait Keep if I doona wed a maid in less than a fortnight. He will ask the king that he will hold my lands until I wed, and ye do ken that the king favors him." With that said, he wheeled his horse to the direction of north west.

Bowen blinked, then threw back his head and barked a laugh as he kicked his horse to a gallop and signaled the men to ride hard and fast.


Moira looked up from where she had been wrist-deep in soil to glance at the running girl calling her name. She smiled as she saw the speed and agility of the girl, something her father's men were awed and peeved at since it was a specialty in all the lasses of the family. Moira quickly brushed her mucky hands on the skirt of her gown and rose to greet her young sister.

"Tara, doona run so," she chided half-heartily when her sister stopped only feet from where she stood. "Yer wee scrawny legs are bared to the hungry eyes of men."

Tara blinked and laughed, while she brushed her windblown russet curls from her small heart-shaped face trying to tame the wildness of it but unable to. "Moira, ye have noticed that a wee shapeless bairn is not so tempting as seeing a lass frolicking 'round in the dirt. Near drives them mad with lust," Tara giggled as she tugged her skinny arm through Moira's and led her towards the keep.

Moira gasped. "Ye are mightily free with yer tongue, ye ungrateful spawn. Father weel take a strap to ye." Biting back a chuckle, Moira knew papa will never as lift a hand to any of his daughters.

Widening her odd light brown eyes, Tara adopted a look of mock horror and innocence. "Och, nay! Not the strap, Moira! Tell papa, not the strap to me poor backside!" They both burst into guffaws and laughter, holding on to each other even though the height was uneven. Wiping a runaway tear of joy, Tara said, "Ye cannae escape the crudeness of three brothers, Moira, especially in their rutting mood. I may be two and ten but ye cannae deny that being knowledgeable of the world we live in is better than being a doe-innocent child."

"Aye, that is better than being ignorant, loving," Moira agreed with a small smile. "But if Kade and Rodrik hear ye speaking as crudely as we do talk, 'tis to the nunnery for ye and a brother's ever watchful eye to increase tenfold." Moira just imagined her two older brothers' scowls and fury directed at any man who set eyes to their sisters, she snickered at the image it painted.

"Wheesht, aye!" Tara giggled. "But the more I'm frightened of is Beathan."

"Och, aye!" Moira laughed. "With their tempers combined they'll be challenging every male bairn, every boy not yet dry behind the ears, every young lad, every able man, and every old graybeard in all of Scotland!" Moira laughed as she entered the large oak doors of the keep. Tara giggled, trying to stifle her musical tinkling laugh with her small hand but she quickly gasped in surprise and lurched to a stop. Moira quickly mirroring her as she gaped at the tall, handsome man in front of her, she swallowed audibly. Moira and Tara blinked at each other before they opened their mouths and laughed uproariously.

"What are ye two sniggering about?" he snapped.

Moira managed a quick inhalation of air to attempt to talk. "Nothing, Beathan. Just the silliness of two wily lasses."

Beathan raised one dark eyebrow at her, glancing at the hastily nodding Tara, her odd colored eyes wide and innocent. "Why do I find that hard to believe," he stated, his equally odd eyes suspicious. "I ken that no MacMillan lass is as naïve as ye two are portraying, och, not e'en Vika."

"Beathan, brother dear! How ye wound us so!" Tara gasped dramatically, eyes sparking with unshed tears. "Hear that, Moira? Our eldest and wonderful brother of ours is accusing us of being hypocrites." She managed a wet sniffle.

"Ye scheming lassie, go play with yer rats where ye belong," Beathan snickered.

Tara's sweet face twisted into a glower and narrowed her eyes up at Beathan, she let go of Moira and stomped her way into the hall. But hesitated when she took ten steps, whirled around and kicked Beathan on his shin then bolted when he cried out an obscenity as he tried to grab her. She was too quick for him.

"I curse the way ye lasses run," Beathan muttered, when he heard Moira giggle he turned his eyes upon her. "Father wants to see ye, Moira. Doona ken why, but it would seem important for he was pacing." He caressed her cheek and quickly hugged her. "Go, lass." He patted her back and pushed her towards the hall, while he walked away outside.

Moira took in a deep breath and walked towards her father's ledger room. She was a bit uncertain at the way the maids looked somber when she passed by them, it was abnormal of them not to greet her. She hesitantly knocked on the oak door hearing her father's permission to enter. She didn't like the atmosphere, that tension that exuded from Neil MacMillan. There was something her still-handsome lean father that made him apprehensive, and that frightened her.

"Papa?" she asked tentatively. "Is something amiss, da?"

He turned to look at Moira, standing so stiffly, her small hand on the wall by the door seeming ready to bolt. He sighed heavily.

"Nay, nay, loving." He paused. "Och, aye, Moira mine," Neil sighed heavily and rubbed his forehead with his hand. "There is something wrong."

Moira nodded while she fixed her wide-eyed stare at her worried father. She closed the giant door and moved to stand in front of her father's handmade desk where he made the businesses of Millancraig. She swallowed again, having a feeling that it had to do with her dear cousin Vika MacMillan.

"Weel, tell me, papa, afore I burst with this waiting," Moira said tightly, anxiety making her forget propriety.

Neil nodded with a small smile, well acquainted with the impatience his eldest daughter was feeling for it had come from him. "Weel, I imagine ye ken it involves Vika." He waited until she nodded with a cross look at his obvious intent of delaying. "She took illness, Moira-loving, and she requests for yer healing abilities," he finished but quickly interrupted her by raising his hand, halting her when she opened her mouth. "I only leave the decision to seek her, Moira, to ye. But I shall warn ye that it is a dangerous ride to Dublane."

"I wish to go, father. I'll take Tristan and Hamish, they will go with me," Moira said with confidence.

"Aye, but none of yer brothers?" Neil asked mischievously, his midnight-blue eyes twinkling with mirth. "Och, ye will deprive them of such a journey?"

Moira rolled her eyes and scoffed. "Nay, papa. Nay one of my brothers, they're like a pack of hounds and like stags in rutting season whene'er we stop at a village. They leave a long trail of lovesick whores or jealous ones and I have nay patience for either."

Neil barked out a laugh as he kissed the top of her head. "I ne'er heard ye say that, aye. Take care, Moira mine. I will await yer return hale and whole."

"Aye, father. Do I leave near break of dawn, then?" Moira asked as he led her to the door.

"Aye. Better ye pack and I will tell yer mother of yer decision. She will miss ye, Moira." He caressed her soft bronze-colored hair. "Now, we must go to the evening meal."

Moira smiled up at her father. She was anticipating the journey, for she had been itching to go to Dublane and see Vika, but a part of her reared her head back and cowered that such a journey this time will not go as easily as others. She shook her head, chiding her fear, for once dismissing her never-failing instincts.

author's note:

Well, this is a new story I will be writing.
As you can see I like the past.
Anywho, this story will be a little bit more slow to
update and stuff.
I hope you'll like it.