Chapter 21

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    The keep was in utter chaos. No one was prepared for their silent declaration of war. The brooding Lord was on the brink of snapping her neck. And she....was on the verge of skewering his heart. Ardolf sat back calmly along with Aidan to let the two rivals settle their war alone.

He watched in awe how his oldest son got bested by a mare child and a girl at that. Shrieks of rage graced the keeps halls in the morning. With curses and shouts with things falling on him and crashing above his head at night.

Ardolf had a full fledged battle in his own home. His cunning little angel never claimed defeat as she put soot in Duncan's helm or black pepper in his ale. Only to have all creatures from the forest put in her bed.

Her loyal helper filled her in on his brothers whereabouts  as well as Daniel helping Duncan with new ideas to make  Tara scream.
Ardolf walked into his solar and found Aidan sprawled out in full fit of laughter and guffaws only to find out he directed Tara to where Duncan was hiding and resting for a brief flirt with one of the servant girls. Sitting on a nearby wall he was caught off guard and pushed over into a patch of thistles and roses. With a mocking bow to the servant girl she walked off leaving the poor stricken ed girl to attend to the Lord and help him out of the bed of thorns.

She was soon enough the object of his wrath when he snuck up on her, picked her up kicking and screaming then tossed on her rump in a pig pen....

Aidan as much as enjoyed watching the two, started up a wager  between his brother and Tara. With loyal followers, smitten squires and pages they rooted and waged in favor of Tara. And on the other side his brother had his staunchest defenders and loyal men that waged on his behalf.

"A pretty coin says she doesna un man the poor lad befer the weeks end. She is a spitfire that wee one" old man Gillian piped in tossing a coin in the pile as he neared the guards who were talking with Aidan.

A soft laughter rose as the gentle old farmer walked slowly away.

Some felt she needed to be put over his lap for a sound thrashing and others disagreed that is was her free spirit and willing nature is the reason she is this way.
Either way he chuckled, she was a true opponent with as much sass to take down any man.

One bright morning like the rest, shook everyone from their not so peaceful sleep. They moved on to breakfast where the clattering of shoes along with a smaller set of feet came closer as eager eyes colored with sleepless nights watched as Duncan stomped down the stairs with a run taking two steps at a time with Tara at his heels. Like a wild sprite, she came into view before them tossing a boot at Duncan's head. With a loud thump and plop that made them all wince, his slow walk startled the page that dropped a trencher.

All eyes went from a now wild eyed Duncan to a dishelved heavy breathing Tara.  With a toss of her messy mop of black curls, she turned and stomped up the stairs without a second glance his way or worry that he might retaliate.

Ignoring the last assault,  he walked towards the Great Hall and the table where Aidan who bit his bottom lip to hold his composure as he studied his porridge and greeted his father with a curt nod, he sat down quietly dangerously silent.  He cautiously dipped his finger in his bowl checking for another of Tara's   traps.  Finishing his breakfast he stood up and walked out towards the list with his men.

Midday continued with a sulking Moira, angry as she was that Duncan would treat the poor child so. Then she smirked at the mere sight of the girl holding her own with him. The clatter of footsteps followed through the doors of the Great Hall, Duncan's  wild eyes looked  haunting as he chased her around the large table frightened as a doe she looked real tempting to choke or maybe to toss her on top of the table as a wanton and rap her legs around his hips.

His  wild angry  glare  sent an alarming feeling through her if he caught her, she'll be sorry. she felt it that much.
"Be afraid wench, be very afraid,"  he grinned showing all teeth, loving every bit of the chase . Hopping on one foot she pulled off her slipper to reveal tiny toes, throwing her slipper at his head, running around again they stopped on opposite sides of the table.  He looked very much like a madman long black hair covered his face with twigs, leaves and egg yolk.

His gray eyes smoldered then sparkled probably with an imaginary vision of  choking the life out of her.  His lips small on top and full on the bottom thinned with his angry glare.  his once clean shaved jaw that form an immaculate shape goatee now was covered with a prickly beard.  His dark brows and eyelashes hid gorgeous breathtaking grey eyes that sparkled with amusement and fury.

Duncan growled and lunged over the table missing Tara by an inch as she cried out and breathlessly escaped his grasp. She ran fast toward the open doors into the courtyard.  Duncan burst out of the greathall after her in the courtyard skidding to a halt before his father.

The authoritative look of his father stopped him dead in his tracks the elderly retired Lord stood before him unmoving. Duncan glanced over his fathers shoulder to the hellion looking back at him.

Ardolf arched his white brows regarding Duncan's present state. removing  a  twig from his sons hair he studied the rest of him. A moment of  complete silence passed between them. Clearing his throat Ardolf questioned.

" I take it that she....," before Ardolf could finish, Duncan hissed in anger.

" The little chit put a bird's nest of eggs above my door. Not only did it have eggs but a very upset bird that nearly pecked my eyes out of my head."

Clenching his jaw, he watched Tara as she teasingly waved to him then stick her tongue out at him before sauntering  off to the outerwall.

"She did not like the beetles, did she?"

Duncan's thin lips did not answer it was clear that his father knew of the atrocious   things he's been doing to Tara. Ardolf knew very well that if he got involved now it would not change a thing the two would have to settle this one way or the other they had to come to a common ground somehow.

Stepping aside he let Duncan pass.  In Swift strides he was off to find her. Before he got any further his father called out his name.  Without an answer he turned and listened

"Remember you cannot capture a Doe with anger. But with pacience  and assuring   words. "

The fact that his father wanted him to treat her kindly made him want to scream.

" Nay  father, just a bow and arrow will bring her down and much faster." with that he turned off and continued his hunt for his so-called doe this time he will catch her.

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