Title: Maiden of Kandar
Author: Koohii Cafe
Fandom: Evil Dead
Disclaimer: Since I am a poor chickadee with no wealth to speak of, I think it's safe to say that Evil Dead is not mine. ^^;
Written for: Missy
Summary: He would never know it, but Ash Williams owed his life to a woman who would die centuries before he ever awakened from his enchanted slumber.
Maiden of Kandar
Her name was Ashley Von Lichtenstein, a noblewoman of Kandar, daughter of the lord William Von Lichtenstein and his lady Sheila, and she was perhaps the least noble of all the courts' women- or at least that was what was said in tittering whispers of rumors in the court. A lovely young woman, at least when she wished to be, she bore all the looks of her mother, and none of her father; dark curled locks that fell in cascades down her back, wide eyes the color of a deep brown amber, a delicate frame to her lithe body that belied her true strength… No, hers was a dark beauty, a far cry from the light blondes and blues of her foreign father and his family, and a beauty that had earned her mocking as a child, in the halls of his home so far from Kandar. Many said that it was that initial spurning of her father's court that led Ashley to become the woman she had grown to be; unable to be a lady with the other young girls her age, she instead rebelled.
Many others said that it was not the spurning of her peers that etched the young girl's fate to be so far from what it should have been, but her mother's influence. Indeed, her mother had once been the perfect noblewoman herself, before Kandar was struck with the horrible affliction of the Deadites that so laid waste to the once proud land. By the time she was wed to the Lord Von Lichtenstein, she had become a changed woman. Always a feisty woman, she became more so after the Deadite plague, her temper fiery and dangerous to behold when wronged, and she even dared to learn herself in the art of the sword and shield as she distanced herself from the court. The nobles of Kandar had been amazed when her marriage to the Lord Von Lichtenstein had been announced, that any man would have the self proclaimed maiden of the shield. It was obvious, many whispered, that the child Ashley had been afflicted with the same madness of her mother.
Still others held to a theory that was popular in her father's court, although it was not one to be mentioned in the lands of Kandar; the girl had been named for a legendary hero of Kandar, and there were those who believed that she had been forever poisoned by the stories she had been told of that hero as a child. After all, she had grown up inundated in the retellings of the Promised One's deeds, given to her by her mother. For the girl to have heard only these stories as she grew, rather than more the more sedate and appropriate stories of court ladies she should have been told, surely had twisted her mind and her wits into the parody of a lady she had become. This was especially thought to be the case by those who doubted the truthfulness of the great stories of the Promised One her mother had relayed; while it was true that Kandar had fallen under the curse of the Deadites in the past, none outside of Kandar and its closest ally had ever seen proof of the Promised One's existence.
Whatever the reason for her deformation of nobility, Ashley Von Lichtenstein was as little a lady as a woman could possibly be- and that was the saving grace that allowed her to save the life of the man for whom she had been named.
Influenced surely by her mother, Ashley bore the title of shield maiden, for she was well schooled in the art of combat, of the shield, the sword, and of more weaponry than many of the young knights of her father's home. Some she had learned as a child, taught by the Lady Sheila, and much of it she had learned in the courts of Kandar, instructed by those who had trained with the Promised One himself during the battle against the Deadites. She had been tested not only by her tutors, but also by the fire of combat itself, in battle against one of the rare demons that still roamed the lands. By the age of sixteen, Ashley had begun to join the hunt for the few Deadites left, to forever rid the land of the demon threat.
It was during one such hunt, separated from the knights with which she rode in the search, that the young warrior came upon what she would later remember as one of the greatest moments of her life.
Their party tracked a Deadite that had been sighted in one of Kandar's small villages, and driven off briefly by the villagers. The trail had lead definitively for a good while outside of the village, but at a thick knot of trees in the wood, it all but disappeared, even to the eyes of their best tracker. With the need to split apart and cover more ground apparent, Ashley found herself searching alone in a port of the wood when she finally caught sight of the thing; it was running reckless through the trees, heading for the edge of the forest and toward what looked like the outside of a collapsed cave.
"Halt!" Her voice was fearless, as she always was, for these dreadful demons held no sway over her heart. She was the daughter of the Lord and Lady Von Lichtenstein, named for the hero of Kandar, the Promised One; Ashley would let no fell creature besmirch her honor. The Deadite responded to her command with an ear splitting screech, turning to look upon her with a deathly glare upon its decaying and deformed face, before it wrenched around to shamble again toward the entrance of the cave. Its speed belied its rotting form, and even as Ashley dug her heels into the flank of her steed to spur it forward, the demon reached the collapsed rocks, and began to dig. Her mount was swift, the offspring of the horse which had once born the Promised One upon his historic quest, and in the time it took the shield maiden to draw her sword, they were upon the Deadite.
The dark haired warrior swung from the horse with a deadly arc of her blade that sliced effortlessly through the back of the demon, drawing a shriek from it as it threw one of the boulders it had freed from the mountain front in her direction. As she was forced to whirl back in defense, it turned yet again to the collapsed cave, digging with putrid, puss covered hands at the rock; it was determined to free whatever lie beyond that rock, in the cave within, and she was just as determined to disallow it to uncover it.
"Turn and face me as a man," she growled, regaining her balance so that she might swing again with the heavy weight of her broadsword. It was a well placed blow, her blade biting mercilessly into the flesh of the demon's arm as it continued to dig. A foul white fluid flowed freely from the wound, the slice deep enough it almost completely severed the limb, and it let out an even higher cry than before, spinning and striking at her with its other hand. The edge of her sword struck strongly, cutting through the arm completely.
By the time the hunting party followed the demon's screams to find her, it lie in pieces on the ground before the cave, destroyed and decimated by her hand. The eyes of the eldest knight in their party, however, were not for the Deadite, but for the place it had found.
"It was clawing at this wall." His words were not a question, his wrinkled eyes squinted as he reached to lay a hand on the collapsed stones.
"Aye…" Her dark brown eyes exchanged perplexed frowns with the other men, and she nodded in affirmation. "It seemed intent on freeing whatever lie behind it."
"Nay." The word was firm, unquestionable, and the older knight looked down upon her with a determined gleam in his eye. She trusted him; he was one of the knights who had trained her, who had once trained himself under the Promised One. "It wished to destroy, not free. It is well that you stopped it, Ashley. The fate of this world may someday rest upon he who lies within."
The old knight reverently took one of the freed rocks and laid it against the mountain front once more, and with a flash, Ashley understood.
She remained for some time after the rest of the party mounted up and rode off, staring at the wall. She was so close- and yet, she might as well have been centuries apart from the man who lay sleeping beyond the mountain front. Never could she truly see him, never had she seen more of him than the emotion that shone silently in her mother's eyes whenever she spoke of him, but standing there, she felt a connection she would never be able to describe with words.
Hours later, when the older knight returned to the cave to gather up his lady and return her home, he reflected upon one of the theories behind the peculiar nature of the daughter of Sheila Von Lichtenstein.
It was a thought to be murmured in the darkest of shadows, with lights dimmed, and no others around. Words whispered in secret, between only the closest of comrades, the most trusted of friends. And yet, a silent celebration, that coupled with respectful nods to the Lady Sheila, and a loyalty to the Lady Ashley that no peculiarity could ever dissuade.
The Lady Sheila had become the bride of the Lord Von Lichtenstein barely a month after the departure of the Promised One. Birth had been given to a precious daughter hardly eight months later; premature, the midwives had said, and yet… There were none of the looks of the Lord von Lichtenstein to the child, and all of the looks of her mother- and of the man her mother had loved.