|Quote:||"A winter night holds as much beauty to me as a spring day or a summer afternoon."|
|Blessing:||Deer-Girl (White Doe)|
|Place of Origin:||Paris, France|
|Height:||4'10" (147 cm)|
|Hobbies:||Magick, alchemy, cooking, fishing, archery|
|Romantic Status:||Committed (Anna)|
|Occupation:||Sentry of Fuyuzora, Member of the Town Council, Forest Witch|
Ariah is a Lunyanniichuan-blessed human woman in her apparent twenties who hails from Paris, France. She seems to have a high level of magical ability as demonstrated during the Eruption of 2012. She's most often found near Silverbough, and seems to be attached in a romantic fashion to Anna.
The details of Ariah's birth are entirely mundane. Late 20th century Earth, Paris, only child. Unbeknownst to her or her family, she was born with a capacity for the supernatural along with a very small percentile of the world's population. And like others before her, observers from beyond normal space took note. A border world, another dimensional singularity was (and still is) home to a sprawling citadel devoted to magical studies of nearly every stripe. Seers and divination specialists comb the threads of the multiverse, looking for anomalies such as hers. These diviners gather potentials from no-to-low magic worlds (not unlike the psyker-gathering black ships in Warhammer 40k or similar process in Dragon Age's theme, just much more benign) to educate and provide a haven for these unique individuals. At a young age, Ariah's family took the offer, despite some disbelief. Her and her immediate family were taken from their home, evidence of a tragic car accident left in their wake. Hardly subtle, but effective. Nobody was actually injured.
The citadel itself was more the size of a modern city than any sort of medieval castle or college grounds, with spires extending upwards and catacombs extending below. This self-sustaining island nation was where Ariah grew up, raised by her now much more limited family, as well as numerous other families and instructors. She gained the equivalent of a private school education, peppered with magical studies as well as language courses in her native tongue and common English as well. Basic academics included a normal curriculum of literature, arithmetic, and history, the latter of which was a mix of her own world's history (as there had been a number of students from that earth before her, as well as 'common earth history') and the history of the citadel itself. Her nascent magical abilities were also further honed to give a direction in which to study and train, as no single mage's talents match another's.
At the equivalent of a high school grade, Ariah was given the opportunity to join the local militia. Outwardly, the militant force had numerous duties, from simple patrols of the citadel and conflict arbitration to doling out martial training handling threats in the wilds outside of the citadel proper. This force comprised both of students and faculty was also an internal security and inquisitional group as well, however, though these duties were a closely guarded secret. Ariah supplemented her studies both magic and academic with patrols and martial training before being inducted into the internal ranks.
The inquisitional arm of the militia was known as the Shadow Hunters. They were tasked with rooting out and engaging rogue elements and dark forces within both the student body and faculty for signs of corruption. Despite the generally liberal nature of the citadel's magical studies, certain schools were strictly prohibited for their inherently corrupting nature (demon pacting) or overall risk (blood rituals). In the course of her ten years of service to the Shadow Hunters, Ariah brought to task numerous corrupt, possessed, and beyond-saving individuals and cults within the citadel, though very rarely alone. In the same ten years, she obtained countless scars and saw many friends and fellow militants fall.
Her 15-year service term included a 10-year on-site contract, and a 5-year on-call contract, stipulating that no matter where her travels take her, should her services be needed, she would be recalled to provide them. This contract was enforced more than once during her time spent in Yuriba before its expiration.
After all she had seen and done, her graduation from her core studies complete and her primary contract with the militia complete, Ariah looked for a place to take a vacation. The dimensional singularity that is Yuriba attracted her attention, as it was an item on the books and study by several mages for its unique status and magical qualities, yet few had ever visited to study it directly. She volunteered, taking the time off and using it to continue her personal magic studies. Her militia contract remained in force for the remaining five years on it, from 2006 to 2011. It took her almost the entirety of these five years (with a few visits back 'home') to start getting interested and involved in the island's affairs as opposed to wandering and studying.
Ariah met a number of people and established a permanent home on Yuriba over the course of her years, recovering from elements of ptsd related to her militia service and getting deeper and more involved with not only the affairs of the island, but the religion as well. Very few relationships were truly marked, however, the only ones of note being a short residence with Angeltear, a peculiar affair with the wanderlust-driven Sabriel, and her now-current long-term pairing with Anna. It took her some time to break out of old habits, offering her (sometimes unwanted) aid to the island's local agents. She considers herself a friend of Ella, and despite previous friction, on good terms with Atara and breisleach.
Prior to the events of late 2011, Ariah openly made known her aspirations and hopes to be chosen as Sentry of the Lady of Winter, Fuyuzora with claims of whispers on the winds on late winter nights. Her contractual bindings to the Shadow Hunters made things difficult, let alone her ties to the organization and the fall of the previous Sentry in that position. When her contract was expired, she presented it to breisleach on the shores of Silverbough, finalizing the cutting of her ties from the citadel and her obligations there for good, naming herself a free agent.
Her dedication and persistence would show in her efforts in defending the village during the Eruption of 2012, in which she helped militant residents put down several Inishie-corrupted Dire ferrets. Six changed-but-docile ferrets are in her care, named after hats by Anna (Trilby, Derby, Bowler, Fedora, Bucket, Fez.) She also took part in the final battle, standing with Yuriba's defenders at the Woodland Retreat. She, like many others, was seriously injured in the skirmish, and also was awarded a rose-quartz pendant as a commendation.
She has not forgotten the oath she swore to the High Priestess, and continues to try and prove she is a worthy candidate for Sentry, often keeping silent vigil in the snowy darkness in Silverbough. The Holiday Wheel saw fit at the end of 2013 to bless Ariah with a bottle of Lunyanniichuan water, which she applied to herself in a ritual fashion on the night of the new moon, December 31st.
Less than two weeks after, on January 11th 2014, Ariah was welcomed as a Sentry by breisleach and Fuyuzora Herself in a formal investiture ceremony on the shores of Silverbough's lake. Due to the controversy with the previous Sentry, Ariah's sworn oath was marked with additional vows. The foreign woman has accepted these conditions and pledged herself to Fuyuzora and Yuriba without question, promising not to violate the trust and faith bestowed upon her in the eyes of the Winter Goddess.
Ariah is generally an intense, quiet woman. The training, stress, and aftermath of her time as a Shadow Hunter has left a lasting mark on her mind and emotions, as well as her body. Physical scars are visible on almost every part of her body as well as a trio of tattoos marking her service. She often comes off as cold, but her chilly manner of speech is just that, a manner of speech. She is not without warmth or compassion, but her emotions are often closely guarded. Her accent is telling of her origins, still clearly French despite her years away from those who speak it frequently. Anna's nickname of 'Sea Witch' is something she occasionally prides herself in bearing as a moniker, though she has since moved from the sea to the forest. It remains to be seen if she will adopt 'Forest Witch' as a nickname instead.
- Angeltear - Ariah met Angeltear soon after her arrival on Yuriba, eventually living in a cabin as part of the Ashram House property. The cabin eventually was given its own place on a beach in Maboroshi after the pair drifted apart.
- Sabriel - Ariah's initial meeting with Sabriel was a rocky one, eventually something the other woman commemorated in a painting. Sabriel's wanderlust was a constant point of tension between the two as Ariah was still very much a recluse. Eventually, Sabriel would introduce her to...
- Anna - Potentially a case of rescue or theft, Ariah and Anna's relationship began through Sabriel and Anthropeios. A friendship blossomed into a romance and Anna frequently stayed in Ariah's stone cabin when not out with other lovers and acquaintances. Ariah is still committed to Anna and has been for some years. There are no plans or talk of marriage or children but they do have six ferrets in their care. As a general rule of thumb, anything particularly out of the ordinary for Ariah to do can probably be blamed on Anna (such as posing for the 2014 Yuriba Swimsuit Calendar)
- Beachside Cabin - Once a part of the Ashram House property, Ariah's cabin was a small, secure four-room structure. It featured a respectable kitchen with a number of carefully-maintained mana-fueled appliances, a comfortable living room with space for guests to stay over, a cozy bedroom/workshop with shelves and a magic circle for recharging, and a small bathroom with a rune-heated bathing tub.
- Forest Ruins - Won during the 2013 auction from breisleach, Ariah purchased a set of ancient, magical keys to an underground ruin hidden in the foothills. Further from the ocean and closer to Silverbough, Ariah has made her permanent home in this series of ruins. Her cabin has been dismantled and returned to the elements and the ruins are surprisingly cozy and comfortable, if even more secluded. A well-appointed hot spring bath is a particular item of interest.
Unsurprisingly, Ariah is highly dedicated to keeping her art in top form, meditating daily, often as part of her vigil, and cycling her energy flow. She reads and re-reads her old spelltomes, repeating the exercises within and looking for new ways to approach them. It keeps her mind clear and reduces the vulnerability due to inflexibility some practitioners of magic have. Other mental pursuits involve studying Yuriban lore and history.
Physically, she can be found hiking or fishing on a regular basis. Warmer months find her getting very hands-on in the ocean's shallower waters, fishing in the waves and rocks with bow and spear. She tends to be self-sufficient in this regard, using the same bow for hunting in the colder months and trading for the foodstuffs she can't easily acquire herself.
Skills and Flaws
Due to her latent abilities and an invasive internal rune-carving process during her Shadow Hunter days, her body is effectively an energy battery. She can gather, store, and expend magical energy with little effort. Nearly any form of energy is up for grabs, from the smallest sliver she can glean from the kinetic impact of a bullet to the thermal energy emitted by a campfire to the substantial power in a lightning bolt. If it is active energy, she can take it and use it. This technique can be applied to life energy and she can borrow energy from willing individuals. 'Stored' tech energy like batteries require a little more work, though live wires and leads she can draw from.
The energy she gathers, stores, and processes can be re-purposed into multiple things. She can conjure hard shields to protect herself and others, sling bolts of force that can either impact or explode, produce shockwaves, or things like lances, whips, or beams and more. These can be solid, malleable, or intangible, and filled with burning heat or be completely harmless to the touch, providing illumination or stepping stones and more. Thread-like tendrils can be applied to locks and other fine-manipulation needs with time and concentration. She has an affinity with a specific rune alphabet, able to infuse objects with stored energy for a variety of purposes. Focused raw energy can also be used for healing, accelerating a body's natural healing process to an extreme and forcing wounds to mend. The process is extremely taxing for Ariah due to energy consumption and focus required.
Though her primary focus is using and manipulating energy flows and supporting allies, Ariah is capable of defending herself satisfactorily in close combat. She carries a rune-engraved staff with a thin straight saber (also rune-carved) hidden within it, both capable of augmenting her energy storage abilities. She is also talented enough with a short bow and spears to hunt for fish, though she almost never uses them as a weapon in lieu of her other abilities.
Study of herbs is almost as much of a hobby as the study of magic for Ariah. Yuriba's abundance of plants is a point of interest for the 'witch', and she is fairly proficient at fashioning beneficial herbal compositions in the form of healing poultices or consumables. Her habit of being outdoors rather than in during the winter has given her a respectable knowledge of cold weather survival and what plants are available in frosty conditions.
As she is only human, there is a limit to how much energy Ariah can store within her body as well as how much she can channel through it during a short period of time. Unloading a substantial amount of energy literally burns, as the effort of pushing so much power through herself can result in third-degree burns (both internal and external) and worse. In addition, expending all of her internal mana without respite can leave her physically weakened. It can take a prolonged recharge session to bring her back up to combat spec if she is drained completely. A cosmetic side effect of her energy-channeling abilities is the leeching of the color from her, the woman's white hair, grey eyes, and pale skin being the obvious result.
Despite being a mage, Ariah is unable to conjure elements at all. Though her energy can burn through intense heat, she cannot conjure an actual flame unless the heat is enough to ignite something particularly sensitive (as opposed to just hitting the melting point.) Nor can she conjure 'wind' beyond waves of bright force. Unless extremely magically charged and active, she is unable to glean energy from wind, or water, or earth, and especially ice.
Ice is a particularly dramatic weakness for Ariah, made even more interesting due to her bond with the Winter Goddess, Fuyuzora. Magically conjured ice and extremely cold conditions can be a drain on Ariah's energy reserves, being that they leech heat and are devoid of any particular benefit to her. Her midnight blizzard vigils in Silverbough are as much a dedication to her sentinel duties as they are a test of her own endurance and stamina as she constantly pushes herself.