Ardith's long hair is tied in a bun with cords dyed with berry juice, two each of red, blue and black. She wears an unbleached linen shift and bodice, a deerskin jerkin, and low brown boots. Ardith always wears the Sign of Andritha on a chain around her neck. The Sign is a three inch circle of copper with a large onyx in the center, obviously quite heavy, but Ardith wears it with the ease of one long accustomed to the burden.
Ardith is eighteen years old, five foot three and one hundred and ten pounds. She has green eyes, light brown hair and light olive skin.
Appeared in turns 1-55, 57-58, 60-63, 71-72, 83-84 and 86-100.
Ardith is a Priestess of Andritha the Mother. She is also one of an exceedingly rare few with access to Andrithan magic.
This is Ardith's original character history, written before the game became low-magic, and before certain things were solidified. For example, Andrithanism doesn't have an “order of the Ortilauf,” and the person Ardith fell in love with probably wasn't really a wizard.
Ardith was born and raised in a mid-sized village in southern Rang, on the knees of the Koril Mountains. The principal occupation in the region is black-dirt farming in the valley and sheep herding on the mountain slopes. (Koril is like the Foothills of the Alps: Broad, fertile valleys between mountains gradually getting bigger as you go south. Rocky slopes). Her father, Torvad, was the village carpenter and general fixit-man. She was the second youngest with two older brothers, Gan and Will, and an older sister Diana. Torvad was a good, hard-working father, teaching his trade to his sons, but leaving his daughters mostly to their mother until she died bringing the youngest brother, Dirnwald, into the world. Ardith was seven at the time. Ardith had learned some lore of herbs and mushrooms from her mother, and with or without her mother often visited the village “hexe,” Varnis, an old spinster wise in healing, herb-lore and the casting of minor clerical spells. The old woman was pleased at Ardith's interest in her wisdom, and taught her much.
With the death of her mother, Ardith spent more and more time with old Varnis, until that woman finally began to teach her the secret arts of clerical concentration Two years after the death of his wife, Torvad decided to re-marry, and chose Puline, the beautiful but spoiled daughter of the blacksmith, just fifteen years old, and barely a year older than her brother, Gan. This did not please Ardith at all. Puline's superior attitude and her demands of Ardith and Diana to do all of the work around the house, tending not only to the cleaning, the chickens and the goat, but tending to her, Puline as well, while Puline sat and drank Brandwine, drove Ardith further from her family.
Diana, now eleven, was becoming plump & attractive in the eyes of the village's young men, and Ardith, scrawny in their eyes, and still only nine, grew jealous of her sister. She resolved to learn all she could from old Varnis. The “hexe” taught Ardith the Basic Rites of Meditation, concentrating on the reputed acts of Andritha.
Clearly the old woman still believed the old legends of the gods and godesses, but she taught well. After another year, Ardith could heal minor animal and human injuries. When the Gitane came through the village that summer, Puline was pregnant, and Ardith told Varnis that she was determined to go with the Gitane and leave the village forever. Varnis tried to convince her to stay, warning her of the dangers of travel, but Ardith was adamant. Finally, Varnis spoke to the wife of the leader of the Gitane, and asked her to take Ardith under wing until they reached Zadothar, the next town of any size, and there to deliver her to the Chief Adept atthe Temple of Andritha. Some silver passed hands.
Her adventures and misadventures getting to, and living in Zadothar could make a short story, but in the end, Ardith became a Cleric of Andritha, of the order of the Ortilauf.
After their show no longer produced enough revenue, the Gitane broke camp and moved out of the village, richer by a small sack of silver gleaned from their entertainment of the villagers, and one young healer. Keja, the leader's chief wife, guarded her young charge out of respect for Varnis, the “hexe,” and out of honor for the few silvers she had given her. Yet, Laetshi, her husband, felt differently.
“Keep the silver, my love, and dump the Gorgio (pronounced Gah-joe) girl at the next village. She is too skinny for child-bearing, and has not the cunning to 'chor' even a chicken!” he proclaimed.
“Hold thy tongue, you old horse. Was not this girl put into our hands by Varnis, the conjuror of that village? And did that woman not cross my palms with silver? Would you chance the displeasure of the Old gods? And what is this talk of child-bearing? She has only nine summers!”
Laetshi backed off, grumbling.
So it went, from village to village, while Ardith learned. She learned a bit of the Romany language, the “old Tongue” of the Gitane, she learned the “Patteran” - the signs made with sticks and small stones by which bands of Gitane left messages to be read by other Gitane, about friendly and hostile villages, when they last passed, and which way they were going.
Until, as the small caravan of 'vardos,' brightly colored live-in wagons, was attacked by a band of orcs as they crossed a pass. The Gitane easily beat off the attackers, but Laetshi and his brother Janos took wounds from arrows. Keja removed the arrows and bathed their wounds in herbal teas, but the wounds continued to fester.
“Ayee!” she cried. “There is poison or evil magik here!”
Ardith said, “Keja, let me see the wounds.”
Keja allowed her, and Ardith concentrated her powers, and cured both Laetshi and Janos. The Gitane leader changed his tune after that. He even offered her the honor, in his sight, of becoming his youngest wife, but Ardith demurred, saying it was not for lack of love for the Gitane leader, but that she wished to follow the advice of her teacher, Varnis, and go to Zadothar to study her craft.
Eventually, the caravan arrived at Zadothar, there to spend the winter away from the deep snows of the mountains. Several bands of the Gitane gathered there, in an open square not far from the market. They celebrated their reunion, and offered their attractions to the “Gorgio,” telling fortunes, making music and other merriment, all for a few coppers or silvers.
Laetshi was unwilling to let Ardith go to the Temple - he wanted her healing powers in his band. But at last, with Keja's help, she went off to the Temple. There she met the Abess, Gutrin, and presented the letter Varnis had written. Gutrin welcomed her.
Ardith was given her own cell, with a clean bed, a desk and a bowl of clean water. As good as she had at home. For the first time in the two years since her mother died, Ardith felt safe and at home. Gutrin seemed just like Varnis, just as kind, but wiser.
Ardith proved to be an able student. She did well in all her studies of concentration, of the ancient language, Sarnam, and learned her letters and numbers. But she was less successful with the martial arts, showing ability only with the quarterstaff.
Ardith's life in the Seminary was comfortable, she enjoyed her studies, made friends among both the young men and women students.
That is, until Ardith was raped.
She and three other students went to town to shop for the upcoming Feast. It was Market Day, and the square was even more crowded than usual with visitors there for the Feast. The students separated to find the things they would buy for the Feast. Ardith was looking for bright cloth to use to make a costume. She was now thirteen and it was to be the first year she would be allowed to dance in the streets on Feast Day.
As she was examining the wares of a toothless old woman, a burly, dirty man with rotting teeth came up behind her and caught her by the wrists. Forcing them up behind her back, he marched her into a crooked alley.
Fortunately, one of the other students, Saul, saw it happen and marshalled the rest of the students to run to help her. By the time they arrived, however, the attacker had bent Ardith face down over a watering trough, lifted her robe over her back, kicked her feet apart, and with her wrists still clamped behind her back, had roughly and painfully taken her virginity.
Her friends knocked the attacker down and pummeled him with their staves, cudgels and fists. They meant to take him back to the Temple to the Abbot and Abess for punishment, but before they reached the seminary he managed to give them the slip and was gone into the crowd.
The Abess took the weeping Ardith to the bath and let her soak in hot herbal water. While Ardith's body recovered, Gutrin explained to her about the difference between love and lust, and about the herbs that prevent pregnancy. She was going to administer some, but when she examined Ardith she determined that the man had not inseminated her.
Thanks to the Abess, her student friends and the Abbot, Ardith recovered quickly – physically at least. She resolved that she would no longer allow herself to be so helpless, and made great progress in her ability with the quarterstaff, and for the first time showed an interest in the martial spells. She also learned to be an excellent markswoman with the sling.
Ardith did not dance at the Feast that year, nor for three years thereafter. As eager to do so as she had been before, she was equally reluctant thereafter.
At sixteen, she was already the best healer in the Temple after Gutrin herself. One day, a badly injured Wizard was brought to the Temple. He was close to death. The man had been stabbed by an orc-blade and been badly burned. He had lost much blood. Gutrin had the unconscious mage carried to an empty cell and called Ardith to assist her.
The most urgent matter was to stop the blood loss, clean and close the stab wound, then to clean and seal the worst of the burns. Ardith and the Abess had to cut the charred tatters of his robes from his body and peel strips of partly burned cloth from his flesh before they could begin their healing. His hair and beard had been singed all but off, and they cut away what was left and washed away the soot. His face had not been too badly burned, and Ardith noticed that he was a good- looking man in his early thirties, younger than she had first thought.
They worked for hours to heal the worst of his wounds. They didn't cover him for fear the linens would irritate the burns, instead they lit a fire to warm the cell. Despite their healing spells, his hands were still bad, so they wrapped them up in herbs. Ardith remained in the cell to watch over her charge while Gutrin arranged for food to be brought to her.
During the night the mage regained consciousness and Ardith got some herb tea into him, to replenish his fluids and also to ease the pain. She learned that his name was Orodin.
Ardith kept a round-the-clock vigil, eating and sleeping in the convalescent's cell and applying her healing spells and skills for an entire week while Orodin slowly recovered. Since his hands had been so very badly burned, she had to do everything for him. Yes, everything. She bathed the wounds with healing potions. She fed him hand to mouth, mostly bread, broth and herbal infusions to aid the healing. And, she had to assist him in relieving himself.
This last was a stuggle for Ardith. Not only did it bring back memories of her rape, but also it was the first time in her life that she had touched a man's privates. But somehow she managed, and actually the experience helped to defuse some of the hurt and anger she still harbored.
They became friends. Orodin was much taken with the young Ardith, and, though embarassed at his total helplessness, was grateful of her healing and welcomed her presence, her company and intelligent conversation.
It was on the day the bandages came off his hands that Ardith told Orodin of her having been raped. She broke down and cried about it for the first time since the day it had happened. Now it was the patient's turn to comfort the healer. He held her in his arms and stroked her hair with his still painful hands while Ardith wept.
When Gutrin stopped by a bit later to relieve Ardith for a few minutes, Orodin spoke to her in the Old Tongue.
“Gutrin, knowest thou that thy student suffereth anguish in her soul from the rape she endured? Her body is healed, but her soul remains in torment. Cast thou, please, thy best spell of healing upon her instead of on me. If it mean longer suffering for me, so be it. I will heal. But yonder young woman may not.”
Gutrin replied, “Orodin, thou speaketh well. We are too close to her and did not see her anguish. It has been three years since she was old enough to dance at the Feasts, yet at Feast Days she sulks in her rooms. She needs not only healing, which I shall give her, but also a gentle man so that she know that all men are not beasts. I see that you are such. Be good to her, Orodin.”
The mage merely nodded.
When Ardith returned, Gutrin applied her spell. Ardith blinked twice and staggered a bit, but showed no other sign of anything having happened.
Despite that Orodin was nearly healed, Ardith kept visiting his cell, spending her spare time from her studies and duties looking over the mage, bringing him herbs, poultices and extra food. They talked long and far into the night.
One day, Gutrin found Ardith in the herb pantry, mixing a contraceptive potion. She made no remark, but after a few minutes she went to Orodin's cell and peered between the cracks in the ancient door. She smiled when she saw Ardith, naked, squatting over the equally naked mage's hips, her body undulating slowly, and both of them uttering moans and groans of pleasure.
Gutrin smiled, knowing that Ardith was healed of her hurt from the rape, and had learned the pleasure of her womanhood.
When, at last, Orodin was completely healed, he called for Ardith.
“My young and beautiful healer,” he said, “it is time for me to go, go and resume my battle against the forces of evil.”
“Orodil, no,” Ardith cried. “No, you are not yet strong. Stay. Stay and grow stronger.”
Orodil smiled and lapsed into Sarnam, “Thou sayest not, but I hear thee say, 'stay and love me more.' My love, my very dear love, know that thou art my heart's fondest desire. Thou hast healed my body, thou hast comforted my soul. Thou hast been healer, friend, lover. But my quest calls unto me. I must go to meet Evil. Were I but a farmer or smith, I could – and would – stay with thee in bliss forever. But I am sworn to my quest. Know that I love thee. Fare thee well.”
“Orodil, my love,” Ardith said, also in Sarnam, “I understand. I, too have a mission. I shall miss thee. I love thee with all my heart.”
They made love for the last time that night, for Orodil returned to battle, and was killed while thwarting an evil spell, thereby saving the army of the King.
Stops to pick herbs when in medows.
Aristocratic she isn't, however, as she has been with the order for eight years, I think we can consider her educated. Unlike most people of her background, she can read and write, and knows Sarnam.