Ariella, by George Evangelista

ariella1Ariella, by George Evangelista

Colbauth, n. Drow word for ‘path’ or ‘known way’ —from the Drow Dictionary, Forgotten Realms Wikia

As many of my readers know, I’m always on the lookout for smartly dressed Drow for Sartorially Smart Heroines. While I recognize that Dark Elves are a depraved and sexually prolific race, artwork featuring half-naked Drow warriors and huntresses battling intruders from the surface or horrors from the Underdark makes these ladies come across as incompetent, rather than sexy. Whether abroad in the Underdark or within Drow society, incompetent Drow don’t survive very long.

Typically I tend to file Drow under the “villainesses” tag, but given that Ariella is a commission of someone’s original character, I don’t know if she’s evil or not (and simply being evil doesn’t necessarily make her a villainess). I noticed in the comments on George’s DeviantArt page that he used Evangeline Lilly as a reference for Ariella, and because of this I automatically think of Ari as a Dark Elf version of Tauriel. Perhaps she’s a warden of the forest, taken in and accepted by the local Wood Elves and pledged to keep the forest safe from marauding orcs and encroaching humans. Or perhaps she’s a vengeful kinslayer, come to these forests to track down and slaughter her surface kindred in the name of Lolth. Either option presents some interesting story possibilities.

ariella1Ari’s burgundy armor over her olive tunic struck me as kind of a bizarre combination—one that would attract some funny looks in the tavern or marketplace. (Though in most parts of the world, I suspect she’d draw a lot of stares just by being a Dark Elf.) Fortunately, the colors blend well with the darkness, making her hard to see when sneaking up on unwary intruders. The tights and tunic look to be linen or similar fabric, light and flexible but durable for forest travel or combat situations. The leather cuirass and padding should provide effective deflection against arrows and fair absorption and deflection in light melee. I like, as well, the padding on her arms and legs to help prevent disabling blows, with leather bracers to protect her arms from her bow string and boots or greaves for deep-woods travel or combat. Lastly, Ari sports segmented steel spaulders on each shoulder for further protection against disabling blows to the arms.

Our handsome ranger’s outfit strikes me as equally effective for sniping or skirmishing, depending on the situation. I suspect her bow is a short bow for quick pull and high armor-penetration at close range. When sniping the quick pull allows her multiple rapid shots into her enemy’s flanks before slipping back into the shadows. In a skirmish, this allows her to whittle down her foes with suppressive fire while using trees and scrub for cover. Additionally, she carries a sword for dispatching that pesky Wood-Elf rogue who managed to sneak within her bow’s minimum effective range. The pouch at her belt might be for herbs, rations, bandages, poisons, potions, or other adventurer’s supplies. Or it might be a place to keep the ears of unfortunate surface elves she happened upon.

Huge thanks to George for letting me borrow his lovely Dark Elf for the blog. As always, thanks so much for reading, folks. Take care and stay awesome!

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