Girl Genius
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Girl Genius

Lady Ariadne Steelgarter is an English noblewoman. Physically, her most notable attributes are an extra set of arms, along with blue hair. Socially, she is described as being a great patron of the sciences with a strong interest in lost civilizations, and has been the financial backer of numerous expeditions, including the one which discovered/reconnected with Skifander and subsequently brought Zeetha to Europa before being wiped out by sky pirates.


Background[]

Princess Neena tells us that Ariadne is the sole heir to the Steelgarter fortune, which was revived about fifty years ago. While brilliant, she is "not exactly" a Spark, despite displaying the proper level of enthusiasm and focus when the subject turns to areas of interest (fashion, along with the aforementioned scientific studies.) Supposedly, she can read almost two dozen ancient languages.

Londinium[]

Agatha and Ariadne first meet in the Londinium headquarters of the Queen's Society, in the lead-up to a soiree which Ariadne is hosting for that illustrious organization. She takes Agatha in hand, dress-wise, saying that however little interest Agatha may personally have in the subject, as an official guest of Queen Albia, she has to look the part. Fortunately, Agatha brought along a few odds and ends from Paris. A squeeing Ariadne announces that Agatha needs a maid to deal with all of them, though she may have had a second reason for promoting this idea. (However, Violetta shows that — due to her close association with Tarvek — she's up to the task of dressing Agatha.)

Unsurprisingly, during the party, Ariadne questions Zeetha about what happened to her expedition, and is told its unfortunate fate. Later, the plot thickens as Violetta catches her covertly rummaging through Zeetha's things, trying unsuccessfully to find some artifact from Skifander that she can test to determine the city's location, using a property called material harmonics; why she is so eager to do so remains unrevealed. Following a bloody fight which leaves Violetta's fate uncertain, a battered Ariadne meets up with a mysterious co-conspirator and announces her intention to withdraw for now from the Society's undersea dome and recuperate at "the museum", planning to try again with Zeetha at a later date. She ends up forming an alliance of temporary convenience with another would-be dome escapee, ex-pirate Ulysses Bonny who was working as a waiter at the party. They successfully commandeer a sub, return to a more public area of the city and go their separate ways; in Ariadne's case, it turns out the museum is (again, perhaps unsurprisingly) the Royal Collection of Inconvenient Oddities, with which she is officially affiliated. She catches up on recent events with Collection curator Hippocrates Brunel, and in the course of this conversation, it is hinted that she may be angling to give herself a fairly major promotion.

Big Rat Island[]

A bit later on, the Lucrezia-affiliated Smoke Knight Madwa Korel brings word to Steelgarter that Violetta is still alive, prompting the Englishwoman to plot a quick and covert escape to the island lair of Francisia Monahan, where with the assistance of the clank-housed copy of Lucrezia, the trio manage to get the island's resident Queen's Mirror sort-of working again.

Meanwhile, Agatha leads a group tracking Prende's Chronometric Lantern to the island. In subterranean crypts, Neena and Zeetha discover a depiction of a traditional Skifandrian dance involving, in part, four-armed dancers. When Agatha suggests a connection to Steelgarter, we learn that Skifander had a now-extinct caste of four-armed priestesses called the Yajeena. Of course, since they all died before Zeetha was born (and would not have left their temples anyway) and Neena knows Steelgarter is a member of an old English family, and Zeetha and Neena both know that there's nothing all that special about having four arms, they wouldn't expect that connection to be valid. Agatha is savvy enough to expect the unexpected, though.

Steelgarter's group (sans Korel) also visit the island's lower depths, where Dyne-like water is spewing from some mysterious underground source. When Lucrezia attempts to copy herself into Monahan's brain to achieve Queenhood, Steelgarter assists in restraining the would-be victim after being promised that all of Monahan's Horrible Rats will die. Unfortunately for her, Monahan resists the attack and kicks the Lucrezia-bot into the Dyne-water pool. She then begins her own ascension, being magnanimous enough to allow Steelgarter a chance to flee. It turns out that Lucrezia is still functioning, and as the two would-be Queens battle, Steelgarter does indeed run for it. She is temporarily halted by Prende's Latern, now in the possession of Agatha and Co., but she is obliviously allowed to go on after Violetta does something with a knife to "slow her down".

Skifander[]

What Violetta did to slow her down isn't clear, as Steelgarter doesn't seem to be moving any slower as she arrives back in the Mirror chamber, where she meets the bulk of Agatha's expedition. At first she begs to be allowed to surrender to Albia, but upon seeing that the Mirror has been brought back to full power and is connected with Skifander, she stabs the soldiers restraining her and gleefully charges through, pursued by Mr. Higgs. Immediately the Mirror's power source is disrupted and it shuts off completely, stranding Higgs in Skifander as well.

After passing through the Mirror, she yells derisively something in Skiff referring to Zantabraxus. Hence, while her full story has yet to be revealed (for instance, how she became the sole heir to the Steelgarter fortune), little doubt is left that she is closely connected to the Yajeena.

Others[]

It may be noted that Boris Dolokhov also has four arms, although his additions are explained in secondary material with no reference to Skifander. And again, since Zeetha explains that she didn't connect Steelgarter with the Yajeena because four-armed individuals (among those with similar modifications) are so common in Europa, it seems unlikely that he and Lady Steelgarter share any background.

Possibly relevant outside information[]

"Ariadne" may be a reference on the Foglios' part to the character of the same name from Greek mythology, who is sometimes associated with thread.

At times, Ariadne's hairdo bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the animated character Marge Simpson.

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