Ardea is a Demonfolk girl born in the Demonworld as the sole child of the Fire Demon King. Possessing prodigious talent and an exceptionally powerful demonic aura, she was thought to be a demonfolk with the potential to become a Devil. At the very least, she would make for an excellent warrior and soldier and so as soon as she was physically able, her father ordered her training to begin so she could further grow and control her power. All of her early years were spent training so as to become the perfect demon soldier: fearless, loyal and powerful. Ardea did not disappoint her father and she was still a child when he ordered her Trial to become an officer in the royal army. For most, this would usually include fighting another elite soldier in a battle to the death, but for Ardea, the challenge was different. Her challenge would include a large-scale 'battle royal' against five hundred other talented youths from the Fire Kingdom. If any one of those youths could kill Ardea, they would be rewarded with not only her place in the royal army but would take her place as the 'child of the King' as well. With such an incentive, there was a tremendous bounty on her head and as soon as the challenge began, she was swarmed.
Up to that moment, the depths of Ardea's power had not been revealed, but in the instant that she was swarmed, the next would literally send a shockwave through the entire Demonworld. In a massive explosion of light and heat, five hundred young lives were sacrificed, vaporized in an instant. Among the smoldering remains, Ardea was recovered, unconscious, among a bed of ash. After this incident, she would be known throughout Demonworld as the 'Ash Princess.' But not all were particularly excited about Ardea's display. The King was among those made the most anxious by it for as the world shook and trembled, so too did he. He knew such power would bring doubt to his own and his Right to Rule would be questioned. Kingdoms, after all, were not 'inherited' but 'taken.' Ardea's injuries were extensive, the explosion had very nearly killed her as well. Placed in a medical tank to heal from her burns, she remained unconscious and so the King decided to enact his plan. A curse was placed on the Ash Princess, one that would seal off her terrible sleeping power. Furthermore, she was not made a member of the royal army and her training was cut. Beyond those who would instruct her, only a maid was tasked with caring for the princess's needs. Contact with the outside was effectively minimized. She became a virtual prisoner in the castle.
Not for the life of her could Ardea understand the cause of her father's sudden change in behavior and the rift between them grew. In contrast, Ardea grew closer to the maid placed to serve her as it was the only consistent contact she had with another being, but the King would grow suspicious of even that much. He grew more paranoid as time progressed, but the seal remained in effect. A side-effect of the curse prevented Ardea's physical growth and she remained in her small body. And then, one day, his suspicions grew too large to be kept in his own head or among his inner circle. On charges of plotting against the royal family, he brought the maid into his throne room and ordered Ardea to prove her remaining loyalty by killing the maid herself. If she did so, he would remove the curse and reinstate her privileges. Ardea understood that refusal would equal her own death sentence, but yet still her answer was a firm "No." Her maid had often asked her what it was that she wanted to do and that she should 'believe in herself' more. For the first time in her life, Ardea made a decision for herself and for that her father disowned her, ordering his soldiers to execute them both as traitors guilty of conspiracy and treason. With her limited power, Ardea could not fight her way out, but she had enough confidence in her ability to escape. The maid, however, was less so. She was sure that Ardea could get away, but not if she had to worry about protecting her and so, using every ounce of her power, she transported the girl, who she grew to think of as her own daughter as far away from the kingdom as she could. It happened so fast that Ardea could not actually react in time to object and she found herself on the outskirts of the kingdom. Word hadn't reached that far yet so she was able to escape the soldiers stationed there, but that sacrifice was only the prologue to Ardea's journey.
She had escaped the threat of her father, a banished a disowned princess, but that did not mean she was safe. Beyond the borders of the territories of warlords and Kingdoms was a land ruled by the Old Law: Survival of the Fittest. Once word had gotten out about her fate, many powerful demonfolk swarmed the area seeking to test their might against the Ash Princess or in some cases to enslave her, hearing whispers of her weakened state. There was also the threat of running into an exceptionally powerful Demonbeast and being eaten. The first to make contact with her was a mysterious couple named Laura and Balor, both Devils. Mysteriously, they claimed they were there to help her, but while even they could do nothing about the curse placed on her, they did offer to retrain the young girl, teach her new survival tactics, weapon training and so on. With no other real option, Ardea accepted. Their training methods were different than the brutal tireless bouts she had been placed through before. Instead of forcing her strength to grow, they focused on her actually being able to master it. Her small size limited her physical strength, but she had nimbleness in return. To be quick and flexible was what she was taught. The weight difference between her and most other demons would be too large and she was warned about getting into bouts of physical strength since she would lose if she got pinned down. On the other hand, her demonic aura was still potent and her flame manipulation skills were very easy to master. She was taught, however, to use fire more defensively instead of being purely offensive. Fire demons were known for their aggression so, against other fire demons, defensive moves would be incredibly helpful. She was also taught to truly manipulate the flames, to shape them as she wished. One other thing she was taught was the 'Demonic Puppetry' magic that allowed her to remotely control 'dolls' in her image and power. With her talent in controlling her demonic energy, learning this high-level skill was easier than it would have been otherwise. Finally, the very last thing and perhaps the most important lesson she learned was the concept of a 'family'. Over the course of the time she spent with Laura and Balor, she began to see them as substitute parents and she was positive they thought of her the same way, but as soon as she had all but confirmed those thoughts, the Devilish pair vanished without a word. Later, she would track down Balor who informed her that the cause of their leaving was so as not to impede on her growth. He promised they would meet again when she achieved the same power as they did.
To her surprise, she had grown far stronger than she anticipated. A simple 'game' of tag between her and her two mentors more than illustrated the difference in speed, but when matched against other demons, suddenly they were the ones moving in slow motion. Her defensive use in fire allowed for much easier battles and her demonic puppetry allowed her to gather things and survey her surroundings from a safe spot. All those lessons proved to be invaluable as she made her way across Demonworld searching for a way to break her curse. Through the course of her travels she would encounter many different people, but though she gained some friends, she quickly would seem to lose them. She began to wonder if she was destined to be alone and without realizing it, developed a fear of being abandoned. At perhaps her weakest, she encountered a wolf demon named Akira. Another Devil, but with circumstances like her own, she decided to pair up with him and made another pivotal choice in her life to seduce him. For a few years, they lived together and it was good enough that Ardea forgot all about the curse that had been placed on her. But as time went on, their relationship suddenly strained once again. She could feel her place slipping away and eventually, as she feared, she was left alone again. Immediately following that break-up was a period of depression. She wondered if there really was a point to living other than fighting and her belief in herself had waned to the point where she considered slavery if it meant not being alone anymore. Ah, but there she realized it. She just didn't want to be alone. What did she want? She wanted a friend. A real friend. The Demonworld, she figured, had no such thing and so she decided to go to the only place that did: to Earth, the world of humans. She decided to put her blue period behind her and go to Earth to find a real friend.
[A Curious Human City; Best Friend]
Her arrival in the Human World was not a very smooth transition. She had learned all she could about the place and had prepared herself so she understood the languages and basic concepts of the world so she wouldn't be completely lost. She arrived in a port city in America called Union City. She was only interested in finding a human to befriend, but almost immediately she found herself being accosted by local demons. Weaker than their Demonfolk counterparts, they far more intelligent and social, but perhaps a little too social. The demons in the city were up to something big which was the reason for the bridge between dimensions being as weak as it was. The humans were also under some kind of mysterious drug being peddled by the humans, but there was one human among them who had avoided their mind control and was even investigating them. They met by chance in a park, Ardea was drawn to the human's guitar playing and from there learned her own interest in music. It was a short meeting, but they became fast friends. Naturally, their parallel investigations eventually crossed again when the other demons in the city decided they were both being a burden. In order to protect her new friend, Ardea rose to challenge the underground, eventually making their way to the mastermind of the plot: a beautiful succubus manipulating a businessman to open a portal to the Demonworld so her coven on the other side could take over the human city as their own. However, after revealing the plot and putting a stop to the plan before the portal opened completely, the succubus abandoned her plan. In the aftermath, Ardea and her human friend became the de-facto 'heroes' of the city at least as far as the supernatural side went.
It was truly everything and more than she could have ever wished for. Ardea had made a friend and they played together every day, even going so far as to make a band and go on to win a competition. Every day was filled with some kind of adventure large and small and before she even realized it, three years had passed. It was around that time that Ardea felt her feelings toward that human begin to change. She didn't quite understand it at first, but when she was confronted with the prospect of that human getting a lover, she found the thought disagreeable. Nevertheless, she kept her opinions to herself so she could support them and began to consider doing the same. It was at that moment that a certain Drow entered the city. Aware of her identity as the 'Ash Princess,' the Drow surprisingly did not come to fight, but to ask her to be his lover. She disliked the idea at first, but a few more meetings convinced her to agree. She should have been wiser, but her old pains had been distracting her. In the end, it was revealed that this Drow was a psychotic, murderous elf working for a psychotic, homicidal spider queen, adding to the list of creatures she despised. He had also managed to get on good terms with her human friend which further complicated their relationship when she learned of his scheme to use her to gain entry to the Demonworld so he could lead his Queen's army for a surprise attack. Ardea was no fan of the demons, but she detested the fact that she had been tricked and then further ridiculed. But just as she was catching up with that Drow, she learned that her human friend was in danger. She rushed over to help as fast as she could.
Arriving in time, Ardea quickly dispatched those who had been sent to harass her friend. But the Drow had gone too far now. For the first time, Ardea decided to make someone her personal enemy. She would not rest until that Drow was burned to a crisp. She had to venture back into Demon World in order to do so. Which also meant she had to leave her friend behind. Before she did, she confessed her feelings. Accepting the fact that she had fallen in love. For the longest time she had been questioning what she should use her power for, if a demon raised to be a killer, who had killed so many, could be allowed to love and in accepting that and letting go of her fears of abandonment, a fundamental change occurred within her. Ardea awakened to the vainglorious power of a Devil, breaking the curse placed on her. Unfortunately, her ascension permanently locked her physical appearance as it was, meaning she would remain a small youthful girl forever, but that was the least of her concerns. She left the city in the hands of her human friend and demon allies and crossed back over into the Demonworld where she met up with Laura and Balor, fulfilling their promise of long ago. And not just them, but other Devils and beings from the 'Abyss' rose up in opposition to the Drow invasion fighting solely to keep their own interests a factor. A long war waged that would see the rise and fall of many powerful demons. Ardea would finally repay the debt she had to that Drow who had caused all the trouble and the invasion was successfully repelled. However, at the end of it all, Heaven's Authority put in place a stronger barrier between worlds to make sure such a thing never happened again. Ardea was permanently stuck on that side.
[Endless Way; Goodbyes and Farewells]
Though stuck, Ardea was not completely out of options. According to Laura, there was one way she could get back to Earth, but it was beyond risky even for a Devil and at worse, she could end up stuck in limbo for the rest of time. Ardea chose to accept it anyway. She was led then to a certain cave in the Abyss of Demonworld called Endless Way. It was said to be a cave that, because of the horribly powerful Aura of the Abyss was so twisted that space and time were distorted. Theoretically, it allowed one to cross dimensions, but it only operated one way. Those who 'went over' never came back. And yet, Ardea dared to risk it. Her belief stronger than ever that she would meet her friend once more, she never once stopped walking, and for a time that truly did feel like an eternity, she finally heard it. As if the voice she had kept in her heart was speaking out, she heard her friend's unmistakable voice and passed through a wall of white. She found herself in a hospital room, some seventy years later after she had left Human World. And her friend, now old, was laying in a hospital. Feeling her friend's spirit just about to slip away, Ardea resolved herself to fulfill one more arbitrary promise she made. "I'll drag your soul back out of the afterlife if I have to." was something she said once or twice in jest, but with the power, she had now she sought to do the one thing she felt then she had gained the power to do. Choosing to sacrifice her power, she gave half of her Devil Heart to her friend, the immense power contained within fused with the human and in a fantastic flash of light, returned the human back to an infant. Certain that they would meet again someday, Ardea brought the baby to an orphanage in another city to be raised there.
As a direct result of giving up her Devil powers, Ardea lost the great power she had and returned to little more than a weak, low-level fire demon with barely enough power to produce fire. However, in return, her growth cycle resumed, allowing her to age properly. Seeking to live a quieter life now, she returned to her solitary reclusive ways, settling down on the outskirts, intent on living a peaceful life for as long as she could. Since then, roughly ten years have passed...