Ari, as she prefers being called as opposed to her real name Arianna, was born from a forbidden union between a Circle mage named Samsara and a templar named Ser Percival. The moment she was born in the Lake Calenhad Circle Tower, she was taken away from her mother and to be moved to another Circle where she would be raised, never to see either of her birth parents again. However, Ser Percival was able to intercept the templars carrying his daughter and passed her along to a farming couple, Harold and Nicole Wolfe, near Redcliffe, whom had been trying for years to conceive a child.
As Ari grew up, she believed Harold and Nicole were her real parents. One day, she discovered she was a mage and became determined to master her powers, though she kept her abilities a secret from Harold and Nicole. However, they eventually discovered she was a mage, but also agreed in keeping her powers a secret, not wanting to lose her to the Circle. Because they did not know any mages who could mentor her, Ari was forced to teach herself how to master her powers, which took some time as she mostly learned through trial and error and by reading books. Despite lacking a proper mentor, she was able to ward off demons and resist their temptations, having read what could happen should one fall victim to them.
While she trained, she continued to aid Harold in farm work, during which he taught her not to use magic as a means to cut through hard work as a shortcut. She specialized in elemental, primal and force magic while also studying the healing arts.
When the mage-templar war broke out in 9:40 Dragon Age, mages began being hunted by templars. One child in her village was discovered to be a mage and when the templars attacked him, he turned into an abomination in desperation. During the chaos, her mage powers were discovered by templars and Ari was forced to flee Redcliffe, leaving Harold and Nicole behind.
While on the run from templars, Ari first encountered Sere, a female kossith and Tal-Vashoth. The two agreed to travel together and eventually formed a strong bond with each other while Sere also trained Ari how to fight. During their travels, the two were attacked and robbed by Theron and Julia, a brother-sister rogue duo, who eventually joined their traveling group.