Before the book began, Arissa conspired with the churchman Annias to make love to her weak-willed brother Aldreas so they will effectively rule the kingdom together. Annias even found a ‘document’ saying that incestuous marriage is allowed! Their plan is foiled, however, by the knight Sparhawk and Aldreas is forced to marry his daughter Ehlana’s future mother. Arissa flies into a rage hearing this and hides in a brothel where she becomes a prostitute. She is found as she is recognised because she has slept with most people within the city of Cimmura and is dragged out and confined in a Cloister at Demos. Annias arranges for Arissa to be freed temporarily and she is taken to Aldreas nude; they make love. The scheming seductress poisons Aldreas and wickedly tells him their plan; she leaves him to die. Ehlana was about three years old at the time. IT is later revealed in the sequel series,The Tamul, when Arissa is dead, that she was helping a styric named Zalasta in his bid to steal the Bhelliom. She, at the tender age of twelve, seduced Annias herself, at this point in time a virtuous priest. Annias is overcome with remorse, together she and Zalasta corrupt him.
Around 15 years later, Arissa is nearing forty years old but age has barely touched her. Sparhawk and the Patriarch Dolmant visit her to find out if she was married to someone and if Lycheas was their son; although they don’t tell her about the latter. This is part of a convoluted scheme created by Annias to legitimise Lycheas while Queen Ehlana is incapacitated in crystal. Arissa says they weren’t married but in her attempt to humiliate them by refusing to sign a paper telling them that it isn’t true she forgets that Dolmant is a churchman and sparhawk is a representative of the Queen so they can confirm it without her.
Aldreas later, when they visit his crypt, reveals that Arissa was the one who murdered him.
In book three when Lycheas has been captured they bring him to Arissa where they arrest her as well because of her part in the scheme involving Annias and Martel, the other main human antagonist. They are chained up and a nun expresses mercy on their evil souls.
However, Martel Later reveals he freed Arissa and Lycheas and killed all the nuns in the convent. It is possible that Arissa had a hand in the killing. It is implied that she and Martel made love to each-other.
Annias later contemptuously calls Arissa a harlot, showing that he didn’t love her and was only using her to get power.
She seen in person when Sparhawk and his allies use the Styric goddess Aphrael to stop time so they can catch up with the rogues. Arissa is shown to have a hatred of Martel, as he refers to her son Lycheas as an eel. She and her allies panic and flee when Sparhawk suddenly appears behind them.
Eventually Arissa, Annias, Martel, Lycheas and Adus, their bodyguard, make it to the palace of Otha, the emperor of Zemoch to meet Otha and Azash, the god of the Zemochs. This is so Martel will become emperor of most of the world and Annias will become head of the church. When Sparhawk and his allies arrive, they are in a protective shield created by Otha. Arissa is shown to be terrified of the god Azas, staring in horror at his misshapen face. She is seen retching uncontrollably when a dying Azash kills Azash and Otha by wringing them like a tea-towel. When the shield breaks, Arissa and Lycheas, now the only surviving villains try to escape down the stairs. Lycheas betrays his mother by leaving her behind, but is quickly beheaded by Ulath’s axe. Desperately trying to escape death, Arissa commits suicide by drinking poison, the same fate as Aldreas. While she is dying, she realises that it was a bad idea and asks for Sephrenia, the Styric sorceress, to save her. Sephrenia coldly rebukes her and leaves her dying on the steps.