An Acolyte is a title given to the soldiers and religious and military specialists of the Drow City-State of Negeémiliel. They are collectively the army and the elites of the city. The only way to become a Citizen of Negeémiliel is to become an acolyte and serve the state. Further, all citizens who no longer serve in the army are theoretically only 'inactive' acolytes.
Much must be sacrificed to become and serve as an acolyte, but great prestige is given as well, as acolytes are the elites in this drow society, and many doors can only be opened by being one. Only about one in ten drow in Negeémiliel may join, and it has become a form of 'aristocratic meritocracy' as traditional acolyte families have an open door policy to the Academy where young girls train. Otherwise, it is a hard gate to pass.
Being an AcolyteEdit
Entering the AcademyEdit
Young drow girls of 10 years old, (aged five years in human equivalent bio-years), are submitted for inclusion into the Academy. Such girls must be healthy and fit, and emotionally strong enough to endure the training. The girls are generally eased into military life for the first years, but it is still a jarring experience for them. Healthy, strong girls of a mother who is a citizen, and with sufficient funds to pay for her daughter's training and equipment, are enrolled with little further question.
It is quite possible for a wealthy commoner to enroll a daughter into the Academy, but the examination of the family's resources and the fitness of the daughter will be far more stringent. There are also only a few slots open every year, so only the best judged of these girls, (or perhaps those who have the greatest bribes paid) may enter into the Academy.
The girls accepted into the Academy are called "the Initiated to Negeé" or just "the initiated" or "initiates". They are trained in military discipline, martial arts, weapons, evaluated for magic ability and training, reading and writing, mathematics and aspects of engineering, and various arts. It takes about 26 years to get through Academy training to graduate as acolytes. Examinations, particularly the martial aspects of hand to hand fighting, weapons, and discipline are tough, and not all girls who are accepted will be able to finish, or successfully graduate.
Unofficial culling also takes place, as the Academy is a place of cliques and hazing. One must get into a clique or be able to endure torment, which could be considerable. Indeed, various classes of initiated girls may carry on rivalry and "wars" with each other in subterfuge. These sort of activities are officially not allowed, but unofficially, are encouraged by Academy administrators, only punishing the initiates involved if they should become exposed. Such escapades might include kidnapping and abusing an initiate from another group. These events are believed to help the girls act as a team and to toughen them up.
Training goes on for 26 years or more, until the girls are adults at the human equivalent of 18 bio-years. (At that point, elven aging slows remarkably). Those initiates who do well will receive various honors and merits, such as becoming student officers, or participating in a temple sacrifice, or even going on an actual campaign with soldiers. These girls become part of an 'officer candidate pool' for consideration for becoming officers. Many will act as student officers for their classes and will later assist in the early training of young initiates. Those who are talented at it will continue to advance to training more older students, and will be awarded a small command upon graduation.
It is not uncommon, indeed, standard, for initiated girls in their last years to accompany acolytes on campaigns as auxiliary soldiers. This is usual for very useful acolytes such as sorceresses and priestesses, to lend their powers to the war at hand and gain experience, and to see if they can stand up to the stress of combat. Usually, these are only back-up positions for support, for example, priestesses being called upon to heal injured soldiers, and to practice first aid in the field.
These 'hands on' exercises and experiences are part of the Acolyte Exam that each Initiated girl must pass to become an acolyte.
Advancements and Some DutiesEdit
Acolytes do not immediately become officers upon graduation. Some will graduate and soon achieve the higher rank of "corporal" with a tiny platoon of fellow acolytes under them. Over time, they will reach sergeant, and then the higher ranks of a true officer after proving themselves worthy.
Known Military ranks and FunctionsEdit
- Initiated: Girls in the Academy "cadets" who go on training missions, or serve as police, occasionally as auxiliary soldiers
- Private: Follow orders
- Private - First Class: More responsibility
- Third Corporal: Command two or three other acolytes
- Second Corporal: More responsibility
- First Corporal: More responsibility
- Sergeant: Command several other acolytes
- Staff Sergeant: Command several other acolytes, Administration
- Sergeant at Arms: Command a subunit
- Mistress-Sergeant: Command a subunit, More responsibility
- Sub-Lieutenant: Might command several acolytes, work in field coordination (speculative)
- Third Lieutenant: Given larger units to coordinate (speculative)
- Second Lieutenant: More responsibility, administration (speculative)
- First Lieutenant: Can command and administrate the entire 150 acolyte unit in absence of a captain
- Captain: Commands and administrates a 150 acolyte unit. Holds the judicial rank of a magistrate, (higher rank than contemporary version)
- Major: Can command and coordinate with multiple units (speculative)
- Lieutenant Colonel: Division administration
- Colonel: Division administration, might command an entire division in the absence of a general (speculative)
- General: Commands an entire division or base. Headquarters command and administration
- Leg of the Spider 1rst definition: (not really a rank as much as a 'rotating' title given to the commander of an army division)
- Leg of the Spider 2nd definition: (not really a rank as much as a political title. A general with this title might command much of the entire Negeémi army in the field as a supreme field commander)
Known Specialist RolesEdit
- Priestess: Various, defensive and healing emphasized over offensive spells. Theological and ritual knowledge as a member of the clergy, serve as medics in the field.
- Priestess of War: Various, Offensive Magic and Defensive Magic, theological knowledge, focused more on combat as 'walking artillery pieces'.
- Sorceress: Various, Offensive Magic Primarily (speculation). Holders of the title are usually of families of Erehel ethnic descent, still have some religious connotations, but are much more secular in outlook, and wear different uniforms than the priestesses.
Priestesses and Sorceresses usually do not wear much armor other than the laminated silk boots and arm guards, or other cloth or leather protection. Metal might interfere with their aura spells (speculation). They rely much more on protective magic aura shields or their agility than their protective armor.
- Magic User Soldiers: As initiated, the girls are tested for magic manipulation, and some do have usable capabilities in wielding magic, but not enough to become a priestess or sorceress, or possess a wide range of spell capabilities either. These acolytes are trained to use what power they have and to fight with the infantry, but have minor offensive magic using reagents in bottles or powder as well as mundane weapons. They can cast flames using alchemical powders, or use bottles containing liquids as small bombs. There are maybe two of these for every priestess or sorceress in a unit. They can wear armor and use weapons as any other acolyte.
- Cavalry: Some acolytes ride bipedal Kazaaks which are essentially tamed 'raptor dinosaur' type creatures. It is unknown if there is an entire mounted group or division, or if one unit in a division is a cavalry unit, or if there is another organization for these mounted soldiers altogether.
It is possible for acolytes to rise due to good effort and intelligence in the field. Ivoyn Cheylrra became a corporal as a result of a good idea that she both had and a dangerous solo mission that she executed.
Long serving acolytes who make a career of the military long beyond mandatory service are likely to achieve the rank of Mistress-Sergeant, and possibly beyond.
Time of Mandatory ServiceEdit
- 10 to 36 -- Equivalent of 5 to 18 in human bio years. Training to become acolytes. Senior initiated girls act as police or auxiliary soldiers.
- 36 to 38 -- Police duty following graduation, or auxiliary service with the unit. Depends on circumstances. Marriage and children are not allowed.
- 39 to 72 -- Active duty with few leaves. Consists of marching up and down the underground tunnel world of Kazrrad on campaigns and to quell any disturbances. Marriage and children are not allowed.
- 73 to 120 -- More leaves possible, marriage and children become allowed, although often discouraged. Could be placed on administrative duties if pregnant.
Career acolytes may continue to serve for as long as they are physically able to do so. Being elves, that may continue to be a long time. Such careerists have considerably more freedom to request leaves and long-term leaves, to work administrative or police duties, live at home if able, and to be part of the military reserve while pursuing private interests.
Weapons and ArmorEdit
The Acolytes are trained to use spears of a length taller than a drow's height. Like most militaries, the Negeémi drow operate on the concept of controlling a battle line, in which their spears (with a cross bar) serves as their principal weapon. Given the tunnel nature of the subterranean world of Kazrrad, being able to block choke points is a common tactic. The importance of this makes the reasons why the advanced civilizations of Kazrrad are focused so stringently on excellence in their warriors, so as to hold a line across a tunnel's chokepoint, or the gate to a city or town wall.
For melee fights, the Negeémi acolytes use swords of various lengths or styles. There is considerably less standardization in the use of melee weapons. Other weapons might be used, such as hooks and bolo weight and chains. The ranged weapons are fairly standardized as light crossbows.
The Negeémi acolytes use light, cloth or leather armor for every day wear as 'ceremonial' armor. This 'armor' is quite skimpy, and provides most protection for the neck or shoulders as protective leather yokes or chainmail 'tops' provides protection from attacks coming from above and going down to the shoulders or the chest from attacks angling from above.
Acolytes in 'ceremonial' armor also wear either leather or spider silk laminated cloth armor over most of their legs and arms. The silk cloth is multi layers thick, woven together, with hardened paste material in-between the silk layers. The arm guards and leggings are not particularly good armor, but is light, airy, and insulated and provide far more protection than might be expected from just silk cloth. The uniforms are made from specialized weaving techniques, and possibly a use of constructive magic to manufacture them.
When the Negeémi Drow march into a battle, they wear finely wrought chainmail and sometimes pieces of plate armor over their regular uniforms. They also wear a helmet for head protection. The metal and armor work is superior to most examples of surface blacksmith craft.
Acolyte uniforms are often variable, as they are made by different shops with some minor differences in design or materials by the production shop, or based on the acolyte's trained function in a platoon, or the acolyte's ability to pay for quality. It should be noted that the individual acolytes, or their families, are responsible for purchasing their own gear. Some acolytes will therefore wear cheaper alternatives for everyday uniforms, but there is rarely any doubt that an acolyte soldier is just that, however. Forged armors and weapons may be even more varied as they are much more expensive, some acolytes will use more laminated silk cloth armor beyond the leggings and arm guards as a cheaper alternative.
Concerns about expense is a primary reason why the initiated girls must come from families that have some considerable financial means. It is largely a barrier to the commoner families who want to send their daughters to the Academy so that they can become citizens one day. However, being an acolyte and citizen is no guarantee of wealth, and so, less wealthy acolyte families are sometimes faced with the financial burden as an obstacle as well, often making arranged marriages or other deals to finance an Acolyte education and gear.
When the city achieved independence in 480 a.a.H., the lower class "Negeél drow took control over the previously superior Erehel drow, and the city's name became Negeémiliel, with the ancient war goddess of Negeé becoming the matron goddess of the city. There was a sense to the Negeél that they were now to serve the new matron goddess, hence they called themselves "acolytes", and made service and merit very important to achieving power. Protecting the newly won independence of the State was very important. As time went by, Negeémiliel would conquer other drow with a related culture and people, including the old city of Erehel-Sinu that they had gained independence from.
The old Erehel magic users would no longer be called "priestesses", but would now become "sorceresses". This is a cultural distinction that still persists, strongly suggesting that the families that spawn sorceresses are of the old Erehel lineage, but such cut and dry categorization has also faded over two millinea. Even with the long elven generations, much ethnic mixing has taken place, and the old ethnic divisions are not so important as most Erehel have faded into the Acolyte Class or the populace of the city-state.
As time has gone by, the acolytes have become elites of the culture, they still must earn the status through training and service, but feel entitled as a result. Traditional acolyte families have access to the Academy for their future generations. Acolytes and even initiates are willing to abuse the system where they have police power.