The Initiated to Negeé or initiates are the young girls that the Drow City-State of Negeémiliel in Kazrrad have placed into the Academy of the city so as to teach them to each become a new Acolyte. Most of these initiated girls are children of current acolytes, and a few are from wealthy commoners who were fortunate to place daughters into the Academy, hoping that their daughters will become future acolytes and citizens.
Description of an Initiated GirlEdit
The Initiated are drow girls (with a very few exceptions only females are eligible) that are at the ages of 10 to 36 years old, which corresponds to a human equivalent of 5 to 18 years in bio-years relative to human aging. They are most likely from the elite class of acolytes, but a small trickle of new girls entering the gates of the Academy are from wealthy commoner families.
The girls may physically have considerable differences, but must be sound of body sufficiently to pass various physical tests, and intelligent enough to pass the schooling. Acolytes are meant to be elite fighters, and proficient in many different skills. Also, the girls receive the social training to help them navigate their way in the drow society of Negeémiliel in their futures. But regimentation that they receive in the Academy will provide the structure for much of the girls' future lives.
The initiated wear silk clothes that look like silk sports clothes. A white short sleeved silk shirt and a black bloomer. The girls might wear some variation of an integrated shoe and stocking boot much like some acolytes might wear. The uniform doesn't change much as the girls get older.
Initiates are tested for magic potential, and those who pass are given the special training to turn them into future priestesses or sorceresses. They originally wear the same uniform as the rest of the initiates for most of their years, but the priestesses will come to wear a junior version of the robe-like hooded coat of the graduated acolyte priestess in their last years as senior initiates. Some junior priestesses might wear a red kerchief that has some significance, probably regarding healing magic or medical skills? (speculation based on Laeh'le Dahl'Arak having worn one. The junior priestess that Maylara Maltree captured on her Temple of Doom infiltration mission also had such a kerchief as apparently sometimes part of her uniform as well).
Initiates in their final years before taking their final exams and graduating spend practical time in military service as auxiliary troops. They occasionally serve and fight on the battlefield. The family of the initiate will have ideally provided a battle armor for the initiated girl by this time. The armor will have some form of white shirt worn over the mail and a green great coat as well, the green and white identifying the soldier as an initiated.
Entering the AcademyEdit
Young drow girls of 10 years old, (aged five years in human equivalent bio-years), (but sometimes years older, if a girl's mother feels that her daughter would benefit from a delay of a few 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. Even so, the growth of the city-state and the wealth of the hegemony has opened many more doors for the newly wealthy than in previous centuries.
Every year, a few hundred new girls are enrolled into the Academy and are divided into smaller groups, with groups being assigned into units that are forming over the years. These units will one day become a new active unit of acolytes as most of the initiates graduate into adult acolytes, or as senior initiated with few years left. This happens more or less concurrently as an older unit becomes phased out of constant duty, to become more of a reserve unit, and then later being phased out altogether. So, from the time they were young initiated drowlings, acolytes might serve alongside the same drow for over a century of their lives.
Of course, it should be noted that events may not be so simplistic, many graduated girls may be reassigned to an already active unit as reorganization to make up for lost acolytes. Many of the initiated girls who were in the early officer training pool may also be reassigned elsewhere upon graduating. As Negeémiliel has grown, more units have been created, and left in reserve longer before retiring.
The girls accepted into the Academy 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 using their magic, and to practice first aid in the field. Infantry usually serving with wagons, or pulling wounded from the field, or killing wounded soldiers in some circumstances, guarding captives, or marching forward from the back.
Training in the Academy culminates in the Acolyte Exam, a series of tests that takes about two years to prove that each initiated girl takes to prove that she has learned the lessons and become mistress of the techniques and disciplines taught to her.
- About the Picture, "Marching with Drow": The disguised Hebonnor Mountain Elf, Neroe Rhedyn, disguised as a priestess, with two initiated junior priestesses beside her, and a younger initiated girl to the far left. Priestesses start to wear junior priestess cloaks some years before graduation and go out onto the battlefield in support positions as part of their training. The younger initiated is there at the behest of her mother, a priestess, to gain early war time experience.
Noted Social DeficienciesEdit
An acolyte is called upon to make great sacrifices of youth and quite possibly life and limb in service to the Negeémiliel State. They are generally the daughters of acolytes and have undergone the struggle to become members of the elite class, they are invested with police powers as well. This tends to give them a sense of entitlement and power which might tempt them to abuse their positions for corrupt benefit.
This is a problem that might begin early, even with the initiated girls in the Academy, taking liberties that they should not, with little fear of being called to account for their misdeeds. Commoners seeing initiates as nearly untouchable as their adult counterparts, the acolytes. It should also be noted that the regimented structure of the Academy, but also the hazing and cliques that it engenders, also contribute to the initiated girls to run wild when off the Academy grounds on leave. Being tormented on the street by badly behaving initiated girls is a fear of many commoners, with little risk for the young troublemakers, unless they should unknowingly bother a citizen or a powerful or well connected commoner.
It is also been speculated that despite their considerable training and honing of their wills, that a lifetime of regimented discipline and military structure, specialized skills and emotional dependence of long time Academy and army mates, may cause considerable "institutionalization". Cut off from the city-state empire that gives them succor and their elite status, acolytes might be easily crushed. This is a speculated psychological effect as seen in the story of the Drow Trio.
The Initiated as VictimsEdit
For many generations, the figure of these initiated schoolgirls going to and from the various grounds that represent the institution of the Academy were a familiar sight in Negeémiliel. The girls generally were perfectly safe as they generally were praised rather than vilified, even if they became more feared as centuries rolled by, and punishments for assaulting them were severe. However, as the city of Negeémiliel grew, and the distinctions between wealthy and poor widened, with many poor and hungry people, and growing slavery, the acolyte class became increasingly hated and envied by commoners. Surely corruption and abuse of power did little to help the situation.
The Cult of the FlowerEdit
The rise of the violent and often criminal Cult of the Flower (and of increasing hunger and political intrigue) in the early 25th Century a.a.H. provided an outlet for anger of the commoners towards the acolytes of the uncaring goddess Negeé. The arrival of the Jabharil Church, its attention to the poor and its opposition to city's matron goddess made the new religion ever more popular, and became a magnet for those wanting to incite opposition and change on the ruling class of the city. Street demonstrations, violence and even street battles between adherents to the faiths of Jabharil the foreign Goddess of Love, and Negeé the matron Goddess of War became commonplace, with battles even turning against the patrols of acolytes who opposed this growing chaos.
The training and military teamwork of the acolytes made them virtually unassailable for the untrained Fanatics of Jabharil of the Cult of the Flower. But the common event of the initiated girls who came and went often singly or in small numbers between their homes and the Academy grounds made for a tempting target. The fanatics of the Cult of the Flower had become sympathetic enough to elements of the public, and even the initiated so feared and hated, that the initiated girls were terribly vulnerable. Many were kidnapped as a means to attack the acolyte class this way, or even just beaten or murdered on the streets in front of witnesses who rarely lifted a finger or voice to help the girls meant to be their peoples' future soldiers.
So ingrained were the traditions of the acolytes and the need for initiated girls to make their journeys through the city unafraid, that the acolyte authorities were amazingly slow to respond to this threat to their children. As of the year 2428 a.a.H., initiated girls were travelling in much larger groups, or had a senior initiated girl, or even acolytes with them on the streets. Only the girls' mothers, or other responsible female adults being allowed to escort the girls from the Academy. Eventually, as the city was spiraling into civil war, the functions and training of the Academy was all but disrupted with girls either remaining in the Academy for protection, or remaining at home, as there was scant safety anywhere.