Laeh’le, exhausted, fell in her knees by the side of other of the acolytes defending the barricade to the temple festival square.
By her side, the young acolyte was shivering, staring at a point lost beyond the Temple’s walls.
“Here, drink some water” Laeh’le said to the shivering acolyte.
The acolyte drank the last drops of water of Laeh’le’s boot.
“What was your name?”
Zisrith” mumbled the girl. It was Liriel, the younger sister of the long lost Milvais, thought Laeh’le. As she looked over the barricade, she sighed. She would have liked to have by her side in an occasion like this Milvais and the other ones. Laeh’le sighed.
Laeh’le remembered how difficult her first battle was: a skirmish against some dwarven sappers of Nortunk, in a narrow tunnel as they had to dig a counter-mine to stop the Nortunk dwarves advance. That first fight -just a minor skirmish- still gave her sometimes nightmares. She couldn’t but think what was going across the young acolyte mind, as her first battle was instead a civil war, where sister fought sister, and acolyte against acolyte, in the same streets and houses where she was raised.
The Temple of Doom was the oldest building of Negeémiliel: it wasn’t just the oldest one, but it was the first building of the city, as Negeémiliel was founded around the temple-fortress of the Temple of Doom, that was builded by their ancient metropolis of Erehel’Sinu, to guard the then single bridge over the Abyss of Doom.
In the following centuries, and specially after independence of Negeémiliel of their old metropolis, the city expanded beyond their original limits, and the temple, once the door of entrance to Negeémiliel, became the hearth of the city, due both being in the center of the city, and being the spiritual center of the southern drow empire.
Despise the centuries and it’s role as main temple of the Goddess, the Temple of Doom never lost it’s status as a fortress, being garrisoned and guarded, being really a citadel, rather than a single temple.
However, due the centuries of peace, there where some weaknesses in the fortress: weaknesses that had been exploited in the past, to kill the High Sorceress Khariel –in what seemed to be now, the firsts steps done by the Populist Faction in their movements to seize the power of the city-, and now, weaknesses the forces of the Senatorial faction used to storm the Temple of Doom, and take it by surprise.
Now, the Populist attempt of seizing the government of Negeémiliel by a coup d’etat was cut out only as a conspiracy, by the execution of their own movement by the senatorials, lead by General Dahl’Arak.
Now, the head of the snake had been cut off: as the senatorial forces that have been infiltrated in the city in the preliminary movements by the General seized control of the Temple of Doom, the High Council chamber, the Academy of Negeé, the Bridges of Doom and the Gates to the Fallen Doors, taking by surprise the Populists leaders of the conspirancy, as the General Dahl’Arak said, didn’t mean the end of it.
The Head of the Snake had been cut off, but the body of it still will struggle for long, before it realizes it is already dead… and now, the Senatorial Faction needed to survive the snake’s body, and avoid to be constricted in the coils of the snake.
Because General Dahl’Arak didn’t fooled herself: the time of politics had passed, and now, it was the civil war: how long it will last, it only depended of their ability.
“Kill now, so you will not need to kill again later” said one of the officers of Dahl’Arak in a secret council, as the final preparations where made.
Maylara sighed. She was exhausted.
While she had been living in the underground for months now, she couldn’t but still measure time in days and nights. And she calculated, that since the beginning of the battle, at least more than three days have passed. Three days without sleep, and only some dried cookie crumbles as food, defending the southern barricade.
Even more time since a decent meal, and before the storming of the Temple of Doom.
“Dahl’Arak will come” one acolyte said to the other.
“She is on her way. She will come” said other of the acolytes holding the line.
Matlara prepared for one more time the crossbow. In the other side of the festival’s square, they could hear the populists gathering for other assault.
The assault of the Temple of Doom went as planed. For the couriers of the first hours, they could as well learn that Captain Lo’Kee was as well successful in seizing the High and Lower Council building, and most of the other senatorials groups seized the various designed points across the city.
The leaders of the conspiracy where either dead or captured, and for a moment, Maylara hoped that this would be the end of her adventures in the drow city state of Negeémiliel.
However, while the leaders of the conspiracy had fallen, not all of the conspirators where ready to accept defeat. Dahl’Arak’s army was marching at double speed from the Fallen Doors to reach Negeémiliel, and only a handful of senatorial acolytes where in their way.
The middle ranks and low level officers of the populists decided to gamble all they had: and so, they gathered their forces, to try to take back the lost strong points along the city to the surprise attack done by the senatorials.
As well, the Cult of the Flower knew that their luck was tied with the one of the Populist Faction: And so, the Temple of Jabharil, goddess of love, gathered their followers.
As the Acolytes where divided and fighting each other, and with the fanatics and sentries of Jabharil launching a series of violent offensives to the strong points where the senatorials had barricaded themselves, waiting for the arrival of the army of General Dahl’Arak, the city had fallen in a lawless anarchy.
Without the acolytes to perform the police duties, or fighting each other and trying to convince some commoners to join the fight, the lower classes of Negeémiliel, the hungry and the poor, the ones left beside by a system they resented, take the opportunity to storm the wealthier commoner and citizens neighborhoods, in a violent mob who destroyed and sacked in their path, regardless of who owned the sacked houses supported the senatorials or the populists.
Acolyte fought acolyte, commoners acolytes, and commoners other commoners: the followers of Negeé, against the followers of Jabharil.
The market was sacked, and so was many of the looms, symbols and means of the wealth of the richer.
While the Populist faction acolytes, supported by thousands of fanatics of the Cult of the Flower, assaulted the Temple of Doom, the Gates, the Council building and the Academy of war, poor commoners stormed the merchants neighborhood, where the non-drow traders lived, realizing a purge and killing all the non-drow, regardless of their social status.
“Dahl’Arak will come” said other of the acolytes of the barricade, as the tired defenders looked to young priestess Dahl’Arak, the younger of the daughters of the general.
With their looks, they seemed to question Laeh’le Dahl’Arak: Will the General Come?
Laeh’le knew no more than them. Since the fighting begun, they hadn’t been capable to contact the other senatorial groups barricaded within the city. As the couriers they send failed to return, Priestess Dahl’Arak (the old) decided to stop sending them. It was a waste of good women, that they needed to defend the Temple of Doom.
Despise of that, the acolytes of the southern barricade looked with inquisitory eyes to Laeh’le. She was the daughter of the general… surely she will know?
“The General will come” Laeh’le reassured, as she stood, having at her side the shivering Zisrith. She looked then over the barricade, to the festivals square and beyond, to the city.
They hadn’t any news about the other groups of senatorials for many cycles. No one knew how much will take Dahl’Arak to finally reach the city, or if the populists where capable of seizing back the gates of the city, to avoid the General and her army to enter in the city.
Neither they knew, if the populists would try to use some of the other gates they controlled, to try to further delay the approach of Dahl’Arak.
They feared what could be happening to their families and their homes, that where there in the city that had sunken into chaos.
They could only see from over the barricades the festivals square that was to the south of the Temple of Doom, littered with bodies of previous populists assaults, and beyond, the ruined houses where the Cult of the Flower was preparing for a new assault. They could smell the acrid smell of the smoke, but not much more.
Once more time, a crossbow mechanism was triggered.
“Back on your feet. They come again” Maylara said, as she re-loaded her crossbow.
The Temple of Doom, as said, was a fortress: but centuries of peace, had made it weaker, as the successive High Sorceress made it some modifications to it original design, to make easier to fulfill the religious role of the Temple. And in the south of the Temple, where it looked to the festivals square, the armored gates where once replaced, centuries ago, by beautifully ornamented doors of imported and costly wood. These large wooden doors helped the temple to work as a ceremonial place, but was a detriment of it’s function as a fortress, and as such, the senatorials that stormed the temple, hurried to barricade them.
“Hold the line. Dahl’Arak will come.”
Liriel picked from the floor her crossbow, and put on her hemlet.
“Dahl’Arak is coming” she said.
Commission for for the story of Maylara Maltree, drow rogue and Spellthief.
I still need to do some pics between the previous parts and this one –some… 3 or 4 pics-, so I’m afraid still some parts of the story are lost.