The Fanatics of Jabharil, otherwise commonly known as the Cult of the Flower, were Drow, usually female, commoners or sometimes slaves in the Negeémi hegemony who acted to theoretically venerate the goddess Jabharil, the Kalhari Drow matron Goddess of Love and Fertility. In actual practice, they demonstrated on the streets to promote their religion or a new social contract between the Acolyte elites and the commoners among other things. They became infamous for acts of criminal intent in mocking the traditional religion to the local matron Goddess of War, Negeé, demonstrations, street fights, killings, murders, terrorism, and burglary rings among other crimes of theft. The official Jabharil church denied all connection with these activities, simply claiming them to be out of control, fervent believers.
Who was a Fanatic?Edit
Commoners from lower middle class, working class, and impoverished backgrounds were fanatics, as were some criminals, and also certain categories of slaves. All of which had their own reasons for being a fanatic of Jabharil.
There was few criteria to be a 'typical' fanatic. Mostly poor, young, drow commoners, mostly women, who were desperate, or angry or foolish, who had freedom and time to act, and had low concern for consequences, or filled with sufficient fervor to fight for their goddess. But even this changed somewhat over time as worship of the Cult of the Flower grew. As penalties for being a fanatic became draconian, and policing against them increased, fanatics would change their methods.
Often fanatics were low level career criminals who engaged in thievery under the banner of the increasingly popular religion. Even more commonly, desperate poor were forced to become fanatics for having taken help from the Jabharil church as loans of money or grain that was repaid through service as a fanatic.
Escaped slaves were also commonly fanatics, and it also became common that slaves with freedom to move about and time to act would act as fanatics as well. Slaves were especially useful in being able to act as fanatics, and then 'disappear' as few originally saw slaves as able to be fanatics so long as they wore a collar.
Speculation: Spreading amongst the slaves, who, by being slaves, have quite often have lessened familial relationships and controls, might have aided the spread of the religion? Also, slavery had grown and industrialized and commercialized that isolated the slaves further from close family norms. Additionally, Jaharil worship was rare, but long present, which might have also aided its growth as it wasn't completely new to the city?
As might be imagined, the Fanatics of Jabharil were a rather diverse and rag-tag group, but as physical action, risky behavior, and impatience is generally the province of the young, most fanatics were young women from working backgrounds.
There was not much in the way of an 'official uniform', particularly in that the fanatics were meant to be unofficial and unconnected to the official Jabharil Church. Generally, the fanatics went topless as the foreign Kalhari culture where the Jabharil worship originates promotes topless or bare breasted clothes as pleasing to the Goddess of Love and Fertility. Made of cheap, black dyed silk, they only wore stockings with soles and 'opera gloves' and masks to hide their identities. These were scanty enough so as to hide the material with outer clothes or to easily fold up and hide or to discard or burn if need be.
Generally, Negeémi commoners wore a fair amount of clothes, but the Acolytes tended to wear abbreviated uniforms that seemed to showcase their fit bodies and physical attractiveness as a sign of their status. It was not unheard of for acolytes to present themselves topless as well. It is possible that the Fanatics of Jabharil were also seeking to mock and, 'outdo in scantiness', their acolyte social betters who were generally their adversaries? Anger at the acolytes and the wealthy elites was often a contributing factor for joining and acting as a fanatic in the first place.
Reasons for JoiningEdit
There was more than one reason to join the Cult of the Flower:
Many did indeed join out of faith. The Negeémi religion had become one of increasingly rote rituals and focused on the acolyte elites with the commoners and slaves often seen as secondary or besides the point. The Jabharil faith was new, vibrant, had rituals of 'sacrifice' generally based on ritualized sex, or ecstatic service. Love and Fertility suddenly had more appeal than the same old dour war goddess.
Many if not most early fanatics were indeed motivated primarily by faith in defending and advancing their new faith.
However, by the end, most fanatics either cared little for the tenets of their new religion but joined for seeking revolutionary change in their social system, or they came to identify Jabharil as a 'goddess of social parity', perhaps due to the religion being seen as a faith of the poor or slaves. But with the slave proportion of the city and hegemony reaching the same numbers as non-wealthy commoners, there became less stigma as slaves, and more fear of becoming a slave. Plus the presence of wealthy Kalhari traders removed the concept of Jabharil only being about being mired in misery.
The economy was actually good in the 25th Century Negeémi hegemony, but most of the wealth flowed to the wealthiest of the acolytes, and while many of the commoner merchants certainly did prosper and become richer as well, many of the drow commoners found themselves poorer, afraid of the growth of slavery, and angry at the acolyte elites.
Becoming a fanatic being a means of fighting acolytes or stubborn fellow commoners, and using the Cult of the Flower as a political platform for overturning the social order.
An important reason why the poor and working class were increasingly squeezed was that the cost of food had spiraled upwards. This was a result of the cities, particularly the capital of Negeémiliel having grown beyond the ability of the natural ecosystem of the subterranean cavernous world of Kazrrad to supply the needs of all the peoples. The Negeémi drow had needed the abundant food of the surface valleys that they had captured over two centuries before to feed themselves. But they had come to outgrow these distant food sources.
The Cult of the Flower for its attention on the poor and slaves had been seen taking action against hunger. They also would come to demand service for food, the terms of service would come to mean joining the Fanatics of Jabharil
Criminal enterprises such as burglars, fencing rings, smugglers and extorters would attempt to capitalize on the Jabharil Church that had become a growing phenomenon. Many criminals acting dressed as fanatics to do their work under the cover of the popular Cult of the Flower, and using the church as a means of disposing of ill gotten gains. In time, given the astounding growth of the faith, and the fervor of its adherents, be it religious or class revolutionary, many criminal organizations found themselves being used BY the Cult of the Flower, rather than the other way around.
History and ActivitiesEdit
Arrival in NegeémilielEdit
Origins in NegeémilielEdit
The Cult of the Flower was the cult dedicated to the Goddess Jabharil in Negeémiliel. Jabharil was the matron goddess of the city of Kalhari. The first recorded presence of Jabharil worshippers in Negeémiliel was at least as early as the 1800 a.a.H, arriving there as a result of small numbers of slaves from the south being sold into the capital as a result of captives taken in numerous wars between the diverse drow peoples. Otherwise, the small group of traders from Kalhari made the worship of Jabharil known.
As a Major ReligionEdit
It was only after the Third Sia'Peiran-Negeémi war (2405-2408 a.a.H), where Negeémiliel defeated Sia'Peiran and their vassals Kalhari and Ched'Ipango. After this war, Kalhari became under Negeémi rule, and with the influx of slaves -prisoners of war- that worshipped Jabharil, and the direct trade between Negeémiliel and Kalhari -with Kalhari traders founding the cult- it will quickly expand across the slaves and commoners of Negeémiliel.
Main Reasons For Rise of the Jabharil CultEdit
- An obvious reason for this is that the numbers of the foreign-born Jabharil worshippers had reached a 'critical mass' to interact with each other in the great city and to become known and make an impact on the surrounding native culture of the city.
- Another is that socio-economic changes in the last few centuries leading up the 25th Century a.a.H. had made the new religion more palatable to the populace than the more traditional minded state of the city of the previous centuries. The political divisions between the two major political parties of the Negeémi Populist Party and the Negeémi Senatorial Party, and the cultural pressures of reformist and traditional ideologies caused the Cult of the Flower to find willing converts or supporters amongst those frustrated at the lack of reforms caused by the ruling Senatorial Party.
- This change of attitude in the populace was also due to the rapid expansion of the city's population, with many more drow of foreign extraction due to the rise of the Negeémi empire, with many more young drow who were frustrated at growing hunger and poverty, the entrenched ruling elites, and drawn to the positive aspects of Jabharil worship.
The fanatics first acted in non-violent demonstrations where they originally were unmasked and wearing normal clothes--sans tops--and demanded representation of their religion in the Low Council and various remedies for the poor and enslaved.
They were very confrontational in dealing with commoners so as to obtain funds and proselytize to obtain new worshippers through both faith and class based arguments. This dual approach was an important component in the growth of the so called Cult of the Flower, but also resulted in fanatics fighting against commoners as well Fanatics of Negeé were also present who resisted the new religion as heretical and dangerous to the traditional culture of the city. These demonstrations and counter-demonstrations led to violence such as street fights between the two sets of fanatics.
The street fights led to more serious violence where the two groups of religiously fueled combatants would come to carry weapons and actively kill each other. This led the Cult of the Flower silencing the leaders of the Fanatics of Negeé by assassinating them.
The Acolytes surprisingly were not terribly concerned about this infighting amongst the people. They almost found it amusing which suggests the true divide between the acolytes and commoners. They thought that the Fanatics of Negeé would keep the Cult of the Flower in check, and made only minor efforts to stop this fighting amongst the commoners. But, they did not support the Fanatics of Negeé sufficiently, seeing them as unnecessary and possibly heretical in their own right. Eventually, the Fanatics of Negeé became overmatched by the Cult of the Flower, and so they gave up and faded away.
However, the Cult of the Flower was encouraged by their success in beating the traditionalist commoners, and began to use stronger methods to gain supporters and to even prey upon the acolytes in various ways such as assassination of acolytes in their homes, or the killing or kidnapping of Initiated children.
The Kalhari ConnectionEdit
By 2416 a.a.H., the Cult of the Flower, with High Priestess Ma'Az as its head, had reached an accord with the government of Kalhari so as to work for not just furthering the worship of Jabharil, but Kalhari national interests as well. This greatly increased the tempo and extremism of the Fanatics of Jabharil, acting as the street level agents for destabilizing the city.
With some irony, the Negeémi Populist Party rather than opposing the cult, correctly saw it as less of a religious threat and more of a popular movement that they could make use of. Hence, not only did High Priestess Ma'Az treasonously work for Kalhari agents and a foreign agenda, but also with the Populist political faction of the Acolyte elites of the city-state. The Low Council and a leading Populist Party member Selene Paen'Dhirra establishing a furtive but close connection with Ma'Az by 2418 a.a.H. This turned the fanatics of Jabharil into minions of a major faction of the elites that they protested against!
The cult receiving much support from both Kalhari and the Populist Party, was able to make major inroads in gaining new converts, or gaining public support, and mobilizing their faithful for intense campaigns of the Fanatics of Jabharil. A major avenue of this was grain given to the cult by the Populist acolytes, this allowed the cult to feed the desperate poor, and pay their fanatics in wages of grain (that could serve as currency in the endemically hungry city). This resource contributed to the numbers and loyalty of the fanatics serving Jabharil. The Fanatics of Jabharil receiving more Acolyte support than the Fanatics of Negeé who had fought for the matron goddess, but were effectively the commoners on the side of the traditionalist Senatorial Party, and would fade away against the rising numbers and effectiveness of their 'heretical' rivals.
After 2418 a.a.H., disorder spiked up, and it became increasingly dangerous to be known as a Fanatic of Negeé, or to be an acolyte living in a less protected area of the city, or Initiated walking the streets away from either home or the Academy, or to be commoner members of an Acolyte family.
Temple of DoomEdit
The violence continued to ramp up, in 2421 a.a.H., Captain Xuunera Lo'Kee, a hero of the war against Ur Dur goblins of the Bloody Apple had been in the capital of Negeémiliel for some time so as to refit her company with new reinforcements. She was assigned to patrolling the streets and combatting the Fanatics of Jabharil's activities. She proved to be successful at it, and this was one of the reasons why in 2422 a.a.H., Captain Lo'Kee would be named Captain of the Guard of the Temple of Doom, with her unit assigned to guard duty there. The Leg of the Spider, High Sorceress of the Temple of Doom, Khariel Baener, was highly opposed to the Cult of the Flower, and used the company's expertise to oppose its fanatics, and to investigate and fight the Cult of the Flower legally and illegally.
IN 2424 a.a.H,, when a new Jabharil Temple was being opened in the important neighborhood near the Temple of Doom, essentially near what amounted to the forum of the city, Khariel Baener was furious. She ordered the Drow Trio in of the Temple of Doom's company of guards, and possibly some other acolytes, to invade the new temple and to kill all the sentries and possibly some important priestesses there. A survivor was left alive and informed High Priestess Ma'Az of the Cult of the Flower of the attack by acolytes and that Khariel Baener was behind it.
Ma'Az would strike back by contracting a Loranor assassin (a Tiggers, specifically), named Jamal, to attack the Temple of Doom, to assault some of its religious people, steal or desecrate relics, and to most importantly to assassinate Khariel Baener. In addition to all of this, he was to do so with minimal loss of life for various reasons. It is not known if Jamal had any success in his secondary objectives, but he did indeed murder Khariel Baener and fought his way in and out of the temple successfully. This would end the resistance of the Temple of Doom as its mistress was dead, and its captain of the guard and company of guards were disgraced and removed from the city for some time.
In addition, Selene Paen'Dhirra of the Negeémi Populist Party, who probably had a role in the assassination of Khariel Baener, would be elected to become Sorceress of the Temple of Doom in Baener's place. Indeed, the Temple would secretly aid the Cult of the Flower in its activities by treasonously giving information about targets or happenings and providing grain to the cult. This was to help in the overthrow of the Negeémi Senatorial Party from its remaining control of the State. At this point, from 2424 a.a.H. until 2428, the Fanatics of Jabharil had effectively become unknowing minions of Selene Paen'Dhirra, a Leg of the Spider and one of the nine members of the High Council one of the Populist rulers of the elites that the low level cultists generally believed that they were wholly opposing.
Largely because of the connection with the Populists, and the Acolytes being 'divided against themselves', intelligence agents were rarely very successful in getting much information about the cult or directly tying the disavowed fanatics with the leadership of the cult, particularly the Kalhari connections and High Priestess Ma'Az. However, in 2428 a.a.H., the disgraced Xuunera Lo'Kee was called back to the city, and using the unknown agent Maylara Maltree, was able to infiltrate the cult and expose the oversight of the formal church to the activities of their supposedly anarchist fanatics and the connection to the Temple of Doom and the Populist Party.
Later intelligence work would establish proof of this which led the 'self-coup d'état' of the Dahl'Arak Coup, as exposure of Populist treasons with the Cult of the Flower made a change of government 'legal'.
End of the FanaticsEdit
As it turned out, such proof was hardly necessary as the Cult of the Flower with Jabharil Sentries openly leading and recruiting Fanatics of Jabharil took place openly, and that the cult also openly cooperated with Populist Acolytes against the Senatorial Acolytes that had dissolved the government and seized various institutional areas of the capital city. In what must have been a surreal experience for acolytes and fanatics alike, the fanatics became battle-fodder for efforts to retake positions from Senatorial forces. Thousands of fanatics were killed or captured; be they hardened street fight veterans, or participants of only one or a few protests or operations, or only pressed into service for the civil war.
As the Populists and Jabharil fanatics failed to make much headway in the fighting, in the later days of the civil war, the fanatics drifted away from any control and devolved into anarchy. They engaged in either mob violence against--anyone they could hurt, or else split away from cult activities as individuals or small groups committing acts of thievery, vandalism or violence against personal enemies or random targets.
After the Civil WarEdit
As a result of the vanquished Populist agenda, the acolytes under the new government would make some efforts to seek out the fanatics and other personnel of the Cult of the Flower from hiding. While aspects of the outlawed cult would continue, as an organized revolutionary force, the cult was defeated. Too many fanatics had been killed and captured over the years, and especially killed in mass in the civil war. Too many had also become disillusioned by being pressed into deadly service and had acted more for reasons of thievery or acting out against a restrictive society than positive change. The cult had already suffered some disillusionment in the people and lost a great deal of public support for its terrorism even before the Civil War, and certainly for its days of a mob reign of terror and looting during the period of civil war.
Many cells and related organizations would make efforts to act outside of the capital or amongst Populist holdouts in the closing weeks of 2429 a.a.H. and later on to little effect. Many fanatics would indeed escape their hunters to hide amongst the populace, but most were happy to become 'former fanatics' and leave the failed revolution behind them.