Of Poets, Fools and Madmen. . .
Salutes Oaths and Vows
“Upon my Honor, I shall strive my utmost To perform my Duties To Guild and my Contract, To be Loyal and To obey the Command of my Unit.”
Mercenaries’ Guild Oath.
The various forms of salute on Panisadore, military, civil, or strictly civilian, are inextricably linked to common ceremonial formalities related to the rendering of an oath or vow. In this sense the term “oath” refers to what is sworn to, and enforced by some secular authority; of greater weight than a promise rendered privately, but generally viewed as less significant than a vow. Vows, in contrast, are rendered to and enforced by the church or an associated order of a deity (not necessarily the same deity in certain cases,) through the agency of the institution’s clergy or other invested representatives. Given that the deity(s) in question may themselves discover and direct their clergy to punish (or in those cases referred to previously, reward) someone who as broken their vow, most in the world consider these more important than oaths. Combining both (and so surpassing either) is a Solemn Oath, rendered in such cases as among units dedicated to Galenar, Nuhveen or Zhedarhe, as well as any oath by any Malenorian citizen to the Empire through the agency of the Emperor’s representatives. Great Vows are similar in nature but rendered in service explicitly to the deity rather than the institution. Finally, the extremely rare Solemn Vows are rendered directly to a given deity in that deity’s actual presence, usually as an avatar. (In the Malenorian Empire at least, this is considered to include those vows declared to the Emperor personally.) The gestures of salute are those used when swearing an oath or vow and so, when subsequently used in salute, serve as reminders of what has been sworn.
The oath above is commonly sworn (like nearly all oaths of military service) while holding the weapon hand in the standard infantry (unarmed/sheathed) salute: with fist clenched by the shoulder, knuckles forward and middle finger extended upward (representing the drawn weapon held upward). While members of most sovereign forces place their shield hands over their hearts, mercenaries commonly place them over their genitals when swearing their oath. Members of both types of units will conclude the oath with the universal gesture for death/dying: drawing the weapon finger across their throat, signifying acceptance of the possible penalty of breaking this oath. Some standard acceptable variations are worth noting. Artillerists normally render the ancient “Archer’s Salute,” extending the index and middle fingers, slightly parted. Fusiliers (among those rare units willing to accept them,) render a unique “Arty Muzzle” salute, holding their clenched weapon hands beside their heads, knuckles forward with thumb extended upward and their index fingers extended horizontally to touch their temples. They conclude their oaths by snapping their thumbs downward. (It is often rumored that they further conclude any religious vows with histrionic facial expressions of dying and Great Vows by falling to the ground in even greater histrionic paroxysms.) Law enforcement officers usually conclude their vows by jerking their fists backwards over their shoulders, thumb extended, in the universal gesture to “lock ‘em up!” (Depending on local penal conditions this may be a worse fate than execution. . .) Most salutes are acknowledged and returned by superiors by raising both hands with palms open and forward, representing the signaling fans commonly employed by commanders in battle, and concluding by placing both over their hearts.
Another common variation upon martial salutes is seen when they are rendered to an opponent before engaging in combat. The salute is rendered normally but usually concluded by jabbing the extended finger(s) toward the opponent. (This is often followed by pumping motions of the saluting hand, either in the same direction or upward, accompanied by loud shouting. . .) The most notable exception to this behavior is among dwarven warriors. The Clans of Sorrow salute potential opponents very solemnly and conclude the salute with a downward chopping motion with their open hand accompanied by a loud wail of excruciating grief.
Civilians in general salute with the dominant hand open beside their shoulder, palm open and forward. Mages tend to salute in a similar fashion, but with fingers splayed. In many places Civil Service oaths (such as those sworn by a mayor, bailiff or cabinet member) and their subsequent salutes are often distinguished from those of other civilians by holding the hand at eye level with the palm up, as if holding up or supporting something. Clergy and monastics both tend to clasp their hands before them (at chest level) with palms together and fingers extended (as if in prayer) while militant orders interlock their fingers, and all conclude by bowing. (Many accent the bow further by extending both hands before them, as in a civil servant’s salute, and raising their hands then above the level of their heads at the deepest part of the bow.) Militant monastic orders which are not part of a specific church or broader order (essentially non-religious dojos which are usually very spiritual nonetheless,) tend to salute and bow with their hands together in the traditional “Union of Sun and Moon” clasp with the dominant hand in a fist (representing the sun/solar energy) pressed against the palm of the secondary hand which is curved around it like a moon’s crescent. Finally, in the Malenorian Empire, all oaths, vows and salutes are made with the palm of the dominant hand over the eyes (representing blind obedience) and the secondary hand over the heart. Oaths and vows are concluded by drawing edge of the dominant hand across the abdomen, as if committing ritual suicide, while bowing the head and bringing the edge of the secondary hand down on the back of the neck in a chopping motion, representing the hope for a swift and merciful death.
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