Call to Arms
In Estaria kissing is a customary greeting. In any social gathering or chance meeting the most senior woman speaks first and makes introductions as needed. She then holds up her left hand shoulder high as an invitation. The one so greeted presses his or her right hand to the offered palm. The open palms demonstrate there are no weapons and intentions are peaceful. Then they kiss each other on the lips. Other pairings then meet and kiss in a similar manner, moving down the social rankings until everyone has “properly met”.
Large formal gatherings often form a reception line for this purpose, a very literal manifestation of social ranking. Less formal gatherings allow greetings to be more ad hoc as people mix and mingle, but failing to properly greet someone within a reasonable amount of time is considered a serious insult.
Men greet other men and kiss in a similar way, following their own social order, but if woman are present the women will always lead the greeting. A man never initiates a kiss with a woman, even in cases where the man is in command or higher rank such as in the Estarian army.
Estarian society places a great deal of importance on this kiss, and a great deal can be inferred by subtle differences in how it is done. Courtesy, romantic interest, even passion can be part of the greeting. Estarians have also developed an impressive repertoire of insults and barbs to be given or derived via the specific manner of kissing.
Even between lovers, use of the tongue in greeting is considered bad form.