From Encyclopedia Ermariana
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The rank of Dervish is an ancient and ceremonial station. The Dervishes have traditionally been staunch supporters of the Empire and Emperor. Many bodyguards of important persons are selected solely on the fact that they are Dervishes. The ceremony to intiate a Dervish is simple; they take a knee before a suitably high-ranking officer of the Imperial Army, and are simply declared to be Dervishes. Honorary Dervishes generally have more lavish ceremonies, but the essential process remains the same.

As a Military Rank

An expert swordsman who shows himself to be a capable leader may be selected to become a Dervish. The Empire takes great care in teaching such Dervishes how to control situations as well as training them even harder in the physical arts of combat. Among soldiers, the skill of a Dervish is legendary.

Although Dervishes undergo special training, the attaining of the rank of Dervish does not on its own grant a higher station in the Imperial Army. It may aid officers when they consider a soldier for promotion, but it grants very little in terms other than respect. Despite this, most soldiers who rise up to the high-level officer ranks are granted the title of Dervish at some time or other.

As an Honorary Rank

When a citizen does an unusually great service to the Empire, they may be declared a Dervish. This is not a common event. Most honorary Dervishes distinguished themselves through combat in the name or service of the Empire, although they probably were not formally in the Imperial Army. Notably, the Surface Explorers were awarded the rank of Dervish by Empress Prazac after ending the Plagues.