The Pre-Empire Period
In the PEP Baklunish caste system, there was a rigid etiquette to any interaction with one’s social superiors. These were known as the four obediences. Generally speaking as you met a member of your immediately superior caste, you performed one level of homage. If the person was two levels above your caste, you performed two levels of homage and so forth.
Linguistically, these were referred to as ‘obediences’ and they were ‘committed’ rather than practised or performed. Scholars have suggested that this is due to their being enforced in a literal manner, rather than as voluntary acts of homage per se.
The supplicant, or indeed, individual who was simply in the presence of the higher caste personage, was required to maintain the position until the higher caste person gave them leave to continue.
The four obediances were :
The penalties for contravention were harsh and arbitrary and normally immediate. Inevitably, the lower down the social scale the transgressor was, the more severe the punishment. Summary executions were commonplace amongst the low caste and higher caste individuals were either instructed to commit suicide or were hung, an honour-less common criminal’s death.
After the Baklunish wars, the Olven-perranic forces set about dismantling the failing caste system. They expected the obediences to go the same way.
Eight Hundred Years Later
A large portion of the Celebrinoth had it’s origins in Baklunish military culture. Their elven leaders certainly did not require any such ceremony and possibly disliked it for it’s connotations of servility and false (forced) respect. In time, as the relationships between elves and men regularised, they became a little more accepting of this understandable foible.
The act of homage was no longer practised in inappropriate places; on campaign, either in camp or battle, and individuals were dissuaded from leaping from their horses for what was no longer seen as necessary. Very quickly ‘forth obedience’ passed out of use. In the marble halls of the middle kingdoms it may have served a purpose, but not in the muddy fields of the Ard Rhassë
Many of the ilin Clans preserved the practice of committing obedience into the modern era. It is commonplace now for ilin formally meeting their Carnc or Lord to commit second obedience and hold the position until they are released. At any level, first obedience, held for a number of heartbeats, is used as a meeting. It’s stiffness and ritual aspect distance it from a casual nod to a passing acquaintance. For the ilin their relationship with their Lyio is one of personal trust and shared honour and status through military service. Thus the bows and nods are symbols of continuing service and mutual respect.
In times of great reverence or abject apology, an individual may commit third obedience. Meeting, as ilin, your Lord for the first time or in the event of proper introduction to the emperor would be other appropriate occasions. Giving and receiving gifts would warrant second obedience. Receiving orders, first obedience. Receiving praise or chastisement, second obedience.
From the campaigns of the Celebrinoth
Their origin as a vast horse army has given the ilin some formality that is a direct result of the conventions of campaign. Officers (Lyio) would have their troops (ilin) sit around them in order to receive information. Today, in a formal gathering, the speaker stands and says his piece. He then sits before the next person rises and takes to the floor. Those sitting hold their piece and do not interrupt the speaker.
Ilin sit on one haunch with the other leg tucked under themselves. On campaign there is nothing to sit on and the position allows them to both relax and swiftly regain their feet should the moment arise. For meals, their bow or sword is pushed around behind, freeing both hands to eat. For friendly meetings it should be by the ilin’s right hand side, where it naturally rests when the (right handed) ilin puts it down. For parleys or during times of danger, the weapon goes to the left, where the hand can seize the scabbard for the sword hand to draw the blade or swiftly put an arrow to the bowstring.
Formal meeting of Lyio and ilin is conducted wearing their gear of war. Their relationship is first and foremost, a martial one. The ilin is demonstrating his readiness and the Lyio is satisfying himself that his soldiery is in an adequate state of readiness. Formal banquets, claiming ceremonies, gift and order giving, as well as disciplinary matters are all attended by and dealt with by persons armed to the teeth.
When parties meet, individuals are introduced in ascending order of importance, ie most important last. With a large party, the bulk of the ilin may be treated collectively (“These are my ilin…”) This enables important personages to hide their identity by being presented early, although this subterfuge may have to be explained later. This convention is somewhat clumsy and often dispensed with when obviously out of place. However, for formal introductions etc, eyebrows would be raised if it were not followed. Indeed, under certain circumstances, assumptions would be made upon the order of introduction.
When speaking with other ilin there are usual questions that are openers to more involved conversations. If addressing a new acquaintance for the first time, these questions will be expected. However the answers given should be taken and the subjects not pressed. Of course conversations with friends and comrades are quite different. These are enquiries, in this order, after the health/state of the other man’s
The answers to these questions tell the state of military capacity – the horse is the ilin’s life partner, his Lyio reflects his standing and they share honour, he is also the point from which the ilin would take direction in terms of military action. The fortunes of one’s Clan could have a great effect on an individual’s performance in terms of resources and willingness to undertake certain actions. The state of his arms and level of practice have obvious significance. His number of wives and children is a good indicator of wealth.
These are questions between equals and polite enquiries to those of lesser standing. It would be impolite to pose these questions to one’s betters. An ilin always addresses his lyio as “Lyio”, to not do so would be to disrespect one’s lyio and therefore, by extension, oneself. A lyio will always address his ilin by name. To not do so would be to admit that the personal relationship is not as personal as it should be. No lord could do this and maintain his position in society. Some lyio, such as leaders of bodies of warrior-monks or Lords with many hundreds of ilin, will have knowledge of their ilin’s names, career, genealogy and so forth to hand, carried in the heads of those closest to him.
In the peaceful interior of the empire, there is no need for the ilin to ride about dressed for war the whole time. Of course when patrolling (“on duty”) he will be so attired. When simply travelling he may wear pliable leather armour or simply normal travelling clothes. His bow may be unstrung but he will have it close by , with a full quiver and he will wear his sword. He would need to get dressed for dinner, were he the guest of another ilin.
When an encounter happens, the local ilin will be looking to see if the newcomer is wearing an ilya . If so then the two should face each other, on horseback if possible, just out of sword’s reach. The ilin on his homeground will then give his own name and then announce who his lyio is (Whose land they are on). The new comer should then give his own name, his Lyio’s name, and state his business. Assuming all is well, the local ilin will either then ask the new comer back to his or his lyio’s stronghold for the night or suggest a suitable camping ground . If a camping ground is suggested then the newcomers should invite the local ilin and his lyio to join them for dinner, even if it is only hard tack and water. Once either of these invitations is accepted then it is acknowledged by all involved that a truce exists and the symbolism of the shared fire, shelter and meal is an obvious echo of the actual claiming ceremony .
At a formal dinner, they are likely to eat m’choui, whole roast lamb with saffron and chillies. There would be songs and dancing before hand. These would be formalised and ritual songs and dances with religious meanings; ancient chants and hymns and practised movements mimicking horses and the passage of the moons. After the meal and any proper business, there would be more revelry and light-hearted entertainment.
In Kea, quantities of intoxicating fungi would be consumed, In perrenland, the women would dance whilst the men tapped out a rhythm. In Nyrond, wines would flow, in Udas, frenzied chanting would go on long into the night. In Blacksand, delicacies from throughout the empire and beyond would be on offer.
Jalee, being organised into regular units with a recognisable hierarchy, also formally pay their respects to their officers when they meet. This is generally a salute and is given before any discourse and at it’s conclusion. The salute varies from band to band . It is usually given as either holding a clenched fist to the breast or showing an open hand at shoulder height.
War bands will invariably have a doctrine for saluting when bearing a weapon in hand. This will normally reflect their self image as professional soldiers, rather than a need for ritual. The Jalee live a well ordered life of discipline; respect for self and others is essential for communal living and campaigning and clear rules with well known penalties for infringement are one of aspects every jalee has to live with.
Jalee will do everything they can in formation. Rests on the march will be in formation, sleeping position in camp will be in formation. They are well drilled and synchronised movements are second nature to men who fight and die shoulder to shoulder.
Each rank of jalee, there could be up to eight in a war band, address the next rank as ‘Lyio’ . In the third person, they refer to each other by their rank title. Individual foot soldiery are addressed as ‘jalee’. It is not unusual for a formation commander to find some of his soldiers detached for some purpose. Similarly, he may find soldiers from other units attached to his. Not, knowing their names, he is still able to communicate orders to them as a body of men and if the need arises, as individuals.
The Brotherhood of the Order of the Black Scabbard are a martial body of possibly a thousand warrior-monks active in various parts of the empire. They have a rigid hierarchical structure, like the Jalee bands, but see themselves as not having the same formal aspects to their interactions. Their bond is altogether more spiritual. As ‘brothers’ they embrace each other when they meet . The various ranks in the order have titles and in the third person they refer to each other by that rank. In face to face dealings, they address each other as ‘brother’.
The warriors of this order do not favour horses as do the ilin and do not practice the heavy infantry tactics of the war bands. As such they can appear to outsider’s, in both war and peace, to be very disorganised. However this apparent freedom of action belies their strict monastic lifestyle and poly-theological periods of worship and ritual. The brothers often adopt a fetish following a campaign and wear such badges with pride, even though their exact meaning may be lost even on other members of their own order.
 Wearing armour and bearing arms that are, in all probability, supplied by the Lyio.