Ilin is the title of the basic cavalry soldier of the Empire. He will be armoured as well as he can afford and will carry a bow he can use from horseback, offensively as well as for hunting, a pole arm for a one off use in a charge and a sword suited for both mounted and dismounted melee. If he carries a shield it will likely be a smaller one for use on foot, rather than full protection for mounted melee.
Mounted melee is generally avoided as it puts the unarmoured and expensive horse at risk.
Masterless warriors wandering the countryside are trouble. Professional fighters with no direction and no means of support soon cause trouble one way or another and so most Ilin will find themselves a Lyio, or patron. Indeed, masterless Ilin are not referred to as such. There is no other word for them, they are just men with arms and a horse.
In order to claim Ilin, the Lyio must provide food and shelter for the man and the steed, to the same standard as himself.So that should be the man eating at the same table, sleeping under the same roof and his horse in the same stable/pasture.Acceptance by the lordless man of this hospitality then makes the man Ilin to the Lyio and honour bound to his house.In order to claim the man the Lyio performs as simple ritual the next day; he simply offers the man coinage. The man is free to take the coin as 'travelling expenses' and leave. However, should he wish to take service, he then presents a part of his weaponry to the Lyio by leaving it touching his seat/bedroll/saddle. The claimed man shows his status by tying a white scarf (ilya) about his neck or helmet. A troop of Ilin will normally carry a banner to show their allegiances, individuals may or may not, depending entirely on local circumstance.
In high society this claiming is done with great ceremony. There will a meeting on horseback with witnesses, a display of horsemanship and skill at arms. Then they will ride back to the Lyio’s castle for a great banquet with many speeches and all fall down ‘drunk’ and sleep in the straw of the Great Hall. There will be a plain breakfast of the type of food taken on campaign and then the Lyio will personally present his new warrior with perhaps as much as a gold piece. Princes taking service with foreign kings will have special presentational swords to lay upon the thrones of their new lords.
The whole crux of the ilin claiming ceremony is the prospective ilin touching his weapon against the new Lyio’s saddle, chair or bed. He is ceremonially demonstrating putting his martial prowess at the disposal of the other man’s household. There are times when a young warrior may think ‘what am I doing ?’ and back out of the ceremony; that’s acceptable behaviour and expected to happen some of the time. However for a formally arranged claiming between two noble houses where a great deal of effort and money has been spent, for the young warrior to spurn the new Lyio at the last moment could be construed as an insult.
At the other extreme, a shared meal around a campfire, with the night spent in a bower or cave also fulfils the legal requirements. Slipping a copper piece into the breakfast meal is not unheard of. Woe betide then the unclaimed man who bites on a penny in his morning flatbread and then espies one of his arrows in the other man’s quiver. But such a taking by stealth and trickery is rare. The whole idea is for a meaningful exchange of service for service, Military service for material support and security until such time as the service ends.
The Ilin is then responsible to his Lyio for his actions in all aspects of his life, the honour of the house and the retained warrior reflect back upon each other. The Lyio must deal fairly with his Ilin and not abuse them or deceive them as to their actions. eg If they are going to a Hall burning (a legitimate military tactic) then they should be told before hand and those who don’t want to participate should not be pressed.Ilin should be accorded the chance to further their personal honour by performing services worthy of their skill and status.A worthy Lyio will try to keep as many remounts as he can and will arm and equip his men as far as his money will stretch.Ilin should be allowed to practise the skills that make them different from dog soldiers – horsemanship skills are highly valued and it takes a long time to learn to fire a bow from horseback with any kind of accuracy.Of course, at harvest times, everybody lends a hand.But normally, if the Lyio doesn’t do it, he should not expect his Ilin to do it either.
A lord with Ilin does not wear an Ilya or any other form of badge, He’s just the most richly dressed (or armoured) man at the front of the troop of Ilin.
Some will choose to serve their lord for the entire period of their lives.However the Lyio may release the Ilin at any time he wishes.Ilin who obtain enough wealth can bargin with their Lyio. to ‘buy themselves out’ of their service.This is typically the cost of hiring another mounted warrior for a year. Incidentally, many Ilin retain the coin from their claiming ritual. Either tucked securely into a fold in their Ilya or mounted as a pendant or amulet.
Ilin tactics are still largely those of the Celebrinoth.Constant relatively high speed passes on horse back, firing arrows at slower moving targets and with drawl in the face of heavy resistance.The pole arm charge and then mounted or dismounted melee are really endgame plays to finish a defeated foe and take prisoners or seize trophies.
However since the time of the Celebrinoth honour has become more important to these warriors and individual close combats (one on one fights with everyone else, if not stopping to watch, then allowing space) are not unheard of.Of course the wise Lyio only allows this after victory has been assured by the mounted archery.Time will see honour become driving force, leading to the swing of tactics from mounted archery to the cavalry charge.This will happen first toward the centre of the empire where heavier (more expensive) armours, along with both horses and warriors are more available.
It should be noted that this relationship remains constant no matter at what level it is practised.The Lyio must provide food and shelter of more or less the same standard that he has for his ilin.If the Lyio has a private room, his Ilin should.The Lyio does not require his ilin to do anything that he won’t himself, whether that is a patrol through bandit country, gathering in the harvest or riding to war.It is an extremely ‘flat’ relationship in terms of hierarchy.There are only likely to be four ilin relationships between the common ilin of the empire: The ilin themselves, their hedge lords, the landed retainers (Carnc – Bak. Duke or owner of a castle or fortification) the Lords (Lords of the Empire – Kings and Princes of their own nation states), and then the Emperor.
 The are also the bottom rung of the nobility. Being ilin does not confer any hereditary rights. However being of ilin status does make certain demands of the individual.