The Imperial Court
Those that are closest to the Emperor of Turelion and Kelbonnar, whether by the merits of their skills, intelligence or sheer determination to scrabble as far up the greasy pole as they can, are collectively referred to as the Imperial Court. Whilst the Imperial Court holds no official power, its members hold incredible influence over the rest of Kelbonnar, purely because they are so close to the Imperial personage, the ultimate authority in the Empire of Turelion.
Because the Imperial Court is not an official organisation within the Imperial structure, there is no set hierarchy of its members. Instead, the individual influence of the courtiers waxes and wanes very much at the will of the Emperorr, and as the Emperors can be as fickle as they can be generous, all courtiers know that their positions within the court are always at risk, and that they must do everything in their power to maintain their positions. The precarious position of the courtiers means that the Imperial Court’s membership is constantly changing, but in general its members are drawn from the landed and titled nobility of the Empire of Turelion, many of whom are members of the Congregation of Lords, the most wealthy and influential members of the merchant classes and those that hold high office within the Imperial system; such as the Satraps of the provinces, the Grand Inquisitor of the Imperial Inquisition, the Hunter General of the Lodge of Imperial Hunters and the heads of the various departments of the Imperial Bureau. In order to be registered as a member of the Imperial Court, one has to be invited to an Imperial event by the Emperor themselves, or more often by one of their inner circle acting on the Emperor’s behalf. Such an invite transfers an individual onto a list of approved invitees who will then be invited to subsequent events and the individual will then be ‘known’ to the staff of the Imperial residences, and more importantly to the Imperial Drakes and the Imperial Inquisition. A person is considered to no longer be a member of the Imperial Court when they are removed from the list of approved invitees. More often than not, it is the actions of other members of the Imperial Court that results in members being struck from the list, rather than the individual actually drawing the ire of the Emperor.
Role within the Imperial SystemAs already stated, the Imperial Court has no official position with the Imperial system, but it instead acts as primarily a social body for the Emperor and the Imperial family, with Emperors regularly seeking council and advice from members within it. There is always an extra privileged group within the Imperial Court who are regarded as being the close associates of the Emperor, who spend the most time with them and who are called upon the most to give the Imperial personage advice. Out of all of the members of the Imperial Court, it is this inner circle that wields greater power and influence than almost anyone else within the Empire of Turelion.
PerksMembers of the Imperial Court enjoy a number of perks, notably invitations to all important events, soirees and gatherings hosted by the Emperor or the Imperial family. Particularly well regarded individuals, primarily the members of the Emperor’s inner circle, are often granted unfettered access to the Imperial Palaces, and may even be invited to join the Imperial family when they holiday in highly restricted places such as Mallenar's Isle. More broadly, once it is known that an individual is a member of the Imperial Court, they will often find that they receive better treatment from all manner of third parties, especially in Turelion, Ferio, Ultaru, Bar-Sunar and Quess provinces, who are keen to learn how they might too be invited to join the Imperial Court, or who are angling for an introduction in the right place.
The culture of the Imperial Court is less of a ‘only the strongest survive’ but rather ‘only the most conniving will survive’. As almost all of the courts members are there because they want to increase their own social and economic standing, there is no end of manipulation and betrayal going on behind the scenes as members of the court try to clamber over one another to reach the Emperor's inner circle. Alliances regularly form and fall apart within the court, with courtiers banding together to try and discredit someone more influential than themselves, before the erstwhile conspirators turn on each other whilst fighting over the scraps. Well aware of the boiling sea of Machiavellian plotting that takes place below them, the members of the Emperor’s inner circle have built intricate webs of political intrigue around them, with the aim of ensnaring anyone who intends them ill, whilst identifying the most useful junior courtiers and directing them against their own rivals.