Noble Houses

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At the core of the power struggles are the eleven Imperial houses occupying the imperial compound surrounding the palace. These buildings are huge fortified structures and are only 'rented out' by the Shirr’haim. The money required by the Imperial Houses to maintain their position in these enclosures is colossal and adds a huge impetus to the power struggles. If an Imperial house fails to maintain their flow of income into the state treasury, then eviction takes place. Eviction is the forced removal of all members of the transgressing House from a particular building. An Imperial house in arrears has but a week to vacate their former home. Once this time period has elapsed, the next Noble House in line can use any necessary means to evict the former residents, including magic and open siege warfare with the Shirr'haim's blessing. It is the only time that a Noble House can field a military force upon the streets of the Shirr'haim. The first act by any new residents is to repair the damage done and to disarm any traps left by the former occupants (in many cases this procedure can take years).

Each Noble and Imperial House is headed by a powerful matriarchal council comprising the eldest female Mandragora of the house, and they make decisions ranging from simple housekeeping decisions to plotting to overthrow an opponent. Male Mandragora also have their roles to play, and although they do not hold positions of power they are treated with respect nonetheless. The homes of the Noble houses, known as manses, resemble small fortresses, often housing a number of household troops or mercenaries and a number of spell-casters.

Every Noble House occupies a large compound within the Shirr'haim and these fortresses (or manses as they are commonly known) represent the source of their power. Family members are extremely important; especially those with a magical aptitude or martial skill, but anyone with some ability that can be used to score points off an opponent are to be valued. To the Matriarchs, everyone is expendable for the greater good of the family. In the past, there have been some truly callous uses of family members as political pawns to discredit opponents or as scapegoats. Most Noble families have a number of Senators within the Shirr'haim, either direct family members or bribed officials. In the end, all the Noble Houses vie for the favour and patronage of the Imperial Family, amassing wealth through various business deals.