Realm of Alraith
Alraith is a small kingdom ruled by an oligarchy of nine ducal families. Two of them rule the system's planets, the remaining own some colonies. Each duchy is divided into smaller subordinate fiefs that are owned by lesser nobility.
Alraithian nobility share very distant ancestors with the lower classes, but they are all descended from some individuals that underwent medical experiments to gain immortality. They are not actually immortal but their life is exceptionally long - some of them can live to the age of 600 Imperial Years - and their slow aging allow them to reach outstanding results in their chosen fields. However they suffer from some side-effects, of which vampirism is just the most evident. It's a genetic disease strictly connected to their life's length.
Alraithian society is a queer mixture of high technology and medieval lifestyle. Technology is nearly ignored outside the courts, because the lower classes distrust it. Architecture shows Gothic-like influences, and buildings are made mostly of carved stone, crystal and steel.
Alraithian nobility is well known for its subtle diplomatic skill, so its members are often required to settle conflicts between other races. The longer-lived are also the most influential of them, and they attach great value to their family's alliance network. Alraithians don't like drastic changes, so each fief bear the mark of its ruler for a very long time.
All the main decisions are taken by the Ducal Council, that gathers the heads of all nine ducal families. One of them is appointed First Duke and he actually rules above all and represents Alraith in the Altarion Council. That title is given according to the Duke's effective political influence. It belonged for centuries to Alesair de lay Varnar, who planned the profitable alliance with Anthira and Theitor.
Here are the ducal families that form the high nobility:
De lay Varnar: rules planet Varn and systems Myuna and Lidoxia, it's one of most ancient noble dynasties. Besides First Duke Alesair, we should mention his daughter Aleksandra, widow of Prince Raenel I of Theitor.
De lay Mirena: rules planet Mirennia. It's a terraformed and rather poor planet, but the Mirena dynasty was the first one to settle colonies in other solar systems. Many fleet officers come from this family. The duchy includes Rameldia and Ferira systems.
De lay Sanaren: rules over Zaniy and Nyhel systems.
- De lay Kḥrena: rules over Denoren system. It's the least powerful and rich family, but its members have great diplomatic skill.
- De lay Valeron: rules over Edowin and Akendra systems.
De lay Saalorn: rules over Armey and Iren. Maya, king Daran's counsellor, comes from this family.
De lay Jilar: rules over Jimess and Hinsaya.
De lay Kalmar : rules over Hashya and Mornagh.
Essilya: rather nonconformist family, has many foreigner relatives. Rules over Skelen and Saldmor.
Thanks to Khandra who helped me a lot to develop Alraithian society