The Great are one of the Three Powers—the other two being the God Emperor and the Wise. All who are of at least blood-rank one are of the Great. This status not only confers political power, but also allows a House to partake of the division of the flesh tithe. The Great constitute one fifth of all the Chosen
The Chosen form a tiny proportion of the population of the Three Lands—by far the most numerous group are the sartlar. The total number of Chosen is just above 8000—of these, around 1600 are of the Great, in 80 Houses; the rest are the Lesser Chosen, in around 320 Houses
Great-Rings are elaborately carved pieces of jade that fit over several fingers at once. Great-Rings may be worn in a number matching a person’s blood-rank: thus a person of the blood-rank three is entitled to wear three Great-Rings
Power among the Chosen is divided among the Three Powers: the God Emperor (and the House of the Masks) the Great and the Wise. The balance between the Powers is maintained through a system of checks and balances called the Great Balance
The Clave is the ‘senate’ of the Great at which they deliberate and fight for dominance. Most importantly, it is the Clave that elects one of its number to become He-who-goes-before—whoever holds this post commands the Ichorian Legion that insures that the Three Gates remain under the power of the Great
This is an office to which the Clave—the ‘senate’ of the Great—appoints one of its number to be their voice. He-who-goes-before wears a mask whose right eye is rayed like the sun. He also wears the Pomegranate Ring that gives him control of the Three Gates of Osrakum and of the double Ichorian Legion—the Red Ichorians—that garrison them. In his official capacity, He-who-goes-before is shadowed by two lictors, one for each of the Ichorian legions; …
The Chosen believe that it is their blood that sets them apart from other beings. It is in their blood that their semi-divinity resides, derived ultimately from descent—however partial—from a God Emperor. The Chosen believe that, at his Apotheosis, a new God Emperor receives the ‘essence’ of the Twin Gods, transmuting his mortal blood into pure ichor: the divine, burning blood. A child fathered by a God Emperor receives the gift of this ichor intermixed with the blood of its mother.