- "Of course the Tzarina is our ruler, and her authority is boundless. You still aren’t going in without the boyar’s say-so"
- —Dmirov Irinasyn, Guard on the Armoury at Nekoltra[1a]
The Boyars are the middle-rank nobility of Kislev, the nobles who hold real power. They are all Gospodars, and the rank is universally hereditary. Across most of Kislev, the boyars are the most powerful individuals. They are close enough and have enough followers to tell atamans what to do, and any higher authorities are a very long way away. Most boyars allow atamans a great deal of independence, provided that taxes are paid in full and on time because they have more interesting things to do than deal with the petty disputes of a bunch of peasants.[1b]
A recent trend is for boyars to keep a home in one of Kislev’s three cities. The Tzarina has encouraged this fashion, as boyars living in a city are subject to her authority in practice and theory, but there are still a substantial number of traditional holdouts across the oblast. Such individuals may be unfashionable and uncultured, but they generally have a firm grip on local power.[1b]
A few boyars suspect Katarin plans to appoint life boyars, possibly even from among the Ungols, and they do not like the idea at all. They have started spreading the idea that being a boyar requires having the right sort of family pedigree, going back several generations at least. The Tzarina has, so far, avoided explicitly opposing this idea, but she certainly doesn’t support it. Instead, when she appoints boyars to positions of greater responsibility, such as leadership of a pulk, she emphasises she is doing it on the basis of ability.[1b]
Many of these oblast boyars see little need for a central government at all. This feeling is even more common among Ungols of similar status, though they have no formal rank. They do not openly defy the Ice Queen, as they do not need the trouble, but they pay as little attention to her laws as they can get away with. The Tzarina would like to be able to offer the Ungols the rank of boyar in return for an acknowledgement of her authority, but, as noted above, doing so would cause far too many problems with the existing boyars.[1b]