This article contains plot details from the latest book.
The Lost Cities are governed by twelve councillors. This Council is in charge of creating laws and determining the punishments for breaking them. Tribunals are held to find whether an elf accused of a crime is guilty or not, the final outcome of which is also determined by the Council. They work in a large domed building with green stone walls in Eternalia. All of the Councillors have goblin bodyguards and wear jewel-encrusted circlets and silver capes; Sophie mentions that they make human royalty look silly and inferior. Each of the Councillors swear to protect their cache, which holds forgotten secrets, with their life. Elves of a lower status usually bow or curtsy whenever they approach a Councillor, though few Councillors demand this courtesy. Councillors may not marry because they need to put the good of the world before love and family. Councillors are addressed as "Councillor" followed by their names.
There also exists the concept of a Senior Councilor. In the first book, when Sophie is being judged to see if she is ready for Foxfire, Bronte chooses to "invoke [his] right as a Senior Councilor to demand a probe." However, this concept is rarely brought up in the rest of the series.
The Lost Cities are governed by a Council - and while the Council's authority technically only applies to elves, it role in negotiating and enforcing treaties with other intelligent species causes the elves to see the Councillors as rulers over all. Members of the Council accept their positions not for privilege or honor or glory, but rather from a sense of obligation stemming from the fact that they believe they're uniquely qualified to lead. In Ancient times, the Council had three members, including Fallon Vacker. But as the population of the Lost Cities has grown, so has the number of Councillors. Currently the Council is a group of twelve. And given to the vital role they play, the Councilors have each been assigned a goblin bodyguard for their protection. (Other security measures have been recently added and are kept highly classified.)
Each Councillor has same level of authority - though they choose a "spokesperson" from among their ranks (always a Telepath who can mentally moderate their discussions before voicing the consensus) in order to ensure the Council publicly present a untied front. And while many decisions require a unanimous vote, some only need a majority. In cases where dissent exists, the outvoted Councillors are expected to resist further argument or disruption (through Councillor Bronte notoriously struggles with that edict).
Councillor Elections and Resignation
Elections are infrequent, only occurring when a Councillor either dies or chooses to resign - or in a rare cases (like what happened with Fintan and the ban on Pyrokinesis) when a Councillor finds themselves no longer qualified for the position. The most common reason for resignation is a desire for a family. Councillor aren't allowed to marry or have children while serving (strong family connections could bias their decisions), and some eventually grow weary of the restriction. When a new Councillor is elected, the public first submits nominations from various members of the nobility who qualify for the consideration. The remaining Councillors then vote among themselves to determine who will join their ranks, using a network of mirrors. When the mirrors are aligned (and the vote is therefore unanimous), a beam of light refracts off their castles, bright enough to be seen anywhere in the Lost Cities.
The Councillors wear extravagant gowns and jerkins, highly embellished capes, and jewel-encrusted circlets decorated with their choice of gemstone. Their circlet jewel also adorns their throne in Tribunal Hall. At times, the Councillors need to appear more unified, and in those instances, they'll wear silver cloaks and matching circlets, pull their hair back, and often keep their hoods raised, making it difficult to tell them apart. When they make their annual visit to the Point of Purity (to remind themselves where true power lies), they wear special cloak clasps shaped like glowing golden keys (which give them access to the Paragon - their transport for the journey - as well as prevent motion sickness and vertigo).
All current - and previous - Councillors also possess a small crystal gadget called a cache, which is designed to store Forgotten Secrets (information deemed too disturbing or dangerous for the Councillors to keep in their memories). Each cache contains a different number of secrets, and only the possessor of the cache is able to access theirs (using a process that's kept highly classified).
The Council and the Rebellions
Recent events involving the Neverseen have cast uncertainty on the strength of the Council's power and their right to rule - as well as the appropriateness of certain past and present decisions. And while many - including certain Councillors- have come to agree that changes must be made, it's vital for the safety and survival of the Lost Cities and that the Council's authority remain supreme. Therefore, every effort must be made to halt this rebellion before the worlds dissolves into war and chaos.
Alina: Alina was previously the principal of Foxfire before being elected to the Council in Everblaze to replace Councilor Kenric. Alina is a Beguiler, an ability that enables an elf to persuade another with their voice. She dated Alden Vacker and tried to break up his wedding with Della when their relationship ended. Despite being supportive when she was Sophie's principle, after being elected Alina has openly sided against Sophie many times.
Bronte: Bronte is an Inflictor in charge of mentoring Sophie in her ability at Foxfire, being the only other elf capable of inflicting. He is the only Ancient member of the Council; as such, his ears are pointed. In the first few books, he is almost always in a bad mood and seems to despise Sophie. Sophie mentions that he is her least favorite Councilor. After the majority of the Council turns against Sophie, however, he changes sides and becomes one of the few that support her. Though Sophie suspected that he was her biological father, this is disproved in Legacy.
Clarette: Clarette has long black hair to her waist and bronze skin. She is a very powerful Polyglot - the most powerful one in the Elvin world - as well as a Flasher. She can use her talent to command animals and can mimic languages and accents. She was the Councilor that controlled the Arthropleura that injured and almost killed Fitz in Neverseen. Clarette has never voiced support for Sophie.
Darek: As of Lodestar, he has the most powerful telekinesis out of all the Councilors. He demonstrates this when he lifts a tarp on the revealing of the remade Foxfire, to show the elves that skills are just as important as abilities. Darek has never openly voiced his support for Sophie. His ability is a Phaser.
Emery: Emery has shoulder-length black hair, dark brown skin, and sapphire blue eyes. He is a Telepath and mediates the Councilors' communications telepathically during a tribunal. He presents the Council's united front and is said to have an air of power that demands attention without even trying. He has mixed feelings about Sophie.
Liora: Liora has bronze skin and is a Conjurer, as mentioned in Everblaze. She conjured up the stellarscopes in Everblaze for Sophie and Fitz to use to catch the quintessence to stop the Everblaze. She also conjured up the meals during the summit at Lumenaria. She is the second longest serving Councilor, after Bronte.
Noland: Noland has black hair that he wears in a ponytail and very thick, sculpted eyebrows. He is a Vociferator, an elf that can manipulate their voice; because of this, he tends to speak very quietly when not using his Ability.
Oralie: Oralie has blond hair and looks like a fairy princess. She is an Empath, and often sides with Sophie. She loved Kenric and was devastated after his death in Everblaze. Because of her relationship with Kenric, Fallon advised her strongly to resign, which she declined. She was one of the Councilors who were firmly against Sophie wearing the ability restricting circlet and she is always on Sophie's side. In Neverseen, Oralie gives Kenric's cache to Sophie. She then continues to help Sophie with various different things. In Legacy, it is revealed that Oralie is Sophie's biological mother. At the end of Legacy, Oralie offers to open her cache, as she believes it contains a Forgotten Secret that might save Keefe. In Unlocked it is revealed in the Forgotten Secret a new concept called "Elysian", that Kenric knew Oralie was part of Project Moonlark, and that Kenric and Oralie were in love.
Terik: Terik has wavy brown hair and cobalt blue eyes. He is one of Sophie’s supporters, and helps her the most in Exile and Everblaze. Terik is a Descryer, a special ability that allows him to sense potential. He finds it a burden to be the only Descryer because parents always ask him to descry their children, who may have a lower chance of living up to their potential when they know what it is. In Lodestar, his leg was injured during the collapse of Lumenaria, then later amputated and replaced with a mechanical limb.
Zarina: Zarina has bronze skin and long white-blond hair, usually kept in a singular braid. She is a Charger, which allows her to control electricity. In Neverseen, she accidentally created the explosion that almost killed Fitz. She considered resignation not long after being elected. No one except her fellow Councilors know why.
Each Councilor chooses their own jewel to put on their circlet.
Alina: Her jewel is the peridot, a green gem.
Emery: His jewel is the sapphire, a blue gem, which is the same color as Fallon Vacker's jewel.
Kenric: (Councillor until deceased) The jewel on his circlet was amber.
Fintan: (Former Councillor) His jewel was the ruby.
Terik: His jewel is the emerald.
Bronte: His jewel is onyx, a black gem.
Clarette: Her jewel is turquoise.
Liora: Her jewel is pearl.
Noland: His jewel is tanzanite.
Oralie: Her jewel is pink tourmaline.
Ramira: Her jewel is diamond.
Velia: Her jewel is amethyst.
Zarina: Her jewel is opal.
Known Previous Councillors
Kenric: Kenric was a stocky redhead with a large, toothy smile. He was clearly in love with Oralie, who also had affection to him. He died at Fintan's healing while saving Sophie, Fitz, Alden, Tiergan, Terik, and Oralie as Everblaze consumed the building. At the beginning of Neverseen, Oralie gives Sophie his cache, as instructed before he died. His full name was Kenric Elgar Fathdon.
Fallon Vacker: Alvar, Fitz, and Biana's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather. Part of the first three original Councilors. He resigned to get married.