Crystalline Cadences II
Though it remains the nominal capital of the Summerland Empire, and the lords of the provinces still pledge nominal allegiance to the Throne of Wisdom, the office of Emperor has stood empty for over two hundred years. Furthermore, the Lord-Wardens governing Arioch no longer have the military might to enforce their rule upon the surrounding states. They nevertheless retain powerful symbolic influence (or at least have so far). This partly due to their refraining from exercising their influence pointlessly (and impotently), and partly because the beautiful and magnificent capital still stands as a dream of better times in the hearts of most common people in the Summerlands. Before the East Sea War one hundred years ago, this symbolic status was often relied upon in mutual arbitration between warring province-states. Its decisions were enforced by fear- not of direct imperial reprisal, but fear of loss of symbolic legitimacy and the morally sanctioned invasion of other uninterested province-states.
Now, too many province-states have either been overrun or shattered by the orcs; though the symbolism of Arioch remains, their influence is severely blunted by the chaos of the times.