The Old Empire fell over a thousand years ago, but it still lives on in two nations of Irminsul, a western and and eastern one.
The Domain of Noviodunum
In the northern parts of Gaul lies the Domain of Noviodunum, which alone managed to defend its borders against Frankish invaders even after Rome and Ravenna had fallen. The Great Dux Syargius managed to defeat the Frankish king Clovis in battle and with the aid of troops from the Visigothic kingdom of Gascogne, fought the Franks to a standstill. Of course, the Franks ended up dominating most of Gaul but Noviodunum managed to keep itself intact and played the diplomatic game well enough to ensure that it still exists alongside the rest of the Frankish nations: Burgundy, English Gascony and Aquitaine.
The Domain is led by a hereditary Dux, or Duke. According to traditions, the Dux serves the Emperor, but so far, there has not been any Emperor convincing enough for the Dux to bend their knee.
Frankish culture and language did over time gain acceptance in the Domain, though some traditions and titles from the Old Empire have been kept alive in the Domain. For instance, the chancellor of the Domain is known as the Consul Provisoriam, or Provisional Consul. Likewise, the council of state is known as the Senatus Provisoriam. During extremely formal occasions, public officials and lords wear togas, though day-to-day most wear standard Continental clothing: breeches and waistcoats are the order of the day.
The Domain is administered to by various officials who have hereditary positions. Though the original Domain did not actually have any, Prefects have been appointed to oversee the various provinces of the Domain. The Domain still has serfdom.
About seven hundred years or so back, Norsemen invaded the Domain, but were bought off by Dux Guy III, who agreed to give them land along the Northwestern coast of the English Channel. Nowadays, this province is known as Normandie. Over time, the Norsemen integrated rather well, though the fact that a Normand lord conquered England brought friction between the Dux and the Normans.
The Komnenian Empire
When the Old Empire fell in the west, in the East it thrived though over the centuries it kept losing territory to foreign invasions. The greatest Emperors came from the Komnenian line, especially Emperor Alexios I who managed to fight the Ottomans to a standstill and recover lost lands in Anatolia, temporarily halting the decay of the Empire. Two hundred years later, the Empire was tottering at the brink of collapse, when the Great Mortality wiped out more than two thirds of the entire population, the Ottoman invaders threatened the Imperial City of Constantinople itself and the Empire was locked in civil war between various heirs to the throne.
At that moment, the long-dead daughter of Alexios I, Anna Komnene, awoke in her tomb, marched to the Imperial Palace and declared herself Empress. She managed to end the civil wars, rebuild the imperial administration and negotiate a lasting peace with the Ottomans.
It also turned out that she, despite looking every bit like a living breathing person, was immortal and had powers that ordinary humans don’t have. A palace coup a hundred years later by jealous Palailogos usurpers managed to imprison her and blind her, but she walked through the walls of her jail cell, rallied loyalists to her banners and seized power again. She replaced her gouged-out eyes with emeralds.
The Ottoman Republic was in peace given all of Anatolia, except for the coastal city of Smyrna. Empress Anna I has declared that her Empire is now indivisible, but she will never attempt to seize territory from any of her neighbors through force. The entirety of the Balkans, including Greece, Macedonia, Albania and Bulgaria belongs either to the Empire or petty lords loyal to the Empire, such as the Germanic kings of Siebenbürgen in Transylvania. The Crimean peninsula has been restored to the Empire through a treaty with Genoa. The most important islands in the Mediterranean are under imperial rule, such as Crete, Rhodes, Cyprus and Sicily. The ancient Imperial city of Rome was seized by Imperial regiments when the last High Priest of the God Forgotten died in the late stages of the Great Mortality and no successor was chosen.
While the Komnenian Empire is a successful and a stable nation, it often finds itself at odds with the Hohenthal Emperors who’d like to extend their power southward. It is also distinctly more agrarian and less powerful than many other nations but most nations do not have an immortal god-empress as their head of state. However, the Empire has the distinct advantage of a magical spy service, the Emerald Eyes, who remove one or both of their eyes to see far beyond human capacity.
As for Anna Komnene herself: seven hundred years later, she still does not know why she came back from the dead. She wants to serve her people and her Empire, remembering that it was her first thought when she rose from her tomb. A lonely figure who stalks the empty halls of her father’s palace at night, she would like to know what is the purpose of it all.