Once again, I've been struck by a short-llived burst of setting inspiration and I thought I'd throw it down here.
The Tarlek Empire occupies the bulk of the eastern continent from the Great Shargon Mountains in the east to the Grey Sea in the west. From their capitol in Gath Honn on the Black Dragon River, the Tarleks are a mighty military power, fielding legion after legion of soldiers under the command of the warrior-nobility, steeped in the warlike traditions of the Tarleks' warlike past, and the largest fleet of airships in the known world. A series of expansionary wars in recent decades have made their neighbors wary and distrustful of the Tarleks, though these conquests have brought peace and prosperity to the formerly-fractious lands on the shores of the Grey Sea, and made safer the trading networks of the eastern lands. In particular, the Empire's most recent conquest, that of the Kingdom of Yahask, remains an open wound one which it seems may fester into open hostility between the Tarleks and their neighbors.
The Tarlek Emperor is, in a sense, an elected official, endorsed by the will of the Tarlek Senate. However, this institution has been monopolized by the line of the House of Nehhakk, from whom the past four Emperors have been born. The current Emperor, Daitgok, grows grey with age; his sons, the Princes Daitask and Tarlanikom, have gathered camps of supporters about them, and each has begun to lobby members of the Senate for the Great Endorsement which will make each Emperor. Whispers grow in the Empire of assassination attempts and secret wars- it may be that at the peak of its power, civil war will tear the mighty Empire apart from within.
In general, the Tarleks, much like their nomadic warrior ancestors, are a people who exalt action and manliness. The upper class of society is composed of the Houses of the warrior-nobility, organized broadly into four Clans who trace their kinship back to the Four Worthies (legendary figures of valor and warrior virtue in the legendry of the Tarlek nobility), but generally, Tarlek society is rather democratic, and high posts within the Imperial government are available even to those of the lowest classes if they can prove their merit (though it is a frequent complaint that nobles are favored, and Clan nepotism is a problem).
Republic of Dazahn:
South of the Tarlek empire across the Burangi Mountains, in the hot lands abutting the Chanar Deeps (the southern gulf of the Grey Sea) on the west and the Green Sea in the south lies the Republic of Dazahn. The center of a great network of trade routes coming from every direction, Dazahn is a rich nation and the Dazpuri a nation of traders. The Republic contains two of the three largest cities in the region- their capitol of Otanh, on the Green Sea, and the metropolis of Metah on the shores of the Chanar Deeps. Though in large part the Tarlek Empire's armies have made the trade routes from the east safer and more free of bandits and monsters, the recent war of the Tarleks against Yahask badly disrupted the trade routes, and anxiety is rising among the Dazpuris regarding the actions of their bellicose neighbor to the north. For a long time now the border of the Empire has grown ever closer, devouring this or that principality; it is only a matter of time before the Tarleks turn their eyes upon the rich lands of Dazanh.
Though Dazanh is called a Republic, it is, in many ways, much less republican than the Tarlek Empire (whose Emperor, we may recall, is an elected official). It is an oligarchic state whose central rulership lies with the mysterious Group Of Eight, officials secretly chosen from among the body of Dazpuri lord-senators, known as muktuss (these individuals gain their positions through heredity, and function much like dukes, ruling over various provinces of Dazanh, though theoretically with the "will and support of the free Dazpuri people"). Those muktuss chosen to be part of the Group of Eight continue to serve in their positions as lords, but together are a secret ruling council with power over the entire Republic.
The Dazpuri are and have long been a race of merchants. They are an old and cultured people, preserving legend cycles from thousands of years of cultural history; though their explicit origins are as wanderers from the East in the distant past, they also inherited many traditions from the mysterious vanished people whose land came to be theirs.