West of the Diadems, the only true absolute rulers to survive are the Autarchs of Cephlen. One by one, the other great tyrannies have all fallen to degeneracy, corruption, and incompetence. Cephlen alone has retained the vigor of its autocracy, by means of a single, simple check on the Autarch.
The Senate of Cephlen is all but meaningless now, no more than a social club for the factors of Cephlen. It retains only this one task of government; however, that one task suffices.
No Autarch goes to war without the Standard of Cephlen, that mighty relic forged from the bones of a god. By the command of the first Autarch, the Standard is kept in a magically sealed chamber; only the sitting Autarch may enter, and only when ceremonially cleansed. The ablutions begin with steam baths and anointing with rare oils, and end when the Autarch submits to be shaved by a member of the Senate, elected by secret ballot.
Thus, to take Cephlen into war, the Autarch must place his life at the disposal of the representative of the Senate, the factors, and the people of Cephlen. This tradition has ended the lives of a few Autarchs. And it has surely averted many wars.