AUTOKRATORIA TIS ENOTIS, A DECADE INTO THE REIGN OF KÁRDIO IV AND PIPPERS I SIDEROS
Is it possible to simply create a world power out of thin air?
Millennia of conventional wisdom and lived experience scream at the asker to cease their delusions. "Halu" as some in the lands of, say, /moon/ or /nijiid/ may tell you.
In truth, it's possible, but you cannot do it alone with human hands. Or those of whichever mortal race you may be thinking of. When Lampardáleos and Paralírima were joined together by marriage unification, it was simply a formalization of what some observers, both in Lampardáleos and outside of it, feared to be happening all along. Though they still hated each other down to the very last molecule, the late King Glaucus of /tsun/ and recently-executed Most High Acolyte Zharau of the Alkamíllan Cult were stringently against the move and had respectively been trying to sabotage it for four decades apiece.
Why had this happened? Just over six centuries prior to the unification, the pantheons of each respective country issued a directive for their clergy to sign a mutual cooperation pact which would be renewed each year. This had the effect of making the city of Phasmollab, formerly simply a riverine trade hub within The Kingdom of Paralírima, a holy city for both polities, especially those who worshipped the Goddesses Lumi, Yuri, Lia, and Pippa.
Fast forward to the reign of Agapas IX Palaistís, and the beginning of a major period of instability within the whole of Paralírima. This was not good. As fields, ranches, and factories fell into decay and corruption, a major exporter of food to the Empire began slacking. Not to mention, Agapas himself was something of a bleeding-heart, and saw the marcher lords on the other side of the border becoming increasingly heavy-handed and exploitative. Thus, he sent forth his young son-in-law, Kynigóskylo Sideros, on an expedition to bring the wayward strongment to heel. And not to toe, as many of these degenerates would have liked. While this DID incorporate a major swath of important fertile land into the Empire, and perhaps angered some neighbors, it pushed the borders right to the holy city--and therefore gave the Kanikhoriotes and Amarikiyans increasing clout within the Empire, and their ethnic cults especially.
When Agapas' son, Enotitos died, and bequeathed the Empire to Kynigóskylo's son Kárdio, the situation south of the border had only gotten worse. Even more acres were left fallow. Boats left to rot in their quays. Chuubanite mines collapsing in on their workers--tax dollars that were increasingly stretched even in Lampardáleos were used to expand orphanages catering to what refugees from Paralírima made it to the tagmatic garrisons responsible for their safekeeping.
Something had to be done, and more drastically, this time. Many ethnic Paralíriman orphans were at the lower range of enlistment age and eager to serve in the tagma, even if they were being saddled with archaic equipment. Those desires did not wholly reflect reality. Kárdio's massive push for modernization resulted in an excess of weapons, uniforms, and ammunition for the army. Much of the older but not obsolete stock of muskets and rifles were pressed into the hands of Paralíriman volunteers, who were organized into seven new tagma under their own banner and sent to restore order in the country of their birth. Organized, trained, and equipped identically to the fashion of Paralírima tagmatic troops, their black and white uniforms, along with the star-and-bream banner they flew, inspired many feels in onlookers who saw them--Lampardálines for producing such fine troops, and Paralíriman civilians for seeing their own faces in the men who would come to liberate and uplift them. As such, the public of both nations sought closer friendship in the wake of the Repatriation War. This shocked the elites in the capital of Paralírima. More than 70-thousand soldiers, many of whom would be crack troops in the "normal" Royal Army had parked themselves down in formerly-derelict but strategically important fortresses and began distributing things like schoolbooks, medicines, seeds, animal feed, and new edicts guaranteeing ancient rites of the peasantry and burghers.
Queen Pippers, understandably, was frothing with rage at the onset. Despite flying the Paralíriman standard, and claiming to serve her interests, these new tagma were not raised by her captains and undercut her magistrates' authority. Leaving the palace to demand their eviction from her lands at once, Pippers saw that the people were happier, and began liking her MORE, now that the seven new tagma were explicitly framing their presence as divine intervention on behalf of the queen. Thus, she and her loyalists began seriously entertaining a marriage alliance to the young Emperor, who was not many years her junior. Plus, anybody with guns sticking it to that coven of foot fetishists they called the nobility in her country was always welcome.
The Kanikhoriote and Amarikiyan reformers in Chairetismópoulis jumped at the unintentional signal. Vast sums of money were transferred to the frontier into the hands of the new tagma, and used to immediately begin repairing roads, bridges, schoolhouses, and hospitals. New crops were introduced, and large amounts of bycatch transported overland to kickstart the revitalization of the worst fields. A few more botany experts were contracted out from Kárdio's friends in /rose/ to begin slinging the mangrove stormwall ever further south. In a seemingly pointless move, an entire naval detachment was sent out under cover of night to snag an entire school of spawning trevally and store them in a massive glass tank purpose built to hold them. These fish were then taken to the southern shores of Paralírima and released to seed the coastal waters with more fish for rice farmers to occasionally sneak into their paddies and eat or sell as needed. Their young would inhabit the new mangrove habitat, and as the two nations shared large reef predator species, no ecological damage was expected--in fact, eight years in, bolstered trevally stocks began inexplicably pushing out an invasive snapper species that had shown up via ballast larvae from /mep/!
The new tagma began building warehouses, and seeking out men of integrity to foreman the military factories not yet present in the former Paralíriman lands. The entire empire's internal bits were redrawn. In a rather more shameful move (at least to some), Mavrikoukleiotes, Ayanians, and Alchemillans were subject to a near-genocide. Whoever was left were sent to join the last of the Satonikans in slavery on the renamed island of Chairetismós, formerly the Satonikan theme. The island would become a major sugar exporter in subsequent decades. This demographic shift helped facilitate the reorganization, as colonists were shifted around as per the directives of the School of War, to provide more solid recruiting bases for both the defensive and offensive tagmata. As for the field armies themselves, each of the tagmata were upped to 15000 soldiers. 2500 cavalry, 500 artillerists and combat engineers, and 12000 infantry. All of the tagmata, new and old, have been given new black and white brigandine fatigues, with armor plates and combat helms enameled in a drab navy when required. Front line assault troopers within the tagmata, named Loumigoumoi were issued such midnight-blue cuirasses and helmets, primarily to ward off arrow fire, thrown up debris, and shrapnel when taking battlefield fortifications. As many armies were still fielding medieval infantry, though with increasing professionalism, mouthplates and visors were still being issued, but mobility was consistently sought over full-strength body protection. Colored sashes with stripes remain to denote which tagma and unit a soldier belongs to. Horses continue to lack much armor beyond a faceplate and unit-color-coded caparison. The introduction of caplock firearms was completed, and new pinfire cartridges from /haha/ were slowly being disseminated amongst Imperial Guard units.
To Kárdio's pleasant surprise, Lavrentios IX, the Chief Abbot of the mountain monastery complexes of Oros Trachílos, is one of the newly-unified country's strongest supporters. For those who do not yet know, Oros Trachílos is essentially an ecclesiastical estate almost in undisputed control over the small mountain range upon which it sits. Due to the rather free and open attitude its monks take with the pleasures of the flesh, the Holy Deer Mountains are something more than a simple sex cult. For more than a century now, advanced medical knowledge has been freely flowing outwards from the monasteries. Physical therapy regimens and other fitness tools. New medicines for things as simple as fever and minor rashes. Better understanding of how mind-altering substances like alcohol work. Increased ability to cultivate certain herbs and fungi for use in remedies, elixirs, and simple cuisine. Nutrition is bettered amongst the literate. Kárdio needs the Abbot on his side if he is to achieve his ambitions of a spiritually integrated empire, and the ability to have more physically-adept soldiers with more open access to monastical knowledge does not hurt. What he gets instead is a propaganda machine tethered to a medical school and megachurch. Several monks are even loaned out to the medical department of the School of War! The local nobility are brought in line by Lavrentios with the threats of being sent to the mythical hell known as "Brasilia" if they even THINK of rebelling. As it turns out, his "oshi-kami", the Goddess Iori, was rather enthusiastic about the integration, and the monks, who were already leaning towards supporting the move, jumped right in behind him. The cult was already popular, and its teachings disseminated in several languages, and if the Imperial agenda was attached, so much the better.
The Empire received a new flag, and as such, a new battle standard as well. (https://files.catbox.moe/4o5xgg.png)