The Empire of Makhaira is a powerful empire located in southwestern Allyria, northern Matarica, and western Stochalia. It is bordered by the Matriarchate of Periaslavl and the Middle Sea to the north, the Lirian Ocean and Qafric Wastes to the west, the Kingdom of Matara and the Gulf of Doris to the south, and the Transtochalian Mountains to the east.
The Empire of Makhaira is currently ruled by Emperor Nikephoros II Petraliphas, the eighth member of the Petraliphas Dynasty. He took the throne in 2092 IR following the death of his brother Nicholas III. The emperor technically holds all legal power, but most of the day-to-day decisions are made by bureaucrats and governors whose primary goals are to amass wealth and power in the ever-shifting snake pit that is Makhairan government.
The empire is divided into provinces, currently 43 in number, including Basilopolis itself. These are led by a governor, who generally view themselves as complete rulers of their own domain. Rarely have emperors punished governors for their decisions, though it is quite common for a governor to find themselves out of favor because of other reasons. These could include their family suffering a loss of prestige, political maneuvering by a competitor, or simply the emperor's whim.
The major political divisions within the empire tend to fall on familial, not provincial lines. The major families of the empire lead the competition for power and prestige in a constantly swirling maelstrom of bargaining and treachery.
As the largest empire on Eard, the empire has little to fear from its neighbors. However, its relations with those neighbors depends entirely on the whim of the emperor. When an emperor, as in the case of Nikephoros II, aggressively wants to extend Imperial borders, their neighbors, especially Periaslavl and Matara, tend to be wary. Some emperors have seen the folly in such aggression and have focused on commercial growth, but these have been less common.
The Empire of Makhaira is huge and has access to almost any and all resources somewhere in its domains. Several provinces, notably Arbanon and Maximus Poenassorum, are known throughout the world for massive food production, so the empire generally exports food and knows little of famine.
Hence, Imperial trade tends to focus on luxury goods, such as Svellheimish amber, Amaranthine spices, and objects of art from throughout the world.
The empire can field the largest military force in the world, either on land or at sea. However, it is not efficient or consistent. The Empire currently has 42 legions, however, these are almost never mustered as a single unit.
Instead, each legion consists of a number of cohorts which vary in size from 100 to 600 soldiers. These cohorts are comprised with troops reflecting the tactics and people of the area in which they are from.
For example, the Pathfinders are technically one of six cohorts of the Legio XVIII Dassaretica, along with the Akritoi, Altmezzers, Feroun, Lakewardens, and the Pronoiars. However, the thought of mustering these six into a single legion is preposterous. These six do not get along, in part because of ancient tribal differences. More importantly, the six use different tactics from each other. The Pathfinders tend toward the Old Imperial shield wall. The Pronoiars are pure cataphracts. The Lakewardens are marines and sailors. Furthermore, the entire strength of Legio XVIII is less than 2000.
This is not to say that the empire doesn't have larger forces available to it. There are legions, especially the Legio XXI Transtochalia and the Legio XXIV Fulminata, which are stationed near the Transtochalian Mountains, who are actually overstrength compared to even Old Imperial Standards. These have 18 and 20 cohorts, respectively, which all contain at least 300 men. Raiders and nomadic tribes appear from the Transtochalian Mountains regularly, of course, and the Empire keeps a strong presence there.
In those rare instances that most legions such are mustered and fight together, it is not surprising to find they tend to suffer heavy losses, even despite generally good equipment and training. Imperial doctrines of war at this point just tend to assume they will be able to assemble a larger army than their opponents and thus have less need for efficiency. This assumption has, with few exceptions in the last millennia, proven valid.
In addition, most major nobles and generals have a group of palatini. These are warriors employed directly to the noble are general, who are responsible for their pay and equipment. Hence, these groups tend to be smaller. Their training and equipment varies with the sponsor, too, though sponsors who do not equip and pay their palatini well tend to have fewer seeking to be a part of their groups.
The Imperial Guard is the group sworn to the emperors. The Imperial Guard is extremely prestigious, has stringent entry requirements, and are expected to be wholly loyal to the emperor. They are well-equipped and well-paid. Membership of the Guard is not restricted to native Makhairans, and in fact emperors tend to prefer outsiders whose loyalty is not already given to one of the Imperial families.
Imperial Guardsmen are rarely mustered as a unit, but there are about 10,000 of them all told. They serve in a variety of roles, including as regional commanders in crises, advisors, spies, internal policemen, and whatever else the emperor needs.
See Legions of Makhaira.
However, this transition had been in motion for many years prior to the "official" date. The regions of the Old Empire, which ringed the Middle Sea and once included all of the Kreisens and much of what is now the Seven Kingdoms, boasted much less population and wealth than Basilopolis and eastern parts of the empire despite its vast territory. Basilopolis is also closer to trade lines stretching to the east, where vast amounts of wealth awaited in Amaranth.
The final nail in the coffin was the a family's attempt to usurp the throne from Alexius I. Since at the time, their power base lay in the west, Alexius, whose family's wealth came more from the east, simply moved his court, making both empire and his family stronger while weakening his enemies.
See Emperors of Makhaira.