Mithral Guard (/miθral gard/)
The Mithral Guard is, despite its relative novelty one of the most prestigious military organizations in Cyrenica, and indeed in Galisea. Established during the Brother's War, the Guard was initially an elite military formation. In this role, it became a favorite of the Cyrus Rex. As a result it often became the monarch's attendants on the field. In more recent times however, the Guard has shifted from a campaigning force to those of bodyguards. They have however, maintained the elite standing and potent fighting abilities as much as they could have; even maintaining a lot of semistandard magic items a
Effectively a royal household unit, the Mithral Guard is a very small formation, lacking the full legionary structure of the rest of the Cyrenic Army. Exact numbers vary year to year, but the whole of the Mithral Guard consists of roughly five hundred persons. This number is almost exclusively combat strength with only a handful of supporting officers. This manpower is subdivided into much smaller units that make up the various garrisons and guards that the Mithral Guard is responsible for uphold, though no unit is reliably larger than fifty persons.
The Mithral Guard is famous for its superb equipment which is often maintained by individual soldiers of the guard and passed down from generation to generation of Mithral Guards often stretching back several centuries. This is particularly true of the enchanted axes carried by the Guard most of which can be traced to the famous Cyrenic runesmith Galla Respatus Galla, who produced most of these axes over the course of the Brother's War. Mithral Guard also carry spellguard shields as well as suits of Mithral Armor. Though some of the older mithral mail hauberks and scale armors are in service, the majority of most active members of the Guard wear newly created, custom suits of mithral plate armor, often of Aeillan pattern. The rest of a Guard's kit is generally procured by the Guard themselves, and as a result a wide variety of survival equipment, underclothes and the like exist, but are almost universally of high quality.
The Mithral Guard's most famous weaponry are the enchanted axes they carry with them at all times they are on duty. These weapons are seen to be the primary arms of the Guard when they are serving within the safety of Cyrenic cities. In times of war however, the Mithral Guard take up up weapons better suited for war. Traditionally they took up crossbows, and polearms. In more modern times however, the Cyrae Reces of the Aurelian Dynasty have been quick to issue advanced gunpowder weapons to Mithral Guardsmen in the field, initially crude arquebuses. In the current day however, the Mithral Guard has access to some of the finest, mastercrafted muskets in the known world. Furthermore when clearing some of the underdark tunnels of Cyrene, Guardsmen have been seen carrying a new model of advanced flame projector, far more portable and deadly than the crude designs adopted with the advent of gunpowder.
The Mithral Guard, being such a small organization lacks a major command structure. The whole of the Guard is nominally under the command of the Cyrus Rex whom they serve directly. In practice however, the Cyrus Rex has appointed a Princeps to command the Guard on a day to day basis for at least five centuries. Underneath the Princeps are the watches who are commanded by an ad hoc Magister Vigilae, these watches vary in size but can be as small as five or ten Guards or as large as nearly one hundred, with the exact size being dependent on what the watch is tasked with Guarding, or what campaign they are partaking in. The watches themselves are given a measure of seniority dependent on the prestige of the post, with the direct bodyguards of the Cyrus Rex being assigned the position of primus inter parem of the various posts. The watches themselves are the smallest organization formally included in the Guard, though many of the larger watches establish informal barracks groups, marching partnerships or other similar small units of regular Guards.
In their primary duty as guards of important structures and the Cyrenic royal family, the Mithral Guard are well known for incredibly stalwart defense. Their primary tactic in the event of a riot is to stand together interlock shields and either repulse the attack, or if they are protecting a person, to buy time for a select few comrades and their escortee to escape from the attackers. Often, the mere presence of a small number of Guards is enough to see off most attackers, particularly poorly trained, or poorly equipped ones, though if outmatched they use their limited magical training in order to forcibly prevent themselves from being bypassed. In the field, the Mithral Guard act as shock troops, often discharging their ranged weaponry before charging home with polearms or axes in order to disrupt enemy formations alongside an active Cyrus Rex, they will revert to their defensive tactics if their position appears untenable.
The Mithral Guard are some of the most highly trained soldiers in the armies of Cyrenica. Having been drawn from veteran formations, they are already quite skilled before even joining the guard. This experience is further honed by several months or even years of training in the specific tactics of the Guard. Further, all members of the Mithral Guard are initiated into a holy order dedicated, in the modern era, to the Cult of Silus, and in their education and indoctrination are given some limited training in the magic of the holy warriors of the order, including the ability to magically compel opponents to engage them specifically, as well as imbuing themselves or allies with magical assuredness and fighting spirit. Further they are, in the course of their training taught how to channel magical power in order to imbue their blades with great radiant power and hammer their foes with even greater might. Lastly, they are trained thoroughly to avoid distraction, and to remain ever vigilant under almost any situation, as well as preventing a stoic front to onlookers.
The Mithral Guard is a very minimally supported formation, at least compared to maneuver armies. There are a fair number of forgemasters to provide material support for the Guard, and the elite smiths and runesmiths are jealously guarded by the Cyrus Rex largely to produce materials for the Guard. Many buildings also provide dedicated staffs of chefs, attendants and other support personnel for their local watch. The Mithral Guard on campaign often make use of the traditional legionary baggage train in order to provide logistical support. As a point of fact however, most Guards are expected to look to their own needs, particularly in smaller, less prestigious postings in the smaller cities.
The Mithral Guard is one of the most expensive formations to maintain despite the comparatively limited material support relative to the expense of their gear. Mithral Guards can routinely expect a pay of 50 Aurea per month, nearly four times as that of average legionary (and doubled for Magisters, and seven times as much for the Princeps) as the as well as an additional stipend of 50 Aurea to maintain and purchase equipment (with commensurate increases for officers), and of course, their axes, shields, and armor are provided, and maintained by the Cyrus Rex at the expense of the state. Thus the Mithral Guard are second only to the maintenance of the Iron Legion in terms of burden on the Cyrenic treasury.
The Mithral Guard is an elite formation, and as a result can only expect the finest recruits. The overwhelming majority of recruits to the Guard are already veterans of the Cyrenic legions. Oftentimes these veterans have a decade or more of experience under their belt, having repelled a few Aarumite attacks and perhaps even gone on a punitive expedition. Such veterans are further winnowed down by the rigorous training process which sees half of the prospective recruits failing the training and being sent back to their legions. Certain exceptions to this recruitment process have been made for particularly heroic individuals as well as a handful of adventurers seeking a modestly dangerous career.
Formed in the second decade of the Brother's War, the Mithral Guard was envisaged as an elite formation to be used as shock troops for the legions, using their greater mobility provided by relatively lighter armor. Over the course of the war however, the concept of a such a formation fell out of favor with the traditional officers of Cyrenica. The nascent guard found favor however, with the Cyrus Rex at the time who increasingly took them on as his own personal guards. As the Brother's War came to an end, and the legions sought to distance themselves from the Guard, was formally abolished as a formation of the army, and thus completely transferred over to the monarchy as the royal household troops of the Cyrus Rex. In this capacity it was often utilized as the elite guards of the Cyrus Rex on early campaigns of Cyrenica throughout the Nabari Plateau and other areas where Cyrenica sought to prove its might. The paradigm was shifted however, with the arrival of the Aarumites. Despite the impressive showing of the legions and of the Mithral Guard, the oncoming tide of Aaurmites with their vast numbers, the Kingdom of Cyrenica was forced back into the Odric Mountains with only a small client state held by the Aarakocra left on the plateau and no direct rulership north of the mountains. As a result the Mithral Guard was reconfigured into a more defensive role with the formerly personal guard of the monarch allowed to also protect important royal buildings including palaces, and important centers of the civil service. Since the reconfiguration of the Guard, they have seen little campaigning, mostly limited to suppressing riots, and the odd punitive intervention. In this time the Guard has failed only once in its duties, during the coup against the Sullan dynasty.
The Mithral Guard maintain the proud tradition of being one of the most politically reliable and loyal military formations in the known world. Since their inception they have never participated in a coup against the ruling Cyrus Rex, and have only once have they failed to protect their charge. This reliability has been the result of a consistently close relationship between the Cyrus Rex and the Princeps with reigning monarchs taking great care to ensure good relations between their heirs and the leading Princeps as well as any relevant replacement officers, sometimes even designating new heirs in the event of breakdown of relations (though more often replacing princeps), as well as supplementing state payments in times of strife with monies from the royal treasury. The resulting reliability sees the Mithral Guard being given much more prestige than other Cyrenic military formations.
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