The Citadel Guard are the only Urizen army. Records of an "Army of the Citadels" date back to the time of Terunael, making them arguably one of the oldest continuously operating military forces in Imperial history.
Unsurprisingly, the Citadel Guard has a large number of trained magicians in its ranks, including ritualists, battlemages, and magical specialists including healers and diviners. The core of the army, however, has always been made up of sentinels trained to support and fight alongside their more magically adept cousins, supplemented by skilled diviners who use Day magic and Night magic to help direct the Citadel Guard to where their abilities can be most effective.
Although the Citadel Guard are powerful, they are the only army Urizen is ever likely to control. There have been attempts over the centuries to deal with this problem but the fact remains that Urizen is the least martially-inclined of all the Imperial nations, as well as having one of the lowest populations. Indeed in recent years even the Imperial Orcs have begun to outstrip the Urizen in terms of sheer numbers.
The Citadel Guard predate the Empire by several centuries. After Urizen joined the Empire during the reign of Emperor Giovanni, they gained access to significantly greater resources allowing their numbers and scope to be expanded. Supplies of food from the Marches and elsewhere meant that many of the farmers of Urizen who had lived a thankless life toiling to produce enough food to keep the spires alive were freed to enter military service, abandoning agriculture to become professional soldiers and swelling the number of sentinels in Urizen dramatically.
Throughout history, the Citadel Guard has played a pivotal role in Imperial strategy. Their ability to extend the magical reach of the Empire cannot be overstated, a priceless advantage when fighting in territories that are not under Imperial control. As a result, since the scouring of Redoubt in 54YE the Guard have been front-and-centre in almost every attempt to expand Imperial boundaries. Historians speculate that only ignorance of the army's magical capabilities saw it relegated to a home defence role prior to this. Once the Imperial Military Council finally understood the full implications of what the army was capable of, demand for the Guard to join campaigns all over the Empire predictably increased. While engaged abroad, the Urizen secured support from the armies of other nations - while their army was helping the Empire expand and secure its borders their homeland was often protected by armies from Highguard, Navarr, and Dawn.
A common criticism of the Citadel Guard is that they take a more detached view of war than some are comfortable with. Their ability to deliver potent magical devastation is only one part of this; some of their generals have gained a controversial reputation for weighing everything in mathematical terms and seeking the path of greatest gain regardless of the human cost. In the reign of Emperor Frederick, after a particularly costly engagement with the Druj, general Mithara of Duoseptem was removed from their position by the Throne with an admonishment to remember that the "numbers" the general dealt in each had a name. During his tenure as general, Emperor Frederick kept the Citadel Guard in a defensive position, causing grumbling in the Imperial Military Council which he endured stoically commenting only that it was not merely the Urizen who needed to treat this as a learning experience.
Despite this reputation for dispassionate behaviour many soldiers in the army nurture a cold hatred for the Druj. Where the Grendel will loot any spire they can conquer, the Druj seem to have no interest in art or learning and no desire to do anything but destroy it. If a spire falls to the Druj, they will usually burn it, often destroying priceless works of philosophy and learning with it. It was this abhorrent nature that led General Theodora of Willstone to order the Citadel Guard to assault a Druj force who had violated the sanctum of the Spire of Seer's Rest, a reclusive spire in the north of Lustri in 279YE. The army attacked using boons of wild fire that the Urizen had forced the eternal Surut to surrender. Brought to inquisition to explain the resulting conflagration the general famously responded that "As terror is the only weapon they know how to wield, so it is the only weapon they will ever understand."
Once again we fight for Spiral. This time, we will finish this. We will use strategy, we will use strength. The Empire learns from its mistakes. Spiral will be ours ... We bring our magical strength into our home nation because of the ground you take...General Nicassia Avicia of the Citadel Guard, Autumn 381YE
In Winter 379YE the Citadel Guard were the beneficiaries of the "unmade trove", a massive cache of rods and mage armour found beneath the Unmade spire in Redoubt. Along with a significant expenditure of ilium, the trove was dispensed to the Guard and used to provide a significant boost in magical ability allowing the army to wield certain unique magical techniques that followed a cyclic progression from realm to realm,
Aside from a brief (if significant) stint in Mournwold in the Spring of 381YE, the Citadel Guard has been focused entirely on the southern and eastern fronts for past three years. They fought against the Druj in Holberg and Reikos where they acted as a focus for the powerful Spring magic that washed away the remnants of the devastating flux. Their actions in Reikos have been noted as an odd counterpart to their involvement in the Mournwold where they are widely condemned for their involvement in the harrowing of the Mourn when magical curses decimated the Jotun armies - and the local population.
The symbol associated with the Citadel Guard is the three spires beneath the cloud-shrouded moon. Popular opinion claims that the symbol represents the Court of the White Fountain, a grand fortification in Redoubt that has regularly served as a "home barracks" for the army. Those who have actually visited the citadel however tend to point out that it has only one tower, making the popular belief unlikely. A more likely explanation for the symbol lies in the foundation of the army as the military arm of the Urizen in pre-Imperial times. The three towers may represent the original three territories of Spiral, Morrow, and Zenith. Other common symbols associated with the army are the astronomantic birds the Stork and the Phoenix. Citadels who feel a particular affinity for the Urizen army often include the stars of one or both of these constellations in their sigils.
It is rare for an Urizen sentinel not to have served in the Citadel Guard in some capacity. Even those who embrace the mundane arts of warfare in later life commonly take a year or two to fight as foot soldiers or officers in the army, gaining an unparalleled personal experience of what military service truly means. The generalship of the Citadel Guard is often seen as one of the most prestigious ways for a sentinel to achieve significant political power in the nation. Crucially the close camaraderie engendered by fighting together often provides a sentinel with valuable political allies in later life. Perhaps due to the complex philosophy of the Net of the Heavens, those who have served in the Citadel Guard often go out of their way to assist a former sibling-in-arms, and a quiet but potentially potent network of allies and influence has spread across the entire nation from time-to-time thanks to this shared military service. Characters who wish to openly demonstrate their links to the army will often display the symbol of the three spires openly on their person somewhere so that others can easily identify them.
The Guard once enjoyed a close relationship with the smiths who worked Damakan's Forge and many weapons were created for the army there. Until the forge was destroyed 40 years ago by the Grendel, generals who proved their worth were often gifted with a powerful item - usually a sword - fashioned at the Forge. The most notable case was the Nexus of the Stars Grasp, an artefact Web of Celestial Attunement, created in 283YE by the architect Lucia of Highwatch as a gift for the general of the Citadel Guard. Sadly the Nexus was lost during the fall of Spiral in 331YE. According to legend the item was traded by the Grendel to an inhabitant of the Autumn realm in return for assistance in their war against the Empire, but no historical research has ever been able to turn up anything beyond this rumour.
The general of the Urizen army has rarely had difficulty securing the use of magic items of note. At one time, for example, the Citadel Guard carried a unique magical standard - a Celestial Sigil widely considered to be the first such standard of its type. A valuable artefact, it served as a rallying point for the Citadel Guard - perhaps most famously in the campaign against Alderei the Fair. Historians record that it was one of the first banners to bear the beautiful image of the Phoenix that adorns many Urizeni banners and standards to this day. Sadly, the artefact was lost in 54YE during the scouring of Redoubt. The standard was consumed in black flame by the will of the Ashenblood Knight, a powerful servant of the eternal Surut. The exact circumstances of its destruction are unclear. Some historians claim the Ashenblood Knight was fighting for the orcs and destroyed the sigil after defeating its bearer, Salome of Highwatch, in a duel. Others disagree and claim that Salome offered the standard as tribute to the Thrice-cursed Court to bind the Ashenblood Knight to her service for a time. Regardless, this powerful symbol of Urizen martial might was lost forever in the early years of the Empire. In the centuries since, however, many generals of the Citadel Guard have made a point of fighting under a celestial sigil, perceiving it as a powerful reminder of the victories of the past - and the cost of failure.
Most units in the Citadel Guard include at least one trained spell-breaker, a sentinel skilled at identifying, evaluating, and combating enemy magicians on the battlefield. Every spell-breaker favours a different approach - some use specific magical items like a threshers cudgel, but spears and bows are most common. The key element of a spell-breakers training is judgement. There are magicians on every battlefield, the vast majority of them are not worth special consideration. The goal of a spell-breaker is to identify when an enemy magician - or enemy ritual team - is actually likely to achieve something decisive - to use their magic to make themselves a node in the net of the heavens. Only then will the spell-breaker leap into action, risking themselves to nullify the threat. More than one prominent Urizen hero began their study of arete as a spell-breaker in the Citadel Guard.
Those who join the Citadel Guard who show skill with ritual magic are brought together to receive extensive training in battlefield rituals. Rather than attempt to create a single mighty coven, the army focuses on developing a number of covens that can act independently based on shared mastery. They are also taught how to understand the Net of the Heavens and apply it on the battlefield so that they employ their magic at critical moments. Rituals such as Hands of Sacred Life, Inevitable Collapse into Ruin, or Thundering Roar of the Lion-bound Horn can all prove decisive if cast at the right moment. The covens try to adjust their roster of mastered rituals to complement the campaigns the Citadel Guard is currently engaged in. For example, when the Druj are active a ritual such as Ascetic Star of Atun becomes significantly more useful. The large supplies of mana available to the covens of the Citadel Guard ensures that they soon receive more experience with ritual casting than almost any other students of magic. Some of Urizen's most famous battlefield ritual teams first came to prominence while serving in the Citadel Guard.
Army quality : Cyclic Magic
The army still possesses the ability to gather crystal mana and other magical resources for use by their general, and regularly does so when assigned to a defensive position or engaging in resupply in a safe territory. It is easy for the general to overlook the utility of this order, but in times of mana shortage it has been used to good effect. Likewise, the general of the army can still be used as a focus for potent ritual magic that is channeled through an esoteric application of the magical Law of Dominion to effect a territory normally beyond the reach of the Imperial regio.
In addition to these abilities, the Citadel Guard now have the ability to channel unique realm magic effects depending on their position in a six-stage cycle. These abilities require significant strategic planning to employ effectively, given that they are available for only one season out of every six in a rigidly defined order. Whether using Day magic to map a territory, evoking a shield of protection with Winter magic, channeling Summer magic to establish a beach head, or any of the other potent supernatural abilities this quality grants, the Citadel Guard's unmatched ability to bring the exact tool for the job to the exact moment where it will do the most good.