I've added some new mockups to the OP showing some new button positions. These just show the area of the page where the moved buttons are. I prefer either the second of third option (mockup_v2_b and mockup_v2_c) out of the new mockups (the third (mockup_v2_c) is probably the better of the two).
Also, you could make the rules and how to post info show up either in new tabs or as floating boxes similar to your HTTP error message boxes.
Looks weird to have two link buttons next to buttons that are actually there for functionality.
yeah, it would be annoying if you accidentally clicked on it.
Maybe if you could put the buttons on a new line it would look better.
I think it's fine the way it is now. The buttons being integrated with regular text does look a little off, so maybe it could be slightly tweaked, but it's really not a big deal, it doesn't look bad, it gets the job done.
You could also remove the buttons from the text itself and put them right after the text, making the text "Before posting, please make sure you are familiar with the Forum Rules. Having trouble posting? Read our guide on How to Post. <Rules Button> <How to Post Button>"