The Kogian Five are (besides
Eluda’shi Lashmara) the most instrumental
individuals in the establishment of the
Marmarran Citystate, each of them
epitomising a facet of the Marmarran
identity. Each of the mavericks (besides the ‘tragic’
Kijuur Destius) also founded their own
Kogianate dynasties, which produced a whole manner of other experts and
eccentrics in their respective fields. The three men (Kijuur
Destius, Lyrias Meurtian and Hiartun
Rarkan) and two women (Yian Tisare and Mila
Venraius) that made up the original
Marmarran elite have been forever immortalised for their vital contributions
to the Citystate that we have
Mila Venraius - alternatively known as the "Intellect of Marmarra" by Marmarran historians- is arguably the most important of all five classical Kogian. Whilst the contributions of the others in terms of leadership, military prowess, magical understanding and art are undeniably important, Mila Venraius is attributed to being the catalyst behind the exponential growth of Marmarra whilst the settlement was still deliberately cradled by the ever watchful eye of Eluda’shi Lashmara. It was this young Cuscan woman’s economic ideas that promoted Marmarra to its place of affluence, and though she was easily the most confrontational of all the Kogian (particularly with regard to the Witch Queen herself), the atypical Zhunite arrogance this woman possessed did not diminish her capacity to form an institution renowned still unto this day throughout the Western half of Nybelmar.
Image description. The Fifth Kogian Mila Venraius, the so-called "Intellect of Marmarra". Picture by Bard Judith.
Though not a woman renowned for her brilliant good looks, Mila’s appearance was
greatly reflective of her character. Being the second tallest Kogian (dwarfed
only by Hiartun Rarkan - and excluding the mysterious outlier of
Kijuur Destius whose height was
unknown) Mila’s strength of character was definitely represented through her
strength of frame. Though by no means masculine, Mila’s stature was somewhat
muscular when compared to the ever-present physical ‘trophy’ of
Yian Tisare, making her presence
rather imposing - something she enjoyed playing in her favour.
For a woman who spent a large portion of her life inside - whether studying, writing, debating or plotting - Mila was the owner of a remarkably Zhunite golden skin (a dominant trait that seems to be passed on to all of her descendents - notably Decipher Ziron of New-Santhala’s Compendium). As seems to be a relatively common trait amongst Marmarrans, even those who became such by choice rather than birth, a relatively penetrating gaze, eyes as brown as marron bark, made its way into Mila’s possession. This consistent trait, regardless of heritage, is a long standing joke amongst various visitors to Marmarra. The Ter’ei’vikh Miraran Tehuriden famously said ‘for all the things absent from the Drifting Woods, from everything absent from Kaereth, from the unusual cedi to the playful arim, nothing has ever been more apparently odd to my eyes than the fact that all Marmarrans seem to have eyes dictating inalienable suspicion; almost as though the entirety of the Krean Empire’s penchant for conspiracy has been inherited by the City of Witches’.
Additionally, Mila’s taste for purples and indigos was continuously represented not only via her dress sense, but also through her hair. Having rare (and thus prized) curly hair, Mila was as noticeable in a crowd as a flame in water from a young age. Her decision (presumably after extensive persuasion from the part of Yian Tisare) to dye her hair a violent purple was one that she never personally rebuked- the Menemronn-esque colour schemes characterised herself irreparably. In Mila’s most famous artistic representation, a Tisare portrait, Mila is portrayed in homage to both Enfuegera Turai, a prominent Cuscan philosopher - as well as the grandmother to Ashara Turai (a famous novelist, known primarily for his literary pieces on various lesser known Zhunite settlements such as the rizjo paddies of Arroza and Miarzan cattle farms) and great aunt to Gayiana Shashana (who would eventually become Lyrias Meurtian’s wife) - and Mujaravina- a relatively minor Zhunite Goddess considered to be one of the many children of the High Goddess Ankriss, associated primarily with fertility, both agriculturally, sexually and intellectually.
Personality. First and foremost, Mila was an intellectual. As was the case with most Cuscans, Mila was educated both in calligraphy, classical philosophy (she was one of the few Zhunites who learned of the Tiquaitan classics), rhetoric and music. Displaying talent in these fields and others, her capacity was expanded by torrents of further scholarly ability. Her knowledge of mathematics, accountancy and the economy was expanded through a variety of Kimban tutors whilst her understanding of law and diplomacy stemmed from her diligent dedication to Hostarian affairs. It was said Mila had read every book the Salt Hill had to offer, and considering her encyclopaedic knowledge, such claims were not founded on loose ground.
However, with such great knowledge always comes a fundamental choice: objective charity or self-obsessed arrogance. Sadly, Mila adopted the latter. When in her early life she tried to make a name for herself in Cuscan politics her abilities as a ruthless dialectician of any who opposed her in conjunction with her inability to accept her own flaws (regardless of whether she understood them or not) quickly made her known as a force to be reckoned with. Whilst it was understood that she was brilliant, it was hard to find anyone who showed reverence for the woman's personality rather than her scholarly virtue.
Despite her undercurrent of arrogance, one section of society always humbled Mila: the magi. Mila idolised the Krean maverick Dearan (despite their similar ages) and showed great respect to both Kijuur and Lyrias for their understanding of Eludian Sorcery. Unusually, it was the one who was accepted to be the most accomplished Sorceress in Marmarra that Mila was locked in intellectual conflict with - the brilliant Witch Queen herself, Eluda’shi Lashmara. Whether it was the fact that Mila found Eluda’s methods crude, the fact that she constantly compared the two quintessential Krean, Dearan and Eluda or whether the rumours that Eluda was threatened by Mila’s intelligence were true - history tells us that Marmarra knows no feud greater than that between Mila Venraius and Eluda’shi Lashmara (second only to the great conflicts between the Moor’shune and Pyrunai schools and the historical poignant dispute between the Witch Queen, Kyera the Tyrant and Red Sisters Mistress, Landaria Celene).
Biography. Early Life (2345- 2330 b.S.). Born on the archaic ‘Salt Hill’ of Cusca, Mila’s nature as a needlessly arrogant woman would seem to have been pre-set from birth, though her intellectual capacity was still awesome amongst the scholars of the metropolis. Throughout her childhood and teen years Mila showed a great precocity and ability in the variety of fields she took her hand to. Mastering the classics of the Zhunite flute at the age of seven and consigning the intricacies of rhetorical and dialectical theories to memory at ten, it became apparent that this young girl was not only talented, she had been smiled upon by the divine. Her moderately wealthy family dedicated all the surplus finance they could to the intellectual growth of the young Venraius girl. Despite her father’s hopes however, Mila was never able to grasp the concept of magic, regardless of how many tutors were hired - the favouritism demonstrated causing the magically 'competent' sibling Garius Venraius much annoyance.
Rejection of Society (2330- 2327 b.S.). Mila began to show great apathy toward Cuscan society. Her attempts to make a name for herself in both the realms of philosophy and politics had become fruitless due Cusca’s unrelenting chauvinism towards women, even those of greatness. The circulating legends of the Krean Witch scouring the plains of Zhun, making entrance through the Dragon’s Back, immediately took the interest of Mila, who was already infatuated with the Krean and their magic. Mila herself had great admiration for the classical Krean civilisation, trying extensively to live by the mantras of the Krean rather than those established by the Cuscans; primarily because Krean society embraced both genders wholeheartedly. She decided to pursue this elusive woman.
Arrival at Marmarra (2325 b.S.). Mila arrived at the ‘Marmarran Effort’ only to find it, in her opinion, somewhat dysfunctional. Her immediate criticisms of Eluda’shi’s work in Marmarra infuriated the Witch Queen to no end, the Krean woman on many times considered murdering the arrogant ‘brat’. It would appear to be that case that Kijuur (the legendary love interest of Eluda amongst other things) influenced Eluda to accept Mila and her ideas - the fact that she continued to do so after Kijuur’s ‘death’ (see entry for details) might be reflective of the woman’s undying love for the mysterious character.
Marmarra’s Establishment (2315- 2255 b.S.). After the collaborations of Mila Venraius (the Fifth Kogian) and Eluda’shi, the full grandeur of the Witch Queen’s vision was realised. Though contentions between Mila and the Witch Queen remained (the feud being inherited by the successive petal and the Venraius housemaster) the two both took some solace in the fact that the fruit of their labours had been realised. As was the case with all the other Kogian, Mila, now aged 70, was given a Kogianate household, possibly in an attempt to ‘bury the hatchet’ (though history tells us this did not work by any stretch of the imagination).
Furthermore, Mila is said to have created Marmarra's fabled 'Black Library', a legendary underground building of unknown location wherein the secrets of Marmarra were kept. Whilst the tales told of Marmarra oft link this mythical place with the equally esoteric 'Brotherhood of the Eye', should we ever perceive that such a 'Black Library' be found, a vast number of Nybelmar's darkest secrets may come to an all too revealing light.
Death (2255 b.S.). Mila Venraius dies, but her legacy as the intellectual threat to the otherwise ‘perfect’ Lillivear Eluda’shi Lashmara exists continuously until the climactic ‘Fall of the Venraius House’, wherein the disgraced Kogianates were forced into a position of social poverty - epitomised by the change of their last name to ‘Ziron’ (literally: ‘One that fell’).
Importance. Mila Venraius reflects the value Marmarran society attributed to intelligence (as well as their unconditional acceptance of arrogance in the wake of virtue). Coren FrozenzZephyr’s famous testament (much to Decipher Ziron's disdain) in this respect may be of use to illustrate:
‘It was the sweeping wisdom of the Krean in their ‘Search for the Silver Serpent’ that blessed the Plains of Zhun, planting the seeds of the great civilisation that the Citystates would grow into. And whilst it was the case that the virtues of music, literature and the underlying arts of discourse (and large volumes of wine) formed the foundations of the classical Zhunite cultures, Marmarra was one corrupt blemish on the face of the Southern Coast. The grandeur lent from the Krean had been warped into a spectacle of Marresque distaste, and as the beauty of my kinsmen’s art had fallen into the clutches of these insidious witches, so did the gracious capacities of the fundamental rhetoric. Whereas the great statesman of the neighbouring metropoli had mastered the craft of the spoken word, the degenerates of Marmarra had merely dissected the pure foundations of knowledge and have used it to enhance their abilities to plot, lie, deceive, delude and inflict.’
It was, arguably, the wisdom of Mila Venraius that allowed
Marmarra to grow so
exponentially. Whereas beforehand the Witch
Queen Eluda'shi had been garnering wealth for the
Citystate-in-progress by either
pillaging or 'enslaving' various small hamlets and villages, it was the
suggestions made by Mila that allowed
Marmarra to progress. Though her exact plans are unknown, the most poignant
part of her 'economic makeover' lay in her idea to deforest that last coastal
woods of Zhun - mimicing the deforestation that had given the existing
Zhunite citystates before them an
explosion of wealth. The evergrowing fleets of the (at the time new)
Anpagan Republic that grew from the
ashes of civil war was the perfect customer for the wood - renowned for its
versatility in ship building. It seemed to generate a perfect relationship,
allowing the Republic to once again assert its dominance over the seas and
endowing Marmarra with vast
financial security. Little did the
Anpagans know that these seemingly innocent 'Wood Merchants' would one day
form the strongest allies of the
Daedhirians, the Republic's
(often mortal) enemies. Such was the success of Republican Wood trade that
within fifteen years of Mila's arrival, the pillaging routine partaken in by the
Marmarran military had ceased -
though the enslaved regions would soon flourish themselves into the
Queendom of the Eye.
As well as Mila’s inherent intelligence, her foundation of the Venraius Kogianate dynasty provided Marmarra with a variety of its most important scholarly institutions: most importantly the Black Library, archiving a huge number of Nybelmarian secrets that the Marmarrans do not wish to share. Furthermore, Mila Venraius is a distant ancestor of the exotic compendiumist Decipher Ziron, a man who justly stays as a mere footnote on the importance of this amazing woman of epic proportions.