The Venquis Order is a widespread yet elusive faction of monster-slaying warriors found primarily in Benevis. They orient themselves with Nikina and fight in his name, often supported by the Red Temple and ruling figures. They follow a strong code of ethics and conduct, and train in a wide variety of weapons -- though it is common for Venquis to specialise in the use of a particular armament. They usually work undercover, tasked by authorities to remove recognised monsters that are too close to civilisation. During Black Storms they usually either act as bodyguards for important figures if they are out on missions, or will fortify their own centres of operations against impending monster attacks.
Function and Purpose
Venquis are religious knights who go through an extensive amount of training -- usually 14 years -- to officially be brought into the order. They are raised on a strong code of ethics based on courage and selflessness, taught to conduct themselves in a way that is non-intrusive, and are instructed on how to use a variety of weapons. Though all Venquis receive the Red Temple's blessing, only some are taught to wield divine magic. Regardless, they are all shown the best ways to combat monsters, or -- in the case of entities too powerful to face -- how to protect others from harm. The Venquis are also responsible for the acquisition of synavos birds.
Etlas is an archaios deep in the highland forests north of Fortria in the Kingdom of Margon, and in 412AL it was inhabited by a horde of monsters under the command of a Giakdon. A knight named Erindur, who claimed to be one of the God-King Renin's distant descendants, took his most capable companions to be blessed by the Red Temple, and then went to face the monster horde in Etlas. A fight broke out and the small host of elite warriors fought their way into the ruins, where they faced off against the commanding Giakdon outside the main entrance. Legend says Erindur slew the Giakdon, and the Giakdon slew Erindur with one another's final blows. The monsters fled after the Giakdon fell, and the remaining knights claimed the ruins in the name of the Child God Nikina and the Red Temple. They found a wide variety of Manamorian artifacts and treasures within Etlas's depths and sold them to the Red Temple, using the coin raised to found their own sub-order called the Venquis, meaning 'Vanquishers'.
From 412AL till around 500AL, the Venquis worked for the Red Temple, acting as the strength of their religion by keeping the lands monster-free. Venquis roamed the land openly, displaying their shining armour and emblem wherever they went. Between 480 and 500AL, the order began to run out of money due to reckless spending, and they started to sell their services to various lords. The order began to get political, and it is rumoured that some Venquis even turned to offering themselves as mercenaries while still within the order. The future of the order seemed grim.
When Halartus Benevarus became emperor of the Benevis Empire, he insisted that the Venquis order change the way it works. He exempted the order from taxes, gave them full authority to handle monsters anywhere the Red Temple reached, and made it illegal to stop a Venquis from carrying out their sacred duties, and to travel anywhere near the Etlas archaios. He also had them begin to operate in secret to make it harder for the public or anyone else to get in their way, provided the Venquis had the proper emblems on-hand (usually ranging from tattoos to brooches).
Modern Benevan Kingdoms
Despite the empire collapsing after a short period after Emperor Halartus's death, the Venquis continued operating as they were, protected by the law and funded by the Red Temple. They operate so elusively that many believe they no longer exist, but the Red Temple insists that they do to make the people feel more secure. Despite this, few muster the courage to approach Etlas, as it is still illegal to go into the area.