Having heard of this development, the Emperor Maximian (A.D. 235-238) sent Hermogenes to purge the city of Christians. In turn, he became a Christian once he saw that the wounds he was inflicting upon Menas miraculously healed.
Then Emperor himself then came to Alexandria; however, he refused to be mollified by either the stoic endurance of Menas and Hermogenes or by the miracles which attended their struggles. Rather, this all made him all the more angry. After personally stabbing to death St. Eugraphos, the personal secretary to St. Menas, he ordered Sts. Menas and Hermogenes to be beheaded. Their decapitated heads, along with that of Eugraphos, were then put into an iron chest and thrown into the sea. Subsequently, these relics were recovered and brought to Constantinople in the ninth century.
For me, the most intriguing part of the this story is the disposal of the saints’ decapitated heads and their subsequent recovery. Can anyone say undersea adventure?
The scenario that immediately leaps to mind is to place a ruin off the coast (possibly hinted at in a treasure map). This ruin is the lair of a Water Naga. She is possession of an iron chest that she is willing to barter for the return of a magical item stolen from her by a group of sahaugin (or some other group of undersea denizens).
I realize this is derivative of something that I did in my Lost Colonies campaign, but I really like the potential of a party either going to the trouble of retrieving said magic device or defeating the naga for the iron chest only to find in contains three skulls. The irony, of course, being that these three skulls, as religious relics, are possibly far more valuable than whatever treasure stolen from the naga in the first place.
Here are some possible powers that the three skulls could give to those who know what they are:
- Heal as per a Staff of Healing only up to three times per day per target depending on how many skulls the user has in their possession.
- Increase the effective Charisma of the possessor by one degree per skull. Thus, if the user has a 10 Charisma, one skull would result in a 13, two skulls 16 and three skulls 18. The number of followers attracted by those of level 9+ are doubled for one who posses two skulls and tripled for one who has all three.
- A spell similar to Comprehend Languages that allows reading, writing and speaking for a duration of 1 turn. This can be cast once per day per skull the user possesses.
There's some interesting confusion about the dates for these saints, probably due to the naming of Roman Emperors: Maximinus I reigned in the dates you give, while Maximian (Latin form "Maximianus") reigned as co-emperor with Diocletian in the late 3rd-early 4th centuries. (And had a fitting reputation for brutality.) Orthodox sites I looked at give both dates for the saints in question. Oh, well, it appeals to a History geek like me. :)
Regarding the relics, the Charisma boost seems most appropriate. As for the healing, I wonder if a form of temporary invulnerability would be more appropriate, since St. Menas' wounds seemed to heal completely as they were inflicted.
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