The Arm of Saint Max is a human humerus bone, said to belong to the Swynnish hero Maxilan Carth. The bone itself is unremarkable, but it has been adorned with bands of red and blue paint. A dried alligator tail has been attached to one end like a thick whip.
In Swynmoor, invoking the name of Saint Max is common among hunters and travelers. Maxilan Carth was one of the first Swynfolk to colonize the Boros Bayou and is considered something of a founding father by Borosians. Carth was known for his generosity, giving freely to friends and strangers alike in times of trouble, and for his good nature. But he is best known for his prowess as a hunter.
Max, as he was commonly called, frequently wandered the swamps alone, one of the few bold enough to do so and the only whose skill could match his bravado. He would disappear for days, going into the forest would only his cloak, his dirk, and his spear, and return with the choicest cuts of gator meat. In his time there was a debate about hunting the gatorfolk, whether it leaned too close to cannibalism given their humanoid stature. To Max it was no question:
We be hunted by dem. Do you have scruples about stewin' great vipers that kill your goats? Or your qualms about eatin' de swamp cats dat drag your babes out at night? Ansgar, your best huntin' dog was taken by a marsh hawk last year, an' you roasted one last night. Fine eatin', too.
You say we wouldn' eat a murder if he was cannibalizin' our village. An' that may be so, but dey's an aberration, not natural. De gatorfolk crawl an' slink all t'rough dese swamps. You say dey ain't natural? I seen 'em nest, I seen 'em lay eggs, I see 'em snap at each oder. Dey's animals as any other, given to dey base instincts. You don' wanna hunt 'em? Den you be consistent: don' each no chickens, nor goats, nor meat of any kind. Den you can tell me I can' run dem t'rough.
- Maxilan Carth, Legal Disputation of Year 67 (New Calendar)
Though not all agreed with the hunter, many had been saved by Carth either through gifts of food in hard times or through direct intervention by the his spear. Maxilan went on to have a successful career as both a hunter and a Borosian leader, the legend of his skill and bravery spreading beyond his village. When he died an old man, he was given full burial honors, his body interred in a casket lined inside and out with the finest gatorfolk leather gathered from his many prizes.
Years later, his name was still spoken of reverently, informally canonized as Saint Max. Hunters called on "Saint Max Who Ate the Gators" for fortuitous hunts, travelers on "Saint Max Who Walked on Water" for swift and safe journeys, and "Saint Max of the Long Spear" for protection from the feared gatorfolk. As interactions with the Kaanarites increased and Jampiri devotion spread throughout the Bayou, Saint Max was even deified as an intercessory god. His burial place, already marked by a tree carved with his name, became a place of pilgrimage, Jampiri worshipers burning incense and leaving offerings. Eventually his bones were found to be disturbed - the less cynical Borosians claiming they moved of their own accord - and parts disinterred: his skull was now adorned and placed on a stone altar under the burial tree, and his right humerus missing entirely. Village leaders denounced the desecration and ordered an investigation, many blaming (probably rightfully) Jampiri shamans and medicine men, but a lack of evidence and the trust that Saint Max would surely avenge his own grave robbing amounted to no consequences.
Shortly after, a new rumor spread among Jampiri practitioners: a medicine man was performing a ritual that would make one invulnerable to gatorfolk attacks, and it involved Saint Max's own blessed bones. Under cover of night the faithful would go to Saint Max's grave, worship his embellished skull, and craft binding circles that the saint might possess their bodies. A medicine man came wearing a gatorfolk pelt as a hooded cloak, bearing aloft Max's own humerus, adorned with paint and a dried whip of a gator tail. Those asking for blessing would bear their backs for the priest to flog them with it; supposedly bearing the wounds would remind the gatorfolk of the hunter and drive them away.
The increasingly rowdy night ceremonies drew the attention of village authorities, who eventually caught the cultists in flagrante delicto; in the chaos of the ritual and arrest, the medicine man was murdered and the arm bone disappeared. Years later it was still whispered of, and though many consider the desecration of Maxilan Carth's grave to be the highest sin, others still seek the blessing of Saint Max Who Fought the Gators.
Use & Effects
A Jampiri medicine man may use the Arm of Saint Max as a ritual tool. To give the blessing of Saint Max, the medicine man must flog those seeking the blessing with the tail of the arm. It must draw blood, and there must be at least five marks on the back. Those flogged with Saint Max's arm are physically weaker because of the flogging, but for twenty-four hours their scent will be undetectable by Taalkatsin (gatorfolk). They will still be visible to the creatures, but to gatorfolk eyes the stripes from the whip will glow brightly, a sign that seems to frighten the beasts.