According to legend, Saint Denis was beheaded and martyred sometime during the 3rd century. Undeterred, the man reportedly picked up his head, tucked it under his arm and then walked all the way to the village of Catolacus, where he finally collapsed and was buried.
The site would become known as Saint-Denis and flourish due to its influential church and abbey, populated by abbots such as Suger who were advisors to the monarchy. The town was also notable for being the final resting place of a number of France's royalty, including Marie de' Medici.
- "Is France back in a state of terror? After only days of uneventful stability, soldiers of an unknown republican army have been spotted within Franciade. We were told they follow the young and charismatic general of the Army of Italy, Bonaparte, though he has not been spotted in person."
- ―A newspaper article on the presence of Napoleon's troops in Franciade, 1794.[src]
However, the rise of anti-royalist sentiment during the French Revolution led to the National Convention ordering the destruction of the church's royal necropolis in 1793. Citizens of the time were traumatized to see the bodies of the kings, along with their buried relics, simply tossed out in the street by revolutionaries. By 1794, Saint-Denis, having been renamed Franciade, had adopted the atmosphere of a ghost town.
Around that time, a group of raiders, led by Philippe Rose, arrived in the commune to search the catacombs for valuables. They had been hired by Napoleon Bonaparte, who sought access to a fabled Temple built beneath the basilica, in order to gain possession of the artifact stored within.
However, the ex-Assassin Arno Dorian, who had traveled to Franciade in an effort to leave France, became embroiled in a conflict with the raiders. Spurred on by a local boy named Léon, Arno ensured the artifact, which he discovered to be an Apple of Eden, did not fall into Napoleon's hands. Napoleon was subsequently arrested for deserting his post and putting Franciade under martial law while he was looking for the relic.