Agartha Entrance (540,175)
Leader of the Marya
Don’t mistake Shani’s pragmatism for disaffection. She cares deeply about the Marya, al-Merayah, and the fight against the Atenists, but she is perfectly clear that the battle will be hard fought. The Marya’s limited numbers are a liability against the current rise of cultists in the area and she is concerned that by the time she has Marya volunteers that match historic numbers, the swell of Atenists will be too great to overcome. She’ll take all the help she can get.
I was not a child solider, sleeping beside a rifle instead of a doll. It is only in recent years that the Atenists have become an open threat. After that, we all had to learn to shoot, very quickly. I had a gift for it, and a voice that was heard, so... here I am. In my life, we have made more travels than most can recall. But I, I remember every one. I grew into a woman across the Western Desert, and its dunes and oases are my home.
We go into the cities only when we must. In places where the old religions are weak, so are the Atenist snakes. That is good, and my heart feels pride to see a new Egypt rising in these towers and minarets. But cities are no place for the Marya. Too closed-in, how do you say...claustrophobic. I will always be a daughter of the desert. Where the sand meets the sky, and our past meets our future.
In the old stories, the Marya descended on the Enemy and his diseased cult like a violent storm. We were thousands, professional soldiers and paupers standing shoulder to shoulder. The New Kingdom had never seen such a movement. This was so long ago, and the blood we had spilled dried in the sand, and carried away. Then the Marya were a thousand men. Then hundreds. Then one hundred. Now here we are. Outnumbered by the Atenists. But unlike those dogs, we cannot force the people to believe in our struggle. Stripping them of their will would go against all we hold valuable, against the name of the Marya. If this trouble was to spread as far inland as the Nile, then I think we would have no shortage of volunteers. But by then it would be too late.
Before your people had writing, this land built temples standing to this day. Before you could farm, this land had raised vast armies. When your people trembled at the sight of the moon, or fire, this land bowed before beastheaded gods.
I took in all these stories with my mother's milk. They weight heavy, heavy as stone. As if the Sphinx had pressed me under its forepaw. The Marya took up the burden of memory so Egypt can forget. When walls are uncovered in the deep sands, they should never know what those walls guarded against. We erased the Enemy's one true name as punishment for the crimes of the Atenists. If we succeed here...Aten can be forgotten again. The nameless one and his nameless city deserves no place in my Egypt's history.
You are a stranger behind the veil of Egypt, but I know about the world you come from. The three great orders of red, green and blue. The wars and treacheries. Stories carry well on the wind. And with drink and the heat, Oxford University men are very talkative. Your people do not have a good reputation here, not since the Romans. The trade-princes of Cairo, they say you are common tomb-robbers. They say this after they have taken your money, and sold off our history. When the earth opened up to bring you here, though, I suspected it was a good omen. The honeybees had left al-Merayah for many months. Now they have come back. I hope their timing is not flawed.
He told me, if I truly want to understand humanity, I need only read the comments section on Youtube. I hate the Internet.
I know. I know it is different from the stories. When the stories were written, no one had machine guns.