“You understand, the translation will have to be approximate,” Smiths said. “A lot of heiroglyphs is context and inferential.”

“Just read it.” The revolver was argument enough.

“The Aten had no form, no voice, only will. Arising from the darkness of all which exists outside the Maat, the divine order of the cosmos, it first manifested as a weak and guttering spark. Only by associating itself with the bright disc of the sun was the Aten able to attract the notice of mortals, who came to view it as an aspect of their sun god, Ra. In this way, the Aten was first able to whisper into the ears of the chief priest, the Pharaoh. Over a generation, the whispers grew strong enough for the Pharaoh, and by extension his people, to allot the Aten a place in their great pantheon of deities. And when an aged and infirm ruler gave way to a young and impressionable one, the whispers grew ever louder.”

“Keep going.”

“In those days, the Aten was possessed of a great love for those whose belief had allowed it to escape from the darkness of the Duat, the underworld, but also a terrible jealousy. Through the Pharaoh, it insisted that the old gods were to be swept away–the whispers so insistent that the young ruler soon came to be preoccupied with his new religion alone, to the ruin of the nation. The Divinity, which existed in the guise of the many local gods at that time, reacted by withdrawing itself from the land. The Aten was unable to cope with the subsequent widespread famine, plagues, political upheaval, and general chaos, great though its powers had become. With the death of the Pharaoh from illness, the Aten was cast down from its lofty perch, and the light which represented it faded once more as successive rulers ought to erase it from their history.”

Smiths paused. “S-shall I keep going?”

The gun again, flashing in the torchlight. “Please do.”

“Cast once again into darkness, the Aten grew bitter at its fate, and came to resent the mortals on whom it had depended and whom it had once tried to love. It gathered its strength once more, slowly, and resolved to complete what the long-ago Pharaoh had once begun – the sweeping away of the old world for a new. Rather than co-opting, it would create anew. But although its strength returned, the Aten could not set its plan in motion.”

“For it yet needed mankind: its beliefs and its aid.” The words came from the darkness before Smiths could translate them.

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