Oh man. Although I didn’t like the City of the Sun God zone itself in The Secret World, I think this story is the most memorable one for me in the game so far. I never thought it would move me as much as it did. It is so sad…
Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see.
TRANSMIT – initiate Egypt signal – RECEIVE – initiate the Ogdoad frequency – THINK OF THE CHILDREN – initiate the seven-sob cadence – WITNESS – The Sentinels.
We sing the song of the seven children and the father who so lovingly murdered them. The chorus is written in stone. The verses are written in radio waves. We reach. We pull. We pluck a verse for you, sweetling – always for you.
“Report, Mr Smythe. Mr Smythe?”
“I’m sorry…I’m so sorry…”
“Smythe? Are you…crying?”
“The voice in the statue…I heard…a little boy…told me everything…so lonely.”
“Smythe, what the hell is wrong with you?”
“Like a little jackal…he sings the dead to sleep…a lullaby…all he wants is his own lullaby…”
“Smythe, you are an Orochi employee. Damn it, man! You’re a fucking wet works op. Pull your shit together!”
“I’m sorry…I’m s-so sorry…Huoy? I want…I want my lullaby. So sorry…sorry…”
Initiate the thousand peeping eyes.
Seven towering statues loom over The City of the Sun God with the gravity of three thousand years. Child voices twinkle on the desert wind. An old man, who knows more than any old man should, wanders the sands, footprints dug deep by the weight of ancient sadness. He stands quietly next to each statue, before moving on to the next. His name is Ptahmose.
Initiate the secret histories.
What is time to us? We stand outside. Everything has happened. Everything is happening. We see a man standing over the beds of his children, weighing a terrible choice, and we are there.
It is the 18th dynasty of Egypt, and Ptahmose is the vizier and high priest of Amun. He fought on the front line against the cult of Aten, and was instrumental in its fall. But victory is only the ethereal vapour of today. To permanently contain Akhenaten and the whispers of his dark gods would require more.
A father’s forehead wrinkles, and the graven lines spell the dread of what he must do. Ptahmose goes to the bed of each of his seven children. It is painless. As gentle as a kiss on the forehead, he transitions them from life to death to something else. Seven tears.
A trusted friend helps enact the ritual. Seven souls. They bind the children to the City of the Sun God, manifested as seven great statues. Children caught in eternal half-life – together forever. They lock the Black Pharaoh and Aten to that place. Seven sentinels.
With the deed done, Ptahmose ends his own life, entering his own in-between state as the caretaker of the sentinels. He feels that an eternal twilight of guilt is the punishment he deserves.
Time passes – first in years and then in centuries. The bodies of the children wither to dust. The siblings remain young in mind and spirit. In their new role, they take on aspects of a patron god, to help them protect the valley. This is no life, but they hold their charge faithfully.
We call upon the seven.
Thutmose! We call your name. You are the eldest of the seven, a new-fledged adult when you were cut short. Strong and dutiful – a second parent to your siblings in this shadow life. You accepted your fate immediately, and the others look to you for guidance. You chose the aspect of Horus – the mighty sky god – the falcon-eyed – the avenger who scythes Aten’s corrupting murmurs away.
Nefertari! We call your name. The eldest daughter, you see your family’s duty in the absolute terms of your chosen patron, Ma’at – principality of justice and balance. You oppose chaos, violence, and the lies of the Aten. Others think you uncaring and distant, and your sisters find you at times insufferable, but your incorruptible moral high ground chains the Black Pharaoh inside his cold sarcophagus.
Moutemouia! We call your name. O quiet, pensive, melancholic daughter, you most disagreed with your tragic destiny. A young woman with husband and children of your own, you drank more deeply from the cup of happiness than the others. You protected your new family by abandoning them to join your siblings. You cursed your bitter fate, but walked into it nonetheless. Your patron is Meretseger, who allows you to keep the city hidden from the world’s eye. Your love is lovely, but it is your path to corruption, your regret a funnel Akhenaten pours his scorpion venom words down. Your protection and conviction waver. The world’s eye sees.
Hemitneter! We call your name. A young lady, frozen in the amber of time, your will is the strongest. You played with the rough boys – confrontational, impulsive, and a better warrior than most men. You fought alongside the Marya resistance, the first of the young warriors. It was a bloody war, it was the best time of your life. Poor Hemitneter, child of dynamism, you loathe this static state. You accept the responsibility, but resent the passivity, longing to join the fray. Your patron is Sekhmet, the lioness. Your ferocity protects your siblings with terrible force.
Moutnefert! We call your name. Restless and adventurous daughter, you care for your country and your duty, but chafe and yearn to see more of the world. Though you were trapped in the Valley of the Sun God at fourteen, you do not feel sorry for yourself as Moutemouia does. Your father always brings you news of the wondrous things in this world you protect. Your patron is Satis, the fertility of the Nile. In this sacred aspect, you cleanse the valley water of corruption. But Aten stirs and the Filth spreads faster. Plants wither and you cry dry tears.
Nefertari the younger! We call your name. The youngest daughter, you carry the namesake of the oldest. Taken at ten years of age, you do not remember much before the revolt. Born in the desert, you saw only a few months of the cities before confinement to the statue. Sweet innocent, you do not fully grasp the past or your grim task. You are happy to be forever with your family. Nefertari the doted, most beloved. Your patron is Bast, the cat goddess. You love animals and protect them from the poison and madness of the Pyramid.
Huoy! We call your name. Youngest son and sibling. Huoy the lonely. Poor sweet, isolated by youth, with few memories of the flesh and the quick. In the millenia, you have learnt more than any living scholar, but your mind still sees the world as a child. You depend on the guidance of your father. Too often your siblings discount you from discussions and decisions – save for Moutemouia, who wears the mask of mother for you. Your patron is Anubis – jackal-headed – who speaks to the dead and weighs their hearts over the razor maw of Ammut.
Initiate the now.
The seven still protect the valley, but time spins faster. The Filth flows. The dam breaks. The centre cannot hold. The sentinels cannot stem the tide much longer. Imagine Ptahmose’s dread. What would he do if he found his great sacrifice was in vain? Knowledge known is a burden inflicted. What will you do, sweetling?