The rewritten prologue to the 2nd book, "Theodosian Decrees"
Namazu sat on a threadbare curule. Smoke from burning structures blew through open curtains. The small room was stifling.
Ma’arika stood facing away, watching soldiers throw manuscripts, carvings, and statues onto a fire. Holding a copper ankh in her right hand, she looked frantically behind her to a hidden exit.
Moments earlier, she stuffed papyri, small statues, and incense into amphorae leaning against the wall. On pain of death, this temple would close or be destroyed.
At this moment, the Serapeum at Alexandria was burning. Christian mobs looted temples, burning sacred writings. They dragged devotees into the streets. Priests threw themselves into burning shrines.
“Bring me a stone,” Namazu told her.
Ma’arika’s face shone with perspiration, as she did as Namazu ordered. Walking quickly to the wall, pulling back a drape, she lifted a heavy stone from the floor. Namazu rose quickly, and turned to the shrine.
“No, please,” Ma’ariaka pleaded as Namazu raised the stone above the statue of Auset with her infant son Horus at her breast.
Namazu struck the cobra on Auset’s forehead. The carved snake broke into pieces. Then, she brought the stone down on the head of Horus, knocking off the snake there. “Give me your wrap,” she shouted.
Taking Ma’arika’s cloth, she moved it around the Goddess’ head. With the same stone, she rubbed-down a spur. Reaching into a cloth purse at her belt, she withdrew two wooden crosses on strings. “Hang this around your neck!” she whispered loudly.
She looked at a young acolyte as he stood, frozen with fear against the wall.
They heard shouting from outside.
“Galil!” Namazu shouted.
He looked at her with wild eyes.
“Put this on.” She thrust a wooden cross into his hands, “Take these amphorae into the desert and bury them. Mark the place.”
Galil nodded. He would hide them in a cavern at an abandoned fort. Taking an amphora under each arm, he ran to the hidden door.
Namazu took Ma’arika’s hand, “On your knees,” she whispered. “They are coming.”
They turned to the statue.
Soldiers’ steps sounded behind them. The men breathed heavily, leather and metal armor weighing them down.
Namazu turned, being sure they saw the wooden cross around her neck. Their leader looked at the two women, then up at the statue. He gestured to those standing behind him. They turned and left.
A woman screamed outside the door.
A man shouted, “By Emperor Theodosius’ decree!”
They smelled burning wood.
Namazu reached her arm around Ma’arika, pulling her close. She was shaking. Namazu whispered, “This is how it will be.” She kissed Ma’arika’s cheek, and continued, her lips touching her face. “Our beloved Goddess clothed in this religion, just as Auset and Hathor, she will absorb what is good, and retain her true nature.”
She looked behind to see the men had gone. Turning back, she continued, “Buried within this new religion, our Goddess will be preserved. She will return.
“She will return.”