The Season of the Wish has dredged up some old Destiny 2 storylines--elements of the game that have been left hanging for nearly five years. Central to those stories is Riven, the last Ahamkara, a creature that we, uh... killed. Back in the Last Wish raid. In the Forsaken campaign. In 2018.
So what's the deal with Riven, and the wishing wall, and the Dreaming City, and the Ahamkara in general? There's a lot going on here, that's for sure, and even if you've been through Forsaken's story, you might be a little lost in all this intermingling lore. We're here to catch you up on everything you don't remember from Forsaken and Last Wish, all the relevant lore, and what you need to know about the Ahamkara, some of the weirdest and most interesting things hidden in the world of Destiny 2.
If you want an even bigger rundown on everything that's happened in Destiny, check out our full Destiny 2 story recap.
All the stuff before Forsaken
First, a quick catch-up on what happened in the Forsaken campaign, which is not only relevant to what's going on with Riven, but is also relevant to character development we're seeing with Awoken Queen Mara Sov, her lieutenant Petra Venj, and Crow, the resurrected Guardian who was formerly Mara's brother, Uldren Sov.
In the aftermath of the original Destiny's The Taken King expansion, everyone thought Mara Sov had been killed in a huge space battle with the Hive god Oryx. Mara "survived" the battle with the same immortality trick the Hive use: She'd created a throne world in the Ascendant Plane, and when her physical body was destroyed, she was whisked into that other dimension. Though Mara made it out alive, she vanished into the Ascendant Realm for quite a white in the aftermath, and most everyone thought she'd died in the battle--including Uldren.
Not long after the battle, Oryx and his Taken invaded the Awoken's hidden home, the Dreaming City. There, at the center of the city, he discovered that Mara had another secret. She was keeping an Ahamkara called Riven in the city.
Ahamkara are, essentially, dragons that can grant wishes. They're strange creatures that appeared after the Traveler and have similar "paracausal" powers, which exist outside the normal laws of the universe. They can reshape reality to grant their wishes. Ahamkara are predators that feed on the difference between reality as it exists and reality as it's desired, so granting wishes sustains them. Riven, then, was sort of held captive by Mara, and sort of had a mutually beneficial relationship with her. The Ahamkara was granted the wishes to feed, and Mara gained access to its incredible power.
When Oryx discovered Riven, he used his power to "Take," a sort of dimensional mind control, on Riven. But unlike most creatures, who lose their wills when they're Taken, Riven outsmarted Oryx; she tricked him into wishing she were Taken, and in so doing, maintained some of her will.
Guardians killed Oryx during The Taken King, leaving Riven stuck in the Dreaming City with a bunch of boring Taken Awoken folks and nothing to do--that is, until she was eventually contacted by Savathun, the Hive god of Cunning and Oryx's sister. Savathun had gained control of the Taken and now struck a bargain with Riven to help her gain access and take over the Dreaming City. Riven just had to open the way in.
That's when Uldren started to hear the whispers.
The Great Hunt
Before we get into Forsaken and what happened to Uldren, it's worth a short diversion into the lore to learn a little more about Riven. From Season of the Wish and the Last Wish raid, we know that Riven is the last Ahamkara.
For a while, the Ahamkara were all over the solar system. They sought people out to grant wishes, and were apparently most interested in, and fed the most off, those people with the strongest will. For that reason, they tended to go after Guardians. What's more, Ahamkara weren't benevolent about their wish-granting--they liked to try to twist their wishes like living monkey's paws, bringing ruin on those foolish enough to bargain with them.
After a while, the developing Vanguard decided that Ahamkara were just too dangerous, especially with a bunch of immortal supersoldiers who love guns using them to make accidentally evil wishes. They decided the Ahamkara needed to be wiped out for the safety of all. That began a Guardian genocide against the Ahamkara called the Great Hunt.
During this same time, the Awoken had been working with Ahamkara secretly, although they came to understand the dangers. The creatures had helped create the Dreaming City through wish magic, and were mostly allowed to wander the streets of the place freely. That is, until things started to go wrong. There are stories in the lore of Ahamkara seeming nice and then going bad, like the time an Ahamkara magically tricked a big group of people into walking off a cliff. At this point, Mara already had Riven hanging around as her personal Ahamkara, and she and her personal group of witches, the Techeuns, created the Wall of Wishes, a special pictographic system meant to make it so Riven would have a harder time misinterpreting and twisting Mara's wishes by eliminating some of the vagaries of language.
Even still, for some reason, the Ahamkara as a species seem vaguely evil, and though they were extremely useful to the Awoken, they created problems as well. So after a bit, the Awoken decided to aid the Guardians in the Great Hunt, providing special weapons that could be used to kill the dragons.
At this point, Mara already had Riven in her possession, and Mara desired to have an asymmetrical source of power--something unique that only she possessed and could give her a distinct advantage in the solar system. It's not clear if it was because of Mara's wish or because of her own agenda, but the lore does make one thing obvious: It wasn't Mara who decided to aid the Guardians in wiping out the Ahamkara, it was Riven. The Great Hunt drove the Ahamkara to extinction, save for one: Riven.
Last time, in Forsaken
Uldren Sov was a mess after The Taken King. He'd survived the space battle against Oryx's fleet but crashed on Mars. He believed his sister had also made it through the battle somehow--Mara was a strategist with plans on plans--and set out to search for her. Uldren always had a soft spot for the aliens known as the Fallen, some of whom had served her sister, and sought their help. In the background of The Taken King and Rise of Iron expansions, Uldren was working to unite all the Fallen under a single banner.
Ultimately, Uldren started to lose faith in Mara's plan and her survival, and that pushed him toward the brink of madness. But then he started to hear whispers that Uldren believed were the voice of Mara, guiding him. Working with the Fallen, he betrayed the Awoken people during the Red War, the story campaign of Destiny 2. At some point later, he discovered a Fallen Archon named Fikrul, badly wounded after being attacked by Guardians. Uldren made an unconscious wish to save Fikrul's life, but he didn't know that Riven heard him. Fikrul was resurrected as the Fanatic, the first of the Scorn.
Fikrul and Uldren created more Scorn, but they were eventually captured by the Awoken and jailed in their massive Prison of Elders. They stayed there until Uldren and his Scorned Barons managed a prison break. Petra called Cayde-6 for help in putting down the escape attempt and the ensuing riot, but Uldren and the Barons killed Cadye before absconding.
At this point, Uldren wasn't just hearing voices, he was actually seeing manifestations of Mara, telling him what to do. What he didn't know, however, was that the visions were coming from Riven. She manipulated Uldren into opening the Watchtower, the hidden path into the Dreaming City.
As Uldren was making his way to the Watchtower, the player Guardian had hunted down and killed each of the Barons as vengeance for Cayde's death. They finally caught up to Uldren at the Watchtower and, together with Petra, executed Uldren. (He was later resurrected as the Guardian Crow, who didn't remember his life as Uldren and is therefore a different person--but then Savathun restored his Uldren memories, which have been pretty haunting for him.)
But by that point, the damage was already done. By opening the way to the Dreaming City, Uldren allowed the Taken and Savathun's forces to invade the Awoken's home.
The Last Wish
Petra called on the Guardians to help fight the Taken in the Dreaming City, a campaign that eventually culminated in the Last Wish. The raid sent a team of Guardians to the heart of the city to kill the Taken Ahamkara and put an end to the threat that was either under Savathun's control or working as its ally.
What the Guardians and Petra didn't know at the time, however, was that Riven hadn't just anticipated the Guardians' attack, she'd planned on it. The Guardians eventually killed Riven and cleansed the Ahamkara's heart of Taken energy. But life and death don't work for Ahamkara the same way they do for everything else. They seem to continue to exist, retaining sentience and reaching out to new victims through their remains, like bones. The Last Wish referred to in the name of the raid was Savathun's, and once freed of the Taken corruption, Riven granted it--as planned.
The wish devastated the Dreaming City, locking it into a time loop that repeats every three weeks. The defenders of the Dreaming City are continually attacked, killed, and resurrected, unable to change their actions or their fates as events play out over and over again. This was Savathun's actual plan, and to this day, no one has been able to break the curse. The Ahamkara's magic appears to be impossible to counter. For the last five years, the Dreaming City has been repeating the same three weeks in an awful cycle of warfare that no one caught in the curse can escape.
Riven's agenda and the Season of the Wish
That brings us, more or less, to now. As players worked through the Dreaming City back in the Forsaken expansion, they discovered the Wall of Wishes, and 15 distinct wishes were described in the game--but players only ever uncovered 14 of them. At the end of the Season of the Witch, Eris and the player Guardian discovered clues left by Savathun that revealed the presence of the 15th wish, which would allow the Guardians to follow the Witness through the portal into the Traveler created at the end of the Lightfall story campaign. But they needed an Ahamkara to grant it, and those were all dead.
Or were they? The Season of the Witch also saw the discovery of an Ahamkara egg. In Forsaken, a bunch of Riven's eggs were floating around the Dreaming City, but they were corrupted by the Taken and Guardians destroyed them. Now, it seems some still exist hidden in the Ascendant Plane by ... someone. (We saw one in Mara's chambers back in the Season of the Lost, though it's unclear how that factors in.)
But Ahamkara eggs aren't Ahamkara and we can't wait for those to hatch or figure out how to hatch them. So instead, Mara Sov and her Techeuns decide to do a ritual to summon back Riven's spirit. As mentioned before, Ahamkara don't seem bound by our normal sense of life and death; they persist even after they're destroyed in a sentient form. People who wield Ahamkara bones are known to hear spooky whispers attempting to get them to make wishes, and even during the Great Hunt and the Last Wish raid, none of the Ahamkara seemed especially perturbed by the idea of being killed. So while bringing back Riven isn't trivial, it's also not necessarily all that difficult, because Ahamkara are weird.
When players head to the Dreaming City to get Riven's heart for the ritual, they discover a complication in the form of the Vex, who are attacking the Dreaming City and apparently trying to get Riven's heart for themselves. These are a very specific faction of Vex, in fact, called the Sol Divisive, who worship the Witness as a deity. You might notice these Vex are all covered in leaves and moss, and that's because they've come from the Black Garden. You fought these forces in the Garden of Salvation raid and in the Season of the Undying, back at the release of the Shadowkeep expansion. It's interesting that they'd be here.
When Riven was summoned back, though, she refused to grant the 15th wish. She demanded that players track down all her Ahamkara eggs across the Ascendant Plane. Only when all the eggs are recovered, and Riven's race can be brought back from extinction, will she agree to help us out.
What's going on with Riven?
This is all a bit strange, honestly, and raises a lot of questions the season is already dealing with. First, this is the first time, as far as we've heard, that an Ahamkara hasn't leapt on the opportunity to grant a wish. After all, wishes feed them. They love granting wishes. But here's Riven, back from the dead, willing to hold back to get something else she wants.
There's also the idea that Riven is trying to save the Ahamkara from extinction. After all, the lore is pretty explicit about the fact that Riven, not Mara, made the decision to aid the Guardians in the Great Hunt. Whether that was, itself, a wish granted or not, Riven is still indirectly responsible for the extinction of the Ahamkara in the first place. If that was something she was worried about, she could have probably interfered with the Great Hunt at the time, rather than waiting until so much later.
That suggests that Riven is operating on some other agenda we're not fully aware of. Maybe she does want to bring back the Ahamkara, but solely as her children and therefore as beings she has some measure of control over. Or maybe the eggs themselves are some sort of ruse, the ends of which we can't see yet.
Riven's also sewing a lot of doubt between us and Mara, since neither of them trust one another, and Mara's generally a known schemer. Who scattered the eggs on the Ascendant Plane, after all, and why would they do so? Mara does have a lot of access to that realm--but then, so do Savathun and others.
And what's up with those Vex? The Sol Divisive were the specific group of Vex who cared for the Black Heart, the weird goop thing players destroyed at the end of the Destiny 1 vanilla story. We've since learned the Black Heart was an attempt to create a copy of the Veil, the strange Darkness object discovered under Neomuna on Neptune. Though we still don't understand all of that, we do know the Sol Divisive is closely linked to the Witness. It seems likely they're trying to prevent us from following the Witness, but it's tough to say for sure what their agenda might be overall.
Finally, there's the question of the Scorn, and specifically Fikrul, the Fanatic. The Scorn are basically undead creatures raised by Ahamkara magic, but of the Taken variety, and they're a weird race. Some of them, like the Barons, are pretty functional higher life forms like, say, vampires on the living-dead monster spectrum, but a lot of the Scorn we fight are much closer to zombies. In the Season of the Lost, we were seeing interesting moments where it looked like the Scorn were brute-forcing their way to creating their own culture. At the same time, most of the Scorn we've dealt with lately have been pretty much under the control of the Witness through their connection to the Darkness power, similar to the Taken.
With the Witness gone, both the Scorn and the Taken have been floundering somewhat as factions. Lore from the new dungeon, Warlord's Ruin, suggests that Fikrul wants to free the Scorn from the Witness's control, and he sends agents to gather Ahamkara bones to do it. The Scorn are closely linked to Ahamkara generally and have more of a part to play, and we're uncovering it through replays of the dungeon and as the season progresses.
We've had a lot of bad guys floating around as temporary allies in Destiny 2 lately, and they all seem to be working toward their own secret agendas. Add Riven and, potentially, Mara to that list as well. We'll have to see how things develop in the Season of the Wish (and maybe beyond, since the first of Destiny 2's episodes that follow The Final Shape expansion looks to be focused on the Scorn) to see where these things are going, but it seems like a good idea to expect some complications in the future from the good guys' actions to stop the Witness today.