Destiny 2: Savathun is in the Tower, but who is she pretending to be?

Actual and potential story spoilers ahead. Do not read if you have not yet read this week’s lore entry or played this week’s Expunge mission.

This week’s Destiny 2: Season of the Splicer lore entry revealed that Savathun is in the tower, masquerading as someone else. For obvious reasons, it is a fascinating read. While the entry doesn’t explicitly call out Savathun by name, there are several paragraphs that, to me at least, make it reasonably clear that we’re dealing with the Witch Queen herself.

This is the first:

When they first reached for me, I reached back in acid mockery, and they opened themselves to me in stupid, naked innocence. I was giddy. My fingers raked their minds. I forced my will through them using only words and met no resistance. Their naiveté was beyond description, and I feasted until my eyes welled with black tears.

This is the second:

I swallow the fatty morsel of his ignorance and it gives me the strength to stand once more, cover my face, and resume my walk. I feel this form splitting beneath its wrappings, held together weakly by wet strands of sinew. And from deep inside, stirred by that latest scrap of deception, I hear the oily growl of the Worm.

And this is the third:

Even here, basted in deception both ample and rich, the Worm cries ravenously. It has grown grotesque, skin taut, overfed, and still it howls for more. It commands me to keep it alive.

They all track with what we’ve been told of Savathun so far – that she is the mistress of deception and trickery, and that it is by trickery that she feeds her worm. And because of this one, very specific fact, I’m almost certain that Savathun is not Osiris.

There has, over the course of the season, due to datamined information and various interpretations of Osiris’ behaviour, been a growing consensus that Osiris is acting mighty suspicious. It’s been talked about a fair bit on Reddit, I’ve seen conversations about it on Twitter, and Paul Tassi even wrote an article about it. He breaks down the case for Osiris being suspect extremely well, so I won’t bother to recap – he does it much better.

It’s just the fact that Osiris seems so obviously suspect that bothers me.

See, Savathun is ancient beyond mortal imagining. This is someone who has been carrying out a crusade over countless millennia to whittle the universe down to its perfect, final shape. But she has been playing that part through deception and trickery.

In the Gift Mast entry of the Books of Sorrow – assuming the books are true, or at least that this entry this – we learn that Savathun kept secret Covens among the Harmony for a hundred years. One hundred years without detection, getting away with whatever schemes she was busy scheming.

And, in more recent times, aside from her role in the Dreaming City’s curse, we have absolutely no real idea of what she’s been up to in any capacity.

Savathun has, for an impossibly long time, been doing whatever the hell she wants to do with little to no interference, except (presumably) whatever Mara Sov is getting up to right now. In short, when Savathun wants to be sneaky, she can be very, very sneaky.

Why, then, would she suddenly slip up? Why would she – if she was truly in possession of or masquerading as Osiris – be making mistakes? Why would she not be playing the part of Osiris to absolute perfection?

I think that if Savathun really was possessing Osiris or influencing him in some capacity, we would simply not know unless she wanted us to – because us knowing would serve her purposes in some way.

To my mind, Savathun is playing her part to perfection. If all the information we have about a traitor in the Tower suggests that the traitor is Osiris, it’s because good ol’ Savvy wants us looking at Osiris – because, while we do that, we’re not actually looking at her.

From this week’s lore entry, we know that Savathun is pretending to be someone who is conspicuous, who is granted many affordances by the people of the city, and someone who is trusted. Osiris fits the first two – conspicuous and granted affordances – but why would he be trusted? He was exiled for a very long time, spent more time post-exile poking around the Vex network, and has a cult devoted to him and his prophecies. Hardly a figure that inspires trust. Awe, probably. Fear, possibly. Obedience, certainly. But trust? I’m not so sure. And trust is the biggest piece of the puzzle.

Which is why I think Savathun is masquerading as Ikora.

She’s a very public figure with a long, storied history in the City. She seems the gentlest and kindest of the Vanguard, the one most likely to be beloved, trusted, and respected by people. And although she’s at the forefront of the mess in the City, no one seems to be questioning either her actions or her motives.

Inviting Mithrax and the Eliksni into the City has turned the place into a powder keg. There have already been attacks on the Eliksni encampment, and at least one Fallen that we know of has been attacked by an angry mob. We’re told by Ikora herself – and the City at large is told in one of Lakshmi’s broadcasts – that it was Ikora’s decision to invite the Eliksni into the City.

And, to be fair, if Ikora really wanted to extend the City’s protection to the Eliksni, there had to have been other ways to do it. An encampment on the outskirts, or a secluded, protected space, followed by some careful marketing to warm people up to the idea of having Eliksni walk among them. A more gentle, gradual integration of the two races, as Mithrax works with Guardians to end the Endless Night. Hell, inform the people that Guardians are working with the House of Light to stop Vex nonsense and then, when the Night inevitably ends, welcome Mithrax and the House of Light into the City as heroes. There are plenty of other ways this could have been handled.

Instead, from the lore entries that have come out since the beginning of the season, it feels like Mithrax and his Eliksni have been dropped right into the thick of things. They were in the hangar, working with Amanda, eating ramen, even being given rations of supplies that Saint-14 believed should go to the people of the city instead.

The entire operation feels bungled. And I can’t help but feel like Ikora is a hell of a lot smarter than this.

For example, in the previous week’s lore entry, Ikora pays Lakshmi a visit and tells her, in no uncertain terms, that she needs to start behaving – and Ikora (the real Ikora, anyway) has always seemed like a person smart enough to know that giving a fanatic an ultimatum will probably not work out very well. Of everyone in the Vanguard – even when Cayde was alive – Ikora has always felt like the person best suited to navigate the city’s politics.

Between her own capabilities and the reach of her Hidden, I assume that if she really wanted Lakshmi defanged and the Eliksni to be safe and secure in the City, it would already have happened. But if there is chaos in the city, if people are turning on each other, and if things are about to blow up, it’s because someone wants it that way.

And, as events continue to unfold in the Tower, I’ve been reminded vividly of the early-to-mid portions of Marasenna, specifically the entries around Alis Li, the Diasyrm, and Mara Sov’s role in it all. Mara wanted (needed?) to become queen and used Alis, the Diasyrm, and their conflict to maneuver her way into getting what she wanted.

One thing I vaguely remember from the lore – although I don’t remember precisely where I read it; I think it was Marasenna but near the end – is that Mara Sov has set herself against the Witch Queen specifically. And while I don’t know if Mara Sov considers herself Savathun’s equal, I suspect there might be some parallels in their methods.

Throughout the conflict between Alis Li and the Diasyrm, the one figure who remained above reproach was Mara Sov. And it was entirely necessary for her to be able to achieve what she wanted. And in much the same way, in the conflict between Lakshmi and the Eliksni, the one person who has remained above reproach is Ikora. Lakshmi is the obvious villain, Osiris’ behavior supposedly makes him seem suspect, even heroic Saint-14 questions his own legend and legacy – but no one is looking at the person that really started it all.

Instead, everyone is looking at Osiris. Ikora even tells us that Mithrax is in the Tower only because Osiris suggested reaching out directly to him. She might as well walk behind Osiris carrying a big, neon arrowhead with “SUS” written on it.

The one person we never doubt is Ikora. The one person that we have no reason to suspect is Ikora. The one person mostly intimately involved in this tremendous mess yet whom everyone seems to be following blindly and without question is Ikora. And that feels incredibly telling because if Savathun has remained true to her nature, if she as formidable and accomplished at deception as we believe her to be, then she is very likely to be the one person deeply embroiled in the conflict that no one is paying attention to.

So, although I’ve written a lot of words trying (and hopefully succeeding) at making a half-decent point, I might be wrong about Savathun being Ikora. Totally possible. But I don’t think I’m wrong about Savathun not being Osiris. The Hive God of Deception and Trickery does not seem like the kind of being that makes mistakes. And if she’s doing things that seem like mistakes, if our attention is being drawn towards a certain thing, it’s probably because that is exactly where she wants our attention to be.

Point is: if we’re all looking at Osiris and talking about Osiris and being suspicious of Osiris, it’s probably because Savathun wants it that way. And if she’s getting what she wants, things are probably about to get very bad for everyone else.

Oh and there’s one final thing – in the Season of the Splicer, with no fanfare at all, Bungie changed the voice actor for Ikora. No fanfare at all, mind. Things were very different when we got a new Ghost, a new Ana Bray, and a new (albeit temporary) Cayde-6. There’s a handy article by Paul Tassi in which he talks about this very particular thing.

Weird, isn’t it? Ikora is silent for months on end and then, just when she starts talking again, she sounds mostly like herself but also a little – just a little bit – like someone else. I wonder why that could be.

Trevor Coelho

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