The Summer Heroes
The Ahn is a mystical sound of unknown origin that is held to be sacred by almost all religions in Illuviѐn. The word “Ahn” itself cannot be translated, but is rather said to be an attempt to transliterate a divine sound into mortal speech. It is also referred to as the Ankara, the Önvun, and the Harrestes.
According to The Jewelsong of Ri’Cerun:
When first there was nothing there was Ahn, and Ahn was all.
As there is no form in the empty sea, so there was no form in Ahn; as there is no seam in the open sky, so there was no seam in Ahn.
Ahn was formless and edgeless, for Ahn was a single syllable made real. In ageless calm Ahn sung of itself, and the note Ahn sang filled all that was and could ever be, and the note was Ahn.
The Ahn subsequently shattered, and the shards of Ahn coalesced into the Archon, who created Illuviѐn. The Ahn is thus conceived of as not only the underlying spiritual material of existence, but sometimes as the creator-god itself. The Ahn is held sacred in all of the known religions in Illuviѐn, to varying degrees.
According to most accounts, including Ri’Cerun’s Jewelsong, the Godswar was sparked by the Hellbard’s quest to sing the Allsong, which, he believed, would shatter the world and return it to the uniformity of the original, eternal Ahn. The precise relationship between the Allsong and the Ahn is disputed; some scholars argue that the Allsong is the Ahn itself, while others contend that the Allsong is a separate syllable which would resonate with the shards of Ahn within everything in existence, thereby shattering those beings utterly and releasing the Ahn.
By revealing the terrible power potentially contained within the Allsong, the utter devastation that resulted from the Godswar complicated the religious role of the Ahn in Illuviѐn. Pursuit of the Allsong was, naturally, condemned, and even today scholars who study the Godswar must be careful not to be seen to be studying the questions of the Allsong too deeply. There are those, particularly within the ranks of Aüravandil’s followers, who defend all knowledge as valid and good in itself, and thus defend study of the Allsong in principle. Even these, however, are often quiet about the object of their study, in order to avoid widespread condemnation or persecution (indeed, even the scholars of Aüravandil are restricted to studying the Allsong only from the safe confines of their most remote and fortified libraries).
Religious practices involving the Ahn vary widely across the cultures and religions of Illuviѐn, but can generally be broken into three categories: the first, in which the Ahn takes a central, often mystical role in prayer and meditation; the second, in which believers are forbidden from uttering the Ahn, either because it is believed to be too sacred for mortal speech or too dangerous; and the third, in which the Ahn is considered sacred but takes no substantial role in ceremonies or prayers.
Among the worshipers of Tajen and Veyu, for example, the Ahn is called the Harrestes, and it is intoned in the beginning of every prayer and ceremony, and inscribed at the beginning and end of their religious texts. The (Religious Order Name) dedicated to these goddesses even intone the Ahn while meditating, using it as a mystical focal point for contemplation of the divine. These practices not only from reverence for the Ahn itself, but also from traditional beliefs regarding Hadaad, the brother of Tajen and Veyu, who is said to be the only one who could hear the Ahn.
The worshipers of Viatica, meanwhile, strictly forbid inscription or intonation of the Ahn, which they call the Önvun, or “the quiet loudness”. This is not, it should be noted, because they view the Ahn as evil or corrupt, but rather because they hold it to be too powerful and dangerous for mortal use. For these believers, the devastation that followed the Godswar, and the sacrifice of Viatica in particular, is a clear caution against any further use of the Allsong or the Ahn itself.
Finally, any number of religions revere the Ahn but grant it no particular importance in ceremonial or contemplative life, including the followers of Eidothea and Bourlon, as well as most trolls and gnomes. Individuals within these religions and cultures may hold special reverence for the Ahn, but it is rarely used in formal practices.