- "The most important thing is what he isn't like: his father. I think you will find him to be a reasonable man."
- ―Marad speaking to Aloy about Avad
Avad, referred to ceremonially as Sun-King Avad, 14th Luminance of the Radiant Line, is the 14th Sun-King of the Carja Sundom. Unlike his father Jiran, he is a compassionate and just ruler who desires a working relationship with other tribes based on mutual respect. Revulsed by and tired of his father’s manifold atrocities, he successfully overthrew Jiran, being forced to kill him when he would not surrender.
Avad is the second of Jiran’s three children, all male. His mother’s name is unknown. Before him, she bore his older brother Kadaman. His younger brother prince Itamen, Jiran’s youngest child, is in fact his half-brother by Jiran’s second wife Nasadi.
The Red Raids
Avad and Kadaman grew up in the Palace of the Sun in the Carja capital Meridian, where they presumably witnessed their father’s degeneration from a respected leader into a brutal tyrant. Four years after Jiran‘s Red Raids began, the Oseram warrior Ersa was captured in one such raid. She was thrown into the Sun-Ring, but survived. Despite his cruelty, Jiran rewarded her by making her a palace slave, where Avad befriended her and helped her escape back to her homeland, The Claim.
Both Kadaman and Avad, like many other Carja, abhorred the raids and human sacrifices, recognizing them as pointless bloodshed. However, unlike other dissidents, they were in a position to make their feelings known directly to Jiran. Kadaman presumably and erroneously believed that, as Jiran's eldest son and heir, Jiran would acquiesce if he demanded their cessation. But when he did so, Jiran instead responded by sacrificing him as well.
Jiran's response demonstrated to Avad that Jiran was beyond reasoning with and the atrocities would only end if he was deposed. Therefore at dusk on the day of Kadaman’s execution, Avad and his honor guard fled Meridian and headed to the The Claim, hoping to assemble an army of allied tribes to depose Jiran. Jiran branded them as traitors on finding out. In The Claim, Avad again met Ersa, who had, along with her brother Erend, formed connections with the Oseram freebooters who fought against the raiders. The siblings helped Avad ally these groups with his men to form the army he needed. Avad also had assistance from within Meridian, in the form of Jiran's advisor and spymaster, Marad. While the exact nature of his assistance is unknown, it is presumed to have been subversive, as he told the Nora huntress Aloy that he “served” Jiran “to his enemies."
After months of preparation, the liberators marched on Meridian. As they advanced deeper into the Sundom, any Carja soldiers who encountered them fled back to the city, laid down arms, or joined them. On their arrival at the city’s walls, they faced Jiran‘s fanatical Kestrels and Carja soldiers who remained loyal to Jiran. The defenders were dug in, but the liberators’ newly developed weapons, known as Oseram Cannons, made a long siege unnecessary; the cannons quickly broke the city's defenses. Avad strictly limited their use in order to spare the city from damage as much as possible. Executing the three-pronged attack that Avad had planned, the liberators overcame the defenders and secured the city. Jiran’s loyalists among the civilian population, comprised mainly of most of the Sun-Priests and nobility, fled the city, leaving mainly the now-freed slaves and other members of the Carja underclass, all of whom supported Avad.
Jiran knew he was defeated but, as Avad knew would happen, refused to surrender. He ordered his champion, the Kestrel commander Helis, to take his queen Nasadi and youngest son Itamen away from the city to his summer palace at Sunfall, while he waited to confront Avad in his Solarium. Though he knew it was futile to do so, Avad pleaded with him to abdicate the throne and answer for his atrocities with honor, but Jiran adamantly refused. Left with no choice and anguished that he had to do so, Avad slew him. Carja belief holds that the murder of a Sun-King would plunge the world into shadow; the Sun’s light would be extinguished. When this failed to happen upon Jiran's death, the Carja took it as a sign that the Sun had never supported Jiran’s atrocities and had renounced him as its chosen vessel in favor of Avad. The fact that Avad himself was of the Radiant line strengthened their belief. This prevented civil war, as Avad had hoped. 
However, though Avad had won, Jiran’s loyalists were not permanently defeated. Led by their de facto leaders Helis and the High Sun-Priest Bahavas, they formed a splinter tribe known as the Shadow Carja. They would later get an opportunity to attempt to retake the Sundom and depose and kill Avad, in the form of the Eclipse, a warrior cult formed by Helis and Bahavas in service to the ancient artificial intelligence HADES after being deceived by it.
Reforms and Diplomacy
With his Liberation successful, Avad immediately set about undoing the social and political damage Jiran had inflicted on the tribe. He outlawed slavery, a practice started by his grandfather Hivas and which had become very prominent under Jiran. He ordered the Carja Hunters Lodge to remove its restrictions against non-Carja, women, and non-nobles, and likewise opened the military to the same groups. He opened Meridian, previously strictly forbidden to non-Carja, to visitors from any tribe. Militarily, he ended the Red Raids and expelled participating soldiers and officers from the army, though some, such as the officer Zaid, managed to remain by covering up their involvement.
He also began a diplomatic program of outreach and apology to the tribes his father had terrorized. He particularly made efforts to restore trade and peaceful relations with the Nora, whose territory abuts the Sundom in the east. At the Carja border settlement Daytower, he assigned a commander named Balahn, an army captain who had been part of the liberating army, and who strongly believed in his reforms and was determined to do his best to improve relations with the Nora.
Avad also maintained and strengthened ties with the Oseram, largely relying on Ersa's unique talent of convincing the normally argumentative Oseram ealdormen to cooperate with each other and the Sundom. He commissioned the freebooters who fought alongside him into an elite unit known as the Vanguard as both thanks for their invaluable assistance, and as a gesture of peace to the Oseram. Ersa was the Vanguard captain. The two became enamored of each other, but could not openly pursue a relationship because neither the Carja nor the Oseram would accept it. Ersa was eventually murdered by the Oseram warlord Dervahl, much to Avad’s grief.
Dervahl was one of the Oseram at the forefront of the fight against the Carja during the Red Raids. In retaliation, Jiran had his wife and daughter captured and sacrificed in the Sun-Ring, which sparked in him a genocidal hatred of the Carja. Additionally, he hated Ersa, not only for withdrawing from him to help Avad when she realized what he had become, but because of his perception of a relationship between Avad and Ersa. For he himself had desired her, but she rejected his advances. He instituted a plan by which he would simultaneously eliminate her, kill Avad and devastate the Carja via a terrorist bombing of Meridian that would destroy the city and kill its residents. He succeeded in killing Ersa. However, Aloy uncovered his plans for Avad and Meridian and defeated him, leading to his arrest, though not before he succeeded in killing Ersa. In a subsequent conversation with Aloy, Avad spoke of his feelings for Ersa and his grief over her death. In his grief, he became attracted to Aloy on the rebound, finding her to be much like Ersa. However Aloy declined his advances.
Avad encountered Aloy again when she assisted in the successful defection of Jiran’s widow Queen Nasadi and their son Itamen, Avad’s half-brother, from Sunfall. A Carja spy named Vanasha had long been placed in Sunfall by Marad, and had had hatched a plan for the willing Nasadi to defect with Itamen. Helis and Bahavas claimed Itamen to be the one true Sun-King as Jiran’s chosen heir, and thus the Shadow Carja were the true Carja tribe. His defection to the Carja and acceptance of Avad as Sun-King would destroy these claims. Aloy worked with Vanasha to successfully accomplish the defection. Avad received his step-mother and half-brother on their arrival, and was again deeply grateful to Aloy for her help.
The Second Battle of Meridian
The third and final known time that Avad encountered Aloy was after she had discovered the existence and origins of the Eclipse. HADES was using the Eclipse as its unwitting pawns by which it would take control of the Spire, the ancient monument whose discovery led to the siting of Meridian near its location. It did so by deceiving its founders, The Spire was actually one of a global network of transmission towers which HADES intended to use to reactivate the Faro Plague, a locust-like army of war automatons that exterminated life on Earth, obliterating the ancient world. HADES intended to allow the Plague to exterminate life permanently. To do so, it intended to have the Eclipse mount an all-out assault on Meridian. Aloy went to Meridian and informed Avad. While Avad did not fully understand the nature of the threat with regard to HADES, he immediately put the Carja army on a war footing. When warriors from the Nora, Oseram and Banuk all came to join the defense of the city out of the great respect they had for Aloy due to their encounters with her, Avad received all of them except for the Nora delegation, which declined an audience with him. After the battle, Avad and Marad joined in the victory cheer from the palace balcony. In a reaction that illustrated his attitude toward his subjects, he spontaneously hugged a very surprised soldier.
Avad is at heart a gentle soul who, as he lacked the prowess for physical exploits, spent his formative years learning history, music, and poetry. In contrast to his older brother, his charisma was based on intelligent observation, emotional acuity, and empathy, which ended up serving him better as king than he had ever expected. Whereas his father would shed blood at any slight, Avad will give diplomacy every reasonable opportunity to succeed before resorting to arms. He believes in peaceful coexistence with other tribes based on mutual respect, and seeks to have beneficial relationships with all of the Sundom’s neighboring tribes. He is reasonable, progressive, flexible, and conflict-averse, and governs accordingly. While he had the military strength to completely destroy the Shadow Carja, his personality and philosophy did not allow him to make such a ruthless decision. He is recognized in the annals of the Sun-Kings for having freed the Carja from Jiran’s brutal reign. Indeed, the annals refer to him simply as The Liberator.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 The Liberation
- ↑ First Meeting
- ↑ Horizon Zero Dawn Collector's Edition Guide
- ↑ The Sun-Kings