The Carja in Shadow, more commonly referred to as the Shadow Carja, is a splinter tribe in Horizon Zero Dawn. The Shadow Carja are made up of Carja who wholeheartedly supported the former Sun-King Jiran's war against the other tribes, or those living in the area that fell under Shadow Carja control. After Avad took the throne and put an end to the violence, these supporters broke off, claimed the citadel in Sunfall – the far west of the known world – and renamed themselves the Carja in Shadow. Often dressed in black and red, the Shadow Carja are impolite and look down on outsiders.
The Shadow Carja were originally members of the Carja tribe who were devout to Sun-King Jiran. However, with the king's increasingly mental instability and the progression of the Red Raids, a civil war broke out in Meridian, which resulted in the overthrow and death of Jiran.
The remaining loyalists, including Jiran's champion Helis, fled Meridian and retreated to Sunfall, which, aside from being the location of Jiran's summer palace, had long been in the care of Jiran's kestrels and the High Sun-Priest Lucent Bahavas. These loyalists deemed themselves the Carja in Shadow (although other tribes would refer to them as the "Shadow Carja"), and appointed Itamen, Jiran's youngest son and preferred heir, as their new Sun-King. However, as Itamen was still a child, he was merely merely a figurehead to Helis and Bahavas.
While the Shadow Carja wished to retake Meridian and restore Jiran's policies in the Sundom, they were unable to muster the necessary forces to do so. Conversely, as the new Sun-King Avad did not wish to submit the Carja to more conflict, he refused to take Sunfall by force. A ceasefire was implemented within a year, trapping the Shadow Carja in a bitter statemate.
Soon after, Sylens presented to the Shadow Carja an entity of high intelligence, HADES, as a being from their mythology, the Buried Shadow, and formed the Eclipse. With the being's influence, the Eclipse became adept with the Old Ones' technology, from Focuses to machines, planning to recapture Meridian.
Events of Horizon Zero Dawn
Two years into Avad's rule, the Shadow Carja maintained an impression of inactivity as the Eclipse mustered their power and resources for the retaking of Meridian. The factions would remain in a state of truce where no entity from respective party would make contact with each other or set foot in the others' territory, presumably with the exception of official business between the two governments. The surrounding geography made it impossible for them to grow their own food, and their progressively dwindling resources were directed towards the military. As a result, the Shadow Carja continued to exist as a failing society, with its people living in poverty and squalor, save for the elites. They would still practice sacrificial rites at the Sun-Ring and pay bounty hunters to hunt those that they saw as disloyal.
Losing Legitimacy (Potential)
Unknown to the Shadow Carja, Meridian had an agent named Vanasha infiltrate Sunfall, with the goal of bringing Itamen and his mother Nasadi to Meridian (a place to which they were more than willing to escape). For two years, there was no progress. However, Vanasha's attention was averted to another case: Bahavas had placed a bounty on one of his generals, Uthid, when the latter had uncovered his culling of slaves. Vanasha turned to a stranger, Aloy, whom she correctly deduced as a potential ally to help Uthid escape and defect to Meridian. Aloy agreed and helped Uthid fight off the mercenaries set after him. After a hard-fought battle at the Greenclimb, Uthid and Aloy emerged victorious, with Uthid killing Bahavas in retaliation.
Seeing the promise Aloy's skills could bring, Vanasha decided to include Aloy in the extraction of the royals, which she finally decided to pull off. In the panic caused by Bahavas's disappearance, the young prince and his mother were smuggled out of Sunfall. A series of difficult battles were fought to have both Itamen and Nasadi brought to Meridian, but eventually the endeavor was successful, leaving the Shadow Carja with little reliable leadership other than its most fearsome military leader: Helis.
Second Battle of Meridian
The Shadow Carja would finally attempt to retake Meridian, although under a rather wasted cause since their ally and purveyor of war machines, HADES was interested in gaining the power to eliminate all life on Earth on the same battle. The Eclipse lost the battle as did HADES, with Helis falling to Aloy.
The fate of the Shadow Carja following the Eclipse's demise has not been revealed. However, since their leadership is now non-existent, and their chances of taking Meridian squandered, it is likely that they will return to the Carja tribe.
- High Priest Lucent Bahavas
- Itamen (defected)
- Dowager Queen Nasadi (defected)
- Relentless Shivin
- Savage Tarav
- Considerate Udain
- Uthid (defected)
- Merciful Yusis
Known Settlements, Outposts, and Gates
- Sun Furrows
- "Shadow Carja hardliners loyal to Itamen, pretender to the throne. The center point of this territory is Sunfall, the mountain fortress that acts as the insurgency's headquarters. A few western outposts are also under hardliner control and serve as bases for their forces"
- ―Horizon Zero Dawn Collector's Edition Guide, page 614
- ↑ According to Lucas Bolt's, of Guerilla, file name in his Horizon Zero Dawn - Desert Landscapes post