- "For now, all you need to know is that I'm a whisper of reason in this howling pit of insanity."
Vanasha is a character and potential ally in Horizon Zero Dawn. She is a Carja spy in the Citadel, the Shadow Carja palace at Sunfall. She provided the opportunity to Queen Nasadi, the mother of the Shadow Carja figurehead child king Itamen, to defect to the Carja with her son. She engineered a successful plan by which they did so, recruiting the Nora huntress Aloy’s assistance. She also recruited Aloy’s assistance in saving the Shadow Carja captain Uthid from death due to trumped up accusations of trying to kill Itamen, and assisted in his defection to the Carja.
Vanasha was trained in espionage for years by the Carja spymaster Marad, Sun-King Avad’s chief advisor and spymaster. Indeed, Marad considers her his best agent. She was the daughter of the servant of a Sun-Priest during the despotic reign of Sun-King Jiran. Under Jiran, Sun-Priests and nobles could do with their servants as they pleased, without consequence for mistreatment. The family, including Vanasha, suffered egregious physical abuse at the hands of their master. Indeed, she told Aloy that her back is scarred from the floggings she was subjected to. These priests, nobles and Jiran’s Kestrels, became the Shadow Carja nobility; consequently she has an intense hatred of them.
Spy at Sunfall
At the time of the events of Horizon Zero Dawn, Vanasha had long been placed as a Carja spy at Sunfall, where she became handmaiden to Nasadi. She had immediately noticed that Nasadi and Itamen were always heavily guarded, but not in a protective manner; instead it was in the manner of guarding prisoners. They both were perpetually sad and fearful, and quickly bonded with her. Itamen made her a Grazer doll; it was not well-made, but the sentiment behind it was what mattered to Vanasha. Presumably after a very extended period of observation, Vanasha revealed herself to Nasadi, offered to help her defect to the Carja with Itamen, and Nasadi readily accepted. For Vanasha, facilitating the defection was professionally and personally important. Itamen’s defection and public acknowledgement of Avad as Sun-King would delegitimize the Shadow Carja, whose de facto leaders Helis and Bahavas claimed that Itamen was the one true Sun-King. Professionally, delegitimizing their claim was desirable. Personally, it was highly satisfying to her to do. As for Uthid, Vanasha noticed that like her, and unlike the nobility, he cared about the destitute underclass who lived in squalor in Shadowside, the tent city around the Citadel.
Vanasha spent two years laying the groundwork for her plan to spirit Nasadi and Itamen away to the Sundom. But then Uthid was accused by the High Priest Bahavas of attempting to kill Itamen. Uthid had discovered that Bahavas was secretly having the underclass culled by hiring a murderer to poison the old, infirm, and the very young, i.e. those who could not fight. Bahavas therefore ordered the Kestrels to arrest Uthid and, when he escaped, commissioned bounty hunters to find and kill him. Vanasha did not know the circumstances surrounding the accusation, but she knew that its probability of being true was practically zero.
As she stood among the bounty hunters watching Itamen nervously “command” Bahavas to speak on his behalf, offering the bounty, she noticed in Aloy in the crowd. Vanasha had heard of her and her reputation for helping the innocent. She therefore approached Aloy, looking at her watch Nasadi and Itamen. Both looked like prisoners rather than royalty. She pointedly commented on their demeanor, bluntly told Aloy that Uthid was innocent and then told Aloy to meet her in Shadowside, knowing that Aloy would not refuse. In Shadowside, Vanasha laid out Uthid’s situation, explained to Aloy why Bahavas’ accusations were nonsense, and asked her to help Uthid, suggesting his whereabouts at a location known as the Greenclimb. Aloy agreed.
Facilitating the Defections
Aloy went to the Greenclimb and helped Uthid kill two groups of bounty hunters, then watched as he killed Bahavas, who had come with the second group to watch his demise. Vanasha then arrived, after having killed the third group. Bahavas’ death was a source of great satisfaction to her, as the subsequent infighting among the priests for power would destabilize the entire Shadow Carja power structure. Additionally, the vigilance over Itamen and Nasadi would be greatly weakened, allowing them to escape. Vanasha had long before mapped out an escape route from the Citadel to a point of transition from Shadow Carja territory into the Sundom: the Branded Shore. The way was through a gorge that she had hired a group of mercenaries, led by one Three-Toe Huadiv, to secure, with a barge on the Branded Shore to take them across the lake Daybrink to the Carja settlement Brightmarket. Vanasha asked Aloy to go ahead to the gorge as backup in the inevitable event of complications arising. Aloy agreed and did so. As for Uthid, she told him that she had arranged transport for him to Meridian, not expecting him to refuse, since he frankly had no choice. He accepted.
Indeed, complications did arise. The first was a Rockbreaker, which prowled the gorge and killed all of Huadiv’s men. Aloy singlehandedly killed the machine, much to Huadiv’s amazement. Vanasha then arrived with Nasadi and Itamen. But they were pursued by members of the Shadow Carja cult known as the Eclipse, assisted by Corrupted Machines. These pursuers were presumably sent by the cult’s leader Helis upon hearing of the escape. Vanasha and Aloy killed all of them while Huadiv took the precious cargo to the barge. Finally, more cultists arrived with a Corrupted Thunderjaw. Vanasha went ahead to the barge while Aloy killed them all. She then joined the party on the barge and journeyed with them across the Daybrink safely to Brightmarket. Sun-King Avad met them there. He thanked Aloy for her help in facilitating the defection, then left with Nasadi and Itamen for the Carja capital Meridian. Vanasha was somewhat peeved that her work in setting up and executing the defection was not acknowledged.
The Battle for Meridian
Later on, Vanasha and Uthid met Aloy in Meridian during preparations to defend the city against a full-scale invasion by the Eclipse and the army of ancient war machines the cult had assembled. During their conversation, she told Aloy of her aforementioned hatred of the Shadow Carja nobility, which included Helis, the Kestrels and the priests and warriors that comprised the Eclipse. She was greatly gratified to finally get the chance to strike a mortal blow against them.
Vanasha is flirtatious, and can be very friendly and engaging, both genuinely and as an effective means of ingratiating herself as part of her work. She is genuinely kind-hearted and supportive toward the poor and downtrodden, perhaps seeing in them a reflection of her own early life. She has a strong moral code, and intensely loathes men like Bahavas, Helis, the Kestrels and other Jiran loyalists for the suffering that they inflicted on her, her family and all the other helpless men, women and children who could not fight back against them, claiming it to be the will of the Sun.
Like her mentor Marad, she is apparently excellent at subterfuge, having spent years as a spy in the Citadel, yet never arousing even the barest hint of suspicion. Indeed, she was able to carefully plan Nasadi’s defection without anyone suspecting anything. Also, like Marad, she is highly effective at gathering intelligence. Additionally, she is highly skilled in combat, having single-handedly killed an entire group of armed and experienced bounty hunters, and was able to dispatch attacking Eclipse cultists with aplomb. As revealed by her armor, she is in exceptional physical condition.
- Vanasha is a potential ally. If Queen's Gambit is completed before Aloy rests in The Looming Shadow, she can be found bolstering the defenses at the Ridge alongside Uthid.