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 to the throne and put an end to the violence, these supporters broke off, claimed the citadel in Sunfall[1] – the far west of the map – and renamed themselves the Shadow Carja. Often dressed in black and red, the Shadow Carja are impolite and look down on outsiders. 


Prior to the events of Horizon Zero Dawn, 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 and resulted in the overthrow and death of Jiran.

The remaining loyalists fled Meridian, placing themselves in the summer palace of Jiran at Sunfall as the new Carja, but under the influence of Helis, they called themselves the Carja in Shadow, as they hoped to regain their place in Meridian. Itamen, Jiran's youngest son and preferred heir, was made Sun-King. However, Itamen's role was little more than a figurehead, due to his age and the influence of Helis and High Priest Bahavas.

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 inadequate conditions, 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 has infiltrated Sunfall through its agent, Vanasha, with the goal of bringing Itamen and his mother Nasadi to Meridian (a place to which they were more than willing to travel). There was no progress for two years and Vanasha's attention was averted to another case: Bahavas, the Shadow's Sun Priest has raised a bounty on one of his generals, Uthid, who has been working against Bahavas' scheme of culling their people. Vanasha turned to a stranger, Aloy, whom she correctly deduced as a potential ally to help Uthid flee Sunfall and defect to Meridian. Aloy agreed and came out successful after a hard-fought battle at the Greenclimb, resulting in the death of Bahavas at Uthid's hands.

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. 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 Shadow Carja lost the battle as did HADES, with Helis finally killed by Aloy. Their fate after the loss of the battle is unknown, though it is highly likely that they collapsed.

Known Members

Known Settlements, Outposts, and Gates



  1. "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
  2. According to Lucas Bolt's, of Guerilla, file name in his Horizon Zero Dawn - Desert Landscapes post