Erend Vanguardsman is a major character in Horizon Zero Dawn and its sequel Horizon Forbidden West. An Oseram tribesman, he is a member, and later the captain, of the Carja Sun-King Avad’s Vanguard. He met the Nora huntress Aloy when he went to the Nora Sacred Land as part of a diplomatic mission sent by Avad to the Nora. He later assisted Aloy as she uncovered the truth about the murder of his sister and predecessor, Vanguard Captain Ersa. Later, he helped defend the Carja capital Meridian against the attack by the Shadow Carja cult known as the Eclipse, and stood with Aloy when she faced the cult’s master, the rogue artificial intelligence HADES.
Erend is a Caucasian male, likely no older than his thirties, with a tall, heavyset frame and light blue eyes. Erend has dark brown hair styled in a mohawk, along with thick sideburns that join with a mustache. Erend is always seen wearing Vanguard armor, with is comprised heavily of forged Oseram steel held in place with leather straps. Like most Oseram, Erend's clothing has a dull color palette of whites, oranges, and neutral colors.
Erend's mustache and sideburns appear to have grown bigger in Forbidden West.
Erend grew up in a broken clan and a broken family. Both stemmed from his father, the clan's leader and a chronic alcoholic, who subjected Erend and his sister Ersa to familial strife and fits of drunken rage. Ersa responded by taking a parental role for Erend, providing needed guidance and structure. Erend, on the other hand, internalized his trauma.
Like typical Oseram, he and his sister were rambunctious and rough children; as a boy, Erend inadvertently wounded Ersa during a squabble over a toy sword, leaving a scar on her knee.
During the Red Raids, the Oseram were one of the tribes that was most frequently raided, as it abutted the Carja Sundom. Erend and his sister took up arms and joined a band of freebooters, frequently raiding Carja convoys to free Oseram captives. During one such raid, Erend was surrounded and almost killed by a group of Carja Blood Hunters, however, Ersa came to his rescue, leading to her own capture. She later escaped back to The Claim with the help of the Carja prince Avad. Upon Ersa's return, she and Erend continued the fight against the raiders. For a time, they allied themselves with the warlord Dervahl, one of the Oseram's most prominent resistance fighters. However, Dervahl's loss of his family at the hands of Jiran led him to pursue genocide of the Carja. Realizing what he had become, the siblings did away with him, surrendering him to one of his worst enemies, who proceeded to torture him for months, earning them both his enmity.
Around this time, Prince Avad came to The Claim with his honor guard, seeking to forge an alliance with the Oseram to depose Jiran. Remembering his role in helping Ersa escape, the siblings joined Avad and his cause, helping him forge critical allegiances with several Freebooter groups. They joined Avad’s liberating army and were at the forefront of the fight when the army stormed the city and secured it, causing the exodus of Jiran’s loyalists to Sunfall and the establishment of the Carja splinter tribe called the Shadow Carja. Avad took the throne after Jiran left him with no choice but to kill him. In personal gratitude, and as a political gesture of gratitude to the Oseram, he commissioned the freebooters into the Vanguard. He appointed Ersa as Vanguard Captain, with Erend as her second in command. Meanwhile, Dervahl escaped, having become a fugitive from his own tribe, presumably due to carrying out attacks against it for allying with the Carja.
About two years after the Liberation, Erend went on a diplomatic outreach commissioned by Avad to the Nora tribe. The Sun-Priest Irid was sent with a letter from Avad apologizing for the raids his father had ordered against the Nora. Erend went with him to provide security, and a friend of his, the Oseram delver Olin Delverson, went as a forward scout. The delegation arrived during the time of the tribe’s Proving rite, and witnessed the blessing ceremony at the de facto Nora capital Mother's Heart. Erend intervened and successfully calmed the hostile crowd when Irid attempted to read the letter. He empathized with their hostility, having personally been impacted by the raids vis-à-vis Ersa’s capture. He reminded them that it was Avad who killed Jiran and ended the raids, and entreated them to listen to Avad’s apology, which they did.
It was after this intervention that he met Aloy, who seemed to him to be no more than a Proving aspirant with a pretty face. He and she conversed about his tribe, Meridian, the Red Raids, the Vanguard and Ersa, and he invited her to Meridian to meet Ersa herself. He then watched the Proving’s Blessing ceremony. The next day, the Proving was attacked, resulting in the death of nearly all the aspirants. In the aftermath, he and the rest of the Carja delegation were escorted by armed Nora Braves to the border, and returned to Meridian.
Sometime after returning to Meridian, word came to Erend that Ersa and a Vanguard unit had been killed in an ambush; the face of the woman in Ersa's armor was mutilated beyond recognition. Every indication pointed to the Shadow Carja being responsible, presumably as revenge against Ersa for her role in the Liberation. In light of the attack, Erend was appointed Ersa's successor as Captain.
Consumed with his grief and without Ersa's guidance, Erend began to collapse under his new responsibilities. He spent much time trying to drink away his trouble, until Aloy arrived in Meridian in pursuit of the Eclipse. Despite his grief, he was happy to see her.
His happiness turned to shock when she informed him that Olin had worked with the perpetrators to facilitate the attack on the Proving. She demanded to investigate Olin’s dwelling, and he agreed to let her do so. At the apartment, he watched with wonder as she was able to find clues about Olin’s motives and whereabouts that he could not see. She informed him that her Focus, which he had thought to be only an ornamental trinket when he first saw it, gave her highly augmented powers of observation. He begged her to use it to help him find the Shadow Carja that killed Ersa, asking her to meet him near the ambush site. She agreed to do so.
Erend went to the area and waited for Aloy. When she arrived, he took her to the site. However her conclusion upon examining it bewildered him: the site was false; the ambush happened at another location entirely. He followed her as she tracked the trail to the actual site: the ancient ruin known as Dimmed Bones. There, they were ambushed. However the identities of their assailants bewildered him even further; they were Oseram, not Shadow Carja. After killing them, Aloy investigated further, and found evidence of what had actually happened to Ersa: a new weapon that utilized sound had been used to incapacitate her and the vanguardsmen with her, but not kill them. This and further clues led Aloy to conclude that the remains that had been found at the false ambush site were possibly not Ersa’s. Erend was overjoyed, realizing that this meant that his sister possibly still lived, and rushed back to Meridian.
On his return, he examined the remains for the scar from the wound he had inadvertently given her when they were children. The scar was absent. He immediately went to Sun-King Avad to report Aloy’s findings and his own. When Aloy returned, she met with them and Avad’s spymaster Marad about the situation. Marad reasoned that there was but one party that had the cunning to devise such an elaborate deception, the knowledge and skill to devise and produce such a weapon, and the motive to harm Ersa: Dervahl. His intelligence network indicated that a lead on his location could be found at the Oseram freehold Pitchcliff. Erend made haste to Pitchcliff with a Vanguard unit. There he waited on Aloy.
At Pitchcliff, Aloy found a lead to Dervahl’s camp. Accompanied by the Vanguard unit, Erend and Aloy went to the camp and stormed it. Dervahl was absent, but they found Ersa imprisoned in a basement. Erend’s reunion with his sister was short-lived, as Dervahl had tortured her to the brink of death. Before dying, she warned Erend that Dervahl was planning a major attack on Meridian. In typical brash Oseram manner, belying their strong sibling love, she handed leadership of the Vanguard to him, exhorting him to manfully shoulder the responsibility. Erend swore to do so as she died in his arms.
While Erend mourned Ersa, Aloy investigated the basement and found evidence of the attack Ersa had spoken of: a spectacular terrorist bombing of Meridian, which Dervahl would force Avad to witness before killing him. He returned to Meridian sometime after Aloy for another meeting with Avad. Marad had discovered the likely location of the bomb, a warehouse overlooking the mesa on which Meridian stood. Erend wanted to kill Dervahl as justice for Ersa, but Avad commanded him to capture Dervahl alive if possible, so that he may be turned over to the Oseram. Erend angrily wasted no time in going to the bomb’s location with Aloy and the Vanguard, furiously kicking the door in. But again, Dervahl was absent. His bomb, however, was indeed there, rigged with a booby trap to prevent disarmament. However Erend helped Aloy throw it down the mesa, where it harmlessly exploded. Erend believed that while Dervahl had escaped, his plot has been foiled. However Aloy reminded him that his plot was not just to destroy Meridian, but to make Avad watch and then kill him. Though Erend believed that Dervahl could never get to Avad in the palace, he and the Vanguard unit returned there to watch for him.
Aloy investigated the area and found that Dervahl had indeed found a way to Avad, via a route that bypassed the Vanguard. While she made her way along the route, Dervahl struck with his men, using sonic weapons to incapacitate Erend, Marad and Avad. However, Aloy entered the palace and ultimately defeated him when he realized that his bomb had been neutralized. Back on his feet, Erend almost struck him dead despite Avad’s command, when Avad appeared. He stood down while Avad’s two escorting Vanguardsmen arrested Dervahl and took him away.
Afterward, Erend had a final conversation with Aloy before she left to continue her pursuit of the Eclipse. He told her his immediate future plans: to return to The Claim with Ersa’s remains and organize her funeral. In a parting remark, he commented that when he first met her, he had considered her no more than what she had seemed at the time: a young, attractive woman from the middle of nowhere. But he had come to realize that her unparalleled skills and abilities meant that he was in fact fortunate that she had ever agreed to help him. He asked her not to forget about him; she fondly assured him that she would not.
Battle of the Alight
Some time later, Aloy came to Avad with word of the impending Eclipse attack on the ancient Spire nearby Meridian. Avad quickly selected Erend and the Vanguard to defend the Spire, placing them on the Alight as the last line of defense. Ultimately, Erend was one of three warriors who fought alongside Aloy at the Alight, breaking HADES’s defense, comprising Corruptors, Corrupted machines and a heavily-armed and augmented Deathbringer. After she defeated HADES, Erend stood with her as she raised her bow in triumph for all to see and rejoice. That evening, as the city celebrated their victory, Erend shared drinks with Varl, and encouraged the young Nora to stay in Meridian.
Restoration of Meridian
Some weeks after the battle, Erend was selected for a position on the Council for the Restoration of Meridian, along with Talanah Khane Padish. However, after only a few days on the council, the two found themselves bored by the bureaucratic tedium of their work. When the city's perimeter alarm was raised during a council meeting, both Talanah and Erend happily abandoned their duties to help fight off a group of Sawtooths, Ravagers, and Watchers from the city's gates. In the aftermath of the battle, Erend commented to Talanah that there was "nothing like a good fight to set ya right," a statement which convinced her to leave the council and seek her purpose elsewhere.
Sometime after, Erend took time off to lay Ersa to rest in the Claim, giving her a funeral she would have loved.
Entering the Forbidden West
Six months after the Battle of the Alight, Erend was assigned to escort the Sun-Priest Vuadis to Barren Light for an embassy with the Tenakth. After a herd of Bristlebacks appeared without explanation in the Daunt, Erend and his fellow Vanguardsman Aldur were ordered by Vuadis to clear the valley. It was during his assignment that Erend was reunited with Aloy on her way to the Forbidden West. Erend was frustrated when Aloy insisted on pushing westward alone, already hurt that she left Meridian without giving a goodbye, but accepted her explanation.
Having been injured by a Bristleback, Erend went ahead to Barren Light. When Aloy got into a fight with Commander Nozar, Erend stepped in to help: talking Nozar down, he convinced the guards to let Aloy through the gate. Following the attack at the Embassy, he helped Aloy bring the injured Varl back to the fortress to recover, and waved her goodbye as she entered No Man's Land.
Once Aloy had established a base and restored GAIA, Varl retrieved Erend from back east to help the cause.
Confronting old demons
Aloy's search into Regalla's Rebels led her to the Sons of Prometheus, and informed Erend upon learning they were Oseram. Their leader was Asera, one of Dervahl's followers alongside whom Erend fought during the Red Raids, opening up an old wound for him regarding his sister's death. To help with the search, Erend investigated in the Daunt.
Stopping the Zeniths
The retrieval of HEPHAESTUS ended in disaster: GAIA, Beta and HEPHAESTUS were taken by Far Zenith, Varl was killed by the Zenith Erik Visser, and Aloy went missing. Mourning the loss of a dear friend and worried sick about another, it came as a great relief to Erend when Aloy came back in contact and eventually returned to the Base.
At first glance, Erend is a typical Oseram: bold, crass, proud of his heritage, and a heavy drinker. Beneath his outward exterior, however, lies a man grappling with depression and crippling self-loathing. This attitude stems from acknowledging his faults, as well as the high standards set by his sister Ersa. While not unintelligent by any means, Erend often acts before thinking: this translates into conversation, resulting in either comic relief or awkward tension.
However, Erend is capable and competent when the situation demands it. His personality matured significantly following Ersa’s death; he put his desire to kill Dervahl aside and saw that he was turned over to the Oseram, obeying the command of his liege Sun-King Avad, and stepped up to the role of Captain during the Eclipse's final assault. He became more down-to-earth, focused, and calm in the face of danger. Erend is also loyal to his friends and allies, willingly following Aloy into battle against HADES without any hesitation.
Skills and Abilities
- Public Speaking: Erend is a proficient orator; he was able to calm a crowd of Nora and prevent them from attacking the Carja escort.
- Skilled Fighter: As a member (and later captain) of the Vanguard, Erend is a talented fighter. He owes part of this to brute strength, which is reinforced by the weight of his armor.
- Warhammer proficiency: Erend wields a warhammer in combat, his great strength allowing him to smash enemies and obstacles with one blow.
- Literacy: Erend is capable of reading Carja glyphs, and learns to read Old world text after acquiring a Focus.
- According to Aloy, Erend's breath smells like Scrappersap.
- Guerrilla Games narrative director Ben McCraw has described Erend as a favorite among the narrative team, and that the fanbase is similarly fond of the character.
- It is said in dialogue with both Erend and Zo at the base that Zo became annoyed with the drunken Erend’s mocking of the Utaru tribe, and fought each other, albeit friendly, leading to a stalemate.
|Merchants||Abadund - Danur - Hakund - Handa - Larend - Milduf - Mystery Boxes Merchant - Raynah - Runda - Thurlis|
|Tribe members||Arnuf - Asera - Bajund - Beladga - Belna - Brageld - Boomer - Burgrend - Corend - Delah - Dervahl - Dorgeld - Dorund - Elkend - Fernund - Garnund - Gera - Gildun - Gilvarn - Hakurt - Jelda - Jorgriz - Jorund - Kaeluf - Karhn - Kendert - Keruf - Korduf - Korl - Korvend - Lokuf - Lora - Lorund - Lunda - Marsa - Menuf - Minda - Morlund - Odund - Odurg - Ohlgrud - Ohtur - Olin - Petra - Porguf - Ragurt - Ralert - Rasgrund - Salma - Silga - Stemmur - Thorden - Tolland - Ulvund - Varga - Vilgund - Volma|
|Vanguard||Aldur - Erend - Ersa - Fendur - Joruf - Telga|