Ersa is a character in Horizon Zero Dawn. She was an Oseram tribeswoman, the captain of the Carja Sun-King Avad’s Vanguard, and the sister of Erend, her successor as Vanguard captain. She led the Vanguard until her death at the hands of the renegade Oseram warlord Dervahl. However, before she died, she managed to warn of an intended terrorist attack by Dervahl against the Carja capital Meridian. This warning alerted the Nora huntress Aloy, who saved the city and defeated Dervahl, leading to his capture and arrest.
Born into a broken clan, Ersa was forced to grow up quickly in response to the poor leadership and abuse of her alcoholic father. She took on parental responsibilities for her younger brother Erend, providing him the structure and guidance that he should have gotten from their father. As a young woman, she and Erend would become freebooters.
When Sun-King Jiran ordered the Red Raids, the Oseram, whose territory abuts the Carja Sundom, were frequent victims. Ersa was captured and taken to Meridian, one of many victims intended by Jiran to be sacrificed in Meridian’s Sun-Ring. However, she survived the Sun-Ring, killing two of Jiran’s Kestrels in the process. Impressed, Jiran made Ersa a slave in the Palace of the Sun, likely in hopes of breaking her spirit.
She met Jiran’s second son, Prince Avad, in the palace. Avad befriended her and helped her escape back to The Claim.
On her return home, Ersa established connections with the many Oseram freebooter groups who resisted the Carja raiders. She and Erend themselves joined such a group, led by Dervahl. However, Dervahl lost his family at Jiran’s hands, and became genocidal toward the Carja. Ersa and Erend withdrew from him when they realized this. That earned them both Dervahl’s enmity. Additionally, Dervahl was attracted to Ersa, but she rejected him, presumably repelled by what he had become. That earned her his even greater hatred.
The Liberation of Meridian
Two years after her escape from Meridian, Avad appeared in The Claim with his honor guard. Fed up with Jiran’s atrocities, Avad hoped to ally his men with the Oseram to form an army strong enough to overthrow Jiran. Ersa and Erend, grateful to him for helping Ersa, agreed, used their influence with the leaders of the freebooter groups to help Avad forge this army. The siblings’ alliance with Avad made Dervahl hate them even more, particularly because he perceived a relationship between Ersa and Avad. The siblings joined the liberators in their march to Meridian, and fought alongside them as they successfully deposed Jiran, allowing Avad to take the throne. Meanwhile, Dervahl disappeared, plotting the deaths of Ersa and Avad and revenge against the Carja.
Relationship With Avad
In gratitude, and to forge strong ties with the Oseram, Avad commissioned the Oseram freebooters into an elite military force in service to the Carja throne: the Vanguard. Ersa became the force’s Captain, with Erend as her second-in-command. Ersa also served Avad as his link to the Oseram ealdormen. She was instrumental to Avad in maintaining the alliance between the two tribes. Indeed, Avad highly valued her for the strength and support she gave him, and the two grew enamored of each other. However, they could not openly pursue a relationship, as neither the Carja nor the Oseram would accept it.
After disappearing with his freebooters, Dervahl carefully planned an operation by which he intended to eliminate his three main targets: Ersa, Avad and Meridian. After two years of planning, he struck. Ersa received word from him that he wanted to meet and discuss terms of finally coming to peace with the Carja. Ersa did not believe him, and knew it to be an ambush. However, she believed that she and the Vanguard unit she intended to accompany her could capture or kill him and his freebooters. She therefore went with the unit to purported meeting site, the ancient ruin known as Dimmed Bones. But on their arrival, they were immediately overwhelmed, not by force, but by a new weapon that Dervahl had developed and had brought. This weapon utilized sound to incapacitate, but not kill. Dervahl slyly arranged the ambush so that it appeared to have occurred at another location entirely, and framed the Carja tribe’s enemies, the Shadow Carja, as the perpetrators. He substituted a body with a severely mutilated face as Ersa’s remains, and took Ersa to his camp, where he kept her bound in a cell in a basement and viciously tortured her.
However, her fate was indeed uncovered. Deceived by Dervahl’s ruse, Erend asked Aloy to help him find the Shadow Carja who killed her. Aloy instead uncovered the entire deception, which led to her and Erend locating and storming Dervahl’s camp with a Vanguard unit. They found Ersa; but her reunion with Erend did not last long, as she was at the point of death from Dervahl’s torture. Before dying, she warned Erend of Avad’s intended terrorist attack on Meridian. In typical brash Oseram manner, belying their strong sibling love, she handed leadership of the Vanguard to Erend, exhorting him to manfully shoulder the responsibility. Erend swore to do so as she died in his arms. Her warning allowed Aloy to locate and foil the attack. Additionally, Aloy defeated Dervahl, leading to his capture and arrest for his crimes, including Ersa’s murder.
- Ersa's in-game model has brown hair, wh
|Tribe Members||Bajund - Beladga - Brageld - BurgrendFW - Dervahl - Dorgeld - Elkend - Erend - Ersa - Fernund - Garnund - Gera - GildunFW - Hakurt - Jorgriz - Kaeluf - Kendert - Korduf - Lorund - Menuf - Mystery Boxes Merchant - Odund - OhlgrudFW - OhturFW - Olin - Petra - Ralert - Rasgrund - VargaFW - Vilgund|