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"The lesson will be taught in due time, Aloy. Until then, we wait."
This article contains heavy spoilers. Read ahead with caution.


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"There's so much to learn, and less time than I'd hoped."
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Varl is a major character in Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West. He is a Nora Brave, the son of War-Chief Sona and the older brother of Vala, whom Aloy competed against in the Proving.

In the aftermath of the Proving Massacre, in which Varl lost his sister, Varl formed a bond with Aloy as they pursued the party responsible. He would later join her at the Battle of the Alight, and accompany her into the Forbidden West.

History

Growing up as the son of legendary Nora War-Chief Sona, Varl was constantly competing with his younger sister Vala for her attention. Once Varl came of age, he competed in the Proving and became a Brave.

When it was Vala's turn to compete, the Proving was attacked by the Eclipse, killing Vala and most of the Brave candidates. The Nora quickly formed a war party to retaliate, but in their haste for vengeance, many of them were killed in an ambush. Sona quickly recovered and gathered another party to lead a counter-attack. When Varl attempted to join them, Sona ordered him to escort the wounded to the Embrace and guard the Embrace Gates.

Vengeance

Some time later, Varl was approached by Aloy about the path to Meridian. While initially confused as to why she would seek exile, Varl pointed her to Marea in Mother's Crown upon learning of Aloy's Seeker status. Before she left, Varl asked her to help search for Sona, who had gone missing after launching her attack. Varl remained at the Embrace Gates until Dran returned with word of Sona's location. Eager for revenge, Varl left the gates in the hands of his fellow Braves before heading to Devil's Thirst. Varl located the war party and Aloy, joining them just after they killed off a group of Eclipse cultists. Upon arrival, Varl was berated by Sona for disobeying orders, prompting Aloy to look around the base. The Seeker would find the location of the remaining killers: the Ring of Metal in Devil's Grief, taboo to the Nora. Agreeing with Aloy that there wasn't time to beg the Matriarchs for an exception, Varl convinced Sona to break the taboo. Aloy met Varl and the rest of the war party at Red Echoes, where they worked to disable the three checkpoints set up by the killers.

Once the camps were dealt with, Varl volunteered to join Aloy in entering the Ring of Metal to exploit the base's weakness. The two worked together to clear out the Eclipse in their path, eventually making their way to the main area. On Aloy's instructions, Varl went back to the War Party, leading them to the side of the Ring where she would create an opening. Once Aloy ignited the killers' entire stockpile of Blaze, a hole in the Ring was created for the Nora to charge through. A fierce battle ensued, ending with the Nora's victory. For the time being, Aloy and Varl parted ways, as her journey was far from over.

The Eclipse's assault

Sometime after, the Sacred Lands fell prey to a devastating attack from the Eclipse. Varl and Sona were among the few Braves to survive the invasion, and retreated with the rest of the Nora into the Sacred Mountain. The Braves could do nothing but watch through a barrier as the Eclipse unleashed a Corrupted Thunderjaw on the entrance, trying to bring down the mountain. However, Aloy eventually arrived and began to fight the Eclipse. Revigorated, the Braves rushed to Aloy's side, with Varl chanting "For Aloy!". With her help, the tide quickly turned, and the killers were wiped out. Aloy and Varl spoke about the attack briefly before heading inside the mountain to speak with the High Matriarchs.

Varl, along with the rest of the tribe, watched in awe as Aloy entered the chamber inside in the mountain to "speak with the goddess". Upon emerging, Aloy told a watered-down version of her origins and purpose, causing the tribe to fall to their knees and praise her. Aloy instantly rejected the gesture, refusing to accept the title of "the Anointed", and warned them that the entire world was in danger. Varl asked how they could help, upon which Aloy gave instructions to meet her in Meridian. Varl, along with his mother and a number of Braves, were made Seekers so that they could venture beyond the Sacred Lands.

Before leaving, Aloy spoke with Varl a final time. Varl expressed his shock at the events, as well as his confusion. Aloy offered to take him into the chamber, which Varl quickly declined, but he was open to the idea of Aloy sharing what she had been learning with him.

Meridian

After arriving in the Sundom, the Braves made camp upon the Alight to wait for the invasion. Varl met Aloy as she toured the defenses, reminding his fellow Braves that Aloy hated being bowed to. The two discussed briefly, with Varl admitting his discomfort of being in the Tainted Lands and his difficulty towards balancing his admiration of Aloy with respecting her wishes.

When the Eclipse began their final attack, the Braves worked with the Vanguard to protect the Spire. However, HADES and its Deathbringer broke through the defenses, and proceeded to transmit the signal that would end life on Earth once more. Varl and Erend were among the few still able to fight (along with Sona or Talanah, depending on whether Aloy had joined the Lodge or not), and were preparing to go face HADES when Aloy arrived from the village. Varl immediately insisted that the three of them accompany Aloy to the Alight. While Aloy fought the Deathbringer guarding HADES, Varl and the others directed their attention to the Corrupted Machines surrounding them, allowing Aloy to focus on the Deathbringer.

Eventually, after a fierce battle, the machines fell and Aloy purged HADES with the Master Override. As she walked to the edge of the Alight, she was joined by Erend and Varl, who began cheering with the rest of Meridian in their victory. That evening, as the city celebrated, Varl shared drinks with Erend. Although Varl expressed doubts that he was welcome in Carja lands, Erend assured him that Sun-King Avad welcomed the Nora's presence, and encouraged him to stay.

Forbidden West

When Aloy left without warning during the celebrations, Varl chose to go after her while the rest of the Nora returned to the Sacred Lands. He finally located her six months later, having deduced that she was searching for and refused to let her continue on alone. Aloy relented and gave him a Focus, granting him her "second sight", and slowly introduced him to the details of her mission. When Aloy's final lead on finding a GAIA backup failed, Varl convinced her to reach out to Marad in order to find Sylens, and accompanied her to Meridian.

Soon after their arrival, Varl learned from Aloy that the journey would require them to travel to the Forbidden West. At Aloy's request, the two of them stayed in Meridian to rest. When Varl woke the next morning, however, Aloy was already gone. He managed to reach the border at Barren Light just in time, as Aloy was preparing to enter the Forbidden West.

GEMINI

Aloy and Beta would attempt to remove HEPHAESTUS's malicious code inside Cauldron GEMINI to merge into GAIA, with Varl keeping a close eye for any threats. However, the sudden appearance of Far Zenith members Tilda, Erik, and Gerard prompted him to protect Beta. Despite his valiant efforts to protect Beta, Varl was no match for Erik's superior weaponry, and was killed single-handedly with a golden-coloured blade that materialized from Erik's hand.

Legacy

Varl's loss was mourned by his companions, with Aloy, Erend and Zo taking it particularly hard. Zo, intending to share her pregnancy after retrieving HEPHAESTUS, never had the opportunity to tell Varl that he would become a father. Varl's death at Erik's hand would be then avenged by Aloy and Zo, who killed the Zenith together.

Varl was buried on the eastern side of the Base, so that he could face out towards both Plainsong and the Sacred Lands. Ultimately, Zo performed the Utaru tradition of planting new seeds upon the death of a human so that new life may sprout from death.

Personality

While resolute and morally upright, Varl's greatest strength was his emotional insight. He largely kept personal struggles to himself while finding healthy measures to cope with them. With his friends, he showed patience and understanding, letting them work through their issues at their own pace but providing insight when he could. This did not stop him from expressing irritation in the form of dry wit, or setting his foot down if he found it necessary.

Before meeting Aloy, Varl largely adhered to the Nora faith. However, he never showed disdain for any outlanders on the basis of their heritage, and was willing to stray from tradition should the situation demand it. While waiting at the Spire for the Eclipse's assault, he expressed mild discomfort at being outside of the Sacred Lands but was not outright disdainful of the Sundom. While he saw Aloy as "the Anointed", he still treated her as a friend out of respect for her feelings, only using the title to tease her if annoyed. Once he began learning the truth about the Old World, he accepted it surprisingly fast, recognizing that technology could be used in positive ways. He seemed to have a particular interest in space, even in light of Far Zenith.

While he respected Sona immensely, Varl had a strained relationship with his mother, due to her high standards and the pressures of having to live up to her name. Zo noticed his reluctance to speak about Sona with her, to the point where she asked Aloy on the matter.

Trivia

  • During the quest A Seeker at the Gates, if the player rides a Strider through the Embrace Gate, an astonished Varl will comment on it.
  • In the base, Erend remarks that he won't let Varl anywhere near his ale after the celebration in Meridian, implying that Varl got drunk during the festivities (although this is never elaborated on).
  • Varl was a poor singer, with Erend describing his attempt to sing Utaru music as "sounding like a dying Longleg".

Gallery

References

Nora Tribe
High Matriarchs Jezza - Teersa - Lansra
Other Tribe Members Aloy - Alana - Arana - Bast - Den - Dral - Dran - Enara - Ferl - Fia - Grist - Jarg - Jarm - Jun - Karst - Lut - Marea - Muns - Nakoa - Olara - Orn - Resh - Solai - Sona - Taim - Teb - Thok - Vala - Varl - Yan
Outcasts Brom - Cren - Grata - Jom - Kam - Kurnst - Nora Keeper - Rost - Yun
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