So, having arrived in the big city of Meridian, the Carja capital, I think it’s a good idea that we sort of slow down and take in the sights. Since we’re gonna be running here and there for the rest of the game, I kind of want to make sure that we see all of what Meridian has to offer. At the same time we’re also gonna take a little bit of a look at the history of the Carja, because the Nora are a pretty simple hunter-gatherer kind of tribe. I mean, we know who they are and pretty much where they came from, but the Carja have a bit more complicated of a history and a bit of a complicated history with the Nora. So we’ll look into why that is. We’re going to explore the top part of the mesa here, where all the markets and the nobility live, and then we’re gonna head down the elevators to the Royal Maizelands, where all of the agriculture takes place.

And then, for the final pit stop, we’re gonna head all the way over to the Spire because that is accessible. So down there you can see a bit of the Maizelands. It’s where all of the agriculture for the Carja takes place. It’s kind of stark just how much more advanced the Carja are than the Nora. Though we don’t see the Banuk or the Oseram homelands, we can kind of assume that the Carja are at least a little bit more technologically advanced than they are. So, here we have one of the first of a few markets. Unfortunately, we can’t buy any of the outfits on display, though there are plenty of outfits that just unlocked now that we entered Carja territory. But we’ll be getting to them in due time. There are a bunch of specialized merchants, and one of them was just the person who was trying to call us over. We’ll take a look at them later as they kind of want to have us go collect things, which we’ve already seen. They are the collectibles like the Metal Flowers and the Banuk Figures.

But we’ll start talking to them once we’ve completed each of the little sets that you can get in the game. So, here we are, back at the front gate. This is where all the guards, both Carja and Oseram, are just kind of waiting around. I believe it’s because of the murder of Ersa and the Vanguard that all of the guards have been posted here, but they don’t really have anywhere to go, so they’re just sort of waiting for orders at this point. You can tell the Oseram and the Carja apart very strikingly here. The Oseram are covered in large amounts of leather and sometimes often cover their faces entirely, whereas the Carja look a bit more like centurion soldiers with a bit of Aztec flair.

Up here we have the Sun Palace, where the leader of the Carja, the Sun-King, resides. We can’t currently get to it, but we’ll try to get to it later. So, I actually really like that the guard has about five different things to say to you before he gets mad. I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t even come over here or bother him that many times, so it’s neat that there’s that amount of detail in a lot of the things in this game.

And although we can’t go inside this building ever, really, it’s sort of an example of one of the Carja mansions, so this is where the nobility lives. And right now we are heading into one of the larger markets, which is kind of two markets fit together, but this is where you can find a lot of the specialty merchants. Just like that person, who I believe wants us to go get Metal Flowers. So, you may have noticed that the overwhelming majority of the people in the city are Carja and Oseram. I’ll get into a little bit of why that is, but the city is open to anyone, but it’s only recently been open to everyone, and the Carja’s history of being kind of really mean and rude and murderous to the other tribes has kind of kept people away. So, this is the Hunters Lodge, and we’ll be doing a lot of the Hunters Lodge quests in a bit. We’re gonna hold off on that because it’s got its own entire quest line. So, we’re just gonna take a peek inside, and they have a Thunderjaw carcass on display. So, we’ll be taking a look at that later.

So, over here in this large area is where we have, sort of, the Carja ceremonial or religious practices. Their religion pretty much entirely covers worshiping the Sun, so everything and anything that you see relating to the Carja will likely have some sort of path back to the Sun. And now, we can’t really see them in this area, and we’re about to head over to them, but the Carja do have a bit of a religious structure that involves priests and priesthood. So, we’re gonna head over there. And so maybe you caught that offhand comment from someone passing behind us, but we’ll get into the Carja and their troubled views on women and outsiders. And yes, that is another side quest that we will do later. For this video, I turned off basically all of the HUD elements or anything that can pop up, and I also went around accepting all the side quests so that I could sort of not have those icons show up. We’ll see all of the side quests later, like, I’ll revert to a previous save. I just wanted to show this off with as little interrupting the visuals as possible.

I kinda wish you can give the performers out here a tip. I don’t know; it just seems like a little bit more of an immersion thing. I’m also not used to games having market stalls like this, where everything is pretty well-rendered and not just a flat texture. So, it looks like the Carja also have a pretty strong grip on the spice market as well. And that right there was the merchant, sort of, who is looking for Banuk Figures, so we’ll talk to her later as well.

So, you may have noticed all around the city are these little pedestal-like things. There’s one right next to Aloy right now. I’m not entirely sure what that is, but I believe it’s a – it might be a clock, like a sundial. Although the placement of some of them kind of makes that a little hard to believe. So, we are pretty much back to where we started. Now that we’ve kind of looped back around to where we started let’s take the elevator down – all the way down – to the Royal Maizelands. Oh, looks like the weather has finally made a turn for the worse. But if there’s one gripe that I have about these elevators, it’s that they operate in real-time, so if the car is all the way at the bottom it’s going to slowly make its way all the way back to the top.

Oh, and it looks like there’s a bit of a graphical glitch happening. I believe that’s a flag that’s getting caught on something as it blows in the wind. We’ll see that a little bit more on the way down. So, down below is where the commoners live, in Meridian Village. It may not be as architecturally impressive as the upper areas, but there are parts of this that feel much more alive than the mesa up top. And I feel that that’s a pretty deliberate design decision. So, we can see the Spire all the way up on that outcropping, so we’re gonna have to be taking a lot of stairs to get up there. So, if there’s another thing that the Carja have over the Nora, it’s not just agriculture; it’s also irrigation. So, I said that there were a bunch of Royal Maizelands down here, and that’s clearly named after all of the corn they grow, and a lot of that is over in this section. So, now we’re gonna meet making our way over to the Spire, and that’s gonna require a bit of running, so I think that now is a pretty good time for our Carja history lesson.

So, if there is one thing that you must know about the Carja, it’s that they worship anything and everything related to the Sun. You’ll see it in the naming of towns and cities to their day-to-day speech. Everything related to the Sun shining its light down from the heavens is considered good and holy, and everything outside of that is referred to as being shadowed from the very same light. For example, “turning to face the Sun” is often a metaphor for death, whereas “midday” is evoked when something positive happens. It’s been strongly mentioned that the Carja and Nora have a troubled relationship, but let’s go all the way back to the origins of the Carja to examine what happened to cause that. The Carja truly came into their own when Araman, their first Sun-King, found information from the Metal World that helped accelerate their technology as a society. As a result, other tribes forced the Carja out of their homeland, and Araman led them west to find a new home. When they discovered the spire towering out of the landscape, they stopped and built Meridian on top of the nearby mesa, a testament to their technological advancement.

With the third Sun-King, Sadahin, they would expand their territory into what is now not a “kingdom,” but a “sundom.” With the passing of the crown for several generations, the Carja continued to grow and evolve as a society, developing a culture that appears to be simultaneously Roman and Aztec in nature. The Carja differ from the Nora in that they are patriarchal and do not allow women to join the military or become Sun-Priests. The Carja also have a much more rigid caste system of nobility at the top and commoners at the bottom. This can be seen in quite a literal fashion within Meridian, where the city atop the mesa is for nobility and artisans and the village below is for the commoners. Things remained relatively peaceful and prosperous for the Carja until the twelfth Sun-King, Hivas, who began to fight with other tribes and captured many as slaves. When the next Sun-King, Jiran, took over things were going to get much, much worse. During Jiran’s reign, the Derangement occurred, which made all Machines suddenly turn openly hostile to anyone who approached them. Thinking that this was caused by displeasure from the Sun-God, Jiran started the Red Raids to quell the Machines’ anger.

During the Red Raids, the Carja would go to other tribes and massacre them or capture them as slaves, to be sacrificed in the Sun Ring, a large gladiatorial arena. The Nora were not the only tribe assaulted by the Carja, but they were particularly devastated by the attacks. Sun-King Jiran’s infamous raids went on for over ten years and would, along with his deteriorating sanity, earn him the moniker of Mad King Jiran. A large group of Carja opposed these sacrifices to the Sun-God, including Jiran’s sons, Kadaman and Avad, although Kadaman would later be executed for his opposition to his father.

Avad was so disgusted with his father’s actions that he formed an alliance with the Oseram tribe and overthrew his father, personally killing him in the process. This alliance still holds, and it’s why so many Oseram can be found in Carja territory. Since then, Avad has sought to make amends with all the people wronged by his father and has sent out peace convoys to other tribes to try to form alliances, but understandably, many are unwilling to forgive the very recent past so easily and are skeptical of Avad’s intentions.

This coup did, however, split the Carja, and those remaining loyal to Jiran left Meridian, forming a new society in Sunfall and renaming themselves to the Shadow Carja. This includes Jiran’s wife, Nasadi, and his youngest son, Itamen, who is something of a king to the Shadow Carja though he is still very young. There is, however, another faction within the Shadow Carja that operates underneath the radar of most of its citizens, and though we have met them before, we don’t know who they are just yet.

But that brings us to the current day, with Avad and the Carja trying to atone for the sins of Jiran, such as Avad’s abolition of slavery and sacrifices in the Sun Ring. Avad also has a group of elite warriors, the Vanguard, a group of Oseram who helped him overthrow his father, including their leader, Ersa, and her brother, Erend. The city has been open to other tribes such as the Nora and the Banuk, but the Carja are still a proud and judgmental people who look down on others like the Nora as savage and uncivilized. Meridian is such a big place and something that will be coming back to so frequently, but I feel like this is a pretty good look at what the city is and who its people are. .

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