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"We understand a simple truth: loyalty is won, respect is taken... and Glory is Earned."
―Tandis Rylen to his son Tomas
House Rylen of The Claw is one of the Great Houses of Westeros. It is the royal house of the independent Kingdom of the Islands. They rule over the collection of isles of the coast of the North and the Vale known as the Tiger Islands.

House Rylen's sigil is that of the White Tiger, a rare and near-extinct animal native to Blood Island, on a black and red field. The black represents the night sky, and the red represents the cliffs of the island that famously turn red during dawn and dusk, the tiger itself signifying the bond the Rylens share with their homeland. Their words, "Glory is Earned" reflect the family's belief that true honour, loyalty and respect can only be granted by example of great deeds.

Much like the Dornish, the Bloodborn do not determine succession by gender but exclusively by age due to the native faith of the Blood God, meaning females and males alike have the same opportunities to succeed and rule. As a result there have been many Kings and Queens, Lords and Ladies alike who have ruled as the head of the house. Though their titles refer to them as the rulers of Blood Island, the Rylens' vassals include all of the Bloodborn houses in the surrounding Tiger Islands, the title "King of Blood Island" is merely a traditional nod to the time when they only ruled their home isle.

The seat of Rylen power is a formidable fortress on the cliffs of the southernmost tip of Blood Island named The Claw, so called because of its five towers that some say make the castle resemble the paw of a tiger.

For thousands of years the Rylens have ruled their islands, being the only kingdom of the First Men besides the North to resist the Andal invasion. However they were forced to bend the knee and join the Seven Kingdoms when Aegon Targaryen began his War of Conquest, but regaining their independence as a sovereign kingdom after Robert's Rebellion.

House Rylen has always been a close ally to House Stark, the two houses bound by the blood of the First Men. Though the Bloodborn have long since distinguished themselves as a separate race and culture, even forming their own religion.

History

House Rylen was founded during the age of the First Men, by a young sea-faring warlord named Gareth Rylen. It is said that at this time Blood Island was abundant with its native white tigers, and Gareth was so impressed by the beasts he took the animal for the symbol of his family.

More than 2,000 years later, King Danard "StoneClaw" Rylen took it upon himself to build a mighty fortress near the famous red cliffs of his family's island home that would be more unique than the castle they resided in at the time. This fortress was built to pay homage to the claws on a tiger's paw, with five towers of varying height. This great castle was simply named The Claw. It was from this fortress that Danard began his conquests of the other Tiger Islands inhabited by warring lords, establishing the Kingdom of the Islands.

The Claw

The Claw, the seat of House Rylen

When the Andals crossed the Narrow Sea and invaded Westeros, the Tiger Islands were able to remain independent of the new Kingdoms being formed by the invaders, along with the North. Due to this fact, the two kingdoms set aside their differences and embraced in an alliance based on their bond as the last remaining Kingdoms of the First Men. Over time however, the Rylens and their vassals began to abandon the traditional customs of the First Men, and it was Queen Thoreen Rylen who first coined the term "Bloodborn", along with the Bloodborn mantra of "Born in blood, in blood we die".

Sometime between this and Aegon's Landing, the Bloodborn developed their own religion dedicated to a single entity simply known as the Blood God, who resided in a magnificent palace known as the Red Hall where he would invite the bravest Bloodborn to join him in death. Around 1000 BAL, the King Tagros Rylen, who wholly embraced this religion, declared war on all Seven Kingdoms (except the North) and invaded the mainland with what many say was the largest fleet ever assembled, and that the Houses Hoare, Durrandon, Lannister and Gardener all had to unite in order to defeat his host. The mainland houses forever knew this as the War of the Mad Tiger, and truly cemented the belief that the Bloodborn were the fiercest and strongest soldiers in Westeros.

Aegon Targaryen's Landing in Westeros heralded the creation of the Seven Kingdoms under Targaryen rule. During this time, King Haros Rylen left his wife, Queen Halma, in command of The Claw while he lead the Bloodborn to battle Aegon's vast army. However Aegon sent a second force to besiege the Claw while nearly 7,000 Bloodborn were killed at the Battle of the Broken Branch. In which Haros tried to land his forces in the North but was intercepted and defeated while trying to disembark his army. Sailing home, Haros sought to lift the siege of The Claw, but Halma, who could see the undermanned castle was close to falling, killed herself and Haros' three children to spare them a more painful death, however, the castle held and Haros relieved The Claw the next day. These events were immortalised in the tragic song unofficially recognised as the song of House Rylen: "The Mother Tigress". Within six months, Aegon had used his dragons to subdue the Bloodborn and King Haros bent the knee, for many centuries he would be the last King of Blood Island.

During Robert's Rebellion, Craig Rylen initially remained neutral until he sided with the rebels in exchange for the promise of independence when the war was over and the Targaryens were removed from power. With their massive naval power, the Bloodborn annihilated the Royal Fleet and landed their troops in the Crownlands around the time of the Battle of the Trident. At the Battle of Duskendale, Craig destroyed a Targaryen reinforcement force that, if it had reached the Trident, may have resulted in a rebel defeat. True to his word, Robert Baratheon declared the Tiger Islands released from the fold of the Seven Kingdoms, and Craig was named the first King of Blood Island in centuries.

Craig was murdered in a drunken rage by one of his own bannermen, Lord Reese Mostyn, during a feast around the time of the Greyjoy Rebellion. Craig's son, Tandis Rylen, though having little love for his abusive father, beheaded Lord Mostyn and within a week had led his army to Dawnbreaker Bay, the Mostyn seat, and slaughtered his family completely, giving Dawnbreaker Bay to House Selby of Skyholme as part of his wedding dowry for his marriage to Lorenna Selby. In doing this Tandis earned the respect of the Bloodborn, who admire strength above all, and solidified House Rylen's power even further.

Events

Season 1

By the time of Jon Arryn's death, Tandis and Lorenna Rylen have two children, Tomas and Sienna. Tandis arrives in King's Landing with his children for the Tourney of the Hand, since his father Craig and Eddard Stark were good friends and he considers Ned a strong ally and friend himself. however he notices his cousin and general, the quiet and brooding Benjen "Ben" Rylen, is in love with Sansa Stark, which he warns him against since she is betrothed to Prince Joffrey. While in King's Landing, he receives a raven from Lorenna stating that Tandis' mother Lysa is near death, before he leaves however, Tandis is confronted by Ned about King Robert's children being bastards born of incest, Tandis, unable to act on this information, does leave behind 20 of his Royal Guards for Ned to use in his plans to supplant Joffrey, but these men are killed along with Ned's household guards in the Massacre of the Red Keep. Before the Bloodborn party leaves, Ben unintentionally comes across Sansa Stark while she is riding an uncontrollable horse, calming the beast down and saving Sansa from being thrown from her saddle, she thanks him, calling him very brave but he dismisses her and leaves. Arriving home, Tandis attends his mother's bedside with Lorenna, and Lysa confesses that she knew her husband Craig had fathered a child with another woman: Jeyne Mostyn, the wife of Reese Mostyn, revealing the reason why Lord Mostyn killed his father.

Tandis of the House Rylen

King Tandis I Rylen, King of Blood Island and Tiger Lord of the Bloodborn, wearing his distinctive black armour.

Tandis tracks down his bastard sister to Barren Point, the seat of House Quinlan, and finds the girl, Madalyn Cliff, working as a servant girl for Lady Quinlan. He invites Madalyn to join his House and legitimises her as Madalyn Rylen, Lady of The Claw. Not long after this, the Rylens receive word that Ned Stark has been imprisoned and executed, and that his son Robb is leading the Northern Army south to war. Tandis shows great reluctance at wading into a "mainlander" war and chooses to remain neutral, much to the annoyance of his bannermen.

Season 2

Robb Stark, now King in the North, sends emissaries to Blood Island asking for an alliance between the Northerners and the Bloodborn, however he only does this after he is betrayed by Theon Greyjoy and Renly Baratheon is murdered. Tandis agrees, to avenge Ned Stark, gain a potentially powerful ally, and sate the bloodlust of his bannermen. Gathering the banners of the Island, Tandis elects to land his forces in the Crownlands.

Meanwhile Madalyn is left behind to rule as well as care for Tomas and Sienna while Lorenna and Tandis go to war, at first, the prospect of managing not only an entire castle but a whole kingdom leaves the poor girl flustered, her lack of an education only worsening matters. However Sienna offers to teach her aunt to read and write, whilst Tomas assists Madalyn in making political decisions using skills learned from his father. Madalyn becomes a second mother figure to the children, and her experience as a commoner helps her find common ground with the smallfolk. Tandis' cousin and Ben's sister Jayde Rylen, who is an open lesbian, is also friendly and helps Madalyn where she can, though she prefers to spend her time training the troops left to guard the Islands when she is not with her handmaiden and lover Betha Dantell, much to the annoyance of her mother Cera.

Led by Ben and his father Brent (Cera's husband), the Bloodborn vanguard land at Dyre Den, the Lannisters, who have expected them, send a force of Westerlanders and Tyrell Reachmen to attack the Bloodborn as they disembark, the Islanders' reputation precedes them however, and they prove to be far superior fighters and warriors to the mainlander troops. Tandis lands the main army on the flanks of the Iron Throne force, encircling them and winning the Battle of Dyre Den.

Season 3

Unable to assault King's Landing directly due to the massive reinforcements the Iron Throne has received from the Reach, the Bloodborn Army moves west towards the Riverlands hoping to link up with King Robb's forces. They slaughter their way across the Crownlands, burning settlements and killing all in their path, in one such village, Ben is walking amongst the destruction, when he passes a small alley between two houses and witnesses a soldier from House Dymon attempting to rape a young girl no more than 12 years old. Enraged, the usually quiet Ben tears the man off her and beats him half to death, seeing that the poor girl is herself near death, he slits her throat out of kindness.

Bloodborn pillaging Crownlands

Bloodborn troops pillage the Crownlands

The soldier later confronts Tandis, asking him to punish Benjen, since according to Bloodborn law, no man can take from another the spoils he has acquired in war. Ben answers the accusation by stating that the girl wasn't a piece of treasure or a goat, she was a human being, also that he thought they came to the mainland to fight Lannisters, not butcher the smallfolk. Sympathetic to his cousin, Tandis compensates the soldier with a bag of gold coins, then orders Lord Marke Dymon to restrain his men. Lord Dymon challenges this, as he believes restraint will not allow his men entry into the Red Hall, to which Tandis replies "Neither will raping little girls".

Back at The Claw, Jayde and Madalyn start to bond more at Cera's insistence. Madalyn is taught how to fight by Jayde and Jon "Swordhand" Tarigg, The Claw's master-at-arms, and slowly but surely, she begins to feel more accepted as a true Rylen. While they watch Tomas and Sienna learning to ride, Madalyn opens her heart to Jayde, during the conversation she even admits to Jayde she is still a virgin, which Jayde is surprised at given her beauty. Distracted by one another, they fail to notice when Sienna is thrown from her horse into the nearby Green River, Madalyn is able to save the Princess from drowning, earning the family's true respect and gratitude, and Jayde, who sees Sienna like a daughter, is so overjoyed she kisses Madalyn, which causes her lover and handmaiden Betha to become jealous.

Madalyn and Jayde Rylen

Madalyn and Jayde

Later that night, when Madalyn comes to Jayde's room hoping to talk about the day's events, she finds her having sex with Betha to ease her jealousy, Madalyn goes quickly to leave but Jayde insists she stay and join in. Betha is visibly angered by this, but Jayde tells her she should kiss Madalyn to see if she likes it or not, annoyed, her handmaiden does so, and surprisingly the two of them continue kissing. Glad that her experiment has succeeded, Jayde then helps Betha "make (Madalyn) a woman".

In the Crownlands, a much larger Iron Throne army, largely comprised of Reachmen and led by Mern Tyrell (a distant cousin of Mace Tyrell) marches against the Bloodborn forces to prevent them reaching Harrenhal. Since they are outnumbered three to one, most of Tandis' lords and ladies agree that they cannot meet this force in a pitched battle, for even if they win their losses would be grievous. However some, including Lord Dymon, insist that they should meet the enemy head-on to achieve glory and honour, reason prevails however, when Lorenna suggests an alternative: a parley. Dymon openly calls Tandis a coward in front of the rest of his vassals, to which Tandis calmly stands from his seat, walks up to Dymon, and plants his Valyrian Swords Fang and Tooth at his feet, a Bloodborn challenge to single combat. After an intense staredown, Lord Dymon declines.

Lord Mern Tyrell, believing the Bloodborn wish to surrender, attends the parley with Tandis and Lorenna a couple of nights later, when he enters their tent, they appear civil and formal. They engage Mern in small talk for several minutes, frustrating him since he wishes to negotiate, but the royal couple insist he relax and drink with them, reluctantly, he agrees. The strictly courteous Reach lord is consistently made uncomfortable by Tandis and Lorenna as time goes on, they openly kiss and fondle one another, Lorenna tells a "funny" story about the first fight she took part in as a girl, where she gouged another girl's eye out, and spill ale all over Mern's robes. Finally the Tyrell Lord gives up trying to talk to the couple and goes to leave the tent as they begin to undress each other, however once he steps outside, he sees the corpses of his guards and advisors littering the ground, all killed by Daryn Marck and the White Tiger Guards (the Bloodborn equivalent to the Kingsguard), who bring him back into the tent, where Tandis and Lorenna now lie naked with each other. When Mern angrily roars that his army will destroy them for such an outrage, Tandis casually remarks that he already destroyed his army.... The parley was a trick, and the Bloodborn Army attacked and slaughtered the Tyrell force while they were encamped, catching many of them asleep. Mern is released and given safe passage back to King's Landing.

The next day, while surveying the battlefield, Lord Dymon and several of his men are seen torturing Tyrell prisoners, Tandis orders Dymon to simply kill the men, as this is not the Bloodborn way of war, but Dymon, ever the rebel and fool, dismisses Tandis, saying he wouldn't know what it was like to be a true Bloodborn. This brings their feud to a height as this time, Dymon plants his sword at Tandis' feet, challenging him.

In front of the entire Bloodborn Army, the two men fight that night, the fight is fought shirtless, with no weapons, to the death. Dymon is clearly outmatched physically by Tandis, but he sneakily cheats by throwing dirt in his eyes, gaining the upper hand, he lands several punishing blows on the Bloodborn King, but Tandis is able to recover by biting through Dymon's hand and kicking him in the crotch when Dymon tries to strangle him. He then breaks both of Dymon's arms before crushing his windpipe with a pwerful punch to the throat, finally Dymon suffocates and dies. Dymon's forces are divided amongst the other houses and the march west resumes.

Meanwhile, in Blood Island, Madalyn and Jayde are in an open relationship, and though Betha enjoys their shared lovemaking, her jealousy towards Madalyn grows stronger every day as she feels Jayde is replacing her. One night, when the family is feasting in the great hall of The Claw, she asks Madalyn to meet her in a more private part of the castle. When she arrives, Betha kisses her, tells her she regrets her actions because she does believe Madalyn is a good person, and then proceeds to stab her in the gut with a hidden dagger. Shocked by her own actions, Betha leaves Madalyn to die in the hallway.

Betha cliffs

Betha Dantell, mere moments before her death

Madalyn is found later by Sienna, and despite several days of insecurity about her health, she pulls through and survives. Jayde tearfully professes that she loves Madalyn in front of Betha, who is heartbroken. The next day, Jayde finds her lover on top of the cliffs near the castle, where she confesses to stabbing Madalyn before throwing herself off the cliffs into the sea. Shocked and shattered for a girl she still cared for, Jayde collapses to her knees in grief, but is given no time to mourn as she looks up and sees sails in the distance, bearing the Lannister lion and Tyrell rose.

Season 4

Having received word that Robb Stark and his entire Northern Army has been slaughtered at the Red Wedding, and that Blood Island is now under attack by a combined Iron Throne army, Tandis abandons his campaign in the South. Marching his troops back into the lands they seized to meet up with the Red Fleet, the forced march takes days, and they are closely pursued by the remainder of Tywin Lannister's armies, who are now free to focus on him with the Northerners and Rivermen defeated. At the Battle of Crackclaw Point, Lady Sharenna Rankin and Lord Jaxen Bothwell, two of Tandis' closest advisors throughout the campaign, offer to sacrifice themselves in a holding action to ensure the army is able to embark their ships safely. As Tandis watches from his ship, his army safely evacuated, the remainders of the Bothwell-Rankin forces are cut down, earning their places in the Red Hall.

Later on, the Red Fleet returns to the Tiger Islands, the Lannisters and Tyrells have laid siege to The Claw, as well as Seafarren, the seat of House Linton (the house responsible for building two-thirds of the Red Fleet) Darkwing, the seat of House Lunaren, and Greatwave, the seat of House Rankin. Dividing his forces, Tandis leads the attack to reclaim his home, recklessly charging headlong into the fray, he survives only due to timely interventions from Lorenna, Ben, and Brent. The Lannister force besieging The Claw is quickly wiped out by the battle-hardened Bloodborn.

Wasting no time, Tandis and Lorenna rush into the castle itself, they desperately search the aftermath of the battle looking for their children. Madalyn emerges in the courtyard, dazed, traumatised and covered in Lannister blood, Tandis comforts his half-sister, but desperately persists in asking where his children are while Lorenna scans the packed courtyard for any sign of them. A soldier then approaches Tandis and whispers into his ear, the news is clear when the King's face goes cold and emotionless...

Tomas Sienna Funeral

The funeral of Prince Tomas, Princess Sienna, and Lady Jayde Rylen

Tomas and Sienna are found beneath the rubble of the castle's western tower, Jayde is discovered on top of them, having died trying to shield her cousins children with her own body. Weeks later, when the invading Tyrells and Lannisters are defeated completely. House Rylen mourns the deaths of Jayde, Tomas and Sienna, holding a traditional Bloodborn funeral where the bodies are bled dry, the remains burned, and the blood from their corpses poured into the sea so that the deceased's soul may move on to the Red Hall, Madalyn pours Jayde's blood into the water, weeping over her first love as she's comforted by Ben, Brent and Cera. While pouring the blood of his children into the sea, Tandis' tears of grief soon turn to rage, as he and his wife proceed up the beach through the crowd of lords, ladies, warriors and smallfolk, they are greeted with thousands of weapons drawn in salute, and slowly a resounding chorus builds up as the Bloodborn clash their weapons together over and over in unison. As he watches his son's lifeless, bloodless and soulless body burn, Tandis draws Tooth while Lorenna draws Fang, the King and Queen turn to face their subjects, who are now in a mad state of shouting, cheering, chanting and crying, Tandis raises Tooth high and roars: "King's Landing will BURN!!!". He is met with resounding cheers as the Bloodborn swear revenge for the deaths of their Prince and Princess.

Season 5

For most of the fifth season, the Bloodborn are reforming and regrouping to assemble their deadliest force yet, Tandis still has 30,000 troops and 400 ships at his disposal with which he eventually means to attack King's Landing directly in an all-or-nothing gambit. In order to achieve his goal, he sends small raiding parties of 3 or 4 ships each to raid all over the Westerlands, Reach, Stormlands and Crownlands with the hope of dispersing the Tyrell and Lannister armies, leaving the capital relatively undefended.

Lorenna is unwilling to lie with Tandis, since she still mourns her childrens' deaths, though sympathetic, Tandis reminds her that they must produce a new heir for the sake of the family. She grows increasingly distant from her husband, even losing her legendary fighting spirit, she spends most days either lying in her bed or out walking alone on the cliffs, though trying to console his wife, Tandis eventually loses his patience and angrily lashes out at her, only deepening her depression.

Madalyn also continues to mourn for Jayde, as well as her brother's children. Ben is able to console her as he recounts several stories of his childhood with Jayde, he assures her that his sister was always brave and kind in equal measure, and that when Madalyn's time comes, they'll be together again in the Red Hall, a very out-of-character statement from Ben as he is well-known for being non-religious. When she calls him out on this, he replies that he'll believe anything as long as it means his sister's death wasn't meaningless.

Ben later receives word that Sansa Stark has been married off to Ramsay Bolton, knowing full well that Sansa would never willingly marry the son of the man who murdered her brother, he resolves to travel to Winterfell and rescue her. When he announces his plans to his family, they respond in the most predictable way and insist he can't leave with their impending offensive against the Lannisters, he responds by claiming that he'll be helping the offensive, since Sansa is (believed to be) the last trueborn Stark, and if he frees her from the Boltons, the North will rally behind her, reestablishing the Northern-Bloodborn Alliance. When Cera confronts Ben as he packs for the journey, he confesses that he's really going because thinking about her was what kept him sane through all the battles he fought and the horrors he witnessed. Tandis allows Ben to take Fang with him in place of his own sword, and as Ben approaches his ship, his closest friend Garick Corayne, who served with him throughout the war, insists on accompanying him because he'll "just fucking get lost" without him.

Distance continues to grow between Tandis and Lorenna, as Tandis becomes more and more obsessed about getting revenge on the Lannisters, while Lorenna's behaviour grows increasingly reclusive. Cera tries to reach out to her niece-by-law, but is unsuccessful as she is practically catatonic by this stage, not responding to anyone who tries to console her. Worried for her, Madalyn is the last to attempt to confide in her sister-by-law. She is able to get a response when she echoes Ben's own words to her, saying that Tomas and Sienna were kind, brave and gentle children, full of life, and that when Lorenna passes on, she'll join her beloved babes in the Red Hall where she will be able to love them forever. This finally makes Lorenna burst into tears and scream that she misses them and of all people they didn't deserve to die, Tandis, who was listening just outside the room, later exchanges apologies with his wife and they share the load of their grief for the first time since their childrens' deaths.

Ben and Garick approach Winterfell after weeks of travelling, and as they near the great castle by approaching through the Wolfswood, the pair come across Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne. Ben and Garick assume that the pair must be in the service of the Lannisters, due to Brienne wielding Oathkeeper and Podrick being dressed in Lannister red. The pair attempt to ambush them, but fail and a fight breaks out, Ben nearly kills Brienne, but instead grabs her by the throat and demands that she tell him where Sansa is located in Winterfell. Podrick is able to explain that they too are looking to rescue Sansa and the two pairs of warriors decide to form a pact, Brienne tells Ben and Garick that they are awaiting a signal from Sansa herself that shows she is in distress by lighting a candle in the Broken Tower.

However when Stannis Baratheon's army arrives to lay siege to Winterfell, Brienne, consumed with vengeful rage over Stannis killing his brother Renly, leaves the Winter town to find and kill him. As Ben is trying to convince her otherwise, Sansa finally lights the candle in the tower, only for them to miss it. Garick only just manages to see the candle before it goes out, by which time Sansa has already escaped the castle with Theon Greyjoy and Brienne has executed Stannis. That night, the group make plans to enter Winterfell and get Sansa out, but Pod notices a large group of Boltons leaving the castle with bloodhounds, leading the group to conclude that she's already escaped, so they follow the Boltons from a distance.

Season 6

Just as Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy are caught in the middle of the Wolfswood by the Bolton hunters, Benjen, Garick, Brienne and Podrick ride in and slaughter their attackers. Brienne swears her sword to Sansa while Ben looks on, barely recognising her as the young girl he knew in King's Landing, Sansa herself doesn't recognise Ben at first since his appearance has slightly changed, but when she does, she bursts into tears and melts into his arms, overwhelmed to see a friendly face from her past.

Tandis receives word that yet another invasion force is being amassed by the Lannister-Tyrell alliance, with the seemingly innumerable forces of the Crownlands, Westerlands, Reach and Stormlands behind them, it appears that the Iron Throne forces will not stop until the Tiger Islands are knocked out of the war for good. Brent suggests to his nephew that he let the Lannisters come to them once more, predicting ahead of time exactly where the Lannisters will land: the Golden Shore, seat of House Ward, since it is the widest and safest beach to land on which is closest to The Claw and not beset by cliffs.

Meanwhile in the North, Ben insists on bringing Sansa back to Blood Island where she'll be safe, but she is determined to travel to Castle Black instead, since her (supposed) half-brother Jon Snow is the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, which would put her beyond Ramsay's reach. After bidding an emotional farewell to Theon, Sansa recalls the time when Ben helped her in King's Landing, saying it is one of the few happy memories she has of that dreadful city. Ben then tells her that he regrets not saying anything to her. She asks him what he would have said, and he simply replies, he would have told her that she was beautiful, Sansa bursts into laughter, saying that would've flattered her at the time had she not been so obsessed with marrying Joffrey. Finally, Ben kisses her, but she is unable to keep kissing him back, still haunted by the sexual abuse she endured at Ramsay's hands.

The group travel to Castle Black, where Sansa has an emotional reunion with Jon Snow, Garick questions Ben on why they are still present when their "mission" was to ensure Sansa was safe then return home, to which Ben replies "You know why...", Garick, amused yet annoyed, quips "I preferred you when you weren't in love, you stupid bastard". Jon and Ben converse together one night, where Ben learns of all Jon's exploits, including how he was murdered and returned from the dead, all of which makes Ben realise the futility of Tandis' war against the Iron Throne. The former Lord Commander is visibly disillusioned by his experiences, saying that the doing the right thing only got him killed, to which Ben simply replies that his country has been at war for years because they were doing the right thing, and Tandis is yet to give up on his Stark allies, so Jon shouldn't give up either.

Sansa and Jon later receive a threatening letter from Ramsay Bolton, demanding Sansa's return and saying he's taken Rickon Stark hostage. The Starks make plans to rally the Northern houses and retake Winterfell, to which Ben adds that he may be able to convince Tandis to send aid as well, and for this purpose he sends Garick back to Blood Island. Before the Starks leave Castle Black, Ben questions Sansa over why she was so reluctant to kiss him, she is silent, clearly distraught because although she does reciprocate his feelings, she cannot forget the abuse she suffered. When Ben asks her what Ramsay did to her, she just says "He did what all madmen do". Saddened and shocked, he consoles her, saying he is not like Ramsay and will never hurt her, which she acknowledges, saying that she does care for Ben, but isn't ready to show it yet.

Ben remains with the Starks while they travel across the North gathering the support of any houses they can, meanwhile Garick returns to The Claw and begs Tandis to send some of his forces to help the Starks. The King explains that although he wants to help the Starks, he is facing another imminent invasion and needs all the troops he can spare. Garick and Lorenna then remind Tandis that the whole reason the Bloodborn went to war in the first place was to help the Starks attain justice, so Tandis agrees to send 1,000 warriors to help take back Winterfell.

The Bloodborn contingent of Jon Snow's new army consists of 300 Rylens, 300 Selbys, 200 Quinlans, 100 Anders, 50 Stevryns and 50 Tariggs. these are joined by 2,000 Free Folk, 200 Hornwoods, 143 Mazins, and 62 Mormonts. The night before the battle, Ben admits to Sansa that for the first time he is truly terrified of dying, when she realises that it's because of her, she willingly kisses him and commands him not to die. His response is simply: "As you wish, my lady".

The next day, Ben and Garick take part in the Battle of the Bastards. Garick leads the Bloodborn cavalry into battle alongside the Stark horse, but is killed after being surrounded by several Boltons, he manages to take several with him, his last words being "In Blood I Die...". Later when the Starks are surrounded by a Bolton shieldwall, Ben, who kept the Bloodborn infantry back, moves to break the Bolton encirclement, but his troops are intercepted by Harald Karstark and several Bolton, Karstark and Umber men who protect the outside of the shieldwall. During the melee, Karstark and Ben meet and duel, and although Ben has the upper hand, he is distracted by an attacking Umber, and Karstark impales him through the gut. However, in an almost superhuman show of strength, Ben grabs the traitor lord by the throat with both hands, and raise him high above his head where he strangles him to death. Just as Ben loses consciousness, he sees the Knights of the Vale riding in to win the battle for the Starks.

The next day, Sansa visits him as he is treated in the Winterfell beds, she asks him what the hell he thought he was doing, and he says "Just what you told me", the two share a laugh and a kiss before she allows him to rest.

Meanwhile Tandis receives a diplomat from King's Landing, who demands that the Tiger Islands cease all hostilities with the Iron Throne, offering several chests full of gold and other treasures in exchange for peace on behalf of King Tommen. At first, Tandis appears tempted by the offer, but it quickly becomes evident that he is insulted by Tommen's attempt to bribe him with riches, saying gold won't bring his family back. As a message to King's Landing, the Bloodborn King sends the messenger back to the city with a severed lion's head, the broken antlers of a stag, and a burnt rose, along with the words "This is our peace, either King's Landing will burn, or The Claw will burn, you decide".

Weeks later, Lannister and Tyrell ships land at the Golden Shore, just as Brent Rylen predicted, and sure enough, as the invaders disembark, they are met by thousands of Bloodborn warriors charging down the hills towards them. For the first time since lifting the Siege of The Claw, Tandis and Lorenna fight side by side, appearing to revel in the destruction they wreak together. Showered by Bloodborn archer fire and taken by surprise by the ferociousness of their attack, the result is as expected, and half the invading force is slaughtered with the rest fleeing in their ships.With the second mainlander invasion of Blood Island easily thwarted, the Rylens gain a massive morale victory and instill considerable fear and doubt in the Iron Throne alliance, which soon falls apart on it's own when Cersei Lannister blows up the Sept of Baelor in King's Landing, slaughtering most of the Tyrell family and proclaiming herself the new Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Not long after this battle, Tandis receives word from Ben that Jon Snow has been named King in the North.

Military Strength

Quotebg
"It's rather clear; we cannot demoralise an enemy who is not afraid to die..."
―Tyrion Lannister to Cersei Lannister
At the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings, it is mentioned that House Rylen alone commands nearly 10,000 fighting men and women along with 100 ships, while their vassals across the Tiger Islands combine to form around 30,000 troops and 300 ships. Such large numbers are attributed to the fact that the large islands are densely populated and able to accommodate a heavy population, not to mention that the Bloodborn are apparently the only culture in Westeros who conscript both men AND women into their armies. Their naval power is unmatched, making them a massive threat to the Lannisters and their allies.

By the time of the Battle of the Golden Shore, the Bloodborn have suffered considerable losses during the War of the Five Kings, though not nearly to the extent of other houses. Tandis mentions having nearly 30,000 warriors and having lost only a minimal number of ships, meaning the Red Fleet is still the predominant naval power in Westeros, though with Daenerys Targaryen approaching with her own huge fleet of Ironborn, Targaryen, Tyrell and Martell ships, this could soon change.

Bloodborn Soldier

The average Rylen soldier wears brown padded leather armour, a long-sleeved red shirt, a Nordic-style helmet and often chainmail beneath their other clothing. They typically carry large round shields made with a combination of steel and wood which are decorated with red and black art and often are imprinted with the Rylen tiger sigil. They also wield axes, spears, and unlike many mainlander soldiers, do not typically wield longswords, but a traditional Bloodborn short sword which is lighter, stronger and generally better suited to close-quarters combat. It is not uncommon for Bloodborn heavy cavalry troops and lords to wear elements of steel plate armour, though this often does not extend beyond bits and pieces like pauldrons or a breastplate, since Bloodborn warriors tend to value movement over protection.

Bloodborn soldiers are renowned for their fanatical and often suicidal methods in battle, since they believe that according to the Bloodborn creed "Born in blood, in blood we die", they enter the world covered in the blood of their mothers, and so should leave the world covered in the blood of their enemies, thus dying gloriously in battle will allow them passage into the Red Hall.

A few of these suicidal tactics include allowing themselves to be impaled on enemy spearwalls to render them useless, setting themselves on fire and charging into enemy formations, or volunteering to be a berserker, who bathe their bodies in blood, enter battle shirtless, and always attack first. Some extreme believers will even strap pouches of wildfire to their bodies and use burning torches to blow themselves up while trying to take as many of their foes with them as possible.

Relationships

Members

  • Lord {Iyan Rylen}, the former head of the family, the last Lord Paramount of the Tiger Islands before his eldest son became King. Father of Craig and Brent Rylen. Dead before the events of the series.
  • Lady {Marleen Rylen} (formerly Barden), wife of Iyan and mother of Craig and Brent. Dead before the events of the series. Daughter of Lord Alfryd Barden, Lord of Hallen Rock.
    Regions of Westeros (fanon) 2

    The location of the Tiger Islands in relation to the rest of Westeros

  • King {Craig Rylen}, the former head of the family, credited with gaining independence from the Seven Kingdoms and becoming the first King of Blood Island for centuries, murdered at a feast by Lord Reese Mostyn.
  • Queen {Lysa Rylen} (formerly Bothwell), the Queen of Blood Island, wife to Craig and mother to Tandis, dies of natural causes early in the series. Daughter of Raymond Bothwell, Lord of Shark Bay.
  • King Tandis Rylen, the King of Blood Island, Tiger Lord of the Bloodborn and Lord of The Claw. Son of Craig and Lysa, husband to Lorenna, and father to Tomas and Sienna.
  • Queen Lorenna Rylen (formerly Selby), the Queen of Blood Island and current lawful heir to the throne of the Tiger Islands. Daughter of Luwin Selby, Lord of Skyholme.
  • Lady Madalyn Rylen (formerly Cliff), the bastard half-sister of Tandis Rylen, born of an affair between King Craig and Lady Jeyne Mostyn. Legitimised by her brother in Season 1.
  • Prince {Tomas Rylen}, Prince of Blood Island, son of Tandis and Lorenna and heir to the throne before his untimely death at the Siege of The Claw. Ten years old at the time of his death.
  • Princess {Sienna Rylen}, Princess of Blood Island, daughter of Tandis and Lorenna and younger sister of Tomas. Killed by rubble from a collapsing tower which was destroyed by catapult fire at the Siege of The Claw, seven years old at the time of her death.
  • Lord Brent Rylen, the brother of King Craig, uncle of King Tandis, husband to Cera and father of Benjen and Jayde. A leading general in the Bloodborn Army and veteran of several wars.
  • Lady Cera Rylen (formerly Crantyn), husband to Brent, aunt of Tandis, and mother to Benjen and Jayde. Daughter of Lord Haros Crantyn, Lord of the Bull's Horn.
  • Lord Benjen "Ben" Rylen, son of Brent and Cera and cousin to Tandis.
  • Lady {Jayde Rylen}, daughter of Brent and Cera, sister to Benjen. Killed at the Siege of The Claw trying to protect her niece and nephew with her own body.

Ancestors

  • King {Gareth Rylen}, the founder of House Rylen, Conqueror and first King of Blood Island.
  • King {Danard "StoneClaw" Rylen}, credited with building The Claw and conquering all the Tiger Islands, the first true King in the Islands.
  • Queen {Thoreen Rylen}, credited with coining the term "Bloodborn" and the Bloodborn motto, as well as laying the foundation for the Faith of the Blood God.
  • King {Tagros Rylen}, known as the Mad Tiger, led the greatest Bloodborn Invasion of Westeros in history, nearly conquering four of the Seven Kingdoms.
  • King {Haros Rylen}, the last King in the Islands before Robert's Rebellion, resisted Aegon Targaryen before bending the knee and becoming the first Lord Paramount of the Tiger Islands.
  • Queen {Halma Rylen), the doomed wife of King Haros, the subject of the tragic song "The Mother Tigress" who killed her own children and herself rather than see them suffer only a day before her husband came to help.

Household and retainers

  • {Garick Corayne}, sworn sword to Lord Benjen Rylen, killed by Bolton soldiers at the Battle of the Bastards.
  • {Betha Dantell}, handmaiden and former lover of Lady Jayde Rylen, killed herself out of guilt over stabbing Madalyn Rylen.
  • Lord Daryn Marck, the staunchly loyal Captain of the White Tiger Guards.
  • Elsa Selby, handmaiden to Lorenna, as well as her maternal cousin.
  • Varyan, the High Priest of the Blood God, who consults the Rylen family on religious matters.
  • {Borys Crantyn}, the brother of Cera Rylen and the Castellan of The Claw, killed by arrow fire during the Siege of The Claw.
  • Jon "Swordhand" Tarigg, the Master-at-Arms of The Claw.
  • Robert Coxhill, squire to King Tandis Rylen.
  • {Lynis Jameron}, former nurse and caretaker of Prince Tomas and Princess Sienna, killed by a piece of flying rubble during The Siege of The Claw.

Sworn to House Rylen

Houses of the Tiger Islands

A basic map displaying the geography of the houses of the Tiger Islands

Vassal Houses

  • House Ander of Fort Ander
  • House Barden of Hallen Rock
  • House Bespalon of Norwood
  • House Bothwell of Shark Bay
  • House Carr of Fort Karren
  • House Clare of Greyport
  • House Corayne of Chirnkarren
  • House Corrigan of Hawk Island
  • House Couper of Fort Holgen
  • House Coxhill of Maul Point
  • House Crantyn of the Bull's Horn
  • House Cuthbert of the Dagger's Tip
  • House Dantell of Redmane Isle
  • House Dymon of Fort Margen
  • House Englezos of Fort Englezos
  • House Finlay of Lightning Hall
  • House Hansen of Serpent Rock
  • House Hernand of Steeltower
  • House Hubbard of Sunstar
  • House Jameron of Kalethorne
  • House Koningen of the Red Star
  • House Lant of Burning Hill
  • House Linton of Seafarren
  • House Lunaren of Darkwing
  • House Lyster of the Owl's Eye
  • House Malor of Ironshield
  • House Marck of Blackhall
  • House Narlin of Phoenix Island
  • House Pritchard of Whitecliff
  • House Quinlan of Barren Point
  • House Mullins of Barren Mound, a cadet branch of House Quinlan
  • House Rankin of Greatwave
  • House Ridler of the Broken Chain
  • House Sambroke of Harshtide
  • House Selby of Skyholme
  • House Stevryn of Wagga's Wood
  • House Stott of Starbolt
  • House Tarigg of Hydra Hill
  • House Tonis of Otmurren
  • House Ward of the Golden Shore

Prominent Allies

Lords of the Tiger Islands
  • Luwin Selby, Lord of Skyholme and father-in-law to King Tandis.
  • Julyn Quinlan, Lady of Barren Point, has the largest army besides that of House Rylen's.
  • Nayon Linton, Lord of Seafarren, his house provides almost half the ships that make up the Red Fleet.
  • {Marke Dymon}, Lord of Fort Margen, killed by Tandis Rylen in single combat after continuously challenging his authority.
  • {Jaxen Bothwell}, former Lord of Shark Bay and one of Tandis' maternal cousins, sacrificed himself at the Battle of Crackclaw Point in order to allow the Bloodborn Army to evacuate.
  • {Sharenna Rankin}, former Lady of Greatwave, sacrificed herself at the Battle of Crackclaw Point alongside Lord Bothwell.
  • Dale Corayne, Lord of Chirnkarren and father of Garick Corayne. Commanded the Retaking of Seafarren.
  • Jeslyn Carr, Lady of Fort Karren, her house provides the best armour and weapons for the Bloodborn Army.
  • Lerwyn Marck, Lord of Blackhall, who commanded the Retaking of Darkwing.
Others
  • King {Robb Stark}, Lord of Winterfell and King in the North, allied with House Rylen during the War of the Five Kings, murdered at the Red Wedding.
  • Lord Edmure Tully, Lord Paramount of the Riverlands and Lord of Riverrun, currently a prisoner of House Frey.
  • Jon Snow, King in the North, aka "The White Wolf", allied with Benjen Rylen at the Battle of the Bastards, now officially allied with the Kingdom in the Islands.
  • Princess Sansa Stark, Lady of Winterfell, architect of the new alliance between House Stark and House Rylen.

Image Gallery

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