Ryllandaras' Soletaken form was two times a man's height when on all fours, and three when fully standing. He was covered with sandy-yellow fur which became creamy white towards his throat and chest. Dark streaks of grey and dirty yellow ran down his back. He had heavy arms, and muscle-knotted wiry, unnaturally long limbs which ended in fingers having amber claws the length of fighting knives. His blackened muzzle was long and black, his lips twisted by his enormous canine teeth. His eyes were a dark carmine. Ryllandaras could speak a growled, distorted form of Talian and showed high intelligence even if he was in other animalistic forms.
The man-jackal was preternaturally strong, capable of casually tossing enormous stone blocks, and could run faster than a horse. His victims were often torn apart. Those who actually survived their initial wounds then faced the deep virulent infections his claws and bite inflicted. Seti folklore said he only came out to hunt at night.
In his D'ivers form, he numbered at least six wolves furred in tones of dun, grey, and speckled white. They stood taller at the shoulder than the wolves of the Laederon Plateau. The wolves communicated telepathically in the Malazan language. They were less bestial and less powerful than Ryllandaras' Soletaken form, and were capable of recognising and withdrawing from challenges of more capable opponents.
In Deadhouse Gates
Mappo and Icarium met him in an uneasy encounter in the Holy Desert. Ryllandaras appeared as a group of six desert wolves with bright blue eyes, while he hunted for the demon of Shadow Apt. Mappo called him the brother of Treach and spoke of a chasm between the brothers said to have occurred in Dal Hon or Li Heng. The Trell remembered Ryllandaras taking the shape of a D’ivers jackals at the time. Whether this referred to blood brotherhood or a form of friendship was not made clear. Violence was avoided when Ryllandaras recognized Mappo's traveling companion.
In Memories of Ice
Treach recalled the First Empire Soletaken ritual that had unravelled and driven them mad. The most powerful Soletaken had been splintered into pieces, birthing the D'ivers. He, Ryllandaras, and Messremb were among the few to survive the T'lan Imass slaughter.
In House of Chains
Karsa Orlong met the D'ivers form of Ryllandaras in the mountains west of Raraku as a score of wolves, indicating he had grown in power since the events before. The D'ivers pursued Karsa for three days and four nights, running at a stretch but decided not to attack him, instead delivering a warning regarding two men (Icarium and Mappo) that he would meet later on in his travels if he continued on the same path. He asked Karsa to avoid a fight, since the world would come to regret it if one of the two men should fight in earnest.
In The Bonehunters
The Soletaken form of Ryllandaras was released outside the walls of Li Heng by the city's Malazan defenders, hoping to break the besiegement of the city by the Talian League. During the ensuing massacre, League commander Choss ordered the gate to the city's Inner Round destroyed unleashing the man-jackal on the city's defenders as well. Ryllandaras was ultimately driven away from the city by city champion Rell and the use of Moranth munitions. He escaped back to the Seti Plains where he continued killing travellers and poorly defended military companies.
Ultimately, he was once again captured, this time by a group consisting of some of the Malazan Old Guard, including Urko Crust and Amaron and others such as Rell, Hurl, Temper, Braven Tooth and Liss. Liss used her Dawn Dance magic to compel Ryllandaras to appear and remain near a blazing fire while the others tried to kill him. Both Amaron and Rell fell during the battle, but not before Rell severely wounded Ryllandaras, forcing the creature through a magical gate created by Liss.
In Dancer's Lament
Ryllandaras lived on the Seti Plains and often attacked caravans which travelled across the region, leading to them needing extra protection around Li Heng.
During the siege of Li Heng, Shalmanat met Ryllandaras outside the city to ask for his help against the Kanese army. Ryllandaras told her that he had always loved her, but Shalmanat told him she was not seeking his regard. She reminded him that his habitat would be destroyed without her ban on trade routes and settlement on the Seti Plains. Reluctantly, he promised to clear the armies north of the river.
Eventually, the beast slew Prince Malkir. The city mages of Li Heng took advantage of the Crimson Guard to lure the beast to a trap outside the city, telling him to take refuge from his pursuers in the tunnels under the city and to meet Shalmanat there. Once in the tunnel the mages attacked Ryllandaras and imprisoned him inside a stone coffin. Shalmanat did not know beforehand and was not happy about it.
In Kellanved's Reach
Ullara of Li Heng was travelling north across the Seti Plains on her way to the Great Fenn Range when she was approached by Ryllandaras in his Soletaken form. He told Ullara that he had wanted a "look" at her as he had sensed that she had "touched upon the Beast Hold" - something Ryllandaras had not sensed for a "very long time". Ullara did not know what the White Jackal meant by the "Beast Hold", and the Soletaken realized that her use of the Beast Hold was "instinctive". Ryllandaras concluded that this made sense as the "Beast Hold [was] all about...instinct". After bowing his head to Ullara, Ryllandaras bounded away, having offered her what he referred to as her "due".
Ryllandaras was originally a First Hero of the Human First Empire. He was also considered the eternal enemy of Li Heng though he was never able to breach its walls. He normally took the form of white jackals but on occasion took other forms, such as ay'tog, agkor, or desert wolves.
One of the D'ivers forms of Ryllandaras (the man-jackal) was imprisoned by the Emperor and Dancer in Li Heng under the City Temple during the Malazan Empire's expansion. In that battle, Treach knocked Ryllandaras into a chasm before Kellanved drove Treach off. The man-jackal form of Ryllandaras was imprisoned inside the warded chasm by Emperor Kellanved, Dancer, and Tayschrenn. The wards included doors of cooper, silver, and iron as well as a chain mechanism with iron links as thick as a person's forearm. The links were jammed in place by The Protectress' own blades.
Other forms of Ryllandaras were seen while the man-jackal was imprisoned under Li Heng, leading to the theory that his mastery of shapeshifting allowed him to isolate the insanity of the First Empire's Soletaken and D'ivers (as seen in many other former First Heroes) into a single form that was then severed from the rest of Ryl's forms. This isolated form developed into the crazed man-jackal, while the rest of Ryllandaras maintained a powerful, sane, and communicative existance as D'ivers.
In Dancer's Lament there is a different version of Ryllandaras' imprisonment than the one given in Return of the Crimson Guard. In the former, Ryllandaras is imprisoned by Li Heng's city mages and the Crimson Guard, and in the latter he is imprisoned by the Malazans and Treach. A possible explanation could be that historians changed the events from Dancer's Lament to show the Malazans in a better light.
In Kellanved's Reach when Ryllandaras approaches Ullara on the plains, Ullara asks whether the rumour of his imprisonment by the city mages are true. Ryllandaras scorns the rumour and asks Ullara, "Haven't you heard? I'm everywhere across the plains." It could be that his man beast form was also D'ivers and that the Ryllandaras imprisoned by the five was a different one from the Ryllandaras imprisoned by Kellanved and freed by Storo Matash.
- "Those who free me,
be my enemies.
Those who enslave me,
kneel to me.
When the end of all things comes,
as surely it does,
on which scale stand you?
In the final balance
And the accounting?"
- ―Ryllandaras upon his release from Kellanved's prison
Notes and references
- Deadhouse Gates, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.17
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 1 Chapter 3, US HC p.137
- Dancer's Lament, Chapter 1, US HC p.14
- Deadhouse Gates - A chat with Steven Erikson, Part 1 - As pronounced by Steven Erikson at 20:55
- House of Chains, Chapter 14
- House of Chains, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.502-503
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3, Chapter 5
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 5, US HC p.450
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 4, US HC p.419
- Dancer's Lament, Chapter 8
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 5, US HC p.680
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 5, US HC p.450-451/453
- House of Chains, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.502
- Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.47
- Memories of Ice, Chapter 7
- House of Chains, Chapter 14, US SFBC p.500-503/508
- The Bonehunters, Chapter 9, US SFBC p.404
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 4, US HC p.419
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 5, US HC p.449-452
- Dancer's Lament, Prologue, UK PB p.17
- Dancer's Lament, Chapter 2, UK PB p.95
- Dancer's Lament, Chapter 8, UK PB p.219-221
- Dancer's Lament, Chapter 15, UK PB p.371-375, 380-381
- Dancer's Lament, Chapter 16, UK PB p.412
- Kellanved's Reach, Chapter 12, US TPB p.192/195-196
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 1 Chapter 3, UK PB p.137
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 4, US HC p.371/417
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 3 Chapter 2, US HC p.578
- Return of the Crimson Guard, Book 2 Chapter 4, US HC p.373