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Ijada dy Castos was the daughter of a Chalionese lord dedicate of the Son's Order and a Wealding lady of kin Badgerbank. She was a member of Princess Fara's household at the opening of The Hallowed Hunt. Her dower lands were large, running thirty miles east to west at the base of the Raven Range and twenty miles north to the edge of the watershed with the Cantons. However, the lands were called the Wounded Woods as the trees are stunted and were thought to be haunted. The lands were also said to be the site of Bloodfield.

Her father was commander of a Temple fort on the west marches when Ijada was ten. He was killed trying to mediate a dispute between people of the marsh country, and Ijada's mother took Ijada and returned to her kin in the north of the Weald. There she re-married in a year to another Temple man, but died of a fever four days after the birth of Ijada's half-brother. Ijada's stepfather then remarried quickly for the sake of the baby, to a woman three years older than Ijada. Ijada's Badgerbank aunt thought Ijada should be removed from her more common stepfamily and found her the position in the household of Princess Fara, wife of Earl Horseriver.

Ijada had dark hair and hazel eyes, and was the same height as Ingrey kin Wolfcliff.

Prince Boleso intended to use Ijada, a virgin, in a rite to gain a leopard as a spirit animal. Instead Ijada killed Boleso with his own war hammer, and the leopard spirit was called into Ijada by the Son. Ijada gained the ability to sense things of the world of the spirit especially through smell, was able to see and talk to the Son in a dream-state, and had prophetic dreams. Even before gaining the leopard spirit animal, she had experienced an uncanny dream when visiting the Wounded Woods in her dower lands.