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"Instructing you, sweet Ista, would be like teaching a falcon to walk up to its prey. It might with great effort be done, but one would end up with a very footsore and cranky bird, and a tedious wait for dinner. With a wingspan like yours, its ever so much easier just to shake you from my wrist and let you fly." - the Bastard of the unseason, Paladin of Souls

Ista dy Chalion was the dowager royina of Chalion. She was the youngest daughter of the previous Provincar and the dowager Provincara dy Baocia. She wedded Roya Ias in his second, her first marriage when she was about 18 and he was in his fifties. Ias and Ista had two children, Teidez and Iselle. Ista was widowed young, and at the opening of The Curse of Chalion, had been living with her mother for six years.

Ista was widely considered to be mad and was carefully watched by her mother's ladies. The truth was more complex. Ista became a saint of the Mother of Summer during her pregnancies; she, Ias, and Lord Arvol dy Lutez attempted to lift the curse of Chalion by drowning and reviving dy Lutez after the Mother of Summer told Ista that "the gods might draw the curse back to them only through the will of a man who would lay down his life three times for the House of Chalion”. This attempt failed with the death of dy Lutez during the second drowning, and the Mother withdrew from Ista.

For two decades afterward, Ista could not forgive herself for the failure, and lived in fear that the curse would strike next at her children. Upon learning of the death of Teidez, she was almost relieved. Even when Cazaril finally succeeded in breaking the curse, she still suffered, and said "that a smudged oblivion seems a very heaven". Cazaril assured her:

"When the souls rise up in glory, yours shall not be shunned nor sundered, but shall be the prize of the gods' gardens. Even your darkness shall be treasured then, and all your pain made holy."

At the beginning of Paladin of Souls, Ista had just attended her mother's funeral and was feeling restless. As an excuse to travel, she arranged to go on a pilgrimage led by Learned dy Cabon, with only Liss as an attendant and a small guard led by Foix and Ferda dy Gura for protection. Her adventures took her to Porifors, where she helped repel a Joknari invasion led by Princess Joen. By helping Arhys dy Lutez, she gained some closure for her role in the death of his father. She also met Illvin dy Arbanos, a man who can make her laugh.

"When you meet the man who can make you laugh, solemn Ista, angry Ista, iron Ista, your heart will be healed. You have not prayed for this; it's a guerdon even the gods cannot give to you. We are limited to such simples as redemption for your sins." - the Bastard of the unseason

Ista became a saint of the Bastard during the events of Paladin of Souls, with the special charge of returning demons from the world of matter to the hands of the Bastard.

Ista had masses of crinkly hair, once gold, but darkened to dull dun by the time of Paladin of Souls, and gray eyes.