World Building &Wonder: Lunar Forest

Umara is the fantasy world created for the Battle for Umara series. It is an expansive world ruled by Gods, mythical creatures, and magic. The ‘Worldbuilding and Wonder’ series showcases the who, what and where of Umara. And includes tidbits of the inspiration behind them. Read along to explore a forgotten gem called Lunar Forest.

Located on the east coast of the continent and south of the kingdom of Lollardum is Lunar Forest. In attempt to flee the soldiers chasing them, Moira (and her companions Eclipse and Sara) seek refuge in the forest. The forest provides more dangers than first thought.

The forest is a maze, with dangerous creatures at every turn. Few return from the forest once they enter. For this reason it is one of the last places left to be “tamed” and remains unhabituated by people. However, despite the danger there is an ethereal beauty as well.

Giant trees stretch into the sky, their waxy leaves are thick enough to block out most sunlight. However, the light from a full moon is able to pass through which gives the forest its name. As well, the algae in the still water react to the same light and illuminates lakes and ponds found throughout the forest.

Various woodland creatures live near the lakesides, they learned through the generations that the carnivorous plants shun and avoid the shimmering light at all costs.

One new addition are the vibrant mushrooms that grow in the same clearings. Exploratory research hints towards the fungus having healing properties.

In earlier drafts of the novels the main characters spent more time in Lunar Forest then they do currently. There were monsters, ancient mysterious and a mystic lake the glowed under the moonlight. All of these were obstacles and mysteries the characters attempted to solve. The Thief’s Wager provided space to showcase the magical forest, but even that had drastically changed since it’s creation.

Originally it was a typical fantasy trope, magic forest with magical creatures in which the characters vanquish. However due to editing and pacing issues a lot of the quirkiness was removed. The forest remains, some monsters are re-imagined, but overall the threat to the characters remain.

However, because this setting was so vivid and captivating ancient relics from the lost files remain (surprisingly-despite cross country moves- still in physical condition). So enjoy the behind the scenes look into the early drafts of Lunar Forest.

Magical Creatures

Carnivorous Vegetation: After the collapse of the Lunar civilization (2,000 years or so before the novels occur) the forest grew wild. A breed of carnivorous plants became one of dominate predators. Originally these plants were called “Venus-Man-Eaters”.

An uninspiring name to say the least. Which was why a penciled note “get better name” was added during the early revision. Years later the hopeful thought of a “better name” never came to fruition since this is still the only name given to these creatures (new author note, find a new name).

In the original draft the plant hunts its prey by enticing them with the vibrant fruit and once they are close it swallows the creature whole. Eclipse is quoted with the removed line: “Eaten by a plant, a cruel irony do you not agree?”

Thorny Blossom Child/Children: This creature is best described as a mischievous pixie. In the first draft it is described as having high pitched laugh, a tulip bulb body, shimmering wings, slender grey limbs with thorn like scales and wide almond like black eyes.

It also had an obsession with shiny objects since in the scene it attempts to steal Moira’s opal staff. These creatures live in swarms. When in danger they have an ability to summon others close by with a particular cry. Once enough have gathered, they summon a whirlwind by chanting and flying in a circle while holding hands.

As riveting as the fight scene was, it was later cut from the final draft and reworked at the fight with the Bellaverian soldiers which where sent to capture them. Sadly the original Blossom Child concept art is lost.

Concept Art

Early concepts of the civilization included a castle and a great wall. Although the text is cut off in the upper right, there was a note toying with the idea of a wall surrounding the kingdom. When After Treason begins this kingdom is already in ruins.

This is an early map of Umara. The happy star is where Lunar Forest is located.

Deleted Scenes

Scene One

In the now deleted chapter: The Kingdom that Time Forgot, Moira discovers the lost Lunar civilization.

“On the opposite side of the lake were the remains of a castle. The broken gate tower stood nobly against forgotten foes. Wide leafy vines wrapped around the stone as it weaved itself through the cracked. Each vine fought the other to reach the top of the towers. The stone towers were hollowed remnants of what they once were. For hundreds of years the towers stood against enemies but now they fell to the harsh plant life that plagued the forgotten world. Bricks cluttered the ground around the towers they encircle the foundations like fallen bodies.”

As seen in the picture, a tall gate marked the entrance to the lake. Moira reveals the ancient inscriptions carved into the stone by pulling the vines out of the way. It was a mix of early Umarian and pictographs which show people walking, scribes writing, and other animals.

Of course the Moira and Eclipse are excited at the discovery and try to explain the significance to an eight year old Sara who is not interested. The only clue to the mysterious civilization’s destruction is a legend which says the people grew too powerful. They vanished and the kingdom was swallowed by the land.

Scene Two

Throughout the chapter Moira is aware of a magical force leading her somewhere. However she rationalizes it as a side effect of her constant use of magic. Her tired body and mind were creating illusions. The spirit (or essence) calls to her and leads her to the lake with the ruins. At the edge of the glowing water her body—exhausted from travel—collapses and she falls into the water.

As she nearly drowns at the lake bottom a star like object floats above her, a soft voice telling her it will be alright. It swims across the floor and she follows, finding a sliver bracelet buried in the sand. The notes describe it as silver with moon and star charms hanging from the band. Once it’s in her procession the light vanishes and she swims to the surface. Later her and Eclipse discuss the item. He speculates it was a soul from the lost people who wanted to her to find the bracelet.

This thread is never concluded and was eventually deleted. Previous story notes hint to an over reaching story of mythical relics which (a teenage Sara) must find. Although that plot has also been dropped.

The relics still exists. Lord Sexton in The Thief’s Wager, is harvesting them for their imbued magic to create new weapons. Zack’s sword is also a relic and plays a central part in the conclusion of the series. It is not unexpected that relics like this bracelet may also come up again as the series continues but it is most likely not done in the way seen here.

Author Notes:

When writers mention “kill your darlings” it’s usually in reference to a character that is well loved by the author but muddles the story. In this case the “darling” was an actual setting. Lunar Forest was never terminated but as a whole it was reworked to allow for a more concise story to shine.

Discover the truth behind mystery of the kingdom’s collapse: Queen of Ruin
Or to read Moira’s introduction to the forest, visit The Thief’s Wager (Chapter 4)