Umara is the fantasy world created for the ‘Battle for Umara‘ novel series. It is an expansive world ruled by Gods, mythical creatures, and magic. Stuck in the middle are Mages, sworn to protect the Innocent and to uphold the Gods’ Will. By the time the novels take place Umara is on the brink of collapse. The ‘Worldbuilding and Wonder’ series showcases the who, what and where of Umara. And includes tidbits of the inspiration behind them.
A Mage staff is a tool used by Mages to harness their magic and manipulate the world around them. In the series the magic is based on elemental magic and most manipulations involve one or more of the five elements. By progressing through individual training regimes a talented Mage can reach a level where a staff is no longer required; which is the ultimate goal.
The gemstone on the staff head determines its type. Each gemstone is associated with a particular element, with the exception of the Opal. This is a unique gemstone which interacts with all five elements simultaneously*. But what makes the Opal staff prized is its scarcity.
A few characters in the series (particularity, Mr. Drover, Moira, and Eclipse) mention that Moira’s staff is a rare find. The aging Mr. Drover exclaims: “This staff is older than I am! They certainly don’t make them like this anymore” (Thief’s Wager and After Treason). The following conversation reveals that only a handful of the staffs are in circulation. And those who do own one are from prestigious families (i.e. powerful family bloodlines). But the reason for the destruction of the majority of the Opal staffs is still a mystery.
Some theorize that it was because the Opal was more cost effective than the other staffs. With any other staff a Mage would need to pay to replace the gem as their training progressed. Opponents of the Council attribute the institution’s greed to the staffs destruction. The Council is on record claiming the Opal is too dangerous for the masses to use. Despite the fact there is no evidence supporting their claim.
Moira, on the other hand, confesses to Zack another possible reason why magical weapons like her staff (and his sword) are outlawed. Her theory originates from a conspiracy that the Council altered their mandate from one of peace to military enforcement. She explains that at one point Mage’s didn’t depend on staffs to use magic. However, using one is easier and fast tracks the training process. Thus creating capable soldiers in half the time. Of course this is all speculation on her account. As Zack notes she’s jaded and her conspiracy theory is suspect.
Moira’s staff stands about four feet tall, with an oak handle and a curved arch securing the gem in place. Her preference is to treat the handle with heat and water resistant polished since fire and water are her standard elements to use. What sets her staff apart from the others is the text inscribed on a brass plate under the base of the Opal. It reads: “In the Gods we keep” in ancient Umarian.
Eclipse makes several comments about how valuable the item is. Although he may refer to its monetary worth while she considers the sentimental worth over price. This illustrates the different ideologies behind the tool. It means different things to different people. For Moira it is a priceless heirloom. For others (see Bryden in Rivals for Umara) it is a disposable means to an end. And for someone like Chancellor Godfrey it is a status symbol; indicating the amount of respect he is obliged to show someone.
It was once a humble tool used to teach dangerous magic in a safe manner. But as Moira discovers, the staff has become something much much more.
*Another post detailing the specifics of general staffs is in the works.