Steles look like long, slender twigs, though the length and style vary and may depend on the owner's preferences. There are many different models of steles, the appearance evolving depending on the times. Steles have a sort of aura to them, a ghostly imprint of their owner's personality. When not in use, steles are inert but they warm and glow while drawing runes.
Since steles are not designed to be used in direct battle against demons, steles do not harm them, though demons tend to recoil when exposed to a stele due to the material it is made of—the heavenly metal adamas.
After the Dark War, Jace Herondale gave his first stele, the one he learned to draw runes with, to Emma Carstairs, before she and the Blackthorns Portaled home. Emma treasured it and kept it as a symbol of the events that marked her life after the Dark War and as a reminder of the purpose Jace had given her. Five years later, in 2012, Emma had to give up the stele, against her will, to the Guardian of Lir's Gate so she could enter Faerie.
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- Stele is pronounced in English 'steh•lay.