The Beacon Network Technology / Science in Dálnaes | World Anvil

The Beacon Network

Written by Kaari13. Credit for the name Prûkor Vigsriköv goes to MGatta, Etalia | Tosormi, and Tindall42 | Blomaria. Thank you very much, guys!
One of the many magical wonders Etherea boasts is the beacon network, a series of crystals enchanted to send messages over long distances. The beacon network connects Araniae with each of the four main border fortresses, as well as with C'Oros Baal and C'Oros Diin.  

Discovery and Creation

Mages with the know-how of scrying have used mirrors and bowls of water to communicate over distance for centuries. Their methods, however, required a constant drain of power and the presence of both mages at their respective sources of communication. The power requirement to try and 'save' a message for later was always more than one mage could handle, and the need for long-distance communication was low enough that hawks and pigeons could easily be used in place of magic.   All of that changed when the Etherealactrium was created. Suddenly, the mages of Etherea had access to a tremendous power source, allowing for spells and experiments that could never have been performed before. Initially, use of the Etherealactrium was strictly-controlled, and long-distance communication between mages was considered frivolous by the royal family of the time.   It was a young army runner who inspired the idea of a military use. Prûkor Vigsriköv was a simple man of Kilgrothian descent who had learned the hard way that efficient communication was vital in areas where geography was not in a runner's favor. He was fascinated with the dragons' ability to speak instantly to their riders, and one day while delivering a message to Sorchia Ímlerin, the High Sorceress, he asked how it worked. Thus followed a lengthy intellectual discussion regarding faster methods of communication. Even messenger birds could be delayed or lost entirely if bad weather hit, and traveling by swift horse through the Enchanted Wood was hardly more efficient than making the journey yourself. What, the young runner asked, would happen if the border was attacked and the request for help was lost? Intrigued by a possible defense application, Lady Ímlerin approached the Queen and offered a solution. Upon receiving their approval to build a prototype, she set to work.   The first beacon took over six months to craft, and involved the participation of all five Archmages and numerous other masters. Attempts were made using all previously utilized forms of distance communication. It was even attempted to connect the mind of the beacon's holder to whoever was on the other side. But the tests were all miserable failures. They still couldn't solve the problem of sending a message without someone being on the other side at the same time, especially if either user was not a mage themselves. Once again, Prûkor solved the issue with a simple question:
"If I can write a message on a piece of paper, why can't I write one on a crystal?"
And there it was, the ridiculously simple answer to a centuries-old problem. The mages already knew spells to imprint information in crystals and the like; many used such methods to securely store their notes and research in small spaces. After some more work, it was determined that a portable crystal would never be large enough to contain the spells required for distances longer than a day's ride. And the expense of such a device was adding up to staggering numbers. It was determined that four beacons would be created initially, with a central hub in the Spire acting as a connector between them. The others would be placed at the border fortresses. After several successful tests, the beacon network was approved by the Queen, who requested two more devices be added for placement at the World Trees.  

Use and Function

The beacons were designed with the non-mage in mind. A communication network that required a mage would hardly be useful if none were nearby. The device is activated by touching the central link crystal then standing on the viewing platform. Once the link is established, which takes a few minutes if no one is on the other side at the time, the user touches the secondary command crystal to begin broadcasting their message. A cluster of tertiary crystals then activate to capture the image and sounds from the platform. If a connection is established with someone at the other end, their image and sounds are shown on the smaller display platform. If no one is present on the other side, the user can command the device to record and send their message. Any messages sent this way can be retrieved from the device the message is sent to.   To facilitate the expeditious delivery of such messages, particular any that require urgency, someone is assigned to stand watch at the beacons at each of the border fortresses, and the etherealists are on watch constantly at the Spire.  

Wide-Spread Use

Beacon crystals are expensive and time-consuming to make, and currently require a stable platform and power source to function. While it's possible for such devices to be set up for personal use, most citizens don't see it as worth the expense. However, Etherea is in the process of manufacturing a few devices for their ally Caer Thalion for use in communicating over the great distance between Araniae and Durleik.


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