The Beacon Network
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 and .
Discovery and CreationMages 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 , 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.