Chapter 41: Owl Penpal Society
The next morning.
Sir Weissenasche needed two more days to finalize the promotional material. Hence, "Beauty and the Demon" premiered in the theater and played without anyone knowing about it.
At the same time, Joshua took Ciri and Hyrlan with him to the patent office in Norland.
The office building had been completed just over a decade ago, and it looked more like a museum than a government administrative building.
Norland's patent office was crowded but organized. Mages in different-colored robes carried stacks of documents with them as they strode across the reception hall in hurried steps. Foreign visitors of various skin colors respected the atmosphere in the office and whispered amongst themselves.
Hyrlan had been there before. She brought Joshua to the registration counter, where a lady in wooden-framed glasses sat behind the glass partition. She looked surprised when she saw Hyrlan.
"Hyrlan, have you finally finished your work? Are your days of non-stop nagging from that lecturer over?"
"Oh, I am nowhere near finished, Sansa…"
Hyrlan shook her head and corrected her friend's assumption. The lady behind the counter was Hyrlan's classmate from the academy. She was a close friend, but one who would occasionally give her a headache.
"Why are you taking so long? Hyrlan, come visit the academy sometimes. The lecturers and even some of the boys miss you. By the way, I hear that Ricard has four tickets to the shows in the National Theater today. You've heard of the Flower of Farucci and Farucci, the Nation of Arts, right? People say that the women there are the most beautiful in the world."
Hyrlan did not remind her friend that she was a woman too merely because she did not want to linger on the topic.
Hyrlan came to know that Blackswan Theater had debuted in Norland recently due to their strong marketing efforts. She would even find a few of their promotional leaflets every day when she swept the atelier's courtyard.
The company piqued her interest at first, but ever since she watched the movie, "Beauty and the Demon", whatever was left of her meager curiosity for theater evaporated into thin air.
Anyone who had tasted fine wine would never go for cheap alcohol again. Theater was a form of art worth preserving across generations, but it was far less interesting than movies.
"That aside, I am here today to guide this gentleman. He would like to apply for a patent for his invention."
Hyrlan ended the friendly catch-up with business.
"You're applying for a patent? One moment, please."
She fished out a piece of paper that was stamped with an illegible wax seal and framed by inscriptions. Magic radiated off the paper's surface like static.
It was a special kind of registration form. Joshua took the piece of paper and inspected its content, which was basically a list of basic personal information. He filled in the form line by line but left out his family name. When he came to the nationality column, Joshua briefly considered how to keep himself inconspicuous.
In the end, he wrote Daxia as his country of origin.
The ink painting in the Weissenasche Theater would prove that there was indeed such a country in this world that was similar to China called Daxia.
"Please head to Room 372. Take this badge with you and stand on the teleportation circle over there."
Sansa was so eager to continue chatting with Hyrlan that she did not examine Joshua's form in detail and even ignored the relevant documents for his patent application.
Joshua took the badge labeled 372 and did not interrupt Hyrlan's catch-up session with her friend. Only Ciri followed him to the teleportation circle on the floor by the window.
White inscriptions on the badge glowed, and after a brief moment of weightlessness, Joshua found himself standing in a cluttered office.
Papers were strewn all over the desk, and the book racks along the walls were also in disarray. However, the most striking thing was a gray owl perched on top of a rack, staring unblinkingly at him.
Joshua knocked on the door to announce his arrival. The office owner heard it and popped out from behind the desk.
It was an old man in his seventies, dressed in a long gray robe in need of washing. He looked a little like Gandalf the Gray from Lord of the Rings.
"Ahem, I'm here to apply for a patent," Joshua broke the silence first.
"An application? Hold on, please. I'm looking for a letter."
He searched through the books on his rack and fished out a particular book, causing the rest of the books on the shelf to crash down on his poor self in a domino effect.
All of a sudden, white runes began to glow midair. Then, the books that were scattered on the floor glowed similarly and flew into the farthest corner of the office.
"These damn books nearly broke my bones." Gandalf's double got up from the floor and massaged his temples.
The owl could not stand the nonsense any longer and left its perch to pick up a letter labeled with "Can the Runes of Order be used for Long Distance Communication?—The 72nd Topic of Discussion by the Owl Penpal Society" and dropped it on his desk.
"It's here… I've been looking for it for two days and here it is!"
The man shook away the dust from the letter joyfully, put on his glasses, and read the letter. After that, he picked up a feather quill beside him and wrote down his reply at the very end before he folded the letter back.
The owl landed on the desk, picked up the mildly scrunched up letter, and flew out of the window. Mere seconds passed before a white owl flew in from the same window and dropped another letter on his desk.
The man unfolded the letter and scanned through its contents.
"What rubbish! It's pointless to design runes for long-distance communication like that!"
He left a furious reply in the letter and passed it back to the owl, which left promptly.
Joshua watched the entire sequence and realized what the old man in the gray robe was up to.
In short, he was "scrolling through the comments and bashing the op".
Joshua had a glimpse of the letter and found that there were replies were in various handwritings by different people. They were writing their own comments on the paper and passing it on with owls, thus achieving a way of long-distance communication.
Joshua thought he should consider creating a "Spellcasters' Forum" online for them