Chapter 42: Server
"Thank you for waiting… Umm… Please give me a moment longer."
The spellcaster in gray, Lursk had just finished speaking when a brown-spotted owl flew in from the window.
This particular owl was not as swift as its earlier counterparts. It crash-landed into the desk headfirst and skidded to a halt, losing a few feathers in the process. After flapping its wings a few times, the owl awkwardly got to its feet and presented a letter to the spellcaster.
He took the old weathered letter and found that large parts of it were no longer readable. The words had blurred over time. The barely legible topic of discussion read "From a Remedial Approach, How to Use Runes to Dispel Souls of the Dead—The 12th Topic of Discussion by the Owl Penpal Society".
Lursk looked at the letter and then at the aging owl. As one of the co-founders of the Owl Penpal Society, he felt bitter about the dilemma.
The penpal society was not an official one. He did not even have a full list of its members. If he wanted to start a topic of discussion, all he had to do was write the question down on a piece of paper and let an owl pass it to his fellow members.
The letter would make its rounds in the spellcaster community, and once the letter reached him again, there would be several replies waiting for him.
It was impossible to achieve a proper academic discussion using that method, but he enjoyed the freedom it afforded him.
Since communication was done anonymously, everyone could speak on equal ground and express their ideas openly.
However, it took a very long time for the replies and comments to reach him. Usually, he would have to wait for at least two months before a letter would come back to him.
Those were the lucky ones. Sometimes, the letters never came back.
If he remembered correctly, this particular letter was one of the first to be sent out. It was filled with replies from spellcasters from all over Norland, but time had taken its toll and rendered most of the words unrecognizable.
He sighed internally and felt heartbroken.
"Come on, old friend…"
The old man untied a strip of cloth from the owl's leg and allowed the old animal to retire from its duty.
The bird cocked its head at him and hooted in melancholy.
The gray-robed spellcaster ruffled the owl's feathers and lifted it to the window. Only then did the owl flap its wings and leave.
"Back to work, then. Sorry for the wait."
The old spellcaster cleared his desk and invited Joshua as well as Ciri to take a seat.
"If I may ask, do those owls bring letters to you at random times?"
Before they got down to business, Joshua expressed his interest in the crude form of the spellcaster's forum.
"Of course, it's random. The birds fly as they wish and do not follow a schedule. Why? Are you interested in joining the penpal society?"
The old spellcaster was proud of the society that he co-founded. With a thousand owls flying all over Norland, thousands of spellcasters were brought together to engage academically. Nevertheless, the community was only a small part of the Norland population.
"No, I just feel like this laborious way of communication can be slightly improved," said Joshua.
The old spellcaster agreed that using owls to send letters was a laborious process indeed, but it was the only way they could pass the message from one person to another. If it was a face-to-face discussion instead… low-level spellcasters would never get a chance to speak.
"You can do it like this."
Joshua waved his hand, and immediately, a white window appeared before him. His words earlier appeared in the window.
The old spellcaster looked confused, unable to grasp the meaning of the window yet.
To further illustrate his point, Joshua sent a message to Ciri.
The latter quietly moved Pong away from her chat window and materialized the window containing Joshua's message with magic.
"This… This is…"
Lursk was stunned beyond words. Besides being the co-founder of the Owl Penpal Society, he was also a founder of the patent office. In all the years of his career, he had seen his share of astonishing inventions.
Joshua's demonstration was mediocre compared with the "magic-powered machine that could replace horse carriages".
However, as an enthusiast of exchanging letters and a spellcaster who yearned to engage with like-minded people to learn new things, Lursk recognized the potential of Joshua's white window instantly!
"It's something I programmed using the Runes of Order. Given more time, I can probably allow more people to join in the conversation, and perhaps… store the conversation history."
The old spellcaster nearly fell out of his seat when he heard Joshua's elaboration.
"However, the maximum distance of travel will be around two hundred meters. Beyond this range, messages cannot be received."
That last comment was like a splash of cold water that extinguished the fire of excitement growing inside him.
A few hundred meters… They may as well talk face-to-face.
"Is… Is there a way to extend the range?" he asked with a sliver of hope.
"Of course, but I will need a server."
The current version's network rode on Joshua's mental waves, with his brain acting as the terminal transceiver. Increasing the range would require something like the Internet.
However, Joshua could not find any originium crystal that could handle the massive data flow of the Internet.
A normal originium crystal could be inscribed with up to a hundred runes, while higher-grade originium could store up to tens of thousands.
The Internet was more than that, though. The volume of Internet traffic on Earth was massive, and while a forum would not generate that level of data traffic, Joshua would not be satisfied with building just a forum on his "new Internet".
A lousy server like Ubisoft's would not suffice. He would have to look for something more reliable.
"Simply put, I will need originium that can store a large volume of runes."
Originium of higher quality were sold more expensively. Originium crystals that could store only a few runes were sold at a couple of gold coins, but those that could store a few hundred runes could cost more than a hundred.
Besides, second-hand originium already inscribed with runes were practically worthless, unless they harbored powerful magic.
"How many are we talking about?"
The old spellcaster had seen some top-grade originium before that could store up to a hundred thousand runes.
"A hundred million would be nice, but we'll start with a hundred thousand."
In fact, Joshua wanted to say a billion runes but then adjusted it down in the end. He remembered that the most impeccable originium crystal the Third Prince owned could only store up to thirty thousand runes.
"That is quite excessive." The old spellcaster pushed his glasses and said.
The truth was, an originium crystal that could store up to ten thousand runes could practically serve as the base of a large-scale teleportation circle for a huge country. Of course, the price would be staggering as well.
"Is this what you want to apply a patent for?"
"No, it's actually something else."
The spellcaster did not seem eager to pursue the matter, so Joshua acceded. After all, they were only strangers to each other and it was merely something that caught his interest.
After Joshua completed the patent registration for the camera and left the room, the old spellcaster tapped on his desk in thought. A while later, he picked up his quill and started a new letter.
Once he was done describing the problem in writing, he folded the letter and went to the window.
He knew how to acquire such a flawless originium. The letter was written only to invite comments from the other co-founders of the society.
A black owl landed on the windowsill, picked up the letter, and headed for the tallest building in all of Norland, Sage Tower.