Things settled down quickly after the first few weeks. Those who were leaving mostly left without incident, though many stayed in William’s service. Theresa, who was formerly one of Lord Harridan’s mistresses, was allowed to stay. She was given the financial duties of the former chamberlain, as she was capable enough to do them well.
As for whether she would actually perform up to standards, William was unsure. He didn’t know why she was so desperate to stay just yet. Perhaps she was a spy orchestrated by some other noble, and found it important to continue to observe the new lord. He hadn’t actually seen any signs of that, but the thought crossed his mind. For the moment, she was fine.
After the initial excitement, William found himself with nothing he had to do. That didn’t mean there weren’t things he could or should do, but there were merely no crises he had to handle at the moment. Though he didn’t really approve of everything Lord Harridan did, his territory didn’t appear too poorly managed.
Of course, that was one thing William had to look into. How was it actually being managed? What were the taxes like, how did they actually come in? Should he change them? William didn’t plan to make any real changes for some time. He would first have to talk to the officials responsible for managing everything. They didn’t stay at the manor, of course. Fortunately, Lord Harridan’s territory wasn’t too large, so it wasn’t like William suddenly had to manage an empire. He supposed it was a county- a few significant cities and many villages and towns.
William made sure not to spend too much time looking into how things were managed. He could afford to take his time with any changes that became necessary. Besides, he didn’t want to upset the entire structure and have to manage everything himself. All he wanted was responsible people managing things… which was perhaps a pipe dream, but he could at least get mostly competent people.
Lord Harridan hadn’t been interested in magical research, so he didn’t have a laboratory set up. William set about rectifying that as soon as things settled down somewhat. He wasn’t planning any grand experiments at the moment, but there were a few things he wanted to work on. Fortunately, there were extra personal funds available since he wasn’t spending money on five mistresses. William was planning on spending some money on Lorelei, but she didn’t require a constant flow of dresses to be happy.
William missed Lorelei, and that was part of what he was going to work on. Not that he could make he always present or anything, but better communication was a must. The communication disks weren’t good for anything long, and letters weren’t particularly secure- and slow.
Using the idea of linking different objects together, William first thought of something like a typewriter. The problem with that was immediately apparent. Though they didn’t exactly require precision machining, any parts wouldn’t be easily obtained, and William wasn’t intimately familiar with their construction in any case. Skipping over various levels of technology- at least in that particular way- wouldn’t be possible.
What William wanted was longer messages and still near-instantaneous communication. That was rather ambitious, but with magic helping it was easier to skip ahead in that sort of area. Of course, the simplest answer was “more disks”, but that didn’t really solve the problems, at best allowing for the communication of a whole letter or a few at a time. Could he transmit voice? That seemed like an even bigger jump, but still worth considering. Modern telephone networks had required large amounts of infrastructure, but then there were things like walkie talkies and other methods that could transmit point-to-point without always requiring large infrastructure.
The important thing about sound was that it was vibrations, and vibrations were merely movement. The disks already transmitted movement… at least in a way. It wasn’t precise enough for what he wanted, but that kink could be worked out. As for methods… it actually took him longer than he thought it should have to come up with the idea, before he accidentally stumbled into it. He remembered playing around as a kid. On more than one occasion, he had made a tin can and string ‘phone’. They weren’t very high quality, and the distance they could work at speaking loudly or at worst shouting would be a better replacement. A kid’s game, and a useless item. Of course, that was what the disks had been marketed as- a toy. Not a cheap one, but not terribly expensive either.
William thought he could use the same technique of connecting two objects together with magic to get what he wanted. In this case, the ‘string’ would merely be the magical connection, which would make it far superior to the version that used a real string… assuming he could get it to work. The first problem that arose was making the vibrations match. In the disks, not all motion was ‘shared’. Instead, it was merely the motion of flipping. In addition, the energy came from energy it absorbed from flipping it on each respective end. William needed all of the movements- at least the ones that were small on the level of vibrations and sounds- to be transferred. If not perfectly, at least… comprehensibly. However, if it tried to include all of the large movements as well, nothing would really happen. He could try to move one to his ear… which would cause the other to move up away from where he might be speaking into it, unless it ran out of energy.
Clearly that wouldn’t be good enough. Thus, he had to isolate the smaller movements… and perhaps provide an external power source. It didn’t have to be a large power source, but if it absorbed some of the sound for energy, the best that could come out the other end would be even more muted than otherwise. It wasn’t possible to both absorb the energy and retain the information contained in it to the full extent. Like this, William spent the better part of a few months trying to make something that worked to any real extent… plus the time it took for new materials to come in when he needed more or wanted to try something else. Then, finally, he had something worthy of actual testing.