This letter is old, dated 2999. You reckon that Master Arasemis was only a boy back then, probably no older than ten. Underneath it is an opened envelope with a black wax seal, dry and cracking into pieces.
Greetings from the Sable Letter Exchange (Sable Printmaster, 2999)
We are delighted that you have placed your trust in the Sable Letter Exchange for your sensitive correspondence. Just as you expect our utmost care and secrecy, we expect yours in return. Mutual trust has permitted the Exchange to operate in secret for generations across the world, without interference from anyone.
Our procedures guarantee that you can send letters in complete secrecy to Recipients without your identity being known to us, and even without you knowing the location of your Recipients, as long as they are also account holders with the Exchange. You can even send letters anonymously, that is, to a Recipient who will not know your identity. But we stipulate that only letters and books may be sent through the Exchange. No parcels, small items of any kind, and certainly no poisons.
Enclosed you will find instructions on how to use our service, as well as your receipt for first year dues paid for the lion membership account. We thank you for purchasing a full year of service in advance, which is the best value. As a reminder, here are the accounts we offer.
For additional fees, we also offer access to special journals, news letters, and banned books.
Finally, please remember not to discuss the Exchange, or reveal the locations of individual exchanges, or reveal the identities of clerks, with anyone except those you personally know to have accounts with the Exchange.
Instructions for Receiving Letters
We highly recommend using a courier for all Exchange business, to protect the identities of you, our clerks, and the couriers of other account holders. We recommend you send your courier to your local exchange on a weekly basis to check for any letters that may have arrived under your exchange name, or exchange names if you have opened more than one account. We urge you to instruct your couriers to come and go swiftly and not to loiter at exchanges.
Under no circumstances will local exchanges inform you that a letter has arrived for you. This is to protect the identity and location of all Recipients. Furthermore, local exchanges usually do not know identities and locations of account holders, especially if couriers and other intermediaries are used to open accounts and handle letters.
Instructions for Sending Letters
The Sender, who must be an account holder at the Sable Letter Exchange, writes a letter and, if desired, authenticates by signing a true or false name (your Sable Exchange name) and using a personal seal. However, no signs, seals or authentication of any kind is required, and is solely at your discretion to confirm your true name to your correspondent.
Regardless of whether a true or exchange name is used, the Sender protects his or her identity by placing their written letter into a second, outer envelope that is secured with a unique seal and wax, both of which the Sender will only use for the Sable Exchange. This second seal must match the sample provided to the Sable Exchange when opening an account, if ever verification is required. The Sender then writes the Recipient’s exchange name on this second envelope. For the sake of everyone’s secrecy, the Sender must not write the Recipient’s true name on this envelope.
The Sender’s courier takes the envelope to the Exchange, where our clerk places the Exchange’s black wax seal alongside the Sender’s second seal to authenticate that the Sender sent the letter via the Exchange. The Sender’s courier must witness the clerk’s affixing the black seal to the letter before departing. You may use any of our individual exchanges according to the below conditions.
Our Careful and Time-Tested Procedure
After the Sender’s courier has departed the exchange, the clerk checks the local exchange ledger for the Recipient’s exchange name written on the Sender’s outer envelope. The remaining procedure depends on the type of account held by the Sender.
SHREW FEE. If the clerk confirms the Recipient’s exchange name in the local ledger, the letter is shelved until the Recipient’s courier comes to the exchange to check for letters. If the clerk cannot confirm the Recipient’s exchange name in the local ledger, or if no Recipient courier arrives to claim the letter within one year, it is burned unopened and the ashes buried, and the Sender is not informed.
RAVEN FEE. If the clerk confirms the Recipient’s exchange name in the local ledger, the letter is shelved until the Recipient’s courier comes to the exchange to check for letters, for up to two years. If the clerk cannot confirm the Recipient’s exchange name in the local ledger, but the Sender has paid the raven fee, the local exchange will write to nearby exchanges in search of the Recipient’s account. If those nearby exchanges can confirm the Recipient as an account holder, the envelope will be forwarded to that exchange. Note that we do not inform the Sender of this, in the interests of protecting the Recipient’s location. Thereafter, the Sender’s exchange will forward letters to the nearby exchange as long as is necessary at no further cost. However, if those nearby exchanges cannot confirm the Recipient as an account holder, or if the letter is unclaimed after two years, it is burned unopened and the ashes buried, and the Sender is not informed.
LION FEE. If the clerk confirms the Recipient’s exchange name in the local ledger, the letter is shelved until the Recipient’s courier comes to the exchange to check for letters. If the clerk does not see the Recipient’s name in the local ledger, but the Sender has paid the lion fee, the local exchange will send a message to nearby exchanges in search of the Recipient’s account, and those exchanges will have to do the same until the Recipient is found, anywhere in the world. If no Recipient is found, exchanges are required to inform the Sender’s local exchange, and that exchange returns the undeliverable letter to the Sender’s courier with notice that the Recipient does not exist (or no longer exists). If the Sender’s courier does not come to the exchange to check for letters after one year, the exchange must secure the undeliverable letter in a vault for at least 10 years until the letter is reclaimed by the Sender or the Recipient appears, otherwise it is burned unopened and the ashes buried.
The Delivery of Your Secret Letters
Only your Recipient will be able to see the identity of the Sender, if the Sender signed, sealed, or otherwise authenticated the inner envelope or letter. Regardless, your Recipient will be comfortable in the knowledge that Sable Letter Exchange handled the letter, as demonstrated by the black seal on the outer envelope. Importantly, the Recipient will not know which local exchange was used by the Sender, to protect the Sender’s identity and location.
Thank you again for your trust, which is well-placed in us. Should you have any concerns, please send word through your courier. Should you ever need to prove your identity to your local exchange, regardless of the exchange name you used to open your account, your unique gateword is: persimmon. Do not share your gateword with anyone, not even your courier.
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