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The Divided Isles Postal Service

What hath God wrought?
— The first interinsular message sent by the Divided Isles Postal Service
  The unique geography of the Pariah's Tides is capable of causing no shortage of problems, since it makes taking a ship from one island to another just that much more of a chore. Travel and trade, however, are not the only things affected. Communication, which is essential to the political wellbeing of any league of loosely affiliated states, is sadly rather difficult on the Tides. Journeying between islands is not a light task, and few are willing to risk their lives just to carry a letter. Fortunately, there are more cost-effective ways for the Divided Isles of America to correspond with each other. That is where the Divided Isles Postal Service comes in.  

Communication Difficulties

When the Divided Isles first surfaced in the Tides, marking the end of the miserable affair that was the failed American Insurrection, they were... well, divided. Whereas previously their separation was only by distance and land, a great sea had now risen up between them, and to make matters worse their relative distances were wholly undefined. One day, Providence and Tremontaine would hardly be a few leagues away, and the next day one would have disappeared beyond the horizons of the other. Communication did happen, but it was incredibly difficult, and half of the time the message would end up lost anyways. Carrier pigeons were proposed as a solution and used for a time, but they could only travel in one way and had to be shipped back after every use, and the bizarre nature of the Pariah's Tides ended up throwing off their innate ability to navigate home.   For a long time, the Divided Isles were left with extremely flawed communication, their alliance mostly existing only in name, since there was very little they could actually do for or with each other. That is, until a Tremontainer whaler ended up rescuing a 14-year-old boy named Manjirō and his four friends, after they had wrecked their fishing ship on an abandoned island. The boy was from Sakoku, a nation of allied islands, much like the Divided Isles. Unlike the Divided Isles, however, Sakoku had a fully functioning system of communication, and were a very tight-knit nation. So tight-knit, in fact, that leaving was punishable by death under their harsh isolationist laws. This meant that Manjirō couldn't just immediately return home, and instead returned with his rescuer William H. Whitfield back to Tremontaine.  

The Service's Birth

In his time at Tremontaine, Manjirō ended up explaining to Whitfield just how Sakoku's islands were capable of communicating with each other. They would use sealed wooden containers, and fill them partially with sand from the beaches of the other islands. Then, like a carrier pigeon finding its way home, the containers would drift on the Tides until they washed up on the beaches of the recipient island. It was much easier than carrier pigeons or anything else, since sand is far cheaper and lower maintenance than a living creature, and Whitfield immediately took the idea to the City Council. They instantly snapped at it, since they were desperate to strengthen their Isle's bonds with the rest of the Divided Isles, and an experiment was performed using sand from Providence and a glass bottle, and a short message. The message was received, and the Divided Isles rejoiced. Unfortunately, Manjirō saw little reward for what he had brought to the Divided Isles, and eventually ended up risking a return to Sakoku, where he became a valuable source of information about the outside world and the Divided Isles.   The Divided Isles Postal Service had humble beginnings in Tremontaine, but quickly spread to all the Divided Isles, becoming their first interinsular governmental department. Soon, communication was flowing all over the Isles. First, communication was kept limited to only the government, but eventually it was opened to the public, and letters between estranged family members or friends began to flow in earnest. The Postal Service had to grow exponentially in order to keep up with the demand, and glassblowers all across the Divided Isles had to sew some deeper pockets into their pants.  

A Simple System

The Postal Service operates as such: First, someone who wishes to send a letter will drop it off at the post office, with all the information you would expect, such as the names and addresses of the recipient and sender, if applicable, as well as the island the letter is to be sent to. Money is also left, to pay the Postal Service for its time. The letter is then folded or rolled up, bottled, ballasted with sand from the appropriate isalnd, and tossed in the sea. A couple of days later it will wash ashore, where workers for the Postal Service are constantly combing the beach for bottles and other packages that wash ashore. The message is then delivered to its intended recipient, and the bottle returned to the Postal Service.   While ordinary bottles are the most used containers that the Postal Service tosses out to sea, they are by no means the only. While most letters can be stored within a bottle, one can pay more for a larger glass ord wood container, in which larger items can be sent. It's costly, but one can even pay for an entire barrel to be sent via the Postal Service. The larger the item, however, the more likely something will go wrong and the shipment will be lost, which is why ships are usually employed for such tasks. For whatever reason, the Tides seem to favor lighter vessels such as bottles, whereas full on boats are forced to rely on navigators and prophet-sap instead. Additionally, the method employed by the Postal Service does not work on living creatures, which includes humans, yet another reason why you can't just throw a boat into the ocean and expect it to drift to where you want it to end up.
Type
Governmental, Department

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Comments

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9 Aug, 2022 21:28

What a fun way to address the problems of communication. I really like the depth and sense of completeness that the detail of having a special postal service to deal with mailing letters between wandering islands gives your world.