Room and Board

Originally posted on Patreon in October 2018 and part of the Great Patreon Crossposting to WordPress.

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Set in my ‘verse Reiassan, at an unknown time or series of times. 👻

The hotel had been there since the city had been there, and the city had been there since people started landing on this coast.  It had been a small inn, three stories tall, made of solid stone carved out of the cliffs.

When the family – Arrans through and through –  had needed more room, they had added on another wing.  As time went on, more wings were added, until the original building was surrounded – except for a narrow courtyard on front and back – and until the original additions were also, save for more narrow courtyards, surrounded.

But in the core of the hotel, there was one room that they would never rent out.  Even in a holiday, when every single room in every inn in all three of the Arran cities was booked, when anyone who claimed any blood of the Arrans came home to see the sea (such as “home” was to these refugees without a nation), they would not book the last room on the right on the second floor of the original inn.

It was cleaned every day.  Its linens were replaced every week.  It was aired out in the summer and heated in the winter.  The cleaning staff took extra care with it, as a matter of fact, making sure that it was ready for an empress to sleep in.

Because an empress slept there.

The first leader of Calenta, the man who created Calenta, had been father to seven daughters.  His oldest daughter had been his heir, the woman who had led armies beside him, who had strategized with him and who had plotted the lay of the nation over the next several centuries.

She had no descendants, and yet every emperor and empress since her had claimed her as an ancestor.

She had been going to her wedding, not a love-match but a political one, with the clever son of the wealthiest Arran merchant, to create a seat of power in the Arran cities.  She had been staying in an inn that overlooked the ocean, in a room which was smaller than her station demanded but far larger, as she was wont to say, than the tent her goat could carry.

She had been betrayed – she and her husband both – at the feast the night before the wedding, the feast called before that the *Long Night* and called after that the *Trying Fields*.

Both of them had left on the striking of midnight, as was then the tradition, he to his family home, she to her inn.

Both had been dead before the sun rose.

Both had been strong enough to infuse their spirit into something, and both had been too weakened by the poison slipped into their food and drink to choose the something properly.

The empress remained.  The son of the merchant remained.  And in the Arran cities, there were two rooms which were not touched unless one wished to pay their price for their advice.

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