The Fae Worlds

Inheriting A Hotel

It was early, much earlier than Claire would normally wake up on her day off, but her mind kept whirring, making sleep impossible. The letter she received was cryptic, and it became the only thing she could think about, in part because it seemed like the beginning of one of those really awful horror movies. A great-uncle she’d never heard of died, which wasn’t really strange as she had a lot of family she’d never met before, leaving behind a dilapidated hotel she’d apparently inherited, and that was the part she couldn’t understand. Why would someone she’d never met leave her anything in his will?
Claire stood at the train station, wiping sleep out of her eyes as she waited for the earliest train available. Either she was going to get to the address she’d been given to find there was no hotel, dilapidated or otherwise, or it was some sort of trick an evil entity was playing on her. She shook her head. Watching too many bad horror films was obviously bad for her, because it was most likely there was no hotel. Definitely no evil entity, no matter how much magic changed the world, as she’d never once heard of something like it. In all honesty she didn’t really want to inherit a hotel, so finding nothing there would be the best option, especially as she knew selling it would be almost impossible if it was in bad condition.
Sighing, Claire glanced at her watch. Time, in the way it always did at stupid o’clock in the morning, slowed down on her. She pulled her coat tighter around herself, looked longingly at the still closed coffee shop, and wondered why she’d let her curiosity get the better of her, especially when she could still be comfortably asleep in her bed. No one was going to leave an unknown great-niece a hotel, even if it was dilapidated. Only, maybe… she nibbled her bottom lip, thinking about the response she’d got when she told her mum about the hotel. It was enough of a reason to make the journey.
When the train finally turned up Claire stepped on, hoping it would at least be a little warmer than standing on the platform. There was a small part of her that couldn’t let go of the possibility her day was going to turn into a horror movie. She stared out the window, and tried not to think too much about what she was doing. If she didn’t go she’d always regret not taking the chance. It was a long journey to make if she found nothing, but not going would mean never knowing for certain. Tapping her fingers on the rubber sill she wished she was calm enough to read the book in her bag. Instead she watched the world pass her by, each station bringing her another step closer to knowing if the hotel existed. None of the worries faded away as she’d wanted them to, but they didn’t get any worse either, and by the time she got to her station she almost felt ready for whatever was going to come next.
The walk to where the hotel was meant to be took Claire a shorter time than she expected, because she wanted to get it all over with. Every step meant she was one step closer to going home… until she found herself standing in front of the hotel. It was real. At first all she could do was stare. Breathing deeply, in a failed attempt to calm herself, she pushed aside her disbelief and made her way up the path to the door. Once she stood in front of the old wooden door she ran her hand over it, unable to stop herself thinking the building might disappear. Finally, shaking her head, she put her hand into her bag, searching for the envelope.
Inside the envelope was the letter Claire received, telling her about the hotel, and the key to the front door. Touching the door one last time she almost believed it wasn’t going anywhere. As she took the key she kept her eyes on the door, telling herself over and over again inheriting an unexpected building was a lucky windfall. It looked in good enough condition to sell at the very least. Slowly, she put the key into the keyhole, still waiting for something unexpected to happen, but as she turned it the only thing that happened was the click of the key in the lock.
Smiling, Claire pulled the key out of the keyhole, put it back into the envelope, and then returned the envelope to her bag. With a slightly shaking hand she opened the door. She looked into the hotel, making certain there were no visible holes in the floor, before stepping into the building. Feeling a sense of relief her journey hadn’t been for nothing she stepped further into the hotel, looking around at the furniture it appeared she’d also inherited. Just as she was beginning to feel comfortable the door slammed shut behind her.
“What the…?” It wasn’t a windy day, even if it was cold, so the door should have stayed open. She nibbled her bottom lip. “Let’s just hope this isn’t going to be as bad as it is in the films.”
Breathing in deeply again, as much of a failure as before, Claire turned to look at the door, and her eyes met with those of a man who appeared to be translucent. “Welcome, niece.” He smiled. “I’m sorry I had to do this, but this hotel needs an owner, and due to certain restrictions you were the only person we would both accept. If I’d had a chance I’d have visited you to explain everything, but unfortunately my death came before I could. I am glad you made the journey, although I don’t think you will be soon, because now you’re here you can’t leave.”
“Please tell me that’s some very unfunny joke.”
“Sorry, it’s no joke.”
“Can you hear me?”
“The hotel can, so I’m basically the hotel answering your questions through the medium of my created ghost.”
Working out how to respond might have been easier if she’d been more awake. Claire raked a hand through her hair, staring at the construct of her uncle, and tried to think of something, because it seemed rude to just stand there. “Why did you leave the hotel to me?”
Smiling, seeming almost grateful that she’d chosen to simply accept that he was there, he took a couple of steps closer. “The hotel can only be run by someone with the same blood as the fae man who created it, and you are the only one I knew for certain existed who wasn’t going to turn it into something I didn’t want it to be. I met you once, a very long time ago, so I sent you a letter, hoping you were related closely enough for the hotel to accept you as its owner.”
“In the letter you described yourself as my great-uncle.”
He nodded. “When I was alive I was the oldest half-brother of your grandfather, which makes me your great-uncle.” He bit his lip, looking less certain than before. “How much do you know about fae family trees?”
“Mum mentioned to me she was the only child of a fae man, but I never met my grandfather, and she never went into any more detail. I’m not certain she knew much more.”
“She probably didn’t. I came to Earth about three hundred years ago, because I was sent a letter by my aunt to tell me she needed someone to run the hotel, and I was the only family member she trusted to do it. It was long before the destruction of Kalinia, time worked differently there to here, and until the fae made their journey I didn’t know there was a problem. Then Willow came to me, asking for my help, and I willingly gave it because she was my Queen.” He smiled. “Even then I knew the King wasn’t going to survive, but from what I remember of him that wasn’t a bad thing, and his father was just as bad. Willow is different to the rest of her family.”
“When did my grandfather come to Earth?”
“The first time he came was about three years after I inherited the hotel. I’m almost certain he was having fun with the local girls, but I never knew anything for sure, so I don’t know if there was a child from any of those unions. Father said I was a bad influence on him, but really I had too much work to do to chaperon him all the time. The second time was just after the fae emigrated, and he came to tell me he was the only one of the family to survive what happened on Kalinia. He didn’t want to be hidden behind the wards, so he asked me to give him a place here.” He shrugged. “I couldn’t say no to my brother, and it wasn’t long before he got one of the young women pregnant, even though they were warned against him by family members who’d heard stories about him from their mothers.”
“My mother?”
“Your mother was born later, Claire. I know she thought she was the only child, but she wasn’t. She just didn’t meet her siblings. That’s normal for fae families, especially now, and I know my brother hasn’t got involved in the lives of any of his children, even though I think he should have done.”
Learning about her grandfather just brought up more questions, and they were ones she wasn’t certain she wanted the answers to. It seemed far simpler to find out about the hotel, especially as it would give her time to come to terms with the fact she had more family than she knew about, and then, if she felt the need to, she could ask more questions. At least she hoped she could. “How long are you going to be around?”
“As long as you need me to be. I never meant to abandon you to deal with this alone, so I did what I could to be here to help. We have time to talk about anything you may want to bring up in the future, including our family, because finding out about them can’t be easy for you.”
“Mum not knowing anything meant she couldn’t tell me. I’m not certain she would have done if she could. The last thing she ever wanted anyone to know was that she had fae blood, which is understandable, but I would have liked to know more.” She looked around. “She’s really not going to be pleased about this.”
“You are who you are, Claire, and there’s nothing that can be done to change that. Like I said I needed someone specific to take over from me.”
Claire nodded. “I do remember.” She sighed. “I think I need to learn about what I’m doing here before I ask any more questions about the history.”
Her great-uncle smiled. “I was hoping you would be as logical about this as I needed you to be.” Their eyes met for a moment, and she tried to come to terms with the fact she could almost see through him. “What I would suggest is you spend some time getting to know this place, as you have a little time, and then we can go on to talk about everything you need to know.” He studied her. “It might also be a good idea for you to call your mum, and let her know what happened.”
Even though it wasn’t a conversation Claire was looking forward to she knew he was right. “I will, at a reasonable time. It’s still too early to call her.” She sighed. “What should I call you?”
“Bran works well for me, as I’m certain you aren’t going to be ready to call me Uncle.”

Meeting Willow