Hospitality House: Month 1, Chapter 1

Note: I have decided on a special format for my novel: it will be divided into months, and each month will then be divided into several small chapters. What follows is the first chapter from the first month.

Note that this is NaNoWriMo, and as such, this is very much an unrefined first draft.

Month 1: The 1st Month of the Year 053

Chapter 1: Andrew of Alia (The 4th Day of the 1st Month of the Year 053) 

At 17 years old, Andrew no longer had a family name, because he no longer had a family. It was not like his family had died, either; they had simply disowned him. And because he no longer had a family, he also no longer had a home.

This year’s class of students was just too high caliber, he thought to himself. His family lived in Alia, the country that was considered the academic capital of the entire Greater Land of Jolysi. He had attended the prestigious Alia Capital Academy, where only the top students of the country could attend, and had applied for the Alia Capital University, the highest ranked university in the nation, which is so selective that even the average student at Alia Capital Academy only has a 70 percent chance of being accepted. As such, perhaps it was not too unusual that Andrew just could not quite make the cut. However, he came from a family of some of the Capital’s greatest scholars, and both of his older brothers had successfully been accepted into the University, so in order to maintain their reputation, his parents demanded that Andrew get accepted into the University or be disowned from the family. 

Yet, for all his anger at himself for not being able to meet his parents’ expectations, there was one thing that angered him more, and it was not his parents. 

And to think I even passed up on that class trip to Faeran in order to study more for the test, he thought. If I was going to fail anyways, I might as well have gone on that trip. He had really wanted to see the floating islands of Faeran for himself, but dared not bring this desire up to his parents. Of course, it is way too late now to even think about going there…

His parents were at least kind enough to leave him with some money to live off of until he found his own job and place. However, two weeks had gone by without him being able to find either a job or a place to live, and he was starting to run out of money. Desperate and figuring that trying to find anything in the very tight run country of Alia was impossible, Andrew crossed the border into Jolysi.

Once there, he made his way to the nearby town of Jolysi Nord. At this point, he was incredibly fatigued from a lot of walking, so rather than jump right into finding work, he sat down at a bench in the town square for some rest. He was not able to rest for long, though, as he soon heard a voice from right in front of him.

“Hello, big brother.” 

Andrew looked and saw a girl, about fourteen years old, standing in front of him. Judging from her long, pointed ears with a slight curve on the bottom and the tiny, green, translucent mana wings barely extending past her back, he figured that she was a faerish elf (an elf with a quarter of faerie blood, commonly from a marriage between a full elf and a faerie elf halfling). Her delicate look made Andrew think she was incredibly adorable, something that he could not quite get out of his mind. 

“Uh, I think you have the wrong person; I do not have any little sisters,” Andrew said to her.

“Oh, are you not from around here?” the girl asked. “In Jolysi, we frequently call older people ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’.”

“Ah. I am from Alia,” Andrew said. “My name is Andrew, by the way.”

“Nice to meet you, Andrew,” the girl said. “My name is Corrine. May I sit next to you?” 

Andrew nodded. “Nice to meet you, Corrine,” he said, shaking her hand as she sat down. 

“So Andrew, are you a traveler?” Corrine asked 

“Sort of,” Andrew said. “Though I do not have a destination, nor am I registered as a traveler.”

“Oh? Then what brings you to Jolysi?” Corrine asked.

“Ah, about that…” Andrew was not sure if he should really be spilling everything about his life to this girl he just met, but something about the kind look in her eyes made him feel less reserved about talking with her. “You see, I was not able to get into the Alia Capital University, and as such, I was kicked out of my family. Right now, I am looking for a job and a place to stay.”

“I see,” Corrine said. “Alia is a big studying place, is it not?”

“Yeah, it is,” Andrew said. “If you do not do well in school, your parents either punish you or disown you, and if you do not have credentials from a university, you have a really hard time finding a job. I have read that it is different for other countries, though.”

“Would you have liked to grow up in a different country?” Corrine asked.

Andrew had no idea how to answer that question. He just shrugged. 

“Well, if you are looking for a job, and do not have a family to go back to… how about working at the Hospitality House?”

“The Hospitality House? Is that not the waypoint in the center of Jolysi? Are they looking to hire new people?”

“Actually, I work there at the Hospitality House, and Father was talking about starting to hire the next generation of staff for the House,” Corrine said. “So now is the perfect time to ask for a job. You will be provided a place to stay, too!”

“Really?” Andrew thought this was too good to be true. “You think I would be qualified for the job?”

“Hmm…” Corrine thought for a moment, looking at Andrew. “I believe how Father put it is, it does not matter how qualified you are; all that matters is whether you are willing to serve the travelers of Jolysi.” Corrine got up from the bench. “If you are interested, then I will take you there.”

“Okay,” Andrew said, getting up and following Corrine.

The two walked out of town and started going down the Alia – Oiopo Bay road, and talked a bit more while they were walking. “So if you work at the Hospitality House, Corrine, then what were you doing up in Jolysi Nord?” Andrew asked.

“My job is fieldwork,” Corrine responded. “I go traveling all around the land to learn more about the different places travelers come from and go to.”

“Oh… is that important?” Andrew asked, as it did not seem to him that such a job could be that important to what the Hospitality House was known for. Then again, he had only read about the House from history books, so he figured maybe someone who actually works there knew something.

“I think it is rather important,” Corrine said. “The more you know about the land, the more you know about the people that travel that land. And the more we know about the people that travel the land, the better we can serve them. For example, a lot of the people that travel through Jolysi Nord are traveling from or to Alia, so they are largely people interested in academic matters… and…”

Corrine thought for a moment. “Actually, I am not sure how that knowledge would help us serve people better. I will have to bring it up with my siblings later.”

“Your siblings?” Andrew asked. “Come to think of it, you had said something about a father… is your father the owner and his children all workers or something?”

“It is like that,” Corrine said. “Father is not the father that gave birth to me, but the one that legally adopted me. In fact, all of the main workers at the House are people that Father adopted.” 

Andrew stopped walking. “Wait… are you saying…”

“Oh, right, I guess I forgot to mention that,” Corrine said. “If you decide to work here, you will officially be adopted by Father. Unless… you do not want that?”

“Oh… well, I guess it is okay…” Andrew did not know how he felt about being adopted into a new family so quickly after leaving his old one.

“I guess you did not have good experiences with a father, did you?” Corrine said.

Andrew shrugged; he did not have anything to compare his experiences with his father to, so he could not really say whether it was particularly good or bad.

“If it makes you feel better, Father does not care if you mess up. That is, he would not kick you out just because you failed a school test or something like that. And since you are an adult, he will respect the choices you make… wait, is that right? I know there are some places where people are adults yet their parents still force them to do things like marry the people they choose and the like… Anyways, Father is good. You would like him.”

Corrine looked so cute trying to describe Father, Andrew thought. “Okay, I will trust you on that,” he said to her.

“Great! That means you will be my big brother! Maybe I really should call you that from now on…” 

“Nah, just call me Andrew,” Andrew said. “‘Big brother’ still sounds weird to me. Or I guess you could call me ‘Andy’ if you want, since some people at school call me that.”

“Okay then, Andy,” Corrine said. “Come on; we are almost at the House now!” She took Andrew’s hand and ran off, dragging him along the road towards what Andrew could see was a large house.

He was not quite prepared for just how large it was.

The house itself was a gigantic mansion that was easily the size of the entire Alia Capital Academy. There was a large central building the size of Alia’s largest museum, and annexes that were just as large attached to the sides and back of the central building. And that was only the building itself; there was also the grounds surrounding the building, full of gardens, playgrounds, and athletic fields, among other things, which made the entire area the Hospitality House sat on about the same size as a large town.

“Wow.” Andrew said. “You guys rich or something?”

“Not really,” Corrine said. “A lot of this place is not really ours. Most of the rooms are only for travelers to sleep in, and pretty much everything is intended to be for use of travelers. That, and the entire place is paid for by donations from some of our more regular visitors, which is only barely enough to maintain this place as well as give us just enough money to live a fairly modest life.”

“I have no idea how anyone who lives in this place could claim to have a modest life,” Andrew said. “I guess I will find out, though.”

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