Palimony

Chapter 99 – Rebuilding the hotel, and the desire to be together – part one

 

The first thing I did, was to confirm with Maurice and Hannah about what kind of hotel they wanted to work in, so as to decide on my future management policies.

“We did think about a various things ourselves, but the previous owners never asked us what kind of hotel we wanted to work at, so we worked a bit blindly.” Maurice sighed.

“I don’t even know what a management policy means…” Hanna looked troubled.

Seems like the previous owners were quite terrible at their management.

“I mean something like, wanting the guests to be mostly nobles, or perhaps a hotel that commoners can visit from time to time, or deciding whether or not you’d like the hotel to be expanded. This sort of thing.” I explained to them.

They then looked at each other for a second, before Maurice replied, “I think it’s rude for us to try choosing only a specific kind of customer, but the more common customers we got were either middle-class nobles or wealthy commoners.

“The hotel is somewhat small too, so it’s impossible to host a large number of guests.”

Seems like his assessment of the hotel is similar to mine.

“I never really thought about renovations or extensions though…” Maurice said with a troubled expression.

“Is it because his hotel holds memories of your parents?” I asked.

If Maurice and Hannah, who are our main workers, feel uncomfortable with it, then I’d rather not expand or renovate the hotel.

“The memories are not going to disappear with a renovation. The problem is money.

“When our father was alive, he often talked about wanting to make hot springs in the building, but we had no time nor money for it.” Maurice explained.

“Do you actually have any plans for these hot springs?” I asked.

Immediately after that, Maurice nodded, then hurriedly fetched a document with an estimate that they received long ago about the cost of the hot springs’ creation.

It seemed like they wanted to dig underground to create a cave-like location to host the hot springs. They also had a drawing of a path that would lead to the underground hot springs.

It seemed like a well-made design document that was easy to understand, but… I couldn’t help groaning when seeing the estimated price for it.

I can understand why their ideal hot springs never came to fruition.

It’s only natural to be charged a ridiculously high price when they had this kind of dreamy design.

“I don’t think I’d be able to cut down on costs by much, even if I asked some acquaintances that could give me a better price than what is listed here.

“However, I don’t have any objections to creating these hot springs.” I told them.

Then, I asked Maurice and Hannah if they were sure about wanting this, and both of them nodded with widened eyes.

“The hot springs were something that the whole family had been involved in designing, so… If it were to really come true…” Maurice started crying. He seemed to be truly moved.

Since they’ll be so happy about it, then I’ll do everything in my power to make these hot springs a reality.

“In that case, the hotel will be temporarily closed. It’s time to start our renovations.” I told them.

Maurice nodded, and immediately put a ‘temporarily closed’ notice on the hotel’s entrance.

“Since we have no reservations, this sign should be enough.” Maurice gave a bit of a sad smile as he said that.

******

To make the hot springs without having to pay the absurd expected cost that was in the design documents, I decided to ask lady Vanette for help.

We needed to explain about lady Vanette to Maurice and Hannah though… I felt a bit bad about it, but I decided to push that job to his highness.

However, once we explained to those two that his highness was the prince, they immediately fainted, so explaining that lady Vanette is a dragon is something that will have to be done after they wake up.

For the time being though, I decided to go underground with lady Vanette, with the design documents in hand, so as to ask lady Vanette if she thinks it’s possible to get the hot springs created here.

The hotel’s basement had a wine cellar and a storeroom in it, so it didn’t have much space left.

“Well, leave it to me!” As lady Vanette said that, her eyes changed from bright green to gold.

Then, she destroyed the floor in the place where we were planning to create a corridor, according to the design document.

“Lady Vanette, the floor…” I muttered.

I was quite stunned by her actions, but she ignored me, peeled off a broken floorboard, then touched the dirt below it.

Then, a sprout appeared on the ground that she touched.

“Come, my cute sprouts, make a path that will lead to a new basement.” Lady Vanette said.

With her words, the sprouts quickly started growing, branching, and started creating a cave-like wooden corridor for us to follow.

“It’s dark.” I muttered.

It was so dark, that I couldn’t grasp how far ahead the corridor continued for.

Then, Michael brought out a lantern.

“Young lady, would you like me to grow luminous moss or luminous mushrooms here? They could substitute lanterns to light up the path.” Lady Vanette asked me.

“I think that would be fantastic.” I replied.

“It’s dark and dangerous, so I’ll walk ahead! You two follow behind me!” Michael exclaimed, then started walking ahead of us with his lantern.

After walking for about ten meters, the corridor opened up into a larger cave.

“This is a pretty good place. Shall we make the hot springs here?” I suggested.

Lady Vanette then happily touched the ground and the walls of this area, “Come, my seeds.”

With her words, trees grew from the walls and ground, covering the place and creating a large room.

To be able to do something like this is… Amazing. Lady Vanette can build a whole house in an instant.

“What would you like the hot springs to look like?” Lady Vanette asked.

I stared at the ceiling and started thinking about it, “First of all, we should have a wall to separate men and women. A wall right in the middle of this room, and make it tall enough so that nobody can climb it… Well, just connect it to the ceiling, actually.”

Lady Vanette then built the wall just like I instructed her to.

“I would also like each side to have a small tub that can fit two or three people, then a larger tub for bigger groups.

“Please put flowers and herbs near the tubs too.” I said next.

“Sure thing.” Lady Vanette then snapped her fingers, and four bathtubs that seemed to be made out of a hollowed-out tree were created.

“You’re too amazing, lady Vanette…” I muttered.

“I’ve been a green dragon for many years now! This is easy.” Lady Vanette replied.

After that, lady Vanette also built a washing area and a geothermal sauna. Dragons are truly incredible, aren’t they?

Moreover, she seems to have put special plants here, that are able to heat up the water with its roots, so we won’t need to worry about the heating either.

Plants are truly wonderful!

“If you grow luminous moss on the ceiling, the people on the hot springs will be able to experience a feeling similar to looking at the starry sky while they bathe here.” Michael suggested.

Me and lady Vanette agreed to Michael’s suggestion, so lady Vanette grew the luminous moss on the ceiling.

Now, we had a fantastic hot spring in the hotel.

“It’s a truly relaxing space.” I muttered.

It really moved me to see it completed.

And then, I heard a snapping sound.

“Huh? Joseph and Riana?” Michael said as he looked at the wooden corridor that we moved through.

Lady Vanette was also looking that way… And once I stared closely at it, I saw something akin to a white shadow sway by.

… Is this steam?

“Oh, you’re amazed by it? You wanna join us as soon as possible, then?” Michael said to the haze, which was still swaying.

Perhaps they’re ghosts?

“Young lady, Joseph and Riana are amazed!” Michael told me.

“That’s nice to hear… I assume those are Maurice and Hannah’s parents?” I asked him.

It’s a bit troublesome that I don’t know who they are even after hearing their name. It really feels like we aren’t communicating properly.

“Yeah, yeah. Both of them seem like they’re about to cry due to how moved they are. This is a dream come true to them.” Michael explained.

I couldn’t see their expressions, but seeing how happy Michael was about all this, made me feel warm.

“Then, there is something I wish to talk to Joseph and Riana about.” I told the white haze, “You two are going to be the face of the hotel. Please act like our mascots.

“As in, if someone wants to experience something paranormal, I’d like you to go and play some pranks on the people.

“And for the people who are scared of ghosts, please make sure to not trouble those.

“If we can draw the line properly, this hotel will surely be a great success.”

I then looked at Michael to see what their reaction was.

“They’re nodding. They seem fine with the idea.” Michael replied.

It’s certainly useful to have a nice interpreter at these moments.

“I’m a very happy business owner, for as far as I know, no other business owner has had ghosts as their employees.

“That said, what should we do about your salaries? Do we add it to Maurice and Hannah’s salaries? Or is there something else that you’d like us to do for you?” I asked the ghosts.

Michael then seemed to be listening intently to the ghosts’ words.

After a small while, Michael started speaking, “They don’t like uncertain contracts, but they don’t want a paycheck. They’re saying that it’s fine to think of their jobs as them paying rent for living in the hotel.”

I don’t think it’s right for employees to pay rent when living in their work place… Moreover, “Even if I deduct rent, you’ll still have unpaid wages that you’d be qualified to receive.”

This can’t be a good workplace if the employees aren’t happy to work here. It’s my firm belief as a manager, that work environments should always make its employees comfortable!

“Money is useless to them, apparently. Maurice and Hannah are mostly self-sufficient, as they have a field in the backyard.” Michael told me next.

After I asked for more details, I was told that Maurice and Hannah have a field past the forest behind the hotel, and that they get their food from there, since the hotel wasn’t being very profitable.

The townspeople also seemed to often exchange meat for the vegetables that Maurice and Hannah provided.

This seemed like an unfair trade though, as meat is more expensive… “I guess this is only possible because Joseph and Riana are people that the townsfolk liked.” I muttered.

I guess the people here didn’t want to see Maurice and Hannah suffer from lack of certain types of food, when they were already suffering so much from the loss of their parents.

If it wasn’t for this kind of connection between the people here, then this hotel would have probably fallen into ruins already.

“Joseph and Riana seem to be embarrassed.” Michael told me with a faint smile.

But we still didn’t solve the problem… What to do about employees who can’t be paid for their work?

“In the town? Oh, yeah, that might work.” After Michael said that, he then turned to me, “Young lady, they’re saying that you could donate their portion of the salary to this town’s orphanage.”

I was surprised by those unexpected words.

“There are a lot of fishermen here, and children that lost their parents in sea accidents aren’t too uncommon.” Michael explained.

… I’m impressed. I have some truly wonderful employees here, don’t I?

“Understood. What a wonderful way to use the money! You can be sure that the Earl Nogger family will give you full support!” I told the ghosts.

And in order to repay their wonderful service, I have decided to do my utmost to liven up this hotel.

******

After we completed the underground hot springs, we returned to the lounge.

His highness had just finished telling Maurice and Hannah about lady Vanette being a dragon.

“How was it?” His highness asked.

“It became a fantastic hot spring.” I replied.

His highness nodded with satisfaction and took a sip of the tea that Hannah brewed for him.

“Since we’ve made a big accomplishment, I’d like to celebrate by sightseeing the town. What will you do, your highness?” I asked him.

“Let’s go together.” His highness immediately replied.

As for Michael and lady Vanette, they were playing together in the sea. As we were not going to interfere with their free time, me and his highness went out by ourselves.

Perhaps because the town is near a hotel that serves as a summer resort, there were many stores here that were aimed at nobility, and they all seemed to be quite busy.

In the midst of this, I walked side-by-side with his highness, while holding his hand.

“Yulias? What’s wrong?” His highness asked.

I was silent as I thought about the town, so it seems like my behavior made his highness worry.

“It’s nothing. I just thought that it’s our first date in a long while, your highness.” I replied.

“That it is.” His highness nodded.

“Would you like to see that accessory shop?” I asked.

His highness tilted his head, put his hand in front of his mouth, then coughed once, “Let’s go to the store you want to go to.”

“Lord Rud, if you pamper me this much, I might end up getting carried away.” I warned him.

His highness smiled softly in response, “I don’t dislike pampering you.

“And since I’m no longer a student, our time for casual dates is considerably limited, so I’d rather pamper you as much as I can.”

I was a bit intimidated when he told me, face-to-face, that I could be pampered.

I felt like I had lost, somehow.

As his highness looked at me with expectant eyes, I reluctantly let go of his hand, then wrapped my arm around his.

“You said you would pamper me, right?” I told him.

“… Oh.” he muttered.

While having this kind of exchange, we entered the accessory shop, and found the daughter of earl Aino inside it.

“Wow! Your highness! And lady Nogger! Are you shopping?” She asked us.

“Yes.” I replied.

“What kind of things are you buying?” She earnestly asked us as she curiously approached us.

“Ah, before that. Did you know that the hotel was famous for being haunted, miss Aino?” His highness asked her.

He had a serious expression on his face, but I wasn’t sure what he was feeling right now.

“Ah, I knew it. I thought lady Nogger would be able to run the business without believing the rumors, but is it no good?” She touched her lips with her finger before continued, “However, it would be a bit troublesome if I were to buy the hotel back from you, as it would be pretty hard to re-sell something that the Nogger family gave up on, you know?

“I don’t think I’ll be able to buy it for the price I sold it to you, as nobody else would be willing to risk the money on a haunted hotel!

“I’ll buy it at half the price… Is that okay with you?”

She finally showed her real intentions, as she seems to firmly believe that I am willing to let go of this hotel.

However, “Miss Aino, I have no intention of letting go of this hotel. Don’t misunderstand it just because of lord Rud’s words!” I told her.

“… Beg your pardon?” Miss Aino wrinkled her eyebrows, “But the hotel is haunted, right?”

“Yes, there are ghosts there.” I replied.

Miss Aino tilted her head, seemingly confused, “Then why don’t you let go of it?”

“Because I don’t need to.” I smiled, then continued, “For am I sure that this hotel will quickly grow from now on.”

Besides, I don’t think it would be wise to sell a hotel at a loss, right after I built a hot springs facility inside it.

“Is that so? Even if the hotel’s haunted fame is widespread in this area?” Miss Aino asked.

In response, I glanced at the clerk of the accessory shop. She was a woman who seemed to be around her mid-thirties.

“The ghosts that appear in the hotel aren’t scary, you know? They are people who originally worked there, and they don’t try harming the customers in any way.

“They were a good-natured couple in their lifetime, in fact.” As I said that, I could notice that miss Aino was getting more and more annoyed, but I ignored her and continued speaking to the clerk, “Do you perhaps know of Joseph and Riana?”

Considering that she is probably on her thirties, she most likely knows of a couple that died five or so years ago.

“… I remember playing with them, back when I was a child.” The clerk muttered.

“It’s rare to find a hotel where gentle ghosts welcome you, so if you don’t mind it, please come and stay for a day.” I smiled to the clerk.

The clerk nodded in response.

“… Are you sure about that? I mean, it’s a haunted hotel…” Miss Aino said to the clerk, seemingly incredulous at our exchange.

“It is, but that couple passed away so suddenly… If I have the chance of meeting them and reminisce about the times we played together in my childhood, then I’d like to go there at least once.” The clerk replied with a refreshing smile.

At this moment, his highness, who had been silent until just now, spoke, “I think they’ll be pleased to see you again.

“Also, if you know anyone who wants to meet them, please do tell them about the hotel.”

“I’m sure there are plenty of people like that in this town.” The clerk happily nodded.

Well, we can’t simply get her advertisement for free, so let’s shop around to compensate her for it.

But before that, “Miss Aino, if you won’t mind it, please come stay at the hotel too.”

In response, miss Aino lowered her eyebrows in visible annoyance, “I-I’m sorry, but I’m afraid of ghosts. Please excuse me.”

She then gave us a light curtsy and left the store.

“Let’s start shopping then, lord Rud. This tiepin is wonderful.” I told his highness as I pointed inside a showcase.

His highness’ eyes opened wide at my words, “Aren’t you going to shop for yourself?” He asked.

“This is my purchase. A present to lord Rud, who I am deeply indebted to.” I told him.

His highness covered his mouth with his hand and coughed once, “No… I’m the indebted one.”

In the meantime, the store’s clerk quickly came over, removed the tiepin from the showcase and showed it to us, “This tiepin matches the detail of that necklace and earrings over there.”

“Alright, I’ll buy them.” His highness instantly replied.

“Since I’m giving you the tiepin as a gift, is it safe to assume that you’re giving me those as a gift, lord Rud?” I asked him.

His highness smiled and nodded to my words.

Then, the clerk immediately brought the necklace and earrings to us, while also bringing a matching pair of rings and bangles.

“Isn’t this clerk too good at pushing products?” His highness said that, but he still bought everything.

Then, after we were done with the accessory shop, we also looked at a fair number of other stores.

And at each store I entered, I also advertised the hotel where ghosts appeared.

Once we mentioned the couple of hotel Charlotte, people were quick to get interested on making at least one trip there.

However, plenty of people also said it was hard to go to the hotel, as it’s not easy to take an abrupt day off from work.

And so, while I was taking a break at a cafe with his highness, I started talking to him about the issue.

His highness took a sip of his coffee and took a deep breath.

While staring at him do that, I drank some iced tea and muttered, “It might be hard for non-nobles to spend money during their vacation to stay overnight at a hotel…”

“Then why don’t you make it so that people don’t need to stay the night?” His highness suggested.

“Don’t need to stay the night?” I repeated his words.

He smiled as he munched on a cookie, “We’ve already built some hot springs at the hotel, after all.

“If you offer the bath at the hot springs at a low price, people might go there at their days off to relax.

“In that case, it might be easy for people who live here to go there, even if they won’t spend the night at the hotel.”

I was stunned for a second, before I replied, “Lord Rud, you’re a genius!”

Hearing my praise, his highness smiled even more.

“You have a talent for business, lord Rud.” I told him.

“Think of it as a skill to let this country develop even further?” His highness replied.

Then, we both giggled at it.

His highness strategy was truly wonderful though.

It’s natural to think of a hotel solely for its function as a hotel. Something that people would go to only if they were planning to actually spend the night there, which isn’t something worthwhile for locals.

I had never considered using the hot springs by themselves to attract the locals and get them to become regular customers.

I couldn’t help feeling proud at his highness.

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