The day began just as any other at the Covet Corner Hotel.
Guests were arriving, couples were leaving, the lobby bustling with life as visitors from all around went about with their usual tasks.
A day like any other.
Gramps was sorting through his papers and other items that cluttered the counter when something caught the corner of his eye.
His room key, the clear card that prominently bore the number 001 in a clear crisp font lacking any of the thematic decorations as was present in most cards was fading, distorting, and changing into something else entirely.
He blinked several times, staring at his still card as it became opaque, darkening with each second until gradually revealing streaks of orange in its appearance. In a matter of moments, his card had become a shiny copper color, a blank sheet of copper.
“Is it that time already?” he said reminiscently.
Lilly wasn’t there to ask him what he meant, she was busy showing a newcomer to his room at the moment.
She would likely pout and call him a lazy old dog for leaving his shift this early, but it was better to do this sooner than later.
He took his card, placing it in the safety of his back pocket before turning around and heading into the backroom.
Activating one of the golems, he assigned her to fill in for him and to tell Lilly that he wouldn’t be in for the rest of the day or the week. The golem simply nodded and walked out to await anyone that would need her help at the counter.
Gramps smiled and sighed.
Making his way through the halls of the ‘Employees Only’ area, he passed through the several storage and utility rooms they had. Along the way, he passed by one of the several ‘Resting Stations’ where a handful of Golems stood silently. There were several of these stations, all of which usually had a Golem that worked for the hotel. Since they did not require any actual rest, Golems tended to stand around until they were needed. Unfortunately, this made several people uncomfortable when there was a woman just standing in the corner of the room blankly staring at the wall without ever saying a word… so resting stations were made to help alleviate that. Golems were assigned to these stations in locations that wouldn’t scare people and rotated accordingly. While at these stations, many would go into a ‘Low Power State’ and essentially slept standing as they waited for someone to put them to use.
Passing by one of these stations, Gramps tapped the shoulders of three of them, waking them from their slumber.
“Good morning girls. I’ll need you three to follow me.” He instructed.
They all silently nodded and followed him down the hall.
They made their way to their destination, reaching a single door labelled ‘Security/Sorting’.
Swinging the unlocked door open, the group was greeted by several pair of eyes. Most of which belonged to the same person, who simply lazily waved before returning to whatever she was doing. The Gazer’s eyes returned to monitoring the arrangement of glowing stones in front of her, most of which were a green or orange color whilst a device similar to a phone sat by her at arm’s reach.
“Ah, Gramps!” A voice called out.
Turning to the side, Gramps spotted the source of the voice. A Hakutaku wearing a lab coat whilst carrying a clipboard standing by a wall that split the room.
“Aggy.” Gramps responded with a smile.
“I was wondering when you’d get here. She’s been smiling all morning.”
Aggy led the him to the other side of the room behind the wall, showing that they were now in the ‘Sorting’ section of the room. This section was further split into two areas. A lower area where several girls were sifting through piles of papers while scribbling results on another and a raised area which bore a guard rail to prevent anyone from falling. At the center of the railed portion stood a single pedestal bearing a large glowing orb atop of it. Behind the pedestal stood a lone being, her hands resting on the sides of the orb as light emanated from her joints and other openings.
Although her eyes were closed, one could see that they too were glowing, much like her smile.
The automaton stood motionless behind the mysterious artifact, as if though waiting for something.
*Several years ago*
“What do you mean you just found something?”
“We just found something! J-J- UGHHH! Just follow me!”
A giant ant could be seen grabbing onto a young Gramp’s arm as she began to lead him though the site to what they had just found.
Giant ants… they were good girls, polite and hardworking, but by Druella were they lost when not around their queen. Ever since he made a deal with their queen to have them help out building this damn place it’s been nothing but nonstop questions.
Should we building it here? How about there? Where do we put the dirt? Want to share my bed tonight? How far are we supposed to be digging?
Every single day it was something else.
But they were the best ones for the jobs. Onis were too expensive with all the booze it would take to get them to agree, let alone keeping them from drinking while they worked. And golems were too hard to come by to have enough to get this done on time.
Ugghh… whatever it was, it had better be-
Arriving to the crowd of giant ants that parted upon seeing the two, at the center where their eyes had been glued for who knows however long, laid a half-buried body of a woman. At least, it looked like a woman, if she were made of metal.
There she sat, motionless, as if the world had stopped around her. What was she? How did she get there? How long had she been there?
“Get to the inn, get Coyote, get the local scholar, get ANYONE who might know what this is.” Gramps told the giant ant that brought him here.
She swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded, scurrying off to do as she was told.
What in the world did they just find?
“How did you find her?” He asked, turning to the crowd.
“She was just there. Annie was shoveling when she hit something with her shovel and dented it. She tried to dig around it to see what it was and… well… we found that.”
Annie nodded as her colleague explained the situation.
“It dented her shovel?”
Annie nodded once more, bringing up her now damaged tool, showing the bent tip on the blade.
Gramps walked up to the shovel, running his thumb against the dulled edged. Sure enough, it had been bent out of shape.
“Do you know where you hit her?”
Annie stammered before finally spitting it out.
“I-I-I think it was h-h-her head. I’m not s-sure.”
Gramps turned and approached the buried body. Most of the dirt had been brushed off by the girls already, but her bottom half was still buried underground. Whether it was out of fear of damaging her or their tool, he wasn’t sure.
He squatted down in front of her, inspecting her to see if any damage had been done, but there was none to be found.
Reaching out to brush some of the dirt still left of her face, he was amazed by how soft her skin was. It felt like skin, but it was cold and made of metal, how in the world was it able to mimic skin? He pinched her cheek, showing it was malleable, only furthering his confusion. Running his thumb to her lips, he pushed down gently to reveal a full set of teeth. Much like golems, it wasn’t uncommon for them to have teeth in order to better mimic humans, even if they didn’t really need them.
While he was lost in thought (as well as marveling at the amount of detail put into this being), Gramps failed to notice the smallest sign of movement going on besides him. No one had noticed in fact… that was until…
Snapping her arm up to him, the being had latched onto his arm with an iron grip and holding it in place.
“Coens ado regis stryion!”
“WHAT THE HELL!”
She pulled him towards her, forcing his thumb into her mouth as her tongue(?) began to swirl around his finger. What was happening? What was she doing?! He couldn’t pull away.
“What are you all doing! Help me!” He yelled to the group.
Snapping out of the surprise from the sudden movement, the giant ants surrounded Gramps and the mysterious woman, grabbing onto both of them in hopes of pulling them apart.
“Stopstopstopstop! You’re going to tear my arm off! This isn’t going to work!”
As they began to bicker amongst themselves of what to do, the metal woman pulled Gramp’s thumb out from her mouth and let go of his arm.
“Regs stryion com it.”
Jumping to his feet, Gramps took several steps back from the being.
As if though not knowing (or caring) what had happened, she began to pull herself out from the ground with relative ease, the earth rising and falling off her body as freed herself from it.
Her eyes were now glowing with a dull light as the sound of old gears began to turn inside her.
What in the world was she?
Turning to face Gramps, bowed her head slightly before speaking once again.
He couldn’t believe how long it had been.
“Shall we begin?” Aggy asked with a knowing grin.
Gramps simply nodded, turning to the golems behind him and gesturing towards the Automaton.
They all knew what to do.
They walked up towards the podium, arranging themselves evenly around the glowing orb. Silently they looked upon each other to confirm that they were ready.
Raising their hands towards the object, they leaned forward until their palms rested on the orb. The runes etched into their bodies began to glow as did their eyes, signifying that they were now in sync with the artifact.
As the three took control, the Automaton amongst them began to do the opposite. The light that had been coming from her began to lessen until disappearing completely, and her arms relaxed as they broke away from the object. She stepped back, her eyes slowly opening to reveal the dull purple glow that Gramps was all too familiar with.
Scanning the room, her eyes locked onto the old man, and her smile only grew wider.
Without saying another word, she made her way to his side and latched herself to his arm as if they were a fresh couple.
Aggy couldn’t help but giggle at the sight of the old man and the Automaton.
“Okay you two, I expect you to be back right after dinner.” She joked.
“Okay mom.” Gramps replied.
“Hehe, alright. You know the rules. We’ll hold down the fort in the meantime.”
“Thank you Aggy.”
The two left the room, waving to the security Gazer as they made their way out into the hallway towards the employee elevator.
“So Cici,” Gramps began, “are you ready?”
“Of course I am. I have been waiting all year since the last time we did this.”
“Yeah… sorry about that.”
“I know. I’m aware that I am the only one who can do it. The golems can only barely manage to do it, and for a limited amount of time. It would be highly inefficient to solely rely on them.” She responded as they reached the elevator and stepped inside.
Gramps pushed against the button B5, closing the doors
Cici, as what was decided upon to be her nickname by the Giant Ants that found her, was the hotels one and only Automaton. Her primary function, to sort all new residents arriving to the hotel to a room, preferably one that’s already occupied. Aggy and her group are responsible for inputting any and all important information they can about mamono, humans, their personalities, preferences, quirks, anything relevant. With that information, it is up to Cici to properly assign anyone with who she deems compatible with each other. If there weren’t any, then she would assign them in an empty on a floor that they would most likely find someone suited for them, or until she could assign someone to them.
The elevator rang signifying they had reached their floor, opening its doors to a very similar hallway as they had just arrived from. They were still in the employees only hallways.
They walked down the familiar path, passing by the floor’s breakroom before making it to the door that led to the rest of the floor. Gramps opened the door to that revealed the lobby to them.
Well, not exactly the lobby to say.
It looked very much like lobby several floors above. It’s rugged floors, the crystal chandeliers that hung high above, the paintings on the wall… save for a few details such as the violet motif that permeated the room. The couches and chairs seemed to have been made from tentacles that had a cushion placed upon them. The art pieces did little to hide the naked bodies present within them and left little to the imagination.
Along the walls were several doors, very much like the lobby, but they were all labeled with a range of numbers above them, and they all went to the same place… Pandemonium. Different parts of it, but all the same place regardless. It was a commonly desired destination for the many of the residents that had acquired a roommate. As such, accommodations were made for easier travel between the two locations, with rooms and everything under the Covet Corner Hotel on the other side, with a few minor changes.
At the very center of the room was a line of humans and monsters alike, some checking in, but many were checking out after having spent who knows how long on the other side.
Before them, behind the counter, stood a demonic looking woman garnering a uniform similar to that of the managers of the other floors. Her short silver curls hung below her horns as her tail was bound in chains.
The dark priest turned around to face them and smiled upon recognizing them.
“Ah, Gramps, Cici, I was wondering when you two would show up.”
“Good to see you too Meril.” Gramps responded as Cici nodded, “Here, let us help you with the line.”
“Oh no, you don’t have to.”
“It wouldn’t feel right to just skip everyone and leave you to handle this.”
The two took up spots beside her, Cici standing at the center as Gramps took the far end.
“Alright, anyone checking out, please step to the side and make a line. I will be handling all check outs. Anyone who hasn’t already made a reservation, please form another line and come up to her.” He announced, gesturing towards Cici at the end.
The first to come up to him was a familiar looking redheaded succubus that was simply glowing with satisfaction, unlike the pale man who looked as if he was within an inch of his life. Her tail was wrapped around his neck, leading him wherever she went as if though it were a leash.
The girl had finally gotten a roommate and almost immediately dragged him down here to celebrate. It had only been a few days, but to them it had probably been a few weeks.
“I take it everything went well?”
“Absolutely~” she practically sang.
“That’s good to hear… but I do think you should at least let Nimue check on him. He looks like he’s going to drop at any second.”
“Psssh, I’ll make sure he won’t.”
Gramps almost felt sorry for him.
“Alright, keys please.”
Calida pulled out a pair of keys from somewhere on her skimpy outfit and handed it to Gramps. Since the cards only worked in the hotel, actual keys were used for the rooms in the accommodations provided over in Pandemonium.
“Alright, room 247.” Gramps said aloud as he turned around and placed the key on the wall.
Meanwhile, Cici was holding a resident’s card between her fingers as it became a shiny copper color while still bearing their old room number on it. She didn’t need to use the same machine that Gramps or Meril needed in order to request a change on current room assignments.
As the two assisted Meril, she was going back and forth between the wall and the counter, assigning rooms to everyone who had already made a reservation, making her line shrink in a manner of minutes.
Before they knew it, everyone had been attended to.
This moment of respite would only last for a few minutes, but Meril welcomed it, especially now while her coworker was out on her lunch break.
“Thank you two so much.”
“Oh don’t worry about. Now, if you don’t mind…”
Both Gramps and Cici turned to look at the wall of available rooms.
“So, which one should we try?”
“We’ve already been to the first 8 sections. So, we should try 127.”
Gramps nodded and grabbed the keys labelled 127 from the wall.
“We’ll be taking this room, alright Meril?”
“Alright, we’ll be back soon enough.”
“Okay then. Do enjoy your stay.”
Gramps smiled and nodded, offering his arm once again to Cici who immediately wrapped it around hers. The two began to walk out from behind the counter and head towards the doors.
“You ready?” he asked her.
“Always.” She smiled.
He opened the doors and the two walked through to finally enjoy their vacation.
To my readers.
This series wouldn’t have gotten this far without you, and for that I’d like to say thank you. This marks the official end for the series. I may add a side story sometime in the future, but it is unlikely that I will be doing so anytime soon. It’s not that I’m going to stop writing, I’m just really slow at it.
If anyone would like to use this general setting in their story, please feel free to do so. Just keep it tasteful.
And finally, thank you for staying with us here at the Covet Corner Hotel.