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The Port in the Storm

" Ahh, you should have seen it in my father's time, when the lobby was flowing with our roses, and the guests were genuine and honest. These days, we are left bowing to stuffy Guild executives, and their self important retinues. Then again, I supposed you did manage to experience our old glory days, so it is good to have a fellow like yourself to remind us all of old times."
— A conversation with the Port's current manager, Mr. Giulio Rossi.
    A haven of serenity for over a century, "The Port in the Storm" is quite probably the most luxurious hotel I have ever had the good fortune to have visited in my travels. Open only to a select clientele, a feature that has caused the hotel to be branded as snobbish and elitist, the Port is the get away of choice for those magicians who appreciate the finer things in life, and are willing to pay for it.    

First Arrival

I first stepped foot in the hotel while it was under the management of the old Mr Enrico Rossi, who was by then the 3rd generation of his family to be called to run the hotel. The hotel is located in what was best described by Mr Enrico as "Our little corner of The Warp ", which is what my academic side would describe as a finite, habitable, flat pocket dimension, existing somewhere 'alongside' the Warp proper, if such prepositions apply to a 'space' as convoluted as the Warp.   I was headed there on a holiday, after assisting some friends at the Duke's University with a particularly complex project of theirs. I was informed by one of said friends that she would be able to book a room for me, in return for my assistance, and gave me some instructions on how to navigate there.   Upon my arrival at this 'little corner' a small pilot boat pulled alongside me, and the pilot boarded the Keri and instructed me to pull up next to the pier at the front of the hotel. I pulled up, tied down, and presented the letters of introduction I was given. The pilot then led me from the pier onto the rocky island upon which the hotel rested, and left me at the bottom of the staircase to the hotel's main entrance.   As I climbed the stone stairs, the doorman opened the gold rimmed glass doors, and let me enter. The moment I stepped in, I was greeted by the sight, and smell, of dozens of roses, whose vines had crawled up to the very top of the glass domed ceiling of the lobby.   As I stood staring at the ceiling, the Concierge walked up to me, and brought me to the front desk, where I checked in, presented my letter once more, and was convinced to part with 1,200 (!) Cheques a month to become a hotel member. Once I had finished, the porters took my limited luggage to my room and I was encouraged to explore the rest of the hotel.   As I explored the long, open hallways, I conversed with a few of my fellow guests, many of whom I would realise were senior, experienced Navigators,and that I was one of the youngest guests there (A statement that is very much false by now). I noted that the halls contained a series of small wooden tables, upon which rested vases containing even more of those red roses, from which I was now able to sense some form of magic emanate.    

The Suite

After my little stroll, I decided to head to my suite, after first collecting my door key. Upon entering, I unpacked my few belongings, and sat down on the large padded armchairs. Looking around, I remember that I found the suite I was staying in to be far more decadent than my own quarters on the Keri, though I would one day realise that this suite was in fact one of the smaller ones in the hotel, with it 'only' having 4 rooms including the bedroom.   ( In more recent trips, I have had the good, and a sufficiently large, fortune to be able to book a few of the larger suites, although a more appropriate term would be rent, considering they were the size of some homes, and would occupy multiple floors.)   Still, even the so-called smaller suites were enough to show my still somewhat inexperienced self why this hotel was the stuff of legends in the Navigator community, with the large bed, and the living room containing a 3-metre tall bookshelf, mostly stocked with books about famous Navigators, as well as books about magical theory and guides, maps and charts of the Warp. I was even able to recognise one book that I had helped write, and which I had last seen in use back at the Duke's.   Books aside, the suite also contained a small study, with sound-proof walls, adaptable lighting, an excellent view directly into the carnage between the hotel and the Warp itself, and a desk on which sat a Voicewriter, a pile of blank sheets of paper, and a small bottle of ink, for both the machine and any other writing instruments one could bring.   Having toured the suite, I went to the bedroom, undressed, and went off to sleep.    


But not before having dinner. Taking advantage of another one of the hotel's amenities, I contacted room service, which, I was pleased to hear, was able to cater to any and every dietary restriction a guest could possibly have, religious or otherwise. I ordered a dish of carbonara, with beef bacon replacing the pancetta they usually serve, accompanied by Panna Cotta and washed down with some Seltzer.   While I would not normally consider myself a connoisseur of fine food, even my then undeveloped tastes recognised that the food offered was of a quality I had never experienced. By the time I had finished the pasta, and polished off the dessert, I had fully incorporated just how different this holiday was going to be.   ( In recent years, I can confidently stay the food has only improved in quality, though I suppose it was a mistake on my part to have my first taste of expensive cuisine be in the form of a hotel room service.)   The next day, I went down to the main restaurant of the hotel, which was in the middle of serving breakfast. I decided to try out the buffet, which contained everything from a grain silo's worth of cereals, to dozens of types of bread, enough cold cuts to stave off a continental starvation, and enough fresh fruit to grow a jungle with their collective seeds.   Needless to say, the food was very good. However, it was not the only positive aspect of breakfast that day.      

The Clientele

One of the best parts of my holiday was the oppurtunity to converse with my fellow guests. Due to the fact that the hotel was located in a particularly hard-to-reach part of the Warp, combined with the exorbitant cost of booking a room, the vast majority of the guest list was composed of very rich Navigators, many of whom were retired from active work, and went to the Port to enjoy some of their remaining days. Those who were not well-off retirees included a small group of senior officials in the various Navigator Guilds , who did not often engage in professional ship navigation, but nonetheless were able of traversing to the hotel, and paid the cost of entry using their Guild expenses funds, or their own personal hoards.   ( As the current manager noted, the ratio of retired Navigators to Guild executives had inverted since my first stay, though I personally don't find it terribly concerning.)   By virtue of sheer boredom, I decided to strike up a conversation with a few of the retirees, many of whom were quite surprised to see a guest who had never worked as a professional Navigator in the shipping industry like most of the others. I also met a few fellow academics gathered in the hotel's extensive library, one of whom was presently conducting a study of the hotel's "little corner", in order to see how it worked. All of us traded stories, and swapped notes on the various points of research we had conducted. ( I for one enjoyed the look on their faces when I pulled out some of the books from the library and showed them my name written in the credits.)      

Present Day

Of course, that was a great many years ago. Fortunately for myself, the Port in the Storm, though it has gone under changes in staff, environment and clientele, still keeps its best parts at heart. The suites are so luxurious many consider them 'preferable to heaven', the food would still have a place reserved in the menu of royalty, and the pier still stands, waiting to welcome the next traveller looking for a calm Port in the Storm.
Alternative Names
Wayfarer's Rest.
Hospitality, Hotel

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17 Jan, 2022 12:25

This is a pretty good article, it runs through the main aspects of the Port without being overbearing. The first person perspective is an interesting choice for it, I definitely didn't expect it, and it brings a unique bearing to the article.   My one critique is to maybe run it through something like Grammarly so you can hit the little mistakes; nothing major, just the occasional missing space or odd capitalization.   Other than that, fantastic work, Archmagos, keep it up! You're working on something good here, I can feel it!