The foyer of the Rosethorn Hotel is deserted. A crisp white letter addressed to "Mm. Iron" sits on the front desk. There are no other signs of life.
She raises her eyebrows slightly.
"Whatever. Board game? Snuggles? Sex? I'm up for whatever you are."
"I'm a touch new to... all of those, really, but I suppose it would nice to have a chance to do that with someone else. My room number is 68, though now that I think about that it's not like that's sufficient to disambiguate for the whole of this place... I suppose the magic handles it."
She brushes back her hair a little timidly.
"The magic handles it. I'll come over, and we can figure it out from there, then?"
"Alright. Oh, and before you go, do you have a dress code in mind...?"
"I usually only wear a bikini bottom. Is that, uh, a problem?"
"I was thinking of going naked myself, so something like that is no issue - feel free to wear less or more."
"Oh, good to hear. I'll be right over, alright?"
She takes the time to do another quick clean and style of herself, before waiting on a oversized pillow by the door.
A little while later, someone knocks!
She unlocks and opens the door for her, gesturing for her to take a seat inside.
Her cock is half-hard already, hanging there in the air, and she stares at her breasts for a moment before refocusing, swiftly followed by her taking her seat again.
..."May I make a small confession?"
She's wearing what she saif she would be, her breasts half-hidden by her hair.
Hannah's gaze flicks down for a moment before returning to Iron's face.
"Nice to meet you. Go ahead?"
..."I'm kind of terrified, and feel like I'm on some bizzare alien planet. The idea popped into my head that it would be polite to slather my cock in oil of fascination and jerk it off over and over again as you watch while we talk, because surely a place that has people randomly calling you up with the expectation that they have sex would have such a custom. I don't know if it's 'rude' or 'immature' to not spend every moment that I have fucking or bathing, because I don't really understand what actually relaxing looks like. I'm terrified that if I tell you that I don't want to have sex that I will have hit some cultural taboo because you could be from anywhere for all I know, and that would somehow count as some important lesson about 'not making assumptions' that the Rosethorn hotel would facilitate and we would have 'make-up sex' and that would count as being better. I'm scared of the fact that I do in fact realize that you are beautiful and likely quite fun to fuck and that it somehow makes me a bad person if I don't indulge or make some massive conspicious effort to tell you exactly how little sexual experience I have. I don't know what I am supposed to do or how I am supposed to let myself be alone in a place like this if I'm tired of needy people or those that I need to guide, and I'm scared that despite all of that I still trust the Bowers enough that I can rattle of all of this without hesistation simply because you were there to have that interaction in this web of fate."
She lets out a long tense breath.
"Whoa. Steady. I've been in the Bowers for months and what you're doing isn't healthy, the second-guessing. The Bowers isn't complex that way, it's made for you. It sends you what you seem to need. Which, right now, I suspect is something uncomplicated. Conversation, sex, whatever you want. And I'm cool with that. Okay? So let's start with what you want. An explanation?"
She lets herself stay deflated, for a moment.
"I would like to hold your hand, I suppose."
She offers it, and some chair-esque thing for her to sit in.
"I know exactly what I want - but that has no bearing on what I actually can do - or perhaps it's something more like that I know the equation for what I want but there's a term in there that is in some way 'buggy' or missing around cultural expectations or some such thing? But mostly, I would like to know how I'm supposed to make expectations to work from, with... all of this, so yes, an expectation would be appreciated."
Hannah holds her hand.
"I can be your native guide if you want me to be. A few answers - first, you can raise privacy screens around your rooms to keep the Bowers out if you want to. Second, you aren't expected to fuck 24/7, Sunaira would be kind of cross if you did. The place is set up to give you time at other things. I personally only get up to about 50% most of the time - I track it with the Bower app - and I'm definitely a slut. Third, ettiquette is pretty simple - respect consent. That's pretty much it, the Bowers handles the rest. Um... The rest of it I'm not sure I need to address, it sounds more like worry being generated from the main issue than something else."
"What does it even mean for it to be kept out - I doubt that say, the safety screens would stop applying inside them, say, and that makes me suspicious that it's anything more than a fiction. And I just... If you asked me what feels comfortable to do, then I would tell you that what currently feels that is that I should make sure that I adequately take care of my body in regards to bathing and eating and cleaning, and that otherwise I should be doing something productive with my time, in that it should be meaningfully working to fufill someone else's preferences or else be working towards paying the basic utilities and funding towards immortality. I'm perfectly capable of resting through work, I have no objection to using Dyne or basic mental magic to ensure focus but it just feels like that's not what I'm being asked to do, and there's this nebulous blob of people that I could notionally go out to meet and socialize with and all I can think about is how constrained my basic toolkit for interacting with people is - what if the most compatible person for me is some fire elemental that isn't comfortable in rooms that aren't constantly on fire? What if the best conversations to have require some elaborate set-up around spatio-temporal interface equipment because they don't have traditional understandings or interactions with those things?"
She takes a deep breath.
"If you're that focussed on 'what is right for the bowers', 'what is optimal', make a run for the Doors of Night and let Sunaira sort it out. Otherwise, chill. Accept your vacation might not be as perfect as it could theoretically be. And take some damn time for yourself. It's not a vacation if you keep putting other people first."
"I kind of want to object that this isn't nesscarily different, fundamentally from how I normally try to live my life but..."
She shakes her head.
"What I really want to ask you is..."
She smiles faintly.
"Do you want to know what the harmony of metal is like?"
Hannah perks up a little. "That sounds cool. Show me!"
She smiles broadly, and she slowly walks over to her.
An intricate mass of gears form all across the room, some vast clockwork mechanism slowly and softly clicking as a simple blank of metal and a small sword forge appear from a flower.
Iron herself... shifts somehow, her stride becoming oddly even and imposing as thin curve hugging plates of adamantine form over or almost from her skin, interlaced with runework of orchicalum and many odder metals beside. It's oddly quiet, despite the weight that she must be materializing around her. Her eye is shot through with silver highlights of wire work, and something about her magic shifts.
"Tell me, do you have any experience with mystical projection...?"
"I do not. I've heard some basic theory, but I've never tried it myself."
"Alright - I'll start from the beginning and help you along."
Her hands gently slide across the back of her shoulder, cool and firm yet with softness of her hands.
An amulet appears around her throat, veins of metal wrapping around it to form the real body of it.
"There's a lot to this sort of thing, but fundamentally, the best way I can explain it is that it's simply a chance to let an affinity within your soul become dominant without restriction, letting the conception of you bleed into the things that have that nature itself. Everything that you work with is touched by your soul, everything that is held within your worldview is something that exists in the world outside, and like calls to like."
Something about the amulet makes her vaguely aware of the position of all of the metal in the room, the way the gears interlace, the way Iron's hand feels against her skin, the way she breathes, and of something vague and small within her.
"Oh this is deep shit. Can you guide me...?"
"Of course. Mind if I try a physical transformation to help you along or should I just go for this as is...?"