|Yes! You agree to the thing! You mentally command the skeleton to sign the contract quickly and send some kind of help.
To your dismay, you only feel confusion in response. “Contract”? The skeleton reminds you that CairnCorp® prides itself on providing a more comfortable‡‡ user experience than the run-of-the-mill daedric plane, and would never trick clients into signing a long and confusing contract. The only contractual agreement in this packet is the first three pages, briefly outlining the basic benefits and user-end liabilities of your free CairnCorp® Conjurer Account™. The bottom of Page 3 is where you agree to these terms, pages 4-6 are where you set up your account preferences, and pages 7-354 are mandatory questions on your demographics and interests to help CairnCorp® notify you of specials and promotions that are just right‡‡† for you.
|Well ain’t that the bees knees, because I have a bone to pick with you.
What, Sigrid says?
You quickly come to the horrifying realization that a skeletal warrior is not about to pop over into the room, and your clever line was completely mistimed. While you frantically try to figure out what’s going on with the summoning spell, you explain to Sigrid that by “bone to pick” you mean “I will tell you everything you want to know, just please please please don’t do the bug musk thing”.
The room is silent for a tense moment (at least, you’re pretty sure the music is from the skeleton’s end of the telepathic link). Sigrid sighs once again, but this time doesn’t take a single step.
|Okay, but like… can you skip that last part until later? You focus on the fact that you are kind of in a tight spot, and would be much more likely to survive if you could summon help now and fill out the 350-page questionnaire once you’re safe.
The skeleton admires your eagerness to conjure with CairnCorp®, but notes that CairnCorp’s success comes from understanding the needs‡‡‡ of their customers, and the registration forms are required for all new accounts. However, the entire page on gender and sexuality is optional, so it’s really only 349 pages that require your input.
To get you started, the skeleton flips ahead to “Which of the following conditions (magical or otherwise) have you been afflicted with in the last 6 months” and puts a mark by “blindness”. Would you like to add more to this answer, or return to page one?
|Katia, this whole time you’ve been promising to give the answers I wanted. I gave you the benefit of the doubt, and received nothing but meandering lies and wasted time in return. How long did you spend talking about a dog named Lulu, swearing it was the answer to my question?
Okay, you say, but like, I promise this time I am actually going to tell you how I broke through the creepy mind control. You don’t have to use the mind control perfume stuff, because I am going to answer your question now. Any second now.
I am! The truth is, after I gave you all my stuff, I started thinking about the very important delivery I was doing for my best friend, and how I gave you her package, and it… it didn’t make sense. And that was it.
|Being as polite as possible, you aggressively think about how the evil sorceress is about to mind-control you in like five seconds and if you don’t get help right now you’re pretty sure you’re gonna end up either dead or too enthralled to care about summoning with CairnCorp (®, the skeleton adds).
The skeleton can understand where the paperwork might be inconvenient. This is why they always encourage prospective users to register before the need arises. If your aggressor is using mind control magic, perhaps you could use a resistance spell or potion to delay them while you set up your account?
You were born magic-resistant (the skeleton marks this under the “conditions” question), and if chewing up an alchemical ingredient for a tiny effect counts as a “potion”, you have a magic resistance potion too. The problem is that she’s not using a magic spell – she’s using some kind of pheromone perfume. You think it was called “Telvanni Bug Musk”? Whatever it was, your magic resistance didn’t seem to help at all.
The skeleton ponders your predicament. It has never encountered such a situation before, and isn’t sure the best way to proceed. Hold on, I’m going to push this down to Regional.
|Miss Managan, I thought I told you these games are-
It’s not a game! That’s what happened! I thought about the thing I did, and it seemed really dumb, and… I realized it was mind control.
Sigrid starts to reply, but you cut her off and keep going. Look, you’re right, I’m not good at people. I have like one friend, and I think it might be the latest in a long line of pity friendships. And all that stuff you said about me just trying to advance my own standing, it’s kinda true! Would you like me to explain everything else you’re right about, slowly so that you can savor it?
No, I’d like you to answer my question, Katia, which you are clearly unwilling to-
I did! I answered it! It’s not an exciting answer, but it’s the truth and I don’t have anything else I can give you!
The smallest tinge of anger enters Sigrid’s tone, although it quickly fades. You hear the hollow echo of the ceramic bottle in her hand. Nothing you’ve said has been the truth, Katia. Every word has been stalling and misdirection, and I find it hard to believe you are telling me the whole truth now, especially with an answer so banally empty. But, it’s no matter. With a little help, I’m sure you’ll understand where I’m coming from, and give me the information I want.
|You experience the unnerving sensation of feeling happy to see yourself, slowly parsing that a new mind has entered your telepathic connection. The skeleton greets the Keeper™.
The skeleton considers your situation: you need additional time to fill out the registration paperwork, but are in immediate danger of being mind controlled. Yes, they are already equipped for magic resistance, the skeleton thinks. The aggressor is exercising mind control through a pheromone called “Telvanni Bug Musk”.
The skeleton waits as the Keeper™ ponders your predicament. Just like the skeleton, the Keeper™ has never encountered such a situation. It’s moving this down to Corporate.
|The Keeper™ feels a wave of happiness, like an old friend just walked through the door. It thanks the skeleton for contacting Regional, and wonders how it can best serve it today.
The skeleton explains the situation. Listening carefully, the Keeper™ suggests utilizing a magic resistance potion or spell to buy additional time for the paperwork. The skeleton notes that this was tried, but the aggressor is using atypical mind control methods – a pheromone they called “Telvanni Bug Musk”.
The Keeper™ ponders your predicament. It has never encountered such a situation before, and isn’t sure the best way to proceed. Hold on, I’m going to push this down to Corporate.
|W-wait! Maybe you should, like, do the thing you were saying before, about being nice? Like, let me go for now, and later I can tell you all the secret details about how I realized I was being mind controlled?
Sigrid replies with something about how she’s already been very nice and you’re the one who keeps shooting it down. You have three sets of senses right now and it’s getting kind of super hard to keep track of, but you’re pretty sure she’s saying “no”.
With the meager remainder of your attention you try to call her out as hypocritical, but she confidently replies with something or other about how you’re wrong and she’s right. Despite not hearing the details, you try to explain-
|The blessed Maker® of the Soul Cairn® feels only removed dispassion as the skeleton and Keeper™ greet it with reverence. It wonders why its Holy Name™ was invoked, its slumber disturbed. The Keeper™ explains the situation: the skeleton is in contact with a conjurer who needs to fill out the registration paperwork, but is in immediate danger of being mind controlled. The Maker® considers that a magic resistance spell or potion may delay the aggressor and provide time to fill out the paperwork, but the Keeper™ passes along that you’ve already tried. The mind control is being exercised through a pheromone called Telvanni Bug Musk.
Woah, hold the bone-phone. Did you say Telvanni Bug Musk?
The Keeper™ confirms that the skeleton said you called it Telvanni Bug Musk. The skeleton corroborates. You note that, yes, that is what you remember it being called.
Flippin’ fibulas, is this conjurer dealing with the damned Telvanni? Which Telvanni is it? If it’s Mistress Dratha, that witch owes me her soul, twice! Unless she’s somehow grown a second soul in the last 2500 years, I’m pretty sure that overglorified skeleton cozy is making a chump of us.
Everybony chill a sec, the Maker® thinks, I’m maximizing the conjurer’s window.
|Sigrid interrupts you to whisper that the soul fissures in glebe C have gone back up to full production. Wait, no, that’s not Sigrid, that’s someone else. You give a quick nod in response. Or wait, you don’t nod, it’s the-
What was that, Sigrid asks?
Ah, nothing, you struggle to say. I was just talking about how I think you might be looking at the situation wrong.
No, I mean the nod. You were wasting more of my time with circular nonsense when you stopped and nodded.
It’s, ah… force of habit, trying to flick hair out of my eyes? Anyway what I mean is that the thing you were saying before is right, but I think I’m… righter. Maybe you could talk about that for a little bit?
This stalling is tiresome, Katia. It’s not as though I’m going to kill you; I just want us to speak as equals – even if I have to achieve it through alchemical means.
Wait wait wait! If you do the mind control perfume thing to make me like you, I might… not be able to tell you why I disliked you. R… right?
Sigrid says nothing. You realize you might have found an angle to delay her, and push it.
Like, right now, I can talk at length about why I don’t like you and would try to resist your-
Through the conjurer’s sightless eyes, you gaze upon the magic-user before you. Even without her damnable Telvanni alchemy, she is quite clearly equipped for control. You count no less than three charm enchantments on her attire, most of them with physical activation switches for mana conservation – typical dark elf make. It’s not enough to conclude this is the sorceress who wronged you, but it’s close enough to be suspicious.
The conjurer protests slightly at your prominence in their thoughts, but you dismiss it for the time being.
Beyond the bound enchantments, there is one charm spell, definitely scroll-cast, and a few rudimentary wards. Running the sheer numbers, it’s impressive the conjurer is willfully standing against this witch as-is.
|Pulling back from your thoughts, the Maker® considers your situation. Standard magic resistance won’t work against Bug Musk (it’s tried), and it recognizes that you’ll have no desire to oppose this sorceress once the pheromones are deployed. It wonders if you can telekinetically remove the enchanted clothing and try to simply endure the controlling effects of the Musk on its own, but you both simultaneously realize that her magic absorption enchantments would prevent any such thing. You add that your usual method for getting people out of their clothes only works on men. Wow, gross, the Maker® thinks.
Are there any more Bug Musk bottles around you, it wonders? If you can get your meaty phalanges on some, you might be able to convince her to wait while you fill out the registration forms. Are we really still on about the registration forms? With exasperation, you note that if you can find some way to charm her into submission, you won’t even need CairnCorp (®, the skeleton adds). The Maker®, in return, notes that that stings.
There is a barrel of imp gall, you think. The Maker®, like you, recognizes it as an ingredient in the more rudimentary potions diplomats use to boost their charisma, and wonders if there’s any other reagents it could be mixed with. Nothing but water, you reply, and that won’t do anything to enhance the alchemical properties of the imp gall. If you weren’t panicked, you’d be a little proud you actually know this stuff now.
The Maker® is silent. Then, it thinks: How much imp gall is there?
You… might see where this is going. A full barrel, you think. You’re blocked off from it by bars, though, and it’s too heavy for you to magically drag to the cage. With some help, you could potentially reach it, or even just beat the witch up directly. As in, you sure. Could. Use. SOME. HELP.
|As soon as your senses are back, you apologize to Sigrid for stopping mid-word. ANYWAY, as I was saying, I can talk at length about why I… would…
Sigrid isn’t saying anything. As your words peter out, Sigrid still says nothing. Until –
You know, Katia, I’ve been so dead-set on figuring out how you came to hate me so, I’ve been neglecting a much more interesting question: why are you so dead-set on stalling for time?
I’ll say it again: you’re not the type who would be saved by friends. If you truly do have any friends besides me, I suspect they’re the sort who merely tolerate you. But, you are an aspirant mage. And while lacking in both power and intelligence, you certainly are the kind of Khajiit who would try to cast her way out of a situation like this. You’d probably come up with an elaborate plan that could be completely ruined by, say, one magical silence spell.
I’m not casting any spells! The response comes out as a strained squeak as you struggle to maintain the unwieldy summoning spell and continue your telepathic conversation with the “Master” (®, the Keeper™ adds).
Strands of magicka weave together in what you assume is Sigrid’s hand. You can practically hear her smirk. If you’re not casting any spells, she says, then surely you wouldn’t mind if I cast a silence spell on you?
Go ahead! Cast it! I promise you that I am not doing anything magical!
Alright then, she says, I will.
W-wait, that was a bluff, can I go back a step?
With the sound of sparking magic, Sigrid thrusts her hand forward. You move to dodge, but the silencing spell strikes you and-
|Uuuuugggggh, fine. Fine!
Registration accepted, but your username is Slutty Meatsack and your default language is dragonling screams. Also, I’m looking at your leyline and it’s awful. I didn’t even know Mundus looped at the edges, you drew actual pictures with it on your way here, and pulling even our weakest model along this would take more mana than you will ever have in your life.
Lucky for you, conjurer, the Telvanni are the worst, so I’m going to catalyze your Bonekin’s liminal transition and save your fleshy sacrum. But if I help you, you first have to do something for me…
|Ah, right. The covetable Atronach. I had hopes that a top-quality silence scroll could slip past your resistance, but looks like fortune was on your side for once.
You hear the clicking of a tube against a perfume bottle.
No matter. Relying on luck is unbefitting for someone of my stature, and predicaments like this are one of many reasons I’ve come to prefer an alchemical solution to these quarrels.
But be proud, Miss Managan: I’ve brought down my last bottle of pure Bug Musk for this occasion, not the watered-down mess from last time.
|We’ve been trying to reach out to the 16-24 demographic, who are overall more interested in the Succubi-class models offered by our competitors. As a conjurer presumed in that age bracket who took an interest in CairnCorp®, could you rate the following three prospective new slogans on a scale of 1-10?
“A skele-ton of skele-fun.”
“Good conjuration – we ain’t ribbing.”
|You can make out two brief hisses as Sigrid sprays the Bug Musk on herself.
In fact, let’s make this fun, Miss Managan. You’ll finally tell me everything I want to know, or I’ll make sure you die trying.