"What, really? You actually want the long version?" Sam asks, clearly taken aback. For a moment, you question whether you really do want to hear the long version. But it's too late for second-guessing your choices now (well, I suppose you could hit the back button if you really wanted).
"It all began with transferring a domain server for my website," Sam starts, leaning back in his chair as he settles in for regaling you with his story. "You'd think it'd be easy enough. But very few things in life are as simple as they claim to be. Somewhere in the transfer, my admin permissions were altered, and I was locked out of certain functionalities."
"Now, you might be thinking 'that's all well and good, but couldn't you just contact your server admin to update your permissions?' You're right, I could, and I did. You know what happened? My email got bounced back. Mailer Daemon: Your Nameservers Contain Invalid Values. What does that even mean?"
You have no idea, but you have the creeping suspicion you're about to find out.
I bet you're regretting not choosing the short version now, hey?
I know I'm regretting choosing to include a long version option in the first place.
Now I've got to write the bloody thing.
"It means," Sam continues, with little concern for the writer's plight, "that my nameservers were pointing to a blank, non-existent host server. Without admin permissions, I couldn't change that, and without valid nameservers my emails were being bounced about the Void. So the problem became self-consuming, each solution tied up in the other obstacle."
You nod patiently.
"It was at this precise moment that Mercury went into retrograde. The astrological event, combined with my technical issues, caused some kind of cross-dimensional convergence between Cyberspace and the Astral Plane. I was drawn through dimensional diodes, through the ethernet and into the ether, and I found myself here."
You raise a sceptical eyebrow at Sam. You're relatively certain that ethernet cables don't plug into the literal ether, but who are you to argue with a fantasy text-adventure?
"I'm an occult detective, not an IT technician!" Sam says. "And that was only the beginning of the problem. I was pursued here by the Mailer Daemon itself, all the while it was bellowing my nameservers were invalid. And, if you know the fundamentals of magick, you'll understand just how much power there is in names. Combined with the fact we're in its digital dominion, the Mailer Daemon's power here is virtually unparalleled."
"So why are we in some medieval tavern, and not some depiction of cyberspace?" you ask. It's a very valid question.
"I had to hide in this interactive story. It was the only way to disguise myself from the daemon, masking my true identity using this medieval setting as a proxy." It sounds like a valid enough answer. "Plus, I could use this to try and reach out to someone on the other side. I'd hoped Alice would find me here first, but I suppose you'll do. Will you help me?"
Saying that "you'll do" isn't the most encouraging thing to say. You hardly feel inclined to help someone who simply thinks "you'll do". You deserve to be respected better than "you'll do".
But you see little other option.
Literally. There's only a few options you can choose from in this story.
Typically, this time around one of those options isn't "Punch Sam".