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Full Version: Umbrae Europae [IC] (part 3) - Mist of Nycthemeron
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Rex replied on the private channel:
<<Don't worry, I'm getting to that>>
Romain Pelisse
"I suspected you might be the runners with run into in the SOX and I guess this is confirming it. Let's talk about what to with the book. I realize that some people still think, nowadays, that burning books is the sometime the right answers. Beside the bad, historical precedent, the facts is that books, especially the one from Elivas Levy, are just containing powerful and often forgotten spells or rituals. Those are not nefarious per say. But you may not want them in the wrong ends. Destroying the book - or in this case the books, because we both know the one you have is but a lead to the famous Nuctéméron, may seem like the safest thing to do. But is it? What if some dreadful threat from the deepest of realm of the astral plane reaches Earth and our best way to stop it was inside the book? So no, we had no nefarious plan about the books, but to grab them and secure them, to ensure they would not be misused."

Rex and Waywalker noticed that the priest just used the past tensed. Was not the Order of Sylvestrine still searching the book?

"As for the worrisome third party, this strange man, or should I say, creature, that you refers as the Fey Professor. Yes, I happen to utterly agree he seems to have its own, alien, agenda and there is concern to have about him. We had to work with him in our operation in SOX because he had intel on the book location but also he appears to have... powerful friends, let's call'em that, within the ranks of the French Catholic Church. This cooperation, as you seen, as not went the way we would like it to go, and we requested to discontinue our alliance with this ... dangerous being. The result what we excepted. Higher power within the Church have decided to handle this affair themselves and have therefore told the Order to stand down. As for a few days ago, we are no longer your nemesis. Corporate executives would probably say that we've been re-tasked."

The priest pauses for an instant before carrying on.

"And I'm afraid, it's not good news for you. First of all, you have always managed to respect the life of our employee and try to 'keep the glove on', as they say. As we have, as much as possible. I'm afraid your new opposition will not play that fair. And they are definitely going to keep the Professor around and maybe even do his bidding. Indeed, the forces within the Church that will carry out our previous mentions are rather... "Black" ones, if you catch my drift..."
<<I see. Well, that makes it at least easier to talk to you some more - provided you tell the truth of course.
But since you no longer have a horse in this race directly: How did you actually know about the Village in the Fog? It took us no small amount of trouble to locate the fragments leading us there - and you somehow already had an expedition team ready to go there.>>

Rex asked, trying to keep the tone light.

While Rex talked, Waywalker tried to connect the dots with a search in the Matrix: To:Rex:"I'll see if I find out who are they referencing..."

[ Spoiler ]
Romain Pelisse
As the priest made some allusion, Waywalker starts firing his matrix search interface and searching in some runner's forum and online datasource, hoping to find a clue at the man was alluding. The answer quickly to him. Runner from France and Europe have been discussing conspiracy theories about it for almost a decade. The FCC is suspected to have become thoroughly infiltrated by the Black Lodge. Of course, as always, it is more than difficult to prove but many in the shadows took that for a fact.

The priest replied almost immediately to Rex's question:

"Well... We had suspicions for a while already that Eliphas book might indeed be in this lost village. With the Mist having swallowed it, we deem not necessary to do anything about it. When we got tipped by the Draco Foundation that you, I guess, had broke into their house in Camargue, we worried that you may have found a clue or something to the book that had been overlooked. So we deploy some mercs around the border, nearby the village, just to see if you were coming here, indeed. Of course, with bureaucrats involved on the Council of Brittany side, it took us for more longer than we wished to be able to deploy them. And they, anyway, failed to stop you."
<<I see. Well, that's certainly a relief.
Seeing that you have the well being of the whole world in mind and considering that we have so far no unsurmountable ethical differences between ourselves, I'd like to offer you a bargain:
You help us to find the second book before the Fey and the... what, the Black Lodge? Seriously? Sorry, I meant to say, before the clearly corrupt part of the aforementioned organisation get their hands on it.

In return we won't hand over the book to our employer before giving you a chance to talk to him and maybe come to an equitable arrangement. After the introduction you'll at least have a chance to regain the book instead of it vanishing within the Black Pyramide.

What do you say?>>

Rex would have begun to sweat if his body had allowed it. Instead he prayed like hell to all the Kami, that his estimation of the man was right...

[ Spoiler ]


To:Rex:" Well, at least we do not have to deal with a double crosser. If you want to sweeten the deal, we could offer our services for one job with only the expenses covered, showing our good faith."
Romain Pelisse
The priest could not retain his surprise!

"Shadowrunners with a conscience? Well, I guess may have lived long enough to actually see a miracle with my own eyes. And that makes it even more difficult for me to have to decline your offer. The aforementioned organization has a lot of reach within the Church and even our order."

The priest pauses a looked, sadden, to his silent partner. The troll did budge, but both Waywalker and Rex could that in his eyes a recollection of a very painful memory. The priest carries on:

"We don't have the same luxury you do of being anonymous. We are SINners, our life is on record and they have access to your brother, our sister, our niece and nephew, and so on... And it has been made very clear, even if veiled, that we need to drop this... Or else. To be perfectly honest, I've probably shared more than I should with you, tonight. And we've both took a great risk by doing so. Sadly, we cannot offer your more than this information - and our prayers. Given what you told us, we are definitely hoping you will prevails, but sadly, in regards of helping secure this victory, our hands are tied."

Rex could see, through the drone sensor, how much the priest was conflicted. Part of him wanted to help the runners, but, despite his stoic behavior, he was clearly terrified. The irony of seeing the embodiment of a modern version of the Inquisition being paralyzed by "the fear of God" was not lost on the mage...

As if he could hear Waywalker's suggestion, the Priest, apparently swayed a bit by Rex arguments, added:

"That being said, if we cannot really interfere, we might be able to use some of our 'off the book' resources to provided you some assistance. It will need to remains as discreet as possible, but we could toss either some cash or material your way."

To:Rex:"I really hoped they could be our allies, but I can't say I was not expecting this. However, is still a help and better than nothing. What do you think should be our next move?"
Rex sent to Waywalker:
<<We still need to get info on the whereabouts of the book and that quickly. I'll try to smooth things over a bit.>>

To the priest he said:

<<We aren't exactly strapped for cash, but it wouldn't hurt either. What we need more than anything else are reliable secondary sources to help us find the book. Since you aren't allowed to tell us any secrets or give us information on the book itself, maybe you tell us - just in general terms - where in the first book I'd have to look for clues. I'm sure you have access to a comprehensive number of pages where there isn't anything of value inside.
It certainly can't be against your orders to tell me where I won't find any useful information...>>
Romain Pelisse
The priest made an other pause and had, again, a silent discussion with his partner. Then, to the runner surprise, it was the troll who replied. The large man had a very deep and strong voice. And he spoke in a very calm and thorough manner.

"The question of 'where in the book' is already a bad start. It's not going to be that easy. Occultism has been, through the age, about hiding fundamental Truth using secret and mystical analogy. We don't think a chapter or even several of the book, will lead you to the Nuctéméron. A thorough analysis of its content, cover to cover, may shed some light and where and how Elivas Levy managed to get it hands on the original book."

The reply of the troll was severe but his facial expression remained neutral. The priest carried on:

"To add to his answer, I'll say we have very solid Intel on the Nuctéméron. A few rumors mentioned that he might have been hidden, away from Earth, in the beginning of the century, when Mana was rushed back on the planet by the Great Ghost Dance. Those rumors generally agree on saying that the book you have may have the right ritual or spell to get access to whatever Plane the book now may be. But this mostly hypothesis. We were never able to confirm or substantiate any of those rumors. They only thing they have going for time is that we heard them from different sources over the years - which does not mean that much to be honest..."

After hearing the priest's explanation, Waywalker was scratching his virtual head. It felt almost like scratching the real one.
To: Rex: "So, if I understood correctly, the book is in another plane? And the spell to get here is in the book of Levy? Man, I'm gonna need something for an headache. How do you cope with this mojo?"
Rex replied to Waywalker:
<<Mostly by just accepting it and not thinking to hard about it. It's in any case a very solid way to hide it. After all, you already did take your drone over to a different plane. Do you have anything else you want to ask them?>>

The the priest and his companion he said: <<Thank you for the tipp. I'm not the greatest ritualist but I think I can do that. We won't keep you any longer. Keep the burner phone. Once we have the book we'll call you and honor our aggreement.>>


To:Rex:" I don't think messing with the Black Lodge is a good idea. Our best shot is to find the book before them and then vanishing in the shadows. I also feel that we should inform our Mr. Johnson of the new scenario, so that he can keep his head low.
The thing to do, in my opinion, is to go back to Paris."
<<Agreed.>> Rex crept back to the waiting Waywalker and sent a last fairwell to the Priest:
<<Well, vaya con dios if you excuse my Spanish. We'll be in touch.>>

Once Rex was back in the car, he returned to the book but halted when he had an idea: <<This is going pretty slowly - maybe you could help me with the translation and also set an agent on pattern recognition to find any hidden cyphers or diagrams within the pages.>>
Romain Pelisse
After a long night of drive, using old, half forgotten roads to get back to Paris, Waywalker and Rex finally arrived in the surroundings of Paris. Just a few kilometers away from their safe house. Despite being the very early morning, city appeared to be already waking up. Workers were leaving their shabby flats already looking exhausted, and creatures of the night, such as drug dealer and some other unsavory characters appeared to on their way home.

As any good Shadowrunner, Waywalker, despite being tired, did not forget to be paranoid. So he of course did a scan of the safe house surroundings, using the sensors array of his vehicle to ensure there no "unwanted guests" nearby...

[ Spoiler ]

Waywalker was still thinking about their encounter with the priests.
"Should we warn our Mr. Johnson that the Black Lodge is involved? What do you think, Rex?"
While waiting for his partner's answer, he scanned their surroundings.
"There isn't such a thing as too much paranoia..."

[ Spoiler ]
<<Definitely. If nothing else we can negotiate for a raise due to the increased danger.>>
Rex nodded at his partner's vigilance
<<Can't be careful enough. I'd hate to leave this place just when I got used to the background count>>

Romain Pelisse
The problem with paranoia is that sometimes, it makes it quite difficult to know if a threat is real or a figment of one's imagination. Looking at the result of his scans, Waywalker was faced with the same puzzle. If the immediate surroundings nearby their safe house, rather deep in the woods, appeared free of any suspicious echoes - except for the expected wildlife - "eco-larm" as Rex called it, there was something... unexpected.

The part of the suburbs where Waywalker generally parks his vehicle is generally deserted and void of any other cars or van. Well, to be honest of any other cars or van modern enough to have some kind of electronic signature. Most of the few vehicles he sees there are fixed up old things from the late 2050's. But today, there was one van, parked a few hundred meters of the path to their safe house. Given the electronic signature, if Waywalker had to give a guess, he would say something looking like an Ares Roadmaster from the beginning of the decade.

This could be nothing. Just somebody parked around the corner. Or it could be something. Again, paranoia is not always helping...
After getting made aware of the Roadmaster, Rex told Waywalker:
<< I think I'll check out that car and our place through the astral, but first move the van somewhere safer, so I don't have to worry about you running off with my body.>>

Once that was done, Rex went limp and left his body. First he went to look around for spirits and watchers, making sure that the place wasn't magically observed right now and trying to not be seen himself.

[ Spoiler ]

Romain Pelisse
As soon as Waywalker parked the van, into an empty block, that the neighborhood has decided to refit into an improvising parking lot, Rex left his dog-shaped body and flew, in the astral, toward the suspicious van. Using the surroundings to hide his astral form, the mage got closer to his target, but halted half way through. There, in the middle of the street, a good twenty to thirty meter away from the van, there was a presence. An aura was hovering, a few meters above the ground, static. Rex did not need to manifest to be sure that this presence was only in the astral...

"That van looks menacing to me. I could be wrong, but a little paranoia never killed anyone..."

Waywalker insttructed his agents to do a quick Matrix sweep while he sent a spy drone to get more infos on the vehicle.

[ Spoiler ]
Rex considered ascanning the entity but didn't like to risk blowing his cover. What he needed now was an intermediate or a diplomat. So he called on the Night Court again, to send one of the sages to his aid.

[ Spoiler ]

The grey bearded Kami appeared next to Rex' astral form and Rex greated him with a bow: "Thank you for receiving my plea, oh Wise One. I ask of you to take a closer look at the entity down the street and engage with it - if possible in conversation - to find out it's intentions. If need be, don't hessitate to suggest to it a course of action it can't refuse easily.

Meanwhile, I'll take a look inside somehwere else."

Rex moved away from the scene and screened by solid objects, moved close to the Roadmaster again, to take a look inside.
Romain Pelisse
Waywalker matrix results brought more question than answers. In the vicinity of the van, there was indeed a handful of icons running silent. This is generally suspicious, but none of those appears to be weapons or even a cyberdeck. Just a bunch of commlinks, recording devices, a camera - like one from a filming crew, not a security one, and on satlink...

While Rex's astral form got closer to the van, his Kami went on to his task to assense the mysterious aura spot by his master. Before Rex could reach the van, the Kami replied to him:

"Master of the arcan, I have done your bidding and seek out the true nature of what you saw, and I can tell you, an other Kami it is. It did not took kindly to my intrusion in what he says as his territory. I have avoided his wraith by leaving immediately. This kami is strong and might be a challenging opponent, even to you my master."

[ Spoiler ]

Rex mentally nodded to his Kami and put its head through the van's weak astral presence. Inside, two shiny auras, both located in the back of the vehicle.
Rex acknowledged the Kami's message and approved it's pulling back. Instead he asked it: "Try to find it's summoner and tell me all you can learn about them."
Meanwhile, Rex was busy to learn what he could about the two auras in the Roadmaster.

[ Spoiler ]


Waywalker was puzzled by the results of his Matrix esploration. "It looks like they're a crew from some Trideo-TV, but why on Earth are they here if it's so?
Maybe a look on their transmission could help us figuring..."

[ Spoiler ]
Romain Pelisse
Waywalker quickly hijacked the stream coming inside the van from the camera was rather surprised to found out that they were just, apparently, filming the street. Not the one leading their safehouse, inside the park, but another one, a few blocks away. The street looked empty, all the shops abandoned for long and even the local building did not seems inhabited. Weirdly enough the street did not look to battered for a forsaken place of the sprawl.

Meanwhile, in the astral, Rex did not wait for his kami to came back and starting assessing the two auras. Two humans, very few cyberware, not awakened and looking both very concentrated and excited. As Rex was reading their aura, he could see that they both realize was "happening" but both got more excited than scarred or suspicious...
Rex returned to his body and opened his eyes:
"Waywalker, this might sound crazy, but I think we have a team of ghost chasers here. There is a rather powerful Kami hovering in the street and when I assensed them they seemed to be excited about the fact that an astral being took note of them. Can you take a look for a Quicksilver Camera or a Telestrian drone?
Maybe also take a look in the matrix if there are any published stories about this street? Our hideout is in the middle of a dangerously magic park after all."

"In fact they look like reporters to me. I'm snooping their camera, but I do not know if it's quicksilver or not. You're right about the Matrix search, by the way.
In the while that the search goes, I'll check their commlinks..."

[ Spoiler ]
Romain Pelisse
It took only a few minutes for Waywalker to confirm their suspicions. The only surprise for the rigger is that the two reporter were working for a subsidiary of Ares Global Entertainment. He expected them to be working for Horizon - after all, they have a large corporate enclave in Marnes La Vallée, around Disneyland. But more research quickly told him that AGE has surprisingly won the battle for french media since the country signed the BRA in 2071.
<<That complicates things a bit. The last thing we want is drawing attention to our place. But we can't have them stay here either. I don't trust the whole situation. Now that we know we are contending with the Black Lodge, we have to be extra careful. It would be best if they had a mundane reason to leave - like police harrassing them or a biker gang spraying their car and trying to steal their wheels.
Maybe you could drop a tipp or frame them somehow. If all else fails, I can send ask a Kami to send them an infestation of roaches or bedbugs.

To get us to our hideout I'd ask a Kami of the water court to change the weather to a thick mist, so we can sneak past them without appearing on camera.
In any case we have to wait a few hours. By then my Kami should be able to tell me who sent this powerful Kami to watch the street.

And just in case someone does the same with me, it might be a good idea to cruise a bit through the city.>>

Rex told his partner.

"Yes, I think you're right. Maybe I could hack a complaint on the Police host to get them harrassed, or they could have problems with their camera...
In the while, we grab a soyburger!"

[ Spoiler ]
<<Avoid anything that might look like sabotage of their equipment - otherwise those guys might think a Kami cursed them or something. To be fair, that is something a Kami can actually do...>>
Rex replied, while he once again marvelled just how much power the two of them actually had to make normal people's life miserable.

Waywalker quickly responded to his partner in crime:
"I will be very subtle: it will look like a glitch or plain, old, bad luck. Are we sure we want police or some go-gang punks poking their nose around here if we call them?"
<<Good point, although police shouldn't be a problem - go gang I agree could turn longterm into a problem. >>

"I think it's still less risky to mess with their equipment than to mess with the NeoParis Police Host, and I would try it first. What do you think?"
<<I'll defer to your expertise as a hacker. If nothing else, you could drive their car away.>>
Rex replied.

"Well, that was Plan B."
While they waited for the results of the spirits tracking action, Rex continued to study the book, looking for clues, hidden messages and diagrams or anything else he could think off.
Romain Pelisse
Waywalker plan went like a charm and the noisy reported were forced to evacuate the vicinity letting the two runner get to their safehouse, unnoticed. After a couple of days of rest, they touched base with their "M.Johnson", the ghoul named Corbitt. Sadly he had little to report, his research into the book has not make that much progress. Rex shared with him is own insight, especially in regards to the rumors about the planar location of the Nuctéméron:

"Well, that is good work and interesting inputs. I am going to have to take an other look with all of that in mind... I don't expect to have the answer quickly however. Do you have any more suggestion about our next move in the meantime? Your idea to chase down our opposition has already proven very fruitful. Maybe you have an other idea to help us.... Stay ahead in the game?"
Rex had taken his manifested form to talk to their employer directly:
"Hm, yes. It is of course a much higher risk to go after the Black Lodge, but it's a move that they certainly won't expect. I don't have to mention that this will increase our necessary renumeration by quite a large margin.
I'm thinking about laying a trap - leaking information about a possible lead and pouncing on whoever shows up to inspect it.

Do you know of a place that is easy for us to control and that would make sense to harbor the portal from where to reach the book?"
Romain Pelisse
Over the commlink; Corbitt paused for a minute.

"Ah... Monsieur Rex, as always you are cunning fellow! Setting a trap for the Black Lodge! What an ambitious endeavour. I must confess I'm, one more time, impress. When I picked your little dynamic duo, I knew I was making a good choice but now I realize I probably made the best choice. Now to your more practical question: a place, easy to control, holding a portal... Hum..."

Again the ghoul paused for a couple of minute. Over the line, Rex and Waywalker could hear his fingers taping on his commlink's screen. They knew that Corbitt had no datajack and were using trodes but the ghoul also appeared to have a hard time using AROs and prefer to resort to manual interface on the device's screen. Waywalker was actually amazed those were still functional enough to allow matrix search and other operation. He generally used those only when rebooting offline a commlink and do some basic checks on the hardware.

"Monsieur Rex, Waywalker, it appears we are a bit in luck. Paris is ancient city and there is, no surprise, quite a lot of rumors about awakened places in our direct vicinity. Obviously, we need to pick a location that would look like a good potential hiding place for the Nuctéméron. In his book, at least the part I decipher, Eliphas Levy alluded often to some lost city only accessible through dreams. I expect this place to the plane known as Kadath. As this is not so well hidden in the book, I don't expect it is the resting place of the Nuctéméron, but if your adversary may have seen this hint in the "public" version of the book. I will thus posit that Kadath is, indeed, a good decoy for our purpose."

The ghoul posed, making weird chewing noise for a minute. The runners were used to that by now, they knew his jaw was in a poor state and it's somewhat difficult for the infected to speak.

"Now, where can we find such a gate? Well, we're in luck because Paris is rumor to have not one, but two gates leading to planes that were rumored to only be available through dreams before the Awakenings. You may be familiar with Montmartre, an area that sheltered many painters and artists in the previous centuries - and so many wannabee since then. I've heard a couple of rumors telling that the area may be an awkaned site and even some whispers of unexplained disappearance that people ties to a presence of an (yet to be revealed) planar gate. Because the place is crowded with tourist, even late in the evening, I have not been there... for ages."

Leaving a few seconds for the runners to absorb the information, the ghoul then carried on:

"I need also to mention two other potential lead. There is a rather... pretentious mage, owning a shop nearby Saint Michel. The shop is called La Table d'Eméraude and deals into hemertic reagents and sells 'magic' memorabilia to tourist. The man has weird reputation in the awakened community of Paris. Some thinks he is a poseur, some believes him to be a powerful and actually mage. Some rumors have heard tells that he was magically active before the Awakening. If he were I never ran into him back then so I can't corroborate that."

Waywalker and Rex paused and looked at each other - did the ghoul just implied that he was alive and awaken before the Awakening?

"Nevertheless I though I mentioned him because he might know about more portals. Especially I expect he might know more about the rumors of a portal within the park of the Buttes Chaumont. I will let, of course, decides if he is a lead worth checking out. One last piece of information: I have heard of a free spirit, roaming through Paris and offering to the one who seeks him 'travel to world of wonders'. The spirit has been nicknamed the Hunchback because he was first spot on the roof of Notre Dame. However, it does not manifest at all like a hunchback but more like a terrifying, faceless shadow figure wrapped in tatters. Since then it has been spot several times on roofs all over Paris."

At this point, Rex asked if the nature of this Kami, as he called spirit, were to be known.

"Ah, Monsieur Rex, I can see the study of the Unified Theory of Magic has tainted your approach to the wonders of the astral and thus you feel the need to categorize its denizens. I'm pretty sure you know the inherent limits of such approach. That being said, I will humor you and tell that much: because of it terrifying looks - rumors pretend that his appearance on top of Notre Dame led some poor tourist to jump! - people initially supposed it may be a shadow spirit of some kind. However with its further appearances being always on the rooftops of Paris, some scholars from La Sorbonne have wondered if it would not be an air spirit or maybe simply a spirit of man..."
"Good. This mage might be just the person that we can use to leak our information to the Black Lodge.
The Hunchback sounds like someone we might have to ask anyway to divine our way through this. If only divinations where reliable...

Right. Waywalker we can discuss details later, but we have to decide now where we focus our efforts. Personally, I'd prefer us finding a place underground in Montmartre. That would nullify somewhat the advantage of numbers that our opponent can rely on and also make it less likely for us to be exposed beforehand."

Rex nodded towards his partner while his own body laid on the ground.

Waywalker listened carefully to Mr. Corbitt, even when he and Rex discussed detail of Mojo he did not quite grasp. He was astonished at the implication that Corbitt was alive before the Awakening. He could be his great-grandfather...
However, focusing on the problem at hand, he replied:
"What you want to do is called honey pot. It's very useful to find out if we're compromised and by whom. Before we set this up, I suggest to know for certain the information we leak are false. Is there a way to exclude that the book is really in this... Kadath?"
While the other two digested the proposal, he continued: "If we set up such a trap we must be merciless in its execution, if you pardon my bad pun. The last thing we want is a vendetta from the Black Lodge."
Answering to his partner in crime: "Rex, you're right. Finding a nice spot in Montmartre where we can assess the situation is probably the first step."
"Is it? Oh well, that makes sense, since we are going to kick a hornet's nest.
Hah, wouldn't that be embarassing? Us inventing a story and it turning out to be true? But yeah, that certainly is a prudent measure.

Mr. Corbitt, we'll stay in touch. But as I mentioned before about the meeting with the priest, I promised I'd give him your contact data when we find the book. I intend to keep that promise, just so you know. And I think it would be a good idea if you took the call before chucking away your link.

Alright, let's get moving. A night time stroll through the artists' quarter certainly can't hurt. Isn't there also some kind of big church? Maybe there are some useful Kami around to ask about any portals."

Rex replied.


"The last thing I want is to spread a rumor about a treasure and then find out it's true. How could we check this... Kadath city for the book?
Yes, a walk through Montmartre is a good idea. I heard of a place that has very fancy food and a dog friendly policy..."

When they were back on the streets and rex back in his body he said:
<<We are going to deal with a very cunning and powerful mage - or more than one - if the Black Lodge is involved. I'm looking for a confined space where we can set up a trap. I'm not sure yet if we should try explosives or massive ammounts of Pepperpunch. Maybe even cheap automatic weapon placements. You know, those smart platforms with a bunch of AKs. When we get back to our place I'll see what I can scrounge up around here.

But first, of course, we'll see if there actually is a portal here and if it leads to the book.>>

Rex used the leasurely pace to take quick glimpses into the astral and also call upon a Kami to scout the area for something that could be an astral portal.

[ Spoiler ]

"In the while' I'll look up some information on this mage Mr. Corbitt mentioned, the one with the shop. If we need to make contact with him, better be prepared."

[ Spoiler ]
Romain Pelisse
Rex's kami zapped through the astral and mentally reported to its master:

"Oh yielder of the Mana! I came to the place you asked me and I'm doing your biding. But the astral here is so unique and magnificent that I have to share with you my exploration. All around me I can see echoes of the past, people painting or exploring arts of many kinds. So many flashes of past events are resonating through my core it is ... intriguing. However it does also make the task you entrusted to me... difficult. The astral here is more of reflects of what this place used to be than what it actually is. If there is, indeed, a gate to an other plane of existence, it will be hard to pinpoint its location."

Nevertheless, the kami resumed his work for a while, but after half an hour, it communicated again with Rex:

"Oh, my master. I have halted my search as there is a lot of of activities in the area. I've spotted several distinct auras in the vicinity. It is my understand, ô my master, that you do not wish for me to noticed so I deemed more prudent to not assensse those auras and halt my work. I hope you will forgive me for this..."

[ Spoiler ]

In the meantime, Waywalker had been busy on the matrix side of things. Helped with his agent and searched the matrix for any information about the Table d'Emeraude. He was actually surprised to find references about the shop being has old as the previous century. A lot of information of the late 20th century have been lost in the first Crash, back in 2029, but for the shop to be mentioned in whatever had survived it must have been around for a long time.

If the shop was now clearly a talismonger business, it appeared to be already on the market of esoteric and spiritual content way before the awakenings. There was no information about the owner, back then, but Paris records clearly state the owner is, since 2064, a man named Lasnico Lamef. What a weird name thought Waywalker to himself. And also obviously a fake one. With a bit more research on this identity, the decker quickly asserted it was a fake SIN. A good one, but a fake one.

However, the business appeared legit. It was properly registered as talismongers, has a license to sell magical goods (but not to deliver magical services of any kind). Strolling thru magic user forum was not Waywalker's forte but it still managed to get a couple of things out of it. First, the shop appeared to have a good reputation and sells good quality reagents, albeit mostly ones suiting the hermetic tradition. Second, the owner was mysterious - on purpose. Few had actually met him, most of the daily business being handled by the "assistant of the moment". Indeed the seller always appeared to be a different one - but a few customers suspected he or she might just be a spirit. The shop was, not surprisingly heavily warded, making astral visit difficult, at best and the owner highly disliked people prying into this astral intimacy, whether by coming in astral form or reading auras. Last but not the least, Waywalker spot a couple of rumors about his connection to some powerful magical groups and top of having ties (or rather "protection") coming from the french oligarchy.

Apparently, the shop was a privileged provider of many awakened noblemen and women. And that came with some influence and powers of its own. There was also some rumors that the owner is in good terms with the druids of Brittany but also some Faustian circles just behind the frontier.
[ Spoiler ]

Rex replied calmly to the Kami: "Thank you my friend. You acted wisely. Can you give me general directions on the portal's whereabouts or a clue how I might find it from the mundane side of things? Do you feel it high up or more under ground?"

Rex shared the information with his partner: <<Seems like there is definitely something around here - and most likely the portal is already in use. Hopefully not by a bunch of Shedim. Those evil Kami are a real pain in the ass to get rid of.
Do you think we should visit the Talismonger right now or keep looking for the portal first? Maybe we can use it to gauge the owner's trustworthyness...>>
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