Lodestone aka Kealt Sanja
Tobias hacks the LoneStar database, via antenna, while the others engage in their various business (see last session). He succesfully spoofs the ID of one of the legitimate users after gaining admin access, and manages to find info on a number of employees, a few snitches, and most disturbingly, an interoffice memo regarding “Project PR.” It includes a list of SIN’s, with accompanying intel, on a whole bunch of Mars City runners, including the entire team (except for new members Rooster and Sanja). Harmony Craig Bottow and Rolf Soren Ramis are x-ed out, and Mikko Asparen and Bathcat are checked off. This seems to answer Daedelus‘s question of where missing runner’s are going.
Tobias relays the relevant info on LS to One Shot Wade via ThankYou. T also calls Daedelus and they discuss Project PR and agree to look into if further, as many on the list are associated with the Exchange. The team regathers and he shares this info with them as well. They stock up and head for the crater after Wade tells them he’ll plan an assassination job against LS, and pays them for their work. K follows the car while flying invisibily, everyone else rides inside.
They arrive at a small abandoned settlement near the crater edge (a ways east of their hideout) without any trouble, and rendevouz with Rez and the guides. The guides turn out to be two rough looking and tooled up ghouls, which makes some of the team uncomfortable, especially after they sense Tobias and TY sneaking up on them via enhanced smell. Sanja tries to probe one of their minds to gain access to the crater route and negate their usefulness, but they retreat inside a neaeby building with guns drawn. The team encircles them, but Rooster manages to defuse the situation without any bloodshed after Sanja agrees to pay them the rest up front, as long as the team can disappear Rez. Stocking up the situation, the guides agree to take them into the crater, but no further.
UB! chases down and tackles Rez as he flees towards a car. UB! meets the skin note people nearby and quickly rejoins the team. The ghouls tell the team that the crater can have weird effects on people, although ghouls are not effected as heavily. They seem to usually guide people on crater safaris, letting the rich on Mars hunt the bizaare prey they might find therein. They take the team down a nearby well, through a tunnel, and up into the crater. Before slamming the hatch shut and heading back, they tell them to ‘watch out for the dragons.’ The terrain is barren, dry, and devoid of life as far as the eye can see.
K and Sanja do some scouting to try to find a trail, while TY becomes convinced due to superstition that a brief flash of light he saw will surely guide the way. K, fearing astral projection still, gathers everyone up into a giant flying shadowrunner ball and heads towards the light while Sanja tries to astrally investigate the diamonds. He picks up their trail near the Heliopolis side of the crater’s mana barrier, and with his earth elemental’s help, tracks them towards the interior. The first night, they make camp, but set an inadequate watch, and are attacked by some sort of mutated panther or hillcat. K gets caught in a thick spider-web like substance, but they can’t figure out if that was the cat’s doing, or some other creature (or mage?). They chase the cats off after killing a few. TY smears one of the dead cat’s blood on his face, and then tries unsuccessfully to sleep in his armor. Tobias does the same, with slightly better results (and minus the cat blood). K tethers himself to Sanja’s elemental and sleeps in the air.
The second day passes largely without event, although everyone is severely bruised and fatigued after hours of flying immobilized in the shadowrunner ball. Sanja makes good progress on tracking the diamonds, and locates a vibrant interior, vastly different from the desert wasteland they have been crossing so far. He reports this to the group, and adjusts their heading a bit from TY’s guidance to link up with the diamonds route. They prepare to spend another night in the crater, after crossing over 1000k of terrain airborne in two days.
The Tale of the Forbidden Woods
The Shrouded Wizard approached Jack and told him that he’d been able to discover a new path into the Forbidden Woods, and Jack was very pleased, because it would be a grand adventure and also his friends wanted to find the jewels and they wanted to know who took them and why.
“I wish I could remember,” said the Grey Paladin, “but I just do not know.”
“It was probably magic of some sort, and you will not remember until we are able to break the spell.” said Jack. “So we must enter the Forbidden Woods to find whoever cast this spell and find out why they did it!”
The party goes up to the edge of the Forbidden Woods, and they came upon two shady-looking woodsmen. The rest of the party at first are tricked by the frightening look of the woodsmen, and they wish to attack, but Jack is clever and he stops the attack, promising not to harm the woodsmen if they will tell them of the dangers of the Forbidden Woods.
“Thank you for sparing us, kind sir,” said the woodsmen, “we will tell you everything that we know. You must be wary of the dragons in the woods. There are other dangers as well, but if you travel quickly, you should be able to avoid the dragons.”
Jack thanked them and sent them on their way. The rest of the party was amazed.
“How did you know that they would help us?” Asked the Firey Barbarian, incredulously. “They were obviously brigands!”
“Brigands they may be,” said Jack, “but they clearly know these woods well. Did you not see their axes, and their traveling boots and green cloaks? I knew that they would be able to help us, and by sparing their lives, they would be grateful and aid us on our journey.”
They all agreed that this was very clever indeed, and the party entered the woods. The Huntsman, who could track anything, got a sense of where the jewels went, though he had to be helped by the Shrouded Wizard, because there was strong magic obscuring them. The Grey Paladin prayed for guidance, but his prayers were answered in riddles that would have led them to almost certain doom. Fortunately, Jack was able to convince him that the message from his gods must have been interfered with, because the Forbidden Woods were so dangerous and accursed.
“We must make haste,” said Jack.
“I can help,” said the Shrouded Wizard, and he summoned a flying carpet that all of the friends could ride upon, high above the dangers of the Forbidden Woods, and far too fast for the dragons to see them.
The journey was very long, and they had still not arrived by the end of the first day, as fast as they were traveling. They decide to spend the night in the forest, tired from their long journey.
During the night, however, the party set upon by a wild band of magical beasts, but the Huntsman summoned a mighty bear to help them, and the Spring-heeled Bowman’s aim was true, and the Shrouded Wizards’s magic was powerful, and the Firey Barbarian’s axes were sharp, and the Grey Paladin’s shield was strong.
Jack slept through the whole thing as his friends fought off the menace, as he was clever enough to hide himself well during the night.