Back home, things were going rather smoothly, save for Travot's shave. That was probably best left undiscussed, in fact. Hellen did not provide Travot that luxury.
Nonetheless, Myrokos finally returned one pleasant afternoon, babbling about all sorts of trouble. It seemed that he'd brought back news on his way back that he was not even expecting to run into. Word on the waters were that the Grand Master himself; or at least somebody matching his credentials, had been picked up by the river pirates under Faldren Darafel, that young scumbag.
Even more importantly, Myrokos had bumped into the wing of Ravenholdt's network of spies in the Hinterlands. The Maroon Cult of Brux, which had been harassing Strattania and had sacked Tyr's Hand, had been largely defeated, and yet, a wing of the cult was moving through the Hinterlands. Towards Hesperia, at that. They were under that sleeze Andol, a man that Ravenholdt had kept tabs on ever since he had done something fishy like raise an army out of a rabble and rampage through the countryside.
Myrokos was quite sure that the Benefactors had ties to these folks; in fact, word was that the Benefactors were planning something big related to Caer Darrow. That was the last Myrokos discovered before he had to flee. The big player in the game, Kariel Winthalus, was rather good at smelling out rats. In fact, he was so good that there were no pests in any Benefactor compounds. Nonetheless, it was Magus Rimtori's charm that had lured Myrokos into a vulnerable position.
Either way, he returned, reported to Hellen and Travot, and slept a damn lot.
Hellen could not help but notice that Travot seemed to command the loyalty of a great deal of the mansion guard who rarely said anything. Sometimes they were sent off to do odd jobs that Hellen had no clue about. Of course, she attempted to find out. Some leads led to feeding Gnoll packs, which was suspicious, but yet again, Travot was an idiot and Light knew what freakish beastial past-times he kept.
The other leads led to some contact codenamed 'BJs'. Now Light knew Travot was a kinky bastard, but Hellen put more stock in this than the obvious. 'BJs' seemed to be an acronym for something; or someone.
While Krol's death was probably past Travot, it might have nonetheless been too convenient an occurence. If Travot was not responsible; well. The matter remained. Somebody godamn was responsible.
One night, Travot had an announcement to make. The pretty girl at his side, some said was from Andriano, only sighed and picked at her food boredly. The dinner table went silent, and the awkward and roughly shaven master of the house stood up to be heard. "Attention, attention please." he said. "Right. Well, we have a new assignment on our hands. A private one at that."
Hellen rolled her eyes and piped up. "We all know only Van Dam can authorise assignments."
Travot barked back. "Really? Well, I was hoping for a little more support from you, Hellen. This isn't an assassination."
"What is it then?" Hellen asked curiously. All eyes were focused on the two contenders.
"I'm proud to announce an extension to Project Ramrod! Alterac's vulnerability is undeniable. Those monkeys really won't know what hit them. But an old friend of mine just made an appealing offer. You see, he's got some issues in this distant troll city called Jintha'alor... something retarded like that. Troll names all sound the same to me."
This must be that 'BJ' contact, Hellen mused. It fit the links. "Who is this contact and what does he want?"
Travot looked over his fingernails and smiled slyly. "He claimed to have been a friend of dear deceased Krol. A lone agent, but a friend of Ravenholdt. He says he can get us all a neat toy; something called the Ancient Egg. He wants us to join up with him at Jintha'alor and steal the damn thing. Then he'll get us into contact with several parties who'd love to help us take over Alterac. I mean, this Ancient Egg business; the relic business. It's all for the common good, you see. To help us with Project Ramrod."
Hellen knew her word would be the one that would help decide the matter in place of Van Dam's. At that, Travot likely wanted her to head the operation, else he'd have sent his own cronies without telling anyone. He needed Hellen. Both parties knew this. Hellen would have to decide everything in place of this spoiled prince. The party to assemble, the strategy at that. Of course, Travot would probably have more information for her once she made up her mind.
Perhaps it was time to contact Van Dam directly, perhaps even head Ramrod straight into Alterac with his coordinated help.
Or there was this strange lead in Jintha'alor, which could, at best, solve the Krol mystery.
The aftermath of the battle was a messy one. Few of the Benefactors at play were left alive, but their leader, the otherwise fearless Kariel Winthalus, stared at his captors defiantly. There was no fear in his eyes; only reason. It seemed that he valued himself more alive rather than dead.
Fenthelan nodded at Jin'thek, and looked over the carnage. Lethon soon returned, boasting a limp in his leg. The beast looked bested.
The elves turned to Sherman, who stood side by side with Saldor of Quel'Danil.
"Marshal, we have not been introduced. I am Fenthelan, Cloudcaller's Heir and master of this place. Why do you bring violence into my home? Are you friend or foe; a friend of this deranged Prophet? And Saldor, how is it that some of your own turn against us?"
Saldor grimaced. "I only realise it now, but those of my men who turned against us were actually not elves I recognize from my company. They must have infiltrated us."
Fenthelan nodded, turning to the body of the elf who had shapeshifted and led Sherman to this place.
"That is Amron. He was once a Druid of Caer Darrow, but he left long ago. A long time ago indeed; I knew he heeded the call of the god of war, but I could never have imagined that he would end up leading the Maroon Cult. I had heard of the destruction he caused in Strattania. It is for this reason, human, that I doubt your honesty. Are you a cultist?"
Sherman spat. "I am the Marshal of Lordaeron; you may call me Sherman. I came here hunting the Maroons, but this... Amron, had us all fooled. The Maroons we hunted are likely escaped by now. But you tell me, what is a troll doing here?"
Jin'thek watched them from the sidelines, ringed by his bodyguards.
Fenthelan sighed. "This chieftain came to us seeking healing. I do not understand why he would come to us, but he claims his ailment is the work of a malign god, not of the Four whom you face, but of a darker origin at that. I have not decided what to do with him."
Sherman gritted his teeth. This was unacceptable. "Kill the cultist prisoners. Do it now."
Fenthelan shook his head. "Kariel Winthalus is one of the most powerful men in the Eastern continents. He is more valuable to us alive than dead. Lethon, our green dragon ally here, will take him to Seradane, the heart of the Flight in this land."