They would have preferred to take a long rest to recharge from the several battles they’d already had that day, but sundown released Sandesyl from his temporary prison of light in the crumbling tower, and Blagothkus’ sudden actions set too much in motion for them to sleep for the next several hours. They had some knowledge of the main vault from dropping off their supposed treasure from the Hunting Lodge and had learned from the kobolds and the cloud giant that the icy “core” of the castle was hollowed out with tunnels that break the surface at multiple points. They found the walls of blue ice partly transparent, revealing various things embedded in the ice all around, including coins, helmets, livestock, a handful of kobolds, and an ogre or two. Frost coats the tunnel floors and crunches underfoot. All of the tunnels led to the central core—a glittering cavern of ice with jagged walls and icicles the size of stalactites. The grand vault was spilt into two levels: an egg-shaped upper level with a sheer ledge overlooking a sunken level 30 feet below, where a massive pile of treasure rests beneath an icy glaze. Clinging to the ceiling above the hoard, wings tucked in tight along its sides with claws gripping the ice, was a huge white dragon. As soon as they spotted it, it breathed an icy blast and battle was joined. Time and again they felt that hoary cold chill them to the core, and when the dragon leapt into their midst they bled from its bite and claws, and when they tried to strike it from behind or attack its flank they were struck by its tail and wings. And as they focused on the dragon they were surprised and distracted by what appeared at first glance to be a snow bank or mound of snow revealing itself to be a sentient creature formed of clear ice, some sort of glacial ooze. Initially the dragon screamed as he fought, praising Tiamat and roaring about the superiority of dragons over humans, elves, gnomes and all the two-legged races. For all the damage they took, the blood they lost and the freezing pain that burned them, they gave that and more back to Glazhael. Though he was able to take advantage of various aspects of his lair at times to avoid some of their magical attacks, the icy cave limited his ability to escape Crosby’s spells shaped to never touch his allies, or Callahorn’s eldritch blasts. He could not retreat to the ceiling with Yumi’s winged boots allowing her to follow, and when he attacked full on Katya stood strong with Torm’s blessed might while Seef snuck in several precise attacks. Before Glazhael’s pride allowed him to realize he was overmatched he was overpowered and laid low. As the last echoes of their clash faded from the immense chamber of ice they were nearly stunned by the silence. They had won!
They had time to tend to the worst of their injuries and loot some of the choicest treasures from the hoard before Blagothkus arrived with most of his ogres. They were clearly stunned by the dead dragon and Blagothkus was forced to rethink his initial plan. Insightfully the party realized he expected the dragon to kill them, and Blagothkus had planned to then kill the weakened dragon. He then confirmed this by stating it openly, along with him being impressed by these “small folk”. He instructed his ogres to leave and they got down to business about what to do next.
Due to Yumi’s insistence that the party return to the Hunting Lodge in the Greypeak Mountains to hunt down Talis the White, Blagothkus flew Skyreach Castle back along it’s previous path. During that journey the party was able to identify and attune to their newly acquired items of magical power. They also scoured Rath Modar’s chambers and uncovered the translations of the keywords written in Draconic at the base of the remaining portal stones at the Hunter’s Lodge. Those notes described the words were written in Loross, the language of ancient Netheril, and mentioned places including “snowy lands”, “unquiet swamp of mournful croaking”, “the red gold mountains”, and “land of scorching sun”. They also found many notes and books on the magical study of homunculi and simulacra. Finally they discovered a book entitled Beyond the Iron Gates, which was written entirely in Infernal and would take some time to read through, whether the party did that or turned it over to allies.
The next day Blagothkus dropped the party off at the Hunting Lodge however, as expected, Talis had already fled leaving no obvious path to follow. She did, however, leave the party a written message (sitting under a piece of broccoli) on her desk, thanking them for aiding her, that she is in their debt and that she’ll be in touch soon.
They left Glazhael’s head with the cloud giant along with all the copper & silver coins frozen into the walls and floor of the dragon’s treasure vault to help him convince & rally his giant kin. He vowed to message the party in a few tendays time to apprise them of his progress.
The party took over the Hunting Lodge, spent a day collecting all the treasure they found from Castle Naerytar in the Mere of Dead Men, and reestablished brief contact with Snapjaw. His tribe had already nearly obliterated the remaining members of Spattergoo’s Bullywug tribe and life had largely returned to normal in the few short days they’d been gone, including their worship of of the black dragon Voaraghamanthar.
Over the next tenday the party recuperated at the Hunting Lodge the party was able to prove the functionality of the other three portals. And then they received a magical summons from Leosin Erlanthar to return to Waterdeep for a special summit of the representatives of groups and factions from across the Sword Coast to discuss their concern about the Cult of the Dragon, and draw up plans for opposing the cult.