They all needed a rest long enough to recoup from their recent battle fatigue and minor injuries, and the casters had to pray or study their spells, so when they were warned it was dangerous and they’d likely be killed if they left their room at night they took the warning to heart. By morning they were refreshed and felt…stronger. During the rest everyone had gained some insight into using their skills and abilities, were blessed by their deity with more power than they had ever been , or finally puzzled through the final phrases and proper gestures of a spell that had eluded them for the last several weeks of study. They were confident they could disrupt the Cult’s plans here, they just needed the proper plan and a little luck to make it happen.
Yumi helped with the former shortly before the kobolds came to get them for their morning meal. They kept up their Cultish disguises and Yumi grabbed the bullywug poison pots they’d taken from Spattergoo. As they were guided to the kitchens Yumi started talking to their kobold guides about their current duties and who answered to who in Skyreach Castle. The kobolds were only too happy to complain about their lowly lot in life and how everyone seemed to order them around for all kinds of extra jobs when they were too busy preparing the meals for everyone aboard under the too watchful eyes of Blagothkus’ pet griffin. Between Yumi’s insight, Seef’s charismatic friendliness, and a few choice draconic translations from Callahorn party was able to gain some measure of trust from the kobolds and they got some information about where everyone important was staying in the castle, including a Cult vampire holed up tallest tower which is why absolutely no one goes out at night. As they neared the kitchens Yumi offered to help the kobolds get on Rezmir’s good side with the “special spices” that she really enjoyed. They had brought some in with their shipment and were going to give it to her personally but it was obvious the kobolds would benefit from the gift more. When the kobolds were suspicious about the party helping them Yumi quickly reassured them talking about how those in the lower ranks of the Cult needed to stick together with Giants, Vampires & Red Wizards about on this trip. Once they arrived at the kitchens and Yumi saw how big the giant-sized cauldron was they were using to cook the lunch stew, she made quite a show of talking about the various spices they were already using to season it, how they’d need all the bottles of “special spices”, and which other kitchen spices would help the overall flavor (and likely help hide the smell of the poison). There was some concern the griffin would recognize something was amiss but that fear turned out to be unfounded as the kobolds added everything Yumi suggested, including the bullywug poison, to the giant cauldron. The party took their breakfast back to their rooms. The kobolds moved to escort them but the party were able to convince them they knew the way back and didn’t want to trouble the kobolds further since they were so busy preparing this special meal, which was all too true so the party left on very good terms with all the kobolds.
Breakfast was as good as dinner was the night before, which is to say it was edible, but the party laughed out loud as they decided to skip lunch today. They took the stairwell back up to the upper courtyard but instead of heading directly to their room they quickly moved to the back of iceberg and made their way to the tall tower reportedly housing a vampire. They all agreed they needed to tackle that enemy first while the sun was still positioned to help them during the battle. The ancient tower they found was in dire need of repair. The cracked and crumbled ice provided abundant handholds, which was fortunate given the front door could not be opened and the only obvious entrance was an ice balcony about 75 feet above them. Between Yumi’s winged boots giving Crosby a lift and the strength and skill of the rest of party, reaching the balcony wasn’t much of a challenge, but when it gave way after more than Crosby tried to stand on it they had a harder time getting into their typical battle formation. The door was unlocked, but not surprisingly it was not unguarded. As soon as they opened it sunlight entered the upper most tower floor, and that simple act tilted the entire battle into their favor, for the two vampire spawn waiting inside could not easily keep them from entering. While they were fairly easily defeated they served their master well, delaying the party while he awoke from his stupor. She proved to be a moon elf, and all things considered spoke with civility in an ancient common tongue. She identified herself as Sandesyl Morgia and described how she longed for the Cult to return to the “true path” under Sammaster of killing dragons and raising them of dracoliches, but is forced by circumstances to work with the current leadership, most notably Severin the Red. She was fairly conversational early in the battle, mostly because she was able to dominate different members of the party a few times and use them against each other, but after a few rounds of staying in the sunlight and getting the upper hand the party was able to turn the tide of battle, hit with several devastating strikes and ultimately forced Sandesyl to flee in her gaseous form. She fled downstairs and as they followed her they realized why they couldn’t open the front door: the middle two floors and the stairs leading up to them had all fallen so debris filled most of the ground level and blockaded that door. The party could not easily follow Sandesyl’s clouded form down the tower into the darkness, so they simply hauled her coffin to the doorway and threw all the dirt inside out into the sky where the wind carried it all away. They then destroyed the coffin itself. After taking a short rest they climbed back down and decided to check out the nearby tower with three inattentive ogres on top with a ballista, mostly ignoring what was going on around them.
Approaching the tower’s only door they found no guards, but upon entering were greeted by four ogres wearing fancy plumed helmets. Still wearing their cultish robes, scabbards and rings the ogres only questioned what the party wanted to Blagothkus and made sure they understood the four of them were his Honor Guard. They easily talked their way past the four ogres and up staircase. On the way up they passed walls sculpted with ice murals depicting an army of hill, frost, fire, stone & cloud giants battling dragons. They knocked as instructed by the ogres and a deep, resonating voice bid them enter. Inside they found the walls of the room sculpted with more icy murals, these depicting cloud giants riding giant rocs against dragons of various colors. A blue-skinned giant was sitting on the floor with his legs crossed while two ogres comb his snowy white hair. Obviously taking them for cultists he immediately warns the party not to share any of Rezmir’s demands or they’d end up like her previous messengers, and points to an area of the floor still marred by chipped ice and frozen blood. Looking up they see his hulking morningstar leaning against the bed within arm’s reach. They diplomatically state they are in fact enemies of Rezmir and the Cult in general, and wonder how a giant has allied himself with his ancient foes as shown in the ice murals. He is only too happy to speak of his plan to stir his fellow giants our of their complacency and into action, thinking they have grown soft, and thrashing some dragons would be good for giantkind. He is playing along with the Cult to learn as much as he can about the plans and forces, but on the side is gathering support among giants to fight them. He believes that the rise of Tiamat and the threat of a dragon empire will spur the giants to unite. He has no conflict with “small folk” like the party and talks openly of his plans to take the vast treasure below with the Cult forces to the Well of Dragons where the cult is gathering its forces and amassing a hoard in anticipation of Tiamat’s arrival. He’s willing to change course and instead head north since he’s learned most of what he thinks he safely can, but will do so only if the party is able to eliminate Rezmir and the two Red Wizards like they have removed the vampire from the picture. He warns them to not harm his Stone Giant allies housed in the lower courtyard but has no real concern for the ogres. Once the party brings him proof they’ve taken care of Rezmir and the two Red Wizards he’ll unleash his ogres on the remaining cultish forces as the party battles the white dragon in the main vault below. Knowing they have only until nightfall before Sandesyl is able to leave her tower and warn Rezmir or the two Red Wizards, the party agrees. They warned the Cloud Giant he and his ogres shouldn’t eat the bullywug tainted stew for lunch but he wasn’t concerned with “small folk” poison, figuring any giant affected by such was weak and got what they deserved. Given it was after lunch and hoping that Rezmir and the Red Wizards might be incapacitated by their ploy along with the cultists in the barracks, they readied themselves for their next battle.
Rezmir’s chamber was locked but that didn’t stop the party for long, though their attempts at forced entry did alert Rezmir and she was ready for them as they moved into her room. She was standing protectively in front of an iron-banded chest secured with a sturdy padlock resting on her desk and flanked by two loyal guard drakes. The party moved in and was surprised by the rug of smothering. It was, of course, then that she leaped into the fray with her magical greatsword laughing maniacally and drakes. She fought as one possessed to her death, and the party was disturbed to see her laugh almost with glee as they finally cut her down. As she fell a great flash of power was felt emanating from that chest she was guarding, and they were not surprised to see it was empty when they finally broke the lock. It likely contained gems, jewelry and coins along with the Black Dragon Mask, but all seemed to have teleported away with her death. They party did claim her evil greatsword, though, at least Callahorn did, which thankfully had stopped its evil laughing with Rezmir’s death.
They didn’t rest long before moving to the chamber on the far side of the lower courtyard from their own quarters where the Red Wizard sanctum was located. Seef managed to distract them with his Cult disguise as they entered, so the wizards didn’t immediately attack them. Rath Modar threatened him with bodily harm just as Azbara Jos recognized Crosby and the others. This brief period of confusion likely proved the wizards undoing as the party quickly overpowered them, preventing either of the wizards from fleeing through the vanishing wall of ice and balcony with magical flight.
After a short rest the party brought their heads to Blagothkus, and he grinned at the gore held before him. He grabbed his massive morningstar and may have briefly considered attacking the party, but instead he rallied his ogre forces. He stated he and his ogres would help defeat the dragon after they’d taken care of removing the remaining cultish forces from his castle, and bid the party good luck in their fight below until then.