Having bluffed their way into Skyreach Castle posing as cultists delivering supplies, the party confronts the reality that they never really figured out a step two to their plan. A cultist officer named Tark questions Hurk and Beryl as to whether they’ve brought provisions or replies.
“Both,” Hurk replies. The aggravated officer tells him to drop the provisions off at the kitchen and get directions to the treasure hoard from there. The cultist urges them to hurry, as the castle could take off at any moment and he doesn’t want them stuck here.
The kitchen is staffed by kobolds, under the watchful eye of a griffon. A kobold steps out to greet the cart and is skeptical of Hurk’s story. The half-orc and the dwarf unload three crates from their wagon (which happen to contain Raeyanne, Garrett, and Larion). Beryl makes a big show of being tired and sitting down on a crate, leaving Hurk to haul the remaining two barrels down to the treasure hoard. Beryl uses this excuse to make sure the kobolds don’t open the crates.
Traveling into the glacier at the heart of Skyreach, Hurk gently shakes his barrel. “Jamna, are you in there?”
“No,” comes the reply.
He urges her to get out and find a place to hide. Jamna complains that the tunnels are stark white and she’s dressed in slimming black. But she quickly uses illusion magic to turn her hair and clothes winter camo white.
Hurk then carries the empty barrel deep into the glacier, depositing it in the enormous treasure vault at the center, while the white dragon Glazhael lazily looks on.
Back in the kitchen, Raeyanne concocts a plan to extricate herself from the crate. She starts knocking loudly on it, then bursts out, acting confused. She blames Beryl for getting her drunk and leaving her in a crate as one of Azbara Jos’ pranks. The kobolds laugh as she rushes off to her “post” in the stairwell.
Raeyanne, Hurk, and Jamna confer about next steps, coming up with a plan. The gnome creeps around the side of the kitchen. Meanwhile, Hurk pokes his head into the building to tell Beryl that “When you’re done with your nap why don’t you meet me out here.”
Having said that, the half-orc heads back out to the wagon to pantomime removing a “heavy” barrel from the back while a bored kobold looks on.
Jamna then unleashes her illusion spell, mimicking the sound of a hobgoblin yodeling a terrible rendition of “Reveille” at the top of its lungs. Every kobold head turns towards the sound as they scream for it to stop. Beryl needs a moment to realize this is her “wake up call” and then hops off her crate to rush outside. Garrett and Larion stealthily exeunt soon after. Outside, Hurk uses the distraction to bop the kobold outside on the back of the head and stuff his unconscious body into the barrel.
The yodeling draws the attention of several cultists who stumble out of a neighboring building, and the ogre guards in the watchtower also squint down at the scene. Jamna’s camouflage shields her from the humans and the ogres, but not the beady eyes of the kobolds. They start shrieking about a horrible white shadow while Jamna tries ineffectually shushing them before finally scrambling up onto the roof of the kitchen.
Hurk comes around the corner to “search” for this intruder and sees nothing. The kobolds are not placated and demand to know what made that noise. The half-orc suggests it might be the mating call of another griffon. This terrifies the kobolds, who slink back inside, while the cultists laugh it off and return to their building.
The castle shudders under their feet and the adventurers realize that it has begun to rise into the sky.
The cultist officer Tark marches up, demanding to know what made that racket. Hurk suggests a griffon mating call, which provokes Tark to demand his name and that of his cell leader. Hurk blurts out that he works for Azbara Jos. The officer is disgusted to have more lackeys of the Red Wizards on board, since they’re mercenaries without faith in Tiamat’s grand plan. The officer angrily notes that since Hurk and Beryl took so long, now he has to find accommodations for them, which means talking to the giants.
Once Tark is gone, the adventurers head down into the glacier tunnels. Hurk disposes of the kobold in the barrel by dumping it down a chute that leads out of the bottom of the flying castle complex. The adventurers decide to focus on tracking down and killing Rezmir the Black. They figure that she is somewhere in the upper level of the castle and they take the stairwell to the upper courtyard.
Stepping out in to the brilliant white courtyard, they come across four ogres who are holding a javelin throwing contest. They explain that they were late arrivals working for Azbara Jos who got caught on the castle when it took off, a story that the jovial ogres buy completely. Raeyanne and Garrett decide to bet on the javelin contest, with Raeyanne backing Zeke and Garrett supporting Jim Bob.
The contest is interrupted, however, when a huge, blue-skinned figure emerges from a nearby tower. This is the cloud giant Blagothkus, the lord of Skyreach Castle. He questions the party about their presence on the upper level, which is reserved for giants. Deeming them “interesting,” he asks that they join him in his chambers.
Once there, he demands to know what they are really doing on his castle. Hurk and Raeyanne claim to be acting on behalf of a faction of the Cult that opposes Rezmir’s plans. They say that any bargain made with her should not be considered a valid agreement with the Cult.
Blagothkus is bored by the petty politics of the small folk. His only concern is that Rezmir and her master Severin are planning to summon forth Tiamat and establish a tyranny of dragons.
“The nerve of it!” sneers the cloud giant, confusing the adventurers. “The hubris!”
He tells them that his concerns is with his own people, the giants, who have grown soft and dissolute. They have abdicated the leadership of Faerun to the small folk. But what better way to get some fire back in their bellies than thrashing some dragons!
Blagothkus explains his heighten-the-contradictions plan thusly: while he helps the Cult work towards their foolish goal, the rising threat they pose is rallying an army of giants in the north who will march forth when the time is right to smash the draconic plot. The party members quickly work out that this won’t be good for the people caught in the middle.
In a sudden but inevitable burst of eloquence, Hurk persuades Blagothkus that this strategy could backfire. If the other giants learn he is helping the Cult, why would they follow him? Blagothkus ponders this argument and admits that the risks of his plan have been weighing on him. But he has taken the cultists, their dragon and their Red Wizard allies in as guests, and it would be dishonorable to raise a hand against them.
So instead, the cloud giant will order his servants to their quarters and will then seal himself within the castle’s control tower, shifting its course towards the Spine of the World in the far north. Perhaps the cultists will be aboard when the castle reaches its destination. Perhaps not.
Sensing that they dodged a crossbow bolt, the adventurers thank him for his wisdom and discretion, and then set about plotting how they can kill Rezmir, the dragon, and her friends.