My party last night managed to make their way to their goal. This was after getting into a fight with several hundred orcs. These included a number of high-level leaders, 4th through 9th level . . . and the average 7th level party had to give ground and escape. This took them into the lair of several carrion crawlers.
After all this, last night, it was one ancient black dragon, with one sub-adult and one young dragon as babies.
The party had eleven members, including lower level henchmen. All but two were at 3/4 hit points or less.
The battle lasted approximately 8 rounds. The ancient dragon employed its breath weapon twice. The young dragon did once. Before going down, the dragons succeeded in causing 300 points of damage.
The 1st level cleric (a new player, started about three months ago) managed to do 12 damage and survive the battle. One 4th level druid, one 6th level fighter and one 7th level fighter did not survive. Though two speed potions and one super-heroism potion were in play, they had no effect whatsoever, as the users were either killed or knocked unconscious before they could employ their three attacks per round.
It was hell.
The total haul in X.P. was around 110,000. (exact numbers unavailable, as I did not add up all the treasure plus what the party got for actually fighting.
The party has agreed, no more dragons for awhile.