The Crystal Forest

After narrowly escaping a swarm of giant bats, our heroes find themselves in a thoroughly dismal-looking forest. It's burned out, charred, dead. But there are people there... people of the once beautiful Crystal Forest who have lost their magic powers.

They cross the border into the forest at a run -- feeling a strange tingling as they do. When they attempt to turn back the way they came, once the giant bats have gone, they find they cannot. There's an invisible barrier. Like it or not, they are in the forest to stay.

The Dungeon Master appear -- on the other side of the barrier, since he cannot penetrate it willingly -- and explains in his usual cryptic fashion that all living things love beauty. It's simply that the idea of what is beautiful and what is not varies from person to person -- or from monster to monster, as the case may be.

The band is forced to go into the forest to seek their escape. When they learn of the Forest People, they learn that Venger had once tricked one of their kind, Nestor, into stealing the source of their beauty and power: the Crystal of Light. Only its return can restore the forest to its life and beauty -- and lower the barrier that keeps them prisoner in the dead wood.

But Nestor, with his treacherous deed, has turned evil, and guards the Crystal of Light in the Nestor Caverns. He is himself guarded by the Wyvern -- a dragon-like, deadly beast.

Our heroes are not looking to do good deeds for the deed's sake. They just want to get out of the forest! Pushed forward by their need to free themselves from the enchanted prison, they seek Nestor's Cavern and the Wyvern.

They set a trap for the Wyvern -- and it works for the moment. Wyverns, however, do not often work alone, and this one is no exception. Our band is surprised to find another Wyvern behind them! They hide inside the entrance to the cave where the huge Wyverns cannot get at them -- but Bobby and Diana cook up a little scheme to go after the second Wyvern themselves so the other can go about their mission.

They've gone before Hank and the others can stop them. Diana and Bobby draw the second Wyvern off all right -- right after them like the vicious, angry creature it is! But even Bobby's club and Diana's staff and gymnastic abilites are no match for the beast, and things look very bad for the two impetuous heroes.

Hank and the others, faced with letting Bobby and Diana meet the Wyvern alone or going on with their freedom mission, make the obvious choice: help Bobby and Diana.

The unexpected attack from the other takes the Wyvern off guard -- a nice reversal for our heroes. They bind the Wyvern with some of Hank's magic arrows -- and hurry into the cave to recover the Crytsal of Light before the two captured Wyverns can screech for assistance from their gruesome brethren.

Obtaining the Crystal of Light is no easy task: They must find their way through the maze-like tunnels, only to confront Nestor's 'pets', the Doppelgangers.

The Doppelgangers can form themselves into the likeness of any humanoid creature --which creates havoc for our heroes. A Doppelganger-Hank gives foolish orders, a Doppelganger-Presto malignantly pulls unwelcome creatures out of his hat. And a number of Doppelganger-Nestors confuse our heroes as to the identity of the real Nestor.

Uni comes in handy here: She can detect which are the real Doppelgangers -- and shies from them as she would never shy from her friends and companions. The band uses her to detect the real Nestor, once they realise her sensory ability.

Having detected Nestor, they are able to subdue him. He's a weakling; his only strength deriving from the evil of Venger and the Doppelganger body-guards. Once Nestor is captured, the Doppelgangers would not attack our heroes, and the band can carry out their mission.

The only step remaining is to return the Crytsal of Light to its pedestal in the forest. The band has to split up for this so they can continue to hold Nestor as captive and hostage and simultaneously restore the Crystal. The tactic works, Nestor's power is gone, and the forest is returned to its crystalline beauty.

Our heroes have unlocked their prison, and have made valuable allies in their below-world adventures.

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