The huge hairy hand of Hrafni Haflison, captain of the 'Skíðblaðnir' clapped him on the shoulder with a hearty laugh. Sven turned to see the red bearded skipper chewing on a large greasy sausage. Sven felt his stomach churn, sensitivity was not Hrafni's strong suite. Between clenched teeth Sven enquired, "How long?" Hrafni smiled, "Oh lunch will a few more hours yet." Sven cursed silently and muttered, "The voyage?". Enlightenment dawned on Hrafni's face, "Two, maybe three days, you will have your air legs by then."
Four miserable days later the call of "Land Ho!" came from the lookout on the foredeck Through the mist below Sven saw the island of Fomalhaut for the first time. Initially it looked just like any other wooded island until the mist cleared a little more in the morning sun and the bright colours of the fungal forest's canopy came into focus. Red, blue, yellow and purple toadstool caps covered most of the island, with only the occasional ruined tower or monument poking above the forest.
At the chosen landing spot the 'volunteer' from the crew wearing tight fitting leather clothing and with grease covering any exposed skin was lowered down standing on the anchor flukes. He grabbed the head of the statue below and passed the anchor chain round the upraised arm of the bronze figure. His mates at the windlass tightened the chain and secured it and then rushed to pull him aboard using the rope round his waist. As he boarded the ship he stood in the lead lined trough that had been placed by the handrail and was washed down from head to foot with hot water and lye soap. That hopefully would prevent too many spores being brought aboard and causing Forest Fester in the crew. As the crew readied the bosun's chair to lower then to the ground Sven and his four companions were standing ready in what they hoped were fungus resistant clothing, covered with anti-fungal salve and carrying their weapons and meagre supplies.
As he passed betwqeen the gaps on the fungal caps Sven could smell the odour of rot and decay even through the mask he was wearing. The clear sunlight gave way to the dark misty gloom of the fungal forest floor. Stepping from the bosun's chair the ground under him was springy under foot and carpeted in fungal threads. With his crossbow at the ready Sven waited for his fellow travellers to descend from the ship. There did seem to be tracks through the forest, but what had made them? They were wide and well trodden What native life passed along these tracks to keep them open?
It seemed to take an age to get all five of the rescue party onto the ground and as they arrived they each took up defensive positions facing outwards. Last to arrive was Hrafni. He carried a traditional battle axe. Hysa as the nearest thing to a local took the lead as they moved off toward the bay where the first expedition had landed. As they walked John reached into a bag around his waist and dropped coloured glass marbles at the forks in the tracks. Green marbles nearer their landing point and red ones in the direction they were travelling. In these forests there were few landmarks that you could rely on.
After several hours walking they came across the first sign of animal life they had seen. A huge semi transparent slug like creature came moving towards them. Hysa whispered, "It is a fog leech, if it moves towards you strike at its feelers, then it will not be able to find you". The head of the leech moved from side to side, seemingly unable to decide which of the party to approach. It then moved towards Gyliam who was still stuggling to pull his sword from its scabbard. With a fearsome cry Hrafni leapt forward swinging his battle axe and only just missing Gyliam's head sliced through the leech's feelers. A second stroke removed the leech's head and its mouth ringed with sharp teeth. Almost as soon as the monsters body fell to the floor tendrils of fungus moved over it and spread like a net over the slimy body. It shrank as they watched and within minutes it was if it was never there. The fungal forests of Fomalhaut were a fearsome place and each of the party kept their weapons at the ready as they moved on.