Fumo the Free - Part 3
It seemed Fumo was not finished slapping himself today. He rubbed at his ear, which felt hot.
“Thought you said the incense kept all kinds of bugs away.”
The campfire—a last remnant of his attempt to burn out the ants—was barely brighter than an ember of punkincense itself. Gobber had a habit of ritualistically poking at it. The elf barely glanced up at him.
“It duz, mate.”
“Well I keep getting bitten by something. Some kind of flying ones.” Heavy insects, maybe attracted to the fire, had been blindly whizzing into him in the dark. They were striking him mostly around his head.
Gobber shook his head with a grave seriousness. “Nah, y’not.”
“Then what is—”
In the darkness behind him, one of the Punk Elves made a sound like a snore, which immediately turned into a cackle. A couple of the other ones shushed and then punched the first one, before busting up into laughter themselves. Fumo turned around on his log to see if he could tell which ones were back there. He couldn’t, but he was pelted with the rest of their pebbles all at once.
The warlord stood up, his anger mostly aimed at Gobber. “Look, if you didn’t want me to sit here with you, you could’ve said so.”
The Chief Elf went back to poking his fire. “Dunno wotcha mean, mate.”
Fumo drew his cutlass. This earned him a modest fraction of Gobber’s attention back. Laughter in the near bushes faded to nasty snickering, and a whisper or two.
“I’m going to try to sleep,” the warlord announced to the jungle in general. He pivoted on a muddy boot heel, and began hacking away with his sword to cut a trail through the underbrush. He should probably care if any of the punks were hiding in there, but he didn’t much.
“Ja’know how?” Gobber asked. “Y’close boaf yer eyes at the same time.”
Gobber meant that question as a jab, and it did have a sharp point on it. Fumo had literally never slept before. His maritime gear included no bedroll for camping.
But the lining of his officer’s coat turned out to be a hammock, made from sailcloth. The stitches holding it in place were more like lacing. After some fumbles and picking in the darkness, he was able to pull the whole thing free and even resize it a bit. Then he stretched its twiney cords between two trees of the “That Tree” variety (neither of which was actually That Tree), tied a few strong knots he couldn’t name, and carefully let himself sink into it.
To his surprise, the canvas bore his weight. It was even comfortable. He flattened his bicorn hat into something pillowlike, and poked his arms into the opposite sleeves of his coat to make it a kind of blanket. Not a great kind, but a kind.
He proceeded to fail at sleeping anyway, whether he closed his eyes or not. Lying on his back, staring up through the dense forest cover for a glimpse at twinkling stars to find one worth wishing on, he wasn’t sure he was even attempting to sleep.
He needed a plan to live through tomorrow.
When dawn came (assuming no units with a natural turn before his were in the battlespace), he would begin his second turn with the same 10 move he’d popped with today. All of the hexes bordering this one were dense jungle, so whichever way he went, there would be a cost of 4 move to leave.
He’d come to this spot through the hex to the southwest, and that hex was surrounded by more of the same. So he really only had a choice of five directions, and that choice was already made. He would chop his way northwest.
The elves said the northwest face of that hex would finally be the edge of this damp green prison. The hex past it was sunny shoreline. For a warlord, a coastal hex with clear weather meant a move cost of only one (and border scouting was free). So he’d have up to five more hexes to follow the beach to...somewhere. Maybe he’d spot a ship. If he ended up working for a sea power, even inland, then at least his Signamancy would make some sense.
Along the way he’d have the option to spend a bit of that move to try and catch a meal. He didn’t seem to have any fishing gear, but there’d be a chance of a turtle, a seal, maybe shellfish to dig up...
The problem was, the gem hadn’t given him enough Shmuckers to make his upkeep the following turn, even if he did get lucky. The Punk Elves wouldn’t give him any more. They wouldn’t come with him. And they wouldn’t let him tag along with them, not even for one more turn. Not even if he popped smokes and could be useful in a fight (probably). They just didn’t like warlords. Especially him. Chucks had a problem with his raiment or something.
So he probably wouldn’t forage, unless he saw something easy to gather or hunt. Dates or coconuts might be worth spending a move on. Land crabs, maybe. But anything that could get away—a bird or a thing swimming in the shallows—probably wouldn’t be worth the risk.
Huh. There was a bird up there now, Fumo noticed. He’d spotted a scouting unit, circling the night sky, way high up.
It was out of his reach, like so many probably-important things. But spotting it was a minor accomplishment, and this bird felt more worthy of wishing on than the faint, erratically twinkling stars.
“I want to live,” he said to the bird. He spoke softly, in case the elves were still lurking in the darkness to punk him. “I’d like to see a third turn.”
Soon after that, Fumo slept.