The gray-haired old man reclined in his well-padded chair, extended his legs and let those velvety slippers fall from his feet so he could stretch and flex his slender toes. Hands peel open the fine, silk garments draping from his form as he tilts his head back to gaze up at the gilt ceiling of the steamy bath house; he releases a slow sigh accompanied by a rolling band of greenish lotus-smoke that curls from his mouth and rises upward. “Alluk, my drink,” he says absently while reaching blindly toward a nearby table where his goblet rests. The boy, who had been crouching beside a hookah that was as tall as he was, sets aside his pouch of ground lotus and darts to the table and cautiously lifts the goblet in both hands and sets it into the crook of the old man’s palm.
Minutes go by in silence then, the old man bringing the goblet to his lips for a sip now and then and the young boy crouched beside the hookah, cleaning and polishing the smoking device expertly.
“I have my eyes on a few… that is, I’ve noticed a handful of vagabonds who show promise.” The boy looks up and nods at the old man’s words, his small hands never slowing in their task with the hookah and his eyes and attention return fully to his task as the older man prattles on.
“Smarter than your typical street-thugs, a couple of them downright charming, but you didn’t hear that from me… Still, a pretty face and dazzling smile never cut anyone a position with the Deacons. You remember that boy… Not that you’d ever be said to possess either of those…”
The lad nods and mutters a subservient “Yes Mister Faiz.”
The old man suddenly casts his gaze downward; sharp and shrewd eyes of deep gray tinged with a lining of sea-green fix on the boy then shift to the hookah.
“Ok you’ve polished the damn thing like a Gut Street hooker works a greasy knob! Pack it and light it boy.”
The snappy tone to the old man’s voice was only met with a slow nod from the mop-headed lad as he begins performing the tasks requested by the gray-haired gentleman reclining nearby.
In short order a small table was brought closer, the hookah set upon it and the old man began to engage in smoking one of those pipes as if he were breathing the pungent fumes in place of air.
“ahhhhh…” He sighs after several tokes, his entire wiry frame seeming to relax and sink in a liquid way into his plush cushions.
“Been a while since I scored a quality recruit…” he mumbles in a dreamy voice,
“..Tired of supplying the Old Man with grunts and cut throats…”
His eyes were closing and opening and often gazing at far-off images that he even lifts a hand as if to caress the lotus-induced visions.
“… Maybe… Hmmm…. Perhaps this lot will reach some potential… Win me some coin…. Put an end to the whispers… ‘Faiz… a doddering, lotus-soaked… Mud… muddle-minded…’ You get the point…”
His eyes finally slide shut and his voice is barely a whisper, “Alluk… Go fetch me a woman…. coin’s in my pouch.”