The Den

Flynn has been protecting a caravan from Sudenberg to a nearby port city. He arrives at night and the docks are thick with fog. There are a few ships moored there, some are being loaded by the lights of torches and lanterns. One stands out from the rest, a smallish freight vessel, with the characteristic bamboo batten sails of a Cathayan junk.

Flynn has money in his pocket, and time to spare now the job is done. There's a tavern on the docks. He sits down for a simple meal of bread, cheese, and olive oil. The bread is stale but the oil is delicious, probably freshly arrived on a wagon of goods being loaded onto a cargo ship. He has a few ales and goes back outside to watch the ships being loaded. The fog reminds him of the Shisha Den of the infamous Desert Rose back in Sudenberg, and he decides to look for somewhere he can get something to smoke. It's never been his habit, but he misses Sudenberg and the smoke of the Dawn Blade campfire.

He's lucky, in a back alley in the cramped streets he finds a quiet room, smoke drifting out into the cold night air. The den is full of blankets and couches and sleepy sailors with pipes in their hands. A thin, grubby looking Cathayan man in a round hat welcomes him in, gently pushes him down on a couch and puts a lit pipe in his hand. Flynn pulls out a few coppers and hands them to the man, and he makes them disappear with the speed practiced speed of a magician. He puts his hands together and gives a little bow. As he turns towards his counter, he looks back at Flynn with a narrow grin and a little squint. Flynn doesn't like it, and eyes him for a long time. The man busies himself behind his counter, and Flynn relaxes enough to try his pipe.

He likes the taste, acrid but earthy. He takes a few puffs, and finds the smoke to be thick and white. A nearby denizen sees him enjoying the smoke, and leans forward, catching his eye. He blows a smoke ring and smiles proudly. Flynn tries to copy him, taking a deep gulp and letting it out. Instead of a ring he lets out a great cloud that does little but drift slowly to the ceiling. The man chuckles, and signals Flynn to watch him. His eyebrows are extremely expressive.

He takes a few quick puffs, breathing out his nostrils until smoke comes out, then takes a strong pull, his cheeks sucking in, then he locks his jaw and shows his teeth, pointing at them and making hand shapes that explain his technique. Then he makes a little noise in his throat which pushes out a nice ring. Flynn understands. He copies the quick puffs, the strong pull, the weird mouth and jaw shape, and the little throat noise. A misshapen ring comes out. The man slaps his knee and grins. He seems in a silly mood, his eyes look puffy. He takes another pull, his eyebrows bid Flynn to watch. He opens his mouth a crack on one side and lets out a bit of smoke slowly, which travels up and into one of his nostrils. Flynn tries it too, letting the smoke out slowly from his mouth while gently breathing in through his nose.

The man grins again and falls backward a little into his seat. He gets back up, his head wobbling a bit. Flynn feels the smoke setting in too, he is getting sleepy. The man takes a strong pull, stifling a giggle as he does, and looks at Flynn, makes a funny face, and lets out 4 separate streams of smoke, one from each nostril and one straight out each side of his mouth. It's very impressive. Flynn tries it too, meeting his lips in the middle with a crack on each side, breaths out until smoke shoots out sideways, then opens his nose and shoots smoke out.

The man lets out a loud triumphant laugh, "har har har!", topples backward into a pillow, and falls straight asleep with his chin crumpled onto his chest, snoring. Some of the other denizens stir at the sound. Flynn feels dizzy, he tries to stand up, but wobbles sideways and falls into a slouch on his couch. It is very comfortable, and the dizzyness isn't so bad when he stays still. He has vivid dreams, full of lights and colours.