A play through of “The Last Tea Shop”.
This is chapter 3 of my playthrough of the journaling TTRPG system, “The Last Tea Shop”. This system serves as a series of powerful writing prompts that stimulate the imagination. Every week, I will be posting a new chapter. If you enjoyed The Sage, go back and read Chapter 1, The Smuggler. I also recommend reading my review of “The Last Tea Shop”. I found simply reading through the game to be a haunting experience. Links to the chapters and the review are provided at the end of this page.
And I’d like to offer a very big “thank you” to Zachariah Van Sluyters for providing this extraordinary narration. Every week I have been blown away by his talent for storytelling. You can find more of his content through the following link.
The soldier arrived one day after the smuggler departed, and I remember being alone in my tea shop for six days before the smuggler crossed my threshold. Who was here before that? I know the shop stood empty for six days; at least I think it was six days before the purple rain brought the smuggler. My next visitor arrived seven days after the soldier departed, of that I am sure. The weather remains inconsistent, but I’m finding it easier to keep track of time. For that I am grateful.
On the seventh day, I spotted a tall, thin man in fine clothes wandering out of the blue morning fog. I thought he came from the Dice Road, but the impenetrable cobalt mist obscured everything thirty feet beyond the cave’s opening. Instead of coming to the shop, he sat down on a wide, flat boulder and stared into the waterfall. Hours pass by as sheets of silver blue water descended in an unending torrent. For the first time, I noticed that if you stared into the falls long enough, you could see your reflection. Why hadn’t I noticed that before?
Eventually, the visitor stood up and approached my shop. His hair, plastered against his scalp by either the heavy fog that still refused to lift or the spray flying off the waterfall, was white and thinning on top. His eyes, hidden behind thick-lensed glasses with golden wireframes, were light blue; the same shade as the fog. As he crossed the threshold and wandered towards the tea bar, I noticed his damp tweed suit was dripping on my polished bamboo floor. It was obvious he would want something hot to drink. I started heating the water.
As the gentleman sat at the tea bar, I caught sight of him glancing at his golden wristwatch. “You left something unfinished. What remains undone?”
The man’s aged face grew long. He took off the watch and stared at it. “A career I always believed I would one day build, but never did. I wanted to be a judge, a long, long time ago. I studied law in school and was at the top of my class. I even practiced for a few years, but I eventually returned to the University. I thought that if I studied and collected more degrees, more titles, and letters I might attach to my name, then my path would be set. These things would help me become what I really wanted to be. I thought they would help me make a difference in the world.
“Instead, I studied, and studied, and then I began to teach.” He said the last word with such bitterness the lantern hanging above our heads dimmed for a moment and the moths fluttering around the light retreated from my tea shop. “It was never meant to be, I suppose. I just wish I had finished what I set out to do.”
I poured the hot water over some feather moss and began to shuffle my Deck of Secrets. As the Tea of Mirth steeped, I asked, “You regret not doing something. My last visitor held regrets in his heart too. How did you know him?”
“Through his younger brother, Arnold. He was a student of mine, a brilliant student. He had a drive for understanding the law that only comes from one place, faith. Those boys believed living a righteous life meant taking righteous action. Arnold thought that he needed to actively work to improve the world.”
A mechanical smile spread across the professor’s face, though it never reached his eyes. “Ironically, he believed he could best do that as a lawyer.”
I placed the deck of secrets on the bar and asked my visitor to pull a card from the top. When he turned it over, an antique rotary telephone was revealed. I poured the tea and the steam rising from my visitor’s cup covered his glasses in a fine glaze of condensation.
As the aged professor cleaned the thick lenses with an embroidered handkerchief pulled from his coat breast pocket, I asked “What is the last thing you remember?” He smiled and took a sip from his tea, he began to chuckle and took another sip, then he began to laugh heartily.
Eventually, the once stoic professor caught enough of a breath between bellowing laughs to answer my question. “A funny story. Arnold called me up to share a funny story. He would call and chat once a week. Actually, a lot of my students liked to call from time to time. They would ask for advice, but they would also just check in on me. The last thing I remember was laughing so hard it brought tears to my eyes. Arnold had just told me a story about a loose cat in the courthouse and a bailiff failing over and over again to catch it.”
He tried to tell me the story, but as he drank his tea, the laughter grew. I nodded along politely, but it was impossible to cobble together a coherent tale in between the chuckles, hoots, and snorts. Despite not having any idea what the story was about, I joined my laughter to his. I couldn’t help myself, and by the time he finished his tea, my belly was hurting from laughing so hard. I still don’t know if they ever managed to get the cat out of the courthouse, but even as I write these words and remember his rough, smoky laugh I can’t help but chuckle.
As he stood and picked up a briefcase I’m sure wasn’t there before, I asked, “Who will remember you now that you walk this path?”
Still chuckling, the sage and college professor said, “Certainly my students. Even as they work to change the world, I know they will think of me and the lessons I taught and the stories I told. Perhaps, there is a subtle way, an unseen way to act righteously.”
Before departing, the professor reached into his briefcase and pulled out a small box. He placed it on my tea bar and said, “From a former student’s herb garden. Thank you for the tea and the laughs.”