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Foraging Expedition

Narration and video by Zachariah Van Sluyters of Old Man Gaining

The morning after the Sage continued on his path, white and gold sunbeams glittered across the waterfall. The torrent reflected the light with crystalline clarity and illuminated the shallow cave surrounding my tea shop. I awoke that morning feeling strong and optimistic, and the previous day’s laughter lingered and filled the air with excited energy.

I took advantage of the bright beauty of the morning and the calm and left my tea bar to forage for more ingredients. I didn’t need much, and when I looked up the wall of the cave, I saw a patch of fluffy green feather moss nestled in the stone above my shop. That would replenish my supplies.

I placed a hand on the dark gray stone wall and found the rock felt damp, but not wet. My grip would not slip, so I pulled myself up and reached for another ledge. The bright green blanket nested thirty feet above the ground, nearly next to the ceiling of my subterranean home. The distance made no difference. My hands and feet found every gap and crevice, every ledge and fissure. Within moments, I reached the wide chartreuse pillow.

I pulled my best knife out of the scabbard I kept strapped to my calf and scraped three handfuls of moss from the stone. That would keep me in stock for a while. This pillow of green fleece blanketed the rock towards the edge of my cave. I looked out at the morning sun and saw more of the cliffside, but beyond that were green hills twinkling as the bright morning light found the dew-covered grass. A well-kept dirt road stretched toward the countryside then split into the Dice Road and the Lantern Road.

My curiosity piqued, I wanted a better look, so I managed to climb further across the wall. Beyond the Lantern Road, I saw a patch of blue water. It was the ocean, and as soon as I realized what I was looking at, I smelled salt in the air. I stretched a little further and gripped another handhold. I pulled myself upward a few more inches and found that this position gave me site of a thick forest. The Dice Road seemed to head in that direction, but I couldn’t be sure because the dusty and well-traveled path dipped behind more rolling foothills.

I thought that maybe if I were a little higher, I might be able to see if the Dice Road cut into the forest. As I climbed closer to the edge of my cave, the rocks became more slippery. Still, I edged further. The handholds and crevices grew further apart as well. I extended and stretched a leg trying to reach a large crack I could wedge my boot into. Of course, it was too far and my foot slipped on the dew-covered rock when I put my weight on it.

My breath caught and I dropped the knife as I began to fall. My hand swung wildly, and in a panic, I grabbed hold of the feather moss. Somehow, the soft green plant didn’t break under my weight, so I pulled myself back to a safer perch.

I thanked the moss (which I do every time I forge) and climbed back down. I took my time; my legs were weak, and my heartbeat sounded like war drums pounding in my ears. When my feet touched the ground again, my jaw loosened, and I realized my lip hurt. I found a little blood was drawn when I bit down out of fear.

I took a deep breath and picked up my fallen knife. The wide, long blade reflected the waves of falling water in front of my shop. But now, a chip appeared along the knife’s edge. It didn’t make me sad to see the damage to my best knife, but I couldn’t say why.

This is chapter 4 of my “The Last Tea Shop” playthrough. The Last Tea Shop is a journaling tabletop role-playing game that serves as a series of writing prompts. It engages your imagination and forces you to make connections between random elements chosen by the role of the dice. I found the system to be so engaging and stimulating, I had to share what it helped me create.

Most of the other chapters center around a visitor, a soul, on the road to the afterlife. They stop in for one last cup of comforting tea before carrying on. This chapter, however, introduced a different element to the game system. The foraging expedition is designed to explore the area around the tiny tea shop. I truly enjoyed writing this particular chapter, and I hope you enjoyed reading and listening to it.

And on that note, I’d like to thank Zachariah Van Sluyters for his excellent narration and video editing. He brought my playthrough to life in a way I hadn’t even imagined. You can find all of the video narrations on his YouTube channel, Old Man Gaming. There you’ll also find more of his work, podcast, and playthroughs of his TTRPG “Upper Hand”. Links below.

Old Man Gaming

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