Dependable Grump

  • This is a sappy Joppa/Larisa story I wrote last year, but I didn't post it because I was embarrassed about writing such a sappy story. I'm still embarrassed about it, but it's been over a year since anyone has submitted any Chronicles, and I think something has to be done about that. And I'm too lazy to write a new story. Maybe this could count as a late submission to the Valentine's Day challenge.


    "So Larisa, I read your report on your swamp exploration, and I'm very excited about the ruins you found there," said Myus, head of House Comana.

    I beamed.

    He continued, "I'd like to send you out to investigate them, as soon as possible. Perhaps you could leave tomorrow morning? Camp there for four days while you study the ruins, then return and we'll decide if it's worth further research."

    "Yes, sir," I said happily. Explorations always excited me, even if it was just poking around some old metic ruins. I did have one reservation though - "Sir, will I have any assistance in this project?"

    Myus nodded. "Yes, of course. A bit dangerous to embark upon on your own. I'll send a guard to protect you from bandits. I'll also have Joppa accompany and assist you."

    My heart soared. "Squee!" I exclaimed. Myus raised an eyebrow. "I like Joppa..." I explained. "He's a good assistant."

    "I'm glad," said Myus.

    "I'll go pack then!" I announced.

    He smiled. "Let me know if you need anything that you can't find in the storeroom," he offered.

    "Thank you," I said, and left. I struggled to keep from skipping as I walked away. Exploring! Camping! Four days! With Joppa!


    I was in the Comana storeroom, packing, when Joppa came in.

    It's weird, whenever Joppa is around, he's accompanied by music. Usually happy dancing music. I can't explain where the music comes from - surely the storeroom was as silent as always.

    It's hard not to dance when I feel that music, but I've learned by now that Joppa hates dancing. I wonder if originally, everyone always danced in his presence because of the music he brought with him; and he eventually taught them the hard way that it was unacceptable.

    Where do I come up with these things? Surely Joppa wouldn't hurt a fly... He would only threaten to.

    Today I resisted the impulse to dance when I saw Joppa, but I compromised by jumping up and exclaiming his name.

    "Yes," he said simply as he walked in. "I'm here to assist you in your preparations."

    "I'm so happy you're coming to Khalkis with me!" I grinned.

    "I'm not," he announced. "Do you realize what this assignment is? We have to camp in a swamp for four days."

    "I can't wait," I said. Joppa's pessimistic attitude was nothing new, it's just how he is.

    Joppa shook his head. "Where's the bug repellant?" he muttered, now rooting through one of the storage chests.

    "Laodice gave me some garlic," I offered.

    "Ew. So not only am I expected to camp with people who smell like garlic, but I'm actually expected to ingest it myself?"

    I shrugged. "Or you could get eaten by bugs."

    "I'll ask Lord Myus to get me something less offensive..." Joppa came over to the crate I had already half-packed and looked through it.

    I said, "thank you for coming to help me pack. You're so good at your job."

    "I wish I could say the same for you!" teased Joppa. "What did you pack? Unguents? Sleeping bags? Won't we need some tools for investigating the ruins?"

    "Yes, that would be ideal," I admitted. "What should we take?"

    "Hmm," considered Joppa as he moved through the storeroom, checking various crates & chests. "Ah, these ought to do it!" he declared.

    "Bombs?! We're researching the ruins, not destroying them!"

    "No one would know, and it would make our job a lot easier," he said with a rare smile. Regardless of how sly his smile is, the world is joyful when Joppa is joyful. Which isn't often. Luckily the world finds other ways to be joyful too.

    Still, I had to refuse to take the bombs (which besides being unethical were pretty heavy), and the rest of our packing was done mostly in silence.


    Khalkis ruins exploration, Day 1

    Joppa met me early to set off for the swamp. Myus had already sent a guard (loaded with supplies), the previous night, to "guard the site." I'm not sure a bit of ruins needed guarded, but his enthusiasm is charming.

    We still had two crates full of supplies to carry though.

    "'Morning, Joppa!" I said.

    "Morning it is," he agreed.

    "Which crate would you like to carry?" I asked him. We'd tried to pack the crates evenly, but in the end, one of them was heavier than the other.

    He groaned. "I was under the impression that my job was to protect you in your travels and assist you in your research. I guess I'm just a glorified pack mule."

    "Come on," I pleaded. "I can't carry both of these."

    "And what does that say about you?" Joppa demanded. "You're young, and you cannot even carry the supplies for a four-day exploration."

    I answered a bit defensively, "it's not all my stuff."

    "Sure then, make the old man carry it. Kind of you."

    "You're not old!"

    "Yes, I am," he insisted. I let it go because I honestly don't know how old he is.

    "I'll take the heavy one then," I offered, "but I may need to trade after a while."

    & so we began our walk to the swamp. All the while Joppa complained about how heavy his box was, and how it was bound to rain for the next week straight.

    "Travelling with you is so much more fun than travelling alone," I told him, even as I doubted what I said.


    We arrived at the site without incident - except for Joppa getting poisoned on his way through the swamp. Ashamed to say, I thought he was just exaggerating & complaining for a while, but I was quite alarmed when I saw how green he looked. He seemed to be deteriorating before my eyes. I hastily dug through our crates for the unguent, and he had to use an entire container before he felt better.

    It was while I was digging through for the unguent that I discovered what Joppa had brought for bug repellent. Several bottles full of the liquid which even corked tight was undoubtedly the worst stench I'd ever smelled. I recognized it as Kesh - Joppa always travelled with it, every time giving a different excuse relating to its supposed health benefits.

    No wonder my crate was so heavy.

    Once he was recovered from his poisoning, I confronted him about it.

    "I thought you were going to find a bug repellent less offensive than garlic?" I demanded.

    "I did! There's nothing offensive about my special tonic! I brought enough to share."

    "I'll stick with garlic, thanks," I said in disgust.

    He shook his head. "The point is to repel bugs, not your companions."

    "Exactly what I think about your tonic!" I exclaimed.

    "Be sure to include in your report that you spent the first afternoon arguing with me about whose bug repellent is less offensive."

    I walked away.


    Khalkis ruins exploration, Day 2

    I sat in front of the ruins' door, attempting to pry it open with a small knife.

    The ruins consisted mostly of crumbling walls, but one room appeared to remain intact. It had no windows and only one door - a door that would not open.

    I finally threw the knife to the ground and roared in frustration.

    "I told you we should have brought the dynamite," said Joppa.


    Khalkis ruins exploration, Day 3

    I finished catching up with my report, and laid down my quill. The report so far was exceedingly boring. We had spent most of our time trying to devise ways to get into the intact room - to no avail.

    Also annoying were my bug bites. I've had garlic with every meal, but it does not seem to be working. I estimate I now have over 400 bug bites.

    Joppa has zero.

    So does the nameless guard. And he spends literally all day and night standing in the swamp. Not on the higher ground where Joppa & I camp. Joppa has been sharing his tonic with him. Much as I hate that tonic, I have to admit it seems highly effective.

    So this morning I sidled up to Joppa as he drank his tonic.

    "Hey," I greeted him. "My garlic isn't working."

    "Are you sure?" he retorted. "It's working on your breath."

    I pulled up one of my sleeves, revealing dozens of bites. Joppa winced. "Well, you ready to try something stronger?"

    "I think so," I said nervously.

    Joppa handed me the bottle. His generosity touched me - he really is kind, but for some reason he tries to hide it behind grumpiness. His complaints, I'm sure, are always empty. And he doesn't hesitate at all to share his possessions. I accepted the bottle of sour milk & dead animals (or whatever it was) and brought it to my lips.

    I couldn't do it. Not a drop of it entered my mouth and already I could taste it. I gagged, thrust the bottle back to Joppa, and ran away.


    Joppa was offended by my attempt to drink his tonic, and kept to himself for most of the day. I worked on writing up my report on the components of the ruin walls. It was boring. I was also amazed at how much I could miss someone who was working alongside me, but silently.

    I didn't work on the stubborn door today. Tomorrow, our last day, I'll get it open!


    Khalkis ruins exploration, Day 4

    I dread returning to Kosha. This project has been so much fun, who cares if I have 1,000 bug bites.

    I am determined to get into that intact room too. It's entirely possible that something interesting could be in decent condition in there. Which is why I attempted to use an old broken pillar as a battering ram.

    I crashed roughly as the door denied me, my battering ram cracked but still intact. I lay down on the grass until the stars in my eyes settled. When they did, Joppa was standing over me with a raised eyebrow.

    "Maybe I didn't run fast enough. Wanna try?" I asked him.

    "I can think of nothing I'd rather do," he answered with sarcasm.

    "Do you have a better idea?"

    "Better than running into a door with a pillar? Yeah, that's not hard."

    "What is it then?"

    "We could go home. Lord Myus is waiting for us."

    "And I'm sure he'll be really impressed to hear that we couldn't even get the door open."

    Joppa asked, "impressed with us, or with the door? Because it is quite an impressive door."

    "That it is! I want so much to get in there! Lord Myus can wait. We'll go home tomorrow, after we get the door open. Joppa, do you think the pylon is related to the door? It can't be a coincidence that it's right square in front of the door..."

    The pylon was something we had already discussed at length - it interested me because identical pylons had been found elsewhere in Cythera, but did not seem to be related to the Seldane. & yet these ruins were undoubtedly of Seldane structure. However, we couldn't think what the purpose of the pylon could be, besides perhaps an altar.

    Joppa was bored of the topic. "Even if the pylon were connected, what can we do? It is unmovable and there's nothing we can do to it."

    "Maybe I should try dancing and chanting around it?" I suggested.

    "That's a fantastic idea," Joppa agreed, which surprised me, knowing his hatred of dance.

    And so I danced. Joppa actually got into it too, he improvised a drum set out of two sticks and a rock, and drummed a beat for me. He also encouraged me to chant louder. It was great fun!

    But of course, it did nothing for opening the door. Finally I collapsed, exhausted. "I guess the pylon wasn't impressed with my ritualistic dance. I don't know what else I can do!"

    Joppa replied, "maybe you need to offer it a sacrifice."

    "What would I sacrifice?" I asked.

    Joppa looked out over the swamp. "An asp?"

    I stared. "Are you serious?"

    "Or we could go home."

    "Alright, let's catch an asp," I decided.

    I didn't expect the sacrifice to work, and I really don't think Joppa did either. The struggle is writing my report in a way that Lord Myus will think that we're honestly doing our best to investigate these ruins, not just playing. Hmm.

    I worked on my report while Joppa went to retrieve an asp. I wanted to go with him, but he insisted that I'd only hinder him & waste unguent. I wearily expected it to take him hours, but he was scarcely gone ten minutes! And back he returned with a wiggling asp in his hand.

    I have no idea how he did it, I chalk it up to m@d-1337-ninja powers. He's so cool!

    At first I wanted to keep it as a pet, and we played with it in the ruins for a while. But then it poisoned Joppa, and I changed my mind. The asp must die.

    Joppa killed it in front of the pylon, but alas, nothing happened.

    "Looks like we wasted an afternoon," Joppa pointed out.

    "I'll be sure to write in my report that the sacrifice was your idea," I said.

    I thought that statement would make him grumpy, but it didn't. He smiled. He smiled, and the world became joyful.


    Khalkis ruins exploration, Day 5

    Yesterday wasn't very productive, but I'm so glad I delayed our departure, because MY BROTHER visited the ruins today!

    Yup, my brother Timon, who has focused his studies on the Seldane, came to my ruins today! He had a few friends with him (friends? Since when does Timon have friends?), and he seemed to be in a bit of a hurry. I was too, since I was very aware that Myus had asked us to return the previous day.

    But Timon said these ruins might answer their questions. I doubted that. Unless they could open the door (ha!), there wasn't a whole lot to learn from the ruins. I told him to look around though, and we agreed to catch up in detail later.

    It's really nice to see him, I just wish I felt free to chat with him. He arrived as I was rather frantically trying to pack up & get back to Kosha.

    So Joppa and I continued packing while Timon and his friends poked around the ruins. Technically we weren't supposed to let anyone on the research site, but I'm sure my brother doesn't count.

    Suddenly a blast of light caught the attention of my peripheral vision. "What was that?" I asked Joppa, looking up.

    Joppa looked up abruptly. His eyes darted from me to ruins, and back to me. Curious, I leaned over to look at the ruins. Timon and his friends were standing around the pylon, and the door of the intact room was open!

    My jaw dropped. How did they do it? "Joppa, the door!" I gasped. I just stared at the door for a moment, awestruck. Then I turned my gaze to Joppa to see his reaction.

    Since I've known Joppa, he's made me feel many things, that is certain. Though not fear - grumpy as he can be, I've always known he was harmless. But as I looked at him now, he somehow looked different. I can't explain it. His eyes glared at me, full of malice.

    I was afraid.

    This post has been edited by BreadWorldMercy453 : 08 August 2012 - 04:53 PM

  • weird

  • Actually, I didn't think this story was really any more sappy than most of your stories :p .

    The ending was surprising, meaning it was well-done. You should try to write serious material (referring to the last three paragraphs in the chron not the earlier ones) more often.

  • Eh, silly-sappy isn't the same as real-sappy ^_~ This was my first attempt to write a romance chron. As you can see, it's not my strong point (practice would probably improve that skill somewhat, but I prefer nonsense). But only the last three paragraphs count as serious, huh? You're tough to please : ****P

    Maybe I should've mentioned when I posted, but I didn't think to until I read the story, this chron takes the following liberties:

    1. Joppa is an Undine agent in disguise
    2. Myus assigned Joppa to Larisa to make sure she didn't find out too much about the elementals
    3. Joppa killed Larisa when Bellerophon got the Maayti door open
      I do think those first three assumptions are true, but I took the further liberty:
    4. Larisa loved Joppa
      And that made the story sappy.

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