Writing Revisited: Amara Valda, Closet Nerd

Dungeons, some Dragons.

Now, this is based on combining several of my daily scenes from last August, in turn based on my observation that they’d still probably have a game like Dungeons & Dragons in a Dungeons & Dragons-esque world. And, in turn, the Krimson Katja character is essentially Realmgard’s Red Sonja — I’m leery about providing a direct link, given that Red Sonja is also (in)famous for wearing, ahem, wrought iron undergarments

And, yeah, it’s all incredibly anachronistic, but I’ve mentioned several times now that I don’t mind leaning into deliberately ridiculous anachronisms if it ends up being funny.

I ended up playing around with the order of the individual scenes compared to how they were originally published back in August, I’m not sure if it’s better this way, but it’s probably at least better to this specific context of making one more or less continuous narrative out of them…

“Oh dear,” Amara mutters as she steps into Kat’s bedroom. “It’s worse than I thought.”

A recent attempted heist at Porthaven’s Civic Art Gallery was stopped almost single-handedly by Kat, who heroically tackled the leader of the thieves off the roof and into the alley below. Though this brave act allowed for the thief’s apprehension and has led to Kat being lauded and feted as a luminary of the city, she suffered a broken leg as a consequence of her heroics.

And clearly, she is no adjusting well to life as an invalid.

Dunstana and Annie have been trying to keep Kat’s spirits up and her mind occupied on something other than her current sorry state. And, Amara notes, Kat does not seem to be taking to their attempts. Her skin is pale, her hair is dishevelled, and she has deep bags under her bloodshot eyes — she is clearly skirting the line between stir-crazy and properly crazy.

“Hello, Katherine,” Amara says as she approaches Kat’s bed.

“Sweet, loyal Amara,” Kat says, pulling her friend close. “True friend in true need.”

“Yes, yes,” Amara says, gently rubbing Kat’s back. “I love you, too, Katherine.”

“I’ve been so lonely,” Kat murmurs pitifully.

“Hey!” Dunstana exclaims.

“Pay her no mind, Dunstana,” Amara says. “I’m sure she’s very grateful to have such an attentive little sister looking out for her.”

“She’d better,” Dunstana mutters. “Or she can get her own dinners.”

“Katherine, my dear,” Amara offers, sitting on Kat’s bedside. “You need a hobby. Something to occupy your time while you’re stuck here in your room. Knitting, maybe. Crossword Puzzles. Or, uh, scrimshaw.”

Dunstana eagerly surges to her feet. “I’ve got just the thing! Annie, come help!”

Dunstana scurries out of the room with Annie following close behind and they return with a pile of boxes and books in her hands.

“We can play Coat of Plates!

Kat rolls her eyes. “Dunstana, I don’t need to play a game about being an adventurer,” she protests. “I am an adventurer.”

“No, no, Katherine,” Amara says, putting a hand on Kat’s shoulder. “It sounds fun.”

“Great, let’s play,” Dunstana says, unfolding a map on the floor. “You’ll be the adventurers, and I’ll be the Dungeonarrator.”

“Fine,” Kat says.

“First thing we do is draw characters,” Dunstana explains, reaching into one of the boxes. “Kat, you get to be —”

Dunstana gives Annie a nudge with her elbow. Annie rolls her eyes and hums a little fanfare.

“Miriel of the Stars!” Dunstana exclaims, offering Kat a little figurine of an Elf woman in a robe. “She’s an Elf Thaumaturge who derives her powers from the light of the moon and stars.”

“That actually sounds kinda cool,” Kat mutters.

“And, Amara,” Dunstana says, reaching back into the box. “You’re Krimson Katja,” Dunstana explains. “You can tell she’s cool because they spell it with a K.”

Amara sceptically studies the figurine in her hand. The woman has long red hair, a confident expression on her face, and a rather impressive sword in her hands, though she only seems to be wearing one third of an outfit.

Where are the rest of her clothes?” Amara asks, blushing fiercely. “Is she adventuring to the beach?

She rolls her eyes.

“How vulgar. Clearly, this game was created by a man.”

Lately, Kat has been marvelling at the frankly frightening rapidity with which Amara has taken to Realmgard’s favourite miniature tabletop war game Coat of Plates. It’s only been a few weeks, but Amara’s obsession is already almost a match for Dunstana’s own.

By the same token, Kat is also amazed how quickly and thoroughly Amara has begun idolising the Krimson Katja character — doubly impressive for a character who she had previously denounced for her fashion choices of, in Amara’s own words, ‘wrought iron undergarments.’

So here they all are — Kat, Amara and Annie, now joined by Annie’s friend Sally Lyte — being Dungeonarrated through their adventure once again by Dunstana.

“For today’s adventure,” Dunstana explains. “You’ll all be venturing into the Depths of the Dungeons of Disideratus de Durandal. Basically, he’s an evil wizard and he’s doing evil stuff, and you have to stop him.”

“Isn’t that exactly what we did last time?” Kat asks.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Katherine,” Amara says.

Annie nods in agreement. “Technically, that last villain was a warlock.”

“Amara, you asked to be Krimson Katja again, so here’s you,” Dunstana says, setting down the figurine of the red-haired, eyebrow-raisingly clothed warrior woman.

“Splendid,” Amara declares at the prospect of once again playing the role of her new favourite fictional character. “What epic adventures we shall have together, Krimson Katja.”

“Maybe you should adventure to the tailor first,” Kat offers. “And buy her some real clothes.”

Amara glowers at her friend. “Yes, Katherine. Very, very droll,” she mutters. She shrugs. “It is what it is, I suppose.”

Dunstana reaches back into the box of characters. “And, Kat, you’ll be Dagobert von Face-Punch this time. He’s an expert in unarmed combat. And, um, punching faces.”

“Sounds like my kind of guy,” Kat notes.

“Me next! Me next!” Sally insists eagerly, as ever clutching her beloved stuffed rabbit close.

Dunstana sets down yet another figurine, a female Wilderling with long rabbit ears, a bow in her hands, and a quiver of arrows over her shoulder.

“Sally, you’re Hilda Harefoot. She’s a ranger. She’s, like, good at nature and stuff.”

Sally happily claps her hands.

“She’s a bunny! That’s perfect!”

She frowns thoughtfully and glances at her doll.

“Oh, but I hope Count Bunnyescu doesn’t get jealous.”

“What about me?” Annie asks.

“And Annie, you get to be —” Dunstana says, setting down the figurine on the map. “— Ronan Wayfarer.”

Annie’s character is a man — a very large man covered head-to-toe in heavy, sculpted armour made to look like muscles and holding a sword almost as big as he is.

Amara gazes down at this last figurine. Her eyes go wide. Her brow furrows. And she throws her hands up in bewilderment.


The others stare blankly at her.

“Look at this!” she exclaims. “Look! Of course, the man is wearing an entire suit of armour! I swear, I shall be writing letters over this. I am going to find the people behind this game — all of them men, no doubt — and give them a piece of my mind!”

Pela watches in silent amazement as Amara lays down tome after tome on the bookseller’s counter.

“I’ll take Krimson Katja and the Roving Reavers,” the Elf declares. “And Krimson Katja vs. the Chaos Queen, Krimson Katja Meets the Werewolf, Krimson Katja vs. the Malicious Brain, Krimson vs. the Sinister Brain. And, of course, Krimson Katja & Ronan Wayfarer vs. the Vampire-Lord & the Nefarious Brain.”

By the end of her literary splurge, Amara is walking away with a stack of books that’s about two Pelas tall.

“Hey, Amara,” Pela offers as they make their way through the streets. “If you like that kind of adventure stories, you should talk to my Mom. She could give you a whole nother stack of her books. She’d autograph them, too.”

“Yes. Your mother is an author, isn’t she?” Amara replies.

Pela nods. “Yeah. Eleonora Strahlend. She used to be an adventurer, but she retired after she had me,” she explains. “Now, she writes books based on the adventures she had back then.”

“She sounds like quite a remarkable woman,” Amara notes.

Pela smiles broadly. “Yeah! Mom’s great! She always —” She face falls when she suddenly remembers that Amara has lost her own mother.

“S-sorry,” she stammers. “I didn’t mean to make you feel bad.”

“It’s quite alright,” Amara answers. “I appreciate your concern, but I lost Mother a long time ago. I’ve learned to manage.” She shrugs. “And, honestly, I’d rather you didn’t treat me like I’m made of glass. I do miss Mother, but I’m not going to start bawling every time someone mentions their mother.”

Pela nods thoughtfully. “Well, if you get lonely, you can borrow my Mom for a bit,” she offers. “I’m sure she’d love to talk all about Krimson Katja with you.”

“Thank you, Pela,” Amara answers with a smile.

“And I mean, hey, most of the writers is Porthaven all sort of know each other,” Pela continues. “Mom could probably set you up for a meeting with Howard R. Morton.”

She nods to the towering stack of pulp literature in Amara’s arms.

“With that many books, you’ve got to be his biggest fan,” she notes. “I’m sure he’d be thrilled to meet you.”

At the prospect of a meeting with Realmgard’s greatest living author, Amara struggles to maintain her composure.

“My dear Pela,” she says, all but visibly trembling with anticipation. “I don’t mean to impose, but I would like to request that you arrange this meeting as soon as possible.”

“Yeah, I’ll see what I can do,” Pela notes.

“I will forever be in your debt,” Amara says.

Pela shrugs. “It’s not a big deal,” she answers.

“I respectfully disagree,” Amara says. “The chance to meet Howard R. Morton in person is rather a huge deal.”

Pela opens her mouth to response, when her attention is caught by a familiar figure passing by.

“Oh,” Pela says. “Hey, Dude Manguy.”

“Hello there, Pela and Amara,” Dude Manguy answers. She points to Amara’s stack of books. “My personal favourite is Krimson Katja and the Fields of Fire.”

“You know, Katherine,” Amara says, setting down her book and reaching for her teacup. “I’m actually quite enjoying this Krimson Katja character. I mean, it’s patently ridiculous that she’s galavanting around wearing nothing but wrought iron undergarments, but the stories themselves are quite compelling.”

She nods thoughtfully.

“I really should thank Dunstana for introducing me to that little board game of hers,” she says. “And we really should schedule another session. I really would enjoy seeing what other adventures we may end up having on the sacred ground of the tabletop.”

Amara picks the book back up and shows it off for Kat.

“This one for example, ‘Krimson Katja and the Sea-Fiends of Lake Limni’,” Amara says. “It’s only been eight paragraphs, but she’s already single-handedly defeated an entire gang of lake pirates.

“If they live in a lake, how are they Sea-Fiends?” Kat asks.

Amara rolls her eyes.

“Oh, Katherine, that’s precisely the sort of thing you can’t worry about when you’re reading Krimson Katja. It doesn’t matter why the Sea-Fiends live in a lake. All that matters is that they’re trying to eat people so Krimson Katja can set to her grim and deadly work chopping them up into little pieces to win the day!”

“This isn’t the sort of thing I’d expect you to be reading,” Kat notes.

Amara shrugs. “Well, we’re between Bridgewalltonshire Priory-s, and I must needs to find something to read to keep myself occupied,” she explains. “And, as it happens, the writer, this Howard R. Morton fellow happens to be quite prolific. Why, he’s written twenty-three new Krimson Katja stories this year alone!”

Amara thoughtfully touches her finger to her chin.

“And, well — bizarre, scandalous fashion choices aside, Krimson Katja is rather a remarkable woman, strong and fierce and independent and never in need of a man to rescue her,” Amara explains.

And good at chopping Sea-Fiends into little pieces?” Kat offers.

“Well, yes,” Amara says with a nod. “It’s all quite thrilling. Such lavish language and striking turns of phrase!”

Amara gets that look in her eye. That bright light in her green eyes that lies somewhere between determination and mad obsession. Kat knows that look well. Clearly, Amara has decided that her current mission in life is to read her way through the entire Krimson Katja series.

She suddenly feels very, very sorry for the poor people working at the Porthaven Central Library. Especially, Powers forbid, the next Krimson Katja book is out on loan when Amara comes calling.

“I’m fine, by the way,” Kat mutters. “My leg’s all healed up now, thanks for asking.”

“And I am glad for that, Katherine,” Amara says. “But I can see for myself that you’re up and about and perfectly hale and hearty again. But it is always a delight to spend time with my oldest and dearest friend, regardless of her current health. Shall I read Krimson Katja for you, Katherine?”

“Will do you the voices?” Kat asks.

“Yes, Katherine. I’ll do the voices.”

I’ve likened Amara to a chocolate hedgehog before. Basically, she’s prickly on the outside but sweet on the inside.

Clearly, she’s also the biggest nerd in Realmgard.

I, uh, I’m not sure how to fit that into the metaphor.

A scene from "The Simpsons", Homer yelling 'Nerrrrrrrrrrrd!'.
That’s true, but he shouldn’t say it
The Simpsons: 20th Television Animation and Gracie Films.

So, anyway, you can read more short exercise scenes here:

And read this week’s chapter here:

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