Shedakor entered the imperial bedchamber, a spacious, lavish room that had only now become his. His and hers. Sshkkryyahr waited there, half draped over the bed with her hair pulled back, exposing her naked breasts. The room smelled like incense and hot pheromones.

He began unfastening the purple robe of his position and tossed his gun belt to the floor, eager to enter the creature’s lusty embrace. He paused momentarily and pulled another slug of wine from a nearby goblet.

The last forty hours had been a debauched revelry as the Obsidian Grotto celebrated the new emperor’s coronation. Shedakor’s eyes looked over his consort and glimmered with lascivious intent; he had plenty more revelry in mind before dawn.

His robe fell to the floor, exposing him. “I don’t know why I was ever jealous of Charbann,” he confessed. Whether because of the wine or some other impulse, he did not know. He took a step towards her wearing nothing more than a smile.

“Oh. You are right to have been suspicious.”

He stopped in his tracks, his hubris suddenly wilted. He cocked an eyebrow. Did she say are” right or were” right?

She beckoned to him with eager eyes.

Shedakor remained fixed to the floor. He didn’t dare approach until he had clarity. He may have made her his empress, but she was still a monster, after all, and monsters could be treacherous. “The truth. Out with it,” he said with a slight slur. It was definitely the wine.

Sshkkryyahr grinned and exposed her wickedly sharp teeth in her otherwise morehl mouth.

“There were many plans. Now there is only one.” She licked her lips—but not in a seductive way. “You were useful… before.” She spat the last word with disgust.

Emperor Shedakor took a step backwards. His bare foot touched the cloth of his robe and the leather of his gun belt.

Sshkkryyahr snarled and leapt for him.

Shedakor whirled for his guns, drawing and firing in one fluid motion, an action he’d done a thousand times before without fail. Both weapons went off.

The drider stood tall, surprised that Shedakor still managed such speed, even when half-drunk. She cocked her head and looked down at him. Neither missile had found its mark.

“Now you see why,” she said coolly, closing the gap and wrapping him within her monstrous legs.

“They will know you murdered me,” Shedakor protested as the drider’s legs began to crush him, popping sockets and joints. He unsuccessfully tried bargaining. He didn’t attempt to beg—he had too much pride for that.

“I am the empress, now. They will believe me when I say that you simply disappeared.” She sank her fangs into his neck. “And when I am done devouring you, that will be the truth of it.”

His nerves overloaded and pain slipped beyond him as she tore off bites of flesh, shaking him like a rag-doll within her grip. The light went out behind Shedakor’s eyes and only Sshkkryyahr reigned in the Obsidian Grotto.

The End.

The Tales of Esfah is written by Christopher D. Schmitz

Christopher D. Schmitz is an author of fiction and nonfiction books. Before throwing himself into book writing he had published short fiction in more than twenty outlets. In addition to a day-job working with teenagers, he also writes for a local newspaper, speaks/sells books at comic-cons and other festivals, runs a blog for authors, and makes an insanely tiny amount of money playing the bagpipes.

He grew up as a product of the 1980s and thinks Stranger Things is “basically my biography.” He lives in rural Minnesota where he drinks unsafe amounts of coffee with his family and three rambunctious Frostwings. The caffeine shakes keeps the cold from killing him.

Check out his website and other fiction at