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“An AI would have completed the portrait in less than a femtosecond,” Krongor snarled. Droplets of onyx saliva sprayed forth between the fangs of his third mouth. He shifted his considerable bulk, settling further into the sea of cushions. Tentacles twisted and stretched; he grunted as the acid-for-blood circulation returned to each appendage in turn.


Christian raised an eyebrow and dangled his fine-pointed pen.


“’Twould be derivative at best. And if you will keep moving around… I’m going to run out of ink with all this erasing and redrawing. Mind you, I know what I could stab to draw out some more,” he added with a mutter.


Krongor shook his head, rubbery chops slopping, and rippled his eight python-size tentacles in a kind of Mexican wave. Several human attendants, rushing around to straighten out his plush throne room, dodged and dived to avoid being flattened.


“So tell me,” Christian said brightly as he curved and scribbled and scratched. “You’ve been the de-facto ruler of the Nightmare Realm for… how many centuries now?”


“Twelve.” An odour of displeasure filled the room. "Too many centuries."


“And how do you feel about that?” Scritch, scratch. “Must be great, being… you know… not just the local Kingpin, but the actual face of terror that so many millions of lost souls see as they fall into this sector of… well…”


“Well.” Krongor sat up, which took a while, cushions bursting, dried kelp puffing out in great clouds, floorboards creaking, silk drapes tearing, servants fleeing. Three attendants were too slow, and screeched momentarily as the Arcturan warlord’s blubbery mass rolled backwards over them.


Christian sighed pleasantly, flipped the pen round to access its low-powered molecule disruptor, and erased most of what he’d drawn so far.


Krongor screwed up his mouths and belched out the words. “Time to end this.”


“Oh, really, I’m nearly done.” Pen strokes accelerating.


“No, you foetid little man. It’s time to end this. This.


The warlord leapt up and stood high on eight tentacles. His head and broad shoulders crashed through the ceiling, ripping a hole into space. Christian squealed and leapt back, just in time, as the emergency forcefield activated mere inches in front of his nose. On the other side, servants and exotic dancing pets were not so lucky and flew in a spiral toward the breach, circled and butted by pillows and paraphernalia in a sudden chaotic battle between warring tornadoes.


Krongor, top end protruding into space and bottom end anchored to the floor by the cup-shaped claws arrayed along his tentacles, began to boom and rant, voice carried first through the venting atmosphere, then as a series of vibrations that shook the floating palace’s ruptured superstructure.


“Time to abdicate,” the great creature announced. In the hard vacuum around his head and torso, the remains of his entourage wriggled and spun, their blood simultaneously freezing and boiling as, along with the unfinished drawing, they fluttered away into darkness like leaves in autumn.


“Thank goodness,” Christian muttered, and let the fine-nibbed pen drop to the floor with a crystalline tinkle. “That portrait was going nowhere.”

Copyright 2023 - SFS Publishing LLC

Interview with the Vainglorious Krongor

When being the face of galactic terror ceases to be fun

Matt Mordecai





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