Bendi Barrett is a speculative fiction writer, game designer, and pretend-adult living in Chicago. He's published two interactive novels: Avatar of the Wolf and Fate of the Storm Gods. Both are available through Choice of Games. He also writes gay erotic fiction as Benji Bright and runs a patreon for the thirsty masses. He can be found at and on twitter as both @bemdo and @benji_bright.

Empire of the Feast by Bendi Barrett

In Empire of the Feast, we awaken with Riverson, 32nd ruler of the Stag Empire, as he attempts to govern without the memories of his previous lives. To survive the ever-sharpening gears of war, he will need to mend the political schisms threatening to tear his empire apart while maintaining the erotic rituals holding off the eldritch horror known only as the Rapacious.


Bendi Barrett is a Black Speculative Fiction author who delves into the erotic. In Empire of Feast, join Emperor Riverson in a galactic power struggle as he attempts to hold eldritch horrors at bay in this sweeping cosmic novella. – Zelda Knight



  • "I'm in love with this daring space opera aswirl with sensuality, galactic politics, and cosmic hunger. Barrett is endlessly inventive, crafting a novella of anime-slick vision and dexterous storytelling. A lyrical, sorcerous kind of sci-fi."

    – Hailey Piper, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Queen of Teeth
  • "Empire of the Feast is a sensual journey into the heart of desire, the depths of hunger. Its talented, desperate, messy characters struggle against a slumbering elder god, against one another, and against their own conflicting impulses. Erotic, horrifying, and thrilling, Bendi Barrett knows the power and danger of craving, and offers an abundance of both. All you have to do is join the feast."

    – Izzy Wasserstein, author of All the Hometowns You Can’t Stay Away From
  • "This stunning novella caught me in the horny, monstrous machinery of Empire. I never wanted it to end; the prose is as mesmerizing as the characters."

    – Eboni Dunbar, author of Stone and Steel
  • "Grand in scope and brimming with political intrigue, Empire of the Feast is a space opera in the truest sense of the term. With lush and sensuous prose, Barrett has created a fully realized world that lingers in the imagination long after you've turned the last page."

    – Victor Manibo, author of The Sleepless



It starts like many stories—either noble or perverse—with a bang. And after the cordite flash and the slowing of blood, comes the thought: Ah. So, it's death. Again.

This moment of bemused consideration erupts into a searing heat which melts into a stillness so total that it feels as though the syrup-thick viscosity of time won't ever pierce it. Of course, this is a fallacy: time will never be denied.

"Empress?" says a voice, later.

"Empress?" asks the subject back to the querent.

"Ah, so the transfer is complete. Welcome back to the Corrected Center, my liege. The assassin used a piece of truly ancient weaponry; it has since been banned from every world under your beneficent aegis."

The body belonging to the second speaker opens its eyes and takes a first, labored breath. The body's lungs are strong, but its nerves are jittery and its gaze flits around the room.

Room is an understatement so vast that it almost constitutes a lie; the cavernous space is sumptuously appointed with a bed that could sleep a small army, a bar so stocked with vices that it could double as an alchemist's atelier, and a wardrobe fit for…well, an empress. The distance from floor to ceiling is more than twelve times a person's height, its walls curving upward and consisting of perfectly triangular elements. A geodesic dome.

Beyond the walls is space—vast, uncompromising—but worse still is the sun. It is far too close.

The second body screams.

"Empress?" asks the first. "Are you entirely well? Usually, the transfer doesn't leave you so…disorganized." This last word is said with a measure of distaste.

The second looks back at the speaker, takes in the sight: tall and lean with a kindly face and head full of curls, one side a shimmering cerulean and the other a cinnamon red. Skin pale as fatless milk, eyes dark as the void. They're leaning forward now, inspecting the second closely.

"Empress? I…why do you keep calling me that?"

The standing speaker straightens slowly. "An incomplete incarnation? It failed? Problematic. The beast must have had a hand in this and the consequences…no. All things are made possible through the Feast-Empress." A steadying smile is pushed across the tall person's face by main force. "Empress, I am Leeds. Your First-Retainer. And you are the Thirty-Second Feast-Empress Locum Tenens of the Staghead Empire. We are in the Corrected Center of the galaxy, a station—naturally—that orbits the Accursed Sun. Does this spark recollection? Can you stand?"

The second can and does, looks around and finally sees the bodies. One is dressed in dark clothing, face down on the ground, with a dire-looking wound in their back that roughly matches the blade at Leeds's side. But the other body…

"That's me, isn't it?"

"Unfortunately, yes. It was an assassination attempt, Empress. A successful one at that. I was seconds too late, and you were killed. Of course, through the river you were reformed to resume your charge. On that note, Empress…"

The body's eyes stare toward the ceiling. A simple golden coronet sits upon her long kinky hair, smooth-edged, but bold against the darkness of her curls. Her skin is dark as well, her lips are full, and the irises of her open, dead eyes are a vicious pink. It brings to mind blood, only slightly diluted, or a besieged ember steadfastly refusing to go out.

"I was murdered."

Leeds, already onto something else, takes a deep breath. "Indeed, Empress. We take great care, but it does sometimes happen. Your empire is vast and its mechanisms legion. Occasionally a murder slips through. But you needn't worry. Empress?"

The second crouches next to their own dead body and lowers the eyelids over those disconcerting eyes, knowing that theirs are the same.

"Emperor," says the second quietly, but firmly.

"Emperor," repeats Leeds slowly. "I see. The river has brought us a son then. How surprising! Though, perhaps not completely auspicious. Some might say that continuity is of grave importance in these times, so a male heir might…well. Apologies, hail and well-met river's son Thirty-Two, Feast-Emperor of the Staghead Galaxy."

"Riverson," the emperor rolls the word around his new mouth. "It's as good a name as any."

Leeds goes to one knee and Riverson stands. He forces himself to take his eyes off of his former vessel's body. On his second scan of the room, he takes more in.

Two enormous vertical tapestries hang from the metal rafters. One bears a black-eyed stag staring straight toward the viewer on a green and black striped background; the second is an enormous sun. Strangely, there's a black seam stitched directly through the center of the blazing sphere at a jagged angle. Something about that fissure makes Riverson's stomach lurch.

"What is it that I do here?"

Having been addressed, Leeds rises smoothly. "You govern, my liege. The Corrected Center is a station that orbits this galaxy's sun and functions as the locus of the Staghead Empire, which spans the entire system: more than three thousand worlds, many inhabitable, and full of resources. Your adoring people number in the trillions."

"Except the one who just killed me," Riverson replies.

"Perfect love is aspirational, my liege," Leeds says.