You find yourself at the base of a tower, probably the one you were looking for, unless places like this are common. The train that took you here has moved onto its next destination, through the arcane portals that somehow connect worlds, and you are left with a sense of trepidation. But there's no point going back now. You drew the short straw. You were chosen by your village. Now it's time to get some answers.

As you reach your hand to the door, it opens. The wizard knows his guests; he's no fool, and the hour of your arrival was known to him possibly before you were born. As you step inside, you're trying desperately to remember all of the etiquette you've ever known. You are in the presence of the mighty Yen Sid, after all, although you cannot yet see him. Slowly, respectfully, you take every step up a flight of wayward stairs until you reach the highest point, where a single door denotes that you are finally but a foot from your goal. Again, with a toad in your throat, and a wrench in your gut, you raise your hand to knock. This time the door holds, and a voice that commands the stars calls you to enter. You do, and are relieved to note that the mighty sorcerer is not quite as egotistical as the stories make him out to be. In fact, he is sitting at his desk, patiently waiting for you to take a seat in a rather comfortable looking chair opposite his. Of course, you're so busy staring at him like a fool and trying to figure out whether you should address him as "your majesty,""Your greatness," or "Great Master," that you only stand there and gawk.

He motions with his hand, and you hastily fall into the seat rather than collapsing on the floor.

"Please," he says. "Make yourself comfortable."

You are silent as you contemplate his warm smile, and decide that you should make a show of adjusting your weight in the chair before you nod, despite the fact that you couldn't possibly not be comfy in it. His eyes twinkle at that, the way a father's would at a child, and you suddenly don't feel so grown up in the presence of what could be the oldest person alive.

"You drew the short straw?"

You nod, slightly embarrassed.


It's the moment of truth. You have to say something to him. Your mouth opens, and, miraculously, your voice says, "What does evil do?"

Master Sid nods appreciatively, and sits back in his chair. "An interesting question. A wise man would tell you that it destroys worlds and corrupts hearts, that it feeds on the weak. However, the correct answer would be to first define it by what it does not do."

You lean forward in anticipation, although you don't quite realize it.

"Evil does not rest. It is active. As such, pain and suffering are only the effects, its wake, so to speak. Princes have come to me asking for secrets that do not exist, elixers of life and the such, and sorcerers have come seeking spells that defy reality, but you are one of the few who come to me with a question unblemished by angle."

You don't quite understand, but it was a compliment from a great sorcerer, so you smile awkwardly, not sure if you're worthy of thanking him. His hand wraps around a large, transparent sphere on the edge of the desk, and he slides it to the center.

"'What does evil do?' you ask. Well, Evil schemes."

You nod, and then realize with a sense of dread that he has answered the question. But it can't be that simple. You know that if you return to your village with that answer, they won't even believe you made it farther than the mountains. They'll just think you got drunk for a month and stumbled back with two words to show for it. But what can you say to Master Yen Sid? Please make it more complicated?

He smiles, a warm, inviting gesture, and then nods at the crystal ball and places his fingers around it. It ripples, and for a moment you think that it could be filled with water, but soon color emerges and warps around until it sharpens into the star of your nightmares, Maleficent. You look up at Master Sid with shock, and he returns it with smugness. "You didn't think I would send you back to your village with just two words, did you?"

It dawns on you that you are an honored guest. Today, and possibly longer, you will gaze into the crystal ball of Master Yen Sid, and personally "Observe: the Schemes of Evil."

Quite a punderful last sentence, yes?

Yes, it's a remake of the first thing I ever wrote.

However, it's not as similar as you'd think. ;)