"Her Majesty will see no one." The stone-faced guard at the door to the witch's chambers said tonelessly. Under his breath, Wexren cursed Kendra's bloody stupid henchmen. It would be a good long time before it occurred to him that he was one of Kendra's bloody stupid henchmen.

"I have an important message for her." Wexren puffed out his chest. "So you bloody well step aside and let me through, there's a good chap."

"Her Majesty will see no one." The guard repeated, sounding as lifeless as an echo. Wexren swore again, his frustration at not being recognized as Kendra's right-hand supporter coupled with a nasty suspicion that the guard was greatly enjoying his job. Wexren considered his options. He could just murder the fellow and tell Her Majesty that he had been insubordinate, but it was hardly worth the trouble.

"Listen, you." Wexren snarled. "I've got Her Majesty's prisoner and I was given direct orders to come straight to her when the task was complete. And I don't want to have to tell Her Majesty that you were keeping me from carrying out my orders."

Wexren grinned as the words worked their magic instantly and the guard stepped aside with a bow. Now that was more like it.

Smirking to himself, he stepped into the throne room and looked around. The Throne Room was the grand room where Kendra spent most of her time alone, poring over spell-books and mixing potion ingredients and doing whatever else it was that Kendra did with her free time. Nobody questioned Her Majesty. Very few were granted entry to the Throne Room, but when it did come time for her to converse with one of her followers, this was where she entertained him. Nobody entered Kendra's private chambers, on pain of things much, much worse than death.

So you have returned. What took you so long? The silvery voice spoke directly into Wexren's mind, music so beautiful that it hurt to listen to. Wexren whirled around in surprise and, upon seeing Her Majesty not a foot away from him, dropped instantly to his knees on the ground, gasping.

How had he dared to look upon her? He was so unworthy, a lowly thief, a rat, unfit to breathe Her Majesty's air. And she was so beautiful… Pearly white skin shone moon-bright under a head of flowing raven hair, her onyx eyes burning into the back of his neck as he quivered on the ground before her.

That will be enough. Kendra said coldly, bored. You may stand.

Knowing the consequences of defying an order–and it was a direct order, even if it wasn't phrased as such–Wexren scrambled to his feet and transitioned smoothly from being unable to look at Kendra for her beauty to being unable to take his eyes off her. She was taller than he was and so slender, almost wisp-like, so as to give the impression that she wasn't human, but an ethereal being. Her attire was crimson with only trimmings of the traditional black, and consisted of a skintight corset top, full-length skirt slit so high that it was practically cleaved in half, and skintight thigh-high boots. Witches are not famed for their modesty.

You say you have secured the prisoner? Kendra's voice was eager. Wexren nodded fervently.

"Yes Mistress." He said breathlessly. "We've got her; Murkus is in the dungeon guarding her."

Good. Kendra smiled, almost causing Wexren to faint on the spot. Why did it take you so long? I expected you back by sunup.

"I'm sorry, Your Majesty." Wexren said hurriedly. "The prisoner put up a fight, you see."

Kendra nodded understandingly.

Ah, yes. I have already attended to Murkus's hand. He's as good as new. Better, I daresay. She laughed, a twittering, cold laugh. Wexren chuckled along. Well done, Wexren. She reached out a hand to touch his cheek. Wexren trembled with delight. Go relieve Murkus of his guarding position. Come back to this room tonight at midnight to collect your…rewards.

Bowing low, Wexren hurried away. The word rewards still echoed in his mind. He knew what that meant. Witches were known for being rather good with "rewards". Wexren knew from experience that Kendra was no different.

Kendra was hard-pressed to stop herself from emitting a very undignified shriek of happiness after Wexren left the throne room. At last, the most important ingredient had been secured! Conquest was assured. Nothing stood now between Kendra and Omnipotence. Nothing except for the three weeks until full moon, that is.

Trembling with excitement, she walked to her throne and lifted up the crimson-bound volume that sat upon it. The book had no title. It was the diary of Miranda Hex, the most notorious and dangerously powerful sorceress that ever lived.

Rumor had it that Miranda Hex could freeze the sun and boil the sea, make mountains bow and fearless warriors beg and cry for mercy. Every witch who battled her died a horrible death. Her followers received rewards beyond their wildest dreams, but death came to all who so much as spoke her name without permission. She was the most powerful sorceress of her lifetime, and her brilliance was never surpassed nor equaled in the many thousand years that followed.

But, of course, she didn't think this was enough. What was the point in being the most powerful unless you were all-powerful? Eventually, someone would always come along who was smarter, shrewder, more ambitious, or more talented than you were,

Unless you made that impossible by becoming perfection.

So Miranda invented a potion to do just that. An Omnipotence Draught, a horribly powerful and shockingly uncomplicated potion that gave the drinker absolute power. By combining the recipes for immortality, eternal youth, inexhaustible power, and absolute command over all things, living and nonliving, Miranda developed a concoction that was certain to make her unsurpassable–and, more importantly, ultimate ruler of the universe.

But the other witches of the world got wind of this just in time. And there is nothing that witches hate more than…well, than other witches. Especially other witches in power. The thought of another witch becoming Omnipotent was unthinkable.

So unthinkable, in fact, that they did something completely unheard of.

They banded together to destroy her.

My friend, if as much as two witches band against you the polite thing to do is save them the trouble and drop dead before they ring the doorbell. Having more than one witch angry at you is suicide as it is, but if they're angry enough to work together to bring about your defeat, the smartest thing you can do is drop to your knees and beg for a quick, painless death. Many in this situation died not from the witches' wrath, but from sheer gibbering terror.

There were hundreds. Even Miranda didn't stand a chance.

However, the witches were not particularly preoccupied with making a clean job of things, and so when Miranda was reduced to an unpleasant fizzing stain on the palace floor, they went soaring back to their homes without a second thought. Miranda's stronghold was left intact, and none of her possessions were touched. They must have felt that since Hex Castle was in the middle of nowhere, the chances of it being found were slim to none.

But they had been wrong, and now there was a new witch in power, more determined than Miranda had ever been to procure the potion and achieve Omnipotence. Kendra had attracted a myriad of followers and set up a stronghold in Hex Castle, memorizing spell-books that Miranda had written and obsessing over the witch's old diaries. The Omnipotence Draught combined the four most difficult and complicated potions ever invented, and so Kendra had her work cut out for her. Her blind followers came in handy; any one of them would go to the end of the earth to get a certain kind of plant for her if she promised them that they would be "rewarded" when they returned.

Please do not ask me: "what kind of rewards?" Draw your own conclusions.

And after years of tireless work, perfecting her self-designed illusion to keep her slaves powerless, poring over old spell-books until her eyes almost fell out of her sockets and spending hours leaning over a simmering cauldron, measuring herbs the smells of which made her feel slightly disoriented, after these three years of work her toil was nearing it's end.

She had secured the last ingredient.