“I wish I could remember why I brought you here,” Corvus says while staring across the ocean. Choppy waves slam into the eroding shore, each one delivering small pieces of Crow’s Landing. “There are so many lies I’ve weaved over the years that I can’t keep them straight. It might be a good thing that you’re forcing me to start again. Perhaps you were brought to my world for Grace’s benefit and I had no reason to toy with you. After all, there’s nothing that you’ve truly given me that I would call useful.”
“Your wife might be dead,” Ian states as he reaches the shore. With a grunt of pain, he rips a chunk of glass from his arm and tosses it onto the pier. “To be honest, I don’t care why you brought me here. All I want to know is what you are. Some kind of god? An alien? Was Rich right and you’re a ghost?”
“My wife will be fine. She’s tougher than you think,” the other man replies with a sigh. Still wearing his suit, he adjusts the cuffs and considers the choices he has been given. “I know I’m from Earth and I know I’m not dead. Yet, I don’t think I’m arrogant enough to call myself a god. My origin is the same as every other being. I was born from a forgettable woman and grew up to be an unforgettable man.”
Ian scratches his head and winces when he finds more shards in his scalp. “Then why are you hiding on an island? If you have the power to do whatever it is you’re doing here, it seems foolish to squander it in isolation.”
Corvus lifts his hand to allow a raven to land on his wrist, the bird dropping a small shell into his palm. He quietly turns the object over and runs a finger along its ridges, the design reminding him of an ancient memory. He smiles when the crab pokes out of its home and wanders up his arm. The tiny creature makes it to his shoulder before it is callously flicked into the ocean.
“Humanity feared my ability to make dreams reality and they drove me away,” Corvus explains as he walks along the coast. Bodies are appearing in the surf, so he waves his hand to transform them into pieces of driftwood. “I wandered the wilderness and attempted to swim across the ocean. When I nearly drowned, I subconsciously made this island and it has been my home ever since. Sadly, humans are social creatures and I craved such contacts. That is where Grace and Raven’s Hold came from. She was a blacklisted psychologist and I gave her a purpose in return for people that I could play with. The first few didn’t take to my physical presence, so I became the ghost. Everyone got something and I gained more when my dear Dawn was brought to me. To be honest, I never planned on marrying her since I find the tradition pointless for someone like me. Yet she insisted since our world was coming to an end. Is that the reason I wanted you to come here? No because it’s such a minor thing and it leaves us having to start with nothing.”
“You could go somewhere and live among people,” Ian suggests as he puts on the penguin necklace. “It seems like you’ve been here for a few decades, so society has probably changed for the better. Even if it hasn’t, I’m sure you’ve learned more control and can use your powers with more subtlety. Maybe you can be a living superhero and save the world instead of toying with the broken-minded like me.”
“Can you repeat that?”
“Maybe you can save the world?”
Corvus laughs and does a little dance before hugging the surprised man. “That’s why I wanted you here. It wasn’t to destroy my world or to make things easier for Grace. Let that old bag suffer in . . . well she’s dead, so no point in finishing that sentence. The reason I wanted you here Ian Connors is because I was in a rut. My life has been Raven’s Hold for so long that I can’t think of anything else. My dreams have become stagnant. You sparked the only dream that I’ve yet to fulfill. Thank you, my friend.”
“So you only wanted to be a superhero,” Ian cautiously states before a rumble of thunder shakes the island. Lightning can be seen in the distance, but it never gets any closer than a mile offshore. “That’s a rather noble dream. Superheroes have always been popular so-”
“Hero? Not at all. I’m going to be a villain,” the black-haired man proudly declares with a frightening twinkle in his eyes. Licking his lips, Corvus releases Ian from his embrace and cracks his knuckles. “Why would I want to save a species that cast me aside? They had their chance to reap the rewards of my existence. Now I’ll see who is the strongest and forge a better society than anything ever witnessed before. It isn’t like anyone out there can stop me. Yes, it seems villain would definitely be a smarter choice for me.”
Grabbing a piece of driftwood in his remaining hand, Ian takes a swing at Corvus and shatters the makeshift club on impact. A few splinters are in the side of the other man’s head, but they are pushed out by the healing flesh. The ravens swoop out of the sky to attack and stop once their master raises his hand, a restrained laugh making him shiver.
“I assume this is where you swear to stop me and warn others,” Corvus says as he approaches the scared human. Gently patting his enemy’s cheek, he yawns and casually walks in a circle. “You are right that I probably require an adversary to make things more enjoyable. A being who can earn my respect and disdain. Sadly, you only have the latter and I find myself wanting a foe with more bite. Also two hands and more of a spine. One big loss and you’ll kill yourself. Nope, I need an enemy with staying power.”
“Then what are you going to do?” Ian asks, refusing to back down. He throws a punch with his stump that harmlessly glances off Corvus’s shoulder. “You’re right that I would break too easily. In fact, I hope you kill me now.”
“It was a consideration, but I want to make you suffer for what you did.”
A broom closet erupts from the ground behind Ian and the door swings open to reveal a padded interior. With a one-handed shove, Corvus sends the man stumbling into the small container and locks him inside. Sparks fly from the frame and the wood hisses as all of the seams are sealed, preventing anyone from opening the box. Irritated by the constant banging and screaming, Corvus has the closet sink back into the earth and covers the area with a mat of drooping tulips. Frowning at how close the cage is to the shore, he waves his hand and sends it burrowing deep into the center of the island. More of the decrepit flowers sprout along the path and a leafless willow grows at Ian’s final destination.
Noticing dirt on his hands, Corvus uses his handkerchief to clean them and watches as his wounded bride limps toward him. Worried that Dawn might be too hurt to reach him, the man breathes into the wind and coats the island in a reviving mist. Not being used to healing severe injuries with his powers, the expenditure creates white streaks in his ebony hair. The sacrifice is worth it as every step she takes is stronger and her injuries gradually disappear. By the time she joins her smiling husband, the only sign of her defeat is a gaping eye socket. When Corvus reaches out to rebuild the missing part, Dawn stops him and pulls the unicorn horn from her skirts. Without a word, he shoves it into the hole and transforms it into a golden eyepatch that is bonded to her skin.
“I love it. So much better than a ring,” Dawn says after a mirror appears before her face. She taps at the solid decoration and uses her nail to carve a crude flower, which she erases by rubbing on the metal. “It’s beautiful and I appreciate it, but I don’t think I can go with you, sweetie. The outside world is scary. People are mean. They’re . . . normal out there. There’s never any fun in normal. That’s what you always say. How are we supposed to live among normal people?”
“Don’t worry, my love. They won’t be that way for long.”