Torches flickered in the long stone hallways. Water dripped from growths of rocks on the ceiling toward the ground, splatting in puddles long since formed. A mouse scurried between two areas of light and through a small puddle, then into a ventilation hole in the ground. It scurried through the elaborate series of tunnels leading throughout the caves until it came upon one room in particular, a crossroads of tunnels. Seven vases lined the wall, relics older than time itself sat dusty upon pedestals that many hadn't moved off of in millenia, and a great throne sat in the middle, carved, it seemed, out of the very ground itself. But the most intersting thing in the room had to be the young boy standing in front of the throne. He was drenched in sweat and panting hard. An old laugh came from the throne, and the wizard Shazam spoke.
"Billy! You must try harder! The magic isn't simply given to you, you must earn its respect before you can use it!" Billy Batson took a deep breath and steadied himself. He opened his eyes and looked right at the old wizard. "Shazam!" he cried, and the thunders answered his call. Lightning struck in the stone room, and Billy was gone. In his place stood another man, much taller, much older. The man was eerily similar to Billy, perhaps looking like an older brother or father to the boy. He was clothed in red, a golden bolt of lightning on his chest. When he had first seen himself this way, for that one moment through the eyes of Shazam, he had been reminded of the Flash, though Billy half wished he could have a helmet or something like the World's Fastest Man had.
He started breathing hard again, and lightning started sparking from his hands. The bolt on his chest began to glow and his hair stood on end. This was the part he couldn't get past. He had summoned the power, but hadn't been able to find a way to harness it, to use it, yet. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate, but his mind drifted to a memory of his father. He didn't know when it was, but he couldn't have been more than four or five years old. He was holding his fathers hand. He had had to go on a trip to somewhere, Gotham City maybe, and his father had brought him along. The lighting cracked from his fingers and came out of his ears. His entire body glowed yellow. He was at an amusement park with his father, riding a roller coaster, even though he wasn't quite tall enough. He held his fathers hand all day that day.
He didn't get the chance to again.
He felt the lightning quiet inside of him. He could have sworn that a voice asked him inside his head What do you want this power for? Why are you doing this? He hurt. He wanted the power gone, he wanted to stop this power from destroying him. He answered the voice. I want to help people.
The voice seemed amused when it next spoke. A simple wish, a child's wish. Honest. Pure. You are worthy, William Batson. You are worthy of this power. His hands stopped sparking, his ears stopped ringing, the golden emblem on his chest returned to its usual level of brilliance. He stood, steady and stable, before Shazam. He old wizard looked at the man, a puzzled look on his face.
"Billy," he said, rising, his voice quiet, "you have mastered the power far sooner than any champion I've had. You truly are a marvel." He stepped toward the man and Billy stood up straighter. "Now, my Captain, what do we call you?" He placed an old hand on Billy's shoulder. The hero smiled.
"You already said it, sir," he said. "Marvel. I'm Captain Marvel."