Raphael was born with immense power. She was better at channeling water power than all of her fellow trainees. While the other trainees still practiced on concentrating their power, Raphael was already able to conjure water elements into various forms, and could even use water to draw illustrations. When her mentor first heard of Raphael, he was amazed by her talent, so he decided to transform her into a role model for the others.
One day, Raphael was having Keeper training as usual. The mentor wanted the trainees to practice controlling skills by concentrating a large amount of power and holding it in the shape of a sphere. He invited Raphael to demonstrate, but suggested Raphael to use the amount of power she had yet to master. Naturally, the power she gathered did not even last ten seconds.
Mentor: Come on. This is real practice. There is no time for jokes. Be a good role model and demonstrate it correctly.
Raphael was not joking. She just did not have the abilities to control that amount of power yet, so the violent currents clashed with each other and exploded. However, as her mentor urged her to execute the demonstration correctly, Raphael could only reduce the power to an amount she could control and tried again.
Her mentor was palpably displeased, but he did not ask for more. After all, it was merely a practice. However, when everyone was practicing, the mentor stealthily talked to Raphael...
Mentor: You’re gifted when it comes to power. With your talent, you can certainly perform my previous request.
The mentor thought Raphael was too humble to utilize her true power and hence thought she was capable of performing the difficult task.
Mentor: Remember. Showing your best side and being a role model are what outstanding individuals should do.
To reach the level her mentor asked of her, Raphael practiced every day on the practice grounds, and continuously reminded herself:
Raphael: I have to meet the qualifications of being a role model. This is what I should do...
Raphael: With my talent, I am capable of doing it...
Raphael: No. It’s not “I am capable”. It’s something “I must do”...
Her mentor’s expectation caused Raphael to ask more from herself, pulling her down a vortex called “stress”...
Keeper trainees stood in two lines facing each other. Every one of them stretched out their hands and gathered power in front of their abdomen. The lesson was to let trainees practice how to stably control their power. To pass, they must maintain their power in the shape of a sphere for more than half an hour.
Thirty minutes passed. A number of them released the sphere and took a rest, while the others continued to maintain their spheres in hopes of getting a higher grade. After another fifteen minutes, only a few trainees remained.
Eventually, Raphael and Uriel were the only ones maintaining their stance; both of them had sustained for more than an hour. They were both well-known for their extraordinary talent, so the trainees and the mentor were not surprised to see this. However, the test had yet to end...
Uriel: So, it’s just the two of us. Wanna compete? To see who lasts longer.
Raphael: That would be inappropriate. This is a test.
Uriel: We’ve already passed and earned high grades anyway. What? Is it too difficult for you?
Uriel’s words hit Raphael’s sore spot. Raphael did not like it when anything was “out of her capability”. She had to be perfect and outstanding if she did not want to disappoint everyone.
Raphael: No! I can do it!
The mentor was surprised to see the humble Raphael accepting the challenge. He took the role of being the judge while the other trainees secretly debated who was going to win.
Another thirty minutes passed. Sweat beads were visible on Raphael and Uriel’s face. Their mentor wondered whether he should stop them. However, the mentor had high expectations for Raphael; he wanted her to triumph over Uriel and teach that arrogant trainee a lesson.
As time passed, all who were present discussed their performance and who had the upper hand. Although Raphael was focusing on conjuring her power, she was still able to hear their discussion —
Keeper Trainee A: Uriel is reaching her limit. Do you see those sweat beads on her face?
Keeper Trainee B: Raphael is also shaking. I think she’s almost at her limit too.
Raphael was too focused on maintaining the power sphere to be aware of anything else. It was not until she heard them did she realize that her hands and shoulders were actually shaking. However, Uriel did not stop, so she cannot give up either. Raphael could feel the power in her hands gradually dissipating, so she quickly channeled more power from her arms to the sphere. To her surprise, that rendered her powerless; the power sphere lost control and exploded.
Keeper Trainee A: Raphael lost? It can’t be!
Watched by an audience, Raphael was so nervous that she felt dizzy, yet not so much to faint. However, she had lost control of her power sphere and had lost to Uriel.
Mentor: You must be exhausted. Don’t worry. Just go home and rest.
Although the mentor spoke comforting words, it was obvious he was filled with disappointment. Raphael also sensed it from the other trainees...
Raphael: ‘I have disappointed them. I have let everyone down...’
Raphael looked at her shaking hands, wondering if she could stand before the others again and be the role model her mentor had envisioned..
After losing to Uriel during their test on maintaining a power sphere, Raphael’s fears gradually stripped her of her ability to channel her power. Every time her mentor asked her to demonstrate, she dared not use her power with an audience around her. She was too afraid of failure and being a disappointment.
Raphael began to skip training, but she did not completely isolate herself. She still wanted to be a Keeper. However, she lacked the courage to face her fears even though she did not want to give up. As a result, she practiced alone to ease her feelings.
On the training grounds, there was someone still practicing, but not Raphael. She would deliberately avoid using the facilities at peak hours, so she was surprised to see someone else practicing alone after sunset.
Raphael watched as the individual constantly changed the form of her weapon. When the weapon became a broadsword or double swords, she would practice especially hard. When she was comfortable with one form, she would practice the other again.
Raphael: ‘Is she practicing to familiarize herself with the weapon’s power?’
???: How long are you going to watch?
The individual spoke first, startling Raphael who took a step back, but knowing she herself was impolite for peeping at another, Raphael approached and apologized. She was glad that the individual was kind and actually listened to her problems rather than blaming her.
Raphael: I don’t think I can ever use my power in front of a crowd again...I might fail again...and everyone will be disappointed...
Sariel: The first step is hard to take, but if you just summon the courage and do it, you’ll find that it’s not that difficult.
Raphael: Is that so...
Sariel: You see? I’m still practicing on how to manipulate the Evil Eye. Its immense power almost cost me my willingness to use it again.
Sariel shared her own experience with Raphael: when she had not fully mastered the Evil Eye yet, using its broadsword form triggered an eccentric change that transformed the Evil Eye into double swords. When she slashed the swords, they tore apart the entire arena. The fragments and rubble injured many, rendering her unable to think clearly...
Sariel: I couldn’t recover from the shock until an “annoying” guy told me to think back to the times I used the Evil Eye to heal and asked me to do it again.
Sariel: While I channeled the power, I was still afraid of the Evil Eye getting out of control.
Sariel: But when I actually used it to heal, it wasn’t that difficult. It felt easier to use it for healing compared to using it for offensive purposes.
Raphael listened to her, and courage gradually returned to her. The path in front of her may not be as difficult to travel as she had imagined. Staying in one spot was not going to help. Only by taking the first step would she be able to change her life.
They were destined to meet. Under Sariel’s encouragement, Raphael began to shake off her fear and regained her confidence. She joined the training classes again while the two of them kept on supporting each other, and finally, they became companions as both a friend and a teacher to the other.
After becoming a Keeper, Raphael and her companion, Kalaziel, were sent to a world that only consisted of oceans. Their assigned mission was to help the world’s inhabitants thrive and develop.^ ^ When they arrived, evidence of life could already be seen, but the inhabitants were too fragile to survive in the wavy ocean.
Raphael: We need to first draw an area to protect these new-born creatures. Until they mature, I will set up a fence to separate them from the strong tides.
Under Raphael’s care, the creatures gradually grew. Their bodies were translucent like water and they had numerous tentacles which enabled them to swim. However, no matter how they matured, they could never leave the safe zone Raphael had created, because they had never experienced hardships and hence, their bodies would not be able to withstand the waves.
Kalaziel: Raphael, they have never experienced hardships. They are like flowers in a greenhouse, easily broken by the wind.
Kalaziel: We can’t keep them in the safe zone forever. This is not nurturing. It’s breeding.
Kalaziel suggested that they give them trials, so the creatures would grow stronger and be able to live in the vast ocean by themselves.
However, Kalaziel’s trials were too harsh. When the creatures’ bodies just began to mature, Kalaziel would cast a vortex in the sea. Naturally, their bodies were unable to endure the powerful current and were torn apart.
Raphael: Kalaziel! It’s too early! They just formed their fundamental body. They haven’t stabilized yet!
Raphael tried to stop Kalaziel from putting the creatures through trials at such an early stage of maturity. However, even if they waited until the creatures’ bodies stabilized, the trials were still too harsh. It was as if they were deliberately destroying the creatures’ lives.
Kalaziel: If we do not provide them with enough trials, they would be feeble to live without our help.
Raphael: But this will only destroy them...Maybe we should work together instead of doing our parts separately.
Raphael: When I nurture them, you make sure they go through a little hardship...
Raphael proposed a plan which they would focus on their specialized field of work while cooperating with each other at the same time to reach their goal. Raphael nurtured the fragile creatures and let them thrive while Kalaziel gradually gave them more difficult trials.
Finally, they nurtured the first group of creatures that could live outside the safe zone. It was not until then did Raphael truly feel capable of helping the world and was proud and happy to do so.