Shadow Slave

Chapter 796 Real Deal
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Sunny tilted his head a little.

"What do you mean?"

Rain glanced at him and shrugged.

"It is because my father works for the government that I know this stuff. Well… let's say that millions of people believe that Lady Nephis is the hero that is going to lead humanity to conquer the Fourth Nightmare. It doesn't matter if she truly is. As long as people believe it, she has influence over them. Her image might be an illusion, but that influence is real. Which means that her power is also real. Do you understand?"

He stared at her in bewilderment.

"So… you are saying that just because someone decided to make Neph into a powerful hero and manipulated people into believing that she is, she actually became one?"

Rain nodded.

"Think about it. If Lady Nephis decides to appear in public tomorrow and appeal for people to take arms and join the government army, tens of thousands of new recruits will answer the call. Maybe even hundreds of thousands! How can something that can affect hundreds of thousands of lives not be real? So, she is different from a celebrity like Night, or a Master like you. She is the real deal."

Sunny scratched the back of his head.

'Why am I getting schooled by my student? About lies and deceit, of all things!'

The worst part of it was that Rain made a lot of sense. Power was an elusive concept… so was the difference between the real and the unreal. It was easy to point at an object and say that it was real. One could see it, touch it, and break it. But what about less tangible things? Was friendship real? Or love? Or belief, for example?

If belief in something could affect millions of people, cause them to throw themselves into a war, persecute a group of individuals, or build incredible miracles of architecture, it was indeed stupid to say that the thing they believed in was not real. Since it was able to exert influence on the real world, the object of their belief stopped being an illusion and became something different.

Something like a… a deity?

Sunny frowned.

'What the hell am I thinking about? I was supposed to discipline my lazy student, not go on a philosophical tangent about the nature of divinity!'

It did not apply to actual gods, anyway. When they had been alive, the gods did not care about who believed in them and why. Why would they, if their power had been born long before humanity even existed?

At that point, Nephis suddenly turned her head and said without opening her eyes:

"You talk too much. Keep swinging that sword, Rain."

The teenage girl flinched and obediently raised her weapon.

"Yes, Lady Nephis!"

Sunny opened his mouth.

'Wait… who's the teacher here?!'

Neph, meanwhile, lingered for a moment and added:

"The power you talk about might be real, but it is fragile and insubstantial. It can be broken just as easily as it was created… unless the person wielding it has actual strength to defend it. At the end of the day, nothing that has been handed to you is as valuable as what you have nurtured and cultivated yourself. So… don't slack off in your training."

Her expression softened a little, and the corner of her mouth curved upward.

"You are doing very well already. Just continue practicing with the same determination."

A bright smile suddenly appeared on Rain's face.

"Really? You really think so? Sunny said so, too! He said that I am way better than he was!"

Nephis slowly shook her head.

"Sunny did not have a systematic education and the solid foundation that you enjoy. He never had a proper teacher, let alone a personal tutor. And yet, he has achieved so much, in such a short time. You are far from his level… for now. Even if you catch up to his corresponding accomplishments, it won't be enough. With your background and advantages, the only acceptable result is to surpass them."

Sunny scoffed.

"Yeah, no way that happens…"

Rain threw an angry look at him, and then said defensively:

"But… I am not even a Sleeper. I don't have a soul core and an Aspect. I can't do what he did."

Neph opened her eyes and looked at the teenage girl somberly.

"It doesn't matter if you are an Awakened, a Sleeper, or a mundane human. Chances are, you won't even be infected by the Spell. That doesn't mean that you have an excuse to remain weak. In fact, that only makes your need to grow stronger more dire."

She sighed.

"Most people in this world are mundane, and yet, they face the same dangers. I've known many brave individuals who did not possess supernatural strength or a powerful Aspect. It takes… a lot of courage to resist the tyranny of the Spell without them. Those people might have not wielded weapons or fought on the frontlines of this war, but they were more courageous than most Awakened I've seen. And the impact they made was no less real."

Nephis closed her eyes again and resumed cycling her essence.

"Strength is strength. Whether you become an Awakened or not, you'll need it. So, train earnestly. Don't let my presence distract you."

Sunny felt like he urgently needed to say something. He cleared his throat and looked at Rain solemnly: Please visit 𝒾𝒏n𝗿𝒆а𝑑. 𝘤𝘰m

"Uh… yeah. This world is not kind to the weak! Well, you know this… wasn't that the reason you asked me to train you, in the first place? So, stop staring at Neph and get to work!"

The teenage girl hesitated for a few moments, and then bowed.

"Thank you, grand-teacher!"

Sunny ground his teeth.

'What? Why don't I get a thank you? What the hell?!'

The alloy stick in his hand came to life, shooting forward to strike Rain on the shoulder. However, the girl had not let down her guard. Reacting with surprising speed, she sidestepped his attack and deflected the stick with her training sword, then counterattacked. Sunny almost got hit in the nose.

He hid his surprise and continued pressuring his student.

'Well, whatever just happened... appears to have worked?'

Rain did not seem distracted anymore, at least.

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