As she was recovering from shock, the man’s head popped up and swirled all around.
“Fascinating… What is this before me?! Vision… but not quite so… Truly intriguing!”
The strange outburst aside, his manner of dress also appeared very distinct and stylish, like that of a nobleman of good pedigree. His gray suit jacket was fully unbuttoned to show a pristine, white shirt underneath. She could tell from the cut of his attire that he was a slim person who was anything but a fighter. With a clean face that was reasonably handsome, the only quirk was that his eyes never opened during the banter he was making. If anything, it appeared like she had summoned some rich man who would skirt effort in favor of flaunting his wealth.
The girl cautiously moved closer to interrupt the ramblings of a man who was clearly a fish out of water but mesmerized by that fact.
“E-Excuse me… Who are you?”
“Who am I? Why, I’m more surprised that any normal person doesn’t know me, the genius of Tech Valley, the master inventor and CEO of-, though… come to think of it. I get the inkling that I’m not in the States anymore. You know, all the flashy things that I see that are outlining you, and me as well! It gives off some kind of mystical, dreamlike realm.”
The man’s fast speech and bombardment of terms that she had no understanding of went way over her head. She held out a hand to interrupt.
“Please. Slow down. I cannot understand the ramblings of an otherworlder so easily. So for now, all you need to know is that I summoned you to help me.”
“All right then. I guess that it’s plausible that I have somehow been whisked away to some foreign magical land. That, or this is quite the elaborate dream I’m having.” The man stood up and brushed himself off before bowing. “And what do I have the honor of calling the Master who has rubbed the genie from his bottle?”
“O-Olivia…,” she replied, only vaguely catching that he asked for her name.
“Hmm, simple. But lovely. As for me, I am…” The man paused for a moment with his finger waving up at the sky. His brow wrinkled as if seemingly unsure of what to call himself. “Actually, there’s no point in using my real name. It means nothing here. Let’s make it easier for you. How about you call me whatever you like?”
The man presented his hand forward in a pose that beckoned her to take it and be helped up. Surely, the man was now poking fun at her. She instinctively went to take it but stopped short, withdrawing her hand quickly in disgust.
‘Why would he offer such nonsense? Did I summon a madman?’ Olivia pondered, her lips crumpling into a frown. However, she realized that she could’ve done the same as well.
At this point, she utterly hated the name that her parents had given her. She loathed how it remained as a connection to the very same greedy people that sold her. And above all, she silently cursed the name every time it escaped from the lips of the vile merchant Rostov as he sullied her with his lust and violence.
Because of the bitterness she felt being reminded of that, a part of her wanted to give him an utterly stupid name. Her eyes hovered over to a pile of light fixtures that were in one corner.
“Lamps… that will be what I call you. As for the rest…” Oliva spied a globe to her right, which she placed her hand upon to lightly spin it. A children’s fairy tale about a sea explorer tickled her memory. “Magellan. That’s it, you shall be called Lamps Magellan.”
Inwardly, she smiled at the ridiculous combination, as she expected the man to protest. That would teach him for yielding such a liberty. But that quickly dropped as ‘Lamps’ bent forward with a bow before scrutinizing her with a blank expression. Even more so, the fact that his eyes remained closed the whole time unnerved her.
“I see. That is the type of lady you are. A good upbringing but possibly alarmed by men. And the fact that you named me after a random object to spite me before choosing something else more attuned to your aspirations is certainly the interesting mix.”
Olivia took two steps back. “How did you-“
“Understand your intentions? My dear, when you are blind like me, the other senses pick up all sorts of little hints. The inclinations in your voice, the moment of hesitation in your breathing as an idea comes to you, the way you jerked your hand away despite almost taking it from instinct – they all paint a shade of the person you are.”
“But how, how are you able to see such subtle things so clearly? You have known me for merely minutes, and yet, I am being read like an open book!”
“First impressions are key to the success of an entrepreneur. I have trained myself to obtain any advantage possible when dealing with a potential party of interest… However, it seems that I let myself get a bit overexcited. Surely, you see me as some eccentric person, but forgive me since even I am new to what I am sensing at this moment.”
Olivia approached him, waving a hand in front of his face before his closed eyes. But Lamps simply stepped to the side as if he could see her. He circled around and seemingly studied her with a hand rubbing his chin.
“This world is quite peculiar. Unlike the darkness of my world, things appear to illuminate before me.” His hand brushed against Olivia’s body, causing her to jerk away. “A solid form but dynamic colors, like flowing liquid contained in a human shell.”
Lamps had been blinded by an accident several years ago, so he still recalled the memory of sight upon his world. But what he saw before him was unlike anything he had encountered. A strong blue glow traced along the body of Olivia, giving a subtle shape to her in his eyes. But like steam evaporating from water, he could also see wisps of it leaving her and joining the air. The things she touched as she moved around briefly lit up, the glow dimly transferred to it for a moment. It made him feel more connected to his surroundings than he had ever felt before.
“That must be mana that you are sensing. I can’t think of anything else you could mean.” Olivia gawked at him in surprise.
Only those that were highly trained in magic could see the mana coming from another person. And yet, the man before her claimed that he saw nothing but that. There was certainly something unique about him, despite the strange manner of speech he possessed.
Olivia found him intriguing. The curiosity he displayed was far different from anyone she had encountered. She had seen the hints of madness a person displayed when charmed by her, and this man looked very much charmed by the world itself. But now that she had summoned him, what could he possibly do?
A curious man would not save her. He was more likely to cause even more trouble. What she needed was a strong protector, not a madman who spouted about the grandeur of his surroundings. Even a silver tongue would not simply be able to ‘talk’ her out of captivity.
Just then, her thoughts were interrupted by noises in the distance. The sounds of heavy footsteps echoed from just down the hall. She recoiled in horror, racing over to the magic circle to erase the obvious signs of the summoning. The mansion guards had apparently discovered that she was missing and were scurrying about to find her.
Instantly pausing his musings because of her panicked movements, Lamps grew strangely silent and simply stared, unmoving, as she swirled dust around the chalk design to mask it. Olivia wondered if she would be doomed. The man apparently had no sense of danger or self-preservation as he was frozen in place. He would be absolutely no help.
It was up to her to escape. Grabbing the magic stones, she pocketed them for spare mana, hoping that it would be enough to charm her way out of the residence. As the door swung open, she activated the skill to its full effect, giving off a seductive pose to soften the gazes of her would-be captors.
Two men burst into the room, giving her a long look. She believed that they were responding to the influence until one of them reared back and slapped her in the face, sending her to the ground.
“I won’t be tempted by no sleaze of Sistina. I’d rather rut with the pigs.”
Since there was the danger of her Charm skill being used, Rostov employed some guards who held a strong prejudice against those from Sistina. They were nigh impossible to lure into her illusion, and Rostov knew that. Olivia had been unlucky that the first ones she encountered included one.
With her Charm canceled from the slap, the other guard shook his head and went back to work. He grabbed her by the arms and hoisted her to her feet, roughly shoving her towards the door. Olivia turned back briefly, wondering what would happen to Lamps, but he was nowhere to be seen. In fact, there was no trace that he was even there, so the guards simply pushed her onward.
Soon, she was face-to-face with a furious Rostov, whose face looked ready to kill.
“After I gave you such nice accommodations, ‘this’ is the thanks I get? Don’t forget, you’re just a whore with a pretty face. I was doing Charlemagne a favor by taking you as part of our business arrangements. He said that you would be a good toy, but I guess that you’re at the end of your use.”
He pointed to a large stack of magic stones that had been used for summoning Lamps. The glow from them was faint since much of the mana had been consumed.
“I have no idea what you’re trying to pull, wasting so much mana, but do you realize how much these things cost me? Not to mention all the other trinkets that have seemingly gone missing!” He stomped over and pulled her up by the hair. “I could buy nearly this entire house, or if that doesn’t register for you, ten trash women like you to play around with.”
Tears erupted from Olivia’s eyes due to the pain of him shaking her by the hair. She didn’t know what he was talking about. What other trinkets had she taken? All she had used were the magic stones.
Suddenly, he jerked her to the side, walking up to the wall of his personal bedroom. She heard the clink of metal removed from its stand above, before a cold blade was pressed against her face. A wave of terror flooded into her eyes as she felt a sting from the sharp blade glide across her skin slowly. A trickle of blood ran down her face.
“Charm skill, what an annoying woman you are. If you had simply given up, I probably could have used you for another couple of months, but you just had to go and use it. Well, why don’t we make sure that you’ll have a mug that can’t charm the ugliest of men.”
With that, Rostov pulled her head back before slamming the left side of her face into the blade, with such force that her jaw snapped and her skull caved in. Then, he pulled back before doing it again and again. Though she tried to scream in pain, the force of her face being crushed by the gruesome act of violence gave her no chance.
After a minute of her flailing helplessly from his continual rage, he finally had enough and let her mangled face drop to the floor. Pulling out a magic stone, he chanted a healing spell. But rather than fully reversing all the damage he caused, he didn’t bother resetting the broken teeth and shards of jaw that had been smashed. He purposefully shoved his fingers in the bloody mess to keep it from healing fully.
As a result, skin reformed over the face but left an unsightly gash. The hollow mouth that lacked teeth made her look horrifying. Now, no one could possibly be charmed by a face such as this. No amount of coercion could make any person want to love such a gruesome sight.
Olivia opened her eyes, tears streaming from them as she could feel what had been done to her. Rostov had sealed her fate. She would never be the same person again. But even that hardly mattered much, as she knew that he would simply toss her out like some wounded animal into a den of beasts. Even if no one could love a face like hers, there were any number of atrocities that could happen outside of these walls that she happened to overhear. Those savages would simply put a bag over her horrific face.
Rostov had not jested when he claimed to have ‘protected’ her. Any citizen of Sistina could easily be murdered traveling a few houses down. That was how much the people of Purnesia hated them. And hardly anyone would bother to stop such an act. In fact, they would likely come up with equally terrible forms of torture. Hardly a strange occurrence when an entire nation was taught that Sistina was full of demons who preyed upon them in the past.
There was no longer any hope for her. She would die a horrible death.
The door to the bedroom slammed open.
With eyes cloudy from her tears, Olivia stared in wonder as the man she had summoned, Lamps Magellan stood there.