Rostov stared in shock at the unknown man standing casually in the doorway. For someone who had burst into a room with no invitation, Lamps looked far too casual about it.
“W-Who the hell are you?!” Rostov yelled predictably.
“Me? You have no business with me. I have no interest in you. There are no need for salutations.” Lamps calmly walked over, undeterred by the bloody, raised sword in Rostov’s hand. He pulled out an expensive magic light fixture that was missing the lampshade and held it in front of him.
“You better put that down. I’ve had enough of my stuff being broken!” Rostov swung his sword, sneering at the man for wielding a random appliance to bludgeon him. However, his expectations had been completely off.
A strong light erupted from the top of the fixture. But what was normally a harmless glow had fired a loud crackle of electricity instead. As soon as the sword connected with the light, Olivia stared dumbly as Rostov’s body jerked to and fro uncontrollably. The man howled in pain as he was electrocuted by the modified object in Lamps’ possession.
The strange Electi that Olivia had summoned was a genius inventor in his world, the CEO of a large tech corporation that he created from the ground up. Using his experience and creativity, he was able to rewire a batch of different objects that he swiped from the storeroom. The fact that he could now see mana helped him to quickly construct a suitable device against the guards.
What was a gaudy light for decoration became a weapon that could knock out everyone he encountered. And with the ability to sense others, it was easy for Lamps to remain unnoticed while he zapped them all into a state of unconsciousness.
After Rostov crumpled to the ground with a heavy thud, Olivia crawled over to them.
“Y-You! Why? Why did you come? I thought you ran away!”
“I did. To assess the situation. I’ve encountered enough bad deals to know when to show up with the right cards on the table. However, it seems like some bad things had happened while I was away. Many apologies.”
Lamps extended a hand out to help her up. Olivia retreated instinctively and covered her scarred face, only to remember that the man was blind. In fact, he could hardly tell that anything was different about her, aside from the panic that she displayed. He was the one person that could not see how ugly she now was.
“And that? What is that weird thing?” She pointed at the crude stun gun.
“Just something I half-assed together. Didn’t even have any duct tape, so I had to get creative with the soldering. But enough about that. What do you plan to do with him now that my sole business partner has been rescued from his clutches?”
Olivia stared at the vile man unconscious on the ground, and then at the sword that had fallen beside him. Clenching her teeth in anger, the half that remained, she scooped the weapon up with both hands and brought it down upon the man.
Blood spurted around the room as she hacked away at Rostov, a sense of liberation filling her with each blow. Finally, after months of captivity, she was free from his tyranny. No more would he touch her, or beat her, or have his way with her. She had come out of this alive, thanks to her summon.
Even after Rostov died, Olivia continued to carve at him mercilessly, until the bloody mess was hardly recognizable, save for the stained clothing. Gasping for air due to the exertion, Olivia pulled up a status window in the air and looked at it.
Apparently, Rostov had been a fairly high-level person as her own level jumped up tremendously. That difference in strength didn’t matter when the victim was completely unconscious. She smirked as she realized that she could just become strong herself. She walked out the bedroom and peered into the hallway. Seeing two more guards unconscious, she didn’t hesitate to slay them as well.
Killing humans gave more experience than monsters, so she could see noticeable jumps in her stats afterward. She motioned for Lamps to help her with his stun gun, who nodded and followed along.
Olivia continued on, slaughtering the rest of the mansion’s residents, a low, cackling laugh accompanying each kill. Stunned into submission, and then cut down by the blood-caked sword in Olivia’s hand, no one was able to resist. At one point, she held the sword out to Lamps, asking him to partake in the power-leveling, but he simply shook his head.
“While I’m not opposed to it, there seems to be a discrepancy between the force of my actions and the resulting effect. Quite mysterious that the laws of nature bend in such a manner, but then again, those are physics established from my world…”
Olivia stared blankly at his statements, the only moment of clarity in her thoughts. But this, too, seemed to be gibberish to her. Lamps cleared his throat, realizing that this moment of dead silence meant that he had gone way over a layman’s understanding.
“Perhaps, it is better to show you.”
He took the sword from her and swung down with what was seemingly deadly force. However, the blade literally bounced off the body. Even Olivia at her weakest point could manage a swing that caused more damage than that.
“No effect it seems. Or rather, no more than if I were to simply drop it from such a height.” Lamps brought the sword up again and simply let go. It fell onto the body with a clunk and bounced off with nearly the same motion.
“Even if you ask me to and I execute the motions, a strange disconnect forms in between. Or simply put, maybe I just don’t have the will to strike,” Lamps said, shrugging. The feeling was completely foreign to him, so not even he could infer what was going on. He simply concluded that he could not actively attack another person.
Olivia suddenly had a thought. If Lamps was one of those special Electi, then what advantage was he summoned with? Every Electi had one, and a disadvantage paired with it.
She brought up a status window for him, scanning through the different lines.
“Nothing. Everything looks norm-, eh?”
While Olivia had scrolled from the bottom up, she had seen that his normal stats were pretty typical of a normal person. But then, her eyes saw the ridiculous number that was part of his MP bar.
“…Four, five, six digits!? How!? How is that even possible?!”
The normal person only had enough mana for two or three digits, maybe four if trained to the level of heroes. But the imposing number of 999999 next to his maximum MP hovered in her vision like something taped over her eyes.
“Wait, you weren’t using the mana from stones to power that thing!?” Olivia nearly shouted.
“Why would I need to? Simply focusing on that blue light within me and drawing it out seemed to do the trick. I suppose that this is what you people call ‘magic’ in this world?”
Magic aside, Lamps had been using that stun gun of his to zap numerous people with the equivalent of a mid-tier Lightning spell. She watched as he discharged the weapon again, which merely changed the last two digits of his MP.
She had stumbled upon an Electi that had virtually limitless mana, with the drawback that he lacked any intention to directly attack others. However, the one blessed with this gift possessed unrivaled ingenuity. He had instantly discovered a workaround by crafting magic tools to do the work for him.
Discharging lightning from an object did not count as a direct attack, but a hazard that was present in the environment. Or at least, Lamps had subconsciously made it work as so. True enough, Rostov had been the one to attack a tool that was merely discharging magic. Being electrocuted by it was a natural result of him being in the way.
As the sun rose upon two people standing in the courtyard of a now-quiet mansion, Olivia beamed a genuine smile towards the morning glow. But with the ghastly face that smile was etched upon and a body smeared with dried blood, one would think she was a demonic being feeling jubilant after a slaughter. And perhaps, she was.
Bubbling with excitement. But not because she had slain those that held her captive. With Lamps Magellan at her side, there was so much that could be done. There were many people that she could take revenge upon. Finally, it looked like some luck had been granted to compensate for all the struggles that she endured.
“I see… So that is the type of ‘Master’ that has summoned me. Most amusing. The path that you plan to take will definitely require much of my expertise…”
Olivia spun around to the smirking inventor, who merely shrugged at the high expectations that she aimed toward. Revenge upon an entire kingdom that had wronged her was certainly a lofty goal. And on top of that, he had not shied away from her dirtied hands.
“What? Too much for you to handle? Surely, you jest. But with what promise you hold, I wonder if there’s even anything I can offer you in return.”
Olivia knew quite well. No one did things out of charity. Even if her Electi was technically a summoned servant, that was hardly a reason for him to obediently follow along with her whims. But she had nothing, save for a broken-in, disfigured body, which was the last thing he would ask of her. Nervously, she wondered what such a quirky man would even desire.
“What in return? Now, that’s a good question… Maybe I’ll think of something along the way. But for now, your actions are tickling my curiosity enough. After all, there is still much for me to learn about this world and how it operates. Can’t make a sound request if I’m just a mere babe flailing around in its environment.”
Lamps’ vague answer raised some alarms for Olivia. Letting someone have a blank slate to carve their request on was a risky move.
Sensing that change in emotion in her, Lamps added, “What? You don’t trust me?”
“No, definitely not. I trust no one,” was her instant reply.
“I see. That goes the same for me. Blind trust is rarely a good thing.” Lamps walked over and extended his palm out for a handshake. “But a business proposition that will benefit both parties, that is what I live for. You have one of the greatest pioneers of my world at your beck and call. Show me that you have what it takes to make use of it in this world.”
For Lamps, who was a hugely successful inventor and capitalist, the goal of taking over the world was not just mere talk, but a daily thought. Domination was the command of money flow. A monopoly was the same as conquering the world. They were just different rules to the same game. A new game that was worth playing while he was here.
For the first time in a long while, Olivia reached out and took the other person’s hand. With the deal sealed, the two scavenged what resources they could from Rostov’s mansion and went underground.
Not long after, mysterious tools that vastly improved people’s lives flooded the black market, each engraved with a mask illuminated by a lamp. These tools made by “Mask” and “Lamps” grew in popularity so much that everyone knew about them. Their goods made use of mana far better than others. Their weaponry was more effective.
Within months, the underworld shifted toward them, creating a hierarchy with those two at the top. They gathered supporters from all over, and even infected the ranks of the Purnesian military. Taking advantage of the natural hardship that normal Purnesians faced, they won them over with various lifelines. Enemies grew scared of the Mask, an intimidating woman who cut down anyone who dared to make enemies of them. Those who survived those encounters spread word of a devilishly tempting voice that they couldn’t help but admire to the point of switching sides. But even if they hadn’t realized that they had been ‘charmed’, supporters flocked to them in awe of the magical solutions that Lamps devised.
Within two years, more people carried the emblem of the Mask and Lamps than without. And with weapons far superior than what the military possessed, a swarm of people rushed through the streets to take over the entire capital. These weapons fired bullets that tore through everything in their path, a far cry from the traditional, close-range weaponry or bows that were used.
The emperor at that time was now seen as a fool who stopped bothering to antagonize Sistina. He had failed much in the past and retreated due to the impregnable wall along the borders. At best, only some magical golems could be sent as a disturbance, so that spies could be planted in the neighboring kingdom. But the people were furious, led on by hopes of a new power that could do better.
That day was the end of his reign.
A woman stepped into the throne room. Though her face was covered with a mask, her presence gave off a look of determination. The Emperor knew that there was no escape. He had nowhere to go as his opponents had slowly coiled themselves around the entire capital. He had so few allies that weren’t already ensnared by the scheme.
Therefore, he simply sighed and gave his last words.
“You. Are you prepared to take this empire to Hell?”
The Emperor knew exactly what the Mask wanted – to revive the war against Sistina and take back their homeland. He had spent his years in power to stifle the fires of his people. He believed that time had changed everyone long enough that the past no longer mattered anymore. That the lands they were in now was home, and they were making the most of it.
However, the public begged to differ, and that led to the rise of this usurper.
“We are already in Hell. People never forget, especially those who don’t have a castle to protect them.”
The Mask raised her gun and fired, a brief shine emitting from the gem housed in the handle. Even as the Emperor stood up to block the attack, he found that it pierced through everything – his shield, his armor, straight through his body and lodging itself finally into his throne.
‘Such an attack shouldn’t have been possible!’ the Emperor thought as he gazed at the Mask, whose level was only half of his own. Even with a very powerful weapon, he had not expected to be defeated in an instant.
But as he fell over, the glow of the gem shone once again. The blue hue caught his attention.
“That, that is a Resonance Stone!” he spit out with difficulty.
Being the leader of his empire, he instantly realized how the Mask had overcome her disadvantage. Resonance Stones were the key to it. They could be used for the transfer of another person’s mana to an object remotely, allowing the wielder to invoke the power of others. The Mask was borrowing the strength of another person, someone extremely powerful.
“This baby lets me walk the surface of Hell and fight along with everyone who is rising up. Don’t you think that is a just and noble cause? Quite romantic to me.”
As the Mask stroked her weapon, the Emperor had a realization. The reason his military was trampled so easily had likely been due to these weapons. They instantly overcame the normal weakness of the common man. If that was the case, then the Mask controlled an army of copies that possessed superior strength. It was a terrifying advantage.
‘But, how did such a strong person exist in the first place? Someone of this caliber would be hard to keep hidden.’
As various thoughts ran through his mind, his eyes suddenly got wide. As one idea dawned upon him, the swing of a sword cut right below his chin, leaving a face frozen in that position as his head rolled away.
The woman bent over and took off her mask, a devious smile of satisfaction on her face. It had been a long road to this point, but everything they had done had culminated towards this victory.
Lamps’ inventions had attracted numerous people, who in turn, wielded his superior weapons. Those weapons were all embedded with a Resonance Stone, which were abundant in Purnesia for some reason. They were cheap rocks in this nation, which hardly had the mana to make any use of them. But they became the perfect medium to connect Lamps with all of his customers.
And by adjusting some magic formulas, Lamps was able to imbed a secret spell in each one of his products.
[Experience Leech – Obtain a portion of gained experience points when this weapon is used]
Every kill that had been made with his weapons funneled experience to Lamps, solving his inability to level up by killing things himself. And after two years, the combined efforts of an empire had boosted his level to that of heroes.
And now, he could use his powerful state to supply an endless amount of mana to all those who wielded a weapon for their cause. Olivia discarded her mask, no longer needing to hide her face behind it. She was now the new ruler of Purnesia – an empire no longer controlled by the few with power. Rather, Purnesia was an empire where any one person could wield it with a touch of the finger.
That very idea itself seemed ‘mad’ to many, but both Olivia and Lamps had made it possible. And as far as Olivia had seen, this was already a ‘mad world’. But now, she would embrace it. She would stand atop it to oversee the madness.
No one could blame her for smiling at the title of ‘Mad Empress’.