That was all Olivia could think as she stared at her long-time companion. He had promised that they would take revenge together. Even though she knew that he fibbed quite often, the results at the end seemed to justify everything.
Lamps was a man built upon lies. A masquerade duet where Olivia played the part of the ruthless leader and Lamps the unquestionable genius. That had gone on for many years. So long, that she could hardly distinguish her own judgment from the acts themselves. Enough time to lose sight of what she really wanted from all of this.
She simply wanted a world that would accept her. And slowly, Lamps had given her that place. Never mind that he flaunted his genius in the most absurd of ways. She didn’t care how the people looked upon her with fear and disgust, so long as there was one person to listen to her qualms.
Even if Lamps acted flippant and dismissive, she would wake up the next day to a solution thrust upon her. That was his awkward way of caring. Olivia had grown so used to it that she couldn’t bear what she was seeing now.
Before her were the movements of a man foreign to her.
“In accordance with the will of the summon, I shall bestow upon this world an endless dream. Sweet comfort for the ailing souls. Restful calm for the belligerent. Complete indifference towards conflict.”
The man looked like him, but the movements, the actions, the tone – they were all different, jarring, so unlike her closest companion.
Lamps had promised her that he would stand by her side in the new world. That was why she had agreed to the plan. That was why she didn’t hesitate to break herself and go mad, bringing some reality to the title that she held. Demonic, insane, merciless – Olivia could feel her soul becoming tainted for their purpose. The state of her well-being mattered not, for she had always believed that she was a mere tool for him. As long as she was a tool he continued to forge his plans with.
But what the Chancellor asked dug out her greatest fear – that the lie Lamps gave this time would cause him to disappear. No matter how much he played down the risks, there was always the lingering thought of sacrifice. Electi were merely a medium that gods could possess, and nowhere did it say whether that possession was permanent.
“As long as the God of Mana lives in this body, this world will know true peace. An age of calamity averted. By my will, humanity shall be corrected. Now, Master of this Electi, take my hand, and we shall walk upon our garden!”
Peace – in place of Lamps. In place of her most cherished person. Olivia stared as the deity calmly walked over to her, shrugging off the attacks of the new assailant. Even with a demon charging at him, the massive amount of energy flooding from Lamps made sure that she couldn’t get close.
Yet, the demon girl kept charging, nonetheless. Her shining blade collided in tandem with the many dark swords crafted in midair. But still, they could not shave away the overly-abundant mana that spewed out of Lamps’ body as protection.
In response to the attacks, Lamps raised his hand. A stream of mana gushed out and pummeled the demon into the nearest wall. An incredible deluge of power that looked like a fountain bursting.
A loud cry sounded as the Chancellor of Sistina, Claude, leapt over and sliced the attack away. He swung over and over again, each time parting the flood of mana, but it was like fighting back a river. Still, it was enough to bring the demon girl he was protecting back on her feet.
“Dependable Claude, coming to the rescue. Though, don’t worry too much. This body is quite sturdy at this point.”
The two of them regrouped, pondering how to tackle their foe. They needed to stop the possessed Lamps from reaching Olivia.
In sequence, they dashed around the blind spot of Lamps. Claude was the first to strike, sending a wave of energy forward to cancel out the barrier that protected him. The demon girl, Eryn apparently, dove into the opening and struck. But the dull sound of her blade once again being pushed back echoed throughout the chamber. It seemed that even their combined powers couldn’t shave away the might of a deity with seemingly inexhaustible mana.
Olivia turned to Lamps again, yelling over the din of the fighting.
“Lamps! Answer me, you lunatic! What does all this mean?!”
“In accordance with the will of the summon, I will bring your desires to fruition. You have called upon me. And thus, the world bends to your will.”
There was no joy in his voice. Curiosity, playfulness, pride – the statement felt so hollow without any of that. Olivia had no doubt in her mind. Lamps was not the one saying it. It was that god. A being that cared nothing but fulfilling its summoned role.
Even as he walked up to her, purple eyes glowing as he stared into hers, nothing but an intense feeling of betrayal built up within her. She dropped her swords.
“How do you expect me to desire a world alone?! One without you! You promised me, damn it! Use me! Lie to me! Until the day when everything is ours! Like a toy that has no choice but to cling to its owner! I didn’t care if I became broken, as long as you held me close!”
With a swing of her arm, she decked Lamps in the face. Since he had allowed for the Master to enter his cocoon of protection, there was nothing stopping the fist from crashing into his jaw and throwing him back.
“And now, you say that you are giving it all up for me? That all these theatrics are meant to be thrown aside so that I can become some ruler over all the lands? Do you really think peace will come from that?! Did you think that I would be happy with such an ending?!”
Lamps looked confused. He brought his hand out and reached for Olivia again. This time, she slapped it away, with such force that he nearly stumbled.
“I hate this! I hate this! Everyone thinks they know what’s best for me without ever consulting me. The only time anyone ever listens is when I charm them. I was hoping… I was hoping that you wouldn’t be the same.”
Olivia used her ‘Charm’ skill, but it was futile. Her ability couldn’t charm a god. Lamps simply stared at her dumbly, unsure of how to proceed.
“The will must be carried out… it must be-”
Another fist crashed into his face. Olivia hated broken records. She couldn’t help but want to break it completely when it happened. So, she kept punching him, over and over. Fortunately for Lamps, the infinite mana supply possessed by the God of Mana quickly healed him with each hit.
But even if the body couldn’t be harmed, the core felt those cries of frustration.
“What is going on outside?”
At this point, the real Lamps was a mere thought drifting within his core. Among this sea of purple light, Lamps felt nothing but peace for the first time in a while. He opened his eyes to a dreamscape – a familiar lab, the sight of his plain assistant, Maria, and a table of toys to tinker with.
If he could spend an eternity here, then he would. He could care less about the world. Being able to actually see the wonders of his previous life was all that he could ask for. He didn’t even care whether it was real or not. If he perceived it as such, then what difference would it make?
But as he played with his gadgets, the lab shook lightly. He ignored it as any other voice in the endless crowd of critics. Even if it didn’t go away. Even as it continued. The jostling wasn’t enough to interrupt the fine crafting that was required for the job. If he could do things blind, then a little movement didn’t matter.
But what did was the venom of a woman’s voice.
He glanced over at Maria, who shrugged. If he wanted to, Maria could make all sorts of caustic remarks at his so-called genius, but those were always tinged with playfulness. Something that he had always loved about her. But this other voice was different. Painful, lost, and alone. And more than anything, familiar. Something so seemingly real that he felt moved. A sense of endearment almost struck him.
‘Almost,’ Lamps, or rather, Allen thought.
There was no need to return to those times. He had done his duty. Granted her wish. She would be fine without him and his conniving machinations. She was better off living in a world that obeyed her; that did everything according to her will. She didn’t need someone like him.
No more surprises to upset her. No more betrayals or having eyes on her back. Everything would go according to plan. Just like how he had arranged for it.
“Knowing how everything goes – that is truth itself, is it not?”
But the answer merely came in the form of droplets pattering. Lamps paused as they kept falling, wetting the metal gadget and the hand that held it.
He had pursued the truth and found it. A deity that granted him relief from all of his troubles. He had his vision back. He had the joys of his previous life back. But somehow… somehow, he was bored to tears.
The voice echoed around him again, bringing up more tears.
‘But… is this boredom? Or is it something else I feel?’
For once, Allen couldn’t define his emotions. The tears couldn’t be stopped.
He dropped the pointless thing and scanned around the room, as if wondering whether the answer would come to him. Slowly, he rose from his chair, tiptoeing to the wall before placing his ear upon it. With his eyes closed, he could hear it better.
Somehow, the darkness felt inviting. The voice beyond these walls was calming, even though the words themselves were flavored with spite. If not for the hard surface, he felt like he could reach out and grab the source of it.
After several punches, Olivia fell to her knees in despair. This wasn’t what she wanted to see at all. She had thoughtlessly agreed to Lamps’ plan despite the odds, thinking there was no way they would succeed. Controlling the whole world seemed too farfetched of a goal in her mind.
But apparently, Lamps made it happen. He had taken this broken world and brought everyone to Hell with him. He had done exactly as promised. But the one thing that he never promised was to stay by her side.
Though she never told him that directly, it should have been obvious that she had feelings for him. But how could she come out and admit to loving the man who obviously saw her as a mere tool for his schemes?
She knew it. He knew that she knew it. And for that reason, she simply acted as normal, afraid to move beyond their relationship built upon lies. She couldn’t tell at all when he lied, not until the results were evident. And with each lie covering up the next, it became harder and harder to unearth them all.
Olivia wondered if there was any trust given to her buried within all of it. So much effort was needed in order to find out if the treasure given to her was just an empty box. So she continued on, leading herself to believe that he would keep his end of the bargain. That there wouldn’t be a day when those lies ended. She was drunk only from the anticipation of the goal. And that eventually, her life would expire before reaching it.
“Lie to me, Lamps. Again and again. Don’t you stop now!”
Lie to her about her desirability, her magnetic personality, and that everything was all according to plan. Anything. Anything at all! She didn’t want to hear the cold truth of those that would simply follow her every whim. None of it felt alive to her. As contradicting as it sounded, those cold lies gave her the warmth to keep going, even though they were spouted only to motivate her.
“Wait, what’s going on? He stopped? And his core is flickering?”
Claude’s voice entered Olivia’s ears. She looked up to find that Lamps had taken a step back, unsure of how to respond. Surely, asking a god to lie to someone was beyond its capabilities. At least for this one, it seemed to be the case.
“The soul within the core is wavering. There may be some hope that he can resist the Godfall!” replied Eryn.
“You mean, we can bring back Dr. Lunatic in place of Mana God? …Is that any better?”
“If it halts the spell from turning everyone into mindless dolls, then I would say that is the better option… Hey Ghoul Face, keep doing whatever it is you’re doing! It seems to be working!”
Olivia blinked as she looked over at the demon girl. That last part was obviously a slight directed at her. It reignited a spark of willpower within her. And with that, she climbed to her feet and walked forward.
Reaching out, she slapped Lamps again.
“What are you waiting for?! Come out and show me some new schemes! Make me lose my mind about its peculiarities!”
“Churn that worthless brain of yours, you ass! Don’t think that you can change the world and simply walk away! How dare you dump this half-hearted result on me and call it quits!”
“You, you don’t have the right to leave this job half done! Who is going to invoke my rage with witty sarcasm?! Who is going to mess me up like you have?! Surely, a brainless puppet would be damned terrible at it!”
A face suddenly looked right at her, eyes closed, cheeks bloodied, but still managing a smile. A quirky, whimsical smile. But then, his eyes opened, causing her breath to suck in.
“My Empress, you only had to ask. Lamps Magellan, at your service.”