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The Dark Continent, which was also the Mazoku stronghold, was surrounded by a sea called the 『Sea of Farthest Ends』.
The constantly rampaging sea has prevented people from crossing it for a long time.
Through the Hero Ryuuya, the Dark Continent's appearance was told to the people for the first time, but only his impressions of that it was constantly covered by a grey sky, and was a primitive land with a low level of culture so there was no need to expressly go there and risk the dangers were given to the people.
A place not worth mentioning if not for the existence of the Demon King, that is what mankind's perception of the Dark Continent was. That is why the delegation of the Jiol Forest Kingdom, who were brought along by the Mazoku who picked them up, were astonished by the Demon King Castle's appearance.
「L, Luuty……This is quite different from the stories I heard from you in the past……」
The captain of the Jiol Forest Kingdom First Protection Chivalric Order, Zekwell muttered that to Luuty, the hero of his country and childhood friend that was next to him.
However, more than anyone else, Luuty herself was the one most surprised.
The Demon King Castle that was within Luuty's memories……it had dull colored stones with a solemn ambiance, a gloomy air that wafted about, and was in a state where it wouldn't be strange to say that it was either an abandoned or cursed castle.
But how was it now.
The reception hall that Luuty's group was currently in was brightly illuminated with Light Magic, and was enveloped in a clean atmosphere.
The inside of the castle which should be called a white walled castle was thoroughly cleaned, and not even a speck of dust could be found.
There were many furnishings and works of art that had never before seen designs that decorated the place here and there, but all of them were clearly very wonderful objects.
Such great things were arranged all over the place, but the gaudiness that was commonly found in the houses of upstart nobles wasn't there at all, and there was a refined and virtuous atmosphere like that of a temple.
The Demon King's sense……or rather, there must be personnel that possesses the talent to be watchful of that sort of thing among the Demon King's subordinates. That also demonstrated the Zadark Kingdom's high level of culture.
「Yes, it seems that it is……」
Luuty replied with a complete understanding of it.
But, that wasn't the only thing that surprised Luuty.
The full body armored soldiers that were stationed at various places of the castle.
They, who moved with movements like that of skilled soldiers that conducted high-degrees of training, were unmistakably monsters that were armor that moved with magical power……Magic Operated Armor.
Luuty had also seen Magic Operated Armor before but……if she remembered correctly, they shouldn't have been monsters that were capable of such smooth movements.
It was more like, a clumsiness of forcibly moving armor with puppet strings. That is what she saw in the Magic Operated Armor in the past.
However, the black Magic Operated Armors that were in this castle, whether it be their movements, or the amount of magical power they kept inside of them, all of them were completely different from what she saw before.
And then, most likely, this difference in Magic Operated Armor clearly displayed the difference between Gramfia and Vermudol, is what Luuty felt.
While thinking that sort of thing, Luuty stared at a Magic Operated Armor that stood nearby.
「……Do you need something?」
Hearing the words emitted from the Magic Operated Armor, Luuty was surprised and backed away.
「Is something the matter? If you are feeling unwell, a Healer can be prepared.」
「Eh, no……ah, well, more importantly. You are, a Magic Operated Armor, right……?」
Hearing Luuty's words, the Magic Operated Armor answered without hesitation.
「Yes. I am a Magic Operated Armor affiliated with the Central Army.」
「Is, is that so……」
Luuty answered like that, and Zekwell turned to her with a face that said that he didn't really understand her surprise.
「What's wrong, Luuty? Is there some kind of strange point about them?」
「……Zekwell. You, don't you think that there's anything strange when you see that Magic Operated Armor?」
「Strange……It is true that it's rare to see that black armor.」
Since monsters like Magic Operated Armor didn't exist in the Shutaia Continent, it couldn't be helped.
Monsters, which were species that were ranked lower than Majin, basically found it even harder to have a mutual understanding with than Goblins.
There were many that moved with a beastial instinct. For example, even the Shadow Birds, which were the form that Ein and Zwei had before their evolution, were monsters that could not be communicated with.
It is only after they evolve from a monster to something of a higher rank did they possess reliable intelligence.
Magic Operated Armors were classified as monsters, and from what Luuty knew, they were existences that only eliminated intruders.
However, the Magic Operated Armors before her eyes were energetically moving, and in the corner of her vision, they were even performing miscellaneous tasks like carrying what seemed to be a tea set.
Furthermore, they had even shown concern for Luuty.
It were as if, they were Majin.
That was the impression that Luuty held towards the Magic Operated Armors.
With Magic Operated Armor of this level, it wouldn't be strange at all if they were to be able to make coordinated movements.
「About how many of you guys are in this castle……?」
「I am terribly sorry. I cannot answer that. Please ask that to the ones with superior authority.」
「Right, thank you.」
Luuty, who tried talking to another Magic Operated Armor as a test, nodded to that answer.
There was no mistaking it.
Their intelligence to listen to orders was there from the start, and then they were even endowed with the ability to determine what was the correct thing to do even beyond that.
Just the fact that he had created such sophisticated Magic Operated Armor allowed her to catch a glimpse of Vermudol's true ability.
「Hahaha, this is all quite promising, isn't it.」
In contrast to Sarigan who was displaying a composed look, looks of fear were shown on the other members of the delegation.
The Jiol Forest Kingdom delegation this time was the King Sarigan, the Cabinet Minister Melt, the Royal Palace Secretary Morse, the Captain of the First Protection Chivalric Order Zekwell, and then the hero Luuty.
In front of that group who waited in the reception hall, a single maid appeared.
「……We are terribly sorry to keep you all waiting for such a long time. Since the preparations for a warm welcome are being arranged, I shall guide you there.」
The maid was an impressive woman with long black hair and red eyes, wore clothes with black as the basic tone, and wore armor that covered her chest on top of that.
Seeing that figure which was clearly not that of a simple maid, Zekwell was the first to react.
「A Maid Knight……!?」
「Yes. As the one that will be guiding everyone from here on, I am the Maid Knight Ichika.」
Seeing Ichika make a perfect bow, Sarigan was in admiration, while Melt and Morse agitated in an easy to understand way.
With the loftiness of choosing their master by themselves, and with the fact that there was one Maid Knight among the Hero Ryuuya's companions, the occupation of Maid Knight had a facet where it was regarded as sacred in a certain way in the Shutaia Continent.
They probably had never thought that they would end up meeting with one of those Maid Knights here.
She was plenty surprised by the fact that the Maid Knight had appeared before them but……at the same time, Luuty remembered the other one……the other Maid Knight that she knew of that wasn't here.
「……Is Nino-san, doing well?」
「Yes, she's doing too well in fact that I'm having difficulty dealing with her.」
Having sensed the aim of Luuty's question, Ichika answered.
Hearing that, Luuty understood that Nino was also a Maid Knight on the Mazoku's side, and that the two of them were most likely Majin.
「Who is Nino?」
「……Zek, it's better if you don't know.」
Luuty answered like that to Zekwell's mutter.
It was consideration on her part thinking that she shouldn't increase his anxiety any more than this.
「Well then, I shall guide you. Right this way.」
Following Ichika's guidance, the members of the Jiol Forest Kingdom delegation climbed the staircase and arrived at the second floor.
「You can see it from the windows over there but that is the castle town of our Zadark Kingdom. Today, they are welcoming your visit, and holding an independent festival.」
Being told that, Sarigan as well as the other members of the delegation sent their gazes out the windows.
In the castle town, there were many splendid buildings lined up, and the place was overflowing with liveliness. Among the people that were coming and going, there were Beastia and Goblins, Majin, people similar to Metalio……a diversity of races that was unbelievable even in the Canal Kingdom in mankind's territory could be seen.
「Goodness……This is……the Zadark Kingdom's……」
「But, welcoming us……?」
「It means that we have already gotten over the past.」
「Fufu, this really strikes home.」
Hearing Ichika's words, Sarigan said that and smiled.
He had yet to see their faces, but he was able to understand that the people of the town were most likely smiling.
That was an impossible scene in the current Shutaia Continent.
If the opposite were to happen……if the people of the Shutaia Continent were to learn of a visit of a Mazoku delegation, far from welcoming them, a rebellion would surely occur.
「However, there is also a part I would like to understand. In the Shutaia Continent, the Mazoku threat has yet to vanish.」
「……I am sure that there will be an explanation by Demon King-sama in regards to that as well.」
Ichika replied with only that, and resumed walking.
While following after her, Zekwell whispered to Luuty.
「Hey……It's different from what you tol……」
「I'm surprised as well……Their culture level has impressively risen.」
Not just the castle, even with just a peek at their castle town like this, they were able to understand their culture level.
The many houses that were built in a well-organized manner, and the well-maintained streets.
Seeing even the figures of soldiers coming and going, they could tell that even the town's public order was being properly kept.
Seeing the Illumination Magic that was drifting about throughout the town, surely the 「dark streets」 that existed even in their own royal capital didn't exist here.
And then, what surprised Luuty the most were the Goblins.
A scenes of Goblins, which only had stealing things on their minds, doing things like holding sake bottles in one hand and joining shoulders with Beastia and singing had entered her eyes.
Moreover, those Goblins were wearing tidy clothes, and if she were to speak only of their posture, there wasn't any difference at all from normal humans.
Maybe that was a show of the high intelligence of the Goblins here……Or maybe a show of the magnanimity of the Zadark Kingdom citizens who regarded even Goblins as companions, or maybe it was both.
By some chance, it might be through the height of their educational standards or the excellence of the regime.
Even the Beastia that were together with the Goblins, they didn't have the impression of being of savage tribes at all, and seemed to be wearing high grade clothes with well-made designs.
「……It's way too different. Anything and everything is.」
There was no one that noticed Luuty's mutter.
……No, more accurately, only Ichika had picked up Luuty's mutter.
However, Ichika did not reply to it.
If it were Nino, then she might have a sarcastic line though.
「……This is the council room.」
Prompted by Ichika, the two Magic Operated Armors that stood nearby as guards opened the doors.
In that room where something that looked like a round table was installed, there were several figures of Mazoku including Vermudol.
「Nice to see you all. I am happy to welcome a visit of the people of the Jiol Forest Kingdom delegation.」
The Demon King and King of the Zadark Kingdom, Vermudol's words resounded.