According to the Hero legend, it is said that the Dark Continent was a place that was just as its name implied.
『Light did not shine from the dull sky, and the smell of blood and rich magical power that derailed the senses were mixed into the wind.
In the land, proper crops could not be raised, and a forest that grew mysterious plants and Maju (magic trees) stretched out.
This land that was surrounded by the rampaging Sea of Farthest Ends, it were as if every conceivable pain and hell was condensed here.』
「……And that is the description of our continent that has been written down in the books of mankind that you all have.」
After saying that, Nanalus, the Zadark Kingdom’s diplomat, closed the book that was in his hand with a *patan*.
The ones who gathered in the garden that spread out in front of the Jiol Forest Kingdom’s royal castle and listened to Nanalus’s talk were the first group of tourists that would be heading to the Zadark Kingdom after this. A total of twenty-four people.
This time, where the experimental aspect was strong, the group was composed of twenty-two people who were chosen through an 「impartial raffle」, and two others. The 「impartial raffle」 in this case had the meaning of a raffle from among those who were chosen through an impartial investigation.
As for who the other two were, they were the Jiol Forest Kingdom’s fourth prince, Eric, and the Jiol Forest Kingdom’s hero that defeated the previous Demon King Gramfia together with the Hero Ryuuya, Luuty Rigas.
Eric had the ascertainment role as a representative of the royal family, and Luuty was invited as special case.
「Now then, just how much of this is the truth? Using that as something for you all to look forward to after this……I shall explain the important points to follow. First, discriminative remarks are prohibited within the town. Next, attack magic and any magic close to that are not allowed to be used within the town. The use of weapons has also been prohibited. Since these are all in place in order to protect everyone, so I ask that you all adhere to them.」
Like that, the explained rules were mainly as described below.
Any acts of shows of force through words, or some sort of method of attack, or any actions that resemble battle are prohibited.
Entering any place other than the designated boundaries is prohibited, and doing trade for anything other than the designated goods is prohibited.
After putting them into words like this, it felt as if there were a lot of restrictions, but there was also the aspect where it couldn’t helped.
After all, this was the first time mankind was being invited as guests.
There was no telling what would happen in places where eyes couldn’t reach, and even in regards to the goods, it was impossible to predict what kind of effects that something with a lot of magical power would bring about to mankind.
The result of taking that sort of danger into account had made the rules take their current form, but the plan was to loosen the restrictions while watching how things looked from now on.
「Now then, I would like to invite everyone to the Zadark Kingdom but……as you all know, there is no such thing as a stable route that connect both of our countries.」
This was also a well-known fact.
There was the method of imitating the story of how the Hero rode in on the Holy Dragon Ykslet and using Dragons to cross over the Sea of Farthest Ends, but that couldn’t be said to be reliably safe.
「And so, everyone will be escorted there by the Transmissioners that the Zadark Kingdom has. Please go to the Transmissioner with the number that you notified of before this, and listen to their instructions.」
Matching with Nanalus’s explanation, the Mazoku Transmissioners that were lined up in the garden at fixed intervals had numbered tags.
「Please be at ease as the Transmissioners that will be guiding you all there all own Transfer Skills that have been certified with the Zadark Kingdom’s examinations. Well then, I wish you all good travels……」
With the explanation finished, the tourists were transferred one after another.
And then, the ones left behind in the garden in the end were the Jiol Forest Kingdom soldiers and Nanalus, as well as Eric and Luuty.
「……Fumu, Nanalus-dono. I cannot find the Transmissioner that is in charge of Luuty-dono and I……?」
「Yes, since we needed to make particularly special arrangements to for the safety of the both of you, a special Transmissioner has been prepared.」
「A special one……?」
「Yes, I believe that they should be arriving any mome……」
Transfer light appeared at the side of the three of them, and interrupted Nanalus’s words.
Before long, what appeared there was the figure of a single woman.
She was someone whose looks possessed enough beauty for Eric to let out a voice of admiration, but it was also someone that Luuty knew very well.
「I’m the Transmissioner Fainell. I think you’ve already heard this from Nanalus, but the two of you will be guided through a special course. You’ll be guided by a different person while at the actual place but……Well, I’d like it if you ask anything else to that person.」
「Fainell-sama, your tone……」
「Ugh……I, I know. Ahー……Well, with that being the case……Nnn. Since I will be guiding you there, please be careful to not separate from me.」
Announcing that, Fainell held out both of her hands to the two of them.[Illustration]
After Eric and Luuty took her hands, Fainell tightly gripped back on them.
Doing that, she activated her Transfer Magic, and after an instant, the scenery around the three of them had changed to the reception hall on the first floor of the Zadark Kingdom’s Demon King Castle.
The reception hall, which suited the word “sublime”, was overflowing with bright light, and was filled with an air of purity.
However, before Eric’s group could look closely at it, a woman who stood in front of them bowed.
「……Welcome to the Zadark Kingdom. I am the one who will be guiding you, the Maid Knight Ichika.」
「Ah, yeah……I’m Eric. I am grateful for the invitation today.」
「I’m Luuty. We’ll be in your care.」
If I remember correctly, the person called Ichika should be under Demon King Vermudol’s direct supervision……that is what Luuty remembered.
Luuty understood that they were being treated more specially than expected, and at the same time, she noticed that Eric had turned eyes with strong interest towards Ichika.
Luuty admonished Eric in a small voice.
「……Prince Eric, that is rude to someone you are meeting for the first time.」
「Eh? Ah, ahh……sorry.」
Seeing Eric take his gaze off of her as if coming to his senses, Ichika calmly replied.
「Was there some point that was inadequate about me?」
「N, no! It isn’t anything like that. It’s just……Um, well. This was my first time seeing a Maid Knight……Plus, I had heard from father and my elder brother that Hero Ryuuya also had black hair. I just thought that maybe his hair was just like yours.」
After Ichika nodded, she clapped her hands with a *pon*.
When she did, a single black furred Beastia hurriedly came running from the other side of the reception hall.
「Wh, what the heck, Ichika-nee-san! It’s still not time for my appearance, right!? Ah, could it be……Ichika-nee-san, were you too unsociable and didn’t know what to d……」
After punching Aulokk, who was making a fuss with a loud voice, and sending him to the floor, Ichika pointed at him.
「If we are talking about the length of hair, I believe it should be about that much.」
The length of the hair on Aulokk’s head, who was closer to being a long furred type if anyone had to say, was close to the hair style of an adult male that could often be seen in mankind’s territory. Moreover, it was black fur……Or rather, black hair.
Seeing that, Luuty also went “ahh” and nodded.
Certainly, rather than Ichika’s hair that seemed to be properly cared for, Aulokk’s black fur that looked like it was a bit stiff was closer to what Ryuuya had in her memories.
「That’s true. This hair certainly might be closer to what he had, Prince Eric.」
「Is, is that so……」
「Ahh, I would not recommend touching it though. He has been cleaned, but he is a mongrel after all.」
Eric heard that, and he pulled back the hand that he had extended.
Two Magic Operated Armors that immediately came along grabbed the collapsed Aulokk’s arms and legs and carried him away.
Seeing them off, Eric let out a breath of astonishment.
The Beastia that Eric knew of were nothing but savage and fearsome monsters, but the Beastia just now, far from being fearsome, he certainly seemed to possess both intelligence and funniness.
「I shall be introducing you to that thing once again later, but he is more or less the representative of the Beatia within the country. I believe that you understand that he is different from the ones that are found in your continent.」
While saying that, Eric had turned his eyes towards the Magic Operated Armors that were lined up in the corner of the room.
He knew that a portion of them had taken responsibility for the Jiol Forest Kingdom’s borders, but after seeing the height of their abilities, he thought that the ones dispatched to the Jiol Forest Kingdom were elites that were singled out.
However, Magic Operated Armors that seemed to keep strength similar to them were found here.
If it was just as Eric had imagined, even just the Magic Operated Knights that were lined up in this reception hall should be able to confront the Jiol Forest Kingdom’s Chivalric Order head-on.
Naturally, he thought that there was no way that the Jiol Forest Kingdom Chivalric Order which used high level magic could lose, and comparing the difference in fighting prowess between them and the Zadark Kingdom, which was a friendly nation, was also an act that went against fidelity.
He naturally understood that but……he couldn’t help but think about it.
For example, that went even for the Beastia from earlier.
If that was the Dark Continent’s──the Zadark Kingdom’s common sense, then what was the difference between them and the Shutaia Continent’s Beastia? Was it a result of Demon King Vermudol’s reign?
If that was the case, then that would mean that the friendship with the Zadark Kingdom would have an even bigger meaning than what he had originally thought.
「Tea has been prepared on the second floor terrace. Please take your time and relax there first.」
Estimating the time that Eric had returned from his sea of thoughts, Ichika called out to them like that.
「Ah, yeah……By the way, Ichika-dono. Where are the other tourists……」
「Yes, at this time, they are in the middle of observing the castle town’s main street. You can have a look at how they are doing from the second floor terrace.」
「It would have been nice if we did that too though.」
「We cannot allow that to happen. Please understand.」
Naturally, Eric himself also knew that. His status as the prince of a friendly nation was by no means light. It was only natural for the Zadark Kingdom to have a special reception for him.
However, due to having that sort of reception, Eric ended up thinking about the typical 「fiendish Mazoku」 stories that he grew up hearing.
「……Luuty. I am saying this since I don’t know about the past era in the legend but……To me, the Mazoku don’t seem to be as fiendish as they are mentioned in the legends. However, it is true that there is no changing the fact that mankind and the Mazoku have been hostile towards each other. Even so, this is what I am thinking……Could it be that the truth behind the legend, is it nothing more than a simple cross-national dispute just like what we have on our hands now?」
Luuty was puzzled over how she should reply to those words.
The Demon King of mankind’s territory, Shuklous, that Luuty had──that the Hero Ryuuya had fought against was without a doubt mankind’s enemy. And then, the Dark Continent’s Great Demon King Gramfia, whose existence was made known through Shuklous, was also definitely evil. There was no mistaking that.
However, on the other hand, she had certainly met with Mazoku like Fainell who 「might have become friends if they weren’t enemies」.
She believed that that fight, wasn’t a mistake.
But……what about her perception of the Mazoku themselves?
What about Fainell, about Sancreed? Even for Vermudol, by no means could she call him good, but she also couldn’t call him an even that should be despised.
Maybe having sensed that Luuty was wavering and couldn’t answer, Ichika, who was guiding the two of them, quietly opened her mouth.
「……There is no meaning in how things were in the past.」
「What is necessary, is how things are currently……do you not think so?」
Ascending the staircase, a refreshing wind caressed Eric and Luuty’s faces.
What could be seen from the terrace, was the dull sky just as it was mentioned in the legend. And then, the sight of the town as it stretched out.
「How things are currently……huh. I see, that might be the reason for why I, who has only lived for a mere fifty years, was chosen to go this time.」
After muttering that, Eric turned his gaze to the town that could be seen from the terrace.