Interlude: The Eve

Jin moved his hands frantically.

Exposed to stifling heat for hours, beads of sweat formed on his forehead. However, the overwhelming number of enemies left Jin with no time to even wipe his sweat away.

“Newcomer, here’s more for you! Don’t dawdle!”

“Yes, boss!”

With a thud, a basket was placed roughly before him, piled so high with potatoes that it blocked his view.

A mountain of freshly steamed potatoes. Peeling these was the task assigned to Jin.

For a month since he traversed the continent, hustling from east to west, Jin had done nothing but peel potatoes among the warriors of Phantom Blade Style.

Naturally, or unfortunately, objectives like hunting Mythical Creatures or seizing Soul Equipment had made no progress, but Jin was not in a hurry. He had never expected things to be settled in just a month or two.

Above all else—

“It’s a relief not to see the faces of those banal minions. That alone makes all my complaints disappear,” Jin chuckled, his laughter tinged with a touch of malice, though honest. He had fully embraced his position and was enjoying life outside the Demon Island.

Despite many thoughts on leaving the Mitsurugi family and choosing a different path from his brother, Jin was not one to pine for the past and shed tears. He kept the past in his heart while not losing the capacity to enjoy the present. Jin Mitsurugi was someone who naturally managed that balance.

And then, Jin thought.

Though the never-diminishing mountain of potatoes was troublesome, the warriors were not making them peel potatoes out of frivolity or drunken stupor.

Not only Jin but also those who joined the warriors around the same time, or after him, were all new recruits. They were people drawn by the reputation of the Phantom Blade Style warriors.

Among them were those aiming to gain fame by defeating Mythical Creatures, those seeking vengeance for homes burnt down by Mythical Creatures, those who had simply drifted in out of destitution, and various others. Some, no doubt, had infiltrated to learn about the inner workings of the warriors, much like Jin.

By assigning such disheartening and physically demanding chores as potato peeling to these varied new recruits, it served as a kind of filtering process.

In fact, there were many who couldn’t endure days filled with nothing but peeling and voiced their dissatisfaction. Some even confronted the veteran warriors, demanding to be allowed to fight against Mythical Creatures sooner.

No matter how eager or capable they were, those lacking patience were a detriment to group actions. The hastily formed combat group of warriors probably imposed the endless task of peeling potatoes to weed out such individuals.

At least, that’s what Jin thought, and that’s why, without a single complaint, he spent his days peeling potatoes.

Of course, he didn’t forget to make use of the scant time he had to exchange words with those around him, traversing through the encampment to gather information. He had also confirmed the presence of three individuals among the Kijin, the main force of the warriors, especially those who could use Soul Equipment.

Jin wanted to speak to them right away, but the users of Soul Equipment stood at the pinnacle of the warriors, and they were not the kind of people a newcomer could casually approach. To do so would be to stand out in a bad way.

Jin was a man connected to the Fangxiang clan, who had always seen the Kijin tribe as enemies. Although Jin himself thought that he had severed ties with the Fangxiang clan when he left the Mitsurugi family, he wasn’t optimistic enough to believe that this logic would be understood by others. From the Kijin’s perspective, Jin was still one of the Fangxiang clan, and if his true identity were to be revealed, there was a high chance he would be eliminated.

Therefore, it was necessary to avoid standing out as much as possible—Jin thought so and refrained from contacting the users of Soul Equipment for the time being.

However, there was another reason for his restraint; Jin was not impressed by the abilities of the three individuals.

Jin had once witnessed the battle of a user of Soul Equipment who repelled a demon that attacked their camp.

The Soul Equipment user at that time was indeed strong. There was no way the current Jin could match up, even if he tried.

However, that strength was nothing more than an over-reliance on the power of the Soul Equipment, and it did not convey the skill of swordsmanship. For Jin, who desired swordsmanship that surpassed even the Phantom Blade Style, the users of Soul Equipment in this camp were not worth the risk of contact.

By the way, in terms of relying solely on brute strength, the same could be said for other members of the Kijin tribe. Jin wondered if the Kijin tribe lacked any systematic swordsmanship.

If that was the case, it would be a huge disappointment. Of course, even subtracting that fact, the power of the Soul Equipment was still attractive. With that thought, Jin spoke up.

“Well, it’s too early to jump to conclusions. The boss said that even among the warriors of the Phantom Blade Style, there are several groups.”

The encampment where Jin was now was not all there was to the warriors of the Phantom Blade Style. He heard that the next group they were going to join included many formidable fighters, and two of the three Mythical Creatures that had been recently subdued were taken down by them.

There might be a true swordsman whom Jin could respect among them.

“At least, if it’s not a swordsman who surpasses my brother, it’s not worth discussing. Though it makes me think my ideals are a bit too high, the feats of subduing two Mythical Creatures do give me some hope,” said Jin, with a nihilistic smile.

He looked completely out of place, hooded and peeling potatoes with a kitchen knife in hand.

Three days from now, the faction that Mitsurugi Jin belonged to would merge with the clan of the Kijin, famed to be the strongest, the Kamuna clan.

There, Jin would bow his head to one warrior and cry out, “Please allow me to call you master!” But at this moment, Jin was completely unaware of the fate that was rapidly approaching.

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