Chapter 1: Kidnapping
“We’re in a bit of trouble now. Without this kid, we might as well be signing our own death warrants.”
“Boss, not only did you say that there’s an unrecorded ruin beneath the ‘D33 Wasteland,’ but this decrepit manor is also a rare ‘Cursed Space.’ Who exactly is this kid, and what is he doing here?”
“Given that the high and mighty from the Inner City have exiled him and even put a bounty on his head to silence him permanently, his identity can’t be simple. It’s a shame; I thought we could extract some secrets from the boy before killing him—that’s why we’ve been tailing him for so long. But now we’ve landed ourselves in trouble.”
“Hey, looks like he’s still not dead.”
Gasping for air, Su Lun’s chest heaved violently as if he were waking from a nightmare of drowning. His eyes snapped open.
Taking deep breaths, the sensation of choking slowly subsided.
As his vision focused, he found himself in an unfamiliar room.
“Where is this?”
Struggling to rise, Su Lun looked down to find himself securely tied to a wooden chair, immobile.
The stench of blood reached his nostrils, and upon inspecting his own condition, he realized things were dire.
Bloodstains covered his white linen shirt, with wounds revealing flesh and bone. More terrifying was the sight of his hands—each palm pierced through by a sharp dagger, nailing them to the armrests of the chair, with scarlet blood trickling out.
The severe pain from struggling resonated through his nerves like tide.
“Have I been kidnapped?”
Before he could ponder why he woke up to this scene, Su Lun’s gaze caught the two menacing figures in the room.
One, a bald man with purple lips and dark circles under his eyes, seemingly sporting a smoky makeup look; the other, a green-haired, c**katoo-styled skinny man with a nose ring and earrings.
They were dressed in studded black leather jackets and old leather pants, resembling two punk enthusiasts.
Of course, what stood out the most was the weapons they carried.
“Guns? Could they be gang members?”
Su Lun glanced sideways.
Both had large revolvers slung at their waists, inscribed with ancient and complex engravings. Though they looked somewhat exaggerated, they still felt oddly familiar.
But what struck him as more bizarre was the strange mechanical arm mounted on the bald bruiser’s right limb.
This mechanical arm, with its dark industrial aesthetic, exposed almost all of its components. Brass gears, power transmission rods, mechanical joints, a gauge-fitted valve, and at the front of the high-pressure pipe arm, a fist-sized spiral-patterned nozzle with a crosshair sight.
It seemed to be a hand-held artillery cannon.
The most puzzling thing to Su Lun was seeing white steam puffing out from the exhaust pipe of the mechanical arm.
“This is… steam-powered machinery?”
Su Lun frowned slightly, deeming what he saw as incredible.
In this era, who would play with antique steam machinery?
He wasn’t so much frightened as he was perplexed.
Filming a movie?
The excruciating pain in his palms reminded Su Lun that he had indeed been kidnapped!
“I remember clicking on a strange email, and then everything went black… and when I woke up, I was here?”
Waking up in a strange place, Su Lun had little understanding of the situation.
Despite his efforts to recall, there was no memory of being kidnapped.
Everything felt off to Su Lun.
He sought more clues, turning his attention back to the room.
A dazzling crystal chandelier, exquisitely carved solid wood furniture, neatly lined gold-embossed books on the shelves, and a signed black-and-white family portrait hanging on the wall…
Su Lun quickly surmised that the homeowner must either be a person with a penchant for British retro style or that this was an actual European castle.
But being so wealthy, why kidnap him?
The piercing pain from the two sharp daggers nailed into his hands was a constant reminder of the sheer brutality of the two kidnappers.
“Are these two guys kidnappers?”
Su Lun’s pupils sharpened, focusing again on the two people in the room.
Whether it was their European faces, the retro gear they wore, or even the steam-powered mechanical arm, everything seemed very odd.
Of course, the oddest thing was the reflection he saw of himself in the mirror-like ceiling—a bloodied face with brown hair.
“Eh? Why do I look different?!”
Su Lun faintly guessed that something bizarre had happened to him.
Moreover, when he first opened his eyes, he noticed strange fluorescent text on his retina.
He blinked, assuring himself it wasn’t an illusion.
A loud shout suddenly pulled Su Lun’s thoughts back to reality.
“Hey! Kid, I know you’re awake, so don’t play dumb!”
The scrawny man with the c**katoo hair stared menacingly at him and added viciously, “I’ll give you one last chance to spill how you know about this ruin, what you’re doing here, otherwise…”
As he spoke, the man pressed down on the dagger impaling Su Lun’s left hand.
An agonizing pain shot up to his forehead. Sweat beaded on Su Lun’s brow as he drew in a sharp breath of cold air.
He realized, these two guys were “interrogating” him—they wanted to find out something from him.
The text on the retina!
In a flash, Su Lun pieced the clues together in his mind.
“These guys aren’t here to kidnap me, but the ‘original host’!”
Su Lun’s realization was startling.
Suddenly, a bold idea popped up in his mind: “Could it be… I’ve crossed over into another world?”
Although the thought was preposterous, it was also the most plausible explanation.
Whether it was his brown-haired young body, the two punk abductors in front of him, or the conversational language he understood but didn’t know, it all proved he was no longer in the world he used to know.
As a devoted fan of web novels, transmigration wasn’t that hard to accept.
After a moment of shock, Su Lun became even more composed.
Hold on. These guys had already killed the original host once?
The original owner was killed, and he came through the transmigration; Su Lun harbored no illusions of luck.
The kidnappers in front of him were resorting to crippling tactics even during their interrogation; he had no doubt they had no intention of leaving any survivors!
Realizing this, his brows furrowed as he contemplated, “It seems like whether I tell the truth or not, I’m not going to make it out alive…”
A deadly beginning?
Su Lun quickly adjusted his mindset.
It was like playing an immersive horror game—right at the start, he felt a rush of adrenaline.
“If I want to survive, I have to figure out how to untie myself first.”
Their malice was as clear as the wounds on his hands, paining his nerves more than the physical wounds. But rather than feeling fear, this stimulated a particular response in him.
Because of a unique childhood experience with captivity, he had an extraordinary ability to control certain dangerous emotions.
At this moment.
Faced with the threat of death, his body, initially tense from pain, completely relaxed as if switching on some hidden toggle. Fear, panic, trembling… all negative emotions vanished.
A numbing calm surfaced in Su Lun’s eyes.