1972. When the spring turned into summer, the city of Hongkong bustled with life.
As the sun sank to the West, the streets became busy and filled with people. The rich men and women dressed in expensive clothes were laughing while the poor people were squatting on the side of the road dressed in ragged shirts, waiting for their goods to be sold. This metropolis bustling with life was decaying on one side and blooming on the other.
A rickshaw creaked as it came to a halt at the side of the road.
The person who came down from the rickshaw was a 17 or 18 years old teenager. Due to his very thin body, the wrinkled shirt he was wearing made him look desolate. Both his face and body were as thin and pale as paper. There wasn’t even a trace of the color of blood on his lips, making the teenager look weak and pallid.
Due to this sickly appearance, no one might notice it at first glance, but if someone looked closely, they would find that the teenager was actually very handsome. He had a long face, a pair of thick and dark brows, a straight nose, and curved lips that were pleasant to look at despite being pale.
Unfortunately, he looked too weak. When he got out of the rickshaw, his movements were shaky like he was about to fall, making it truly difficult for people to appreciate his good looks.
However, the rickshaw driver didn’t think so.
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He was an insignificant character in the book, as he died too early that he didn’t even make an appearance and had only existed in the villain’s memories.
Exactly, Qiao Wen transmigrated into a book.
He transmigrated to this novel set in the 1970s in Hong Kong City from 2020, becoming a minor supporting character with the same name as him.
A day ago, in the early autumn of 2020, somewhere in the desert in the west.
The night in the desert in July was already somewhat cold. Everyone in the camp had already fallen asleep, deep and heavy breathing from the tents nearby could be heard faintly.
Qiao Wen was watching over the campfire when he heard some rustling and footsteps approaching. Someone came up to him and whispered to him. “Wen-ge, want some smoke?”
Qiao Wen turned his head and saw it was a boy wearing glasses. He and this young man’s hiking group met each other during the day. He didn’t know the boy’s name, Qiao Wen only heard this boy called himself an otaku. For the first time in a long time, he went to venture and experienced life. Unexpectedly, he just followed this group of hikers for two days, they lost in the desert and were in the middle of nowhere.
“Thanks.” He took the cigarette from the young man’s hand before lighting it over the campfire. Qiao Wen smiled and said, “What? You can’t sleep?”
As the cold night breeze blew, the young man couldn’t help but rub his arms. He said, “It’s dark everywhere and no people could be seen. It’s weird and scary.”
Qiao Wen asked, “Is it your first time in the desert?”
The young man nodded. “The leader said that he was very experienced, so I signed up. I didn’t expect that after a day of walking, we got lost. Fortunately, I met you; otherwise, I don’t know what’s going to happen.” He said sincerely, “I really admire you for daring to walk through the desert alone.”
Qiao Wen chuckled and shook his head. “Try a few more times and this will be nothing.”
He looked up into the distance. The vast sky was densely covered with stars, the desert hidden whose end was out of sight, hidden in the darkness. The surrounding was so quiet that only the sound of the wind from nowhere could be heard. No one knew how much danger lay hidden in that darkness.
Danger had always been intriguing.
The young man looked at him silently. During the day, the group walked around like headless flies. When he saw that their drinking water was about to run out, this young man fell down from the sky and led them to find a water source and camped nearby.
He didn’t know the young man’s identity.
He was very handsome too; that handsome face with some stubble became distorted due to the light of the campfire.
Qiao Wen didn’t mind the boy’s gaze. He smiled at him and casually said, “Or do you want to sleep by the campfire? Don’t be afraid, I’m next to you.”
The boy had this thought. “Then call me when you’re sleepy, and I’ll change shifts with you to watch over the fire.”
Qiao Wen just smiled and didn’t say anything.
The boy spread out the blanket under him, wrapped himself in his windbreaker, and lay down. Then as if he remembered something, he took out the kindle he carried with him and gave it to Qiao Wen. “If you’re bored, just read a novel to pass time.”
The night was long and indeed boring. Qiao Wen took it and casually opened the first book on the shelf.
“The Great Tyrant of the Seventies”
Just by the title, one could tell it was a YY novel.
Qiao Wen rarely read web novels, but he remembered that he would have to wait until dawn for the person to wake up to change shift with him and would be bored, so he clicked on it and started to read to kill time.
By the time he saw the villain in the story being shot and killed by the protagonist, the sky finally revealed its white fish belly and then the people in the tent woke up one after another.
He returned the kindle back to the boy who had woken up.
The boy rubbed his face, took it, and asked casually, “What book did you read?”
Qiao Wen replied. “Just the first book on your bookshelf.”
The boy said, “Ah, that web novel. By the way—” he suddenly remembered something. He laughed and said, “There’s a character in it who has the same name as you.”
“Really? I didn’t notice it,” said Qiao Wen. He just used it to pass time and didn’t notice that there was a minor supporting character with the same name as him in the book.
The boy thought he was a fan of the novel. Qiao Wen became interested when the boy talked about it. “It’s the villain, Chen Jianan’s friend who died young and only existed in his memories. At that time, their families were poor. This boy was seriously ill but they had no money to go to a big hospital, so Chen Jianan assassinated the protagonist’s father to earn money for medical expenses. But by the time he finished assassinating the people, this young boy had already died in the black clinic in Kowloon Walled City. Chen Jianan was greatly stimulated and embarked on a crooked path of doing unscrupulous means for money.”
Upon his reminder, Qiao Wen remembered that there was indeed such a minor supporting character who was no longer alive before the story began. It was just a character who appeared in the memories of the villain, Chen Jianan, so he didn’t pay attention to this name.
It was originally a fun novel to pass time and this kind of lame plot was really nothing special. It was just that when the boy described it, he was suddenly slightly moved by the villain’s friendship in the book.
Because he coincidentally had a childhood friend with would risk his life for him. There was also a “nan” character in his name.
Some people came to them one by one to greet them, interrupting their small talk.
The group washed up briefly, ate some dry food, and set out on the road before the sun rose. By noon, Qiao Wen had sent them to the nearest road and went on his own again to continue his unfinished journey through the desert.
Ever since Lin Nan’s absence, all the adventures and journeys they had planned together could only be completed by him alone.
This desert adventure was his last stop. Once this was over, he would return to worldly fireworks and live a good life as Lin Nan had hoped.
Only the world was unpredictable. He was halfway through his journey when Qiao Wen ran into a sandstorm.
The yellow sand swept through the sky and he was soon buried in the sand. It became difficult for him to breathe and in the end, he completely fell into eternal darkness.
He knew he was going to die.
He just didn’t know if he would be able to see Lin Nan after death.
“Awen! Awen! Wake up, don’t die ah!”
His eardrums were shaken by the ear-piercing howl and along with the violent shaking of his body, pulled back Qiao Wen from his suffocation.
A fishy taste rushed from his throat, forcing him to cough heavily, followed by gasping and rapid but breathing heavily like a drowning man who regaining air, the feeling of suffocation eased.
“Awen, you…you’re no dead?”
Qiao Wen raised his gaze with difficulty and a teary and snotty, strange boy appeared in his vision, holding him by the shoulders and shaking him violently. He finally knew why he felt like he had seasickness, it was because he was shaken so badly by this child.
He took two deep breaths. When he felt a bit better, he said in a hoarse voice, “Hao Tsai, are you a ghost?”
Qiao Wen was stunned. Not only he blurted the name of the strange boy, but he also spoke in clear Cantonese.
Just as he was stunned and baffled, memories that didn’t belong to him rushed to him like a tide flooding his brain.
After a moment, he looked around in disbelief.
The room was dimly lit. He thought he had already seen a lot, but he had never seen such crude and dilapidated house in his life. The walls were yellow, the small window with broken glass, a table and few chairs that hadn’t been painted, a few black pottery pots with boiling medicine on the table, and a pungent smell of a mixture of various medicines exuding throughout the whole room.
An old electric fan beside the table was creaking as it spun.
Dark, humid, cramped, and dirty…
From the memories that just came rushing to him, this was a clinic. A black clinic in the Kowloon Walled City of Hong Kong in the 1970s.
When the Hao Tsai saw him wake up, he finally released his hold on Qiao Wen’s shoulders. He wiped his eyes and screamed excitedly, “Uncle Hua! Come here, Awen is awake!”
As soon as he spoke, a thin old man in his 50s or 60s lifted the curtain and entered from the outside.
This person had a round nose and small eyes, a long beard, and a melon hat that was popular in the Republican Era of China. He didn’t resemble a doctor, but instead a fortune-teller who set up a stall under a flyover.
He walked over in disbelief, reached out to Qiao Wen’s wrist. He frowned and looked closer, then he grabbed Qiao Wen’s wrist, stared at Qiao Wen with his yellow bean as he took his pulse. After that, his eyes clicked his tongue in disbelief. “It’s strange, very strange. His heartbeat obviously stopped and lost his breath. How did he come back to life?”
Hao Tsai who was on the side stopped wailing and sobbed instead. He said intermittently, “Uncle Hua, you just said that Awen is gone. I almost died in fright.”
Qiao Wen obediently sat on this small wooden frame bed beneath him, allowing the old Chinese doctor to perform insights and inquiries on him while silently digesting the new memories he had just gained and sorted out the present situation.
He obviously encountered a sandstorm in the desert, so how did he come to this place as soon as he woke up?
Fortunately, he had just read the web novel, “The Great Tyrant of the Seventies,” so he quickly deduced that he, who should have died in the sandstorm was reborn in this novel due to some metaphysical power. He transmigrated into the novel’s cannon fodder with the same name as him, as well as the good brother of the great villain Chen Jianan.
This book world was Hong Kong City in the early 1970— called the Kowloon Walled City in the book. It was equivalent to the chaotic and prosperous Hong Kong City in the 1970s in the real world.
He thought of the timeline.
He remembered that when Chen Jianan died, the author described his heartfelt journey in great detail. His most important memory was the day his brother Qiao Wen, who grew up with him, died.
The Qiao Wen in this world grew up a sickly child and became terribly ill when he was 18 years old. He lay in the dilapidated clinic in Kowloon Walled City for several days, but the medicine didn’t work. The oldest doctor told him that Qiao Wen must be transferred to a big foreign hospital for treatment. However, they were both impoverished children in Kowloon Walled City at that time, neither of them could afford to go to a big hospital.
In order to earn money for Qiao Wen’s treatment, Chen Jianan took the assassination order from the club’s boss. The target of the assassination was the protagonist’s father, Lin Zihui.
It was his first assassination and it went smoothly. Yet by the time he came back with the money to take Qiao Wen to the foreign hospital, the boy lying on the shabby bed of the black clinic had long since gone and was already cold and stiff.
That was the darkest point in Chen Jianan’s life. Since then, he pledged to make a lot of money and from there he went down on a path of no return as an evil villain, which became the source of his future tragic ending.
If he wasn’t mistaken, today was the day Qiao Wen died and was also the turning point of Chen Jianan’s fate. With Hao Tsai’s wolf-like howling and the way he grabbed the original body and shook it violently, as well as the reaction of the old Chinese doctor Uncle Hua, the Qiao Wen of this world should have died, but because his soul entered, this body came back to life.
He became the Qiao Wen in the book.
But no matter what, he who died in the desert was reborn as another person in another world.
He had promised Lin Nan that he would live well. Even if it was a different world, a different body, and identity, it was always good to be alive.
Hihi, I picked up this project. For those who aren’t on Discord, I announced it there last time!