December 1st. With temperatures dipping below freezing, winter had finally arrived in P— City. The roads leading to all major grocery stores were chock-full of drivers en route to stock up on toilet paper. Ever mindful of the hazards of black ice, cars carefully rolled forward. Luckily, adhering to all traffic laws in the name of public safety was something everyone could agree on—
Honk! Honk! Beep!
Everyone, that is, except the person now plowing his electric-yellow Verrari Convertible down the right shoulder lane, blowing through a stop light like a maniac.
From the view of the overhead traffic cams, the Verrari looked like a coked-up bumblebee weaving erratically between obstacles. Compared to the chaos of screeching and swerving happening outside, inside was much calmer. Mikhail, reclining into his heated seat, had just put his father on speaker.
“Mikhail, I want to say this to you,” came his father’s usual speech. “Next year, your nephew’s birthday—”
Hearing that word “nephew,” Mikhail spat out the cola he was chugging. “Ehh? Maiya has a kid? How come no one told me!”
“You were present for the delivery.”
The windshield was covered with a spray of cola; considering that Mikhail's vision was already being hindered by his over-the-top polarized sunglasses, he was hardly troubled. “You mean that time last March? I thought she was just getting her appendix out.”
“Son, you… Ai, never mind. I’ll send you money. I hope you will stay out of trouble—”
“Ah, crap! Tunnel! Thanks, Dad~”
Mikhail jabbed the “end call” button. He hummed along to the energetic EDM tune blasting from his beloved car’s speakers. With one hand, he yanked the steering wheel, zipping from Portugal Street to Basil Street—heading the wrong way down a one-way—while, with his other hand, he checked his bank account.
A few grand had just transferred to him. A gift for the holiday season!
Mikhail smiled. He didn’t care one lick about Christmas or the coming New Year or, for that matter, the cars directly ahead of him veering left and right to avoid a head-on collision. But he did have a special place in his heart for throwing cash at exclusive clubs in downtown P— City.
Club Lux in particular was one of Mikhail’s favorite haunts. The other boozed-up regulars there were happy to hang out with him all night long, provided he merely pick up their tab. A self-described “really cool guy” with a heart-stopping 188cm stature and a gym membership, it was no wonder everywhere he went, people wanted to be friends with him.
So what if he was actually only 168cm! So what if he struggled lifting a jug of milk to top off his cereal in the mornings!
Even if he was a “good-for-nothing wastrel” in the eyes of society, at least he had simple needs. As long as copious amounts of money kept pouring into his bank account, he would definitely live a long and happy life.
Bwam bwam bwam bwam bwam-bwam-bwambwamwamwam…
The EDM tune was just winding up for “the drop,” when suddenly the station changed.
“—a holly jolly Christmas, it’s the best time of the year♪—”
Mikhail ripped off his sunglasses with one hand and bellowed, “What the fuck!”
No matter how many times he punched the Bluetooth button, the car refused to return to his phone’s playlist. The radio, which seemed to have been possessed by a ghost, bounced from one station to another, all blaring similarly grating Christmas tunes. One moment it was “Frosty the Snowman,” the next it was “Silver Bells.” Mikhail felt his displeasure rising, and his foot pressed the gas pedal harder. Even the damned volume button refused to shut off.
“—oh ho, the mistletoe, hung where you can see♪—”
Grinding his molars, Mikhail’s eyes wandered to the service sticker on the windshield, wondering when the last time he serviced his car was...
And that’s how it happened.
December 1st, 202X, the good-for-nothing wastrel Mikhail Li, only twenty-eight years old, unwittingly drove head-first into a telephone pole and died.
> A critical hit!
> Telephone Pole: [ 100/100 HP ]
> Mikhail: [ 0/100 HP ]
> Telephone Pole Wins!
> Telephone Pole gained 250 EXP. Points!
A person familiar with webnovels will tell you, death by car accident is the simplest, most efficient means of kicking off a main character’s grand transmigration to another world.
So, what high-stakes historical fantasy adventures await Mikhail in his next life?
Half an hour later, Mikhail’s lingering soul was still invisibly hovering in the vicinity of the telephone pole. He was completely passed out from shock. Except for the teeth-mark-shaped scar on his wrist from a childhood incident, he had never gotten this seriously injured before—let alone fatally.
The shattered glass from the car crash had been cleaned up, with the accordioned Verrari merely waiting on a tow truck. Mikhail’s lifeless body, a sight for sore eyes, had been transported to the nearest hospital’s mortuary. As for Mikhail the left-behind ghost, snoring, he floated on his side and murmured, “...No, garçon, that’s… mmm… too much shrimp…”
Feeling someone tap him on his shoulder, Mikhail finally roused from his sleep.
He groggily opened his eyes. When he looked up and saw a tall man wearing white damask silk robes, a shining gold halo, and a pair of large feathered wings, he knew he had fucked up.
The winged man’s wheat-blonde hair and wide sleeves billowed majestically, as if there were a giant invisible fan mounted behind him. His swanlike wings were splayed out, blocking the sun from view. As for the gold halo at the crown of his head, it was emanating such a harsh light that it was difficult to look at, like an overpowered LED flashlight. He reached out a hand towards Mikhail, his amber eyes softening, and said with a sad smile:
“Little Mikhail, my name is Gabriel. I’ve been your guardian angel since you were born. I’ve come now to escort you to the afterlife.”
Mikhail looked down at his see-through hands. His feet were hovering an inch off the ground. The wintry wind was blowing right through him.
“Dead? I’m dead? Fuck you! Guardian angel, my ass! I'm only twenty-eight! If you’re my guardian angel, how could you let me die!?”
Gabriel coughed lightly. “I was in the restroom. My sincerest apologies for the oversight. Anyway, come along. There’s a spot in purgatory waiting for you.”
“P-p-purgatory? Like hell I’m going with you! I demand to see my lawyer!”
“Ah. I’m afraid this matter falls outside of ordinary human jurisprudence,” Gabriel sighed. He leisurely waved a hand. From out of his robes’ billowing sleeve floated an object that looked suspiciously similar to a barcode scanner, except that it was a gaudy white and gold color. “We can talk about it on the way there. I assure you, you have nothing to fear. Purgatory has undergone a few renovations since Mr. Alighieri last visited. Wrist, please.”
Mikhail withdrew both arms into his sleeves.
“Little Mikhail,” Gabriel said warningly. His amber eyes grew dark. In a flash, the barcode scanner got traded out with an object that looked suspiciously similar to a taser gun, except that it was a gaudy white and gold color.
With the speed and grace of a headless chicken, Mikhail took off running.
Of course, having watched over Mikhail for nearly three decades, Gabriel was well aware that Mikhail would try to make a run for it. But death was inescapable, and anyway, Mikhail wasn’t an athletic person. He would probably be out of breath in less than two minutes.
Thinking this, Gabriel took a casual step forward.
Unfortunately, the guardian angel wasn’t paying attention to the glimmer of light reflecting off of the ground. His foot landed on a patch of ice. Immediately, his leg slipped out from under him and he fell back. His head smashed against the pavement with a thud, knocking him out cold.
The halo dimmed, became crooked, then fell right off and rolled to a stop.
After slinking back over, Mikhail tried to nudge the unconscious guardian angel with a foot, only for his transparent shoe to pass through the man’s leg. “Mr. Gabriel, sir…”
Below, Gabriel’s fallen halo was tottering dangerously at the edge of a storm drain. Mikhail crouched down to pick it up. The moment his fingers closed around the warm metal, his body grew heavier. The transparency in his hands faded, and his feet gently plopped onto the ground.
So, this halo wasn’t just for looking cute—it also had some powers!
Mikhail, who had the attention span of a concussed goldfish, quickly abandoned his concern for the injured. He trotted towards the nearest parked car and checked his reflection in the side mirror, experimentally holding the halo over his head.
After adjusting the height and location a few times, the halo vibrated and stuck in place.
A pair of hovering, pint-sized 2D cartoon wings appeared on his back. Before Mikhail got the chance to wonder why he hadn’t received majestic feathered wings like Gabriel, a robotic voice entered his head:
【GUARDIAN ANGEL SYSTEM FREE 25-DAY TRIAL ACTIVATED - PREVIOUS HOST GABRIEL SONG DELETED - PLEASE STATE NAME OF NEW HOST, FOLLOWED BY THE POUND KEY】
That sounded too familiar…
Wait, wasn’t this exactly like those weird novels his younger sister addictively read on the internet?!
Mikhail said aloud, “Uh, Mikhail Li.”
A floating green 2D keyboard appeared in his field of vision. Mikhail poked the pound button and the system replied:
【HOST (uh, Mikhail Li) REGISTERED - DOWNLOADING HOST DATA FROM THIRD HEAVEN DATABASE - 1%—99% - DOWNLOAD COMPLETE -
NAME: MIKHAIL LI
KP BALANCE: 6】
“Unknown? When was this Third Heaven Database last updated? My sexuality is straight! Where the hell is the edit function?”
Mikhail mashed the floating keyboard, only for it to disappear with a ding.
【THANK YOU FOR CONFIRMING YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION - PLEASE FORM A CONTRACT WITH A HUMAN TO PROCEED - TO RETURN TO THE MAIN MENU, PRESS STAR】
That day at peak traffic hour, the drivers backed up on Basil Street all rubbernecked to watch a pretty boy cosplaying as an angel thrashing his arms and screaming to the skies, “I’m straight! I’m straight!”
As it happens, the reason for this outburst was because Mikhail had personally read a fair number of these “System” novels in translation—just to confirm that his sister wasn’t reading anything that would damage her brains irreparably.
Usually, the MC (main character), after dying and being transmigrated into a novel or fantasy world, would end up mentally paired up with a mysterious System that fed them missions to complete. The System’s voice and pop-ups could only be heard and seen by the MC. Sometimes power-ups and cheats could be “purchased,” making the MC OP as hell compared to the other characters.
Of course, the circumstances varied from novel to novel. But this was real life.
Furthermore, the pressing issue was, if he remembered the genre and ship details of those novels correctly…
To put it BLuntly, the situation was definitely, BLatantly BLeak!