Chapter 1: Crossing Over

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

Late at Night

Lim gazed at the classical yet luxuriously appointed room, then at his own cold iron bed, and couldn't help but feel out of place.

With a sigh of resignation, Lim acknowledged it had been two years!

Indeed, Lim had traveled through time; he was now known as Franz Josef, the very same historical figure who was the old emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the protagonist in the love story of Princess Sissi.

The grandson of Emperor Franz II of the Holy Roman Empire, the eldest son of Archduke Franz Karl, his mother was Princess Sophie Friederica, the daughter of King Bavarian Maximilian I.

(Franz Josef I, the founder of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the last emperor of the Habsburg dynasty, born on August 18, 1830, ascended to the throne on December 2, 1848, and passed away on November 21, 1916.)

God seemed to have played a joke on Franz, for in his early years, he lived a fairytale-like life, had an extraordinarily beautiful queen, adorable children, and controlled a mighty empire.

In his early years, Franz was truly worthy of the title of emperor; he made his people, his country, his nation, and the woman he deeply loved feel safe and proud because of him.

Unfortunately, like a dream that vanishes upon waking, his life took a sharp downturn in his later years.

His brother was executed by firing squad in Mexico, his wife was stabbed to death in Geneva by an Italian anarchist, and his son committed suicide at a young age.

The chosen successor was stabbed to death by the Serbia Mafia, and the retaliatory war he launched in response caused tens of millions to fall in a sea of blood and led to the collapse of the empire he struggled for all his life.

Franz's uncle, the current Emperor of Austria, Ferdinand I, could not have children due to a congenital defect, and Franz had been groomed early on as the heir apparent.

As the heir to the empire, his happy childhood bid him farewell, and as for the blissful, hedonistic life of the nobility, that was even further out of the question and had nothing to do with Franz.

Study, study, and more study; from the moment of his birth, Franz was subjected to the strictest of training.

He slept on a cold campaign bed, would rise at four in the morning every day, bathe with cold water, then start his day with early prayers at the small altar beside his bed as a devout Catholic, followed by twelve long hours of study.

Neither the bitter cold of winter nor the height of summer ever brought a change to this routine.

Just after his time travel, snow covered Vienna; the first time he took a cold winter bath, Lim thought he was done for, but surprisingly, his body was exceptionally resilient, not even catching a cold.

Over seven hundred days and nights were enough to change many things, and now Lim had become Franz. He didn't even realize his own willpower could be so strong; indeed, it seemed people were truly forged through adversity.

In these two years, Lim, no, Franz now, had retained most of the original host's lifestyle habits.

Many times he wondered if the memories of his past life were just a dream.

After carefully comparing historical developments, Franz reluctantly discovered that this world was exactly the same as the one he had experienced in his previous life, even down to the potato crop failures in the Germany Region.

As a history enthusiast, he had studied the history of the Austrian Empire extensively in his former life and knew that the seemingly flourishing empire was, in reality, a shell of its former self, needing only a slight push to collapse entirely.

On the surface, the Austrian Empire remained at its zenith, acting as the chief conductor of the Vienna Congress, the creator of post-Napoleonic European order, and currently playing the role of the European Gendarme.

Nobody knew that this great empire would crumble in the great upheaval two years later, and if it weren't for the major powers needing its existence, the Austrian Empire would have become history by 1849.

Even though it barely survived, the Austrian Empire had begun its decline from prosperity.

Due to diplomatic failures, it faced a series of military failures, first losing the Austria-France war, and then the Prussia-Austria war; even the Italians had bitten off a chunk of Austria.

A succession of defeats undermined the authority of the Central Government, eventually forcing it into a compromise and transforming the Austrian Empire into the dual monarchy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The establishment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in history was filled with coincidences, and Franz dared not wager that he could do better than his predecessor. Now, saving the Austrian Empire had become his mid-term goal.

Of course, he could choose to escape, renounce the right to the throne, and become an ordinary person living in a safe place as a happy capitalist.

Unfortunately, after two years of living as nobility, Franz's ambition had already started to take root.

Life is short, merely a few hurried decades. Having crossed over once to stand at the pinnacle of the world and become the playmaker of the era, why should he shrink back now?

It had gotten quite late, and Franz continued to perfect his national salvation plan, which he had revised countless times.

"Grand Duke, it's time for class!" the maid reminded softly.

The maid's voice woke Franz from his sleep.

"I know!" Franz said helplessly.

He was now a diligent student, studying politics, history, philosophy, languages, religion... managing a mere pass average across dozens of subjects.

That's right, adding up all his subject grades and averaging them was just enough for him to barely pass. And if not, well, he could always round up.

He was definitely a good student, especially compared to his two younger brothers who studied with him; Franz was by all means an excellent student.

Of course, this was a result of different standards. His mother, Madam Sophie, demanded that he be the best, while the standard for his two brothers was merely to scrape by.

From Franz's perspective, this education was fundamentally flawed. Too much content required rote memorization, leaving no time for reflection.

There was no helping it; the Habsburg Family faced a crisis. Both his father and uncle were unfortunately lacking in innate intelligence, leading to a gap in the family's traditional educational succession, which effectively halted the transmission of the Emperor's academics.

These courses were all personally arranged by his mother, Sophie, a devout Catholic who believed that as the successor to the Emperor, he needed to be strong; showing any emotion was disastrous, and she was exceptionally strict with Franz.

In addition to learning his mother tongue, by the age of 8 Franz could write letters in French; by 11, he studied Hungarian, Czech, and Italian and started delving into Latin and Greek at the age of 13…

Unfortunately, he hadn't inherited the academic-genius genes from the original owner of his body. After using up all the academic capital left behind, Franz's performance in his studies declined steadily.

The historically multi-lingual Franz who could converse in almost all the languages of the Austro-Hungarian Empire's nationalities was long gone. Now there remained only a student struggling to pass his classes—Franz.

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