1 1 - I'm the...villain?!

"Have a safe journey, Dr. Ren," said Dr. Louise, a tall, leggy blonde who looked like she'd just walked off the ramp in a high-end fashion show in Paris or Milan - when, in fact, she was one of the top psychiatrists in the world, and more talented than most doctors twice her age.

She was also the woman Ren's parents wanted him to marry. And this is exactly why Ren had been sent to New York to attend the medical conference his father was supposed to attend.

Unfortunately for Ren's parents, Ren batted for the other team and his type was exclusively male and brainy. He had no interest in women, no matter how attractive. Fortunately for him, Dr. Louise already had someone she liked, so they became friends instead. Ren was quite impressed with Dr. Louise and her work, and he looked forward to collaborate with her in the future.

So, overall, Ren was quite pleased when Dr. Louise dropped him off at the JFK airport for his transatlantic flight back home.

He was mildly annoyed with his parents and their constant attempts to find him a suitable girl. He was only twenty seven and exclusively gay, but he was also the only heir to two significant legacies - an international chain of hospitals and medical research companies from his father's side of the family, and a secret magicians guild practising the lost arts from ancient times from his mother's side. He had no siblings, so he had been trained by both sides since he was a baby. Ren had no complaints, though. He was a prodigy, so it wasn't long before he learnt everything he needed to and began to help his parents. The only thing that still remained was having a child of his own. His parents didn't really mind his sexuality. All they wanted was for him to have a suitable partner and a child. According to his mother, adoption wouldn't work for the magic guild because his magic powers came from his bloodline. Ren knew this, and he had prepared for surrogacy already. He had just learnt from his assistant that two of them were successful; that should pacify his parents...and Ren could now take his own sweet time to find a man he liked.

After check in and security, Ren stopped by a bookstore on his way to the lounge. It was quite usual for him to read on long flights. He picked up the new crime thriller from his favourite author, the autobiography of a senior doctor he admired very much, and a couple of other books recommended by his friends. As he walked towards the counter, a title caught his attention.

"The Trials of Ren" was written in bold red on the cover, and the dark silhouette of a man by a window was the background.

It is natural for humans to be interested in things which bear their name. Ren's curiosity was piqued and he added the book to his pile. He didn't notice the strange look in the shop assistant's eyes at all.

Three hours later, Ren put down the finished book and restrained himself from groaning out loud. If he hadn't been in an airplane, he would have flung the book away and cursed out loud. What kind of nonsensical melodrama was this?! Why on earth was the book called "The Trials of Ren" when the Ren in the book was a despicable villain whose overall appearance in the book was about 10% of the total?! This Ren was the worst sort of man who had nothing better to do than torture his little brother's boyfriend (who was miserable enough as it is) despite being the CEO of a multinational company! He even had dealings with the underworld! Worse still, he insisted on interfering with his little brother's life though he'd been disinherited by his parents long ago and the whole family hated him! But the villain cherished his little brother very much, and wreaked havoc on anyone who got too close to the boy. Ultimately, he was killed off by the brother's final boyfriend - and then they got married, danced on his grave and lived happily ever after. So the little brother was the protagonist, the final boyfriend with a tragic backstory was the male lead and Ren was the villain who appeared in less than fifty pages out of the five hundred of the entire novel. Could someone explain why the book was named after this poor villain with inadequate visibility and obnoxious character?!

Nettled, Ren leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes. He was tired anyway and a short nap would be refreshing. He'd start on the crime thriller once he woke up.

That's what Ren intended, anyway.

What actually happened was something he hadn't even imagined in his dreams!!

Ren's consciousness stirred slowly at the insistent call of "Master Ren!" by several panicked voices.

It had been many years since anyone called him that, Ren thought groggily.

The next thought that hit him was that he ached. Everywhere. It felt like he'd been run over by a heavy vehicle.

But wait - wasn't he flying?

How strange! He couldn't possibly get injured like this on an airplane, could he?

So...did the plane crash? Maybe he was rescued and fell into a coma.

Ren's nose twitched. Yes, that disinfectant-like smell could only belong to a hospital.

He opened his eyes slowly.

A sea of unfamiliar faces greeted him.

Ren blinked, surprised. He couldn't recognise a single person in the room, nor could he recognise the hospital he was in...but it was a hospital, and an expensive one, given the luxurious surroundings and the top-of-the-line equipment. Not one of his hospitals; he knew all of them like the back of his hand.

He glanced at the man closest to him - a handsome, middle-aged man with the gentle bearing of a doctor.

"Master Ren, how do you feel?" the man asked nervously.

"I suppose I'll live," Ren replied, smiling slightly. "How long have I been here? Were my parents notified? I'd like to see them right away and then we can discuss my diagnosis together."

The shock on the faces of the people in the room unsettled him.

An old man dressed like a butler stepped forward. "Master Ren...do you remember what happened?" he asked softly.

Ren shook his head. "Wasn't I on a flight back home? I think I fell asleep on the plane. Then it's all blank. What happened? Where am I?"

The old man had tears in his eyes. "Master Ren...you..."

"You are in Cosmopolis," the doctor said flatly. "The date is April 15, 2021. Your parents disinherited you five years ago. You were attacked by the Spider Gang one week ago. A bullet grazed your left shoulder before your car fell off the cliff near Zenith City."

Ren stared at the man in shock as the familiar words washed over him... hadn't he read this scene in that infernal book before he fell asleep...? Could it be that he was immersed in a very realistic dream...?

Ren pinched himself hard and concluded that he was indeed awake. Had he somehow entered the book...? And if he was being called "Master Ren"...then...

An ominous premonition rose in his heart.

He eyed the two men who had spoken, trying to match their appearance with descriptions in the book.

"Dr. Gordon? Steward Paul?" he called quietly.

The two men brightened immediately.

The dread in the pit of Ren's stomach almost solidified. "Is...is Pax all right? He saved me, didn't he...?"

Pax was all-purpose assistant/bodyguard of Ren-the-villain in "The Trials of Ren".

Dr. Gordon smiled. "Pax is injured, but he will recover soon."

Everyone else looked rather relieved.

Ren sighed and closed his eyes. He seemed to have transmigrated into that idiotic dog blood drama he'd just read, as the eponymous villainous character!

I've never even committed a minor offence before, Ren thought to himself, and now I'm a...villain?!

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