108 – The Beginning – Karmic Anomaly – II
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“Well to start with, my ancestor is Won Gyun. Apparently the guy was an infamous naval commander from Korea.” Neol took a sip from his coffee and said, “Public record has it that he was killed in action while running away, but he actually succeeded and fled overseas. However, he racked up a lot of bad karma due to his actions by adultering and alcohol, something that carried over to his predecessors.”

Rena frowned. “That can’t be right… Ah, I mean the part about bad karma.” She shook her head and said, “That’s just superstition… right?”

Neol sighed. “You’d think that… but no. It’s real.” He shook his head and said, “My parents died in a car crash when I was entering kindergarten. Afterwards, my aunt and uncle that took me in died in a shootout while taking me to a movie on my tenth birthday. From there I bounced around from place to place, but each person that took me in died. Well, there’s that and the fact that I’ve almost died a lot of times too.”

Rena’s eyes widened. “How… many times?”

Neol shrugged. “I lost count after a hundred. Figured it was better for my sanity.”

Rena blinked, at a loss for words. Then she said, “That’s… you’re incredible, Neol.”

“Mm. I guess so. I’ve got this bad karma chasing around, but I’ve been fortunate enough to be born with the skill and awareness to get around it. And…” He knocked on the table. “Not to jinx it, but the world seems to throw me a rope each time to drag myself out of the mess. It’s always thin, barely a spider’s thread, but it’s there.”

Rena nodded, caught up in the story. But then she froze. “Wait. Didn’t you say that the world is trying to kill me?”

“Yep.” Neol nodded. “And that’s why I’m curious. You see, because of my daily dance with death who keeps haunting me like a stalker, I have a good sense of when someone’s about to die. Usually, people are years away from it. And the shortest I’ve met is someone a day away from death, but they’re usually on their deathbed. And if they’re not, when they dodge it, the ‘count’ typically gets extended. You though…” Neol tilted his head, carefully staring at Rena and said, “You’re weird. I pulled you away from your death or a bad end five times today, but even now you seem like you’ll drop dead if I look away.”

Rena gave a nervous laugh. “That’s… maybe you’re imagining things?”

Neol nodded. “Maybe. But I haven’t been wrong in my estimates yet.” He frowned. “It’s weird. I thought I was the only one that death was chasing like a crazed stalker, but you have it worse than I do. At least for me there’s always a way out. But the past few times, if I didn’t step in you would definitely have been screwed… figuratively and literally in a few cases.”

Rena paled.

“Ah. Sorry.”

She shook her head. “N-No. It’s fine. I mean, that’s a fact, anyway…”

Neol placed his hand on his chin and said, “It’s weird… Maybe the heavens or a random god is really jealous of your beauty.” He shrugged. “Whatever the case, you’re definitely an anomaly.”

“You’re the anomaly! What kind of person acts so casual almost dying on a daily basis?!”

He shrugged. “You get used to it.”

Rena huffed. But then she carefully looked at Neol and said, “If what you’re saying is true though…” She frowned and said, “Isn’t it bad to be around me? What if you get caught up in it and… die too?” She hugged her knees to her chest and said, “Am I… really worth that trouble?”

“Worth it or not, it looks like karma led you towards me, so I can’t just let you drop dead now, can I? That’d probably tip the scale to having the world off me completely if I let a beautiful girl like you die when she didn’t have to.”

Rena gave Neol a weird look and then laughed. “I don’t really get you, Neol… But thanks.”

Neol stood up and said, “The bathroom’s over there and I’ve got a spare bedroom you can sleep in. Ah, make sure to check it throughly before you go to sleep though.”

Rena frowned. “…That makes it seem like something’s going to happen.” She narrowed her eyes and said, “This isn’t really an elaborate setup to attack me in the middle of the night or something, is it?”

“A bit too late to be concerned about that, Rena, don’t you think? But no. I just wanted to let you know since I found a black widow crawling in that room once.”

“W-What?” Rena paled. “U-Um… Do you think that we could-“

“That was a joke.”

“Neeeool!”

He smirked and waved her off. “I’m heading to bed first. Try to at least stay alive until morning… It’d be a hassle if you dropped dead in the middle of the night. I don’t want to be liable for criminal charges and have to pay a defense attorney again to get out of it.”

Rena nodded. “I won’t- Wait, again?!”

“Night.”

“H-Hold on! Neol? Neol?!”

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