Ace

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"We interrupt your scheduled programming to bring you this breaking news. The King of Hearts has officially been pronounced dead by paramedics."

"What?" I said to myself as I looked back at the street television monitor attached to the utility pole I'd just passed. Did I hear that news reporter correctly? The King of Hearts is dead?

"Palace officials found the King laying on his bathroom floor at 4:30 this evening, a sword stuck in his head. Police believe it to have been a suicide, but say that based off the recent threats from the Black Allies, they cannot be too sure." I had to get home and tell Lark and Ilyx. I took off running down the street-their home was only a block away at most. As I did, I noticed people looking up at the street monitors with shock and horror written all over their faces. One young girl actually began to cry. "Sources say the King's heir, Prince Kortian, has already begun preparing for his inauguration that is expected to take place sometime next week; while he is deeply saddened by the loss of the man he considered to be his father, he is ready to step up and do what he can to help improve the situation of Heartizens." I nearly tripped over a trashcan that was sprawled out on the sidewalk as I turned a corner. Stupid trashcan. I guess I should have anticipated it; this place has always been a dump. "The release of an official statement on behalf of the Royal Family is scheduled for tomorrow morning; it is expected that the King's cause of death will be known by then." By the time the reporter was finished saying this, I was back at Lark and Ilyx's small, one-story cottage. I burst through the front door to find the same thing that was being shown on the monitors outside being shown on the living room television. The smell of Ilyx's homemade chicken potpie rushed into my nostrils. "Diamonds has already sent its condolences to the Royal Family in this very tragic time in their lives, and have offered to do whatever they can to help the Crown Prince adjust to his new rule."

"So you've heard the news," I said to Lark as I went and took a seat beside him on the rather-firm couch.

"I'm in shock," Lark responded, not taking his eyes of the television as he rubbed the little white hair he had left on top of his head. "The King commits suicide? That's so unexpected."

"At least we have a successor despite his sudden death," Ilyx called from the kitchen. "Though I feel bad for the Queen," she added as she walked into the room. She took off the bandana she'd been wearing over her graying strawberry blonde hair. "She must be so heartbroken, especially if it was a suicide as they are claiming it to be."

"Yeah well, let's hope his death is somehow war related," Lark said, standing up and switching off the television.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because it would make him look nobler, and us look less weak and vulnerable to the Black Allies."

"You think the Black Allies view us as weak?" I asked, following him and his wife into the kitchen.

"Don't worry, sweetie," Ilyx said as she walked over to the oven and pulled out the pie. "Everything will be fine. He is not the first King of Hearts to die, and he will certainly not be the last."

"But have any of the Kings committed suicide before?" I asked as I started my usual duty of setting the table. "And what about Prince Kortian? They're not actually gonna let a six-year-old rule an entire suit, are they?"

"You have so many questions for being such a young child," Lark said shaking his head as he grabbed some silverware out of my hands and helped me finish up.

"Lark, I'm thirteen."

"Celia, trust us; Hearts will be just fine," Lark assured me. I nodded my head before sitting down in my usual seat at the small, round table. I trusted them. I had no reason not to. Lark and Ilyx Velone were all I had in this world-everyone else in Hearts thought I was a nobody, just because of the stupid A I have on the back of my neck. My biological parents disowned me back when I was only a baby-Lark and Ilyx said they found me out on the street, sitting by a dumpster and some ripped open trash bags, when I was two years old. I know they got rid of me because I'm an ace, that's a given. It was probably too embarrassing for them since they were fives or sixes or something like that. It's pretty pathetic if you ask me-being too weak to try and stick it out. It's not a surprise though. No Heartizens wanted to associate with me, so I just went about my business and kept to myself when I was out on the streets. Sometimes it felt like they thought I had cooties or something-the cowards. But I didn't care-I didn't want to associate with any of them anyways. I heard that the Ace of Hearts used to get spit on, beaten, and verbally abused in the past to the point where they were run out of town, so I felt sort of lucky that Heartizens just didn't give me the time of day when they recognized me. But honestly, disowning me was probably the best thing my biological parents ever did, because if they hadn't, I probably wouldn't have met Lark and Ilyx. They had been so gracious to me when they had so little of their own (since they're both only twos). I tended to be out on the streets of Sector 4 a lot in an attempt to stay out of their way-but I still hoped that one day I'd be able to repay them for all they'd done for me.

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