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Ace of Hearts [Chapter 2]

by Magebird


Chapter 2

Charlotte wasn't alone in the forest.

She had realized that as soon as she heard the movement in the distance, but part of her had been hoping that it was some wild animal. Not that she wanted to get mauled to death by a high fantasy bear. She really didn't. But she knew that her clothes were going to make her stand out like a sore thumb, and she doubted that she'd actually understand what anyone from here was saying.

It didn't make sense for her to.

Still, she couldn't exactly stay silent when a trio emerged from the darkness of the woods. It didn't matter that they looked...weird. They were from another world. Wasn't that to be expected? She could barely make out their faces underneath the cowls of their too-large cloaks – shady, much? – and their silence was honestly a little intimidating. Charlotte had been feeling as good as she could have been about the whole other world thing, but every little bit of bravado and confidence left her when she realized just how unfamiliar the three were.

“...Hi,” she awkwardly said. It was funny. The tallest and smallest of the three were looking her over, but the other member of the trio only looked in her direction after she said something.

It was almost like they didn't know where she was.

Tallest and Smallest exchanged a look from within the shadows of their cloaks. The third part of the group just kept staring at her, almost like they were trying to get a glimpse of her soul. Or maybe, just maybe, trying to figure out what the fuss was about.

“Hello,” the tallest member of the group said. His voice masculine, suave, and surprisingly young. It was so young that he could have gone to her school – he might have just been a few years older than her.

There was a long, awkward silence.

Charlotte felt justified in her silence. She wasn't from here. She wasn't even sure how you were supposed to interact with people from another world. But, to these three, she was supposed to be some strange girl in the wilderness. A girl whose clothes really weren't made for a place like this, and who really shouldn't gone into a forest barefoot. They were supposed to have some kind of reaction. Outrage, confusion, worry – heck, they should have even been slowly backing away from her!

But they weren't.

They were just standing there.

And Charlotte, who really wanted them to just go already, really wished that someone would be smart enough to say or do something.

At least, that was the case until the third member of the trio pushed their hood back. Charlotte had been under the assumption that Tallest was the leader of their little group, but then the other two quickly followed suit. She found herself looking at boys who seemed like they could have almost been from Earth.

Tallest had an appearance that was just as suave as his voice. His long, raven hair cascaded down his back as he lowered his hood. It framed a surprisingly pale face. Something about his hair, his piercing blue eyes, and little nick he had in his right ear made him seem like he was some kind of model.

Smallest had to be around the same age as Tallest, but he looked far younger. Big, brown eyes peeked out from a childishly round face – topped by short, messy bright green hair. It was the brightest, most unusual hair color Charlotte had ever seen.

And then there was the apparent leader.

The other two had been...odd, but he was the strangest of all. Dark brown hair just barely touched his shoulders. He was pale, too, but not nearly to the same extent as Tallest. What made him so strange was the cloth that was tied around his eyes. It was stained and torn, but he didn't seem to notice or care.

Maybe that was why he hadn't looked at her earlier. With that cloth around his eyes, he couldn't have possibly been able to see her that well.

“Who are you?” the leader demanded.

Well, that was rude.

She crossed her arms. “Who are you?”

“I asked you first,” he replied, straightening in irritation.

Smallest glanced between the two of them; Tallest just let out a sigh.

He put his hand on the boy's shoulder.

“Ren,” Tallest said, in the same suave voice from earlier – this time with a scolding yet gentle tone. “She's probably a little confused-”

“She's the reason the forest is off,” he growled. “I'm sure of it.”

Charlotte had been hoping that she'd magically be able to avoid any mentions of her not being from around her. No one had commented on her clothes, and no one had commented on how woefully unprepared she was for the wilderness. Not that any of the three were any better in that last category. They didn't have a single pack on their backs, or any other way of carrying supplies.

“I don't know what you're talking about,” she said. Was it really a lie if she didn't know why that portal had appeared or why it had brought her here?

The leader – Ren? – frowned. “I don't believe you.”

“I don't care if you believe me,” she shot back.

She wanted to say more, but she soon became too flustered to. Smallest darted over to her side, a little skip to his step as he rushed over. He tilted his head ever so slightly to the side.

“You can't see her clothes right now, Ren,” Smallest commented, “but they're so different! I've never seen anything like them before. Her pants are made of this weird, thick fabric, and her shirt has little characters on it. It doesn't look like something royalty would wear, but I bet only royalty could afford clothes like that.”

There was a pause.

Charlotte took a step back from Smallest, but he only moved closer.

“...Also, she's not wearing shoes,” he added.

Tallest gave the sort of strained smile that implied he dealt with Smallest and Ren's antics on a regular basis. “Which is why I said she might be confused.”

Smallest nodded in agreement. 

“I was about to finish with that,” he admitted. “But you beat me to it, Lucas.”

“I'm not confused,” Charlotte protested. “I'm perfectly okay.”

The words sounded weak to her own ears, but what else was she supposed to do? She couldn't just confirm their worst suspicions. That would definitely be a lie, and wouldn't exactly help her in the long run. She glanced around the forest. It was dangerous to run around barefoot, but she didn't want to deal with these guys if she could help it.

Ren's frown deepened.

...Then again, maybe the truth was the best way out of this.

Charlotte pushed down the writhing mass of worries in her chest and gave them a smile she didn't really feel. If they thought she really had lost it, they'd have to leave her alone. Smallest and Lucas both seemed like they might be okay with a lapse in sanity, but Ren would definitely have none of it.

“I mean,” she added, “I'm in another world. I just walked through a portal that showed up in my bedroom and ended up right here. I don't even know where here is, so...”

She awkwardly fell silent.

The three of them were glancing at each other. It wasn't in a way that Charlotte liked. Instead of sharing a look of mutual discomfort, they were sharing a look of mutual understanding.

Charlotte started to slowly inch her way towards the edge of the clearing.

“She was brought here by a dragon?” Lucas whispered.

“That's not necessarily a bad thing!” Smallest hurriedly said. “It-It could mean that she...she...”

Ren suddenly pulled his hood back up.

The hood cast shadows on his face. She could barely make out above his nose now; it seemed like his cloak was a size or two too big. But that didn't really matter. Now was Charlotte's chance to get away from these three, and her chance to figure out what exactly she needed to do to get back home.

She started to dart off into the woods.

But then Ren was suddenly beside her, grabbing onto her arm with a startling amount of precision for someone who supposedly couldn't see.

She glanced down.

The cloth around his eyes was now dangling around his neck.

“Where are you going?” he hissed.

“Do you say everything in a growl?” she replied.

Ren faltered. “I...I don't.”

“Why don't you ask your friends? I'm sure they could tell you-”

“It doesn't matter,” he interrupted. He gave a shake of his head. “What matters is that you were brought here from another world, and that it's a death wish to wander around in the woods without any idea where you're going. You're coming with us to the next town.”

Lucas paled.

“Ren, I'm not sure that's a good-”

Ren spun back to presumably glare at the dissenter.

“We're bringing her with us,” he said. “Do you want to let her die out here?”

Charlotte tore her wrist free. “Do I get a say in this?”

Ren pulled his hand back and crossed his arms. When he turned back to look at her, she got the feeling he was glaring at her, too. “You do if you have a better idea.”

Charlotte mulled over her options.

Option 1: Wander around the woods aimlessly until she stumbled onto the town that Ren mentioned. She'd probably have to find food, water and shelter. She didn't even know how to find the nearest path. And there was a very good chance she'd fail at least one of those things – she had never been on a camping trip in her entire life.

Option 2: Accept her fate as the protagonist in what had to be some kind of cliché isekai anime. She could get information about how she ended up here, what to expect, and where exactly they were on the way to town. Once they got there, she'd be on her own again.

“I don't,” she grumbled.

“Good.”

Ren turned around with an overly dramatic swish of his cloak.

Lucas and Smallest exchanged another look.

Lucas sighed; Smallest shrugged.

And Charlotte was left with scrambling after all three of them as they left her and the clearing behind without a second glance.


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83 Reviews


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Sun Apr 19, 2020 7:37 pm
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Hkumar wrote a review...



Hey!
Sorry, I am a little late here. The last chapter ended on a cliffhanger and this one started right by bringing together the group of those mystery men and the girl. I liked the beginning of this chapter where Charlotte was making speculations about those weird beings in front of her. We got to know more about the appearances of the trio which was absent in the last chapter and I think know I have a developed a clear picture of all those three men in my mind.
The way Charlotte was trying to act brave and not letting them know that she was scared was quite funny but impressive at the same time. I think she is going to stand out in the following chapters.
The conversation between her and the guys was quite interesting. Charlotte is quick and smart with what she says and it was a bit amusing also the way she was giving some rude replies. I have begin to really like her character.
There's a lot to be revealed of what's actually happening and what is this place. I hope you continue to amaze us.
Keep writing :)




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Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:51 pm
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Draculus wrote a review...



So previously I have said that I really enjoy the story. But now it's time to show my cards and say what exactly I like about it.
First, characters. I must admit that a stubborn, strong and clever girl is a promising hero. I'm expecting some great, funny and important actions by Charlotte, and I definiitely have reasons to expect. Then, those three stranger men, or boys, for that matter, are different, which means the story will have a dynamic and interesting plot. And also I feel that the characters are developed and the author knows them quite well. It means we won't have any stupid plot twists that are behind any logic.
Second, the style is really pleasant. It's easy to read and to understand, the author adds fine humor to the writing which makes it even more interesting, and the paragraphs are well balanced. This is the factor that attracts me to the story.
I know that I won't be disappointed if I read the next chapter, so I wish the author inspiration for the story)

Sincerely yours,
Drak.




Magebird says...


Thank you for the review!

I'm glad you like the characters - I definitely know them well. :) This story originally started as a Minecraft fanfiction, so it's not my first time writing the cast. I'm just writing them in a slightly different setting with a slightly different plot. :)

Thanks for the inspiration, too! <3



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Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:42 pm
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Gnomish wrote a review...



Hello!

I've read the first chapter, and I'm really interested in where this is going. I like how Charlotte kind of accepts she's in a story, and aknowladges the clichés here. I also like the possible hinting at romance with Lucas (maybe, hopefully?).

“...Hi,” she awkwardly said.

I would say "She said awkwardly", rather than awkwardly said.

I think Charlotte's character is very realistic, and she behaves how I think I might. One other thing I noticed is that when Ren took off his blindfold I would think that Charlotte would be curious about his eyes, since I know I would think there was a reason for the blindfold.

Anyways, I hope you post the next chapter soon!
-Gnomish




Magebird says...


Thanks for your review and your kind words!

There will be a romance in this story, but I won't spoil with who yet. :) I actually decided that Charlotte would recognize the cliches because she's so into anime. Having her be an anime fan just felt right for her character, and it's hard to not know what the isekai (ending up in another world) genre is when there's so many new ones coming out each season.

I didn't think about the thing with Ren's blindfold! I'll definitely include that in the next draft.

Thanks again for the review!



Gnomish says...


I'm excited



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Sun Mar 22, 2020 9:39 pm
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Draculus says...



Not a usual story, I must say. Instead of being an object of fear and misunderstanding for the people of another world, Charlotte is an object they seemed to be prepared for. That's interesting)




Magebird says...


Thanks! I'm glad you like it. :)



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Sun Mar 22, 2020 9:09 pm
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Lia5Giba says...



Heyo! This isn't a review, as you could probably tell. Just wanted to say this looks good, and dang, this isn't edited?! You are good. I like the tone of this work. I like how Charlotte is aware that this is kind of the exact plot of a cliche anime.☺




Magebird says...


Aw, thanks!! I'm glad you like my story so much. :

I really love self aware protagonists, and I realized a minute into the last chapter that Charlotte would definitely draw comparisons to anime - I couldn't see her not watching an isekai anime at some point.




The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.
— Amelia Earhart