It was dark when Amber opened her eyes. Luckily, Kish had managed to get the rest of camp set up while she was out.
She sat up slowly, rubbing her head and reaching for her canteen of water, her mouth feeling quite dry. Though she had passed out, the stress that had made it happen had not disappeared.
"Hey, sleepyhead." Kish said, feeding a weak fire some pinestraw to give it more life.
"Hey," Amber said, sounding exhausted. "Sorry for passing out like that."
"No, it's a huge deal. I get it." He pursed his lips. "I'm sorry that this happened to you. But you said you're avoiding the whole thing anyway, remember? So don't worry."
How could she not worry though? It was a huge deal. He was right. She couldn't just sit idly by while some super-villainesque reincarnation of a fallen angel was probably already hunting her down to kill her.
"It was stupid to think that I could just ignore this," she said defeatedly. "But I'm not exactly what Flaire, or Glacitoria needs. I can't...I..." She took a slow, even breath. "I can't protect myself, let alone all those people."
God, the memories of the collapse came flooding back. She couldn't protect the children. She had collapsed due to the stress of the situation. If it hadn't been for Eric, she'd most certainly have been trampled. Eric, she thought, I should have just listened to Eric.
"Hey," Kish said. "Don't worry about it. We can work on your powers when you get to the castle. You'll get strong enough to defend yourself."
Amber bit her lip. "This has to be a fluke. There's no way I'm Illusine. I haven't even shown any signs of power."
Kish pondered that for moment. "Let me show you something." He stood up from his seat by the ever-dying fire and outstretched his arms by his sides, closing his eyes.
"What are you doing?"
"Shh..." he said, putting a finger to his lips before putting his arms back in place. He began slowly lifting upward until his feet were off the ground.
Amber's eyes widened. "How are you doing that?"
"By concentrating really hard. I was born with telekinesis. I didn't show signs at first either, but I learned."

Kish couldn't tell her of course that he'd also been born with telepathy, something that he had always had an affinity for. So much so, in fact, that he still struggled to control it. That took about as much concentration as lifting himself up off the ground.
But he had grown used to the hum in the back of his head over the years, but since he had met Amber, he had constantly been monitoring her thoughts. Almost obsessively, wondering if she thought about him the way that he was thinking about her. But unfortunately, even her dreams seemed to be filled with thoughts and memories of a man she would never see again.
It had only been a day, but he felt he would never tire of watching her face light up in a slightly gap-toothed grin. She was genuinely a nice girl, and she was true to her word when she told him she'd try not to drag him too far behind, but the wonder in her eyes upon seeing birds and deer and squirrels was so beautiful. It was almost childlike the way she wondered what it would be like to climb all the way to the top of the tallest trees and just be able to see out over the world like the birds. Kish had seen it before. It was beautiful.
"I think I could help you learn how to do it too," he said without thinking, his mind having wandered to her thoughts earlier in the day. "Fly, I mean."
"How? I don't have tele...that."
Kish held back a laugh but he smiled, and a blush rose to her cheeks. His smile widened. "Telekinesis," he corrected her. Kish felt a blush spread across his face too, and he chuckled. "You have power over fire and air. So if I can teach you to fly that proves its not a fluke."
She swallowed thickly. "Definitively?"
Kish nodded. "Until we see your fire powers anyway. Which I won't try to teach you. I have no expertise on that, but flying, I'm an expert in."
"But we wont fly the same way."
"I'm sure that it takes the same amount of concentration, and it's relaxing. I bet you'd love it."
She bit her lip. "I...would love to see the forest the way birds do."
"So its a deal. In the morning, I'll teach you how to fly." Kish was a little excited. It was a bonding activity that would most definitely bring them closer together, and give them a chance to get to know one another even better.
He was quickly forgetting his purpose. It had definitely been pushed to the back of his mind. He was supposed to bring her to the castle and that was it, but every single time she smiled it became that much more difficult for him to just give her away.

When dawn broke, Kish was already awake. He'd been unable to sleep again due to his excitement. A feeling of usefulness washed over him as he thought of todays task. On top of that, it bought him an extra day with Amber.
He knew that she wouldn't be awake for a while; she was dreaming of the endless forest and her new life that would await her upon arriving at the castle. She seemed to be enjoying her dream. But Kish knew that the castle would not be what she was expecting on arrival.
All of its inhabitants were misfits. And it housed the biggest misfit of them all.
Hours passed before Amber was awake and when she was, he knew instantly. She unzipped the tent and crawled out, standing up and stretching with intent.
"Ground isn't so comfortable," she yawned. "Good morning."
"Good morning," Kish said, smiling to her over his shoulder. "If you're hungry theres some ready-made meals in my bag."
She looked at his bag in disgust. "I think I'll skip breakfast."
He chuckled. "Yeah, me too. So do you wanna go ahead and get started? It shouldn't take you too long. Then we can get moving if you're not too tired."
She shrugged, letting out another yawn. "Yeah, why not? Better now than never."
Kish picked himself up off the ground and then offered her a hand, which she took. He swore he could feel electricity run through him at the touch, and he bit his lip to hide an elated smile. He pulled her up and held onto her hand as he dragged her out into a more open area in the woods a little ways from the camp.
"Okay," he said, "What I always do is push myself from the ground, but I think what you're going to have to do is close your eyes-close them-and imagine yourself weightless."
She closed her eyes, and Kish brought her arms up so that she was standing in a T-shape. He stood closely in front of her, so that their chests were almost touching. He thought of how easily he could kiss her like this. He wanted to so badly.
"I'm being weightless but nothings happening," she said, cutting through his thoughts.
He stepped back. "You've got to concentrate."
Kish pressed back against the earth, his feet lifting from the ground and he held himself there, watching her from his place in the air.
"Light as a feather," he said to her, "Concentrate on the air around you. Let it speak to you." He felt dumb saying that, but it was the best he could come up with. His powers had always spoken to him in their own way, why should air magic be any different?

Amber cleared her mind of everything but the air around her, though she was unsure how to make it bend to her will. She had no wings, and the morning air was a still as it could be.
She exhaled slowly, imagining herself as weightless as a feather drifting through the air. A breath of air kissed her face, seemingly from nowhere, the wind rustling some leaves around her. Ridiculous, she thought. It must have been a fluke. She continued to breathe slowly keeping her mind free from any thoughts other than the air lifting her gently.
Slowly, she could feel her feet begin to lift from the ground, her eyes jerked open and she fell right back down.
"Oh, holy shit." She stood there. "That really just happened."
Kish laughed, "You barely even lifted off."
"That was scary!" She huffed, sitting down and starting to breathe evenly. "Like this is for real, Kish. I'm really her."
Kish pursed his lips and then nodded, sitting next to her. "Yeah. And you're going to have to deal with people calling you Illusine. That's your name now, really. Not Amber, anymore."
She frowned. "No...the whole point in this is that I don't want to lose my identity. I want to be Amber, not Illusine."
She took a few more deep breaths. This was way too much to handle this early in the morning.
"You should try again. And actually get both feet off the ground this time."

It took a while, but she finally got the hang of it, letting the air carry her. She and Kish seemed to dance through the air as they lifted off up above the treeline, where Kish paused, looking out to the castle far off in the distance.
It wasn't too far away now, maybe two days away, and Kish would have to say his goodbyes.
Amber on the otherhand, completely unaware that she was going to be entering another world than Kish, looked across the skyline in all dirtections, completely in awe of what she was seeing.
"This is the most incredible thing I think I could ever see," she said, just loud enough to be audible. "Kish, thank you."
Kish turned his head to her. "You're welcome. I'm glad I could help." He bit his lip for a moment. "We should head back down and pack up camp. We've still got daylight."
"I think we could spare one day to rest," Amber said, letting the air carry her higher, before just letting it cradle her as she laid prone in thin air.
Kish was thankful that her ability to fly didn't require too much concentration, and she seemed to be enjoying herself, but he wasn't entirely convinced that he should take a day off from traveling.
"Come on. I could do this all day with you."
His ears perked and his eyebrows raised. Oh, but what if someone saw them? It wasn't exactly normal to see two people flying through the air in this day and age. Not to mention flying would get them to the castle faster.
"Fine. But promise me one thing."
"Anything, Kish. We're friends."
"Don't tell anyone that I taught you how to fly or even that you know how."
She swallowed thickly. "Why?"
"Just please do me that favor okay? It'll make you look like a prodigy so there's nothing that you need to worry about."
She nodded. "Yeah, okay. Its a teeny weeny favor."
Kish relaxed, letting himself rest on a high tree branch. "Thank you, Amber. I really appreciate it."
She smiled, letting that gap show again. Kish felt his heart flutter, but he kept it to himself. He knew it was a bad idea to get emotionally attached to her, but for some reason his body just wouldn't listen to him.
She looked stunning in the air, the morning sun glimmering off her hair with no interference from the trees. She was so alight, her pale skin almost glowing, and her eyes sparkled like emeralds. Kish's heart ached with every beat. He wanted to kiss her lips so badly.
She sat down next to him, resting her head against his shoulder. He could feel his face begin to heat up, but her mind held no thoughts of romance toward him, she was merely leaning against her friend.
"I'm glad we can have a day like this," she said softly.
Kish nodded. "Yeah, me too."

The day seemed to go by too fast, and it was past noon before they knew it. Amber wished it could drag on forever, just one day of her Kish goofing off as friends. She'd never really had the luxury of having a full day all to herself, and with one taste she was absolutely hooked.
This was the life that she had always dreamt of, and as she rested in the tree branches with Kish she found herself wishing that they could spend more time on this journey, just the two of them wandering around aimlessly.
Her stomach growled alerting her to its panging and she looked to Kish. "Wanna eat? I know I turned down breakfast but now I'm starving."
Kish laughed softly, looking up at her from the branch across from her. "Yeah, me too. Let's head on down."
She flitted between branches as she headed down only to hear a distinct rustling sound. She landed on a branch, motioning for Kish to land beside her.
Kish did, watching down from above. Two men were walking through their campsite and turning everything upside down.
Amber watched in astonishment wondering what they should do, and she turned to ask Kish, but he was no longer beside her.

Kish slowly let himself land behind the tent, persuading the two men not to look in his direction. He couldn't tell exactly who or what they were: scavengers or government employees looking for Illusine. Kish had known that the government would be tracking her, but he thought they'd made enough headway to be safe for at least one day.
He spotted his hunting bow not far away at all however and slowly reached for it and a few of the several arrows that had been strewn all about. He swallowed thickly feeling sweat already beginning to prickle at his forehead.
He quietly nocked his first arrow, aiming for the back of the neck of one of the men.
"Hey! What're you doing?" The other one shouted, noticing Kish as he was emptying one of their bags.
Kish let fly the arrow, and it pierced the other mans throat with precision illiciting a sickening thunk sound. He fell to the ground, his eyes wide with confusion and his mouth open as he tried to gasp for air, though blood was filling his lungs.
Kish could tell the other man was going to run, so he concentrated on the man, lifting him in the air by the throat with ease. He gripped at his throat struggling against the invisible hands crushing his windpipe before he finally passed out and he was gone. Both were dead, as Kish had made sure to break their necks.
Amber lost her balance, falling from the trees and landing with a thud.
"Amber!" Kish yelled, running to her side.
Her eyes were fluttering from open to shut. Kish grabbed her hand firmly.
"Hey, wake up...this isn't the time. Think of the air, let it cradle you, Amber. Let it calm you," he begged, knowing that they had to run, and before that they had to pack up their ransacked campsite.
She fought against it for a bit before she finally fell limp, leaving Kish to clean up the mess on his own. He huffed, letting her lay there and rest. It wasn't every day she'd had to witness two murders.
Kish ran a hand through his hair, which was sweat drenched from the stress. He wished he could go back to the time when he could have said these were the first men he'd ever killed. He walked over to them, turning them both over.
It was just as he'd expected. Government employees.
He had to to hurry. Amber had to hurry.
He picked everything up throwing it into bags, not really caring about the organization of things, and started breaking the tent down. He packed everything on his back and lifted Amber into the air telekinetically. They had to move. Now. There was no choice.
He flew until he was sure he was far enough away.

When Amber awoke, she was inside the tent again, and she had a suspicion that she wasn't where she was when she fell asleep. The events that had played out right before she lost consciousness were still very fresh in her mind. She had never seen anything so horrible in her life.
She rose from the ground slowly, finding that she'd landed on her wrist when she fell from the tree, though it was nothing more than a sprain, something that would feel better only with time. She tried to think of what she saw as the same sort of thing: just a sprain, something that would be less traumatic in time.
As if it were that simple, she thought.
She unzipped the tent to find Kish by a fire, staring into the weak blaze intently.
"Hey, Kish," she said, rubbing her wrist.
He looked over at her, dazed. "Hey, Amber."
She felt sick to her stomach at the casual nature of the conversation, but she didn't know what else to say or how to handle it. This boy that had been so kind to her had been so ruthless only hours ago.
"So...those guys-" She started only to be interrupted by Kish.
"Those were Xaladar's men. They came looking for you. I had no choice, Amber."
She swallowed that like a rock in her throat. "Xaladar? He has followers?"
"Unfortunately. I had to protect you. I promised that I would protect you." He looked shaken up, quite honestly, his eyes wide and he seemed to be sweating.
"I understand..." she said quietly. "Look, you need some rest. Go in the tent for a while okay? I'm gonna sit out here for a while and I'll meet you in there okay?"
Kish opened his mouth to protest but Amber was having none of it.
"Please," she said, not asking.
Kish got up, and quietly went into the tent, not zipping it shut.
Amber wasn't tired at all, and there was no way that she could possibly sleep after what she had just witness, all prior sleep aside. She sat there at the fire, watching the weak flames lap up at the air, kissing it with its burning tongues. She smiled, cupping her hands over it.
Suddenly she couldn't breathe, and her arms were pinned to her sides. She tried to scream but all that came out were muffled grunts. She kicked her legs as she felt herself get picked up and start to move away from the camp, her vision fading in and out. The stress was getting to her limbs already, and she couldn't move her legs anymore. Her vision went black as she felt herself being dragged away.