Note from the author: If you haven't finished Warriors: The New Prophecy – Moonrise, don't read this, as it will spoil the ending. It's written in a sort of vague way, but it's still clear enough to completely give away the ending.
He stared over the gorge's edge at the ground far below, wondering numbly how far the fall was. If he jumped, how long would he have to be alive, wondering if he had done the right thing? A second? More than that? Less?
Who would miss him? The others – he wouldn't let himself say 'friends' – might miss him, but would they really mourn his loss? They had been devastated by her death, by the loss of her bright spirit and friendly, cheerful tone. But him? A prickly, pessimistic, introverted apprentice, who never spoke to them unless it was absolutely necessary? He would just be gone, along with Feathertail. He could see her again…
"Think you have nine lives, do you? I saved you once. Don't make me save you again." Her last words echoed through his mind, the same words he had spoken to her, after he had prevented her from falling off a cliff. He had saved her life. A near disaster, just narrowly averted. That night, there had been another near disaster, one that almost cost him his life. It hadn't, but it had cost all of them hers.
She had died a hero. In saving his life, she had prevented many future deaths. The Tribe had given her a resting place in their own home. Vowed to honor her in their legends. But what was that supposed to mean? They had never even known her. To them, she was a savior, a hero, a legend. But not a real person. They were sorry for the loss of her life, but what did that matter to them? All they cared about was that they were saved. Their way of life was no longer in danger. The mourning was just politeness.
It was different for her friends. He knew that they had loved her, and would feel the pain of her loss for a long time. They had told him that earlier, and he knew it was true. They wanted him to know that he was not alone. And maybe he wasn't alone in mourning her. But with her death, any companionship he had felt in the group was gone. In a sense, he was as alone as ever.
Why did life matter any more? With her gone, what reason was there for him to live? She had made his life worth it, stood up for him, been his only friend. He had loved her. And now she had left him behind. Why shouldn't he be able to follow? He could see her again, so soon…
"I saved you once. Don't make me save you again."
Thinking of those sentences, he knew that she wanted him to live on without her. But did she honestly want him to live his life like this? Which would she prefer, for him to be alive and miserable? Or for him to be dead, and up there with her, peaceful at last? What did she know about sorrow and loneliness? How could know what was best for him?
And with this angry thought, his head drooped. Yes, if anyone would know what this felt like to be alone, without your loved ones, it would be her. She had grown up alone, her mother dead at the time of her birth, her father too far away to really count. She had been an outcast in her own home. The same way he told himself that he felt, tagging along behind the four friends, feeling only like a bother. But worse for her. Her own home had been resentful to her. What had anyone ever done to him, really? If anyone was unqualified to make these decisions, it was him.
"Don't make me save you again…"
He turned to face the spot where she was buried. At night, it was abandoned. No one but him had stayed up to mourn her. Even her own brother was sleeping.
Not him. He would spend at least this night by her side. He wouldn't let go of her. Not until he had to. Not until the morning came, anyway, and he was forced to leave, to move on past the mountains they had spent so much time in. Too much time. If they hadn't stayed, she would still be alive.
He slept by her grave, determined to be dead at least until morning.