oneshot born for this

Tall pine was useful for many purposes. For one, it was the best landmark in the territory. No matter where you were, it was easy to spot its branches stretching above every other tree in the forest. It's size also made it a popular spot for climbing. To those still honing their skills, finally managing to reach its lowest branches served as a sign of their progress. Those who were more proficient found worthy challenge in reaching the tree's summit, a true test of grace and endurance. However, Ember knew the lay of the land well enough to not need its guidance, needed no practice climbing, and certainly wasn't going to show off her skills so late at night, when there was no one around to see. Nonetheless, her paws led her to the tree.

Tall pine was also, in her humble opinion, the best place to get a good view of the stars.

She was in no hurry as she scaled the trunk. Considering her every move carefully. With ease she reached its lowest branches and, with a bit more effort, managed to find her way a few branches higher. Until the wobbling of the thinning branches below her gave her pause. A glance up showed her how far she still was from the top, but it also gave her the view she had wanted. This was high enough. She settled in, the cool breeze tickling her fur. Gradually, she stilled, her expression dropped and a sigh left her.

"Hello mom." Ember began, picking a star and affixing her gaze to it. "I know it's been a while since we talked, sorry about that. I just-" For a moment she struggled with her words. Another sigh. "I talked to you a lot, right after ya left. Even though I thought ya couldn't hear. It just made it easier, y'know? Then, I got used to it. Even after that though, we still talked, whenever I got lonely. I only stopped because I found this place. How could I be lonely here?" she asked with a soft, sad laugh. "There were so many cats to talk to, so many friends to make, and suddenly I didn't need ya anymore. But uh..." Her voice trailed off. She glanced away from the stars. The wind held its breath for her next word.

"Things haven't been going so well." She stated slowly. "There was a battle, a big one. Bigger than anything ya could ever imagine. It was like the whole world was fighting. All those cats that I was talking to, that I made friends with?" Something caught in her throat, she coughed. Blinked a couple times. "A lot of them didn't make it." She let silence sit after that statement. Gave the dead their room to breathe, she didn't want to crowd them. "But then, after? After the most terrible thing I've ever seen, the most wonderful. A miracle. They came back, all of them. Not for real, and not forever. Just for a moment, they slipped down from the stars to stop the fighting. All around me the living were reuniting with the lost, sharing tears. And I uh..." Her eyes found that same star again, this time brimming with tears. "I looked for you." She admitted.

"It was stupid, I know. You weren't on that battlefield, and I'm glad you weren't. But I couldn't help it. I want to believe that if they are all up there, then you are too. So I will. I'll believe that you are in the stars with them, and that you can still hear me right now." The words had a fire in them, as if challenging the stars to prove her wrong. She shot them a stained grin. It lasted only a moment. "That's why I wanted to talk. Because I know that ya would tell me to run. To get as far away from this danger as possible, and live. But I don't wanna live. I mean, I don't want to die, obviously." She quickly corrected with laugh. "I just- I wanna do more than that, y'know? More than just survive. That's all I've been doing for so long, because that's what ya wanted me to do. For moons, I have done what you wanted, so I hope you'll forgive me for ignoring you now. I'm going to stay. Whatever it takes." Within her eyes, a fiery certainty burned. "Because I think this might be a cause worth living for."

Ember sat silently under the stars. Listening to the wind whistle through the branches, the tall pine beneath her creak. Waiting for a sign. Nothing came. She smiled anyway. "That's fine. You don't have to reply, I know what you would say. I always do." She pulled herself to her paws and stretched. It didn't help. There was an ache in her bones that never seemed to go away. She tensed, preparing to jump down to the branch below her, but then she paused. "Thank you." She whispered. Then she bagan the climb back down.
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