Shadow sprinted after Ruby, easily overtaking the clumsy pup, even with her twisted paw that she’d had since she was born. She’d learned to deal with it, and still run quickly. She skidded to a halt in front of the den. It seemed to be collapsing on the inside, and she could hear shrieks and scuffling as the animals inside tried to get out.
Grimacing, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, ignoring Ruby’s gasp as she dissolved into the shadows.
For a moment, everything was black, and the silence was overwhelming. Then she could hear a rushing in her ears, and she opened her eyes to see that she had shadow-traveled into the den, against her better judgement.
The walls were collapsing around her. Shadow raised her head and yowled, trying to see if she could get a response from the animals. The shrieks had stopped.
Sighing, Shadow sniffed the air. It smelled faintly of eagle. She walked further into the room, following the scent, hyper-aware of the crumbling bricks around her. She growled. This was getting her nowhere. The scent was everywhere.
Then she heard a whimper. Nimbly dodging another falling brick, she raced to the corner and shifted a blanket. A little eagle huddled there, gazing around in fear.
Shadow felt her scowl soften. A bit.
“It’s okay,” she whispered, trying to sound comforting. She reached down to scoop up the eagle when suddenly a crack sounded.
From above them.
Shadow looked up just in time, shoving the eagle away as he screeched in protest. She was almost out when it fell on her paw. Her crippled paw.
Shadow bit her lip, hard, until it was almost bleeding, to keep from yelling. She might have enough strength in that paw to run, but not to move a brick off of it. And with her lithe build there was no way she was getting it off by pushing. The eagle wouldn’t be much help either. Maybe shadow-traveling? She tried as hard as she could, but it was hard to melt into shadow when she was so aware of her own pain.
Suddenly she heard scuffling from the piles of bricks outside the den. A hole appeared, and Ruby popped through it.
“There you are!” Ruby chirped, before noticing her paw. “Oh, no!” She scrambled over to Shadow. “I can get it,” she promised, before starting to push.
“No,” Shadow practically moaned. “Get him out first. Find his parents.”
“I’m not leaving you!” Ruby declared.
“Go!” Shadow barked. Ruby looked at her, her eyes frightened, before turning around and scooping the eagle in her mouth.
“I’ll hurry back! Stay put!”
“Not like I’m going anywhere with this thing on my paw,” Shadow grumbled.
Shadow waited in agony for what felt like hours. She was very sensitive to every whisper of wind on the bricks above, every brush of air racing past her fur.
Shadow would have jumped, if she could have. She turned her nose up, forcing her face into nonchalance. “What took you so long?”
Ruby nudged and nudged at the brick, using all her strength until it finally slid off. Shadow gasped in relief, before limping towards the exit. She could hear the cracks worsening and she tried to hurry. Her paw was slowing her down like never before. In a flash Ruby had grabbed her by the scruff of her neck and carried her towards the exit, sprinting as fast as she could. No matter how Shadow protested, Ruby wouldn’t let go. Just as she slid out of the hole in the wall the entire den collapsed, and they both tumbled onto the grass.
Both of them lay there and heaved huge breaths, before Shadow finally came to her senses and stood up as well as she could. She was approached by a full-grown eagle, whom she assumed was the young eagle’s mother.
“Thank you,” she murmured. “How can we ever repay you?”
“No, no, it was nothing,” Shadow muttered, forcing her paw to not twitch instinctively. “Are you gonna be alright? Umm, with, uh…” She gestured vaguely at the den, a large pile of bricks and tattered furniture.
“Yes, thank goodness. We have lots of gems saved in case anything like this happened, and a vacation home on the coast.” The mother sighed. “Thank you again. If you ever need anything, come find us, okay?” She turned and gently grabbed her son before soaring away.
Shadow heard Ruby approach behind her. “Umm… th-thank you,” Shadow stuttered. She didn’t like being in debt to anyone.
Ruby seemed to understand, surprisingly enough. “Don’t worry about it,” she lilted sincerely. “Hey, you never told me you had superpowers!” She nudged Shadow, lightening the mood.
“Because if I did, you would have wanted me to use them all the time!” Shadow purred. To be honest, she wasn’t quite sure why she hadn’t used them before to travel. But she wasn’t sure if she could shadow-travel with others.
“You should get that paw checked out,” Ruby said, sombering down.
“Yeah, I guess I should,” Shadow sighed.
“Come on, let’s go,” Ruby said, grabbing her by the scruff of her neck again.
“If you see anyone coming, you better put me down!” Shadow warned playfully.
“What, are you embarrassed to be carried?”