Hulda's skewer with the sausages had fallen into her little campfire, and she didn't think she had any left.
Only a day after she'd departed on her quest, rain and cold had her reconsider whether rushing out the door in fear of ink-stained Meldrys' reaction like that had been a good idea. She was short a pair of extra socks, her gloves were two left ones and with the sausages gone, all she had left now was dry crackers.
She didn't even like crackers all that much.
She hadn't seen Fundinn that day yet, either. The familiar probably sensed Hulda's bad mood and wisely kept his distance. Or perhaps he knew about the spoiled sausages – while technically a carrion bird himself, Fundinn had a deep-rooted fear of getting eaten. Instinctively, Hulda knew him to be close, however.
Falling pine-needles and angry squawking overhead confirmed this for her. It would appear that Fundinn had gotten himself in a scrap – not wanting to share his perch with a squirrel or woodpecker again, perhaps. The raven's angry squabbling intensified, and soon was followed by him and the object of his dismay plummeting through the canopy and into the campfire, scattering hot cinders and burnt sausages as the fighting continued. Hulda hurried to swat the fire out with her rain-cape and separate the two creatures – to her surprise, the one Fundinn was currently exhausting his entire lexicon of foul names on was no stranger to her.
-”I know you,” she said as she held the tiny red fiend up by a leathery wing, “your master Orgolorth gave you to me. Where is he? Or did you come here all by yourself?”
-”My means of reaching you are classified information!” the imp warned, trying to strike an intimidating figure even while dangling nearly upside-down like he did. It bothered Hulda that she couldn't quite recall his name.
-”I pound him plying around; the inpernal piend has probably been pollowing you since you lept the city! He's a spy!” Fundinn piped in. He looked only slightly singed, with no lasting damage done. If anything, the bird looked miffed about being swatted at with a cape.
-”Your unintelligible bird has it all wrong – I've been sent to stay near in case you require my services! Or Master Orgolorth's, of course. His vast power has innumerable applications, and I'm here to bring those to your attention, should need for them arise,” the imp explained.
-”Pipple – you were spying, little deppil!” Fundinn fussed with an angry clapping of his black beak, and readied himself to jump the imp. Hulda jerked her captive away just in time.
-”What did he call me?” the tiny fiend yelled, shaking little fists at the raven.
-”Fundinn has a speech impediment,” Hulda explained, while the familiar alighted on her shoulder.
-”Epper seen a bird with lips?” he snapped.
The imp, not without effort, had grabbed Hulda's wrist, and she let him climb onto her hand.
-”I'm calling you Pooky,” she declared.
The imp stared.
-”I beg you pardon?”
On Hulda's shoulder, Fundinn ruffled his feathers.
-”The piend is hard op hearing – deap as a post, ip he can't understand neither Hulda nor distinguished ol' me,” he said with no small amount of satisfaction. He scooted closer, onto Hulda's forearm. “Pooky, huh? Pardon me beporehand, ip I mispronounce that as Poopy, in a moment of distraction.”
The imp looked lost; staring slack-jawed at Hulda and Fundinn alternately.
-”Your other name was way too complicated,” Hulda assured the wretch.
The imp's expression tightened.
-”What's wrong with Peio'xabi'farr?!” he exclaimed.
In answer, Fundinn threw his head back and clappered loudly.
-”Propoundly ludicrous...!” he chortled. “Pundinn on the other hand – now there's a name with noble bearing...”
-”Pudding?” the imp echoed, raising the scaly ridges that served him as eyebrows.
Fundinn's expression fell.
-”Please guys, don't fight,” Hulda implored.
Both critters' heads turned at once.
-”He started it!”
The fact that both had said the same thing at the same time, apparently, was reason enough for the two to pick up where they had left and start pecking and biting at one another anew.
With a sigh, Hulda cast a spell of Dismissal to return the imp to his infernal home. Fundinn, on the other hand, kept jumping around and shouting profanities.
-”Off with you!” Hulda shooed him away. “Go traumatise an owl or so – I need to get the fire going again...!”
The raven was none too happy to be sent away, but knew better than to test her. When he picked his way through the forest's canopy, sending more needles down than strictly needed as he flew from bough to bough, Hulda called after him:
“And you better find yourself something to eat, too – we're out of sausages!”
-”Well, puck,” she heard the bird mutter, before he flew off into the evening sky.