The squelch of mud beneath heavy, sodden paws announced the arrival of Acornripple like an uncomfortably moist fanfare. The young tabby had shouldered his way between slender pines with needles still glistening from the morning's rain, coming back to slink through sheltered tunnels with his prize tightly gripped in his maw. Ever since a bad idea in his kithood had earned him an emergency trip to the medic, Acornripple had always held Smokefur in high regard, seeking to help her whenever possible. After all, had it not been for her, he might still have had those stupid pebbles in his tummy.
His tail raised amiably as he entered Smokefur's domain, whiskers leaning forward in her direction. "Smmkfmmph, mm gmmph hmmphbs!" he declared proudly, only to pause and wonder for a moment why it did not come out quite right.
Acornripple lowered his head and slowly let his jaw hang open. Soggy clumps of grass rolled out of his mouth and onto the ground before Smokefur, soaked with a mixture of rainwater and drool, landing with a small, unpleasant plop. Once the last of it had lazily tumbled out, he lifted his head to speak again. "Smokefur, I brought herbs!" His words were recited with the same fervor, as if nothing had happened. "What kinda herbs are these ones? I found a bunch of 'em in the forest! They smell really familiar."