Petunias

-By Harliq and Amsterdam-


The wind slips amongst the Boers' peaks, making them whistle and hiss as though it has breathed life into their ancient, pebbly lungs. With no set destination he strolls under the cover of Farthen Dur's colossal shadow, letting his feet carry him, letting his gaze wander and letting his thoughts muddle. Murtagh pulls his cloak tighter about him to keep out the chill, enjoying the feeling of having only himself to depend on. Other people are always far too predictable.

Ahead, a bumbling figure scurries about the craggily stone mounds, occasionally crouching down to gather something unseen and tuck it away into the haversack slung across its shoulder. By her mane of wild, unbound hair and her coarse gown, he can assume that it is a woman. She is barefoot and though there is a hardness in her countenance that suggest that she is long past her girlhood, she scampers across the rocks with the unbridled delight of a child collecting flowers. So bizarre a sight she presents, that he hears a quiet little chuckle escape him unbidden.

Suddenly, she whirls around to face him, as though prompted by his laughter.

"What, pray tell, do you find in the humorous?" She does not demand this of him, only queries politely as though she is genuinely curious.

Startled, and unable to recall what had compelled his mirth, Murtagh quickly mutters, "Forgive me, Miss."

"No need for apologies, we all apologize too often for our amusement!" she reproaches him, "Sometimes I believe the people of Alageasia would not be half as hostile towards each other if we all sat down and engaged in a little laughter."

At this Murtagh feels a warm, furry presence rub up against his leg. He freezes, not sure what manner of beasts dwell around these parts, but quickly discovers that it is no more than a harmless cat. As he is unsure of what to say, he acknowledges the feline with a sharp, "Oh!"

"I see you've been acquainted with Solembum. It appears he enjoys your company,"

She smiles, and he makes a brief attempt at returning the gesture, yet his heart is not in it.

"Well, it seems that he would be the first," he notes darkly, remembering the Varden's agitation at having to shelter Morzan's son in their mountain.

For a long moment the strange woman studies him pensively. Then, she reaches into her haversack and produces a single, budding flower.

"Petunia?" she asks, as though it is the most natural inquiry to make of a person.

"No, thank you," he replies, puzzled and eager to be on his way.

"I simply thought you might like to know, that last spring these parts were infested and overgrown with horrible, vile weeds. Thankfully there was some sort of devastation, a fire perhaps or an avalanche, and they all perished. I thought for sure nothing would ever grow here again. Upon the arrival of the following spring however, clusters of the most stunning petunias began to poke their tiny buds out from beneath the rubble!"

She seems so pleased by this notion, and yet he still does not see her point. She frowns at his growing confusing.

"Don't you see!" she cries at last, "The next generation can always grow to be more beautiful than its predecessor!"

With that she pinches his cheek and departs, trilling softly to herself. Once she is no longer in sight, Murtagh smiles anew and this time it is heartfelt.

This strange woman has shown him greater kindness than he has known in years.

A/N: Reviews and feedback are greatly appreciated!

(You guys understood the woman was Angela, right?)