I waited for him to speak, but he made no move to do so. Finally I got to my feet.
“You can’t leave the circle,” he exclaimed.
“What will happen if I do?” I asked keeping in the center of the said circle.
“I can’t protect you.”
“Protect me from what? The silence?” I questioned. “I’m going crazy trying to figure out everything out. Just give me a straight answer,” I demanded.
He looked at me with a pained expression, clearly torn between two directives. I watched him struggle for several minutes before I sighed and sat back down.
“Do I have to stay here all night?”
He nodded, his eyes pleading with me to understand.
“Is that stumpy little dwarf thing going to bring his monster to attack me again?” I asked suddenly a little afraid of meeting that thing while I was awake and protected only by a circle of stones.
“He won’t come to this hall, but my brothers might try. Just stay still and keep your eyes closed when they come. They can’t cross the circle,” Antheus replied.
“Those things are your brothers!” I exclaimed.
He nodded sadly.
“And that dwarf thing? That’s your…your…” I couldn’t finish.
“My father,” he admitted in a doomed voice.
I looked at him with disbelief. He was at least six foot seven and from the pictures in the lower hallways his mother was at least six foot if not taller. How could this man with his beautiful blue eyes and striking stature have come from that stumpy dwarf? It didn’t make any sense and my mind rejected the suggestion as soon as he made it.
“I don’t believe it,” I muttered.
“Well you don’t have to believe it,” he snapped back suddenly irritable.
“Where are the rest of your family, Rutheus and Abrigal and your mother? And the people of Anderosea? Where is everyone?” I didn’t understand his strange revelation, but maybe if I knew the answers to the questions that had been haunting me since I came here I might be able to better understand this mystery.
“Gone,” he said mournfully.
“Dead or just disappeared?” I wasn’t going to let emotions, even painful ones, stop the flow of information.
“I don’t know.”
“Maybe you should start at the beginning,” I suggested hopefully.
He pulled out a pocket watch and considered it for a moment. “I will share as much as I can.” He paused collecting his thoughts. “You read part of the book from your room, right.”
“Castle at Perdeen.”
“So you understand that the people of Anderosea all worked to create the finest vineyards in all of Gemal.”
“Gemal is the Western Continent,” he said. “Anderosea’s major export was grapes, grape juice, wine and anything else you could get from a grape.”
“That’s a pretty narrow field to deal in,” I interrupted.
“Oh don’t get me wrong. We were very self-sufficient. The farmers outside of Perdeen grew corn and wheat and other crops as well as raising cattle, sheep and horses, but everyone had some sort of vineyard that they tended.”
“So the people of Perdeen focused only on grapes,” I qualified.
“Yes. There used to be a market to the south of the castle where the people of Anderosea would come every eight weeks and sell their wares.” He looked at me thoughtfully. “I think you would have enjoyed seeing it. There were glass blowers, vegetable stands, instrument makers, entertainers and all sorts of things to see and do. It was a regular fair.”
“So what happened to everyone?” I asked returning to the crux of why I was there.
“Rutheus had five children, two sons and three daughters. As they grew up Rutheus groomed his sons to continue the traditions of Anderosea and rule the people firmly, but kindly. The daughters he encouraged to develop their talents and seek out men to whom they could love and work along side in an equal partnership, their beauty was widely acclaimed in Gemal and even further, but despite their parent’s counsel the eldest two sought suitors who were either wealthy or handsome. Both married and moved to far away countries where I suppose they must still live.
“The eldest son followed his father’s footsteps and sought a girl from the forests of Anderosea who had spent a summer in Perdeen. He and his brother journeyed to the north to secure her hand in marriage and both young men were never heard from again.”
I gasped at the sad misfortune that had struck Rutheus’ family. “And your mother?”
“She loved my grandparents. She had no desire to leave them so she worked daily in the vineyard with her father and sat for hours with her mother learning the subtle arts of cultivating happiness in a kingdom. She was Rutheus’ pride and joy.
“One day when she was working in the vineyard she noticed a simple young man walking along the main highway toward the city. His clothing was worn and slightly tattered and he looked exhausted. She beckoned him over to where she was and offered him a drink of the finest juice and some cheese and bread. He gratefully partook of her food and cautiously answered her gentle questions.
“When he finished eating he got up to leave and she invited him to come into the city with her. From her questioning she had discovered his name was Mehean and that he came from the far north countries near the border of Anderosea and he had a message for the king. She explained who she was and he stared at her with surprise and admiration, for he did not know that the royal family worked the vineyards along with the common people.“Sareanne took the young man to her father and he gave his message. With that message everything in Anderosea began to change.”