“The grapes? Why?”
“Everything in our society was built around the vineyards and any product that comes from the grapes. Anderosean wines, grapes, raisins and juices were the best in all of Gemal. Now there was a connection between our national product and the monsters that were plaguing our way of life.”
“What would happen?”
“If anyone who was infected ate even one grape or drank even a drop of juice or wine their symptoms would magnify tenfold. Even the perfume affected them. After a while several of the families left Perdeen. It was too difficult for them to deal with the consequences.
“Sareanne taught them how to concoct the medicine and sent them on their way with several month’s supply.”
“How did the grapes affect you?”
“They didn’t appear to have any effect on me. My mother tested me very carefully and there was no reaction, but she didn’t want to take any chances so she refused to take me to the vineyards,” Antheus said sadly.
“But she loved the vineyards. She spent her whole life there,” I exclaimed.“The situation affected her deeply and my grandfather watched her fall into a sad depression of spirits, but there was something more eating at her.”
“Mehean,” I whispered. I knew exactly how I would feel about the man I loved. “If she could heal the others she could heal him.”
Antheus nodded. “I was just over a year old when she disappeared. She left me in the care of my grandparents and took a three month’s supply of the medicine. Everyone knew where she had gone and no one moved to follow her.”
He stood suddenly and I could see the anger in his eyes. This man had been abandoned by his mother, shunned by his people and cared for by his grandparents who still grieved for their lost children. He was alone in a grand city full of people. He turned to me and our eyes locked. His eyes burned with the truth that I alone understood.
“What happened to Perdeen, to all of the people here, to your grandparents?” I asked trying to understand. “They were protected from the monsters by the chasm and those affected by the grapes were gone.”
“Five years after my mother disappeared my grandmother left Perdeen and sailed to one of the distant kingdoms where her oldest daughter lived. She couldn’t deal with the sadness anymore. My grandfather had stopped working in the vineyards and grape production had reduced by half. When I was twelve he set fire to the vineyards in Perdeen. I watched them burn from the window in my room having never set foot in them all my life being told I would turn into a monster if I did.”
“That’s cruel. They didn’t know that,” I replied angrily.“But they didn’t dare take the chance. I was the spawn of a monster in their eyes. I could see it in the eyes of everyone who lived in the city. The outlying villages weren’t quite so bad, but I didn’t feel welcome anywhere. I spent my days in the castle library studying architecture. On my fifteenth birthday I packed up and left Perdeen determined to find my mother.”