“You don’t know anything,” he growls.
“I know what I see,” I begin, “and I see an old man who is grasping at anything to stay alive.”
“Who are you?” Sareanne repeats my question. “Why are you doing this to my family, my people?”
Antheus laughs hollowly. “What I am doing? What about what you have done to me? I am who I am because of Rutheus and his people and their cursed vineyards!” he exclaims.
Sareanne and I both stare at him in surprise not knowing how to answer.
“I should have guessed,” Rutheus said behind me.
We whirl around to face Sareanne’s father as he climbs the last stair. His expression is one of complete sadness and loss.
“You left home, Antheus, determined to find your fortune. You abandoned our family. Mother and father were frantic for news of you, but nothing. And now you come here seeking what?” Rutheus asks bitterly. “You have cursed my family, my people, my land for what? Revenge? Your actions were on your own head.”
Antheus glared at Rutheus. “I left to make a name for myself. I could no longer learn the arts from our parents, their gifts were old and outdated. I was ready for the next step,” he replied angrily.
“And where did that next step lead you? I searched for you for years with no hope. Humph, but I suppose I should thank you,” Rutheus said slowly.
“Thank me?” Antheus’ curiosity was piqued.
“If I hadn’t gone out searching for you I never would have come to Anderosea.” Rutheus looked at Antheus gauging his expressions. “Did you find what you were searching for, brother?”
Someone gasped and I realized it was me. Antheus was Rutheus’ brother. Many things came crashing into place. Antheus had aged and Rutheus, because of the grapes, had not. The older brother had found other ways to try and retain his youth and when he learned of the good fortune of his younger brother it chaffed him.
With each word Rutheus spoke I could see Antheus’ face harden with anger and the careful mask started to fade. Antheus was much older and falling victim to some type of wasting illness. I wondered just how much longer he would have survived anyway.Antheus turns toward me obviously reading my thoughts. He grins wickedly. “I’m no closer to dying now than I was before."