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Somewhere in the jungle, April 620, El Oleonda The Carnites didn't tell them all the truth, that was clear. Probably the archaeologists were actually studying the ancient ruins, but this was only a part of the story: their report on the Lotii expedition was surely too detailed for someone who considered the treasure a little more than a legend, and they said too many times that it was impossible to find. However, those idiots had neglected the most obvious thing to do: ask the ones who could know something. Finding a Tyree'De on such a large island wasn't so easy but, once again, the remains of the ancient civilization helped Tristan and his men: if the ancient inhabitants of El Oleonda had built their cities in the best locations, probably the Tyree'De had chosen the same places for their villages… and the Oleander expedition had literally a comfortable road to reach them! After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, therefore, they found what they were looking for: a place where the inhabitants weren't only snakes and scorpions. What Tristan and his men found surprised everyone: probably the Carnites wouldn't have even noticed that, but the "natives" themselves were a clear answer to the mystery of the lost expedition. Most of the Tyree'De had the same somatic tracts of the indigenous people of archipelago, this was true, but others were clearly born in a different part of the World; moreover, their straw hats and the peculiar rice fields, similar to the ones seen in Mooreton Bay, were definitely something unusual among the native tribes. Tristan asked to meet the leader of the little community. Fortunately, the Tyree'De language was quite similar to the one of Astrapi natives, so communicating with them wasn't too difficult. He was brought into a ruined stone build, another trace of the ancient inhabitants; inside, the Tyree'De had built a little wooden hut. The old man waiting for them, despite all the amulets and the paintings on his body, was clearly a Lotii. All the pieces of the puzzle were now in the right position: the mysterious motherland of the Tyree'De, located "southwards"; their interest for tools and weapons, the things that they couldn't repair or replace without a smith and a real forge; their riches, probably a part of the fabled Lotii treasure. Against all the odds, some of the Lotii sailors had survived: the old man, once the helmsman of the junk Nan Feng, confirmed Tristan's reconstruction. When it became clear that no help would have come from the motherland, the survivors realized that remaining in the camp meant certain death: the supplies were running low, and so many people couldn't survive by hunting in a little area. Therefore, they formed small groups, split the treasure and went in different directions. Some of these small bands were unlucky, and all the men were killed by hunger, diseases or in fights for the food. Others built rafts or small junks, and were never seen again. Most of the surviving Lotii, however, peacefully lived their lives with the natives, becoming the Tyree'De ("new tribe", in the language of the natives). The newcomers repaired some of the ancient canals and taught the natives the art of rice farming… a hard work, but also a source of food by far more abundant and reliable than hunting and gathering. Many married local women and had children with them: most of the living Tyree'De knew the Kingdom of the Lotus only from the tales of their fathers, and some of them already considered it a sort of myth. When El Oleonda was "discovered" by Lotii and Carnites, the survivors of the old expedition had already lived there for almost thirty years… they had settled on the smaller islands of the New Haven Sea, grown their crops, formed their families. In the motherland there was nothing left for them: everyone considered them dead, and they had been forgotten. So, the old Lotii decided to remain forever the Tyree'De, the mysterious tribe from the South. They visited the Halosian settlements, and bought agricultural tools with gold and silver, shiny souvenirs of their past. Tristan asked the old man if he knew something about the nautical maps but, unfortunately, the answer was negative: the chest with the maps was lost decades ago, disappeared in the jungle with large treasures and with the lives of several men. "I've been completely sincere with you, Rimbaud San." -a word that Tristan didn't know, but that sounded very, very respectful - "Here we have found a new home, here we have found peace. Now I want a promise from you. If somebody asks you about our unfortunate expedition, if they ask you about us… tell them that we are all gone!" ---------------------------------------------------------- An overall view