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The Guest Star (3), Insula Cretica

Corbitas were truly built for any weather. The one Hero and Lucia boarded was medium in size with a single large square sail on a mast amidships and a small square sail on an artemon mast over the bows. It was steered with two deep steering oars, one on each quarter, which in strong winds and high seas required as many as four men on each oar to control the vessel. The stern was high enough to withstand large waves during storms. Their journey was about four hundred miles and sailing in this wind should ideally take them to their destination in less than three days, assuming that with the wind changes their course would not be a straight line.

Although the construction of these boats was based on a solid and reinforced hull, when it comes to sailing in strong winds, they were not built for the faint of heart, or in this case for the faint of stomach. The moment they got out to the open sea, Lucia's face color instantly disappeared.

"Oh, no..."

"Lucia! What's the matter?" Hero supported her by the handrail.

"It's the sea travel.. Sorry Hero, I guess I will not be the ideal companion on this weather." She took a few sprigs of thyme and mint from her bag and pressed them to her face, hoping the scent would at least ease the impending seasickness.

"Come on, let's go inside. You should try to lie down and focus on the clouds through the windows." He helped her to go inside. "Sometimes it helps if you squeeze your both wrists."

Nothing much helped for the next two days. The strong wind soon turned into a light gale, and even experienced sailors began to lose their grip. Hero was the entire time next to Lucia, helping her to overcome the voyage as best as he could. He made a soft bed for her in his nest he created out of bags and crates so she at least was comfortable. She ate very little, but that didn't help the recurring urge to vomit that always had her running outside and leaning over the rails.

It's not uncommon for early September weather to be like this, especially in the southern Mare Nostrum, but it rarely lasts. This unfortunate storm was no exception. On the morning of the third day, Hero went outside to find the sky clear and the wind almost completely gone. The breeze was gentle and refreshing with the Sun just popped out of the horizon.

He approached the captain on the bow who was helping the sailors to repair slight damage to the sails and ropes. The ship slowed significantly from 7 knots to less than 2 and it looked like they were standing still on the calm sea.

"I am so glad the worst is over.." Hero tried to be useful and helped a little with untying the ropes. In his childhood, he often sailed with his father on a fishing boat. It was not as big as corbita, but like they say, once a sailor, always a sailor and tying ropes and making various kinds of knots was something he adored when he was a little kid. "How much further, captain?"

"We are nearly there. With this wind, we will be there by lunch." Justus was in his late sixties and had been trading between Hiera and Alexandria for years. The route seemed to be the ideal for the roman merchant from the southernmost Roman senatorial province. Alexandria was always in need for food and goods and they paid well. "How's Lucia? She okay?"

"She's still sleeping. Hopefully she'll feel better today."

Hero wasn't sure what to make of Lucia choosing to travel with him rather than to Rome with Cassius. Everything happened so fast, they left the port right after boarding and didn't even have the time to talk, let alone discuss what was ahead of them. He went to the back of the ship, which was usually empty of sailors, to try to think about his next steps. Their next steps.

Unlike Roman military sea vessels, almost all merchant ships had a large figure of a white swan on the stern. These magnificent birds were a symbol of the goddess of love Venus and an universal sign of peace. The swan's head of the Hero's corbita faced the sea, and a small captain's cabin was built behind it, holding the main entrance to the lower deck where his nest was located. He was leaning towards the swan's head deep in thought when he heard the cabin door open.

Lucia came out and joined Hero so that the swan's head was between her and him. She looked a bit exhausted but at the same time refreshed and beautiful. She gave him the most sympathetic look filled with a little guilt.

"I am starving."

* * *

Sailing to Alexandria, the ship was almost always full of cargo, but the return trip was often with an empty cargo hold or with only a few crates and dozens of empty amphorae. This was largely the reason why the captain had given Hero permission to settle just below his cabin, which was the only part of the ship with two open windows to let in light and fresh air.

Lucia and Hero were sitting across from the small crate having a proper breakfast, for the first time since they set sail. They had a typical sailor's breakfast which included salted fish, some soaked barley with oats and porridge made mostly of lentils and some chickpeas. Lucia ravaged her plate long before Hero did. Two days of seasickness took its toll and protein rich food was just what she needed.

"Justus told me that you spent the night on the ship before we left?" Hero carefully asked. "I was looking for you and Cassius last night to say goodbye, but you where not in the dorm. I checked Pharos promenade and couple of tavernas in the city..."

Lucia did not look up.

"He left the city with Gaius after lunch. "I.." Lucia hesitated. "I don't know where, probably to gather some supplies.. I wasn't really listening."

"What happened?"

She looked him in the eyes. "Hero.. I don't know. We had a stupid fight and.. I just left."

"Cassius doesn't know that you are here, does he?"

"Hero, please let it go. I'll deal with Cassius when we get to Rome." She didn't seem ready to discuss it any further. "Can we talk about something else?"


"Before heading to the ship, I went to Marcus' apartment. You know, the Sciencia and Philosophy teacher, from the library." She stood up and reached for her travel bag. "I remembered him once giving a lecture on the celestial spheres and what he mentioned about one specific crazy theory."

Lucia took out a roll from her bag, opened it and revealed a thin but obviously very old scroll. She unrolled it to the title section. It said "Ἀρίσταρχος ὁ Σάμιος, Ήλιος ὑπόθεσις".

"Aristarchus of Samos, The Sun hypothesis" Hero read out loud.

"Here." She unrolled it further to the paragraph in the middle of the booklet. "Read it from here."

Hero began to read from where she pointed. "..ὑποτιθέται γὰρ τὰ μὲν ἀπλανέα τῶν ἄστρων καὶ τὸν ἅλιον μένειν ἀκίνητον." Hero looked up. He was a bit confused, but continued reading. "τὰν δὲ γᾶν περιφερέσθαι περὶ τὸν ἅλιον κατὰ κύκλου περιφέρειαν, ὅς ἐστιν ἐν μέσῳ τῷ δρόμῳ κείμενος."

He took the scroll from her and unrolled it more. He continued, translating as he read. "Anaxagoras, one of the great Greek philosophers, thought us that the Sun and all the stars were fiery stones, only that the stars were too far away for their heat to be felt. The cosmos is in fact many times greater than what we are assuming. The fixed stars and the Sun appear unmoved and Terra revolves around the Sun on the circumference of a circle with the Sun in the middle of the orbit, and that the sphere of fixed stars, situated around the same center, is so great that the circle in which we revolve around the Sun is significantly small compared to the distance from the Sun to the sphere of the stars. The stars only seem to move because of Terra's motion."

Hero tried to comprehend the meaning. "This is extremely interesting. Why don't I remember this being part of the class?"

"I asked Marcus about any controversial books he might have in the library about stars and cosmos regarding those crazy theories he mentioned, and he produced this. It was not available for the students and debate. The idea was neglected by Aristarchus' peers at the time it was published, he said. Even Aristarchus did not mention it later in his other works on astronomy."

"Still, saying that Terra is not the center of the cosmos..." Hero stood up and moved to the crate filled with Alexandrian goods. "Actually, if I think about it, it's not impossible to think that way. We take the world too much for granted, for centuries."

"Yes, but at least I understand why it's controversial. I mean, it doesn't make much sense." Lucia mentioned the obvious. "If it is true, how then we experience the day and night. Are we circling the Sun in just one day? That would be very fast, wouldn't it? In that case, wouldn't we be able to feel that motion?"

"It's either that or..." Hero tried to imagine a tremendous sizes of the planets and stars. He took couple of steps forth and back. "Hmm.." Hero sounded like he was not sure about it. "The stars and the Sun might only appear to be moving because Terra is... rotating as well? Look." He took a small amphora and placed it by the window and began to turn it on its axis. Its handle was apparently under light for half of the rotation, while it was in the dark for the other half of the spin.

"Well.... I am not sure." Lucia made one of those faces she was known for in the library. "Why would Terra, which is who knows how massive, make such a complex motion? I mean it is so large. But, then again, if it does move..." She made a pause thinking. "Perhaps we are too small to sense that motion. It would be interesting to think about it, though... I mean, we are moving now and I hardly feel the ship is sailing." Lucia lifted her eyebrows. "Well.. I felt it too well in previous two days.." She suddenly stood up with another thought. "But why stop there! If Terra is a wanderer too, it would also mean that other planets orbit the Sun too."

Hero was amazed at the whole prospect and what this could all mean. The best of all, he was brainstorming the astronomical theories with Lucia! And her thinking was right on the money.

"Exactly!" Hero looked like he connected the missing dots. "You're right! That's why Mars was dancing in the sky every two years. It must be much further away from the Sun than us!" Hero was excited beyond measure and a curious child in him took over. "Lucia, if we were on Mars right now and watching Terra every night we would be puzzled of how it's trajectory is looking over the years. The cosmos is just a gigantic game of marbles! I bet Terra appears as round dot as Mars looks to us. Only we would probably appear to be greenish and bluish to them, instead of red, like Mars seems to us."

"To them?" She looked at him with one eyebrow raised.

"Well.. I don't know.. The Mars people? The Gods, most likely.."

"Ptolemy disregarded this kind of thinking in the Almagest." Lucia pointed out. "He said it is ridiculous to even think about it and that it's far away from the logic and common sense. Do you think we should believe him?"

Hero thought about it, but couldn't find a good argument against the current scientific explanations of the nature and beyond. But in this particular moment, everything seemed vague, both modern explanations based on religion and the teachings centuries old, as well as all those bold theories like this one that always seem somehow too unbelievable and too grand.

"I don't know..." He lifted his both hands in the act of surrender and utter confusion. "Our ancestors have long believed that Rome was created by twin brothers raised by a wolf." He sat down again and reached for more salted fish. "I think, we are supposed to be smarter today."

* * *

Only a few hours later they went up on deck hearing increased activity from the sailors above. A harbor could be seen in the distance with a small town in the background. The artemon sail on the bow was spread wide and was busily manned by four sailors. Another four was at the stern steering the ship with two large oars and the corbita glided smoothly toward the port.

"I am almost sure that this is not Naissus." Lucia placed both hands above her eyes to block the sun that was coming from the east and was getting higher and stronger as noon approached. "Why are we going to Crete, Hero? Cassius told me that you are after some specific archery cohort, but I didn't understand how is that connected to the note you found in Ptolemy's book?"

"This is Hiera. One of three main settlements on Crete. Or Hierapytna, as it was known in the past. It was also the birthplace of the man who wrote the note." Hero explained. "Tiberius Claudius Valerius. He was the cohort's pilus prior centurion at the time. I was hoping, maybe we could find somebody here, a family relative perhaps, who would know something."

"Was the cohort from here?"

"Not sure. They called themselves 'Cohors I Cretum', so either they originated here or at least most of the centurions and legionnaires were people from Crete.

The docking was flawless and soon they said their goodbyes to Justus and their shipmates for the past three days and went strait to the small forum. The small town wasn't anything like places in other Roman provinces they encountered in the past. It was a beautiful and picturesque palanquin with all its narrow streets surrounded by two-story houses with colorful flowers in almost every window. Fishermen and merchants were the majority of the population and the forum was filled with kids of different nations.

Crete and Cyrenaica were under single Roman senatorial government. Hiera was of no major state importance in the province, and in the small senatorial building that stood at the main site of the forum, Lucia and Hero encountered only a lower representative named Darius. He was a local man, in his forties and obviously in love with good food and red wine. He was sitting in the middle of his lectus, a small room with a couch next to the low table which was standard roman office table designed for writing. Darius' table was instead full of food and fruits and one small amphorae with good Cretan wine.

"Hello, hello, hello!" Darius stood up with ease and wiped his face on his way toward them. He shook his forearm with Hero. "Welcome to my humble office! I am Darius, a vice praetor of the Hiera at your service!" He bowed to Lucia and then pointed to both of them. "Let me guess, you are here to schedule a wedding! No worries! You are in the right place. My brother in law is the best priest in the island and this lectus will be yours for.. Well, let's talk about money later... Just say when!"

It was the reaction they least expected, something that came out of the blue. Hero and Lucia just looked at each other in confusion.

"Oh, no, no, no, no, no.." Lucia was first to react. "We are not.." She blushed a little in the face. "We are just looking for somebody. I mean, not.. Not somebody, we are just looking for a... Information about something." The blush seemed to intensify a little more and now matched Darius's face, whose blush was clearly the result of one gulp of wine too many for this part of the day. "Sorry.." She kept trying to find the proper words. "...information about something about someone."

At this point, she gave up. "Hero, you explain.."

Hero could not hide the wide smile on his face. Lucia was beyond herself, but in a comically adorable way. "Very nice to meet you Darius. I am Herodian of Antioch and this is Lucia Gavia Corvinus of Rome. We have just arrived from Alexandria." Hero faced Darius again. "We are wondering if you know anyone in Hiera who will know anything about a man named Tiberius Claudius Valerius. It's for some historical research for the library."

"The famous pilus prior of the first cohort of Crete?"

"You know of him?"

"Of course! He was born here in Hiera and was well known among people. The man is a legend." Darius leaned toward Hero. "They say he could put an arrow in a running rabbit from 1000 feet!"

"Amazing!" Hero wasn't a big optimist that they will find anything about Tiberius, but after this, his hopes raised a little. "I know it was a long time ago, but does he have descendants here so we can learn some more about him?"

"Unfortunately, no." Darius was sure. "I believe he pulled his wife and children with him, after he retired. There is a custom among centurions to spend their retirement in the place where they served. I think the last mention of the unit was the Trajan’s Dacian wars, around the beginning of the century." He paused thinking. "Actually, there's an archive in Gortyn. If you go there, maybe you could find something more about him in the documents."

"Thank you very much Darius!" Hero was more than satisfied with how this quest started to unfold.

"Just tell them I sent you."

"We will do just that." Hero bowed to Darius. "You have been very helpful. Thanks again."

Lucia said her thanks too and they turned to leave, but in the last moment turned to face Darius. "One last thing, do you have Cursus Publicus here?"

"No." Darius smiled. "It's a small island, but we have the next best thing. If you go back to the port office you can rent horses and donkeys with Cursus' certificate. It will cost you next to nothing." Darius said. "You can leave them in Gortyn, just like with the imperial post office."

"Thank you very, very much!" Lucia made an apologizing gesture with her both hands.

"Glad to be of service!" Darius walked them to the door and looked at them for a while. "And if you decide to get married, you know where to find me!"

* * *

"That was.. Intense." Lucia was little relieved to head back to the port.

"You should get used to people outside of Rome and Alexandria." Hero pointed out. "They can be.. Direct. But not in a bad way." He smiled and looked back at her with an innocent touch of mockery.

"Oh, shut up."

"You really have Cursus Publicus certificate?" Hero quickly changed the subject.

"Yes. My stepfather works for the government and travel a lot. He pulled his connections to issue the pass for me, so I can safely travel with postal carriages and military."

At the port, they made all the preparation, rented two horses and one donkey for luggage and at dawn, the very next day, Lucia and Hero were on their way to Gortyn. With one stop in Inatos, the lovely little village in the southern mountains, for a lunch break, they arrived to the capital of the province in the early afternoon. The trip went smoothly under the beautiful September sun. Lucia proved to be an experienced rider and Hero's horse and poor donkey struggled to keep up with her at times. She was natural. Even the classic stola she was wearing as a garment didn't stop her from looking dignified on the back of a horse.

The same could be said for city of Gortyn. It was an absolutely amazing town. Just like Alexandria, the city had a rich history inherited from the Greek classical times and hints from Egyptian influence over time. The forum was built incredibly as a mixture of governmental building with a Praetorium, the seat of the Roman governor of the senatorial province of Crete and Cyrenaica. At the other end of the forum was a brand new theater with more than 5,000 seats and a stage 100 feet long. Directly next to the forum was the large Agora market and the Greek temple dedicated to the god of archery, Apollo.

Unfortunately and despite Darius' recommendations, they couldn't find more details about Tiberius in the Praetorium's archive. Beside military facts and cohort's organization and the names of other five centurions in the chain of command, there was nothing related to civilian lives of the military men.

But what was interesting in the archive, the greater interest of the librarian and his students was caused by the message left by Tiberius. The unusual pictographs in the note raised both Janus' eyebrows, the young apprentice who swore he had seen something similar before.

"Many centuries before Persians wars, even before old Mycenaeans, it was said that here on Crete and on many Aegean islands lived people who spoke and wrote a strange language." Janus said. "My old school teacher back in Cnoso, said their name was Keftians. Or Kabturians. I can't be sure. There's many ruins of old buildings close to Cnoso and all over the island. Actually, all the roads here on the island were made by them. When the Greeks and Romans came they only widened them, but the roads have been there for millennia. Maybe even more. It was a time before iron began to be melted and used for tools and weapons."

"Can we talk to your teacher?" Hero asked. "Is he still teaching there?"

"Yes, his name is Ioannis. You can find him in the Cnoso's public school at the center of the village. He is also a collector of the ancient artifacts. If there's anyone that could help you with the translation, it's him."

With that, Hero and Lucia said their thanks and left. The night was falling when they left the Praetorium. It was too early to return to their rented rooms, so they decided to check out the theater before going to rest for tomorrow's trip to Cnoso, which was less than 30 miles to the north. It was the festive night and the sign said that the play for tonight was one of the Plautus' well known comedies.

"Look, Hero!" Lucia pointed enthusiastically. "Asinaria!"

"Hmmm, I don't remember that one." Hero tried to recall Plautus' plays from the memory. "But as far as I would say, it literally means 'the play about donkeys'. Have you seen it yet?"

"No. Only read it once before." Lucia read more about the play on another sign, which hung by the gate. "It says here that a female actress is playing a speaking role! Would you like to go?"

"Of course!"

He took her hand and they went through the gate.

The ima cavea, the lowest part of the amphitheater was usually reserved for the higher society, but seeing many young couples sitting there, they took a chance and sat in the fourth row. Nobody complained and soon the play started in front of the full arena.

When the narrator said the famous quote at the very beginning "Lupus est homo homini, non homo, quom qualis sit non novit" which has been one of the raw truths since the beginning of time: "A man is a wolf to another man, rather than a man, until he knows what he is like", Hero immediately remembered the entire play. Like Lucia, he hadn't seen it in the arena before, but he had read it once at school.

It would be an understatement to say that they had a great time. The play was performed in perfect harmony by all the actors and musicians, and the guy who played Demaenetus took over the whole performance. He was clearly born for the comedy and the audience was delirious every time he was on stage. Hero never saw Lucia laughing in a way she did and even he couldn't control his emotions. Surprisingly, all the female characters were played by female actresses, but Artemona, the main character, really had many speaking scenes in the play and she performed them, to say the least, perfectly. With her acting, she overshadowed everyone except her character's husband, Demaenetus.

When it was over, Hero and Lucia went back to their rented rooms, talking and laughing about the funniest scenes.

"I couldn't believe, they brought real donkeys on the stage!" Hero's laughter could be heard in the next alley.

Their rooms were not far from the amphitheater and soon they were standing outside Lucia's door when they realized they were holding hands. She pulled her hand out of his, opened the door and looked directly into his eyes.

"Good night, Hero. I had a wonderful time." After a long moment she went in and closed the door.

Speechless, he stayed at her door for far too long before going to his room.

* * *

The next morning the riding took fewer hours than the last time. The distance was shorter and the path was mostly downhill towards the north coast. It was only one day apart after they came to Gortyn and they used the same horses and donkey. This part of the island was filled with continuous fields of olive groves and vineyards. Although it was still the middle of September, the peasants accompanied with mostly children were working in the fields around the old olive trees, spreading long nets and preparing for the harvest.

The Cretan summers last longer here than in any other part of the empire, and at the station they were advised not to leave the island without trying the fried snails in olive oil, freshly pressed by hand. They even recommended a tavern in Cnoso, called Alexandros Grill which was known for its specialties far beyond the borders of the province.

Without stopping, they were at Cnosos before noon, and went straight to the center of the village where the public school stood behind a large and very thick olive tree, evidently old enough to bear witness to the inhabitants of the island before the Greeks came from the mainland.

They found Ioannis in the atrium, surrounded by dozens of school children, talking excitedly about Themistocles and the battle against the Persians in the Saronic gulf. They sat next to children and listened. Among all the teachers Hero met in his education, there were only a few that he could say stood out for their charisma and knowledge. Ioannis was undoubtedly one of those people. The passion was on his face, and the words he uttered will remain in the minds of his students for a long time. Some of them will surely remember him for the rest of their lives.

Thirty minutes later, the class was over and Hero and Lucia introduced themselves to Ioannis and told him all about their quest and what they learned so far.

"Can I see the note?" He asked.

"Of course." Hero found the note and gave it to Ioannis.

He studied it for a while, then handed it back to the Hero. He entered the nearest atrium door and they saw him rummaging through the commode looking for something. He took the small box, put it in his pocket and returned to the atrium.

"Come with me."

They thought he will take them to some other room in the school, but Ioannis went strait through the main gate and out. Hero and Lucia tried to keep his pace. He jumped onto the mule with surprising ease and sped north along the narrow dirt road.

Here and Lucia hurried to their horses and soon caught up with him.

"Where are we going Ioannis?"

"To the old ruins, behind the hill." Ioannis took the lead as the narrow road narrowed some more, so they had to ride in a single file. "I want to show you some inscriptions and frescoes. I believe they might be related to your note."

At the foot of a small hill on the other side of Cnoso, they came to a large area filled with stone ruins and buildings that once were two or three stories high, all leaning against each other and with visible remnants of old frescoes on their walls.

Hero and Lucia dismounted and together with Ioannis entered the very well-preserved streets with the remains of buildings on all sides.

"Hero, look here!" Lucia pointed to a red colored building with three columns in front of a patio decorated with frescoes built into the walls in a way that they looked like they were hung on the facade rather than painted within. Something she never saw before.

"They were obviously fascinated with bulls." Hero carefully touched the image of a man jumping over a giant charging bull.

Ioannis lighted a torch and motioned to them to get inside one of the building. They followed and soon faced the wall filled with pictographs, similar to the ones from Hero's note.

"Amazing!" Lucia took the torch from Ioannis and illuminated the wall, close to the beginning of the inscription. "Hero, are these the same letters as in the note?"

Hero took the note and tried to compare it with the ancient text. "I'm not sure, it looks similar, but... not quite." He followed the witting on the wall. "Check this one out." He pointed to a pictograph that resembled the figure of a man. "This one is almost the same as that one!" He pointed to the third icon on the second row of the wall. "And the one that appears twice on the note, it looks like, I don't know, a candle holder matches to... this one."

"Do you know how to translate this, Ioannis?" Lucia asked.

"No. Nobody can." He said and continued. "Twenty years ago, the first Roman convoy of the largest corbitas ever built, made on the coast of the Egyptian sea, sailed toward the Erythraean sea filled with lots of wools, gold, and silver. They went to the Kingdom of Serica, perhaps you heard of it?"

"I did." Lucia raised her arm. "The Silk Empire in the Far East. My stepfather calls them the Serenas. The silk fabric they make is out of this world. It's the new fashion you can buy in Rome. Very expensive. The most soft linen I've ever seen. The rumor is that it is made by insects and worms."

"Exactly!" Ioannis continued. "The Roman ambassadors established the so-called 'silk road' and after their return it was maintained every year in the same season."

"Sorry Ioannis.." Hero was puzzled. "I am not following, what this has to do with the note. And all this?" He pointed the illuminated inscription on the wall.

"I've seen their writings once in Phaestus harbor." The old teacher said. "It is my hometown and I often visit my mother during the summer. The ship from the silk route was strangled there for two days five years ago. The storm diverted it from its course and it was filled with goods from the great East. The merchants established an open market while they were anchored in Phaestus. Many came from Gortyn to buy the silk. That's where I found this sheep bone pendant." He opened a small box and took out an old medallion. "It was part of the cloth I bought for my mother. It cost me a fortune. Here. Do you recognize the signs?"

Hero took the note from the pocket and compared it to the bone pendant. "You are right! Here's the candle's holder right there, exactly the same as in the note. The plus sign and several more are just the same!" 

"And they are both written in vertical columns." Lucia noticed. "Do you know what it means?"

"I asked the merchants, but they didn't know. The only thing they said is that this is different to how people in the Kingdom of Silk is writing today. It's much older. Perhaps it's ritual or religious in origin. There were many of those attached to the silk rolls." He pointed a finger toward the sky. "But I have a theory."

"A theory?"

"Yes. The inscriptions here in Cnoso, they are very similar to these from the East. They resemble to each other. It can't be the coincidence. I believe that these people who lived here many centuries ago came from the east and inhabited these islands long before the Greeks did."

"That makes sense." Hero agreed. "What happened to them?"

"The story is that volcano on the island of Terra, some 80 miles north from Crete, exploded thousands of years ago and they perished after the giant waves came from the ocean." Ioannis pointed to the south peaks. "Only those who escaped to the mountains survived, but it was a devastating catastrophe. They never recovered."

Lucia put both hands over her mouth. "That.. That's horrible.. Entire civilization.. " She walked over to the writing on the wall and gently touched the pictograph that showed two children hugging each other. "Erased like that."

"The story goes on to say that even those who survived the waves could not cope with what followed. Volcanic ash remained in the air and blocked the Sun for a very long time. It was a continuous winter that lasted more than two years. They starved to death."


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