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fIn late nineteenth-century Venezuela, the son of a murdered government official, Abel Gueva de Argensola, escapes from rebels and makes his way to a river outside of Caracas. Bent on avenging his father, Abel resolves to travel to the interior in search of a rumored wealth of gold with which he can hire soldiers. With the assistance of supply store owner Don Panta, Abel secures Indian guides and a canoe and learns that the primitive jungle natives value courage highly. After a lengthy journey down the river into the jungle, the guides panic upon seeing along the shore several spears with red feathers and abandon Abel. Caught in the rapids, the canoe overturns, forcing Abel to swim to shore where he is immediately surrounded by natives who escort him to a large village. There Abel is presented to chief Runi, who wears a large golden necklace. Determined to find out the source of the gold, Abel refuses to be intimidated by the natives and endures an entire day standing in the scorching sun. At dusk, Abel is near collapse when Runi's son Kua-Ko appears and speaks to him in English, revealing that he spent years in a mission where he learned to speak the non-native language. Relieved, Abel assures Kua-Ko that he is a friend, then presents Runi with a flint which makes fire. Runi is pleased and offers Abel food and drink. Later, Abel asks about Runi's necklace, but Kua-Ko insists that only his father knows its origins. Kua-Ko then cautions Abel not to hunt in the nearby forest. His curiosity peaked, Abel goes to the forest the next day and is amazed by the exotic birds, monkeys and other animals there. Soon, Abel becomes aware of an unusual chirping sound that appears to influence the jungle creatures' behavior. While drinking from a pool of water, Abel is startled to see the reflection of a girl's face in the water, but despite further exploration, he finds no one. Abel's departure from the forest is witnessed by Kua-Ko, who angrily threatens him, then escorts him back to the village. There Kua-Ko explains that Runi has been impressed by Abel's brave venture into the forest, which the natives believe to be possessed by a bird spirit they call the Daughter of the Didi. After Runi addresses Abel at length, Kua-Ko unhappily translates that his older brother was killed by the bird spirit and, as Abel has survived his visit there, Runi looks upon him as a new son who will save them from the evil spirit. Abel agrees to return to the woods to confront the spirit and upon arriving there, finds Rima, a beautiful young woman among the trees. Moments after Abel tells the girl that she is in danger from the natives, he is bitten by a snake and collapses. Reviving two days later, Abel finds himself in a small hut with an old man who introduces himself as Nuflo, Rima's grandfather. Nuflo tells Abel that Rima saved his life and dismisses Abel's warning about the natives. After recovering, Abel follows Rima deeper into the forest and learns that she has been with her grandfather in the jungle since childhood, following the death of her beloved mother. Rima asks about Abel's father, whom he spoke of in his delirium. Rima admits to being frightened by Abel's anger over his father's death and explains she believes her mother is always with her, even in death. Over the next several days as Abel continues to recover, he spends more time with Rima, learning of her enchanted ability to communicate with all creatures. When Rima shows Abel a hata flower, which she claims blooms for a brief period then reappears in another place, he tells her that it is a lovely legend and Rima pities Abel for his faithlessness. One evening, Abel finds Rima with a small gold container, which she explains was a gift from Nuflo. Suspicious that Nuflo's numerous disappearances may be connected with the gold, Abel follows Nuflo, only to find him secretly roasting an animal for food. Nuflo admits to hiding his activity to spare the sensitive Rima. Abel asks about the gold, but Nuflo assures him there is none. Soon after, Abel meets Rima at the base of an enormous tree and she confides that his talk of his home has stirred unfamiliar memories of her past, which she longs to understand. When the couple goes into the nearby mountains, Abel points to an area known as Riolama, prompting Rima to recall that as the place of her childhood. Angered that Nuflo has kept the nearness of her birthplace from her, Rima berates him and demands that he take her there. Distressed, Nuflo accuses Abel of shattering Rima's contentedness with her forest life. Having fully recovered, Abel returns to the village where he admits that he could not kill Rima because she saved his life. Runi and Kua-Ko disbelieve Abel's tale and accuse him of cowardice. Kua-Ko declares he will kill Rima and orders Abel bound. That night Kua-Ko endures a ritual torture to prove his strength to lead the village men into the woods. After Kua-Ko and the men depart, Abel breaks free and hurries through a rain storm to the forest where he rouses Nuflo and Rima, declaring they must go to Riolama to avoid the natives. After escaping a series of dangers on their trek, the trio nears Riolama but Nuflo insists that he is lost, despite Rima recalling a cave nearby. While Rima looks for the cave, Nuflu confesses to Abel that he knew of Riolama, but could never return there as long ago he was part of a gang who stole the village's gold. Nuflo admits that the rest of the gang murdered and destroyed the Riolama, while he fled. Discovering a wounded woman and Rima, her four-year-old child, Nuflo brought them to the cave and promised the dying woman to take care of Rima. Having overheard Nuflo's confession, Rima reproaches him bitterly and flees. Abel follows Rima, who finds only the remains of a long-deserted Riolama and is heartbroken. Later, when Rima admits her anger against Nuflo has dissipated, Abel realizes that he too has lost his need for revenge. Meanwhile, tormented by Rima's accusations, Nuflo returns to the forest hut where he unearths the bags of Riolama gold, but is caught by Kua-Ko and the others who kill him and burn down the hut. Returning in search of Nuflo, Abel and Rima are separated and Rima is trapped by the natives at the top of the large tree, which is set ablaze. Soon after, Abel finds Kua-Ko, who triumphantly reveals that Rima has died. Furious, Abel attacks Kua-Ko and drowns him in the pool. Later, Abel comes across the burned tree and, overcome with grief, collapses. Upon hearing Rima's voice, however, Abel revives and, finding a blooming hata flower, recalls Rima's belief in eternal life. In the distance, Abel sees a light encircling Rima's figure and goes forward to join her.