Shanda woke up early. Today, the elders were coming to test her with the ancient trial of the voice. She had been training to become the village’s new song hunter. Her father Durn, was the previous hunter. He had been injured by a whale during his last hunt. A fin to the neck prevented him from ever singing again. Shanda, gifted in the voice just like her father, was now charged with the sacred role of song hunter. The people of her village depended on her. If she failed to use her voice to call a whale in the coming weeks, her village might starve. The Cloud Krill traps were almost empty this year. Without whale meat, her peoples larders would run dry, and the children would go hungry.
The trail took place in the sacred lodge, Shanda stood in the middle of the room whilst the elders gathered around her chanting and spinning dream wheels. The villagers watched from the balcony with anticipation. Zytal, the wisest of the Elders, at last opened his eyes and commanded Shanda to ready herself. Everyone in the Lodge was silent. He raised his sacred staff in the air and then brought it down into the hard wooden floor with a loud thud. After a short moment, Shanda began to sing.
At first her voice was low as she felt a bit nervous. She soon became more confident and began to sing louder. As she continued singing, the very air began to vibrate and the walls hummed. It was as if her voice was waking the world from a long sleep. She sang a beautiful melody that made the hairs on peoples arms stand up. It was almost like her voice came from the ether or even the mouths of the gods.
As Shanda’s song resonated through the lodge, it began to sooth the people and calm their minds. Gradually, they began to enter a trance like state and had big smiles on their faces. All but the elders were under Shanda’s spell. The village people were at her mercy and would do what ever she commanded. She had never realised that her own voice was so potent. Such a pity that her father wasn’t well enough to be there watching her. Surely he would be proud of her today.
Suddenly, Zytal thrust his staff into the ground to signal Shanda to stop singing. She did as he commanded and went silent. A few seconds later, all the villagers up on the balcony came to their senses. They looked puzzled and acted almost like they didn’t know where they were or how long they'd got there. “She has passed the test!” Zytal shouted. “Rejoice, for you have a new hunter.”
Shanda’s people cheered and ran down the stairs to congratulate her. The jubilant villagers picked her up and carried her out of the great lodge towards the village circle. A celebration was to take place to honour the new hunter and thank the gods for gifting Shanda with the voice. From now on they would never be hungry. All would feast on succulent Whale meat and make fine clothing from the hides. Today would be a day long remembered.