Dani steadied herself against a tree and surveyed the landscape. The wind stung her face, blurring her vision as she searched for the best route down to the river below.
The sooner she got down there the better. Her only nourishment in the last few days had been pine needle soup and her stomach was churning for something solid. Besides, it had to be warmer in the valley and she would have a constant supply of water and firewood.
She allowed her vision to travel up the river to the snow capped mountain, just visible over the horizon. Clouds hid the summit from view. That was her final destination. According the her dreams, that is where she would find what her people so desperately needed.
For five generations the shaman quest had been a figurative journey, marking the completion of a girl’s studies under the High Priestess and signifying her status as a Priestess within the village. The last Priestess to undergo a true quest with life or death consequences was Dani’s own great great great grandmother, who had travelled through the forest in search of a cure for a disease that was leaving a whole generation of children disfigured. It had taken eight moons, but she was guided by the Ancestors and came back with a cure.
Dani was now charged with a similar quest. It was not the children this time, but the Elders. They were falling ill in large number, with symptoms no one had seen before and dying within two weeks of contracting the illness. The most alarming part is many were succumbing to this illness prior to their apprentices finishing training. If unchecked, this illness could set her village back decades.
Deciding on a route, Dani descended down towards the valley below. She would not fail her people. She would listen to the Ancestors and find a cure, no matter how far she had to walk. She would earn her title as Priestess.