Watching the flock

It’s a Malathian Tradition.

Pretty much everything is, in the end. Fighting, drinking, loving, worshiping, eating, drinking, toasting, boasting, drinking. Any one is a Malathian Activity. Any two are a a Malathian Tradition. Any three are Malatian Cultural Values.

Especially Drinking, Drinking and Drinking.

I’m not drinking, not right now. Not for almost three months, and I’m pretty sure that the last drink I had was at New Years, when I was wedding people, and that’s so very far from a Malathian tradition that my friends back home would pour whiskey down my throat until I repented. Repented and threw up, at least. Traditions are important.

Everything’s a Malathian Tradition, and no thing in any world has as many Malathian Traditions around it than a Traditional Malathian Wedding, combining every single element of the list I began with, and every single element combined with every single element. Tradition upon tradition upon tradition. This isn’t a Traditional Malathian Wedding, because I avoid being Traditional when it will make my life more complicated, but there’s one tradition I’ll keep.

(Several, actually, but this one today)

Everyone near where we grew up is either a shepard, or knows one. Most have shepards in the family somewhere. The entire family is expected to muck in and help, someone has to be up on the hill at every hour to make sure everything’s fine. This means that someone in the family must be watching the sheep while the wedding’s going on, and miss out on the party. To atone for this, the people actually getting married will, shortly before the wedding, do a complete day’s shift. It’s called the Vigil, or Watching the Flock.

Some folks do it as a family event, the entire clan up on the hillside for a (sober) pre-party family get together, but we’ve always done it on our own.

I find a spot atop a hill sometime early afternoon, lay down a blanket, and watch.

I don’t keep sheep. Nobody in this new world does, as they don’t survive the crossing. My flock these days is a little less literal, the people whom I brought into our faith, or for who I am their adviser on theological stuff. I can’t watch them from my hill, not personally, and I’d not expect them to all be in one place. Some of them – too many – can’t, being beyond my flock and within the green fields of my Lady, but I think of them, and I pray for them.

My Vigil is different from anyone elses, I think. I’ve spent two months working on blighted land, blessing it over and over again to remove the oppressive taint, and now I wander the lands of Amun-Sa Over Ocean as a favour for a scary bastard I regard as a friend, watching over his land, looking for traces of an evil we hope banished.

There are specs on the fields, tilling the land, preparing it for a good years crop, and I watch them for hours until the sun goes down.

The land is still ravaged. Recovering from the terrors that were leashed upon it will take time and work, and there are still many lands left to go.

My small fire will last the night if I feed it carefully, giving me light to think by, and keeping away anything that’s frightened by it. Anything else may have to be introduced to my sword or my gun, as I protect my life and what I need to.

I watch over all of it, thinking of everything. My family, my friends, my soon to be wife, and this entire new world.

Tomorrow, we head for the festival, and there will be more action and less sitting and watching the world.

For tonight, I stand vigil.