LORE: Seven Springs in Agalor
Updated: Oct 18, 2022
Seven Springs in Agalor is the most famous poem of Issahan, Lahgael's national poet.
This poem first appears in The Kheld King, when Levyathan mentions being familiar with it to the Lahgaelan Governor Jooar Zetharnna. We furthermore learn that Dorilian has read the poem to Levyathan, who proceeds to quote the first verse.
Here is the full text of that poem:
In Agalor the sun breaks black rock
Upon salt-moon heights and reaches not
Into dark valleys where secrets remain hidden.
There I came upon a town blessed by prophets
And ruled by seven sisters
Whose stone lips speak from wells of truth.
There are seven springs in Agalor.
1. Where are the waters of mortality born?
From whence swollen rains that set all fates,
That seep into the bones of stone giants
Only to trickle into this hole lined with stone?
Joyful, the well fills! Drawn into jars of sun-gold clay
Is Life itself, paraded atop the necks of young women
Whose child-bearing sways upon thighs shaped for love?
2. In holy places where gods are silent, souls speak loudly,
Prideful and blind, celebrating deeds and desires.
This sister spills absolution upon silver sand,
Imploring gods to which souls never ascend.
Believing ourselves blessed, we walk with her alongside the husks
Of hopes heard but never answered and
Promises given but never kept.
3. Where laughter reigns and skins dry upon the rocks,
We seek renewal and shed our colors.
Submerge the soiled, the muddied, the wine dark proofs
Of all our occupations or excesses,
And draw forth the proofs of illusions and fantasies,
Prosperity or poverty displayed for all to see—
Lies and truth, hope and pretenses.
4. Within houses of high walls soaked in avarice.
In guises noble, her poisons dwell,
Masking patriarchs who own all but themselves—
Whose daughters are sold and sons corrupted
In service to a noble name.
Fallen, they drink from fouled waters.
Servants to ambition and edifices doomed to be forgotten.
5. Red is the blood spilled by warriors
And red the rivers of their lives.
A crimson spring drenches lands betrayed and abandoned,
Royal riches spent and common hatreds purged
To grow again as stalks of green,
Shelter and food to things foul and low,
Soldiers who once stood unto the gods.
6. From the infinite realm where pain finally ends,
I bring you water from wells
Black and deep,
Untouched by light—
Tasting of the bones of ancestors
And children unborn
And the dead hopes of nations.
7. Let me love you, child of the desert, and
I will bring you water from the mountains,
Sweet and bright,
Cold from snow,
Heated by volcanoes.
Let me love you and we will drink
The pure light of the stars.
For oh my love, my poor doomed love—
There are seven springs in Agalor.
That Dorilian and Levyathan would find this poem meaningful shouldn't surprise readers. Most readers won't care about what poems the characters like or don't like, of course, which is one reason Seven Springs in Agalor never gets quoted in full in the books. The other is that the author, alas, is in no way a proper poet.
Still, I think details like poems and culture and personal connections to same are interesting, which is why I build them into the backgrounds of my characters. Marc Frederick's journals and notes. A future Kheld's letters to his prince. And a Lahgaelan poet's take on human failings. I know why Dorilian likes this poem—and I think readers inclined to look deeper into his character will know too.