Copyright © 1995 by John Hughes
First published in A Rough Guide to Boldhome (2nd printing, 1995)
Lyrics adapted from “Only Our Rivers” by Michael MacConnell. Recorded by Planxty and featured on the album Aris! (c.1984, Polydor 815229-1)
When Aldrya blooms in the darkness
Her blossoms swing light from each tree
When Dragon awakes and spreads fire
It’s then that our land will be free*.
I wander her hills and her valleys
And still through my sorrow I see
A land that has never known freedom
And only her rivers run free.
I drink to her sons and her daughters
Those ones who would rather have died
Than to live in the cold chains of bondage
To bring back the rites we’re denied.
Where are you know that we need you,
What thunders where storm used to be?
All gone, like the rains of last season
And only our rivers run free.
How sweet is life but we’re crying
How mellow the mead but we’re dry
How fragrant the grape but its dying
How gentle the wind but its ice.
What good is a youth when its aging
What joy is an eye that can’t see
When there’s sorrow in stormwind and shower
And still only our rivers run free.
*Undoubtedly a Third Age Hero Wars prophecy
Silverquill, Grey Sage of the Tower by the Pond at Aldachur, reports that this ballad gained sudden popularity among Orlanthi loyalists after it was sung before the Pavis Governor at a Praxian Harvest Ritual. Her Ally, a particularly vexatious spirit named Aristophanes, claims that the song originated as an Esrolian dirge from the Lesser Darkness. It is a slow, maudlin ballad in a minor key, usually sung late at night when the fire is low and the mead tankards empty. It exhibits that typically Sartarite sentimentality so difficult for outsiders to comprehend.
Silverquill marks it as especially significant because of it is a house ballad, a traditional form normally employed only by housemothers and teachers of the young – in effect a song for women who had not chosen the warrior’s path. It stands in stark contrast to the long, winding boastful sagas more typical of the fighting castes. For Orlanthi warriors to accept such a song as their own marked a seachange in their view of the struggle and the role of the Sartarite resistance. In effect, the warriors simultaneously debased themselves and uplifted the common people by their acceptance of the ballad. They identified their resistance with the land itself, and saw Sartar as belonging to all the people rather than just the warriors and chiefs. The warriors of Orlanth present themselves as mothers of the old/new kingdom yet unborn. It represents a universalisation of the struggle, a call for all to share in Sartar’s debasement and freedom.
The popularity of the song had profound effects on the hero plane, where it laid ritual foundations for many of the female and child heroquesters who lived and died for Sartar during the Hero Wars. Helena Truespear, who successfully heroquested to retrieve a part of Sheng Seleris from the keeping of Gorgorma, reported her first liberation after hearing the song sung from the depths of an Ironspike jail compound.
The Cold Wind Movement
The Cold Wind Movement is a covert organisation of Sartarite patriots who seek liberation of Sartar from the Lunar yoke. The organisation is named after the famous ballad A Cold Wind Over Sartar, which has become the rallying cry for those seeking freedom from Lunar rule. Little is known about this organisation, and given the fragmented politcal climate in Sartar it is unlikely to be an organisation in the formal sense of the word.
There are rumoured to be a number of loose “factions” within the organisation, ranging from those based around clan and tribal groupings to those supporting active or passive rebellion. No leaders are known or admitted, and supporters seem to look towards the few surviving members of the Sartar Royal household for inspiration. Most members look towards a reformed Temertain, others to Kallyr Starbrow whose patriotic credentials are known, many towards an heir in distant Seshnela, some seek a lost son of Duke Dorasor in Prax, and a few hail an obscure pirate war-lord who they call Argrath.