"River's Running Red" -Cholera Camp Filk

The winds of war inspired me to finalize this modification of my favourite folk song about dying of cholera, for the horrors of fighting under a certain spring enchantment. If you want an idea of the tune I recommend tracking down Bellowhead’s version from their album Matachin

Well the rivers running red – and it’s worse than forty fights;
And we’re dyin’ in the wilderness the same as questin’ knights;
It’s before us, an’ be’ind us, an’ we cannot get away,
An’ the doctor’s just reported that we’ve ten more today!

Oh, strike your camp an’ go, the Captain’s callin’,
Red Rains are fallin’ –
The dead are bushed an’ stoned to keep ‘em safe below;
The Band’s a-doin’ all they can to cheer us;
The Priest’s Burnin’ through liao to steel us –
To steel us –
O Viritue, for it’s a-killin’ of us so!

Since the summit, when it started, it’s been stickin’ to our tail,
We’ve been out across the Marches and back by trod and trail;
But it runs as fast as horses, and we cannot get away;
An’ the sickness to the General makes ten more today.

And there ain’t no fun in eatin’ and there ain’t no drop to drink;
It’s much too wet for fightin’, we can only march and think;
An’ at evenin’, down the nullahs, we can 'ear the jackals say,
“Get up, you rotten beggars, you’ve ten more today!”

And it would make the highborn cough to see our way o’ doin’ things –
Lieutenants takin’ companies and captains takin’ wings,
An’ Lances actin’ Sergeants – eight file to obey –
Oh yes, there’s lots of quick promotion on ten deaths a day!

Our Colonel’s white an’ twitterly – and she gets no sleep nor food,
But mucks about in 'orspital where nothing does no good.
And she sends us ‘eaps o’ comforts, all bought from 'er pay –
But there aren’t much comfort 'andy on ten deaths a day.

We’ve got the rivers running red – we’ve got em ‘ot an’ sweet;
It ain’t no Leaguish dinner, but it’s served an’ we must eat.
We’ve gone beyond the funkin’, ‘cause we’ve found it doesn’t pay,
An’ we’re rockin’ round the mournwold on ten deaths a day!

So strike your camp an’ go, Red Rains are fallin’,
The Captain’s callin’!
The dead are bushed an’ stoned to keep ‘em safe below!
An’ them that do not like it they can lump it,
An’ them that cannot stand it they can jump it;
We’ve got to die somewhere – some way – some’ow –
Se we might as well begin to do it now!

So, Number One, let down the tent-pole slow,
Knock out the pegs an’ hold the corners – so!
Furl up the ropes, furl up the ropes, an’ stow!
Oh, strike – oh, strike your camp an’ go!


I remember thinking this’d be a good song to filk back during the flux subplot. It works just as well for the Mourn right now. You might be running on a slightly different tune to what I’m used to, ‘cause the line ‘the Priest’s burnin’ through liao to steel us’ doesn’t quite scan for me, but I’m sure it’d be easier to pick up once it’s sung out loud.

All in all, two thumbs up! Makes me sad I’m not in the Marches anymore and can’t sing it loudly and morosely next event.


I originally had the idea whilst reading about the Reikos Flux whilst on a wiki binge before my first event, but this WoW pushed me to move it from something in my head to a real thing other people could read and comment on.

It’s definitely the line I’m least happy with as well, probably because it’s the one that needed changing the most from the chorus, but it definitely does work with a bit of massaging on where the words are stressed for me. Does “The physick’s running out of herbs to heal us…” work any better for you?

I’m not a Marcher either! just had an idea and needed to share it.

That version definitely scans better, to my mind at least.

1 Like