Adventures in Thargothras

The General's Betrayal

The poem "The General's Betrayal" is believed to be close to a hundred years old, though the events it refers to (that is, the ambush and assassination of General Ulna Brandlewart) are 112 years in the past. The debate over its exact age is partly because it is attributed to two authors, the historian Sir Ingres and the songwriter Mourlo Pex. There is also the theory that the two may have cooperated on the work, but because there are two versions of the fourth, fifth, and sixth verses, it is popularly believed that one version is the original, and the other stolen and rewritten as part of an ongoing rivalry. Both versions were heard in taverns and around campfires by minstrels, and due to the disorganization of their spread, no clear origin can be traced with certainty. Both versions of the poem verse are presented here in no particular order.

Version One (this is the version attributed to Ingres)

The General rode up to the stones
as the birds did cease their flight
a letter in her hand she carried
as mist rose up to meet the night

Her lover asked to meet alone
ere the battle at next dawn
to share with her a last embrace
in case the evening saw her gone

The General rode up to the stones
tied her horse and walked ahead
her lover met her at the summit
wine in hand and blanket spread

The lover bade her drink the wine
and once she drank, a glint of steel
as soldiers from behind the stones
did step, their motives were not weal

The general stumbled toward her sword
unarmed, unarmored, and head uncleared
but ere she stood upright an arrow
in her naked back appeared

Her lover fled, with heavy pockets
to match the weight within her soul
the shame she felt for her betrayal
her heart to ne'er again be whole

And so thee listen, and listen well
when honor clashes with your purse
no weight of coin is worth your heart
the glint of gold can lift no curse

Version Two (this is the version attributed to Pex)


The General rode up to the stones
as the birds did cease their flight
a letter in her hand she carried
as mist rose up to meet the night

Her lover asked to meet alone
ere the battle at next dawn
to share with her a last embrace
in case the evening saw her gone

The General rode up to the stones
tied her horse and walked ahead
her lover met her at the summit
wine in hand and blanket spread

Her lover bade her drink the wine
and once she drank, she froze in place
her limbs were stiff, her eyes still open
surpise and horror on her face

From darkness did an arrow fly
and pierce right through her naked flesh
the force did lean her body forward
her blood still quick, her sight still fresh*

The last thing that the General saw
as her lifeblood stained the land
her lover with tears in her eyes
and a purse of coins in her open hand

Her lover fled, with heavy pockets
to match the weight within her soul
the shame she felt for her betrayal
her heart to ne'r again be whole

And so thee listen, and listen well
when honor clashes with your purse
no weight of coin is worth your heart
the glint of gold can lift no curse

*"fresh" being a synonym for "clear" at the time of writing.

With the latter version being more dramatic, and, on the whole, less realistic than the ambush by multiple soldiers, it is more likely that the former version is true, but not necessarily original, as Sir Ingres was known at other points to "correct" popular works for historical accuracy and pay to have them sung in as many locations as possible (for further instances, see "The Death of Sir Forrintine" and "The Wayward Fop" as examples of his meddling). 

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