The song is about Tarma, Kethry and Warrl hunting bandits,[1] and was probably written by Leslac. As usual, Leslac got a few details wrong. First, Kethry was disguised as the lady and Tarma as her maid. Leslac has them reversed here. Also, while they were oathsisters, they were not shieldmates, as the term is used for partners who are also lovers.

"Again: a similar song from the same region as 'Kerowyn's Ride' that migrated northward." (The Complete Arrows Trilogy: Appendix)

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Deep into the stony hills, miles from town or hold
A troop of guards comes riding with a lady and her gold
She rides bemused among them, shrouded in her cloak of fur
Companioned by a maiden and a toothless aged cur

Three things see no end
A flower blighted ere it bloomed
A message that miscarries
And a journey that is doomed

One among the guardsmen has a shifting restless eye
And as they ride he scans the hills that rise against the skies
He wears both sword and jewels worth more than he could afford
And hidden in his baggage is a heavy secret hoard

Of three things be wary
Of a feather on a cat
The shepherd eating mutton
And the guardsman that is fat

Little does the lady care what all the guardsmen know
That bandits ambush caravans that on these trade roads go
In spite of tricks and clever traps and all that men can do
The brigands seem to always sense which trains are false or true

Three things are most perilous
The shape that walks behind
The ice that will not hold you
And the spy you cannot find

From ambush bandits screaming, charge the pack train and its prize
And all but four within the train are taken by surprise
And all but four are cut down, as a woodsman fells a log
The guardsman and the lady and the maiden and the dog

Three things hold a secret
A lady riding in a dream
The dog that sounds no warning
And the maid who does not scream

Then off the lady pulls her cloak, in armor she is clad
Her sword is out and ready, and her eyes are fierce and glad
The maiden makes a gesture, and the dog's a cur no more
A wolf, sword-maid and sorceress now face the bandit horde

Three things never anger, or you will not live for long
A wolf with cubs
A man with power
And a women's sense of wrong

The lady and her sister by a single trader lone
Were hired out to try to lay a trap all of their own
And no one knew their plan except the two who rode that day
For what you do not know, you cannot ever give away

Three things is its better part that only two should know
Where treasure hides
Who shares your bed
And how to catch your foe

The bandits growl a challenge, and the lady only grins
The sorceress bows mockingly, and then the fight begins
When it ends there's only four left standing from the horde
The witch, the wolf, the traitor, and the woman with the sword

Three things never trust in
A maiden sworn as pure
The vows a king has given
And the ambush that is sure

They strip the traitor naked, and then whip him on his way
Into the barren hill-sides like the folk he used to slay
And what of all the maidens that this bandit raped and slew
So as revenge the sorceress makes him a woman too

Three things trust above all else
The horse on which you ride
The beast that guards your sleeping
And your shieldmate at your side

Notes Edit

  1. The bandit-hunting story became the novelette "Turnabout", Lackey's first professionally published work, in 1985. It is included in chapter 8 of Oathbound, and it also appears in the Oathblood collection.

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