This should be read with a copy of _Oathblood_ (see my review) handy, because it occurs after "Sword-Sworn", in which Tarma and Kethry first met. Tarma is a Shin'a'in horse-nomad from the Dhorisha Plains, last survivor of Clan Tale'sedrin. Kethry is a White Winds mage, an order that's dirt-poor and few in number because they're sworn to certain standards of ethical behavior. The pair met during Tarma's long hunt for the bandits who murdered her clan.
Tarma must return to the Plains soon; the shamans decreed that if she didn't return from her quest within the agreed-upon time period, she would be mourned and the Tale'sedrin banner buried with the rest of the dead. First, though, she and Kethry have to scrape up some cash for the journey. And the place they have to start is the only nearby city: Kethry's hometown, Mornedealth.
The novel is somewhat episodic, rather than one flowing narrative, but that's logical: they're just taking up their mercenary calling, and need to establish reputations as independent adventurers before they can get steady jobs. (And before they can do that, they need to straighten out their status with the Clans.)
The first 3 chapters or so explore Kethry's past - the partners don't know each other well, and as Tarma's teachers point out, before Tarma broods over her past, she should consider another's. (Tarma's past is presented in "Sword-Sworn", in _Oathblood_.) They need to acquire enough money to return to the plains before any ugly problems crop up from Kethry's past history in Mornedealth... Only two of the incidents along the way were actually separate short stories (see _Oathbound_ review for details). Unfortunately for Tale'sedrin, one or two of those early 'episodes' aren't quite as finished as they seem at first...