In book two of the Collegium Chronicles, Herald Trainee Mags and his Companion Dallen continue their education at the newly formed Herald's Collegium. However, things aren't going smoothly. Bear's family, namely his older brother who is now head of the family, want him to come home and marry a girl that he barely remembers. They claim he takes up space at the Collegium that someone with a "true" Healing Gift could use. And Lena's father, the arrogant Master Bard Marchand, shows up, and his indifference towards Lena makes her go to almost any length to get his attention.
Mags begins to tail a merchant called Chamjey by instruction of the King's Own, Nikolas. He manages to uncover a plot by Chamjey and some other merchants to take advantage of a sickness among the sheep to corner the wool trade and gain a massive profit by creating a monopoly.
At the same time, Mags continues his research in the Archives along with Nikolas's daughter Amily for the fate of his parents. He finds a record of a Guardsman, who spoke of a large and well organized group of bandits that had been terrorizing a portion of Valdemar for a time and the effort of the Royal Guard to destroy them. The Guardsman who recorded the event wrote of finding hostages in the bandit's camp when they finally arrived. According to the Guardsman, there was a couple in "foreign looking clothes" who had with them a young child. The other hostages said that the couple spoke no language that they knew, but when they rebelled against the bandits, they were killled. The child, which was Mags, was left in the care of the local villagers, which was how he ended up at the mine.
ForeSeers all over Haven have a series of recurring visions of the King covered in blood, a shadowy figure next to him that was foreign-born, and the sense that somebody had tried to kill the King. Suspicion falls on Mags time and time again, and his life becomes a living hell. Even the new sport of Kirball, a training exercise that pits not just Herald trainees but others against each other and makes Mags a temorary hero, can dampen the hostility and abuse Mags suffers. Things get worse when several of the ForSeers recognize Mags as the foreign-born figure in their visions. Bear's and Lena's tensions with their families come to a head, and they bitterly blame Mags for not sympathyzing with their problems.
His new life falling apart, the only solace Mags can find is with Dallen. On a night ride together over the practice field, Mags is suddenly hit by a consciousness that is so vicious and twisted, it almost throws him from the saddle as he and Dallen are attempting a large and difficult jump. Mags bails off Dallen, but Dallen ends up breaking both of his front legs.
Convinced that Dallen's injuries were his fault and with everyone blaming him for the accident, Mags decides to leave the Collegium. He ends up as a kitchen boy scrubbing pots in Haven while he waits for Dallen to repudiate him. Convinced he has done the right thing, he decides to wait until Dallen repudiates him, then kill himself. However, he is finally convinced to return by Dallen and Rolan.
Before he can return, he runs into the man who was the source of the twisted mind who attacked him the night of Dallen's accident. Nicknaming the man "Temper" because of his unnatural rage, Mags tails the man for almost a week, until he realizes the man intends to try and recover a book that he used as a cipher to communicate with his master.
When Temper climbs over the Palace wall, Mags gets a start of horror as he realizes that the man intends to burn down the Companion's stable. With no other choice, Mags attacks the man and lowers all of his shields, waking up everyone at the Collegia and the Palace with his cries for help. He manages to kill Temper just before passing out from multiple stab wounds that were inflicted by Temper's knife.
Mags wakes up in Healer's Hall. Bear and Lena apologize for how they treated Mags earlier--Lena is still trying to get her father to pay attention to her and Bear has managed to send his brother home and stop his arranged marriage. Herald Nikolas comes to Mags and speaks with him about how much Mags has done over the last few moons. He assures him that he belongs at the Herald's Collegium.