A woman devastated by loss is asked to come to Haven to help with an epidemic. She has no idea why they want her.
- Kayla Grayson - a newly chosen who usually minds children at Riverend
- Magda Merton - deceased, a powerful empath
- Mitchell - a Riverend child
- Evan - a Riverend child
- Tess - a Riverend child
- Anne - a Herald
- Widow Davis - Riverend's unofficial mayor
- Carris - a Herald
- Arana - Carris' Companion
- Darius - Kayla's Companion
- Daniel - a comatose orphan
- Gisel - King's Own
- Arlen - Gisel's Companion
- Prince Gregori - a highly sensitive empath
- Rodri - Gregori's Companion
- Sasha - deceased, an empath
- Michael - a comatose healer
- Caroline - a pretty girl who grew up with Kayla
- Riverend - Kayla's home hold
- Evandale - a city with coma victims
Story description (WARNING! SPOILERS!)Edit
Kayla has been haunted by dreams of a black dragon since she was a child. Then she dreams of white beauty, and a magical horse. Years later, after suffering devastating personal losses, her dream Companion Darius comes for her. Two Heralds come too, pleading for her aid against a coma epidemic spreading across the nation. Kayla is reluctant to leave, as she promised her dying mother to care always for her Hold, Riverend. She does not understand why they need her. They only know that they came to fetch Magda Merton's daughter.
As she travels to Haven, she reflects on her past, her lost family, and things her mother said that she had not understood.
During their travels, they stop at an afflicted village and visit the church that cares for victims who do not have family. She heals a hysterical man before he falls ill, then wakes a comatose orphan about her son's age. She decides to bring him with her to Haven. The priest asks how she healed them. Darius tells her she is an Empath. The priest explains that the Empaths were the first to fall comatose.
At the Palace in Haven, the King's Own, Gisel, tells her that her mother was a famous and powerful empath. She also reveals the person known to be causing the epidemic. He is the King's youngest son, Prince Gregori.
He was a troubled child after his mother died, and when he was Chosen by Rodri, they discovered he was an empath, which had made it painful to live in the Palace. Kayla realizes that Rodri is dead, and that was Gregori's final straw. Gisel reveals more danger: the most powerful empaths who have tried to reach him have not just been rendered comatose - some have died.
Kayla confirms privately with Darius that Gregori is the black dragon of her dreams. Darius tells Kayla more of Gregori's story, and she puts it together with things her mom told her.
Prince Gregori was trained by Kayla's mother, but she later abandoned him. Kayla recalls her mother explaining that she had killed a man with her gift. And Gregori learned how, hoping to be valuable to his emotionally distant father, the King.
Darius explains that at a border battle, Gregori released his gift, wiping out the enemy. But it also panicked Rodri, who got shot by the enemy and died. That was more grief than Gregori could take.
Kayla realizes that in her childhood dreams, Gregori was lonely and sad. It was only recently that the black dragon became an insane and terrifying menace.
She is taken in to see Prince Gregori. He is catatonic; he is also the black dragon of her dreams.
But she was not terrified. She felt no horror. How could she? The things she had feared, the things that made fear so visceral, that made her feel truly vulnerable, had already come to pass.
She connects with him as no one else could. She wakes him from his terrible dream. Then she bundles up his weakened body and brings him back to her home to heal him.
Prince Gregori's royal father is not named. It has been suggested by a reader that he is one of King Theran's grandchildren, but a reference in this story has not been noted. Additional research is needed.