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Buckle up. There is A LOT of ground to cover.
The White Lady has sent Quentin home, to a non-magic, boring, desk job. After Alice’s death, he decided that life would be better without magic at all – but that’s fairly hard to do. One day in the break room, Quentin does a little spell and is caught by a co-worker. It’s cool because the co-worker turns out to be Emily. She was the one having the affair with a teacher back at Brakebills. (Remember this? She tried to make herself prettier, messed up her face, and then Alice’s brother had to fix it and died a Niffin?) She and Quentin have a lunch and it’s tense.
Meanwhile, Julia and Kady are searching through old newspapers looking for whatever happened to Reynard back when he was banished. And Julia barfs and you KNEW this would happen – she’s totally pregnant with Reynard’s baby. Though, it could be Richard’s, hard to say. There is no way Julia can have this baby, so she chooses to terminate the pregnancy and makes an appointment.
You know who else is pregnant? Fen, Eliot’s wife. Everyone is sort of happy about this (even Eliot?) and then someone tries to kill Eliot. Turns out this assassin is a member of a group called Fillorians United. He is a FU-Fighter (Yep.) who wants to kill every child of Earth who crosses into Fillory. Until a Fillorian sits on the throne.
Emily and Quentin get a little drunk at work and talk about all the ways that they miss doing magic. And so they get a little stoned and make smoke shapes. Which is adorable, but Emily has another idea for a spell. The pair go home and casts an illusion spell. What happens is, you change into someone the other person wants to see for as long as you’re wet. More of a shower-sex-game-spell. Emily turns Quentin into Mayakovsky. Because, you see, it was HE who was the teacher she gave up so much for back at school. That makes sense, no? Then it’s Quentin’s turn and of COURSE Emily turns into Alice. Some lovely goodbyes and grief sex. But then - the next morning, Emily goes a little bonkers and wants to do more magic and Quentin needs to get out of there.
Meanwhile in Fillory, Eliot comes to a decision that they will not kill the FU-fighter. His entire council, including Margo, wants that to happen. Now that he is going to be a father, he wants to raise his child in a world where they work to figure out their problems as opposed to killing what/whomever stands in their way. But it’s not over quite just yet. After the FU-Fighter is pardoned, Eliot’s wife Fen wanders into the fighter’s cell. Turns out, these two have a past.
This whole time, Penny has been to see Dean Fogg for help with casting spells, but Fogg sent him back to Brakebills South to see Mayakovsky, who puts him to work. Untying knots, widdling, the usual. Turns out the knots and the table were constructed using magic, so by destroying these things, the magic is released and Prof. M has built a battery to store all this magic for when the wellspring runs dry. Mayakovsky will help Penny with his magic problem as long as Penny goes back to Fillory to retrieve some moss. Sigh, fine.
At her appointment, Julia finds out that aborting a god-like fetus is NOT all that easy. As she lies back to get the procedure done, something comes over the doctor. Something evil that makes her stop what she’s doing and oh dear God, stab herself in the eye. It seems this baby will do everything it takes to protect itself and it doesn’t care who it hurts in the process. Like father like child. Also, after Quentin leaves Emily’s place, he stops and grabs a coffee, and then is taken by surprise: Alice is across the street. As he stares she mouth’s the words “Help Me!” but then disappears just as quickly as she came. And off he goes to follow up on that.