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Quentin has three options. A) He can let Niffin Alice free to possibly cause destruction all over the world. B) He can box Niffin Alice up where she will stay for all eternity. Or C) He can keep Niffin Alice trapped inside his body, ultimately killing them both. Anyway you slice it, these are not easy choices.
In Fillory, Eliot and Margo have to figure out how to win their war with Loria despite some pretty serious obstacles: their soldiers are deserting and magic is running out due to a defiled wellspring. One of The Royal Council members (that sloth?) suggests that there is another way: royal combat! Hearing that he may be the first Fillorian monarch to win a duel, Eliot decrees that he will save the day by facing off with the King of Loria. One hitch - Eliot has never held a sword. Also, sword magic spells are crazy hard and can take years to learn. However, Eliot’s wife Fen comes from a long line of sword makers and gives Eliot a blade that is enchanted with it’s own special spell that makes him who wields the blade a master swordsman. THANK UMBER!
Meanwhile Kady, Penny, and Julia are starting to make headway in their search for Reynard’s son as they discover that the demigod is none other than U.S. Senator John Gaines. How are they going to get to him?! (Spoiler: magic). The trio easily get to Senator Gaines, but Penny and Kady are growing concerned over Julia, who is now free of her shade, and looking to kill the senator and harness his energy. Instead of killing, they kidnap him and bring him to Brakebills in order to figure out what to do next.
Back in Fillory, it’s about time for Eliot to face off with the Lorian King. The stakes are high: if he loses this duel, not only is he totally dead, but all his friends will either be executed or imprisoned as well. In order to let some of the pressure off, Margo does some musical magic and gets pretty much the entire castle to do a really, kind of amazing Les Misérables sing along. Accompanied with Fen’s magic sword, Eliot is ready to kick some serious monarch ass.
And then…Niffin Alice and Shadeless Julia encounter each other when Julia finds Quentin while he’s possessed by Alice (remember their deal?). Alice begs Julia to help free her. While they discuss striking a deal, turns out Reynard has turned up at Brakebills. Not to worry, there are wards! Uhm, but also, back in Fillory, the fight is on between Eliot and King Idri. And then, yep. Magic brown out!
The wards are down! Eliot’s spell doesn’t work! Crisis! Eliot runs up a tree for safety, and he and King Idri discuss their next move. Which turns out to be each other. Because they’re both a little gay and way into each other. But back to Brakebills. When the wards go down, Reynard gets inside. Penny, Kady, and Dean Fogg get everyone to safety, but Julia takes Quentin straight to Reynard.
You see, Julia’s talk with Niffin Alice was bad news and her plan is to get Quentin to release Alice - who has promised to kill Reynard. Quentin isn’t budging and all is lost until Sentor Gaines shows up in the knick of time. Since Gaines is the only person that Reynard REALLY wants, the two disappear, leaving Q, Penny, and Kady to deal with psycho Julia. Locking her in a magical dead zone, Julia is furious. Beyond furious.
Trying to save Eliot, Margo tries to get the wellspring fixed by setting a meeting with the ambassador to the fairies. The price they ask is for Eliot’s first born child. Margo’s like "no way" but then also she totally agrees. Eliot gets his magic sword powers but it’s too late – he and the King have decided to stop fighting and get down to loving. Turns out Filorian law permits the High King to have two spouses: a wife AND a husband. Things are about to get very weird at Castle Whitespire. What’s gonna make things weirder? When Margo admits that she promised away Eliot’s first born… but that’s a story for another time.
Finally Quentin comes to a decision about what to do with Alice. Unable to box her for eternity, and not wanting to die himself, he decides to trust her and set her free. Thankfully she doesn’t kill him (phew), but she does disappear, killing any hope Q had to turn her back into her old self. This. Is. Serious. Stuff.