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Welcome to a world without magic. When we left our heroes, Quentin had killed Umber, one of the gods of Fillory, and that caused some magic god types to show up and take magic away from humans. Even in Fillory. So no one has access to magic except, somehow, for Julia, who can do SOME stuff. Not having magic is been driving everyone nuts. It’s also particularly problematic for Penny, who has super magic-cancer. He’s been chasing down library books for the library job, but it turns out the more time he spends in the real world, the faster his cancer advances. Kady is worried about him and makes him go back to the library where he’s safe.
Back in Fillory, Eliot and Margo are dealing with the Fairy Queen, who is still hanging around terrifying everyone. The weird thing about her though, is that nobody else can see her except El and Margo. The Queen keeps demanding crazy tasks of Margo, and when Margo tries to delegate them, the Queen just gets angry. Also, the Queen can see pretty much everything.
Back at Brakebills, a woman named Irene McAllister turns up in Dean Fogg's office and tells him that the Board of Brakebills have decided that the school should use all of its resources finding out what's happening with magic, rather than teaching. Fogg is not happy, but there's nothing he can do. Meanwhile, Kady meets with Harriet, the hedgewitch and the magician who helped her last season, which also lead to Penny getting magic cancer... but we digress. Presently, while Kady is having a temper tantrum about her life, Harriet points out that SOMEONE must know how to turn magic back on and gives Kady a book full of someone's notes - it's meant to help.
Julia and Quentin figure out that the only way to get magic turned on is to talk to a higher god about it. Those aren’t easy to find, so naturally, they turn to Josh - who always comes through in a clutch - to help. Josh leads them to …Bacchus, the god of partying. Because of course. Bacchus won't allow Q and Julia into one of his insane parties, but aren’t allowed in because they aren’t fun enough. When they get really drunk, he finally grants them access. The party is pretty serious, and Julia has a brief PTSD episode about getting raped by a trickster demon (Reynard). While Q tries to get intel, Bacchus lets him know that he's not interested in introducing anyone to his parents (the higher gods). Striking out with Bacchus, Q gets mad when Julia shows Josh that she can do magic. Julia's hint of magic gives him hope, but Quentin knows that could be dangerous. Although trying to get information out of Bacchus proves to be...difficult, Quentin learns that there's a secret back door to magic. It could be anywhere, and it might be a brothel?
Back in the woods of Fillory, Margo and Eliot figure out that the Fairy Queen can see all of their moves because she has Margo's eye. So they decide to use some pretty great pop culture references - we're guessing they don't watch Primetime in Fillory - to hatch a plan that the Queen won't be able to catch on to. They also realize what's next is to find one of the Fillory books for answers. So, Eliot goes on a quest to find the White Lady but instead comes across the The Great Cock of the Darkling Woods, and is given a quest. If Eliot can perform the task at hand, it'll solve all of his fairy problems and he could bring back magic. With a drive to be a great King, Eliot accepts. But he’ll need Quentin’s help. It turns out that bunnies can move between worlds and deliver messages. Working off that news, Julia and Quentin turn out to find the details of the quest in a book called the "Tale of the Seven Keys." They send message back to Fillory that they have to work together to find the seven keys. Whatever the keys unlock will restore magic. Game. On.
While all this is going on, Alice is meeting with vampires and offering up her blood so they'll give her information. There's someone after her called "The Lamprey." The vampire suggests she run because it's her best shot at survival. That’s not really like our Alice, though, is it? Is she gearing up for the fight of her life?