Penny realizes that Kady and Julia have no idea that he had projected out of his body. They can’t hear him and he can’t touch anything. He can only sit there and watch as Julia tells Quentin that Penny died. He can only watch as no one cries or seems all that upset. Dean Fogg suggests that someone say a few words. Quentin tries and can’t even say Penny’s name correctly. Kady points out that no one really knew him, by Penny’s design. She follows this by swigging a drink and leaving the room. Leaving Penny with the very real feeling that he’s totally screwed.
Penny projects to the Library (or at least a branch of it) and finds total chaos. The place has been trashed. Penny finds a single volume on astral projection but he can’t pick it up. A trashy sort of homeless looking guy, Shep, runs in and sees the book. He yells at his friend Bodi who wants to take the book because its a soft one and they feel good on his tush (yep they are using the books as toilet paper). Bodi tells Shep that there’s fresh meat upstairs and infers that they previously ate a librarian. Penny follows them to find that the ‘fresh meat’ is Eliot, Fen and Fray. They’ve been walking for days, cold and hungry. Bodi and Shep share their food and Penny can’t warn them about what’s going on.
Penny projects back to the cottage where he finds Alice and Quentin talking. He thinks at first that Alice is talking about him but she’s actually talking about her father. Penny has to just sit there and listen as Alice and Quentin fight over whether magic should be turned back on (considering that if its not then there’s probably no way to bring Penny back to physical form). Quentin remembers that Eliot and Margo don’t know about Penny so Quentin sends a bunny. He follows the bunny to the Muntjack (“I miss all the cool shit”) and hears the bunny tell Margo the news. And finally gets some kind of grieving for his loss, even it was just Margo expressing that she expected them to sleep together at some point.
Penny goes back to the cottage and tries to talk to Kady, who totally can’t hear him. He watches helpless as Kady finds her drug stash and prepares to get high. He wanders downstairs to see Julia awakened by a fellow student who appears to be possessed. He warns her to ‘help her’ which sends Julia to Kady’s room where Kady has overdosed. Julia manages to use her tiny magic spark to save Kady and in the process encounters Hyman, the Pervert Ghost of Brakebills. Well not actually ghost. Like Penny, Hyman was a traveler who could astral project. He would practice it by projecting into girl’s rooms, showers etc. One day as a prank, someone moved his body and since he didn’t have real fingers he couldn’t cast a locator spell to find it and has been stuck in the astral plane for almost a century.
Penny has to watch as Hyman basically fanboys Quentin and Julia and watches them like it’s tv show. Quentin has found a possible location for the key by reading the Tale and the Fillory books, and it might be right on earth. Hyman follows them when they go to Fogg to try to get more information about the friend, Lance, that Rupert gave the key to. a friend who was a Brakesbill student. Their search is interrupted by a member of The Order who needs information about Penny’s death. Penny’s contract was for life and death and he hasn’t reported to the Underworld branch. The Order believes that Penny is on his way to becoming a ghost, like the Pulver children. To prevent this, they need to have his body consumed by a Corpse Eater so his soul will pass on. Penny is, no shock, not so cool with this notion. Kady isn’t too keen on it either, but she was never cool about the whole Librarian thing (which she viewed as Penny signing himself into slavery).
Penny finds Hyman watching Julia in the bath and threatens to ‘cock block’ him for eternity if he doesn’t help Penny find a way to get a message to the others. Hyman tells Penny that it’s not possible to push something from the outside, you have to ‘be the thing’, only he can’t really explain how to do that. After a lot of failed attempts and some rage, Penny finally does it. After his success, Penny has the thought to project back into his own body but Hyman warns him that if he does that, his astral self will die. Penny needs something that can talk and first tries to project into one of the magical bunnies. When that doesn’t work, he tracks down the Margolem. He manages to project into her but it doesn’t exactly work. Penny can’t clearly speak and he just ends up getting butt kicked. While Penny is trying to recover from said butt kicking, he overhears the others and Fogg talking about Lance and the key and how it’s most likely in the West Dorm. A dorm with a very vicious ghost. Hyman warns Penny that the ghost can hurt astral forms and Penny gets the idea that he can get the ghost to give Quentin and Julia a message. Lance is stuck in a loop of events including receiving the key from Rupert. In the end, Penny fails to get a message to the others but they do discover what happened to the key.
Penny decides to find out what Kady and Alice are up to. They’ve met with Harriet to try to figure out if they should go along with the Order or not. Harriet, who doesn’t trust the Order, suggests that they burn the body. It would trap Penny’s soul wherever it is and likely turn him into a ghost at some point but he would be free from his contract, which in Harriet’s eyes is the better outcome.
Quentin and Julia get a line on how to get to the key from Dean Fogg and Penny finds a glimmer of hope when he hears that the key will reveal hidden things. He thinks perhaps the key that Eliot has can do the same thing. But all that key does is create an illusion of the thing Eliot finds most terrifying — his father. So Penny goes back to tagging along with Quentin. Fogg takes Penny and Julia to Irene McAllister’s house (being the only living relative of Lance’s father, she’d be the most likely to have the key). Julia manages to slip away and use the house’s reserve of magic energy to create a locator spell. Julia does find the key but Penny has to leave before she does so she never sees him. Penny goes to Kady who is about to burn the body. Alice stops her, making a plea to Kady to let him pass on. Penny decides to make the decision himself and becomes the candle and sets his body on fire.
Penny returns to the cottage where Quentin and Julia find that the next chapter has appeared and the next key appears to be back in Fillory. Dean Fogg interrupts them to tell them that the school is being shut down. and then to really make things interesting, Eliot and family appear (having found a door and the key connected them to the cottage). Quentin shows Eliot the key and he notices Penny and says hello.