A fictional tale led them to magic once, perhaps it can happen again . . .
We left our intrepid heroes in post Death of a God chaos. Penny was dying of ‘magical cancer’ and contracted to work for The Library for the rest of his life. Alice was again human but facing the consequences of her niffin actions. The Plumber, seemingly acting under orders from the Old Gods, had turned off magic. The Fairies had invaded Fillory. Oh and after two months of nothing, Julia had rediscovered a tiny and inexplicable spark of magic.
So a few weeks have gone by and Quentin and Julia are working in the labs at Brakebills, trying to figure out how to do more magic with Julia’s tiny bit of power. Unfortunately not only can they not do any kind of real magic, they have no idea how she even has the power. Julia is going for the notion that it is just a random fluke but Quentin refuses to settle for that sort of answer.
Penny has been employed to hunt down and bring back overdue books. Along the way he stumbles into a magic conspiracy theorist, who tells Penny that magical creatures still have power because it’s part of their DNA. (Which raises a curious question when it turns out that Penny can still travel. If some of those creatures look like everyone else but ‘are not quite human’, what does that mean for Penny. Is it possible he has a little something something in his blood by birth. Or is this just a really bizarre side effect of his cancer that he’s been able to keep his traveling magic. Also speaking of said cancer, is it still alive or did it disappear with all other magic and he’s just suffering from a massive turd of damage caused by the very quick acting spell.) Penny snatches the book he was after and tries to pay a visit to Kady, who’s working at a greasy spoon and trying to stay sober. She insists that Penny go back to the Library, which is his only sanctuary since it’s a place where time stands still. He reluctantly does and gets admonished for being out too long by the Librarian who admits that she, in fact no one, wants Penny to die.
Eliot and Margo are having quite a bad time in Fillory. Without magic, the kingdom is falling into utter poverty. Fen has basically lost her mind over the lost of her daughter. And the Fairies are enjoying a game of roaming the castle and making things very difficult for the High King and Queen. The Fairy Queen in particular enjoys making Margo do petty errands, and literally playing with Margo’s lost eye like it’s a favorite marble.
All in all Penny says it best when he tells The Librarian that out there is ‘depressing.’ Even for Headmaster Henry who is faced with the very real possibility that without magic the school is without purpose and will be completely shut down. A visiting member of the Board of Directors suggests to Henry that instead of bothering with teaching the students the ideas of how to perform magic, he should be tasking them with figuring out how to fix the situation. Henry doesn’t want to do this, although he won’t stop any students that choose to on their own.
Quentin has come up with a plan to try to connect with a lower level god who can help them contact the Old Gods and beg for forgiveness so they might return magic. Julia thinks he’s somewhat out of his mind but agrees to help him. But they have no idea how to find a god. Well until Josh the generally well baked walks in. He overhears their talking and offers his assistance. He knows a god. And by knows, he follows the god on Facebook. Bacchus to be exact, which makes total sense given that Big B is basically the God of getting drunk, stoned and anything else you can think of and Josh is a pothead. Josh takes them to a party that Bacchus has posted he’s going to attend and after several false starts and getting ready wasted Quentin finally gets Bacchus to talk. Only to find out that the only help Bacchus could give is to look for Promenthus, who’s been dead for ages.
Kady finds herself in possession of a spell that will save Penny, but not without magic. A state that is even more depressing but leaves her ripe for someone to come asking her to rejoin the magical Scooby Gang (so we know someone will eventually).
Eliot and Margo discover that the Fairy Queen knows every move they make and everything they say even when they go to areas of the castle where the Fairies can’t go (due to some kind of moss or fungus or such that the Fairies are allergic to). Eventually they figure out that the Fairy Queen enchanted Margo’s eyes so the one The Queen plucked as payment to return to Filliory acts as a spy. Explains how they turned up literally seconds after Eliot and Margo discovered magic was totally off line. It also leads to one of the most Eliot/Margo moments the show has ever has.
After said consultation, Eliot decides to go on a little royal hunt for The White Lady, hoping to catch her and use his wish to have her banish the Fairies. But instead he stumbles on her brother, The Great Cock of the Darkling Woods, who actually offers him help in restoring magic. TGC offers to send Eliot on a quest. Eliot and his friends. Because no one can fulfill the quest alone. The first step is for Eliot to find a way to contact Quentin and have him look for a book that is on Earth. Eliot realizes that bunnies can be used as messengers between worlds and he sends a bunny to Quentin. Quentin and Julia find the book: the Tales of the Seven Keys. And from the book they believe the first key is in Fillory, on an island. And Fen knows of a boat.
Oh and then there’s Alice. Alice who left school under the guise of not wanting to stick around and talk about the theory of magic. But really she’s out hunting information on the Lamprey that’s hunting for her. Her search leads her to a vampire who exchanges a late night snack for knowledge of an early detection alarm. After he leaves, Alice chills in a diner with a plate of bacon.