The response to Penny's "death" is not quite what he expected, not even from himself. Without even the powers of a ghost, Penny is forced team up with a long lingering astral projection named Hyman to save himself and his body. Armed with the knowledge of Hyman's (failed) attempts to reach the living, Penny puts his best foot forward in getting everyone's attention. Each effort, from Alice to Quentin and Margo to Eliot, ends with mixed results, leaving Penny frustrated and desperate. Kady is also struggling with Penny's death as she's forced to decide what should happen to his body.
Meanwhile, Margo is trapped on the royal boat patiently plotting how to get rid of the Fairy Queen while trying to come to grips with the fact that Eliot might be dead. Her High King, on the other hand, is stuck in the Neitherlands after walking through a magical portal door triggered by one of the seven keys. As they roam about, he and his family must survive a hungry group of cannibals running low on food. Back at Brakebills, Julia and Quentin enlist Dean Fogg to assist them with finding the next key. Their efforts take them to a buried part of the university campus and a family of old donors, revealing a series of deeply buried secrets.