Attempt #3

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Quentin ran into the dank lecture hall and looked around frantically as Penny, Eliot, Alice and Julia followed in behind. No one had been to this part of the school, a secluded wing of the main building, since it had been closed off decades ago.

Quentin held up the parchment paper, then looked down at the floor. In the middle of the room was a faintly glowing pentagram made of delicate, inlaid mother of pearl. "This is it," he said.

"And what exactly are we looking for?" Alice asked, turning in circles, taking in the vastness of the abandoned space.

"A portal," Quentin replied.

Penny rolled his eyes and groaned. "Not another portal!"

Eliot scoffed, "Penny, there's always another portal."

According to the paper Quentin clutched in his sweaty hands--a loose-leaf page that had fallen out of the Fillory and Further: Book Six manuscript Penny had carelessly thrown away--this spot was where a permanent rift existed, a leak in the membrane that separated their world from the world of Fillory. It had lain dormant for years, but once The Beast had been summoned, he was now free to travel back and forth through it, when every ten days, the rift would grow from the size of a pea, to the size of a closet door, large enough for a body to pass through.

"This is our only chance," Alice exclaimed. "We have to conduct an old god-summoning. This fight has to be god versus beast."

Eliot leaned back against the creaky desk, sitting lonely in the cavernous room. "You realize in the history of Magicians, there have only been three old god-summonings, all of them ending in orgies of death...good guys included."

"Yeah," Penny piped up, "and do you really want to do this with our fifth being a complete and utter 'Newb'?" He crossed his arms and eyed Julia warily. "Sounds like a suicide pact to me."

"Too bad Margo's in Macau," Eliot sulked.

"Well, without Margo, Kady should've been our fifth," Penny lamented.

Quentin looked at Penny, pointedly. "Well, Kady's not here. Is she, Penny?"

Penny glared back at Quentin but didn't respond.

"Look!" Julia said, finally making her presence felt. "I can do this! I may not have the backing of your elite little, 'University of Magic,' but I can do this spell! I can call upon the same forces as you, dark or light."

"She's right," Quentin said. "This is our only option--our one and only chance to use what little leverage we have. The Beast doesn't know that we know this is where he's porting to next. We have to use everything at our disposal. And that means--simply put--we need Julia, whether you like it or not." He directed this last comment at Penny, specifically.

Quentin gave Julia a quick side glance and offered her the tiniest hint of a smile. It was an odd thing to do in the midst of such imminent danger, but he couldn't help himself. Julia caught his gaze and returned the smile, then quickly looked away. It was the first time Quentin had, in any way, publically endorsed Julia's use of magic since she got herself kicked out of Brakebills and getting out of rehab. And for a moment--just the briefest of moments--they understood each other again, perfectly, utterly, completely.

Penny threw his head back and released a heavy sigh. "Fine! What do we have to do?"

Quentin double-checked the manuscript page. "It says we have to begin the Veteris Deus invocation holding hands, and we have to chant it in perfect unison. By the second stanza, we need to begin the spellwork, and by the third, the old god should appear. But, guys," he looked up, "the more out of sync we get, the weaker the god we call upon, so we have to get this right." Quentin placed the manuscript page back on the desk and held his hands up at his sides. "Okay, let's begin."

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