The Books of Magic: Orientation Day, Chapter 2: A Tour of Grimoire Island

by CSyphrett, Martin Maenza and Doc Quantum

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The teachers led their respective groups, weaving through the hallways of Grimoire Academy. The tour promised to be a magical journey in itself, with Baron Weirwulf sharing eerie tales of the island’s history, Mr. Bones adding his ghostly humor, and Miss Eve captivating them with the mysterious allure of her stories.

Abby Cable blended into the group led by the enigmatic Eve as they exited the auditorium. As they walked, Abby overheard the lively chatter among the students. Most of them were familiar with the academy, so they paid little attention to Eve’s words. However, the first-years strained to catch every bit of information amidst the buzzing of voices.

She overheard one red-haired girl, Kate, whisper to her new classmates with an Australian accent, “I can’t believe we’re actually here! This place is incredible.”

“I know, right?” replied a brunette girl named Bree, her eyes wide with excitement. “I’ve heard so many stories about Grimoire Academy. It’s like a dream come true.”

Kate nodded, her gaze fixed on Miss Eve as she spoke. “I wonder what secrets this place holds,” she mused. “There’s something about her, something mysterious.”

Timothy Hunter, who had been eavesdropping on their conversation, couldn’t help but join in. “You’re talking about Miss Eve, aren’t you? She’s captivating, isn’t she?”

The girls turned to look at him, curiosity twinkling in their eyes. Bree smiled softly. “Yes, there’s definitely something enchanting about her. And did you see that raven she’s got with her? I heard she calls him Edgar Allen.”

Tim raised an eyebrow. “After Edgar Allen Poe? He wrote ‘The Raven.’ I guess that fits, even if it’s a bit strange.”

Bree chuckled. “Well, Miss Eve is anything but ordinary.”

The students laughed, their voices blending with the magical hum of the academy. As they continued their tour, Tim couldn’t help but feel a sense of wonder. It was as if the very walls of Grimoire Academy were alive with ancient knowledge and hidden mysteries.

Abby Cable found herself drawn into the tour, her curiosity piqued with every step. She glanced at Adam, the rugged groundskeeper who had been so kind to her earlier. She couldn’t help but notice that Adam Frankenstein seemed a bit uncomfortable around her. It wasn’t because of his peculiar appearance, which Abby found rather intriguing and not at all off-putting. She wanted to assure him of this, but she knew it would be construed as an insult, potentially pushing him away. Abby understood the struggles Alec had faced after transforming into the Swamp Thing, and she empathized with how challenging it must be for Adam to be surrounded by ordinary-looking people. She genuinely liked him and hoped they could become friends, as she had a feeling she could use all the friends she could get at this school.

Abby sidled up to him, her voice barely above a whisper. “So, you’ve been here a while, right? What can you tell me about Grimoire Academy?”

Adam looked surprised at her sudden interest, but a smile tugged at his lips. “Well,” he began, the words coming slowly, “this place has a history, that’s for sure. Legends say that hidden within these walls are powerful artifacts and ancient spells.”

Abby bit her lip, her mind buzzing with questions. She wanted to know more, to unravel the mysteries that Grimoire Academy held. As the tour continued, Abby couldn’t help but soak in every detail, every story that Miss Eve shared.

“The student dormitories, or halls of residence as we refer to them, are organized based on different criteria,” Eve explained, her voice carrying over the noise. “While most of you have been placed in halls with students from your own worlds, a select few have been chosen for multi-Earth halls, where you’ll have the opportunity to interact with students from Earths with vastly different histories. Now, if our older students would kindly quiet down, I’ll explain how the halls of residence work to our first-years.” The alluring teacher scanned the crowd until a hush finally fell, and she continued.

“Our largest and most ancient hall is Nommo Hall,” Eve began her explanation. “Named after one of our esteemed founding fathers, Nommo Hall predates the establishment of Grimoire Academy by centuries. (*) It was initially established in ancient Persia on Earth-Aleph, also known as Earth-One, nearly two and a half millennia ago.” She paused, allowing the weight of this information to sink in. “Yes, on my Earth, schools dedicated to the esoteric arts have always existed. The majority of Nommo Hall’s student body consists of Homo Magi, a race of magically gifted humans. Needless to say, this hall’s curriculum revolves around the study of magic more than any other. Fascinatingly, some of these Homo Magi students don’t even reside on the Earth we know but hail from a different dimension called Gemworld. And there are others who come from entirely different locations. Nommo Hall uniquely offers specialized classes for magically gifted individuals and houses a library that contains copies of every known book of magic.”

[(*) Editor’s note: Nommo is the ancient name of Doctor Mist, leader of the Global Guardians.]

Tim Hunter’s imagination began to soar as he envisioned the secrets held within Nommo Hall’s extensive library. The allure of learning amongst beings with extraordinary abilities further ignited his excitement for his journey at Grimoire Academy.

Miss Eve took the lead, guiding them through the bustling campus. Her voice carried a sense of authority and knowledge as she began to unveil the secrets of Grimoire Academy. “Maugris Hall,” she exclaimed, a spark of excitement in her eyes, “it holds a special place in our hearts. Named after the legendary enchanter from Charlemagne’s court, also known as Malagigi, it draws in students primarily from Earth-Bet and Earth-Two. (*) It is our second-largest hall of residence on the island and has a long history of its own, dating from the twelfth century, A.D.”

[(*) Editor’s note: Malagigi first appeared in “The Devil Takes a Bride,” Arak, Son of Thunder #2 (October, 1981).]

Tim’s eyes widened, his curiosity piqued. He had only just started to comprehend the vastness of the multiverse that Grimoire Academy encompassed.

“But Maugris Hall isn’t the only dwelling for our students,” Miss Eve continued, her voice carrying a melodious tone. “Our third-largest dormitory is Zatara Hall, founded in the 1950s, welcomes students from various worlds, with a majority coming from Earth-Aleph and Earth-Bet. And let’s not forget our final three halls, each somewhat smaller than the first three, which comprise the student bodies from Earths Dalet, Samekh, and Qoph — known in modern terms as Earths Four, S, and X, respectively. Although the individual halls are known by the names Dalet Hall, Samekh Hall, and Qoph Hall, they are actually contained in the same building, and they are collectively referred to as Merlin Hall after the famous magician known to all of the Earths. Thus Grimoire Academy comprises four well-respected and long-lived halls — Nommo, Maugris, Zatara, and Merlin. Please make yourself well-acquainted with the location of your halls and with the teachers in charge of them. They will, in turn, tell you more about the various histories and traditions associated with each hall.”

Tim, glancing at his surroundings, noted the impressive architecture of Merlin Hall that could distinctly be seen as a collection of the three smaller halls within one magnificent building. It was a testament to the rich tapestry of magic woven within the academy.

One of the first-year girls he had spoken with earlier, her red hair falling in waves around her face, looked anxious as she obviously couldn’t contain her curiosity any longer. With a hand raised timidly, she spoke up in her distinct Australian accent. “I have a question, Miss Eve,” said Kate, her voice trembling slightly. “How will we know which hall we’re meant to live in? I think I belong in Maugris Hall, but I’m not entirely sure.”

Miss Eve’s eyes sparkled with understanding as she turned toward the worried girl. “Worry not, Kate,” she assured her, the warmth in her voice putting the girl at ease, even as Kate was astonished that Miss Eve already knew her name. “This afternoon, all of you will receive information regarding which hall you belong in. It’s all part of the journey that awaits you.”

Timothy Hunter leaned against the back wall of the group, trying his best to blend in with his new classmates. His heart pounded with nervous anticipation as he contemplated his fate. Would he be assigned to Nommo Hall, where the focus was on magic, or would he end up in Zatara Hall? The outcome would determine whether he would be able to stay with his newfound friend, Rick.

A wave of relief washed over Timothy as he recalled their earlier conversation. Rick had told him that his Superman was old and had gray hair, completely different from the Superman Timothy knew from his own world. Since Timothy came from Earth-Aleph and Rick came from Earth-Bet, there was a strong chance they could both be placed in Zatara Hall, where they could continue their friendship. Timothy desperately hoped for that outcome, as he had always struggled to make friends.

Yet, there was another possibility Timothy had to consider. Constantine and Mister E had told him that he had the gift of magic. If that were true, he might find himself assigned to Nommo Hall, where the study of magic was more intensive. It occurred to him that this could mean he would be surrounded by students who had been immersed in the world of sorcery since birth. Such a scenario left him feeling uncertain. Would he be able to fit in with those who had been brought up to be sorcerers, while he was just beginning to discover his own powers?

Timothy clenched his fingers tightly together, crossing them in desperate hope for the best outcome. The future felt uncertain, and he couldn’t help but wish for a place where he would belong. He wanted to find his tribe, to make connections and forge meaningful friendships. He yearned for acceptance and a sense of belonging.

As the group made their way toward the administration building, Timothy remained near the back, deliberately keeping a low profile. He observed his fellow students with a mixture of curiosity and trepidation. Mr. Gallowglass’ solemn address during the assembly had emphasized the gravity of the school’s purpose. It was clear that the administrators took their responsibilities seriously, and Timothy understood the importance of approaching this magical journey with caution.

Magic academies — or whatever we’re supposed to call them — are a rare find, Timothy mused to himself. Nommo Hall has been around for thousands of years. This place truly is special, and if I want to succeed, I need to stay out of trouble and apply myself.

Soon, the group reached the administration building, its classrooms standing proudly on the second and third floors. Miss Eve stepped forward with an air of confidence, her voice dripping with a sultriness that caught Timothy’s attention.

“Welcome, students,” she purred, her eyes sparkling mischievously. “Many of your classes will be held within these hallowed halls.” Eve’s words carried a hint of mystery and allure. “And do keep in mind that our esteemed faculty members have offices nearby. Should you require any additional guidance or tutelage, they’ll be more than willing to provide one-on-one instruction.” A playful smile danced on her lips as her gaze lingered on one of the older boys, who blushed under her inviting gaze.

Timothy couldn’t help but be captivated by Eve’s charismatic presence. It was clear she enjoyed the harmless teasing of the young lads, a welcome distraction from the weight of their studies. The air crackled with potential, and he couldn’t wait to dive into whatever awaited him within the walls of Nommo Hall or, with a little bit of luck, Zatara Hall. With every passing moment, his excitement grew, along with his apprehension over the unknown.

Eve turned to Abby, her eyes lighting up with excitement. “Mrs. Cable, your office is over there, by the way,” she said, pointing toward a closed door adorned with a freshly painted name plate. The gold lettering gleamed under the soft light, casting an air of importance over the room.

Abby felt a sudden surge of panic ripple through her, making her wonder if she was truly ready for this new role. But she shook her head, determined to quell any doubts that threatened to hold her back. Of course she was ready for this.

As Abby turned away from the door, her gaze fell upon a young boy with a pair of glasses that seemed to be slipping down his nose. She realized that it was high time she started acting like a member of the faculty. “Are you with our group?” she asked, her voice laced with warmth and curiosity.

The brown-haired boy shifted uncomfortably on his feet before nodding hesitantly. “Yes… yes, I am,” he replied.

Abby flashed him a friendly smile. “What’s your name?” she inquired, her eyes twinkling with genuine interest.

“Tim Hunter,” the boy answered, his voice barely above a whisper.

Abby extended her hand in greeting, her eyes sparkling with a mischievous glint. “Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Tim Hunter. I’m Mrs. Abby Cable, and I’ll be teaching botanical studies. I’m also new here, just like you. Maybe we can help each other acclimate, eh?” she said, winking playfully at him.

A hesitant smile tugged at Tim’s lips. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied softly, finally reciprocating the gesture.

Abby’s heart warmed at the sight of Tim’s smile. She was glad to have made another new friend. However, as she glanced around, she realized that the two of them were standing alone. “Come on, Tim,” she said, taking his twelve-year-old hand in hers. “We had better hurry up and join the others before Miss Eve notices we’re gone.” Together, they rejoined the group just outside the gymnasium on the first floor.

Eve continued with the tour, her voice filled with enthusiasm. “And next to the boy’s locker room is Mr. Peril’s office,” she explained. “Over there, on that side near the girl’s lockers, is the office for Mrs. Peel. These two are responsible for overseeing your physical education, among other things. Mr. Peril and Miss Psychic also teach classes in investigation and deduction, which will come in handy if you ever need to debunk a phony medium or a fake haunting.” With that, Eve led the group outside to continue their walking tour.

As they strolled, Abby kept up her friendly banter with Tim. “So, Tim, what brings you to Grimoire Academy? Any hidden talents or magical secrets up your sleeve?” she asked, her eyes filled with playful curiosity.

Tim chuckled nervously, running a hand through his unruly hair. “Well, I’ve been told I have the gift. Still figuring out what that really means, though,” he confessed.

Abby’s grin widened, a spark of excitement dancing in her eyes. “A fellow mystery unraveler, then! You’ll fit right in. Just keep an eye out for the unexpected, Tim. In this place, the unexpected tends to be the norm, or so I’ve heard,” she advised him, her voice carrying a note of wisdom earned through experience.

Tim nodded, grateful for Abby’s words of encouragement. “Thanks, Mrs. Cable. I’ll keep that in mind,” he replied, a newfound determination taking root within him.

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