The Books of Magic: Orientation Day, Chapter 3: The Clock Tower

by CSyphrett, Martin Maenza and Doc Quantum

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As the group followed Miss Eve through the enchanting gardens, Abby Cable couldn’t help but take in the sights and sounds around her. The natural areas reminded her of her adopted home — the familiar swamp near Houma. She glanced around, a hint of curiosity shining in her expressive blue eyes.

“Isn’t it strange that we can’t see the rest of the island from here?” Abby mused aloud, her voice barely above a whisper. “I mean, the bog seems so small, but shouldn’t we be able to see what’s beyond it?”

“Yeah, that’s really odd,” agreed Tim Hunter.

Rose Psychic, the woman designated to tutor the students in meditation and other mystical practices, walked beside Abby, her serene presence radiating tranquility. Abby noted the grass strip and concrete benches set aside for Rose’s sessions.

“Rose, do you prefer tutoring in natural settings?” Abby inquired, unable to contain her curiosity. “I’ve always felt more at ease away from the chaos of the city myself.”

Rose turned to Abby, her deep blue eyes twinkling with introspection. “Indeed, Abby,” Rose replied. “There is something inherently calming about being surrounded by nature. It allows us to connect with our inner selves and find balance within.”

Eve, their tour guide, led the group away from the natural areas and toward the beach. Abby’s eyes widened at the sight of the majestic bungalows perched atop a cliff, overlooking the sparkling strip of sand.

“We teachers have our own retreats up there,” Eve explained, her voice carrying a hint of longing. “It’s a sanctuary where we can unwind after long days of lectures.”

Abby followed the group, her gaze falling upon a stone boat nestled against the cliff next to a pier that extended into the crystal-clear waters.

“Come this way,” Eve beckoned, leading them up a set of stone steps that wound up the cliffside. But instead of heading toward the bungalows, their guide directed them left, toward a grand stone structure that loomed before them.

Eve spread her arms wide, gesturing at the towering building. “Behold,” she announced, her voice filled with a mix of reverence and mystery. “The Clock Tower with its famous Clock Room, our gateway to all time and space.”

A wave of hushed whispers swept through the crowd, the students in awe of the magnificent structure that stood before them. Abby’s eyes were drawn to the four clock faces adorning the tower, their numbers etched into the surface, yet conspicuously lacking any hands.

Timothy let out a chuckle, his mischievous grin widening. “Guess I can’t rely on those clocks to avoid being late to class,” he remarked, a twinkle of mischief dancing in his bright green eyes.

Abby, standing beside him, nodded in agreement, a smile tugging at the corners of her lips.

Eve led the students to the doorway of the stone tower with a graceful stride, her long black dress swishing behind her. Her eyes sparkled with excitement, yet a hint of caution flickered within their depths. Within, the Clock Tower sprawled with boundless wonder. To one side was the Map House with its geography of worlds beyond wonder, while on the other were shelves, brimming with ancient tomes, that stretched up to the second floor. The students craned their necks, their eyes widening as they tried to fathom the endless expanse of knowledge before them. A spiral staircase, crafted from aged wood and glistening steel, wound through the center of the tower, leading to mysterious heights above. The air inside seemed thick with magic, and the atmosphere carried a sense of reverence.

Timothy couldn’t help but stare in awe. “How high does it go, I wonder?” he whispered, his question echoing throughout the chamber.

Eve paused at the foot of the spiraling staircase, her voice gentle but firm, then turned to them with a solemn yet inviting expressiom. “I want you all to understand something before we embark on this exploration,” she began, her voice carrying a weight of importance. “Inside the Clock Tower and the sacred Clock Room, we must exercise utmost caution. Touching anything within is strictly forbidden. No map must be disturbed, no clock manipulated, and no book opened.” She regarded her charges calmly for a moment. “Is this understood?”

“Yes, ma’am,” said the students with a bit of muttering and slowness.

“Very good, then!” Eve said, about to proceed to lead her charges up the staircase.

However, as the group assembled at the foot of the staircase, prepared to follow her up, a man suddenly appeared before them as if conjured out of thin air. His presence was eerie and enigmatic, captivating the attention of the assembled students. The man, with a frown etched upon his face, possessed a sharp and distinguished appearance. His thin form showcased a prominent hooked nose, while bushy white brows drew closer, accentuating a wide, bald spot partially concealed by thinning hair. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” he asked in a somewhat threatening tone.

Eve, attempting to ease the tension that engulfed the group, confronted the grim tower keeper with a warm smile and greeted him cordially. “It’s the Orientation Day tour, Mr. Belmont,” she reminded him.

An exasperated sigh escaped Mr. Belmont’s lips, his disdain for Orientation Day evident in the depths of his weary gaze. His response, dripping with vexation, betrayed his annoyance at the intrusion of the students. “Oh, bother,” he grumbled, casting a disapproving glare upon the eager faces that stared back at him.

However, Kate raised her hand once more, her expression a mixture of wonder and bewilderment. “Excuse me, Miss Eve,” she began tentatively, her voice filled with innocent curiosity. “But what is all this stuff for?” Every eye in the group turned expectantly toward the enigmatic Mr. Belmont.

Eve, ever the diplomat, seized the opportunity to engage the students, her voice laced with enthusiasm, matching her endeavours to brighten their spirits. “Good question, Kate,” she nodded approvingly, acknowledging the girl’s inquisitive nature. “Mr. Belmont, would you care to enlighten us?”

Uttering another weary sigh, Mr. Belmont mustered his patience, his piercing eyes settling upon a nearby cabinet tucked away in the shadows of the room. “The card index is over there,” he began, gesturing toward the cabinet with a frail hand, “to look up information. It serves as an extensive catalog of history.” Unfortunately, the students did not appear overly enthralled by the prospect, much to Mr. Belmont’s chagrin.

Unperturbed by their lack of enthusiasm, Mr. Belmont pressed on. “Perhaps,” he mused, his voice inflected with a glimmer of hope, “the breathtaking view from the Clock Room at the top of the tower might ignite a spark of excitement within you all.” With determined steps, he began ascending the towering staircase, the students cautiously following in his wake. As they climbed higher and higher, the spiraling height did not faze the keeper of the Clock Tower, for this towering structure had been his responsibility for numerous years.

As the group ascended the spiral staircase, they marveled at the dizzying height they soon reached. Each step seemed to bring them closer to the heavens, and the air grew thinner, filled with a sense of enchantment. Timothy couldn’t help but reach out and brush his fingers along the polished railings, his heart fluttering with anticipation.

Finally, they reached the Clock Room on the third floor at the pinnacle of the tower, where the group gathered closely, their eyes fixated on the spectacle before them. The once opaque clock faces had miraculously become transparent, enabling all to take in the mesmerizing expanse that stretched as far as the eye could see. Grimoire Island, bathed in its ethereal beauty, sprawled out majestically in every conceivable direction.

“Welcome, my dear students, to the very heart of Grimoire Academy,” Eve declared, her voice carried by an ethereal hush. Belmont merely crossed his arms in evident disapproval of the female teacher’s display of theatricality.

Abby noted the unmistakable sights that lay before her. The main building stood tall and unyielding, its presence dominating the landscape, while she spied the nearby Bestiary fence, a barrier of wonder that cradled a multitude of mythical creatures. In the distance, she caught a glimpse of Baron Weirwulf’s group, emerging from the enclosure and embarking on a path leading directly toward the tower.

As the group finally descended the intricately carved staircase, Joshua Cantrell couldn’t help but let his curiosity get the better of him. His hazel eyes scanned the shelves, searching for something intriguing. It was then that a book caught his attention; its title, Jurassic for Beginners, beckoned to him. With a mischievous grin, he snatched it from its place and flipped it open, only to find himself transported to a mesmerizing world.

The clock faces, usually inert and motionless, morphed before everyone’s eyes. The inner surface revealed a breathtaking spectacle — a blonde man dressed in vibrant green, racing through a lush, untamed jungle while a fearsome dinosaur pursued him relentlessly. A chorus of gasps, “ooohs,” and “aaahs” filled the air.

Startled by Joshua’s rebellious act, Mr. Belmont, their stern and unforgiving guide, swiftly turned his attention toward the audacious student. “What do you think you are doing, young man?” he demanded as he seized the book from Joshua’s hands without hesitation. In an instant, the cover snapped shut, like a trap capturing its prey.

Eve, thinking quickly, stepped gracefully in between Mr. Belmont and Joshua, her voice as smooth as silk. “I believe we have seen enough,” she said, a hint of authority lacing her words. “Come along, students. It’s high time we explore the magnificent Bestiary.”

Despite her calm demeanor, Mr. Belmont’s ire smoldered under the surface. Grabbing Joshua’s ear with whip-like speed, he scolded the boy with a menacing tone. “Let this be a warning, young man,” he hissed. “I have my eye firmly fixed on you. Troublemakers are not welcome in my tower. Understand?”

Joshua’s face flushed with embarrassment as he shuffled away, desperate to evade any further punishment. He was momentarily lost in his thoughts when he accidentally collided with Tim Hunter. Still reeling from the humiliating experience, Joshua couldn’t resist taking out his frustration on the poor first-year student. “What are you looking at, Four-Eyes?”

Tim, unfazed by the mockery, merely glanced at Joshua before silently joining the rest of the group.

The students shuffled along, whispers and giggles still echoing from the magical spectacle they had witnessed. As they exited the tower, Bree couldn’t help but sneak a peek at the mysterious Mr. Belmont. “What’s his deal, do you think?” she whispered to Tim, who was walking beside her.

Tim shrugged. “Probably just a grumpy guardian of the tower’s secrets. Maybe he’s been watching over those dusty shelves for centuries.”

Bree giggled. “Well, he certainly has the ‘wise old wizard’ look down. I bet there’s more to him than meets the eye.”

On the path between the Bestiary and the Clock Tower, Eve and Baron Weirwulf’s groups crossed each other’s paths. Sensing something amiss, Eve leaned in closer to the tall, hairy man’s ear, her voice barely a whisper. “Just a heads up, Baron,” she began, her voice tinged with concern. “Belmont’s not in one of his better moods today.”

Baron Weirwulf, a figure of mystique and enigma, nodded appreciatively. His deep voice resonated with authority as he responded, “Thank you for the warning, Miss Eve. Your vigilance is commendable.” With a regal bearing, he led his group toward the Memorial Park that Abby had discovered earlier that day during her explorations.

Eve, assuming her role as the group’s leader, beckoned for everyone to follow her. “This way, students,” she urged, her voice imbued with warmth and determination. Leading them with confidence, their destination was the private wildlife enclosure.

As the door closed behind Abby, her eyes widened with astonishment. She had expected a menagerie of exotic creatures, but what lay before her surpassed all expectations. The enclosure teemed with beasts of myth and legend, each more extraordinary than the last. She shared a knowing glance with the students, the awestruck expressions mirrored on their faces.

Within the Bestiary, a place of enchantment where fantastical creatures roamed, birds of every shape and size soared through the air. The majestic creatures filled the sky, their vibrant feathers glinting in the sunlight. Abby, Eve, and the group found themselves surrounded by huge enclosures that kept the earthbound species separate from those able to soar above. It was a magical sight, one that overwhelmed the senses with wondrous sights and sounds.

As the group stood in awe, their eyes scanning the fantastical creatures, Abby gently nudged Tim and Josh, encouraging them to continue along the path that wound through the zoo.

However, a certain black horse stood apart from the rest, its stillness captivating Abby’s attention. She glanced at Tim, who stood by her side, and couldn’t help but comment, “Beautiful, isn’t she?”

Tim nodded, his eyes filled with wonder.

“I’ve been around horses,” Josh said with a bit of pride in his voice. “Wonder what makes that one so special?”

Before Abby could respond, the horse’s head turned, its eyes filled with a fiery spark as it locked gazes with the children and their teacher. Abby’s instincts told her to run, to flee from this intense gaze, but she forced herself to remain calm. Urging Tim and Josh forward, she quickened her pace, trying her best to forget the unsettling encounter as they left the Bestiary and its private zoo behind.

As the group strolled through Memorial Park, they were met with the sight of seven statues standing in solemn stillness. These sculptures exuded a sense of reverence that affected all who crossed their path. No ordinary recreational space, the park was a sacred sanctuary where memories intertwined. Renowned for its seclusion, this tranquil place held the esteemed title of being the most peaceful area on the entire island. In the presence of these statues, visitors found themselves enveloped in a silence so profound, it felt as if the outside world ceased to exist.

From there, they embarked toward the stadium, where the bustling preparations for the various school sports were taking place. Josh’s heart skipped a beat as she watched the crew setting up a soccer field on the rectangular grass. Large net goals lay folded on the ground at each end, their sheer size a testament to the excitement that was about to unfold. “Can’t wait to get back on that field,” Josh remarked.

Tim’s eyes also lit up with anticipation, but for a different reason. He enjoyed watching football matches at home, playing the sport was not his forte. But maybe that will change, he considered.

As Miss Eve explained the sporting event, the competition between the four main halls of residence, Abby couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride for her students. However, she also noted that it was mostly older students who made up the teams, though promising first-years were still welcome to try out. It was a chance for the younger students to prove themselves.

Eve led the group across the field, reaching the other side where a small canyon lay in wait. The sound of rushing water echoed through the air, drawing their attention to the river that flowed through the canyon, its sparkling surface captivating their gaze. “Hopefully, come October, all of you will be able to navigate these waters as part of your year-end exams,” Eve explained, her voice filled with both excitement and caution.

Alfred Twitchell, a boy with nervous energy, couldn’t help but voice his concerns. Fidgeting with his tie, he expressed his apprehension. “It looks rather dangerous to me.”

Eve nodded, understanding his unease. “Yes, it can be dangerous indeed — for those who do not pay attention in class,” she reassured him, her voice carrying a sense of stern authority. “But fear not, we will prepare you well. Now, I believe it’s time for a little nourishment. Let’s head back to the school building and make our way to the cafeteria.”

With renewed energy and appetites growing, the group retraced their steps, their aimed destination — the distant administration building — beckoning them forward.

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