The Books of Magic: The Mysterious Student, Chapter 2: Devin Burgess

by Christine Nightstar

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Timothy Hunter lay in his bed, restlessly tossing and turning as adrenaline coursed through his veins. The scare he’d had outside Zatara Hall had left him unable to find solace in sleep. Despite the darkness enveloping his room, he continued to search for a comfortable position, punching and fluffing his pillow in frustration. Restless, he got up and wandered through the dimly lit dormitory to the bathroom, hoping to tire himself out. Yet, as he returned to bed, his efforts proved fruitless as his desire for slumber remained unfulfilled.

As the morning bells echoed through the halls, their vibrations penetrating every corner of the dormitories, Tim groggily put on his glasses and glanced out the window to see the first light of dawn. Morning had arrived, catching him off guard, as he had only just managed to collapse into a deep sleep from complete exhaustion.

Just then, Rick Billings burst into the dormitory, fully dressed and exuding an infuriating amount of energy. “Come on, Tim! We don’t want to miss breakfast,” Rick exclaimed, blissfully unaware of Tim’s sleep-deprived state. How could anyone be so cheery and energetic when Tim had barely slept? It was positively maddening.

Dragging himself out of bed, Tim shot his friend a withering glare that, if he possessed the power of the headmaster, could have caused considerable harm. Why couldn’t Rick simply leave and allow Tim to steal a few precious minutes of sleep before facing the day?

“I’ll join you in a little while,” Tim muttered, his voice carrying a quiet but clearly irritable tone. “Just save me a glass of orange juice, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure thing, Tim. I’ll wait for you at the cafeteria,” Rick replied cheerfully.


By the time Tim finally made his way to the cafeteria, breakfast was nearly over, leaving only a meager selection of food. However, his lack of appetite mattered little to him. He grabbed a couple of cold slices of toast and an apple, barely nibbling on them as he sipped the glass of orange juice Rick had kindly saved for him.

“Are you all right, Tim?” Patsy Ambrose inquired, concern etched on her face as she observed Tim’s lackluster eating.

“Just had trouble falling asleep last night,” Tim muttered in response, exhaustion evident in his voice.

“No wonder you have those dark circles under your eyes,” Patsy sympathized.

Curiosity piqued, Rick turned to his friend, concern shining in his eyes. “Something bothering you, Tim?”

With a heavy sigh, Tim began recounting the peculiar events that had consumed his thoughts. “Yesterday, I kept catching glimpses of a figure dressed in black. I tried to show you, Rick, but it kept vanishing before your eyes. And last night, as I made my way to the dorms, I stumbled upon an envelope. It was made of an unfamiliar parchment, adorned with peculiar drawings and notes about me. Although the writing was in a language I cannot recall ever seeing, I could still read it effortlessly. After all that, I couldn’t sleep a wink, and I still can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching me, even now.”

“Creepy!” Rick and Patsy exclaimed simultaneously, their unease echoing Tim’s own apprehension.


Tim’s head throbbed as he trudged through his first two classes, Occult History and Ancient Languages. The sheer amount of information made him feel like his brain might explode. He wondered if it was even legal to subject someone to such mental torture so early in the morning. And to make matters worse, the teachers he had were relentless taskmasters. Baron Weirwulf was even more demanding than when Tim had him for history last year, and Miss Eve forced the students to review everything from their first-year language class.

Finally, just before lunch, it was time for the Arcane Lore class taught by the new teacher, Mr. Drake. The moment Tim entered the classroom, he couldn’t help but notice how different Mr. Drake was dressed compared to the other teachers. Instead of typical formal attire, he sported a plaid button-down shirt and dark blue jeans. Tim found it rather refreshing.

“Hello, everyone,” Mr. Drake greeted as the students settled into their seats. “My name is Christopher Drake, in case you missed it last night. I hold doctorates from Arkham University in Archaeology, Occult Lore, and Demonology. However, you don’t have to call me ‘Dr. Drake.’ Mr. Drake or just sir will do. Any questions?” Several hands immediately shot up. “And please, introduce yourself before you ask your question.”

Tim’s hand was just one of many in the air, so he was surprised when Mr. Drake called on him, of all people. “Tim Hunter, second-year, sir. So, what exactly are we going to be studying in this class?” he asked. “I read the description, but I’m not entirely sure what it means.”

Mr. Drake smiled at Tim’s curiosity. “Excellent question, Mr. Hunter,” he replied. “Over the course of the year, we will delve into three types of arcane lore that are prevalent in everyday magic. These are the very same types that many of you will come across as adults, and perhaps even practice yourselves if you are gifted. Through this class, you will learn how to distinguish fact from fiction. To aid our understanding, we will also embark on two field trips every month, each focusing on one of these three types of arcane lore: spirit, faerie, and demon lore, in that order.”

Tim was surprised but thrilled to hear the mention of demon lore. It wasn’t a subject one expected to find in a typical class. A voice from the back of the room, belonging to an arrogant student he knew was from Maugris Hall, echoed his sentiments. “We’re actually going to study demon lore? Wicked!”

Mr. Drake’s gaze shifted toward the source of the voice. “And your name and class year?” he inquired.

With a haughty tone and an upper-class English accent, the boy replied, “Devin Burgess, second-year, sir.”

A knowing smile played on Mr. Drake’s lips. “Yes, indeed, Mr. Burgess. However, demon lore will have to wait until you have proven your ability to handle the other types. Patience and caution are key in our exploration of the arcane world.”

“Patricia Ambrose, third-year, sir,” Patsy said after the teacher had pointed at her. As she lowered her hand, a spark of curiosity in her eyes, she couldn’t help but ask the question burning in her mind. “Will we be interacting with spirits, faeries, and demons, Mr. Drake?”

Mr. Drake smiled, a glint of mischief in his eyes. “No more than you already have in the course of your regular studies, Miss Ambrose,” he replied with a knowing nod. “What do you think actually powers a good portion of ritual magic except those three types of entities?”

The class exchanged astonished glances. In their first-year classes, they hadn’t been exposed much to the idea that there were entities behind most of the magic they had been learning about. The kind of magic they had studied up until now had been more focused on simple forces. The notion that sorcerers could appeal to entities both good and evil was a daunting thought, even if becoming a sorcerer was not the path for everyone in the class.

“But I will help protect you from the more malevolent entities out there,” added Mr. Drake, his voice filled with assurance. “The study of those is reserved for the advanced classes at Nommo Hall, anyway. For now, during our first week, we will all be getting to know each other and discovering our strengths and weaknesses.”

The students glanced at each other, uncertainty etched on their faces, as Mr. Drake moved to the center of the classroom, surveying his eager pupils seated in a circle facing inward. Was he out of his mind? They had already spent a good portion of the previous year getting to know each other.

“You will be divided into work groups of five, with two leaders,” continued the teacher, his voice commanding their attention. “I will personally select your groups to ensure they have a diversity of class years and backgrounds and that no cliques form within them. The two leaders will be responsible for the way the group presents their findings, opinions, and everything else. But remember, this class isn’t solely about working in a group; it’s about the lore, the undiscovered facts. Your work groups will be posted at the end of the week.”

“Does that mean we will have to work with those who aren’t in the same ‘class’ as we are, Mr. Drake?” Devin Burgess asked, skepticism creeping into his voice.

A mischievous smile tugged at Mr. Drake’s lips. “It means,” he replied, his tone laced with a hint of challenge, “that you will have to work alongside others and listen to them if they’re chosen as your group leaders. And since I’ll be making the group selections, it’s not a wise idea to test my patience, Mr. Burgess.”

Defiantly, Devin straightened his posture, a haughty expression on his face. “My father will have something to say about this,” he muttered in a hushed, yet prideful tone.

“Unless your dear old dad wants to take this class,” the instructor’s voice dripped with disdain, “he can keep his opinions to himself. How I treat you in this class is fair and just. Don’t think your family name or your overflowing coffers will earn you any special treatment from me.” The teacher leaned in, his eyes burning with an intensity that made Devin’s heart race. “Oh, and give my regards to your father, Mr. Anton Burgess. Let him know that Dr. Christopher Drake sends his warmest regards.”

Stung by the teacher’s words, Devin stood up, ready to storm out of the classroom in a fit of anger. But before he could even take a step, a powerful force lifted his feet off the ground, causing him to crash back into his seat. Mr. Drake hovered above him, anger radiating from every pore.

“In my class, young Burgess, you will follow my rules,” Mr. Drake growled, his voice low and threatening. “And nobody leaves until I dismiss them. Furthermore, in the event that you have any intentions of disrupting my class, I have implemented a behavior-modifier charm on you. I may not have a fondness for privileged children or any spoiled individuals for that matter, but I do expect that all students in this class treat me and their peers with a basic level of politeness and respect. Do I make myself clear?” His words hung in the air, heavy with a warning. Devin felt a chill run down his spine.

Devin sighed, defeated. “Yes, sir,” he mumbled, barely audible. The teacher shot him a withering glare, prompting Devin to repeat himself louder and clearer. “Yes, sir,” he said clearly, his voice lacking any hint of defiance. He understood that he was not in control.

Starting with the students seated beside Devin, Mr. Drake instructed everyone to introduce themselves and share a few personal details with the class. Engaged in jotting down important points, the teacher maintained a silent demeanor.

As the bell finally rang, signaling the end of the class and the start of lunch, most of the students hurriedly rushed toward the exit. But Mr. Drake held Devin down until the crowd had nearly dispersed. Only Timothy Hunter remained behind, lingering with a question on his lips.

“You can go now, young Burgess,” the teacher finally said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Just remember, any more antics in my class and the consequences won’t be as lenient as they were today. I’ll bring forth the harshest punishments that the school allows. I strongly advise against putting me to the test.”

“Yes, Dr. Drake,” Devin replied, casting a venomous glance at Tim. He despised him for witnessing this humiliating experience, even more than the ordeal itself. Tim avoided Devin’s glare, feeling a sense of guilt that tinged his cheeks.

“Mr. Drake, sir,” Tim began hesitantly, making his way toward the teacher’s desk, “I was hoping you could help me with something…”


The bustling cafeteria was abuzz with hungry students lining up for their daily dose of sustenance. Today’s lunch was a simple affair, yet comforting — a hot roast beef sandwich with layers of cheese and delectable toppings, accompanied by a bowl of steaming soup and a side of crispy potato chips. As Tim stepped forward to make his selection, he couldn’t help but feel an insatiable hunger gnawing at his stomach.

Talking with Mr. Drake seemed to make him extra ravenous, Tim realized, his eyes glinting with anticipation. Without a second thought, he reached for not one, but two sandwiches, filled them to the brim with his favorite fixings, and eagerly tucked in. The aroma of the roast beef wafted through the air, only intensifying his craving.

Beside him, Naala the satyr couldn’t resist the temptation, either. Clad in her eclectic ensemble of a tiger-dragon T-shirt, school vest, long skirt, and that same quirky hat from the previous day, she grabbed a bag of potato chips. Naala flashed a mischievous grin before devouring the entire bag, plastic wrapper and all, much to the astonishment of Patsy, Tim, and Rick.

“Uh… Naala,” Rick Billings finally managed to speak up, disbelief lacing his words, “You do realize that you’re only supposed to eat the chips and not the bag, right?”

Naala shrugged, nonchalantly responding, “Why? The bag’s usually the best part.”

Laughter erupted from the group, their gazes fixed on the eccentric satyr. But Naala was unfazed. She glanced at Devin Burgess from across the room, already seated with his peers from Maugris Hall, and couldn’t help but feel a fire ignite within her.

“Hey, goat-girl,” Devin called out, his voice dripping with disdain. “Do you want my bag, too? I’m certainly not going to eat it.”

Narrowing her eyes, Naala retorted with icy conviction, “I only accept offerings from my friends, not from garbage-dwelling rats. Who knows where it’s been?”

Devin, filled with indignation, exclaimed as he rose to his feet, “Why, you insolent, inhuman beast! I ought to whip you for that!”

“Just try it, Burgess,” Naala challenged. “But you won’t even come close.”

Devin Burgess, his face contorted with unrestrained fury, retrieved something from his inner vest pocket — a talisman he had discreetly taken from one of the classrooms. However, before he could make a move, a powerful grip clamped down on his wrist, pulling him back abruptly.

A deep, gruff voice reverberated behind Devin, sending a shiver down his spine. “If you want to risk expulsion, go ahead and use that stolen talisman. But let it be known, if you harm her, you will answer to the headmaster, who will pass his own judgment upon you.”

Standing defiantly behind Devin was none other than Baron Weirwulf, an imposing figure with the strength of a bear. His intervention was enough to give Devin pause, his face contorted with a mix of anger and frustration.

“She insulted me and my family, Baron!” Devin exclaimed, his voice trembling with barely contained fury.

The Baron, unyielding in his demeanor, met Devin’s gaze steadily. “And you have insulted her and hers,” he replied. “Cease this foolishness, Mr. Burgess. Your father’s influence may have secured your admission to this institution, but it won’t shield you from the headmaster’s wrath.”

A menacing growl escaped from Devin’s lips, his resolve unyielding. “This isn’t over, goat-girl!”

Naala sneered, undeterred by Devin’s threats. “I bet it is, garbage rat,” she retorted, sticking out her tongue defiantly as soon as the Baron’s back was turned.

Addressing Naala directly, the Baron’s voice lowered to a stern tone. “As for you, young satyr, mind your manners. A tongue as sharp as yours should remain sheathed.”

A moment passed before Naala understood the Baron’s admonishment, stifling a giggle within her throat. The cafeteria returned to its usual cacophony, but the tension still hung in the air, leaving an indelible mark on their youthful minds.


The Magic and Ethics class taught by Mr. Ramphastos in the cave at one o’clock was incredibly sweltering on the South Pacific island. It was so oppressively hot and humid that the majority of students had removed their vests. Some of the boys were even discussing the possibility of removing their shirts. Normally, caves provided a cool sanctuary from the tropical heat, but the avian-like Feitheran, resembling a toucan, preferred warmer climates and had deliberately selected this cave due to the hot spring that naturally heated it. With a certain degree of sympathy, Mr. Ramphastos addressed the discomfort of his students.

“I understand the difficulty this heat presents, so I’ll keep today’s lesson brief,” Mr. Ramphastos announced. “However, if you insist on attending my class wearing minimal clothing, at least keep your shirts and shorts on, young gentlemen. And ladies, feel free to don your school swimsuits if you wish. Today, I’ll curtail the class to ensure you don’t succumb to unconsciousness sooner than usual.

“For the first month,” he continued, “we will discuss how our magical decisions impact those around us. Following that, we will divide into discussion groups to tackle various heated topics, including the hunting of magical creatures and the equal respect owed to non-humans compared to humans, and vice versa.”

The class continued as the Feitheran took attendance and began a class discussion on the students’ encounters with magic and the supernatural thus far. Eventually, Ramphastos concluded the class an hour and a half ahead of schedule, observing the subdued state of the students due to the intense heat. “That concludes our time together today. On Monday afternoon, I expect your full attendance for the entire two-hour session.”

As Tim, Rick, and Naala exited Mr. Ramphastos’ classroom cave, Tim couldn’t help but remark, “That was intense.”

Naala, standing beside him, seemed unaffected by the heat, unlike Tim and Rick. Flashing a grin, she retorted, “Well, I found it rather refreshing. And since Mr. Ramphastos said I could wear my swimsuit, I took him up on that offer.”

Tim nudged Rick and directed his attention to Naala’s wagging tail, leading both boys to burst into laughter.

“Oh, so you two enjoy admiring my tail, huh? Well, I might as well embrace it myself,” Naala teased, winking mischievously as she made her way toward her dorm.

With their next class not scheduled until three o’clock, the two thirteen-year-old boys had an hour and a half to spare. And like any typical kids given an unexpected early release, they planned to make the most of it by goofing off.

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