The dots in between the squares...
These can be interpreted
There are also some other ways to extract similar arrangements of letters:
The data collected:
The next step needed heavy hinting for me to find it:
Unused information [hinted to be a clue to the step I did first]:
The six hint are highlighted in this image:
Fourth hint - solved by @Jens
Fifth hint: - solved by @Jens
The final solution and the logic grid is the following:
I've solved the fifth hint, but it's a bit long for a comment:
One viable solution to the logic grid occurs if we guess that
The last comment above is wrong. There is only one solution. I leave it to you, @Annosz. :)
This is not a complete solution. I am going to drop some of my scratch here in case it inspires someone else.
On the subject of the cipher:
I have noticed that
Applying the decryption:
So, the answer to the question "Where is Lester?" is ...
As a bonus,
Partial Answer, more like initial analysis really...
Hint #2 says to focus on where the capital letters are. In the first two stanzas there is unusual capitalization. I believe it is a pattern of zeroes and ones meant to be binary.
The fourth stanza says "As the first is one".
Starting with 1 and continuing word to word, ignoring new lines I got:
Okay I'm shooting my shot. I'm not good with ciphers or what not, and I could be on the totally wrong trail but...
Here me out here:
OP went clearly out of their way to introduce magic into this question, but after the first paragraph, magic is barely referenced. They are meeting at a university laboratory which is pretty ordinary, even the clue that was "...