Two hours later, in Austria.
It was a grim and menacing tower.
From a distance, it appeared like an impregnable fortress, a massive structure entirely encased in iron.
The fortress stood atop a cliff, not particularly high, but within several miles of the cliff lay a complete desert.
Other than the occasional dilapidated walls, there was no sign of life.
Only a treacherous mountain road led to the tower.
This cold, somber, and distant tower bore a well-known name in the wizarding world:
Nurmengard was a prison, a facility specifically designed for the confinement of Dark Wizards.
Its inception as a prison dates back to almost 1939.
Albus Dumbledore, the most feared Dark Wizard of the century, had been imprisoned within its walls.
Since then, the number of prisoners has dwindled…
Some had perished, while others had been transferred to various wizarding European prisons.
Yet, the most notorious Dark Wizard remained locked within at the tower’s pinnacle.
Some claimed that the place had been abandoned for many years.
However, those on the inside knew better.
This prison operated autonomously without requiring constant supervision.
As long as its creator, Gellert Grindelwald, the most fantastic Wizard of the 20th century, remained alive!
That was sufficient.
Even though it was late at night, the words engraved above Nurmengard’s entrance still faintly glimmered:
“For the greater good!”
However, at the tower’s summit, a completely different scene unfolded.
Two elderly individuals, their hair gray, sat facing each other before a roaring fire.
One was garbed in tattered clothing, while the other was impeccably dressed.
An old man, frail and weak, and a silver-haired youth, resolute and extraordinary!
One was the most infamous Dark Wizard of the 20th century, while the other was the most revered Wizard of the same era.
Under normal circumstances, it would be difficult to associate these two Wizards.
They belonged to different worlds.
But now, they engaged in conversation.
Like long-time friends, casual, ordinary, and unconstrained…
And it was Grindelwald who spoke passionately while Dumbledore listened intently.
Before them lay two small wine glasses, a bottle of mead, and a large basket of assorted candies.
“…It’s as simple as that. The Dark Witch, who claims to be the most powerful Dark Witch in British magical history, was easily defeated by me!” Grindelwald’s voice resounded as he toyed with a silver object in his hand.
If any wizard who knew Grindelwald were present, they would be surprised.
For they would witness the President of the International Confederation of Wizards, the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, and the most fantastic Wizard of their time boasting about recent exploits.
“Is that all?” However, Albus Dumbledore, with his head lowered, seemed somewhat dismissive.
“Yes!” Grindelwald scoffed coldly. “Is my plan not flawless? Aren’t my methods cunning enough? Do you have a better idea?”
“You managed to deceive an old Witch who had been imprisoned by Merlin for thousands of years!” Dumbledore still did not lift his gaze. “Were I in her position, I could find at least six or seven loopholes.”
“It’s precisely because she has been imprisoned by Merlin for thousands of years and has lost the dignity of a true Wizard that I had the confidence to handle her in that manner!” Grindelwald didn’t take offense, calmly explaining his rationale.
“So, Gellert, Hogwarts means nothing to you!” Dumbledore suddenly raised his head, his voice filled with coldness.
“You disregard the lives of Hogwarts students. You exposed them to extreme danger for such a long time, treating them as mere tools to achieve your goals… For you, their lives and deaths are nothing more than bargaining chips.” Dumbledore said furiously.
Grindelwald fell silent for a moment.
Then, he stood up, raising his head with pride. “Albus, wouldn’t you have made the same choice?”
“Of course not!” Dumbledore replied categorically.
Grindelwald retorted unceremoniously, “If you were in my position, do you think you wouldn’t expose students to extreme danger? Do you believe you wouldn’t use them as tools to accomplish your goals? Do you think you wouldn’t trade their lives for greater benefits?”
This time, Dumbledore fell silent.
“At the very least, I wouldn’t disregard the lives and deaths of Hogwarts students!” After a moment’s pause, Dumbledore retorted.
“I didn’t disregard their lives and deaths!” Grindelwald sneered coldly. “If the old Witch truly intended to kill the two first-year children, I would have acted preemptively!”
Dumbledore lowered his head once more.
He knew Grindelwald spoke the truth.
“We are of the same kind, Albus,” Grindelwald continued. “We have always been of the same kind…”
“We were never of the same kind!” Dumbledore firmly denied without hesitation.
“Why do you persistently deny this fact?” Grindelwald’s spirits suddenly waned, and he sat on the ground.
“Forty-seven years, Albus… I have kept you here for forty-seven years… Forty-seven years should have been enough time for you to understand,” Grindelwald sighed.
“I have considered it thoroughly… from beginning to end!” Dumbledore reaffirmed.
“It seems you still refuse to give up…” Grindelwald sighed.
He picked up the mead from the ground and poured a glass for both himself and Dumbledore.
Dumbledore wasted no time in drinking it.
“Let’s discuss a lighter topic!”
Grindelwald also downed his glass of mead.
“A lighter topic?” Dumbledore didn’t seem particularly interested.
“Yes…” Grindelwald nodded. “Something quite fascinating… During my recent visit to Hogwarts, I encountered a truly intriguing individual…”
As Grindelwald spoke, pouring wine, he appeared entirely at ease.
It was evident that he was unsuspecting.
Albus Dumbledore, on the other hand, was different.
A glimmer flickered in the corners of his weathered eyes.
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