“Damn, wizard!” The restrained Centaur struggled and roared angrily, “You will pay for your actions one day!”
“Shut up!” Professor Kettleburn responded coldly, waving his prosthetic wand arm once again.
Another set of ropes shot out, this time binding the Centaur’s mouth, silencing any further protests.
Professor Kettleburn’s appearance had drastically transformed. Once an amiable professor, he now exuded the aura of a fierce hunter.
From the other side of the bushes, approaching hooves could be heard, and another Centaur emerged into the clearing.
This Centaur bore a striking resemblance to the previous one, except for the reddish-brown hue of its hair, beard, and tail.
“Release Bain, Kettleburn. We harbor no ill intentions upon this visit.” the Centaur’s voice resonated with sadness and depth.
“But I must remain vigilant,” Professor Kettleburn responded, waving his wand. “Professor Grindelwald generously allocated a large portion of land as your habitat for survival and reproduction. Yet, you dare encroach upon wizard territory!”
“No, this is not a violation,” the Centaur explained, his voice still tinged with sorrow. “This is a warning!”
“A warning?” Professor Kettleburn sneered.
The Centaur lifted its head, gazing up at the sky. “Today, Venus shines brightly, ever so bright.”
“I have no interest in playing riddles with you!” Professor Kettleburn stated disdainfully. “Return to your habitat now, and I can pretend this never happened. Otherwise, I will report it to Professor Grindelwald…”
Upon hearing Grindelwald’s name, the sorrowful Centaur shuddered involuntarily.
“We usually refrain from using that name.” it spoke slowly, its gaze returning to the sky.
“Then gather your companions and leave!” Professor Kettleburn asked the Centaurs.
Almost simultaneously, a powerful surge of hooves thundered from the other side of the bushes, encircling Professor Kettleburn and Matthew at the center.
They were all Centaurs, numbering at least twenty, and many carried bows, arrows, or other weapons.
The faces of these Centaurs reflected a range of emotions upon sighting the wizard. Some bore expressions of anger, while others displayed a tinge of fear.
Even as a seasoned field administrator, Professor Kettleburn faced an unexpected predicament with the sudden appearance of so many adult horsemen, and to make matters worse, he had brought along a first-year student.
Matthew leaned against Professor Kettleburn, his grip tightening on the teapot. He remained calm, ready to smash it at a moment’s notice. He had a sense that the situation was dire.
He hoped the small creature inside the teapot would prove helpful in a critical moment.
“So, you are planning to rebel once again!” Professor Kettleburn’s voice turned quiet as his eyes scanned each Centaur.
“We never intended such a thing, Professor Kettleburn!” a younger voice emerged from behind the bushes.
Another Centaur stepped forward, its platinum hair shimmering in the light. It approached Professor Kettleburn and Matthew, devoid of any weapons. Matthew noticed the Centaur’s striking blue eyes, akin to faint sapphires.
“Illusions of safety within the forest no longer hold true.” Firenze spoke leisurely.
“No, the forest is safe!” Professor Kettleburn retorted unabashedly. “For I am the guardian of this place.”
“Kettleburn, you don’t grasp the situation,” Firenze said with his gentle voice, “There is an entity that doesn’t belong here, posing a threat. Neither you nor the horses can truly handle it… the only one capable of facing it is—-”
“That’s enough!” Professor Keitelburn interjected, cutting off Firenze’s words, “Don’t try to deceive me with your half-baked prophecies. I have no interest in such matters… and I can assure you, what you see in the eyes of Professor Grindelwald extends far beyond your limited vision!”
Emotions of unease and apprehension spread through the ranks of the Centaurs.
Some were roaring, others pawed the ground restlessly, and a few couldn’t help but shiver.
“This is merely a warning, a suggestion if you will.” Firenze replied calmly.
“Then duly noted!” Professor Kettleburn nodded, then shook his head, “But horses, be mindful of your actions to avoid further misunderstandings… I could look over today’s events as a misunderstanding.”
Firenze said softly, “We sought to find you quickly and deliver this message…”
“And did you misunderstand when you secretly contacted that half-blood giant, Hagrid?” Professor Keitelburn abruptly asked.
Matthew observed a sudden change in Firenze’s expression while a commotion rippled through the crowd of Centaurs.
“Take your companions and leave!” Professor Keitelburn waved his hand. “But remember… even Headmaster Grindelwald’s patience has its limit!”
The sound of hooves grew distant as the Centaurs departed.
The surroundings fell back into silence, with only the fading echo of hooves remaining.
“Let’s go, Wickfield.” Professor Kettleburn said, retrieving his wand in his left hand. He then stooped down, gently patting Tom the Cat on the head, “Hey there, little Tom, lead us onward to the vampire’s lair!”
Tom let out a dissatisfied meow but continued trotting forward, clutching the ham in its mouth.
“Professor Kettleburn,” Matthew pondered for a moment before asking in a hushed tone, “Who the heck is that half-blood giant Hagrid you mentioned earlier?”
Professor Kettleburn didn’t look back but replied shortly, “Just a dark wizard.”
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