The first week of November swiftly passed, giving way to the second week, which marked the commencement of the Metamorphosis class.
Professor McGonagall took the center stage, expounding on the intricacies of cross-species transfiguration. The complexity of Transfiguration in the fourth year had escalated significantly, challenging even adept students like Daphne and Hermione.
Now, what about Skyler? In his nonchalant manner, he approached the subject with a unique perspective, considering it more of a supplemental endeavor rather than a rigorous academic pursuit.
Skyler said the Transfiguration courses in the first three years merely laid the groundwork for young wizards. Material Transfiguration and Reverse Transfiguration dominated the initial years, involving transfigurations such as turning matches into needles, mice into snuff boxes, beetles into buttons, and rabbits into slippers.
The spells were then used to revert these changes to their original states.
With a solid grasp of theory, visualization techniques, and the right dose of confidence and determination, success in these foundational stages was practically assured.
Despite the apparent simplicity, many young wizards, lacking patience and perseverance, stumbled at this level, including the likes of Neville and Ron.
Only in the third grade did the Transfiguration class introduce superficial activation spells to material changes.
For instance, the transfiguration of a teapot into a tortoise required the tortoise to exhibit signs of life, such as crawling, moving, and retracting into its shell.
This addition brought an extra layer of complexity to the students’ transfiguration endeavors.
It is crucial to emphasize that Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration has a fundamental exception: magic cannot bring forth souls.
Consequently, entities subjected to activation spells may exhibit lifelike movements, responding appropriately to their surroundings, creating a semblance of possessing a soul. However, these are mere illusions.
The reality is far less mystical—these pseudo-beings are nothing more than a set of behavior patterns predetermined by a wizard through magic.
The casting process allows for the integration of increasingly intricate behavioral patterns, with more advanced wizards or witches capable of executing complex transfigurations.
Consider Professor McGonagall’s giant chessboard, which mirrors the player’s chess skills and strategic insight.
Likewise, the armor, symbolic statues, and monstrous statues left by the four founders of Hogwarts showcase even greater sophistication, possessing a degree of autonomous thinking.
They not only excel in various combat skills and weapon usage but also autonomously strategize to fortify the castle, engaging in group battles reminiscent of an indomitable, iron-clad army.
In stark contrast, Voldemort’s proficiency in using the activation spell remains crude. His emphasis on the sheer power of magic results in the creation of aggressive corpses, refined from thousands of lifeless bodies.
Despite their sheer numbers, immense strength, and formidable defense, these reanimated corpses lack any semblance of cognitive ability.
Their attacks are purely instinctive, a deficiency that Dumbledore exploited, frightening them off with a mere display of fire.
Certainly, Skyler did not underestimate the bad people in the original book. Voldemort’s true strength lies in dark and combat magic, and it’s impressive that he achieved such a level of proficiency in Polymorphism.
Moving into the fourth-grade curriculum, the Transfiguration Class has progressively become more challenging. It now involves the application of Switching Spell, wherein two items are simultaneously exchanged to alter the appearance of one another.
Two months into the school year, Professor McGonagall is still stuck on the content of the first class. Students like Goyle, Crabbe, and Hufflepuff’s Justin have not fared well, as their ears remain affixed to cacti, eliciting angry outbursts from Professor McGonagall.
This struggle isn’t unique to them; reportedly, students like Neville, Ron, and Michael are facing similar challenges in other classes.
Daphne and Draco show better performance, managing to exchange the flowers of cacti and roses. However, their execution lacks the finesse and fluidity that the task demands.
And then there’s Skyler. In front of everyone, he casually nodded the wizard hat on his head and exchanged it with the witch hat on Professor McGonagall’s head. Far from angering her, this feat earned Slytherin House ten extra points, much to Professor McGonagall’s delight.
Professor McGonagall is genuinely concerned about the student’s progress in this class. With numerous conversion mantras to learn this year, this segment remains foundational, and the slow progress is a cause for worry.
Many challenging aspects are awaiting this group of young wizards, with the most formidable being Cross-species Transfiguration.
Take, for instance, the transfiguration of a guinea fowl into a guinea pig. This particular Spell involves two distinct physiological structures and life habits of the two species.
The practitioner cannot succeed solely by visualizing the external appearance; they must also possess an understanding of the internal structure of both species.
This requires a profound comprehension and memory. In the case of transforming a guinea fowl into a guinea pig, one must mentally map each bone of the guinea fowl to its corresponding bone in the guinea pig, ensuring a one-to-one correspondence for other body parts as well.
Failure to execute this step accurately can result in incomplete changes to the skeleton, joints, and organs. Mistakes might include transforming the hind legs of the guinea pig into a form unsuitable for running (akin to a chicken’s leg without joints) or altering the guinea pig’s lower jaw in a way that hinders biting. A deformed creature with a skeletal structure resembling wings might be produced in extreme cases.
The process doesn’t conclude here. The wizard must also erase the bird-like instincts of the guinea fowl from the brain and replace them with the various behaviors typical of guinea pigs.
Neglecting this step can lead to peculiar actions such as attempting to fly or pecking at insects, which are not behaviors typical of guinea pigs.
However, for Skyler, mastering OWL-level Transfiguration was a self-study accomplishment, utilizing “Professor McGonagall’s Notes on Transfiguration” acquired in the first grade.
Even spells like Evanesco, typically introduced in the fifth grade and requiring only a touch, have become second nature for Skyler.
In simple terms, Skyler is well-prepared for the OWL exam. Skyler’s focus has shifted towards NEWT-level Transfiguration Techniques, specifically the Transfiguration Spell, and Conjuring. Among these, Conjuring is the magic that captures Skyler’s utmost fascination.
Let’s delve into the concept of Conjuring first. As mentioned earlier, Conjuring involves creating something out of nothing through magical means.
Spells like “Avis” and “Draconifors” are considered the two easiest and most stable spells within the Conjuring category.
In truth, most wizards employ Conjuring spells to simplify their lives. For instance, in “The Fate of The Hallows,” the three Peverell brothers illusioned a bridge when faced with a river, thus saving themselves a journey.
Professor Quirrell used a conjured rope to tie up Harry, and Professor Flitwick conjured numerous golden bubbles while crafting Christmas decorations. While searching for Blake, even Dumbledore conjured several hundred purple sleeping bags in the hall.
On the surface, Conjuring may seem trivial, but its upper limit is remarkably high. Skilled practitioners of this art can be considered elite Aurors, ranking at the top tier.
They can hold their own even against formidable wizards and survive multiple encounters. As an interesting historical note, prior to 1984, supporters of the Appleby Arrows Quidditch team had a tradition of shooting arrows into the sky whenever a chaser scored a goal.
Just envision the spectacle of a rain of arrows filling the sky!
(Note: This tradition was later deemed too dangerous and subsequently banned, as detailed in “The Magical Quidditch Ball.”)
In the opening chapter of the first book, Dedalus Diggle conjured a meteor shower in the skies over Kent!
Just picture the scenario if he directed those meteors towards the Earth. Can any reader still claim that the Harry Potter universe is low in magical intensity? Of course, even if Dedalus possessed the potent ability to wreak havoc on the world, he certainly had sufficient magical prowess to control such extraordinary forces.
Moreover, even if the Shooting Star Spell has certain unknown limitations, there are also spells like thundercloud and tornado magic at play!
Take the Dartmoor Wilderness in 1379, during a European duel contest, for instance. In a decisive battle between the second and third runners-up, the second runner-up wizard conjured an immense thundercloud.
This cloud not only unleashed a torrential downpour but also came with thunder and lightning attacks! Responding to this, the runner-up wizard employed a tornado magic spell, dispersing the thundercloud and sweeping away opponents, referees, spectators, and nearby trees in one fell swoop.
Doesn’t this sound like a world abundant with powerful magic? Why, then, did such spells not make an appearance in the original plot?
Well, consider that there are very few group battles in the original work, and even when they do occur, chaos typically reigns among a limited number of participants.
In such situations, using direct and impactful magic often takes precedence over employing range skills—it’s simply more effective!
Another combat spell that stands out is one demonstrated by Voldemort in the fifth book of the series during the intense battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort.
Dumbledore unleashed a formidable spell at Voldemort, and instead of resorting to the Barrier Charm, Voldemort opted for a different approach. It’s likely that he realized the Protego wouldn’t suffice against this particular Spell, underscoring the significance of choosing the right Spell in actual combat.
As for Skyler’s interest was piqued by activating the talent of Metamorphmagus. He was eager to explore the potential effects of combining these two magical elements.
In the usual routine, Professor McGonagall declared the class’s end after covering the cross-species conversion assignments.
Not waiting for the others to exit, Skyler approached the podium and expressed his interest in learning the knowledge of Metamorphmagus.
Professor McGonagall, taken aback, gazed at Skyler for a few moments. Once the other students had left the classroom, she carefully articulated her response, “Skyler, I acknowledge that your learning progress surpasses that of your peers, but learning this kind of knowledge in the 4th grade is premature; that’s content typically covered in the 7th-grade curriculum.”
Professor McGonagall held a positive outlook on Skyler’s abilities and conveyed her advice genuinely.
While Skyler may have mastered the Transfiguration Spells and Cross-species Transfiguration, there are subsequent challenges, including the Vanishing Spell and, following that, the Transfiguration Spell.
Metamorphing represents an even more advanced, intricate, and perilous magical skill compared to the Tranfiguration Spell.
Skyler’s eagerness for advancements in magical skills was bound to raise eyebrows, precisely what Professor McGonagall aimed to prevent.
With a helpless smile, Skyler responded, “Professor, I can’t help it! My opponents on the Triwizard Tournaments consist of 7th Year Students; how can I face them with my limited knowledge of being something akin to a freshman?”
Professor McGonagall eyed him suspiciously, on the verge of declining once more. However, she was halted when she witnessed Skyler’s wrist flick, casting a beam of light from his wand onto a nearby desk.
The desk appeared to waver, quietly transforming into a replica of Skyler himself. Every detail, from the uniform to the wand, was an identical match.
Although the expression seemed slightly sluggish, the eyes conveyed a sharpness that betrayed its artificial nature. In the final act, Skyler employed a flawless Vanishing Spell, causing it to vanish completely.
The entire process involved four OWL-level metamorphoses: material deformation, activation curse, conversion curse, and disappearance curse. Each step demonstrated impeccable perfection.
Professor McGonagall’s eyes narrowed as she recognized that the boy was showcasing his prowess in metamorphosis. While she could perform this level of transfiguration herself, achieving such mastery at the age of 14 was unparalleled.
This was a true genius!
Among her many students, even James Potter, the last transfiguration wizard who had appeared, couldn’t match him, even with a head start.
“Come with me,” Professor McGonagall said, her stern expression softening slightly as she led the way out of the classroom.
Skyler’s face lit up with joy as he hurriedly followed her.
Once in her office, Professor McGonagall retrieved a precise book from the shelf and handed it to Skyler. Skyler glanced at the title – “Transfiguration Notes.” Opening the cover, he found every page filled with Professor McGonagall’s meticulous notes.
Delighted, he had come across this book in the library before, but it only contained the steps to practice Metamorphology. Professor McGonagall’s book, however, provided extremely detailed precautions and methods to enhance the success rate – precisely what he needed.
“Before we proceed, it’s crucial to understand that metamorphosis is an exceedingly perilous transformation spell. I won’t tolerate anyone practicing it in secret. Read this book thoroughly when you go back. Once you’ve gone through it, inform me beforehand when you plan to start practicing. I’ll supervise the entire process to ensure your safety,” Professor McGonagall cautioned, gradually losing the smile on her face and adopting a serious tone. “Let me share a few examples to emphasize the severity and prove I’m not joking.”
She continued, “The ancient Egyptian master of transformation, Sphinx, pushed the boundaries in her pursuit of transformation. Unfortunately, she ultimately blurred the line between structure and essence. She turned herself into a Sphinx monster during the transformation, losing emotion and reason.”
“Similarly, the renowned ancient Greek witch Siren, in her quest for flight, sacrificed her own reason and completely shed her humanity, transforming into a harpy. Legend has it that her descendants, the harpies, still roam the Mediterranean today.”
(Note: The Harpy Hobbit is a legendary creature in the Harry Potter world, and its existence has never been confirmed. However, every wizard is familiar with the term “Hobbit” and the appearance and personality attributed to the legendary Hobbit. In the original book, Ginny described the angry Veela as “like a Hobbit.” The Holyhead Harpies, to which Gwenog Jones belongs, are named after the mythical Harpies.)
Skyler was taken aback. He had suspected that there was a considerable risk of bodily deformation, but he hadn’t anticipated the danger to be this severe. After a moment of contemplation, he asked, “Professor, what is the distinction between structure and essence? If you alter the structure, doesn’t the essence change accordingly?”
Professor McGonagall smiled and responded, “An excellent question. The answer to this question may vary from person to person, but in my view, the essence pertains to your purpose and heart. Transfigurating the structure is merely a tool for the caster themselves, not the sought-after outcome. Only by maintaining the original purpose as a guiding light can the shapeshifter avoid losing their sanity. This principle holds true for any method of transformation.”
Skyler silently absorbed her words, refraining from further inquiries, and softly expressed, “Thank you, Professor.”
[Professor McGonagall’s deep knowledge of Transfiguration has been learned! ]
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