As Skyler’s feet made contact with the frigid lake water for the first time, his skin underwent a striking transformation.

Every inch of his exposed skin took on a radiant and enchanting jasper hue, radiating a crystal-clear luster. His hair transformed into a vibrant shade of red, resembling aquatic plants as it whimsically ascended in a peculiar pattern.

The snug robe that adorned his form underwent noticeable alterations as well. The cuffs on his hands and feet, along with the collar encircling his neck, ceased to be loose; instead, they snugly adhered to his wrists, ankles, and neck. It was more accurate to say that, when donning the robe, these areas of Skyler’s covered skin assumed the color of the garment.

The pattern on the black robe also adopted a semblance to the scales of a dragon, intricate and dense, even finer than an actual dragon’s.

This was the highest form of transfiguration any Animagus could ever wish for – the Celestial Metamorphosis! Skyler had free control over his whole body and how he could distribute his power.

From the vantage point of distant spectators, Skyler now bore a resemblance to a mutated mermaid. The only notable distinction was the retention of his human-like feet.

Yet, for the referees and rescue teams in close proximity, it was evident that Skyler’s temples exhibited a slight bulge as if adorned with short, crimson horns measuring about an inch and a half. Nails resembling red crystals had grown on the fingers exposed to the air, possessing an impressive hardness.

“This is no mere mermaid! This is unmistakably a Dracotaur, isn’t it?”

“Yes! Having the intelligence of man and the sensitivity toward mana of a Dragon, the races that existed since the dawn of creation themselves!”

For those versed in the annals of ancient magic, the historical knowledge reveals that the first human wizard, who inherited the “power of the dragon” in ancient times, assumed the form of this amalgamation—a being part dragon, part human.

As Skyler submerged into the water, adorned in his draconic manifestation, he demonstrated not only the ability to breathe underwater but also a profound control over water flow through his affinity with the water element.

In this aquatic state, he navigated the depths with the ease of walking on solid ground, transforming water resistance into a supportive force. In this guise, he became the undisputed sovereign of the water!

Moreover, Skyler possessed the perceptive prowess of a Dragon beneath the waves. Any creature approaching him could be detected in advance, rendering him impervious to sneak attacks in the aquatic realm.

Compared to the usual known Dragons, Skyler had transfigured into something akin to a Demonic presence. The Dragon that harnesses the power of the Dark…

“Interesting…” Skyler narrowed his eyes, his keen perception allowing him to evade the giant squid only to be ambushed by a pack of Grindylows.

This was indeed an abnormal turn of events.

Do not assume that Grindylows, as dark creatures, mindlessly attack any entity in the water. They, in fact, occupy the lower rungs of the underwater magical creatures’ food chain. Relying on the strength of their collective and their penchant for bullying the weak while fearing the strong, Grindylows ensure the survival of their group.

The pure Dragon aura emanating from Skyler might not be overtly apparent to human wizards, but it’s akin to a mouse encountering a cat for these low-end creatures. It would be peculiar if they didn’t hastily retreat. How could they possibly confront and attack actively?

This was the concealed expertise of the shape-shifting Animagus—the art of tentacles!

Amidst his contemplation, Skyler swiftly employed the ten thick, dark-black tentacles that spontaneously sprouted from his back. One by one, he lashed out, whipping away the Grindylows.

The tentacles extending from Skyler were robust and formidable. With a mere flick, a Grindylow could be struck to the point of bursting. Ten tentacles flailed wildly, eradicating the entire Grindylow clan in less than a minute.

The eradication of the Grindylows did little to secure lasting peace for Skyler. Almost immediately, a succession of creatures from the depths of the Black Lake emerged—soft-clawed land shrimps, flobberworms, fire crabs, and the other water critters, each surging towards Skyler with reckless abandon, launching attacks without a hint of self-preservation.

Among them were indigenous inhabitants of the lake’s bottom, and others strategically placed for the competition. Originally positioned along the paths the warriors might traverse, these creatures were intended to impede their progress. Yet, what set Skyler on edge was the palpable malice and a distinct sense of targeting emanating from these creatures, as though they were singularly fixated on him.

For any other warrior, including Cedric, Fleur, and Krum from the original book, facing a besiegement of such underwater creatures would likely prove impossible. However, in the eyes of Skyler, Catalina, and perhaps Eleanor, even if the numbers of these feeble creatures were doubled, it would still be an insufficient challenge.

“In this scenario,” Skyler contemplated, a cunning glint in his eyes, “the purpose of these cannon fodders is to delay my time…”

“To let you get ahead of me, have you prepared a well-laid trap? Interesting…” There was no trace of fear in Skyler’s eyes, only a keen eagerness to face the challenge, coupled with an icy resolve. “I wonder what have you prepared for me? It’s truly exhilarating!”

Without further delay, Skyler acted swiftly. Since entering the depths of the lake, his exceptional underwater perception had allowed him to discern the mermaid’s song. By tracing the undulating melodies and their routes, he deduced the location of the mermaid tribe.

The mermaids were not in immediate proximity to him; in fact, they were quite a distance away. It appeared that he had been diverted by the assaults of Grindylows and other creatures, veering from his initial route.

His body moved like a graceful swimming dragon, propelling him rapidly towards the origin of the enchanting song. Along the way, he chanced upon Harry.

Harry regarded Skyler warily, but Skyler gestured in a friendly manner, indicating no malicious intent, and swam aside, creating distance from Harry. This gesture alleviated some of Harry’s apprehension.

For an extended period, the two swam in pursuit of the captivating melody of the mermaid’s song. Finally, a large rock materialized in the lake’s murky waters, adorned with depictions of mermaids wielding spears, engaged in a chase with what appeared to be giant squids. Skyler and Harry pressed on, undeterred, swimming past the rocky tableau towards the alluring melody.

Abruptly, numerous rough stone dwellings emerged, speckled with algae. Faces peered cautiously from dimly lit windows. The mermaids possessed iron-gray skin, long, disheveled dark green hair, yellow eyes, and incomplete, yellowed teeth. Pebbles strung on thick ropes adorned their necks.

Upon spotting Skyler and Harry, a tinge of fear crossed the mermaids’ expressions, prompting them to retreat into the stone shacks.

Undeterred, the two swam forward with haste, surveying their surroundings. Soon, an increasing number of stone dwellings came into view, some encompassed by gardens.

However, this underwater locale resembled a lifeless city beneath the waves, devoid of any vital signs. As they progressed, a meticulous examination through the windows of the stone dwellings revealed almost emptiness, save for the outermost structures at the beginning, lacking any semblance of vibrant life.

Unaware, Harry continued swimming forward.

Skyler’s countenance shifted to a more serious demeanor, and he deliberately slowed his pace, allowing Harry to forge ahead.

Eventually, the duo arrived at what appeared to be the square of a small mermaid village. At its center stood a rudimentary statue—a colossal mermaid meticulously carved from a boulder.

Daphne, the Beauxbatons female student, Ron, and Cedric were tightly bound to the tail of the mermaid stone statue. All four seemed deeply asleep, heads hanging limply on their shoulders, thin bubbles emerging from their mouths.

Eight robust male mermaids hovered around the square, each brandishing a wooden spear.

Harry and Skyler exchanged glances.

Skyler raised his hand, signaling toward them that he harbored no malicious intent. Given that Harry had reached the scene first, he gestured for Harry to take the lead. After a brief hesitation, thoughts of Hagrid’s hopeful expression and a surge of determination kindled in Harry’s heart. Gritting his teeth, he swam towards the hostages.

As anticipated, the mermaids, true to the original depiction, did not attempt to impede Harry. Harry swiftly cut the ropes restraining Ron, spotting a particularly sharp rock near the pile. He then cast a glance at Skyler.

Skyler offered a gesture of goodwill.

Harry nodded to him in acknowledgment and began pulling Ron toward the water.

Among the group of eight mermaids, the most robust and regal one appeared to be their leader. A seven-foot-long frame adorned with a necklace made of shark teeth around his neck, he swam towards Skyler.

Extending a hand, he gestured in an invitation, his hoarse and low voice carrying the directive, “You may go and rescue your hostages. Remember, only your own hostages can be taken away…”

The corners of Skyler’s mouth curled into a smile.

Though his eyes lacked any hint of a smile, coldness reflected in his pupils.

He parted his lips, and a large silver bubble silently emerged, “Are you all ready?”

“Before we proceed, can I voice my complaint about your truly abysmal acting skills? What are you doing being stuck here, Miss Catalina?”


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Published On: February 25, 2024

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