Although Daphne remained in the rear, amidst the group of “mermaids” and still entangled in an unyielding lethargy, Skyler harbored no concerns for her well-being.

Dumbledore, in his wisdom, undoubtedly considered the safety of these hostages. Mermaids, being non-allied entities to wizards, left room for doubt regarding potential lurking creatures beneath the expansive black lake.

Therefore, Skyler was confident that Dumbledore had personally employed protective measures to safeguard these hostages from harm while they slumbered.

Moreover, one mustn’t overlook the significance of the five protective bracelets adorning Daphne’s wrists—masterpieces meticulously crafted by Skyler himself. Each bracelet possessed the capability to activate when the wearer faced a crisis independently.

For instance, the “Divine Aegis” could withstand formidable magic comparable to the Death Curse unless executed by an elite Auror with exceptional power.

With Dumbledore’s protective enchantments and the contingency skills Skyler had endowed her with, Daphne’s safety was assured. Consequently, Skyler’s sole concern rested upon himself.

But was he truly worried?

As the seven mermaids swiftly maneuvered their long silver tails, encircling Skyler from both sides, the countenance of the mermaid leader gradually transformed into a ferocious visage.

“I knew I couldn’t keep it hidden from you, Mr. Malfoy.” The countenance of the mermaid leader gradually dissipated, morphing into the likeness of Catalina.

However, except for the face, every aspect remained true to the mermaid’s green hair and fish-like lower body. Catalina presented a sweet smile akin to that of a girl. “You were aware it was a trap, yet you still ventured in. I must say, I truly admire your courage…”

Skyler regarded her with intrigue. This wasn’t a mere human body transformation or the result of some concoction. Among known magics, the ability of wizards to alter their voices and assume the form of magical creatures fell into taboo territories.

For instance, if an Animagus transfigured into a magical creature, they would face the consequence of a curse. Another example was the beast transformation in Blood Curse, where using Transfiguration would eventually strip the wizard of the ability to revert to a human form. One exception existed—the original “Aetherform” crafted by Skyler himself!

Yet, the practice of Aetherform held an exceedingly high threshold, and prior to Skyler, no records existed of anyone employing this magic for over a thousand years. Skyler harbored no intention of disseminating the knowledge of this original magic.

So, this is undoubtedly not a transformation technique!

As for magic, such as illusion, it is even more implausible, as illusions cannot deceive Skyler’s discerning magical eyes. The mermaid aura emanating from these individuals is authentic. Skyler senses that in this state, their combat prowess in the water is likely to surge several times over, not much different from his own “amphibious transformation” secret.

Skyler’s mind sifted through and dismissed countless possibilities in a fleeting moment.

He pondered and could only conceive of one plausible explanation—directing his attention to the other mermaids behind Catalina.

At this juncture, the other seven mermaids sequentially altered their visages, revealing faces familiar to Skyler—Eleanor, Hector, Irina, Miles, the long-lost Gallup… and the final person—Draco.

Nearly all of them aligned with the list in Skyler’s mind.

Even Draco’s unexpected appearance failed to elicit the slightest perturbation in Skyler’s composed demeanor.

Without casting a glance at Draco, Skyler remained fixated on Eleanor.

This was neither Transfiguration nor illusion—rather, alchemy!

They are fashioned from the human body!

What a lavish gesture! All eight of them must be donned in some kind of legendary magic artifact meticulously crafted through advanced alchemy.

Skyler could discern that this magical artifact likely serves the specific purpose of transforming human bodies into otherworldly forms, and it is quite probable that the methodology employed is not of the conventional kind.

Judging from Skyler’s knowledge of the Hohenheim family, it leans towards the likelihood that this alchemy entails dark sacrificial magic.

This explains the profound fear exhibited by those mermaids upon encountering the wizard moments ago.

Skyler deduced that the magical artifact facilitating the transformation into mermaids probably demands the sacrifice of the mermaids’ flesh and soul!

The sequence of events is not challenging to envision.

Just the previous night, six young wizards adeptly evaded the vigilance of the Triwizard Tournament staff using undisclosed means, concealing themselves at the lake’s bottom.

Given the solitary nature of Slytherin’s dormitories and the absence of classes at Hogwarts today, their presence went virtually undetected.

Throughout the night, the six wizards employed a spell akin to the Imperius Curse, compelling underwater creatures to scour specifically for Skyler to launch attacks.

Subsequently, upon the arrival of the other two female warriors at the lake’s bottom this morning, they swiftly aligned themselves with the group, unleashing a massacre upon the unsuspecting mermaids.

Sacrificing their flesh and blood, they activated the transfiguration artifact, seamlessly assuming the guise of mermaids and patiently lying in wait.

Skyler exuded a profound confidence in the proximity of his deduction to reality.

Sharp and penetrating, his gaze revealed a cold fire that only those intimately familiar with him, like Draco, could discern. It was the fervor for battle.

It had been far too long since he last savored this sensation—the sudden animation of magic gleefully coursing through his body. He even perceived the hidden joy within the magic’s undulating fluctuations.

At this moment, an unusual equilibrium enveloped his spirit. The eager and robust fighting spirit coexisted harmoniously with the serene and glacial calm, rendering his entire being more comfortable than ever before.

These transfigurations subtly manifested in his outward demeanor.

The wizards opposite him were but ordinary individuals.

They all observed Skyler’s Transfiguration nearly instantaneously—one moment, he embodied the gentle and benevolent sea prince, and the next, he morphed into a ruthless overlord of the sea.

This figure exuded decisiveness, indifference to life, and a willingness to wield the power of life and death. Regardless of who he was in that moment, a shadow couldn’t help but be cast upon the hearts of those witnessing.

Gallup, having suffered substantial losses from Skyler, initially harbored plans for revenge. Yet, for reasons unknown, he relinquished that notion at this very moment.

Simultaneously, a profoundly absurd idea took root in his mind. Although they numbered eight and possessed considerable strength, why did it feel as if they were collectively besieged by a lone individual on the opposing side?

“It appears—” Skyler flashed a seemingly harmless smile and remarked, “You and Eleanor joined the Triwizard Tournament not with the aim of winning the championship. Your objective from the outset was me, correct?”

Observing the lack of response from the other party, Skyler had no alternative but to pose and answer his own question: “I’m intrigued. I’m merely a fourth-year wizard, at best mildly renowned. What is it that you seek from me?”

“When I was in second grade, I did indeed have a minor altercation with—” Skyler glanced individually at Irina, Miles, and Gallup, “some members of your pure-blood family disciples… But do you really believe that such a trivial dispute at a child’s level would lead to your Ghost Society taking action?” At this point, he threw a significant glance in Hector’s direction.

“Hmph!” Hector snorted disdainfully, “Don’t assume we’re oblivious to the fact that Gemma that turncoat is supposedly dealing with you openly while secretly showing mercy, even disregarding our intent to influence you. You’re well aware of the existence and purpose of our Ghost Society, aren’t you? Is there a need for pretense here?”

“Judging by your tone…” Skyler’s voice abruptly turned icy, as though he was suppressing a surge of anger. The cold fire in his eyes intensified, “Gemma, has she met with misfortune?”

“Betraying the organizers inevitably leads to death!” Hector’s lips curled, and a hint of perverse madness flickered in his gaze, “Hahaha, she got what she deserved!”

“Very well, I’ll settle the score with you later…” Skyler spoke casually as if Gemma’s fate had ceased to concern him, having no impact on his emotional state whatsoever. “Let’s return to the previous topic. If the Ghost Society aims to control me and thereby gain effective control of Slytherin House, then—”

“What’s it got to do with you?” This time, he directed his attention to Catalina and Eleanor, “The most influential family in France, the most eminent alchemist family in Europe…”

“What have I possibly done to attract both your families…” He paused, sporting a sarcastic smile, “And what in the world does this have to do with the Walpurgis behind you?”

There was a subtle shift in Catalina’s expression. Although not overt, Skyler could still discern it. She maintained her sweet smile and remarked, “I can only say… you truly are something else, Mr. Malfoy! Your knowledge runs deep… at least deeper than I anticipated…”

“Though I’m unsure how you uncovered information about Walpurgis…” She grinned, “None of that matters now…” A glint of coldness passed through her eyes, “Everything will be revealed. Today marks the end…”

“Are you planning to take action now?” Skyler smiled faintly, his demeanor still calm and unruffled, yet a cold gleam had appeared in those shining eyes.

“How tedious!” Skyler remarked, “but lacks the courage to divulge the truth to me…” The lifted corners of his mouth suddenly leveled down, and he uttered coldly, “This is no secret—”

“Walpurgis approached me because of the Nightshade Mystic Market, am I right? Probably after getting rid of one of your main sources of income, you had no choice but to retaliate against me. Shallow minds, I was expecting more from someone of your level, Miss Catalina…”

Catalina was momentarily stunned, then quickly regained her composure. Her expression turned icy, “I didn’t expect that. If you’re privy to even this, I won’t be able to tolerate you any longer… do it!”

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Published On: February 26, 2024

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