The remaining three assailants, no longer able to manage Aquila’s clones, confronted the bird’s attacks, seeking to exploit an opportunity to overpower Skyler.
Still recovering from his continuous spellcasting, Skyler relied on the protective capabilities of the Supreme Wizard’s Robe and the Night Star Cloak, adeptly dodging while defending.
Meanwhile, Daphne and Meredith weren’t idle; they cooperatively stunned one of the attackers with a Stunning Spell.
Morgaddon, positioned protectively, safeguarded Astoria behind him and refrained from making a move.
The last two standing on the enemy side, the leader and the lone woman, huddled together awkwardly.
The woman’s wand lay broken.
The wizards responsible for the ghostly screams in the sky had ceased their cacophony, likely fainted.
After recovering his breath, Skyler opened a bottle of mana recovery potion and sipped.
While revitalizing, he carefully pointed his wand at the remaining foes.
After observing their spellcasting techniques and habits during the skirmish, Skyler recognized a familiar presence and whispered, “It’s been a long time, Professor Lockhart.”
Startled, the leader removed his mask, revealing a handsome face—it was Gilderoy Lockhart, absent from Hogwarts for a year.
Since the conclusion of their second-grade term, Lockhart had vanished from the wizarding world, and Skyler had neither seen nor heard about him until now.
Coldly, Skyler inquired, “Are you a member of the Shadow Dragon? Is this about Meredith entering Hogwarts?”
Lockhart, smiling bitterly, responded in an exaggerated manner, tears welling in his eyes. “I’m delighted you think that, my best student. But unfortunately, you’ve guessed wrong. I returned to Hogwarts to teach, all because that old fool Dumbledore forced me into it!”
“Think I’d be thrilled to take up this cursed post as the Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor?” Lockhart sarcastically remarked. “This job is cursed. Professors in this role haven’t fared well for decades. Some even died. I write well; the annual copyright fees alone let me live a luxurious life. I’m not a fool. Why would I willingly apply for this position?”
Daphne couldn’t resist inquiring, “Why did Dumbledore force you to become a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor?”
Lockhart erupted into wild laughter, “Hahaha, that’s because I am a fraud. My books and my accomplishments are all fabrications!”
Lockhart’s scrutinizing gaze swept across Skyler and his group, sneering, “It seems you didn’t react with the surprise I expected. You must have figured it out long ago, right?”
Skyler remained noncommittal.
With the upper hand in the situation, he allowed Lockhart to continue his revelation.
“Those so-called achievements have nothing to do with me,” Lockhart’s eyes flashed with a peculiar glint. “My role was to locate these wizards, gain their trust, inquire about their deeds, and then cast a Obliviate on them, erasing their recollection completely.”
“Unfortunately, I found a target once, and just as I was about to commence, Dumbledore caught me red-handed. I pleaded for leniency, admitting my mistake. As a condition for letting me go, he coerced me into teaching at Hogwarts for a year! I argued that I wasn’t qualified to teach, but do you know what he said?”
Lockhart’s eyes glowed with intense resentment. “He actually claimed it didn’t matter at all! He instructed me not to teach the students anything! Just play the role of a buffoon, bask in the limelight, especially in front of Harry Potter, and successfully trigger his animosity!”
“Having achieved seven certificates in the OWL exam, I had traveled to numerous countries and encountered powerful wizards everywhere. How could I be incapable of handling a group of minor green fairies? Why couldn’t I even manage a Disarming Charm? It’s beyond me!” Lockhart seemed to be muttering to himself. “He turned me into a complete and utter joke!”
Now, Skyler comprehended it all. No wonder Dumbledore had enlisted Lockhart as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.
It was a crucial part of his “Harry Development Plan,” manipulating Harry to develop a disdain for Lockhart and not wallow in his existing fame, thus promoting his rapid growth.
“Everything I did at Hogwarts was spread by the students throughout the British wizarding world. My fans no longer believed in my books. The publishers closed the door to me. Without income, I became impoverished. Distraught, I can only live a precarious life by borrowing money. At this time, my Master appeared…”
Lockhart’s face began to contort, “He gave me strength, enough power to avenge my reputation at Hogwarts. In order to repay my Master, I am willing to serve him and dedicate my meager strength! Fine! The recollection is over, Skyler. You are my favorite student. I don’t want to hurt you. Leave with the two young ladies from Greengrass!”
Skyler frowned, “Was Lockhart mentally unstable? Clearly, they have the upper hand now!” He thought to himself, confused by Gilderoy’s action.
Recalling being ambushed in a remote corner by the enemy, Skyler had a bizarre idea.
An ominous feeling surged as he shouted, “May, be careful!”
As Skyler turned around, he witnessed Morgaddon stunning the three girls simultaneously with three Stun Spells.
Morgaddon then revealed a wicked sneer, seized the unconscious Meredith, and vanished by apparating away from the scene.
Skyler hurled a rapid Disarming Charm at him, but it was blocked by Lockhart’s protective Shield Charm.
“Hahaha,” Lockhart’s laughter grew increasingly manic, “It’s really you, Skyler. You managed to push us to this point, even the last trump card…”
He tossed his wand to the female black-clothed wizard, and an astonishing black aura emanated from his body.
In the dark mist, the silhouette of a sheep’s head with snail horns faintly appeared…
The female wizard hid behind Lockhart, summoned two comrades who were in a coma with a Summoning Spell, and then Apparated, disappearing from the scene.
As the female wizard vanished, Lockhart detonated with a bang!
Anticipating the moment he saw the black aura, Skyler thought of Peter Pettigrew’s sacrificial magic.
Ignoring the escaping enemy, he swiftly traced a Guruni talisman in the air with his fingers. “Eihwaz!” Skyler chanted.
Skyler infused his magical essence into the magic talisman in a life-or-death crisis.
Ravenclaw’s Diadem and Slytherin’s Locket box levitated simultaneously, emitting colorful rays of light.
Each shot out a beam, linking to Skyler’s wand.
The wand emitted a resonant cry, and the Guruni talisman materialized, transforming into the phantom of a palace.
It covered both Skyler and his comatose companions.
The explosion’s force leveled the nearby woods, yet inside the phantom palace, everyone remained unscathed.
“Please, don’t die on me! Renervate!” Skyler revived Gareth, Daphne, and Astoria successively with a Revival Spell.
Gareth quickly grasped the situation’s gravity, his brows furrowing deeply.
Not far away, they discovered two black-clad men propelled into the air by the blast.
Gareth cast an unknown spell on their heads and efficiently restored their faces—one from the other family offshoot and the other a direct Slughorn family housekeeper.
While not prominent figures, they held a certain status within their respective families.
Ministry of Magic officials Apparated to the scene.
Gareth insisted on handling the matter, instructing Skyler and the others to return to the camp.
On the way, Skyler’s face wore a gloomy expression, and his wand-clenched hand revealed strained blue veins.
A crucial realization struck him, prompting him to hasten back to the camp.
The initial camp area lay in ruins, displaying magical destruction’s aftermath.
House-elves from each family toiled to repair tents.
During the disturbance, most house elves had been directed to hide in the camp, guarding against potential criminals attempting theft or mischief.
Those masquerading as Death Eaters typically avoided camps with house elves, understanding that possessing a House-elf signified an ancient pure-blooded family. Nonetheless, evacuation remained prudent, given the uncertainty of the situation.
“Dino!” Upon entering the tent, Skyler urgently called for the house elf.
With a crackle, Dino respectfully appeared before them. “Dino is here. May I ask, Master, what can Dino do for you?”
“I know there’s a soul contract between the house elf and the owner. Can you sense Meredith’s position now?” Skyler inquired swiftly.
Closing its eyes and folding its hands, Dino appeared to perform a mysterious ritual. After a prolonged moment, it shook its head, revealing a perplexed expression. “I can sense the Master’s existence, but I can’t discern her position. It seems… as if the soul contract was affected by some force… By the way, why didn’t the Master return with you?”
“Something happened to May. She was taken away by some mysterious organization. Dino, I need your help now,” Skyler said anxiously. “Listen, Dino, I know you only obey your Master’s orders, but May may be in danger. Every moment we wait adds to that danger. I need you to take me to Shafiq’s old residence, Please!”
Normally, Dino couldn’t take outsiders to Shafik’s old house without Meredith’s permission.
However, with Meredith’s whereabouts unknown and Dino having a degree of familiarity with Skyler, the house elf hesitated for a few seconds before nodding in agreement.
“You two stay here for the time being, until Uncle Gareth comes back. I’ll return as soon as I can!” Skyler instructed Daphne and Astoria. Taking Dino’s hand, he vanished with a sound.
In Humbledon, a small village forty miles west of London, outside a forest, a man and an elf suddenly appeared from the void.
“Is it here, Dino?” Skyler asked.
“Yes, Master Malfoy,” Dino’s tone held doubts. He wandered around a few tall pine trees. “The ancestral house is here—” It circled one of the pine trees with some decorations. “Strange, why can’t I see it?”
“Cold and Loyalty Curse,” Skyler explained calmly.
“It’s a type of magic that completely hides a certain location, a top-tier shielding spell. No one can break it, whether it’s a tracking charm, a revealing spell, a human detection spell, or even a thread of trace or a Taboo Curse,” Skyler clarified. “You could be standing right at the real entrance to the ancestral house, but your eyes won’t perceive anything.”
“What now?” Dino looked a bit flustered, as ensuring the owner’s safety was his top priority.
Now more composed, Skyler realized that rescuing Meredith required a str
ategic approach rather than blind panic.
“Let’s go,” Skyler’s voice turned resolute. “Trust me! No matter how hard it js, I will save your Master.”
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