Skyler began his day by wandering around Diagon Alley and then visited Flourish and Blotts Bookstore to purchase the textbooks required for the upcoming semester.

He decided to buy two copies of all the textbooks, including Draco’s, while waiting for his family to arrive.

During his time at the bookstore, Skyler even assisted the manager in handling a few of the transactions, managing to obtain a discount coupon for the book that saved him 10 Galleons of pocket money.

These 10 Galleons were particularly handy for offsetting the amount he had used to bribe Draco earlier in the day to ensure his silence.

After some time, when his parents and brother arrived late, they all boarded the night carriage and made their way back to Malfoy Manor.

Narcissa inquired about Skyler’s experiences in Diagon Alley during the journey that day.

Skyler skillfully shifted the conversation away from his visit to Knockturn Alley, saying, “I revisited Austria today—Ollivander’s Wand Shop. I entrusted him with the care of my wand…”

Skyler carefully articulated his questions, “I noticed that his business isn’t as brisk as one might expect—his wands are priced at only 7 Galleons each. Considering that wands aren’t consumables and new wizards are admitted each year, and if you’re lucky, there are only about 50 adult wizards in need of a new wand each year due to damage. So, assuming there are roughly 150 customers per year, which amounts to about 1,050 Galleons in total. If we estimate that half of it goes toward the cost of wand production, he’d only make a net profit of 525 Galleons annually. This calculation doesn’t even account for rent, maintenance, and other shop expenses, and it seems a bit unbelievable…”

Lucius nodded with approval, saying, “Skyler, your natural business acumen is truly in line with our family’s tradition. You’ve quickly reached this level of analysis. In truth, the wizarding business world is filled with unspoken rules. Take Ollivander, for instance. The main reason for the existence of this wand shop is to preserve the family’s reputation. Whether it’s profitable or not is less important. Many of his cooperative research projects with the Ministry of Magic revolve around wand studies, and those research funds are substantial.”

“Without the prestige of a time-honored wand shop, he may not have secured these collaboration opportunities. Don’t let his polite façade deceive you. Over the past thousand years, there have been a few highly skilled wand makers who have attempted to establish businesses in the UK. Still, none of them could obtain the certification license from the Ministry of Magic. I dare say this is all Ollivander’s doing. This strategy is well-known in the business world and is called a ‘competitive moat.’ Its purpose is to establish a barrier that deters newcomers from entering the industry. In essence, it allows you to maintain a monopoly over the entire field. How does it feel to see the darker side of the business world?” Lucius concluded with a sardonic smile.

Skyler was lost in thought…

He realized that the wizarding business world had its own hidden doors and rules.

He recognized that his earlier success in entering the flying broomstick market and making a fortune was due to a combination of his ability to foresee the plot and a fair amount of luck.

However, a question lingered in his mind. If other “traversers” or those who knew the story in advance could easily monopolize the entire wizarding business community upon arrival, it would mean they were born with a golden opportunity.

Did they possess some innate advantage or a unique aura that compelled other wizards, merchants, and pure-blood families to lower their guard?

Skyler couldn’t help but feel envious, jealous, and even a bit resentful.

During the family dinner that evening, Lucius once again emphasized the importance of upholding the family’s honor and their academic performance.

He also revealed some inside information that had not been reported in the newspapers.

Lucius said, “Especially you, Draco, focus on your studies and avoid getting involved with Potter’s group. You should be aware that this semester at Hogwarts will not be peaceful. Let me share some of the details not reported in the papers. The real reason for Sirius Black’s escape is to assassinate Harry Potter.”

Skyler, who was already familiar with the plot, maintained a calm demeanor, while Draco, who was a fan of Harry Potter, expressed his shock.

Lucius coldly continued, “Sirius Black was my junior, and he used to be good friends with James Potter, Harry Potter’s father. However, he ultimately betrayed his best friend and delivered him to the Dark Lord, leading to James Potter’s tragic death. Black’s escape from Azkaban was undoubtedly an attempt to eliminate any witnesses, especially Harry Potter. While I wouldn’t mind the death of that brat, I don’t want either of you to get entangled with him and risk your lives.”

Lucius paused, then added, “Though everyone describes Black as insane, he must be cunning to have escaped from Azkaban—something most people cannot achieve. If Black can break free from Azkaban, he’s certainly capable of infiltrating Hogwarts. Don’t forget that he once ruthlessly killed a dozen innocent bystanders in the streets. If you happen to cross paths with him, I doubt he’ll spare any witnesses. You may very well meet an unfortunate end at his hands in an attempt to cover his tracks. Do you both understand?”

Skyler and Draco quickly nodded to convey their understanding.

That night, in the privacy of his bedroom, Skyler took out the Ominous Mask he had acquired earlier in the day.

He gently placed the mask on his face, activated its magical properties, and then removed it, examining it closely. As he gazed at the mask, it felt like a dark void, almost like a swirling vortex, captivating his gaze. A sense of irrational fear crept over him, but within seconds, Skyler managed to break free from this strange sensation.

Skyler couldn’t help but express his dissatisfaction. He muttered, “Is it only this effective, or perhaps it only works on those with lower magical power?” He felt an odd sense of absurdity.

Little did he expect that the first person to test this mask would be himself.

He decided to closely observe the magical fluctuations of the mask.

Unlike the magic power used for casting regular spells, it appeared to be guided by an invisible force, an ethereal power that swirled around the mask’s magic power.

This power, intangible and weightless, seemed to directly affect the soul.

“If this is soul magic, it’s akin to temporarily stripping away a part of one’s consciousness to attack another person’s soul,” Skyler mused, sensing that he grasped the essence of soul magic.

He employed Occlumency to clear his mind completely and then attempted to fragment his consciousness, merging it into the magical energy.

To his surprise, the magical energy he perceived increased significantly as it blended with his divided consciousness.

He concentrated on condensing this magical power into needle-like forms and directed it towards the mask as though he were striking a solid wall.

The encounter made him dizzy. Upon regaining his composure, he realized his forehead was drenched in sweat, and the Ominous Mask lay in two pieces.

Skyler thought for a moment, understanding the principle of a soul attack.

It boiled down to a simple and direct battle between his consciousness and the one within the Ominous Mask.

The Ominous Mask’s soul power was relatively weak, thus easily defeated by him.

Had he used the Hogwarts Sorting Hat as a substitute, with its four founders and their consciousness that could last for thousands of years, his modest soul power would likely have led to a catastrophic failure, reducing him to idiocy.

This led Skyler to contemplate the essence of magical power. Magical power, he realized, was likely linked to the strength of one’s soul and mental power.

It was the potency of one’s spirit that determined the magical capacity and magical flow rate of a wizard.

Skyler was now convinced that magic didn’t naturally increase over time at a fixed growth rate, as most wizards believed.

After all, formidable witches and wizards like Grindelwald and Dumbledore dominated European magic in their forties, which older generations couldn’t match.

Skyler pondered these thoughts, eyes gleaming with a nearly imperceptible light.

He appeared to have stumbled upon the most astounding secret in the magical world – a secret regarding the enhancement of magical power.

Grindelwald and Dumbledore, unlike Voldemort, hadn’t employed dark magic to transform themselves.

Their magical power grew at an exceptional rate due to their unparalleled soul and mental strength.

This truth was never discussed in the original work.

It seemed possible that the two masters didn’t grasp the underlying principle and were instead born with inherently strong souls and unparalleled mental power.

These factors resulted in their extraordinary magical growth.

In essence, a potent soul and a robust mental power might not cause one’s magical power to surge instantly like a magic potion would. Still, they could indeed accelerate the rate at which magical power developed.

To rival the strength of Voldemort and Dumbledore before the turbulent times, Skyler knew he would need to discover a means to fortify his soul and augment his mental strength.

Even though the Ominous Mask, worth 29 gallons, was rendered worthless, Skyler felt no remorse.

He carefully examined the fragments but found that the magical aura attached to them had vanished with the collapse of consciousness.

The mask was now two ordinary pieces, and he unhesitatingly tossed them in the trash bin.

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Published On: December 9, 2023

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