Wentworth stood before a multitude of dark wizards, feeling the immense presence and power that surged like a mountain and a tsunami.
For a moment, he was overwhelmed, as if intoxicated by the moment.
Suddenly, the ragged wizard who had earlier been crawling on the ground after Wentworth entered the hall sprang to his feet and hurried toward him.
“Allow me to introduce Carlo,” Abernathy whispered in Wentworth’s ear. “He once stood by your grandfather’s side, swearing the Carlo family’s eternal allegiance to Grindelwald. However, his descendants joined the Death Eaters and betrayed our cause.”
Wentworth nodded in understanding, his gaze now fixed on Carlo, who had approached.
In front of everyone, Carlo knelt before Wentworth once more.
This abrupt action startled Wentworth.
However, to Wentworth’s surprise, Carlo reached out and held up a key.
“The Gringott’s vault key? Your family’s vault key, which you always carried with you?” Abernathy questioned incredulously, seeing the Gringotts vault key held aloft by Carlo.
Still on his knees, Carlo replied without raising his head, “Yes, this is the key to the Carlo family’s vault at Gringotts. Those two youngsters tried to steal it from me but were unsuccessful.”
Observing the key held high in Carlo’s hands and his tattered attire, Abernathy sighed and remarked, “You do have a heart.”
He then turned his attention back to Wentworth.
Puzzled by the scene before him, Wentworth stretched out his hand to help Carlo stand, saying, “Please, get up! What are you doing?”
However, Carlo remained unmoved, maintaining his kneeling position.
He raised his head, gazing earnestly at Wentworth, and declared, “I pay tribute to you, my lord.”
With that, Carlo again lowered his forehead and held the Gringotts vault key high, offering it to Wentworth with unwavering determination.
Uncertain about Carlo’s actions, Wentworth turned to Rosier and Abernathy for clarification, asking, “What does this mean?”
Rosier explained, “This is an ancient tradition among wizarding families. When a wizard pledges loyalty to another, they present their most precious possessions with both hands as a sign of tribute and submission. Accepting the offered item signifies that you accept their allegiance, binding their life and honor to you.”
Remembering the treasures he had seen in the Gringotts vault, Wentworth nodded in comprehension.
Abernathy added, “In legends, this was once a complete ceremony. With the final incantation, if the wizard ever broke their oath in the future, Death would come to claim their life and end their bloodline. Today, it serves more as a symbolic gesture.”
Curious, Wentworth asked, “What happens if I don’t accept?”
Abernathy was momentarily speechless, clearly not anticipating this question.
Rosier, however, responded with a slight smile, “You can try.”
Resigned, Wentworth addressed Carlo sincerely, “You don’t have to do this. Your presence here proves your loyalty.”
Carlo remained on the ground, unmoved.
He held the Gringotts key aloft and refused to stand.
“This key represents centuries of wealth accumulated by the Carlo family. It isn’t appropriate to relinquish it so easily,” Wentworth remarked, attempting to persuade Carlo. “I order you to stand!”
Despite Wentworth’s efforts, Carlo continued kneeling before him, holding the Gringotts key high.
Observing this, Rosier intervened, “It seems he won’t rise unless you accept his tribute.”
With no other choice, Wentworth extended his right hand without further hesitation.
He took the Gringotts key from Carlo’s hands, saying, “Very well, I accept it.”
Carlo slowly rose from the ground, a relieved smile on his weathered face.
As Wentworth was about to say something, an unexpected series of events unfolded.
Numerous wizards from the gathering, each holding a diverse item, approached Wentworth.
They solemnly presented their tributes.
“To you, my lord,” they uttered in unison before placing their items in front of Wentworth and then quietly departing, making way for the next.
While the items were not particularly valuable, they were precious in their own right.
No one directed the actions throughout the entire process, yet the wizards moved swiftly and with perfect coordination as if they had rehearsed this moment.
Only the sound of footsteps and the phrase “Tribute to you, my Lord” filled the air in the otherwise silent hall.
As the objects accumulated before him, Wentworth watched in a daze.
It was as though he saw a vision of countless wizards in a time long past, pledging their allegiance and following him with resounding chants toward an unknown destiny.
This gesture continued for a significant amount of time until the final wizard placed their item in front of Wentworth.
Still in a trance, he finally spoke:
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