As Cassandra pushed the door open, a voice from inside the toy store greeted her, “Sorry, the store has closed. If you need anything, Borgin-Burkes store is still open, and they have everything you might be looking for.”

Cassandra directed her attention towards the source of the voice and spotted a person busy at work inside the store. The same individual had tried to sell her a thousand paper cranes a year ago, only to have Wentworth purchase the entire lot.

In the midst of packing up items in the store, the figure seemed too occupied to greet the new customer. Undeterred, Cassandra took the initiative, “Hello, may I inquire about the thousand paper cranes displayed in the window? Are they still available in the store?”

Upon hearing Cassandra’s question, the busy figure paused, turned around, and looked at Cassandra with a surprised expression. After a quick assessment, the man inquired, “Is that Miss Cassandra?”

Surprised by the recognition, Cassandra asked, “You can recognize me just like that?”

The man displayed a wry smile and explained, “Certainly, it’s hard not to be impressed by you, Miss Cassandra! The thousand paper cranes that took flight from you that day, eventually finding their way into the hands of that gentleman, were part of the batch I made and sold. Yours was the only one to depart.”

Upon hearing the clerk’s revelation, Cassandra’s curiosity was instantly piqued, prompting her to inquire eagerly, “So, you’re the creator of these thousand paper cranes?”

The clerk nodded with pride and responded, “Indeed, those paper cranes are my creation, and only I possess the skill to make it! Furthermore, I’ve made a simple upgrade to them. It not only serves for basic real-world communication but also allows for multiple paper cranes to receive messages simultaneously!”

“I dare say, this is an invention that can revolutionize the magical world, and only I, Mr. Burkes, can craft it!”

The man’s words clearly heightened Cassandra’s interest. However, she caught on to something else he mentioned and ventured tentatively, “Mr. Burke? Are you from the Burke family of the twenty-eight Sacred Families?”

Upon hearing Cassandra’s question, Mr. Burke appeared to realize that he had unintentionally disclosed his lineage. However, his response was not one of pride but rather a wry smile. With a sigh, he admitted, “It used to be.”

“Used to be?” Cassandra couldn’t help but wonder.

Burke, burdened with his past, seemed to carry a heavy heart. Before Cassandra could delve deeper into her inquiries, Burke cut in, “Yes, that’s right, it was once! They struck my name from the family tree because I tainted the purity of the Burke bloodline! It’s laughable, really. I merely found a girl I liked—what’s wrong with that?”

“I understand; these are just excuses. They envy my talent! They prattle on about the glory of the Burkes family, but what glory remains in the current Burkes family? Apart from the antiques in the Borgin-Burkes store, what else is there?”

As Mr. Burke reached the climax of his passionate speech, he almost bellowed the final sentence, only to then fall back into a heavy silence.

After a contemplative pause, Cassandra inquired, “So, what is the purpose of this store?”

Glancing nostalgically at his establishment, Mr. Burke replied, “This store was rented with most of my funds. I intended to prove to my family that the Borgin-Burkes store represents only the past of the Burkes family, and I am the future.”

However, Cassandra pointed insistently at the wares Mr. Burke was packing and remarked, “But clearly, you didn’t succeed, did you?”

Nodding silently acknowledging Cassandra’s observation, Mr. Burke spoke with a wry smile, “That’s correct. It turned out this way. In my pursuit of inventing the Dream Crane, you asked about, I nearly depleted my family’s resources. While the invention was successful, the store couldn’t sustain itself. Perhaps my invention was too advanced and conservative. Wizards find it challenging to embrace such a cutting-edge concept, and they prefer using owls, slow and vulnerable as they may be!”

“Of course, it could also be because the production cost of the Dream Crane is exorbitant. It takes around twenty gold Galleons to craft one. This… is truly unbearable.”

As Mr. Burke expressed his bitterness, the realization of the high price left Cassandra stunned. It was notable that a brand-new wand purchased from Ollivander’s wand shop typically cost only about seven gold Galleons.

Seemingly having vented his frustrations, Mr. Burkes sighed and gestured towards the thousand paper cranes displayed in the window, saying,

“Since you appreciate my Dream Cranes, I’ll gift it to you, Miss Cassandra. After all… it’s just sitting there. Honestly, every time I look at it, it brings a tinge of sadness, but parting with it is easier if it goes to a wizard who appreciates it. It’s the best use for it!”

Upon hearing Mr. Burke’s generous offer, Cassandra glanced at the Dream Cranes in the window but then inquired, “Is this magical item only fixed in the form of a thousand paper cranes?”

Mr. Burke hesitated momentarily at the unexpected question but replied, “No, not at all. The design as a thousand paper cranes is a personal preference of mine. My wife and I met due to a thousand paper cranes, so I decided to create it in the likeness of a crane.”

While smiling at Mr. Burke’s sentimental explanation, Cassandra addressed him, saying, “Mr. Burkes, you’re in luck. I’m quite interested in your invention. However, you’ll have to follow the specifications I provide for this… ah, no, for this set of magical items!”

Reinvigorated by Cassandra’s interest, Mr. Burke eagerly approached her and asked with a hint of excitement, “Miss Cassandra, how many would you like?”

Cassandra produced a stack of playing cards from her robes and declared, “In accordance with this style, one-to-one correspondence—I want 52, no, 53!”

She revealed another playing card from her robes and, wielding her magic wand, transformed the card’s pattern into an enigmatic figure: a wand-wielding man with a blank face, a masked clown sporting a peculiar smile. On both sides of the clown were the words “JoKer.”

Placing this card gently on top of the stack, Cassandra continued, “However, you must make the enhancements as I’ve specified!”

The main way of communication in Secret Hallow was already set by Cassandra herself. It’s going to be a modification of the Thousand Dream Cranes custom-made by Mr. Burke and will be even further modified to fit their

theme of cards with Wentworth acting as the Joker himself.

Read up to 40 Chapters ahead on my Patreon page!

Published On: January 22, 2024

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