The first week back at school concluded, and the young wizards eagerly welcomed their first Saturday.
In Slytherin’s secret room, a notable transformation had taken place since Skyler’s last visit. During the summer vacation, Skyler commissioned Dobby for renovations. Beneath the statue of Salazar Slytherin, a newly constructed elevated platform stood. In front of it, a seven-tiered red carpet extended, leading to a solitary throne.
Skyler now sat upon this throne, its back adorned with a bead emanating a light green halo, casting a mysterious and slightly sinister aura over Skyler’s face.
Two individuals stood on the stairs, occupying the first floor from the top. To the left was Daphne Greengrass, the eldest daughter of the Greengrass family, while to the right stood Morag MacDougal, a fourth-year Ravenclaw student.
Dobby, the house elf, and a sixth-year Slytherin female student were facing the high platform. They looked up, their mentality and demeanor subdued in the presence of Skyler.
“Master, Dobby has brought people to you,” Dobby announced, his voice now more composed.
“Good job,” Skyler’s voice resonated from the elevated platform.
“This is what Dobby should do. Dobby doesn’t dare to take credit,” the house elf responded with sincerity.
Turning his attention to the Slytherin student, Skyler inquired, “Are you from the Wakanda family?”
The student proudly displayed the clan emblem on her robe, depicting a black panther with fangs and “Wakanda Forever” written beneath it. “I’m Nariel of the Wakanda family. I’m here to greet you, Mr. Malfoy,” she declared.
“Are you here to represent yourself or your family?” Skyler questioned.
“Nariel is the only daughter of the family’s direct line and has been authorized by the family. I came here with sincerity and genuinely hope to form an alliance with the noble family.” Nariel replied while bowing herself to Skyler.
Although not among the 28 holy pure-blood families, the Wakanda family wielded a decent level of power, akin to the Goyle and Crab families. Mrs. Wakanda held a position in the Ministry of Magic’s Law Enforcement Department, succeeding Umbridge as the director of the Office of Prohibition of Abuse of Magic two years ago.
While not immensely powerful, the role involved sending warning letters to minor wizards violating secrecy laws during the summer, with limited influence due to internal bureaucratic constraints among various departments at the Ministry of Magic.
Several days before the start of the school year, on September 1st, Mrs. Wakanda received a report that Mad-Eye Moody had violated the secrecy law. His trash can had triggered Muggle attention, drawing the interest of Muggle law enforcement officers.
While this incident was significant, the news quickly spread within the department, allowing Arthur Weasley from the neighboring Office of Prohibition of Muggle Abuse to intervene and resolve the matter before the Wakanda team could assemble.
Despite Arthur Weasley’s seemingly modest demeanor and apparent disinterest in power, his popularity and reputation as a good husband allowed him to exercise influence effectively. Recently, he assisted Ludovic Bagman in resolving his brother Otto Bagman’s troubles, earning him a first-class admission ticket to the Quidditch World Cup. Arthur not only camped in the first row but also occupied VIP seats for the event.
The talents in Wakanda didn’t believe Arthur was as simple as he appeared. Although he seemed like an honest gentleman, his involvement in the Moody incident suggested otherwise. Mrs. Wakanda chose to remain silent on the matter, recognizing that Arthur had crossed a line.
For Skyler, the Office of Prohibition of Muggle Abuse was an enticing position with significant control. Holding this role meant controlling a map-like monitoring tool for the Ministry of Magic. Additionally, it granted the ability to cast spells outside the school.
Skyler, devoid of visible emotion on his face, stated, “The Wakanda family is well-informed about current affairs, and I genuinely welcome you to join, but—” Skyler, with an unreadable expression, welcomed the Wakanda family but added a caveat.
Nariel frowned, asking, “But what?”
Skyler asserted, “I think there’s no doubt that the Malfoy family is stronger than yours. While you seek an alliance, aligning with the Malfoy family is essentially a request. You don’t need to refute; your family’s elders must have noticed this and sent you. I believe, for this alliance, you should demonstrate more sincerity.”
Nariel responded, “My mother has agreed, and I can collaborate with you in the Ministry of Magic to shield all the young wizards on the list you provided from the ancient lineage detection. It will provide you with more than enough for them to move in a space that will get them out from the surveillance of public. Isn’t that enough? What more sincerity do you want?”
With piercing eyes, Skyler expressed satisfaction with the proposed conditions but revealed a personal addition. His gaze seemed to cast a strange magic on Nariel, subtly disintegrating her will, making any resistance futile.
“I heard… you and Irina Selwyn in your class were good friends and sisters?” Skyler’s voice remained gentle, but an underlying coldness sent a chill down Nariel’s spine.
The dreaded moment had finally arrived. Nariel gritted her teeth and replied, “Yes, I have known Irina since childhood, and we have a good relationship.” Confronting the dual pressure of Skyler’s penetrating gaze and overwhelming presence, she couldn’t help but feel a sense of regret for Irina.
“I believe you should have also guessed—” Skyler sneered, “Yes, that Lestrange guy is under my influence… Your family isn’t entirely foolish; you understand the entanglement between your family and the Selwyns. You don’t want to be the next victim in this feud, so you choose to surrender to us in advance. I advise you to set aside personal feelings and prioritize your family!”
The Wakanda family’s underlying motives were transparent to Skyler. Their actions stemmed from fear of Skyler’s reputation and methods. This elucidates why Skyler had tirelessly worked on enhancing his reputation from the outset of his game.
While prestige might seem inconsequential in ordinary times, it can accumulate like a snowball. In times of wizarding world turmoil, everyone, every power, every family—unless choosing exile—must take a side.
Skyler’s current momentum was on the rise. He had successfully manipulated public opinion, crafted the image of a future powerhouse, and displayed his influence in business and politics. Prominent companies in the wizarding world actively sought financing from him, and politicians endeavored to establish ties.
The Selwyn family, engrossed in mysticism, had lost significant momentum. Combined with Skyler’s carrot-and-stick approach, it was unsurprising that the Wakanda family made this choice after viewing Lestrange as the sacrificial pawn.
The Wakanda family, the Nott family, and the Greengrass family marked just the beginning. As turbulent times approached, numerous neutral forces observing, testing, and waiting would inevitably pick sides.
Their decisions would hinge on the strength of momentum, the greater benefit, and the prevailing climate. Once these forces amassed, neither Dumbledore nor Voldemort could be taken lightly.
Skyler’s eyes gleamed with a cold light, “You’re correct. My focus is solely on dealing with the Selwyn family. Thus, I need you to act as my inside source, monitoring all of Miss Selwyn’s actions at Hogwarts and awaiting my further instructions. Do you comprehend?”
“Fine, I understand,” Nariel replied, resigned. There was no room for regret, even if she wanted to express it.
“Remember, your actions will determine your family’s fate. Don’t make foolish decisions that you’ll regret due to a momentary lapse in judgment.” The chill in Skyler’s tone dissipated as he continued gently, “Don’t forget, now, if anything happens to Irina, her Prefect position is likely yours…”
Skyler and Nariel knew that among the Slytherin girls in the 6th grade, only Irina and Nariel were most qualified to be prefects. The others fell short in terms of family background and strength. Upon hearing this, Nariel visibly quivered, and dormant thoughts slowly took root in her heart.
“I will heed your command. Then for now, I, Nariel Wakanda, will resign from this place and await for your further summon.” At Skyler’s signal, Dobby took Nariel’s hand, and with a crack, they Disapparated.
[Alliance with the Wakanda Family has been formed!]
Skyler snapped his fingers, and a house elf materialized from the air.
“Dino, keep an eye on Nariel for me. I don’t trust her completely. If anything goes wrong, join forces with Dobby and Shining, apprehend her, and report back to me.” Dino received his orders and vanished.
Now, only three individuals remained in the secret room: Skyler, Daphne, and Morag. Each had their thoughts, and a profound silence lingered.
Skyler broke the silence, “Daphne, Morag, this is my chosen path. The road to glory is paved with sacrifice and blood, and along the way, there will be conspiracies and betrayals. The accompanying music…” His voice trembled slightly, “If you cannot accept it, I understand.”
“Enough, Skyler!” The first to interrupt was not Daphne but Morag, her eyes brimming with unwavering determination. “Since I’ve decided to support you, I will stand by you. Maybe these power struggles, conspiracies, and tricks make me uneasy, but I will never abandon you—absolutely not!”
Daphne’s smile radiated confidence as she spoke, “Skyler, my entire family has placed their trust in you. There’s no turning back for me—I know I can read people well, trust my instincts, and I believe you won’t disappoint us.” With a mischievous expression, she added, “Just remember our sisterhood, and don’t increase our numbers!”
Skyler stammered, “Ah! No, it won’t! I have you, and that’s enough, really!”
Fortunately, the awkward topic was interrupted by a crackling sound. Shining appeared through Apparition, respectfully presenting the latest “Prophet Daily” to Skyler. The headline read “Puddlemere United Team Chaser Mysteriously Disappears During Game.”
“Master, the result of this morning’s game is in. As expected, the newly recruited chaser of Puddlemere United, Wilda Griffith, mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the game. Gwenog Jones, captain of the Holyhead Harpies team, had previously issued a death threat to Wilda due to her betrayal and departure from the team. Consequently, Gwenog has been taken into custody by the Ministry of Magic to assist in the investigation.”
Wilda Griffith, a prominent star Puddlemere United acquired after Skyler’s capital injection, commanded an exorbitant transfer fee, setting a historical record in the British and Irish League at 1,000 Galleons.
The sudden disappearance of such a player would undoubtedly cause significant setbacks for the team. Philbert Devrill, troubled by this turn of events, would bear most of the team’s losses since Skyler had signed an insurance agreement, absolving him of player-related accidents.
Another individual facing concerns was Horace Slughorn. With his lover taken into custody by the Ministry of Magic, and Devrill grappling with significant losses, a simple resolution seemed unlikely. A dispute between the two parties was inevitable.
Skyler pondered the situation and devised a plan. He drafted two letters and dispatched them to Slughorn and Devrill, respectively, urging a temporary ceasefire in their conflicts. The letters requested that Skyler be given the opportunity to assist in locating the missing Wilda Griffith.
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