AN: Written for the spook-me challenge on LJ. I won't tell you what the prompt is because it'll probably give the ending away, and we don't want that, now do we? I don't own Professor Layton. Thanks for reading, all! Much love!
It was only natural that Layton would be able to run faster than his apprentice, Luke. He was older, taller, and had longer legs. So try as he might, it made perfect sense that Luke was unable to keep pace with his mentor as they chased the old man through the deserted streets of St. Mystere beneath the cover of nightfall.
Layton sprinted ahead, giving hot pursuit to the man who they had seen stuffing an unconscious (or perhaps even dead…) Ramon into a sack and slinging that sack over his shoulder. The professor rushed around the corner; Luke was a scant couple of meters behind him. Layton was only out of Luke's sight for a second or two.
When Luke skidded around the corner, his teacher was nowhere to be seen.
He was surprised enough that he stopped in his tracks and looked around. Where in the world had Professor Layton gone?
…wait, there he was! Up ahead!
Luke nearly smacked himself in the forehead, much as he did when he was mistaken on a particularly challenging puzzle. It seemed that the Professor had momentarily stepped into the shadow of a building, and Luke had simply overlooked him in due to the darkness of the night. How silly of him. Shaking off his momentary panic as an instant of lost senses, he redoubled his speed and made haste to try and catch up to his mentor and rejoin the pursuit of the mysterious old man.
They lost their quarry in the darkened alleys and back roads of St. Mystere. It was a disappointing end to the chase, but no matter. They would solve the mystery sooner or later, and find out who that man was and what he was doing shoving Ramon into that bag and carrying the man away in such a matter.
And eventually, they did, in what could easily be considered the greatest adventure of their lives. After all, what else could the events of those couple of days be called? It was not every day that a person found themselves chased through the trails of an abandoned amusement park by the park's own Ferris Wheel. It was the sort of story that they probably would have never believed as any sort of reality had they not experienced it themselves.
They made their way to the top of the interesting tower, solving puzzle after puzzle on the way there. They found the Golden Apple and secured the location of the Reinhold family fortune. And Flora, the Baron's daughter, had left the village to accompany Luke and Layton into the world beyond the walls of the odd little town. They returned to London, carrying the secret of the village with them.
They all thought that was the end of their adventures with St. Mystere. But not long afterwards, something seemed very off. For one, Layton didn't seem to be eating as much as he did before they left the town. Some days it seemed that he did not eat anything at all.
And he was also increasingly obsessed with puzzles. Oh, Professor Layton had always been deeply involved with puzzles and brainteasers, but it was getting to the point where it was to the exclusion of almost all else, including archaeology, his actual profession.
But the two biggest shocks came in one day, within an hour of each other.
The first came in the form of a letter from Lady Dahlia in St. Mystere, offering her sympathies to Luke over the death of his mentor. She included a clipping of the newspaper article detailing the discovery of the body of one, Hershel Layton, in the river surrounding the village. There was evidence of foul play, and an investigator who had taken testimonies strongly suspected the seemingly-insane man who had destroyed the tower in the center of the village.
When he started down the stairs to confront the person he figured to be masquerading as the good Professor (he highly suspected that it was Don Paolo, somehow), he heard a high-pitched scream from the study where he knew the alleged Layton was. His blood ran cold when he realized that he recognized the scream as Flora's, and he ran down the stairs, taking them three at a time in his hurry to get to Flora. If Don Paolo had hurt her…
But Luke stopped cold in the doorway when he saw why she had screamed. She was standing on the far side of the room, her back pressed flat against the bookshelves there. She had both hands pressed to her mouth, her eyes wide and horrified.
And in the middle of the room, Professor Layton was sitting at his desk, staring down at his arm in wonder. The blazer and shirt were torn, as was the skin beneath the fabric, and sparks were shooting out of the gash from a severed wire.
"H-he h-hit his a-arm on the d-desk…" Flora stammered, looking to be near hysterics. Luke was starting to feel much the same way. "And that h-happened…"
It was like a train crash Luke had seen once, where an engine and several cars had gone off the track in a horrible accident: he could not tear his eyes away from the sight. And as he gaped at it, the damaged robot that had taken his mentor's place crumpled, ending up face-down across the top of Layton's desk.