Professor Layton and the Book of Memory
Ah, hello, children. I've been chastised for long disclaimers, intros, warnings, etc. so I'll save the typing on both of our parts and just offer a brief word of introduction to what you will and will NOT be getting yourself into.
This story is part ONE of a trilogy. Needless to say, I'm taking this story seriously, as if it were a playable game. I'd even like to draw comics or prepare a visual novel relating to it, if I have the time. It fits into the canon story as best as it can, however, I can not guarantee the use of every character in the Prof. Layton games. Also, I may need to go back and rewrite after I play Mask of Miracle and Azran Legacies, as there may be discrepancies. Bear with me!
Please understand that while the Professor Layton franchise is based in England and this story would do well to be written by a British person, I am not English; I am American. I do know of some British cultural references, but I will most likely fail to remove all of my American influences. If you find any glaring mistakes or places where I could use a British phrase/word, please kindly let me know in a PM.
Do NOT write me reviews with nothing to offer. That is, if you are just going to go on and on only to hear yourself "talk," go find a sycophant and pummel them with your drivel. I accept CONSTRUCTIVE criticism (and compliments) only. Idle words with no base will be given a very pointed and pithy comeback meant to draw mental blood.
And…I suppose that is all! I won't spoil too much of the story, but….the majority of this focuses on Layton. Sorry if you hate him.
Putting flaxseed in your meals,
CHAPTER 1: CATALYST
"There's…no return address."
Professor Layton scanned the front and back of a large, cream-colored envelope, carefully making sure there wasn't any other writing he could have missed. But sure enough, it only bore his name, scribbled hurriedly on the front in black ink: Hershel Layton.
"Seems peculiar if you ask me!" Luke, the professor's apprentice, chimed in. He was tip-toeing to get a better look. "Lemme see!"
"Luke, it's addressed to me. Thank you for bringing me the mail." He turned to his desk. "This was all that was in the post box?"
"And your anthropologist journal…but—!"
"Luke, it's rude to pry at others' mail. A gentleman keeps to his own." Shielding the letter, the Professor sat down in his wooden desk chair.
He did share the boy's thoughts however: where was the return address? More importantly, where was his? The envelope obviously had never been through the post system, and was merely placed into his mail box by another's hand, not the postman's. The script was loose and casual, as if written down last minute, right before being left in the box.
'Curious…' He grabbed his letter opener and slid it slowly along the envelope's seal, careful not to ruin the contents inside. The flap lifted, prompting the Professor to peer inside. 'Seems to be innocent enough…'
He removed a piece of paper about the size of the envelope and at the top was a thin strip of scrap attached by paperclip. The scrap held instructions, but the larger paper…
"—blank?" Luke finished, confused.
"Luke…!" Slightly startled, the Professor turned and chided the boy with a half-hearted glare; he was more interested at the object at hand to care much about correcting the boy in his charge. After the boy retreated a few steps, Layton returned to the attached instructions, printed in the same way as the front of the envelope. It read: Write your name at the top of the included paper.
And he read it several times, hoping the words would make sense, but was only left feeling like he was reading another language and the words just wouldn't make sense. Flipping the paper over, hoping to find a clue to what the message was about, he was left with nothing but his own staring expression, as blank as the pearl white paper he was holding. And now that he thought about it, the paper was unusually bright. "What in the world…?"
"What's it about, Professor?" Luke asked impatiently, still refusing to be shook off. "Write your name…?"
"I'll look into it later. For now, let's get something for lunch." He smiled, returning the contents to the envelope and leaving it on the desk. Then he ushered the boy outside, hoping to direct his attention elsewhere. He grabbed his signature top hat and followed Luke out the door.
"Do you think it's safe?" the boy questioned. "The paper, I mean."
"I don't see why not, it seems innocent enough. But it's also so strange, and we both know that underestimating and assuming things would not be very…conducive, after all the adventures we've been on. But anyway, it's so strange, too strange, to take lightly. I need to think about this."
"There's not much to think about! It says write your name, it's that simple. It's probably just some chap trying to silently—and slyly, mind you—promote his fancy parchment!" The boy laughed loudly, punching the air. "That has to be it!"
The Professor laughed. "Children think the world is so simple. If only everyone thought the same, it really would be. But, I'm biding my time, Luke. Let's focus on lunch for now."
Luke talked through mouthfuls of sandwich, the Professor thinking about the paper while sipping tea. He nodded occasionally, falsely verifying his attention; he hoped he wasn't agreeing to something that he shouldn't be. But he couldn't focus; the paper was too strange, and it instantly presented itself as a puzzle to be solved. Sometimes, he admitted internally, his curious nature was burdensome and annoying…
With lunch paid for, the Professor and Luke made their way back home, waiting for the feeling of rain drops falling from the grim sky.
"Guess I should have brought an umbrella," Luke said, eyeing the clouds warily.
"We'll make it before the storm, don't worry," the Professor responded, actually unsure with his assessment. The wind picked up a bit, whistling under the brim of his hat.
A few minutes later, the door leading to their flat came into view. Luke raced to open it, just in time for the first sprinkles to hit the pavement, causing the Professor to make a not-oft made run for shelter. Luke laughed as they climbed the staircase and entered the flat.
"You won't think it's so funny when your hat gets soaked and shrinks!" he called to the boy, who ran off to his room. He shook his head, smiling. "Youth…"
His head turned instantly to the desk and the envelope. He had forgotten about it for a brief moment, lost in other thoughts about raindrops and whether he'd just pulled a muscle. It once again consumed his mind, an infinite number of possibilities with an equally infinite amount of conclusions crowding in his head. Now, the blank parchment seemed foreboding. Was it brought on by the darkness of the room, assisted by the storm now pelting the windows with rain? No, the paper itself seemed to secrete an aura, releasing dark secrets, swallowed by the shadows.
Settled at the desk, Professor Layton turned on the lamp, and once again took the paper into his hands.
"Write your name… Write your name…" He continued repeating the words, looking over the paper for the third or fourth time. He held the paper up to the light, hoping to see some secret writing. Nothing. What was the point of a blank paper?
Without warning or a second thought, he took his ink pen in hand, and, neatly, wrote his name in his flowing scrawl. "Herrrshel Laaayton," he whispered softly, reciting his name slowly as he wrote. He smiled, and…waited. The ink glistened in the lamp's light. Had he expected a fanfare, or some earth-shattering event? He stared at his name, dumbfounded. "Well, that was a bit of a let—"
He gasped as his name disappeared, not in an instant as a light shuts off, but as a sponge soaks up water, slowly, as if the paper had swallowed his signature, absorbed it into its fibers. A chill went down his spine after accepting what had just happened. The paper was once again blank.
"Just what is this pa…per…?"
It was as if an invisible pen was spilling its ink across the paper, a ghost writing over his shoulder, hurriedly spelling out a list. A heading replaced where his name had just been—Memoriae.
And then more writing. Dates, written in month-day format, lined the left hand side. To the right in separate columns, sentence fragments formed, each listed right underneath the one previously written. What exactly was being listed was not clear, but the Professor read each entry apprehensively.
"'September 2nd: First class held, Puzzle given, Names exchanged. September 15th: Accidental meeting in library, Office, Tea Recipe'? What is this?" His brow furrowed as the fragments filled the page and continued to the backside. He scanned through the rest of the entries. It was as if reading someone's poorly arranged diary. None of the fragments connected; as a whole, none of it made sense. The backside was filled, and the writing stopped at 'September 28th: Tea party invitation, First test, Chat after class.'
'What a strange place to stop,' he thought, when he wondered…
He quickly flipped the sheet to the front side again, confirming his thought. The writing hadn't stopped; it merely resumed where it had first started, the first entries disappearing as his signature did, and new lines taking their place, continuing with 'October 4th: Tea party, Conversation during snacks, Friendship began'. It was as if the paper's musings were eternal, and never could be satisfied. He lazily read through dozens of entries with waning interest when all of a sudden he felt his heart freeze and his stomach hollow.
"What sort of joke is this?" he spat bitterly, demeanor changing. He wasted no time in shoving the paper back into the envelope roughly. Instantly, he felt the air around him become cold, wrapping around his now clammy skin. When had he broke out in a sweat? His breathing had become rapid and sharp. Suddenly, the shuffling of shoes behind his chair made him jump. "What in blazes—"
"What…is that…?" Luke asked hesitantly, a trace of fear in his voice.
"It was nothing, Luke, what did I tell you about—"
"It was just…writing by itself! It's some sort of enchanted—"
"Luke! It's none of your concern, it's just—"
"And it wrote as if it was someone you knew, like an old friend. Did you know her—"
The professor rose from his seat, showing a side Luke was unfamiliar with; a mix of anger, sadness, and fear. His eyes were vacant but his frown spoke enough to relay the message.
"Luke, I want no more word about this, okay? I want you to think no more of it. Please, go back to your room."
Luke turned and ran back to his room, the door shutting with a soft click. Layton glanced at the window, an emptiness now dwelling inside him. It was an emptiness that foiled perfectly with the haunted paper whose list continued growing inside the envelope, whether he continued reading it or not.
Don't forget to review!