A/N: A friend of mine was watching me solve a daily puzzle in Miracle Mask, and once Layton popped up she just looked at me and asked, "Um, is that how they normally solve puzzles?" And that's how this idea came about.
Disclaimer: I don't own the puzzle descriptions or catchphrases that I kind of sort of (totally) stole from the game, but if I did, Luke would under no circumstance say, "I'm the professor's apprentice!" We know Luke. We know.
The trio had come from London, and they seemed normal enough upon their arrival in Monte d'Or. There was a small boy of about nine who wore blue, an energetic woman with curly hair who took quite a lot of photographs, and a gentlemanly fellow with an impressive top hat. Nobody extraordinarily special upon first glance, just a small group of people who blended in with a large group of tourists who contributed to the crowded population of the grand, carnival lit city. The only thing about these travelers that had drawn the attention of the Monte d'Or citizens in the first place was that they had been personally invited by Angela Ledore to help with the case of the Masked Gentleman. This bit of information made all the residents perk up their ears and keep an eye out for the guests. After all, anyone who had been specially called upon to help with such an important case had to be interesting.
The first Monte d'Orian to interact with the special visitors was Stumble. The clumsy clown had gotten himself caught up in his balloon strings when, just his luck, the top hatted man—who introduced himself as Professor Layton— came about and untangled him in only three moves. After Stumble was freed and the trio had left, a nearby policeman came over to talk to him. "Hey, were those Mrs. Angela's invited guests?"
"Aha, yea I guess so," Stumble answered. "They sure are good at puzzles…"
The policeman noticed the clown's mind seemed to be elsewhere. "Stumble, is somethin' wrong?"
Stumble snapped out of his daze, "I uh—"
"What? Is it somethin' to do with those visitors? Did they say somethin' funny to ya?"
Stumble scratched awkwardly at the back of his neck, "It's not exactly what they said so much as what they did…"
The policeman clenched his fist, "Did they hurt ya, little guy? Jeez, the three of them come into the city like some puzzle solving big shots, yet they can't even solve a puzzle right without messing with people!"
Stumble held up his hands, "Oh no, that's not what I meant! It didn't hurt at all while the professor was fixing those tricky balloon strings, but after he did that….well, it's hard to explain really. He did sort of….well it wasn't exactly a victory dance so much as a set of fluent motions they did before they answered..."
"So an answer dance?"
The clown nodded, "Yea, I guess. He did this answer dance where he kind of mumbled to himself as he evaluated whether or not he fixed the strings all right, and once he figured he had, he kind of just pointed to no one in particular and said something along the lines of, 'That was a challenge to be sure!" Then he tipped his hat to me as if nothing had happened and was on his way."
The policeman held his chin in thought. "Well that's a bit strange, i'nt it: random chap going about solving puzzles and doing some weird answer dance? And the pointing doesn't seem to be necessary. Pointing is a bit rude in my opinion."
"It wasn't rudeness, it was just excitement. I would be pretty excited as well if I was able to solve a puzzle in only three moves!"
"You sure he didn't cheat or nothin'?"
"On my honor," the small man held up his right hand for emphasis. "Anyway, I don't really see a need to dwell on the matter. His friends didn't react strangely when he did his little routine, so it's probably just a normal quirk of his."
The policeman nodded in agreement, "Hm, I 'spose so. Still, you'd think they'd address it or somehow, just so people don't get confused about it. I wonder if it's because they do the same thing…"
"I don't know, but I'm thinking there may be something wrong with London's water supply. That's the only explanation I can think of that'd make anyone act like that."
During the next few days, more citizens became acquainted with the mysterious visitors who they now know to be named Professor Layton, Luke and Emmy. It seemed as though Stumble hadn't been the only one to witness the top hatted man's mysterious answer dance, and it seemed like his colleagues had acted in similar ways when it was their turn to solve a puzzle. More and more stories began to surface, each on more bizarre than the last.
One young woman wasn't too sure about all the rumors. Yuming, while entertained by all the tales of the strange guests, knew very well that information could easily be distorted or made up when being passed around to a big group of people. While she had not met Professor Layton and his friends, she assumed that they would not have been invited by Angela Ledore unless they were truly extraordinary individuals. The other residents of Monte d'Or were most likely making up stories as a way of relieving themselves from the stress of the Masked Gentleman case. Yuming was content on saving her judgment until she actually met the guests.
This day came sooner than Yuming expected. In fact it came the very next day. Yuming was walking home from a friend's house when all of a sudden she caught a glimpse of some unfamiliar characters passing by her on the road. She didn't think much of it and continued her brisk walk, passing by the individuals. But wait...was that man wearing a top hat? Curious, the young woman stopped and looked over her shoulder: it was the mysterious trio.
"Hey, you three!" Yuming called out as she rushed over to the group. "Sorry to bother you, but are you by any chance the guests that Mrs. Ledore invited?"
The man (Who she assumed to be Professor Layton), smiled. "Oho, we've been getting that question a lot lately!"
"I'll say!" The boy (who had to be Luke) exclaimed. "This is the third person to ask us that question, and we haven't even reached our destination yet!"
"Luke, manners!" The woman (Emmy) scolded playfully. "I'm sorry, ma'am, it's a bit past Luke's normal lunchtime and I'm afraid he gets rather cranky when hungry."
Yuming giggled. "That's alright. Pleased to meet you all! I'm Yuming."
"Well, Miss Yuming, it's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Professor Hershel Layton." He held out his hand, which Yuming happily shook.
"I'm his assistant, Emmy Altava." She stuck out her hand which Yuming shook as well.
"And I'm his apprentice, Luke Triton!" Luke happily stuck out his hand, which, again, Yuming shook.
"It's so good to meet all of you; I've heard so many great things!" She didn't want to scare the visitors away now that she was finally talking to them, so she stretched the truth just a bit.
"Well, it's nice to know that we're making such a big impression," Emmy grinned.
"Oh yes, very big!" Yuming could agree truthfully with that. She evaluated each individual in front of her, yet found nothing strange. But it wasn't the appearance of the trio that had people talking; it was how they solved puzzles. Yuming, however, was prepared: just as she was leaving her friend's house, her friend had given her a puzzle to solve on her way home. She had been given the perfect opportunity to get to the bottom of the rumored answer dances.
"My dear, you seem lost in thought." Layton had taken notice of the young woman's absent mindedness.
Yuming snapped out of her daze. "Oh, I'm sorry! It's just that there's this puzzle weighing down on my mind and I just can't seem to solve it."
"Well it looks like you picked the right people to pull over!" Emmy sounded extremely eager at the sound of a new puzzle. "How about you show me and I'll help ease your mind."
"Alright," Yuming agreed as she took out a paper with the puzzle description, "here it is: A family of three runs a mobile doughnut shop. Their most popular item is a four –glaze doughnut. There are twelve doughnuts here," Yuming pulled out a slip of paper with a sketch of the doughnuts from her pocket and gave it to Emmy. She then continued to read. "Three of these doughnuts were made by the mother of the family. She makes her doughnuts in her own special way. Can you find the mother's doughnu—?"
Yuming had looked up to make sure Emmy was following, but stopped mid-speech: The curly haired assistant was lost in thought. She closed her eyes and clutched her chin as she pondered the problem that had been read to her. This went on for about two minutes, which was a minute out of Yuming's comfort zone. She was about to say something when Emmy snapped open her eyes and looked off into the distance as if she was in a trance. Yuming looked at Layton and Luke: nothing. They were happily enjoying the scenery and seemed oblivious to their friend's actions. Then Emmy struck a pose and mumbled, "Please, allow me."
"Um…aren't you already solving the puzzle?"
Emmy didn't respond, but struck another pose and another after that. Then she stopped, her face fell, and her hand flew up to her mouth in shock. "Wait…what?!"
"Emmy, is something wrong?" Luke looked curiously at his obviously devastated friend.
"I-I thought I got it right…but now that I'm looking at it closely the three that I thought the mother made can't be right."
Yuming wasn't sure how to react to what had just happened, but she sheepishly managed to say, "I uh, actually wasn't entirely finished telling you the rules of the puzzle before you started to solve it."
Emmy's eyes grew wide. "There was more?!"
Luke patted his friend on the arm. "Emmy, why don't I try solving it next? You're a bit too quick to act."
Emmy silently nodded, handed Luke the paper with the doughnut sketches, and sulked to where Professor Layton stood. Luke turned towards Yuming and nodded as if to signal her to read the extra part of the puzzle.
I'm starting to agree with everyone else about these guys: they really are bizarre. Nevertheless, Luke was waiting for the puzzle, and Yuming did not want to deny him the chance to solve it simply because Emmy had acted strangely whilst doing so. Besides, Luke seemed calmer than the curly haired woman. He probably solved puzzles differently. Yuming cleared her throat. "Alright, it's not a huge rule but: the glaze on the doughnuts is the same on both sides, but flipping one changes the order of the glazes."
"It all makes sense now!" Emmy cried out as Layton put a comforting arm around her.
"Luke, are you…"
Yuming looked at the little boy and trailed off. Well, he obviously understood it: he was completely lost in thought, exactly like his friend had been. Yuming had honestly never seen a group of individuals as peculiar as these three. Did they not even notice when they went into this state? Maybe it was some psychological disorder, or perhaps it had something to do with London's water supply…
"Miss, you seem to be lost in thought once again. Are you alright?" Professor Layton had noticed her spacing out.
How does he notice me and not his own apprentice? But instead Yuming asked, "Professor, are you by any chance trained in psychology?"
The man looked amused, "Oh no my dear. I'm afraid that my forte is archeology."
The young woman blushed. She didn't want to blatantly ask the three what was wrong with them when it came to puzzles, but there seemed to be no other way to bring up the subject. Then out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Luke beginning to move. He struck poses not that different from Emmy's, mumbling to himself just as she had done. Then he smiled, which Yuming assumed meant he had found an answer. Her guess was proved correct as Luke triumphantly pointed at the empty air. The other Monte d'Orians had said that any one of the three visitors would do this when they had solved a puzzle correctly.
Yuming smiled to herself. Although the way he acted was pretty strange, she had never seen anyone so enthusiastic over something as simple as a puzzle. "You have the answer, Luke?"
"I'm the professor's apprentice!"
"Ah...yes. I was aware."
Luke snapped out of his trance and looked at Yuming, eyes wide with excitement. "I've got the doughnuts!" He exclaimed as he pointed to three of the sketches. Yuming had the answer on the back of her description sheet, and she immediately flipped over the paper to confirm the young apprentice's answer.
"Correct! Excellent work, Luke!"
Luke ran over to his friends. "Professor, how did I do?"
The man chuckled and adjusted his hat. "Excellent deduction, my boy."
Emmy gave Luke a gentle punch on the shoulder. "Good job, assistant number two."
Luke mumbled something about being apprentice number one, and then turned back to Yuming. "Is your mind at ease now?"
"Oh yes!" The young woman gave the boy a thumb up. "It was very entertaining to watch you solve the puzzle. Did you guys coordinate your little answer dances or did they just happen on their own?"
The trio gave her a blank stare. There was a moment of silence before Layton finally spoke up. "Answer dance? I'm sorry, my dear, but I'm not sure what you're referring to."
Yuming could feel her face turning bright red. She never actually meant to ask the question that had just slipped out. "I ah...never mind. Thanks for your time!" She rushed off without another word. Those three are nice, but I just don't understand what makes them solve puzzles that way.
Professor Layton looked at his assistant and apprentice. "That's about the sixth time anyone's asked us about this answer dance, and I can't put my finger on what they're talking about."
"I would think I would remember ever performing such a dance, but I don't." Emmy shrugged.
"Me either. Besides, dancing is for girls."
Layton held his chin, puzzled by the strange questions pertaining to this seemingly imaginary victory dance. "Hm. This city is home to a peculiar bunch of citizens. Perhaps I should alert Angela and Henry that there may be an issue with their water supply. It's the only explanation that seems logical in making people hallucinate like this."
A/N: Spring Break ends today, which means I have to get up at 5:00 in the morning again… *crawls into corner and hides under blanket* There. No one will find me with such a foolproof disguise!
Well my magical starfish, I thank whoever has read the story, and I'd love to hear your thoughts in a review!
Until next time,