Chapter 1: Two Letters
It was a fine day in London, and Professor Hershel Layton of Gressenheller University was taking the time to catch up on some must needed sleep. He was up most of the night marking essays for his archeology class, who were a good bunch of student, and to keep them waiting any longer would be most unfair. He'd had the papers for nearly a week now, but life took a most stressful turn with staff meetings and a new shipment of artifacts to be verified before being taken to the museum. Truth be told Layton's presence at the staff meetings was questionable, but the artifacts had been enough to distract him from his professor duties.
And this is why Dean Delmona hired you an assistant, Layton groaned as he rolled over on his office couch. Thoughts of his young assistant flooded his mind.
Emmy Altava was a bright and feisty young woman, a little hot headed at times, but a wonderful assistant. She kept Layton on track, so that he actually remembered to attend staff meetings and go home once in a while. Unfortunately she'd taken a sudden personal leave this past week to spend time with family, and hadn't been there when Layton needed her most. Layton had been a bit worried when she'd phoned him last week explaining that she needed to take a few days off and apologized for the short notice. But she had a life of her own to lead, and Layton couldn't blame her for living it. Besides he often pulled the same thing to help his friends.
Although it would have been nice for Luke to have some company, Layton thought. Luke had not minded looking over the artifacts with the Professor, however having to spend last night on the couch while he marked essays was hardly fair to the young boy. Neither was leaving Luke to his own devices while Layton tried to take a nap.
Feeling rather guilty the Professor rose from the couch and peered out the window. Outside was young Luke Triton, watering the flowers and talking to a sparrow that had settled on his cap. The boy seemed happy for the moment. Layton smiled and returned to his restless sleep.
Oh bother, the mail! He scolded himself. In the excitement of the week Layton forgot to check his mailbox, yet another task Emmy usually looked after. He considered running down to get it now, but a great yawn escaped him, reminding Layton that running on two hours of sleep was no good at all.
He would send Luke to fetch it later.
Layton awoke to a loud rapping on his office door.
"Professor are you in there?"
"Yes come in," Layton sat up groggily, "the door's unlocked."
A young woman in a yellow trench coat walked into the office tripping over a stray box on the floor before catching her feet. "I see you've been busy," she said. "Where's second assistant?"
It took a moment for the Professor's sleep-deprived brain to register Emmy, who was standing in the doorway with a week's worth of mail in her arms. He hadn't expected her to be back so soon –she was supposed to be off for a few more days. He quickly straightened his orange shirt and infamous top hat, for a gentleman should always look presentable, especially in the presence of a lady. He blushed slightly at the state of his office. "Yes, it's been a hectic week I'm afraid. It will be nice to have you back."
Emmy's eyes wandered over the papers and boxes of artifacts that littered the office floor. Rosa had scolded Layton many times about his lack of cleanliness when it came to his research. "Someone'll break their neck one day on a lose paper or book!" Rosa had lamented the last time she'd seen his office. Perhaps she wasn't wrong with Emmy's near tumble over the boxes.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have left on such short notice. It looks like you've had a hectic week. " Emmy stepped around the various things on the floor. "What is all this?"
"A new collection for the museum," replied Layton putting a kettle on the stove. Some tea would do him wonders. "Chappy asked me to take a look at everything before it went on display. There are some fine pieces here, a Barthalul artifact if you can believe it." He pointed to a stone disk in a crate. Emmy bent down to look at the non-descript engravings around its edges. "Do you know Barthalul?"
A look of momentary surprise overcame Emmy's face. "Yes," she said. "He was an Azran philosopher and they say he knew all the secrets of the ancient world. He kept everything locked up behind an impenetrable door that could only be opened with an unknown key. But no one knows it's location or if it even exists."
Emmy sure knew her archeology, but Layton couldn't help but notice the strained tone to her voice. It was odd to his ear as he'd never heard her so uncertain before.
"Yes, that's right. Would you like tea my dear?"
Emmy nodded and Layton pulled out two teacups from the drawer. "The five Barthalul artifacts are said to be the keys to opening that Door and revealing the knowledge of the great man. Of course this is all just a theory, considering the fact that as you said, Barthalul's Door may be nothing more than legend. It's still wonderful that we're able to have a piece like this here in London."
Layton handed Emmy a piping hot cup of tea to which she replied with a lovely smile and a "Thank you Professor," and took a sip.
"I must admit I'm surprised to see you back so soon, I wasn't expecting you for a few more days. I do hope your visit went well."
Her usual upbeat air vanished again. "Oh, yes everything was fine." She looked down, avoiding his eyes. "I just, decided that I better get back to you and Luke… before you get a notice about departmental meeting absences again!" She managed a forced smile.
"Yes, those have been a bother." There was something Emmy wasn't telling Layton, but she obviously didn't want to share, and to press on would be rude on his part…but she was obviously upset.
Oh relax Hershel, she's probably just tired from the drive home. If anything is seriously wrong she'll tell you when she's ready.
He sipped his tea. "The mail has been an issue too, thank you for bringing it in-"
"Emmy!" came a shout as Luke burst through the door, and ran towards them, weaving around the mess on the floor as if it were second nature. "You're back! I missed you! The Professor spends too much time at the office when you're not here."
This was true. Layton, Luke and Emmy frequently went out for dinner or to the park after a day of work, or simply back to Layton's for a cup of tea. At the very least the Professor and Luke would return home for the night, mainly thanks to Emmy's many reminders to take a break.
"I missed you too second assistant," Emmy smile and playfully ruffled the boy's hair.
"I've told you before, and I'll tell you again I'm the Professor's apprentice number one!"
Emmy giggled and gave Luke a playful shove, back to her fun-loving self.
"Professor you've got a letter!" Luke said waving an envelope he pulled from the pile of mail Emmy brought in. The boy ran to Layton's desk to grab a letter opener and then back to Layton, the utensil swaying carelessly in his hand and almost hitting Emmy in the face.
"Watch it Luke, you nearly took my eye out," Emmy scolded, "I don't think that would be very gentlemanly now would it Professor?" She flashed him a grin as Luke opened the envelope and handed Layton the letter. How could she be so unsettled one minute and perfectly fine the next? Layton pondered.
He looked at his young apprentice. "Now Luke, a gentleman must always be careful when handling pointed objects." This garnered some stifled laughter from Emmy, who was obviously catching something he'd missed, and frankly cared not to know. Thankfully whatever it was blew straight over Luke's innocent head; the boy was staring at the young woman with confusion smeared across his face. She was so immature at times.
Layton cleared his throat, ending Emmy's giggles, and read the letter out loud:
Dear Hershel Layton,
I know this isn't the best of time to be asking so much of an old friend, as I'm sure University life is in a riot at this point in the year, but I'm in desperate need of help. I'm working on a dig site near the Akbadain ruins and we've stumbled on a superb archeological find. You'll love it Hershel! But that isn't what I need your help with.
You see, we've had a real problem with artifact cataloguing, and it seems a very important piece has gone missing. I fear it may be an inside job.
It is of the outmost importance that this artifact be returned. I would ask the help of local authorities, but I hear you were a much greater asset when it came to solving the Mask Gentleman case a few months ago. Please come out, and help an old friend.
"Who's this Mildrew?" Emmy asked.
"I haven't the foggiest idea," replied Layton as he read over the letter again. "But she seems to know me."
Emmy rolled her eyes. The Professor was the worst when it came remembering old acquaintances, she still remembered his failure to recollect their first meeting, but they had barely spoken then. This Audrey Mildrew seemed to be a lot closer to Layton with the reference to being "old friends".
"The Akbadain ruins?" an excited glint flickered in Luke's eye. "Does this mean when get to go back to Monte D'Or!"
"Yes, it appears so," said Layton. "We shall leave straight away. I have a few more essays to mark, and I need time to notify Dean Delmona about mine and Emmy's absences. Those artifacts also need to be returned to the museum."
"He won't mind me taking more time off?" Emmy looked a bit concerned.
"Of course not, you are my assistant and you shall be assisting me on this outing," Layton said. "Think about it as work away from work".
"Me and Emmy can take care of returning the artifacts Professor!" Luke said cheerily as he gathered the last of the artifacts into their boxes.
"Yes, and we'll stopped by your house and pack for the trip, so you can concentrate on your papers," Emmy added.
"Sounds wonderful, I'll see you both back here within the hour."
Emmy grabbed the larger of the two boxes and headed out the door. "Good luck Professor!"
Layton found himself alone once again in his office. He a great yawn escaped him as he sat down to finish marking those last essays. He glanced around his office which was slightly tidier now that the crates were gone. The pile of mail caught his eye.
Amongst the junk mail and University newsletters was a second letter, this one addressed to Emmy Altava. Layton looked it over, but found no return address.
"How peculiar…" he mumbled to himself.
There was a burning urge to open the letter. Doing so would be violating Emmy, but with her strange behaviour earlier Layton couldn't help but sense a connection.
Nonsense Hershel, you're being paranoid.
His duty of being a gentleman got the better of him, and he tucked Emmy's letter into his jacket. He would give it to her later, and if she wished to share, then it would be completely her choice.
For now he would concentrate on marking these essays, the long drive ahead to Monte D'or, and picking his memory for any hints of an Audrey Mildrew.
Something about all this wasn't sitting right in his stomach.
Author's Note: This is my first fanfiction so constructive criticism is welcome. It takes place a few months after Miracle Mask, but before Azran Legacies (I'm also ignoring any details from PL6 in this story). I hope to update weekly (no promises) and hope everyone enjoys!
*Also will contain small hints of EmmyxLayton