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Flora Reinhold and the Grave Danger

Chapter Text

The steady beating of the rain against the apartment window reminded Flora of her life at that moment: repetitive and gloomy.

Flora hated being alone, she hated it more than anything else in the whole world. Yes, hate is a strong word, but she meant it.

Being alone with your own thoughts is one of the most nightmare-inducing scenarios Flora could think of. Every day, every hour, every second, there’s the ticking of a clock in the back of her head, one that counts slowly, creaks loudly, and tells her that the Professor is never coming back. Flora was forced to go through that so many times, yet it never got better.

Today was yet another time.

Again, the Professor went off on… some kind of adventure with Luke. The details didn’t matter, she couldn’t come anyways. She never could.

Flora sighed as she sunk into the couch, putting her feet on the coffee table. She wouldn’t dream of doing that when the Professor was around, but he isn’t, so she did. These little acts of rebellion were one of the few things keeping her occupied, but it always wore off quickly.

It’s been… how long, again? Did it matter? It felt like forever to Flora.

It’s been so long, in fact, that a pile of letters had accumulated on the kitchen counter. It wasn’t a big pile, but it wasn’t a small pile, either. Flora had already checked it multiple times for mail addressed to her, mail that would definitely have come from St. Mystere as she had nobody else who would send mail instead of visiting, but there was nothing there for her. Nothing to take her mind off this aching boredom.

Flora’s gaze drifted towards the bookshelf. She’s read each book so many times, even the boring ones about… Gosh, Flora found them so boring that she didn’t even remember what they were about. She probably just went through the books looking for weird things to poke fun at.

Fun… Fun… Flora wanted to have fun. Everybody wants to have fun, it’s practically part of the human condition, right? Fun… Fun is… new experiences. New. Fresh.

Being left alone in the apartment isn’t fresh. It, quite frankly, was stale.

You know what’s fresh? Going on a mysterious adventure.

If it weren’t so unbefitting of a lady to grumble loudly, Flora would have done just that.

She envied Luke so much, she really did. He gets to go on all the fun adventures and not get kidnapped and replaced by an old dude and-

Yes, she wouldn’t have gotten in danger if she listened to the Professor, but it was still more fun than anything she could do in the apartment.

It was, quite honestly, unfair that Flora couldn’t go while Luke could. She’s seventeen, and he’s fourteen. She’s way older than him… Well, okay, not way older, but still.

It was the ultimate catch-22, in Flora’s eyes. She needed to prove herself capable in order to go on an adventure, but she needed to go on an adventure in order to prove herself. It was an endless, self-defeating cycle.

Flora’s gaze drifted yet again to the pile of letters on the counter. Maybe she could check it again, just in case…?

She got up and sifted through the pile again. Bill, bill, university stuff, boring stuff, don’t know what that is, bill…

One particular letter addressed to the Professor kept catching Flora’s eye. Unlike the rest of the professional-looking envelopes around it, this letter had a handwritten address, and was sealed with tape.

Tape… Flora could open it and close it back up again with more tape. Nobody would notice unless they really paid attention.

No. Flora never resorted to reading other people’s mail. She’s above that.

But also… It could be important…

Curiosity got the better of Flora as she slowly ripped off the tape. As she did it, she instantly started regretting it, but it was too late to turn back now.

Guilt weighed heavily on Flora’s shoulders as the envelope opened up. This is why she will never become a criminal: she’s too soft, too kind.

Carefully, she pulled the letter out. With slight hesitation, she read it.

 

Dear Hershel Layton,

We regret to say that we need your help. Our town of Wahldin is in grave danger. Every night, dead bodies rise from the dirt and roam around, destroying everything they see.

It is public knowledge that you have solved several weird cases before, so that is why we are asking you for help, Mr. Layton. Quite frankly, you are our last hope. We have been dealing with this problem for far too long.

Please do not make this public knowledge. Our reputation could plummet. We have attached a map to our town, so please use it. We wouldn’t want you to get lost.

We hope to see you there.

Sincerely, Ms. E

PS: I just realized I said “grave danger” and it was not intentional. This is no laughing matter. Don’t laugh.

 

Flora felt incredibly conflicted and incredibly confused. Dead bodies that walk? Dead bodies that… destroy things? What?

Okay. Think this through, Flora. This has to be some kind of scheme, right? Spectres and entire future Londons and boxes that kill you? They always ended up being fake.

Then again, lake monsters and time travel and so many weird and fantastical things ended up being real, Flora reasoned, so dead bodies that get up and do whatever they want to… They could be real, and that would be dangerous, right?

Jeez, Flora said that like she was going to go to Wahldin. They didn’t ask for her, they asked for the Professor… Besides she’s-

too weak, too dumb, too trusting, too inexperienced

-not supposed to go too far on trips when the Professor isn’t around, and this isn’t even a normal trip.

The catch-22 clawed at the back of Flora’s head again. Prove yourself to go on an adventure, go on an adventure to prove yourself, prove yourself to go on an adventure, go and prove yourself, go and prove yourself-

Nobody’s here to say she can’t go. Besides, she doesn’t know when the Professor will be back… She’s practically their last hope, right? It would be immoral to just abandon an entire town, right? Flora anxiously ran her fingers over the map, hissing to herself when she saw what it really was.

A puzzle map. It’s a puzzle map. A map that is a puzzle. Flora’s head spun just looking at the thing.

Okay. This can be salvaged. Wahldin. They said it was Wahldin. She just needed to find an actual map and use that instead.

Flora sighed as she grabbed her change-purse, heading off to buy a map.

Chapter Text

Dear Professor (and Luke, if you're here too),

If you’re reading this, then that means I’m not home right now. While you were gone, you got a letter asking for help, so I’m off to take care of that in your stead.

I’m not saying where I’m going because I want to do this by myself. Trust me.

There’s sandwiches in the fridge if you want them. I don’t know when you’ll see this letter, however, so I’d check to see if they’re still good first.

With love, Flora

-

Bus ticket? Check. New map? Check. Sense of dread stemming from this poorly thought out and, frankly, immoral thing Flora was doing? She checked that box before she even read the letter.

Flora didn’t even need the map, turns out, because the bus stopped at Wahldin. How pointless is that? The only purpose of it was for her to know how far along she was on the route.

The bus ride was slow, long, and boring. Flora never knew how much pain you could get from sitting for a few hours. Usually, Flora would fall asleep on long trips like these, but the pure anxiety from the whole thing was keeping her awake.

“We are now making our stop at Wahldin.”

Nobody else got off at that stop, surprisingly. As Flora grabbed her bag and stepped off the bus, she then realized why Wahldin was called what it was.

“Wow…”

Wahldin, for all intents and purposes, was… Well, it was walled in. A massive brick wall covered in vines and flowers encircled the entire place, creating a town with only one entrance and one exit, both of which were right in front of her.

Flora walked closer, awestruck by just how big the wall itself was. If Flora, the Professor, and Luke all stood on each other’s shoulders, they wouldn’t be able to reach the top.

A guard stood in front of the metal gate that stood between Flora and Wahldin. He was dressed professionally, as expected, but his eyes… They seemed to pop right out of his head, staring in different directions.

“Hey!” The guard shouted, “Aren't you aware that Wahldin is in lockdown?”

“Lockdown?”

“Yeah! Nobody comes in, nobody comes out!”

“Well, I was asked to come here.” Flora said as she fished in her pocket, pulling out the letter.

“Nah, you can’t be serious! The mayor said she sent for Layton, not some little girl!”

“...I’m his daughter.”

“Daughter-schmaughter! I can’t let anyone in without express permission from the mayor!”

Flora was starting to get a headache from how the guard kept yelling, even though she was right in front of him.

“Can you go ask the mayor to clear this up? I want to help.”

“No! It’s Layton or nothing! Unless…”

This better not be going where Flora thought it was going.

“Unless…?”

“If you’re really his daughter,” The guard said as he pulled a paper out of his pocket, “then you must’ve inherited his skills as a puzzle solver, right?”

Flora internally screamed.

“...I’m adopted.”

“Doesn’t matter! Here’s a puzzle! If you’re really able to solve our little problem, then this should be no big deal!”

The guard shoved the paper and a pencil in Flora’s hands. He looked at her expectantly.

Flora sighed and read the puzzle.

Oh no! I dropped my cube, and several sides fell off! Worse still, it mixed up with sides from another cube! Can you fix my cube with the right sides?

A diagram with a flat cube missing three sides sat next to several potential sides. Colourful lines ran across the cube, needing to be matched up exactly to the sides.

Worse still, each side could fit in one or two of the missing spots, but Flora had to visualize the entire cube as a 3D object in order to know, no, this piece doesn’t belong here, due to the rotation of the sides when put as an actual cube.

Who would put a 3D cube on a piece of paper and expect someone to solve it? Why does this hypothetical puzzle person care so much about this cube? Why can’t Flora find the right piece to put in the rightmost spot?!

Flora scribbled lines on the paper to show where each side’s lines would connect, and labelled each empty spot with the side she thought would fit there. She handed the finished puzzle to the guard.

“Sorry, girl!” He shouted, “This is incorrect! You see? You need to flip this side upside down and-“

Nobody said you could flip the sides. Nobody ever said that. Flora, you idiot!

Flora politely nodded even though she wasn’t listening.

When the guard was done explaining the solution to the puzzle, Flora wandered off, pouting.

She can’t just give up now. She’s several hours away from home, after all, and the next bus home doesn’t come until tomorrow.

Flora looked up. The sunset cast a pink hue on the brick wall, which was still too tall for her to scale.

Maybe she really isn’t cut out for mysteries...

“Hey.”

Flora turned to look at where the noise was coming from, only to stare at the wall.

“Where are-?”

“Bahahaha! Sweetheart! Over here!”

Through a tiny hole in the wall, a finger stuck out, guiding Flora over to where the hole was before retreating back behind the wall.

“So, old Bugeyes is giving you a hard time, huh?”

The stranger’s voice was deep and raspy. Flora could not see the stranger’s face, all she could see was a single brown eye.

“Yes.” She replied, “He seems very… fanatical about his work.”

“I mean, it’s only the town’s whole shtick: being all tightly guarded. Wouldn’t be Wahldin without a wall, would it? Wonder which came first: the name or the wall? Real chicken and egg shit, if you ask me. Anyways! If you want, I can help you in.”

On one hand, that sounds immoral, but on the other hand…

“I would appreciate that, thank you.”

“Pshaw! Don’t thank me yet!” The stranger said with a loud laugh, “I ain’t even done anything yet. You go hide near the guard, and when he leaves, you make a run for it, alright?”

“Why would he leave?”

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”

Somehow, that made Flora worry even more. Still, this was her only option.

“Go on!” The stranger said, “Bugeyes won’t see ya if you hide in those bushes to his right, the ones with the red flowers. Trust me on this one, he has a spotty eye and can’t see there. When I say ‘lamb’, that’s your cue to run, got it?”

“Okay.” Flora said, “Um… thank you again.”

“Again, I ain’t done anything yet. Now go.”

Flora nodded and quietly sneaked up next to the guard, ducking into the bush that the stranger mentioned.

“Who’s there?” The guard barked, “Is anyone-?”

“Yo, Charlie, it’s just me.”

The stranger talked as though she wasn’t just calling him ‘Bugeyes’ behind his back. Flora rolled her eyes.

“Oh! Don’t distract me from my work!”

“Aye, but have you been practicing recently? That’s why I came over.”

“Practicing? I don’t need to practice my sparring skills! That’s why I’m the guard!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah… Okay! I mean, it’s not like I could kick your ass or anything, right?”

“Right!”

Flora could feel the stranger’s thinly-veiled threat flying straight over the guard’s head. With the slightest hesitation, the stranger changed tactics.

“Me? I’m so weak, so pathetic, so… bad at everything.” She said, “You? You’re strong, Charlie. That’s why I wanted to spar with you: to see how far I have to go before I can beat you.”

“I suppose I’ll have to beat you in a fair battle for your sake! I don’t take pleasure in hurting civilians, you know!”

“Alright, alright! Take it easy on me, though! Come on over here, you don’t want to knock me up against the wall, right? That’d hurt me a little too much, ya know?”

“Right!”

Flora heard shuffling: the guard and the stranger walking away from the gate. Was this really working?

“Alrighty.” The stranger said with a chuckle, “Get ready, Charlie, I’ll have ya on the ground in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”

Lamb? Lamb! Flora hurriedly grabbed her bag and rushed in through the gate as the stranger and the guard started fighting, the town of Wahldin finally showing itself to her.

Wahldin was a typical tiny town: stone paths and quaint houses. The only difference was that the surrounding wall cast a massive shadow on everything, making everything dark and gloomy.

Flora ducked behind a building as the sound of fighting died down.

“Jeez, Charlie, you really let me bait you into this one, huh?” The stranger snickered, “Don’t let your guard down, that’s part of your job, ya know.”

“I took it easy on you!”

“Yeah, yeah, okay… And I’m Bill fucking Hawks, Charlie. Later.”

Flora listened to the stranger trudge off and the guard go back to his guard, sighing in relief. She’d have to find the stranger and thank her later, but for now…

It was getting late. Flora needed not only to find the mayor, but to find a place to rest. Heaven forbid she be stuck outside while the things are walking around.

Finding the mayor should be Flora’s highest priority. After all, she’s the one who knows everything.

A scraggly man walked past Flora, so she decided to ask for directions.

“Excuse me.” Flora said, “Would you happen to know where the mayor is?”

“Yikes!” The man screeched, turning around to look at Flora, “Don’t sneak up on me like that!”

“...Sorry?”

“You don’t look familiar! Did you sneak in?!”

“No.” Flora lied, feeling bad about it immediately, “I came in before the lockdown… I just haven’t left my house much, that’s all. I want to see the mayor so I can maybe leave.”

“I’ve asked her everyday, buddy, she won’t let anyone leave. But… put in a good word for me, at least.”

The man pointed deeper into town.

“Take the road left of the laundromat, the office is the big brownish-red brick one with the weird fence decorations. You can’t miss it.”

Flora nodded, smiling widely.

“Thank you so much!”

Flora followed the path, noting how dark and depressing the town looked. Was it because of the shadow of the wall? Was it the threat of the walking dead? Flora couldn’t tell.

The man was right in saying that the mayor had weird fence decorations. Little statues of beast heads lined the top of each fence post. It was incredibly creepy, in Flora’s opinion, but if it made the mayor happy, then so be it. Who was Flora to judge?

Flora walked inside. Bookshelves lined the walls, and filing cabinets were packed in behind the mayor’s desk where the mayor sat, back turned to the door.

“Oh, helloooooo~!” The mayor sang out as she turned her chair around, her messy hair contrasting heavily with her clean suit, “Welcome! Welcome! Come on in! What seems to be the problem?”

“Well, I-“

“Ah, you don’t look familiar. No, you don’t!” The mayor said as she put her gloved hands on her cheeks, rocking her head back and forth, “I know everybody in this little town, yes I do! That poses a problem! Who are you?”

An uneasy feeling ran its way through Flora’s body. She swallowed her fear.

“I’m Flora, and I’m here about the… walking dead.”

The mayor’s wide smile suddenly snapped into an angry grimace, eyes going dark.

“Wha-hey, pipsqueak!” She snapped, “Ain’t nobody outside supposed to know that! You better shut your mouth, or I’ll shut it myself!”

Flora defensively put up her hands, like it would deflect some of the mayor’s rage.

“I-I’m here on the behalf of Professor Layton, miss!” She stammered out, “I’m here to solve the-“

“You what?! Did you intercept his mail? Did you rob him blind? I need him! Him, him, him, not… Who the hell are you, anyways?!”

“I didn’t rob him! I’m his daughter! He’s out of town, and-“

The mayor bit her lip so hard that blood spurt down her chin, even though it was barely visible because of her incredibly red face.

“It takes forever to open and close the post!” She yelled, throwing her arms up, “I’m gonna have to wait the grace period and my dumb fucking lackeys are gonna mess it up and- G-Get out of my office!”

“What?”

“Get out!”

Flora quickly turned on her heels and ran out of the office, the mayor loudly screaming behind her.

Well, that was a bust. Flora leaned against one of the fence posts, putting a hand on her head. Absolutely nobody wants her, and everybody wants him . Who could blame them, though?

Flora stumbled, knocking a statue off of its fence post. A loud screeching roared from within the mayor’s office, giving Flora more than enough reason to run.

Chapter Text

The darker it got outside, the more Flora worried.

She couldn’t find a single person outside, which made sense. Who’d want to stay outside if there’s dead people walking around? Still, Flora was concerned that she might not be able to find an inn in time.

“Hey.”

The voice was deep and raspy. Flora quickly whipped her head around towards the noise, only to see nothing but an empty alleyway.

“Pshaw! Up here, sweetheart.”

She looked up, and, in the shadows, a figure laid lazily on a rooftop, hands behind her head. The figure waved.

“Who are you?” Flora asked, trying her best to keep up a brave front.

“Jeez, you forgot already?” The stranger chuckled, scratching at her nose, “Haha! That’s a joke, it’s okay that you don’t remember. You didn’t really see much of me, did ya?”

“Who would-?”

Flora’s mind flashed back to a familiar eye behind the wall.

“Oh!” Flora said, clasping her hands together, “You helped me in, didn’t you? Thank you so much!”

The stranger quickly hopped from the rooftop to a windowsill and down in front of Flora. She stood tall above Flora, cracking her neck and shrugging.

“Guilty as charged.” The stranger said, “You seem nice enough. Old Bugeyes is a stickler…”

If Flora tried her hardest to dress like a proper lady, then the stranger tried her hardest to dress like an improper man. She was tall, strong, and had a dirty black jacket on. Her hair was a mess, one that almost covered the eyepatch she wore over her right eye.

The stranger put her hands in her pockets, looking over Flora.

“So,” She said, “I suppose the proper thing to do would be to introduce myself, huh? I’m Scout.”

Flora waited for a last name, but it never came.

“Scout…?”

“My last name isn’t important, unless you wanna divulge yours.”

Flora flashed back to the last time she accidentally said she was a Reinhold to someone she didn’t know well. It… It didn’t go so well. Turns out people will kidnap people who will inherit great amounts of wealth. Who knew?

“Right.” Flora said, “That was improper, I… I’m sorry. I’m Flora.”

They shook hands.

“Flora, huh? Real pretty name for a pretty lady. Whatcha doing here, anyways?”

“I’m here on the behalf of Professor Layton.”

Flora felt bad for saying that. It wasn’t a lie, but… it was the only way people would take her seriously, she supposed.

“Nah, man.” Scout huffed, shrugging, “I don’t care about that old coot. He’s not here, is he? I wanna know why you’re here.”

Flora’s eyes narrowed, and she pouted, poking Scout in the chest.

“He’s not an old coot.” Flora grumbled, “He’s my father.”

Scout widened her eyes in surprise, then sighed sheepishly.

“Right. Sorry, that was shit of me to say.”

Flora cringed at her use of a swear. The Professor would be internally screaming right now.

“It’s just… y’know.” Scout continued, gesturing around herself, “Here. It’s pretty locked up tight. I guess since you’re here on behalf of your pops, that means you’re here about the, uh… walking dead.”

The words sent a shiver down Flora’s spine.

“Yeah.” She replied, face definitely going pale at the idea, “I’m here to get to the bottom of this.”

“Well, it’s not just you now.” Scout said with a smirk, “I’m helping.”

“You what?”

“I’m helping, and there’s nothing you can really do about it, cupcake. I don’t exactly like having dead-but-also-not-dead bodies run around me and attack everything I’ve known, y’know? Besides, you’re too cute to get torn to shreds, that’s my job. I mean… my job to get torn to shreds. Not tear you to shreds. I don’t tear people to shreds.”

Some part of Flora revolted at the idea of sharing her first ever mystery with some stranger with a cute smirk, but another, more logical, part of Flora knew exactly what needed to be done.

“I would love to have you along.” Flora said, smiling gently as she took Scout’s hands in hers, “Thank you so much!”

Being alone was one of Flora’s biggest fears, and this whole fiasco could only distract her from that sinking feeling for so long. That, and… Flora didn’t want to admit it, but she was frail. She easily got dragged along by Clive that one time, anyways, and he wasn’t exactly a beefcake. Scout, on the other hand… She took that guard single-handedly and won, she somehow climbed onto that roof and hopped down with no trouble, she probably knows this town inside and out, and she stood an entire head above Flora. It wasn’t exactly rocket science.

“So…” Scout said, breaking the hand contact, “Uh, ya got any money?”

“I brought as much as I thought I would need. Why?”

“Well, with me on your side, you won’t need to use any of it. Trust me on this, everybody in this town owes me a favour or eight. Lady at the inn owes me a couple for fixing her fence…”

Scout leaned in close to Flora and continued.

“Just don’t tell her I was the one who broke it in the first place, alright?”

Okay, so maybe she’s a tad morally dubious and Flora is regretting that decision just a little. It still helps to have a friend in this town.

“I won’t.” Flora said, “Promise.”

“Good, good. C’mon, let’s go wait for all those weird things to pop up in a nice room. Would rather see it from a distance first, wouldn’t ya?”

Flora couldn’t decide if Scout’s… lax demeanour was annoying or charming. Charming...? Yes. Yes, it was charming. They were now friends forged under mysterious circumstances like in a mystery novel, and that meant that Flora had to accept all her little quirks. The Professor had his chronic untidiness, Luke had a tendency to be blunt, and she… well, she was a little too passive, too weak, too… incapable.

Maybe he was right about her…?

It was now that Flora realized she never answered Scout’s question.

“I would love to.” She said as politely as possible so Scout wouldn’t ask what she was thinking about, “This is incredibly kind of you, Scout. I’ll figure out what’s up with those… things for you and the rest of this place, I promise.”

Scout grinned widely, showing off a missing tooth in the process.

“Aye, princess, let’s go.” She said as she walked along, making sure Flora walked alongside her.

“Princess?”

“You look like a princess. All… cute and shit.” Scout trailed off before jumping to the next subject, “Jeez, how old are you anyways? You got that mature aura about ya, but you also kinda look like a little baby deer. It’s weird, you got so many numbers flying out of you, but none of them really seem… right.”

“Why do you care…?” Flora asked, trying her hardest not to sound rude.

“Well, I know everything about everyone. It’s an integral part of my lifestyle. It’s weird, y’know, to have someone who I don’t know lots of things about.”

That sounded reasonable to Flora. She sighed in relief, realizing this wasn’t a scam of some sort.

“Right, um, I’m seventeen.”

“Haha, small world.” Scout chuckled, putting her hands behind her head, “So am I!”

Flora almost stumbled at that revelation.

“Wow.” Flora said without thinking, instantly regretting it, “I mean, uh… you feel so much older for some reason.”

“Some people grow up faster than others, sweetheart. Haha! C’mon, we’re almost at the inn.”

It wasn’t until after the conversation ended that the one burning question Flora had peeked out its ugly head. It was a question Flora knew she had no right to know mere minutes after meeting Scout, but it was a question she had a disgusting amount of interest in for no reason.

If Scout has lived here her whole life… Then why doesn’t she invite Flora to her home? Does she not have one? Or…

Maybe she just lives in the inn. An inn needs at least one customer to stay in business, doesn’t it?

Flora felt that was reasonable, so she didn’t pursue the thought any further.