It was getting quite late now; most of the town’s citizens had gone inside their homes. The professor noticed some of the citizens were acting quite anxious before heading inside, muttering something about rabid animal ; possibly about these so called ‘werewolves’ that some told him about.
The Professor and Luke only managed to gain very little information so far in their investigation. Layton did not have enough information to figure out what was really happening in this town. The two managed to solves some puzzles along the way though.
The roads were bare, Luke and The Professor were the only ones still out at night by the looks of it. Only a few of the street lamps were still on, leaving a small amount of light source for them. Layton stopped in place for a moment, deep in thought. Luke stared at him curiously; he looked around nervously a few times before asking
“Um, Professor, I don’t mean to be rude, but we’ve been out for quite a while, and it’s really dark out. I don’t think there’s anyone else to question at this time.”
“I know; I was just rethinking everything we know so far, just in case we overlooked some crucial details. Even with little information we have at the moment.”
Layton turned to Luke with a comforting smile.
“Anyway, I believe its best we retire to the hotel for the night right now. It might take some time for us to walk back there though.” He said in a calm and serious tone.
Luke was quick to respond.
“I was just thinking the same thing, let’s hurry on back! Let’s go, come on!” he said in a rather forced, excited tone.
Layton did not respond but he knew the boy was uneasy about something and Layton most likely knew what it was.
The two walked together through the now deserted looking town. Luke looked around as he stuck close to Layton; alert and anxious. His eyes were wide, obviously uncomfortable about his surroundings.
“Professor, this town at night…it’s a bit…it’s kind of…”
“Yes, gothic, exactly! That’s the word I was thinking of!”
“Luke, you’ve been quite timid lately. Are you sure nothing is troubling you?”
“Well, this place does look like something out of a scary film at night. It is a bit creepy…”
“I think you’re scared of something else…”
“The citizens talk of werewolves. You seemed to be growing uneasy when the more of them brought that idea up.”
Luke looked down at his feet.
“Now Luke, I don’t believe werewolves exist; men can’t really physically change into hybrid, wolf monsters.”
We’ve seen some things that we thought were impossible before…”
“I know but I still find men turning into monsters by the light of the moon as real absurd, besides, you know I don’t like jumping to conclusions.”
“But we heard some of them say they saw some during the nights where there wasn’t a full moon.”
“Luke…” he placed a hand on Luke’s shoulder. “Just stay calm and think clearly…Just stay next to me and you’ll be safe. Now come on, Flora is waiting for us.”
Luke silently nodded.
Layton eyed Luke; the boy was quiet for some time.
There was the sudden sound of something scraping across the pavement and Luke quickly reacted by clinging on to the side of the Professor’s coat, letting out a small gasp.
Layton looked down at him.
“Don’t be afraid, it’s probably just a cat, mouse or a rat.”
“Professor, I haven’t seen many animals out here tonight. I heard a cat say he was scared being out at night though.”
Luke stared at the Professor, thinking to himself before asking.
“Professor, what do you think of the idea of werewolves? I mean I know you just told me you don’t believe in them; but, what do you think of the whole concept of turning into a monstrous rabid wolf due to a curse, like in some of the movies and stories. Do you think they’re interesting or scary or…something else? I’m just curious…”
“Well…stories of them don’t frighten me…but the idea of being forced to transform into a monstrous wolf, a nearly unstoppable monster with sharp teeth and claws; speed and strength. To be forced to harm others against your will, even the ones you love; is rather awful to me. People, who live around one, live in fear during the full moon. Being bitten means you become cursed, and surviving seems nearly impossible.”
Luke silently listened to him with great interest; no longer holding onto the Professor’s coat as they continued to walk.
“I also find them rather, tragic beings. They have to live a life full of suffering and loneliness. Their loved ones have to stay away from them or try to help them without getting hurt. In the end, everyone suffers from the curse. It doesn’t matter if the person is good or evil; no one deserves to be a werewolf.”
Luke stayed quiet for a moment, thinking to himself.
“Professor, do you think some werewolves can be in control and not hurt people?”
“I’ve only heard very little of stories like that, but who truly knows what a werewolf would be like in reality; their only works of superstition and there are many different interpretations of them. They even are depicted in many different ways on how they look, even in artwork. Even with the knowledge we have about them now; we still might possibly not know very much about werewolves if they do happen to exist. All the information comes from myths, legends, stories and films and they always have a different version and different rules for their werewolf.”
Luke was once again silent, thinking over about what the Professor said.
“I guess you’re right Professor…but that doesn’t make them any less scary to me. It’s either be killed or be cursed by them.”
“Now Luke, I told you before to relax, you’re with me.”
Luke sighed as the two continued their way.
It was completely quiet for the rest of the way there. They both soon came across a long dark alleyway.
“Uh, professor, I feel like we shouldn’t go back through here at night.”
“I feel uneasy too my boy, but we’re almost there.”
“Can we just move a little faster?”
“Calm yourself; honestly, I haven’t seen you this frightened in a long time. I’m starting to worry about you.”
“Don’t worry about me! I’ll try harder to be brave, I’ll be fine!”
“Are you still scared that there might be werewolves?”
“N-No! I’m over that; let’s just hurry out of here!” Luke stuttered.
Layton stopped for a moment and adjusted his hat as Luke went ahead, obviously still bothered by the alleyway; being out late at night while talk of mythical beast and strange figures probably did not help Luke calm his nerves; he was still a boy after all. But eventually, Layton believed Luke would settle down about this.
Layton went to catch up with Luke.
“Don’t go too far ahead without me; we need to stay close as pos-”
“What was that?” Luke interrupted in a startled tone as he stopped dead in his tracks.
“Did you hear that?”
“I didn’t hear a thing…”
There was a small pause. There was the sound of something running across the pavement.
“It sounds like someone else is out there.”
“I hear it too now, Luke.”
The sound was getting louder…and closer.
“I think-I think it’s coming from behind us…”Luke stammered “What is it?”
“I don’t know but let’s keep moving onward.”
They continued to walk again.
“It still sounds like it’s getting closer. What is it, I don’t like this.”
“Hopefully it’s just some small animal.”
They took a right turn in the alleyway.
“Luke, it sounds like there are more of them coming this way.”
“Just keep moving.”
“I think they’re after us, is it those big dogs?”
“I hope not; just stay calm Luke.”
The Professor ignored the oncoming sound as they went on. Luke was ahead of the Professor again; as he was walking much faster than him; not wanting to encounter whatever was following them. Layton quickened his pace to catch up with the boy; but he stopped once he realized Luke had halted; his back facing The Professor.
“Luke?” he asked, he noticed the sound had ceased.
“I don’t hear it anymore…” Luke whispered.
“Neither do I...”
“Do you think they’re gone? They can’t have vanished into thin air.”
Layton was silent, he looked from side to side slowly; he was prepared for any unwanted surprise attacks. He could hear Luke breath nervously amongst the silence.
Layton took a small step forward…
Suddenly Layton felt something run past and even crawl around his feet. At the same times he heard a couple of squeaks.
The two immediately looked down and saw a bunch of rats and mice run past them. Layton took a few small steps back in surprise as Luke stumbled around and tried his best not to step on any of them. Layton swore he saw ten and even more run by, something wasn’t right…Luke probably felt the same as he called out
“Hey! Where are you all going? What’s happening?”
One rat stopped and turned to Luke. It squeaked a few times at him before turning back to catch up with the others. The rat obviously told Luke something; but The Professor could not understand what it was saying like anyone else. Luke however, could understand it; the boy’s special talent of speaking to animals certainly was helpful at times.
“Did he tell you anything important Luke? I feel something is not right about this…” Layton asked in a serious tone.
“He…” Luke turned around to face the Professor “He said we should flee too. Something bad is coming our way. He said a dangerous ‘man-thing’ is approaching and humans should run from it too…Professor, I don’t like the sound of that at all.”
“A man thing, that’s what they call it? Well, if this creature is terrifying enough to make even rats warn us about this thing, then it possibly really is dangerous. But this was a rat telling us this, so who knows if it’s talking about the same creature the villagers has been supposedly seeing.”
Layton hurried over to Luke and grabbed him by his left arm.
“Let’s go Luke.” He said in a calm, soft tone. “We’re almost there, not too long now.”
But Luke was barely moving; Layton turned his head to his left and looked down at Luke. The boy was staring and standing in the other direction of the alley. He caught a glimpse of his frightened, wide eyed expression. Luke was slightly lifting the tip of his cap up, his mouth trembling a little.
“Luke? Luke, what is it?”
“What…what…is that?” He whimpered.
Layton let go of Luke’s arm and turned around slowly to see what Luke was staring at.
Layton’s face grew serious, confused and a little frightened, although his fear was not very noticeable at all.
At the other end of the alleyway, emerging slowly from the turn corner was a large shadowy figure.
The large figure stood where it was from afar Layton and Luke. The two could not entirely make out the silhouette of the figure as it was shrouded in darkness. But it seemed to be unusually very tall and appeared to be human shaped, it was quite intimidating looking. The figure stood still and so did Layton and Luke.
“What is it and who is it?” Luke whispered timidly.
“I’m not sure, but I believe it’s just a man.”
“He’s really tall looking, and are you sure it’s even human? What…what should we do?”
Layton stayed quiet for a moment, staring deep in thought at the figure.
“Just don’t move, stay with me and pay attention, I’ll try to speak with him.” he answered quietly.
He cleared his throat.
“Pardon me sir, I don’t mean to be impolite, but what brings you here at this hour?”
The figure did not respond.
“Did we disturb your sleep? If so, I’m terribly sorry, we’ll be on our way.”
“Were you chasing those mice and rats away? Do you work for some sort of pest control?”
Still silence, Layton was growing a bit uneasy.
“Well since you won’t speak with us, I believe you have some personal matters to deal with. I don’t wish to bother you or cause any trouble, we’ll be on our way now…”
But as soon as Layton took a single step to turn, just one step; he heard a low growl that echoed throughout the alleyway.
He stared back at the figure, which took a few steps forward itself.
The two noticed its eyes…its glowing white eyes.
While the figure was still hidden in the darkness; Hershel Layton could make out a few new details about it. Its legs appeared a bit misshapen, its posture a little slouched, and it seemed to have…horns or maybe ears on top of its head…it did not look human.
The two slowly backed away.
“That…that thing isn’t human at all professors…Is it the wild dogs the people have been speaking about?”
“Most likely...” The Professor noticed its face was a bit canine in shape.
“How is it standing on two legs like that? Maybe it is a-”
“Don’t jump to conclusions; it could be a mad bear on the loose or a man in some animal costume.”
The creature continued to slowly move forward as the two slowly backed away. The creature kept growling.
“Maybe I’ll try to speak to it if it is some kind of animal.”
“Good Idea; try asking what’s bothering it.”
“Um…its ok, we don’t mean any harm. What’s wrong; is something bothering you? You can speak to me, I can understand animals. We can try to help you; is there something you want? Please calm down; it doesn’t have to be like this.”
The creature stopped growling and Layton saw it tilt its head a little.
They waited for a response.
It responded by letting out a fearsome roar.
They both flinched.
“I-I don’t think it’s listening or it wants to talk to me.”
“It didn’t say anything to you?”
“Nope, nothing at all!”
“Then maybe it is a man in a costume…”
The creature lowered itself and appeared to be advancing slowly towards them on fours, snarling loudly.
“Can a man do that?” Luke exclaimed.
Layton could now see its sharp fangs, but he still could not make out the rest of its face.
“We should get out of here!” Luke panicked
Layton looked around anxiously and found an empty wine bottle lying nearby.
“Luke stay close to me and listen…I want you to run first, I’ll try to distract the beast.”
“How; will you even be alright?”
Layton carefully picked up the bottle.
“I have an idea…Now…”
The beast seemed to be readying itself to attack.
Layton did not hesitate.
“But what about you…”
The boy darted off, afraid what would happen to Layton.
Layton and the beast glared at each other for a second before the beast charged at the Professor.
As soon as the creature got close enough, Layton took a swing, and smashed the glass bottle across its face. The beast halted and staggered, dazed and confused from the strike. Layton instantly took off as soon as he hit the creature, still unable to get a glimpse of its face.
Layton felt like he was running for ten minutes, he managed to exit the long alley and was now running on the path towards the hotel. A while ago he could hear the creature give chase after him; he could hear it panting and its feet running across the pavement. It was most certainly not human.
He believed he lost it a while back but…now he was afraid; not for himself but for the boy, he feared for Luke’s safety.
“Oh please…don’t let that thing ever get to him.” He prayed quietly.
He could see the hotel just a few feet away; but he found himself hesitating to go on…did Luke make it? He stood around and called Luke’s name but received no response.
He shook his head.
“I mustn’t panic, He’ll be alright and he’s a smart boy; but if he didn’t make it…I…”
“Psst, Professor, over here.” A voice whispered.
“Luke? Luke is that you?”
“Where are you?”
Layton followed Luke’s voice to some large shrubbery, squeezing himself through the large, tall tree-like shrub. A couple of twigs caught on to his coat but he managed to get them to let go. Luke was sitting down inside, hugging his legs. A sad looking smile appeared on Luke’s face.
“You’re not hurt! Thank goodness…”
Layton brushed off more twigs and leaves from himself.
“Luke, thank goodness you’re alright, I was starting to worry.”
“You were worried about me?”
Layton kneeled down
“Yes, I don’t want that thing hurting you…by the way; why on earth are you hiding in here? You could have gone inside the hotel.”
“Can you lower your voice a little more first?”
Luke looked down for a moment.
“I was scared that you didn’t make it, so I hid in here to wait for you…and I can’t get in.”
“Are the front doors locked? I still have the extra keys to get in…”
“He beat me here…that thing; he’s still waiting, I saw him from far away, I managed to hide myself when it wasn’t paying attention, he still doesn’t know I’m here, he’s waiting for us still I know he is!”
At that moment, a loud roar mixed with a snarl was heard nearby. Layton spun around in surprise and sat near Luke.
He could hardly see the beast through the shrubbery, but he could see its warm breath somehow as he heard it try to smell them. The beast sounded like it had trouble smelling. It growled lowly before they heard it walk away.
They waited for a moment.
“Is it gone?” Luke asked.
Layton peered through the shrub, there wasn’t anyone in sight.
“I believe so…”
The two exited the shrub, looked around cautiously and bolted to the front doors.
“Why is it so desperate to catch us?”
“I don’t know, it could be rabid, but it’s too intelligent for it to have rabies.”
Suddenly the beast leapt in front of the doors.
They both gasped out of surprise.
“No!” Luke cried as they both backed away.
The beast seemed to be creeping towards Luke, before readying itself to pounce.
Layton prepared himself; he would not let this bear-dog creature harm the boy.
As soon as the beast took a leap at Luke; Layton dove to his right, straight towards Luke. Layton grabbed Luke and held him close to his chest as they rolled out of the creature’s way.
The beast ended up flying over them and crashed to the ground.
Layton quickly got up, carrying Luke in his arms. He gave a quick glare at the disfigured looking animal; he noticed its bleeding nose before turning to face the doors.
“It was probably from that blow I gave to it earlier, it can barely smell us with blood still in its nose.” Layton muttered to himself as he rushed towards the doors. He unlocked and opened the right door quickly; inside he could see the innkeeper sleeping on her check in desk. She was probably waiting for them to return.
“She wasn’t joking about being a heavy sleeper…Excuse me miss? You need to wake up; we’re all in serious danger right now!”
She moved a little but no response. Layton went over to wake her, he set down Luke…
And that’s when he felt a horrible, sharp pain sink into his left leg. It dug deep into his flesh, the nerves in his leg felt like they were on fire; and before he knew it, he fell onto his stomach and was being dragged back outside.
“Professor!” Luke screamed in horror.
Layton had never heard the boy scream so distressed before like that. Layton struggled to get away, but its grip was strong.
Luke watched as the beast was dragging him outside; he immediately reacted by running up to the beast and kicked it in the snout. The beast let go, leaving Layton to groan in pain as he weakly lay on the ground. It glared at Luke with its piercing, enraged eyes. As the creature slowly left Layton; now freed from its grasp; to attack Luke; Layton grabbed the creatures back leg and it turned its head quickly back to him, letting out a snarl. The beast growled viciously at him, he could still not make out its face in the darkness; Layton was slightly shaking in pain as he stared into the creatures eyes. Suddenly, Luke leapt onto the creatures back. It reared up on two’s and thrashed widely to get the boy off. Luke had probably saved Layton’s life from a deadly blow; as he could see the shadowy beast rise what looked like its claws before Luke came in.
Luke could no longer hang on and was thrown to the ground.
The beast turned back to the startled and angered Layton.
“How dare you…” Layton fury was quiet and haunting.
The beast then picked Hershel up by sinking its teeth painfully into his right shoulder; it held him off the ground with it teeth, Layton squeezed his eyes shut in terrible pain. The beast then threw him right at Luke who was lying on the ground, he felt like as if daggers went through his skin as he was thrown.
The two were dazed from being collided into each other. Layton could hear the beast growling and creeping towards them; instinctively, Layton quickly forced his body up and grabbed Luke again, hugging him tightly. Layton felt the beast pounce at him from behind and it sliced his right shoulder. Layton was using himself as a human shield to protect Luke from the creature’s attacks. It continuously slashed at Layton’s back from what it felt like razor sharp claws. He didn’t know if he could survive from a horrible creature so savage and ruthless. Luke pressed his head deeper into Layton’s chest.
A loud bang was heard and the beast stopped attacking instantly.
“Get away from them!” a female voiced yelled.
Another two gun shots were heard and The Professor heard the beast retreat.
He slowly got up, carrying the frightened Luke; he limped back to the hotel, bleeding badly. Standing at entrance was the innkeeper, who appeared to be holding a shot gun. She ran to Layton’s aid.
“Oh thank goodness, you’re alive! I’ve never seen those things attack someone so viciously before or heard them of going near kids around here.” She said as she helped him walk into the lobby
“I’m so sorry, I waited so long for you two I passed out and I woke up to screaming and seeing you pinned by that mad dog. The front lights go out automatically at a certain time and I was knocked out when they did. I went to get my shot gun to scare that thing off but still you might have died because of my carelessness …”
“No, it’s fine, don’t beat yourself up. We’re still alive and that’s important.”
“Is the boy hurt?”
“I’m just a bit bruised and dizzy, but I’m ok. No bites or scratches.”
“Ah, that’s good. Why don’t you set the kid down and sit over here.”
Layton did exactly that.
“Ugh…you’re bleeding so much let me see your injuries; they might sting while I’m looking at them.”
She examined his torn up back. The Professor heard her muttered to herself. “It’s fortunate we’re the only ones here right now, everyone else is still asleep. I don’t need any more chaos here right now.”
“Hey miss innkeeper?” Luke asked as he nervously eyed Layton’s wounds.
“You actually keep a shot gun in here just in case for those things?”
“Yep, for crazy wild animals; but I couldn’t out right shoot this one…Honestly that one should have been killed but he got away, and well…you two could have been hit by accident as well. Also don’t worry; we know for sure we don’t have rabies in this town.”
“You guys just can’t shoot them?”
“Well…they just started showing up, they’re kind of rare, but lately I’ve noticed there has been more showing up. The legends about these beasts here do run deep, it said there used to be werewolves running around here long ago. They even formed a hunting team recently because of the legends and the fact the town is starting to go into a panic. At least the team keeps them calm and safe.”
“That’s the first I’ve heard of them.” Layton replied.
“They patrol on some nights, usually near the forest since most sightings are seen there. They use arrows so they can just wound them. We…actually can’t out right kill them yet.”
“Why?” Luke asked.
“Because there might be a chance it some mad man in a costume , kid doing a dumb prank or some rare animal, also since some of the people believe that they’re ‘werewolves’, we convinced them unless they kill someone or see them change, they won’t kill them directly. Even then we don’t want the town turning on each other and do damage or pointless killing; and the beasts have rarely attack anyone anyway. People who were attacked only come out bruised and scratched.”
“Why do you use a gun instead of a bow n arrow then?”
“Because I can’t use a bloody bow n arrow no matter how much I try.”
“We don’t have any bloody crossbows in this town as far as I know.”
She continued to check on Layton’s back injuries. Layton winced at one point.
“Quite a bit of blood, those are some nasty cuts but I’ll be able to clean them up. They’ll heal fine, no scarring. I can sew up the holes on your clothes; they won’t even look like they’re sewn up. They’ll just look as good and clean as before.”
“Why, thank you ma’am.”
“I swear my assistants run this place better than I do, all I’m good at is treating injuries and sewing…”
She went back in front of him.
“I’m late to telling you this but your leg wound looks nasty; it’s not bleeding as bad as your shoulder though. Let me look at your leg first.”
She bent down to get a close look at his leg wound.
She backed away and gasped.
“Is something wrong?” Layton asked. Her reaction seemed rather…odd to him.
“I mean is something wrong with the injury? Is it infected or…?”
“No it’s not, it’s just…” She then looked at his right shoulder.
“No…no…why, why…not you…” she said quietly to herself.
“You’ve…you’ve been bitten.”
Layton stared at her curiously; her expression was a mix between horror and sorrow.
“I…let me get the first aid kit and some other things…just stay here.” And she left in a hurry.
The professor winced from his injuries as he tried to relax in his seat. He took a glance at Luke; he was staring at Layton, horrified.
“Luke don’t worry, I’ll be fine…It’s fine.”
“Fine? Did you hear what she said? You’ve been bitten!” Luke said in a sad, quiet tone.
“I won’t get rabies Luke.”
“No, the beast wasn’t rabid…it was a werewolf, a werewolf bit you! I bet that’s why she reacted that way to your bites. You’re…you’re going to turn into a monster!”
“She’s probably just superstitious like some of the others, don’t worry.”
“No, you’re one of those things now; you might hurt someone during the full moon.”
“Now Luke just settle down-” he reached out to Luke who was standing nearby.
“No!” he cried as he pushed Layton’s hand away. His eyes were watery, about to cry.
Layton stared at Luke, shocked and confused, his eyes widen in sadness. The boy believed he was a monster now, like that…thing.
Luke was crying now from fear and stress.
“Professor I…” Luke ran up and hugged him, burying his face in Layton’s shirt. Layton injuries stung from this but he ignored this and hugged Luke back.
Luke sobbed; Layton would have told him not to cry but he couldn’t blame him because of everything that happened tonight. Luke had a right to cry right now.
“I’m glad I kept you safe Luke, at least that thing didn’t hurt you.”
“I thank you for protecting me but…I didn’t want you to get hurt either, especially this bad.” He sobbed harder.
“I don’t want you to become a werewolf.” He continued to sob. Layton knew the boy cared for him as well, they were friends.
Layton’s hat covered his eyes and responded to Luke in a soft, gentle tone.
“I know Luke…I know.”