Professor Layton nearly dropped the cryptex as it suddenly made a whirrr-chirp-chirp sound. A definitive CLICK indicated that he had successfully unlocked the contraption. Layton carefully slid the inner chamber out from the outer shell. Inside the chamber was a single quill pen, set in an ornate peacock feather.
"Well done, Professor," Dan Brown happily announced, "the murder weapon was a QUILL. Or to be more precise, a quill pen." Dan Brown crossed over to Layton and picked up the quill from inside the cryptex he still held. "To be fair, though, the pen is entirely symbolic. All the writing was done on a computer. It's 2019 - does anybody handwrite anymore?"
Much like the cryptex moments before, something clicked within Layton's mind. He met Dan Brown's cheerful smile with an uneasy expression.
"Are you saying that the murder was..." Layton trailed off and continued to stare blankly at Dan Brown.
"Oh, figured it out, have you, Professor? Yes, your murder victim was a character of my own creation. So you could say that when I wrote her out of existence, I 'murdered' her with my writing." Dan Brown paused to wipe his glasses. "I mean, 'Perdita Mortum' literally means 'lost and dead.' Only a writer could come up with something like that. I'm frankly surprised you didn't pick up on it earlier."
But Layton was not concerned with what obvious clues he might have missed. Something far more troubling was on his mind.
"Am I...a fictional character, Mr. Brown? Am I not real?"
Dan Brown rubbed his temples. "Ah well, you were bound to ask sooner or later." He paused. "Let's just say that you are about as real and fictional as I am, right now."
Layton thought about this. It didn't make any sense, really, but he suspected that Dan Brown wouldn't provide any more clarity. Layton nodded.
"After all, who's to say what's real and what isn't?" Dan Brown continued. "Your books, films, and video games may be works of fiction, but the feeling you get when you immerse yourself in these fantastical worlds - that's real."
Layton nodded. This was something he could understand. "Thank you, Mr. Brown. This experience has truly reminded me that the is ier than the ."