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Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)

Bright and early one fine Greek summer day, Hercules was awakened by someone shouting outside his gate.

"Hercules," he heard. "Come out and fight me like a man. I, Leto the Mighty, am now the strongest, fiercest warrior in all of Greece. To prove this to all of Greece I challenge you.

Hercules, being half god, knew no mortal man could beat. He wondered. Could this be Dionysus playing a joke on him? Or maybe Hermes trying to embarrass him again? Whatever it was, Hercules decided to get up and go see what was really going on. Hercules yawned himself up, got his breakfast, washed his face, brushed his teeth, and then wandered out to the front of his home.

All the while, Hercules continued to hear, "Hercules! I, Leto the Great, challenge you. Come out and fight me."

When Hercules opened his door, he saw a mighty Greek warrior waiting for him by his front gate.

"Okay, Dionysus," Hercules sighed. "Take off the costume," but nothing happened.

Hercules began to wonder if this might actually be a real Greek warrior challenging him. Perhaps he had suffered an injury to his head. Hercules did not want to fight a real Greek hero so he asked the man, "Hey Leto, do we actually have to fight or can we settle this some other way?"

Leto responded happily. “Hercules, I accept your challenge!”

Hercules thought for a minute. "I have three tasks for us. Whoever does best at these tasks is the greatest warrior in all Greece. Agreed?"

"I accept your challenge," agreed Leto the Mighty.

"The first task," Hercules told him, "is to toss these boulders out of the middle of that field," Hercules pointed, "and send them as far as we can." Hercules had promised his neighboring farmer he would remove the boulders from his field. This seemed like a good time to keep his promise. "As the challenger, Leto," Hercules added, "you may go first."

Leto picked up a boulder and tossed it with a might heave clear out of the field.

Hercules grinned. "Good toss, Leto. Now, it's my turn." Hercules picked up a boulder that was twice as big as the one Leto had chosen, and tossed it twice as far.

This upset Leto. "That wasn’t a real challenge for a warrior. A warrior uses his weapons."

Hercules thought for a second. "Weapons? Okay. How about axes? Our next task is to take an axe and cut down as many trees as we can within one hour showing who is mightier with an axe. I have two axes leaning against my hut. You, as the challenger, can choose which axe you wish to use, and you can go first as well."

Leto hurried towards the weapons propped against Herc's hut. Leto carefully picked up and swung both axes. He chose the one that suited him best. He sprang into action and in the hour allotted he cut down three trees, which was truly terrific. For a mortal.

Hercules had needed to restock his firewood, so he set to work with a will. With one swing he cut down a large tree. His next two swings cut off all the branches. Then he chopped the tree up into firewood size pieces. Hercules cut down and cut up five more trees in his allotted hour, giving himself a nice stack of firewood. And again doubling what Leto had done.

Leto was furious. "These challenges are not worthy of a warrior, Hercules. Let us fight as warriors."

Hercules nodded. "You want to fight as a warrior protecting Greece?"

"Yes," said Leto.

"Okay, come with me." Hercules led Leto (and the large crowd that had gathered to watch) down to the river. "Leto," Hercules said. "Two river monsters have moved into this stretch of the river and they need to be gotten rid of."

"Yes," shouted Leto. "This is the task for a great warrior." With that he charged down to the river.

The monsters saw him coming. They waited until he had run down the river bank, then grabbed him. They shook him a little and then tossed him quite a ways up the bank.

Leto was shaken, but not cowed. He picked up his spear and charged the monsters again. This time, the monsters grabbed Leto and banged him against the bank. They dunked him underwater a couple of times, then tossed him ever further than before. Leto was dazed.

The monsters were about to chase after Leto, possibly making him into lunch, when Hercules stepped in.

"River monsters," he shouted. "I am Hercules. You have 5 minutes to get."

The monsters looked up and saw Hercules. Recognizing him, they immediately set off for the sea. Like all bullies, they were cowards at heart.

Hercules picked up Leto, dusted him off, and invited him to lunch. "Leto," Hercules said in a loud carrying voice that reached the crowd that had gathered. "You have shown yourself to be a great hero. You were willing to fight not one but two river monsters at once. Most warriors would waited until they had help before fighting a monster. You did not. Greece needs all her heroes. Can you accept being one of Greece's greatest warriors?"

Leto said, "You have shown me what Greece's greatest Hero looks like, and it looks just like you, Hercules."

"Call me Herc," Hercules told him. "All my friends do."

Leto seemed to grow taller at that. He smiled happily. "I can do that, Herc."

The two new friends waved good-bye to the crowd that had gathered to watch the challenge and went in Herc's home to prepare lunch.

"I should warn you, Leto," Hercules told him. "Not all monsters are bad. Some of very good. Some are even my best friends."

He was just in time. The Minotaur came in through the back door. "What is all that racket? I was trying to sleep!"

The Minotaur was built like a man and dressed like a man, but he had the head of bull, and thus was rather scary looking. (Tor was the Minotaur that Hercules had rescued from the terrible maze on the island of Crete. The half god Hercules and the dangerous looking Minotaur had become best of friends. Hercules had even built a home for the misunderstood Minotaur behind his hut, a hut the Minotaur had called home for some time now. The two friends had shared many adventures already. As Hercules had soon learned, it never hurts to have a Minotaur around when facing dangerous monsters!)

Leto's eyes flew open.

"Leto, this is my very good friend Tor, short for Minotaur. Tor, this is my new friend, Leto, one of Greece's greatest heroes."

"He doesn't say that about many people," Tor told Leto. "You must be very special."

Leto sat up straighter.

"After lunch, I'll help you cut up some firewood, Herc. I was going to do it this morning, but I was really beat. I needed some sleep."



Hercules laughed. "No, I mean the firewood is already chopped up. A huge pile of it."

"You cut all the firewood. Already? That must have been the racket I heard. Okay, I'll help you get rid of those river monsters, instead."

"Done. They're gone. Chased away."

The Minotaur grinned. "Really? I'm thinking you had something to do with that, Leto, because he's been saying he needed to get rid of those river monsters for days now."

"You should have seen him," Herc told his friend. "He took on two monsters by himself."

"That was incredibly foolish. It sounds like something Herc would do. But they're gone for good, you think?"

Leto and Herc both nodded.

"Good. So what's for lunch?"

Leto sat up even straighter. His face lit with pride. Greece needed her heroes. All of them. He knew that now. Things could not possibly have gone better. He had even been invited to lunch. With two of them. He had no doubt.