The Hercules Detective Agency The Case of the Dangerous Dragon
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
Hercules was in his courtyard, enjoying the day, when a group of farmers approached his gate. They all started talking at once, with a great deal of hand waving, shouting louder and louder, trying to be heard over each other. It was a bit garbled, but Hercules heard: "Hercules, please help us! A terrible dragon is terrorizing our village and setting fire to our fields. It's destroying our crops. We have tried to kill it, but it's armored. Our arrows bounce off of it. We desperately need your help to kill the dragon!"
There was nothing Hercules liked better than to put a hurtin' on a terrible monster. But, he had to say it, "Gentlemen. There are no dragons in Greece. Why do people keep thinking we have dragons? We have many monsters, that is true. We have the Hydra, and Medusa, and the Typhon, and the Harpies, but no dragons."
Hercules thought about the many monsters he had met.
The Hydra was a terrible, mean, rotten, foul swamp monster with nine heads. There was nothing nice about the Hydra. Hercules had fought this monster and finally won, but it was tough. Each time Hercules had cut off one of the Hydra's heads, two heads grew back in its place! But he had killed it, so the so called dragon could not be the Hydra, because the Hydra was fortunately very dead.
Medusa was once a beautiful human woman, but she angered the goddess Athena. Athena punished her by turning Medusa's long gorgeous hair into squirming and wiggling poisonous snakes. The snakes did not bite Medusa, but they bit and killed anyone else who got too close. Plus, if you even looked at Medusa you would be turned to stone. It was never wise to anger the Greek gods, but this was an especially terrible punishment. It did not take long before Medusa turned into a terrible person, which is understandable, but still, she could not be allowed to hurt good people. Come to think of it. Medusa was also dead. The brave Greek hero Perseus had killed her, thank goodness.
Typhon was an especially scary monster. He had one hundred snake heads. The Typhon scared everybody, gods and mortals. Zeus had finally killed this horrible monster using his lightening bolts. So it couldn't be the Typhon.
Hercules thought about the Harpies. Now, that was a possibility. The Harpies were part human female and part bird. The three Harpies were winged monsters who snatched up evil doers in their sharp claws, and tortured them all the way to the Underworld, where they dropped them off from great heights. (If the evil doers were not dead already, the fall would certainly kill them.) The Harpies were still around, causing trouble. They did steal food on occasion. Perhaps the farmers had mistaken a Harpy for a dragon.
Hercules was still listing monsters out loud, while thinking to himself about the monsters that were dead and the ones who still roamed the earth, when one of the farmers loudly interrupted his thoughts by shouting "Hercules!" He was determined to get Hercules' attention back on their problem. "We are perfectly willing to concede that Greece has many monsters. We are very grateful that you have already killed so many of them. We need you to kill one more. This monster is causing a great of trouble and we need your help!"
One of the farmers argued, "I think it's a Persian dragon sent to destroy us and burn all our crops!"
Now that would be clever, Hercules thought. It sounded like something Persia would do. Burn the crops. Starve the people. Take the city-states.
"It will soon be harvest time, but if this keeps up, we will have nothing to harvest and nothing to store for the winter," said a third farmer.
All the farmers stared at Hercules hopefully.
"I'll see what I can do about this," Hercules nodded. "But you have to pay me in food, food stored for winter use, because you're right - winter is coming."
All the farmers agreed eagerly. "We will if we have any crops left to harvest."
"Go home," Hercules directed. "Keep your families inside. Since your monster is fire breathing, fill as many containers as you can with water. Be ready in case your homes catch fire. Let me see what I can do."
Hercules put on his armor, grabbed his weapons, and headed out, in search of a dragon. Not the most ridiculous case he had ever accepted. And truly, something was going on or the farmers would not have looked so shaken, so worried, so down right scared. He headed towards the farmers' village and soon sighted smoke rising into the sky. This must be the place thought Hercules.
Looking out into the field, he could not actually make out what was causing all the smoke, but it certainly did look like a monster of some sort. Hercules pulled his sword out of its scabbard and charged at the monster, shouting a war cry that sounded something like “For Greece and the Gods”!
As Hercules got nearer he still could not make out the monster's real shape through all the smoke. But he knew something was hidden in there. With a mighty swing of his sword, he chopped towards where he thought the monster might be.
Clang!!! His sword struck something that sounded like metal. Hercules did not know of any monsters that were made of metal but monsters were tricky. When it came to monsters, it was not wise to assume anything. Hercules quickly took another mighty swing with his sword. Clank!! Hercules hit the monster yet again, and this time something fell off. He hoped it wasn’t like the Hydra, which grew back two heads in the place of one. No, this time the monster seemed to be slowing down. Hercules took another mighty swing. Clonk!! This time it looked as if he had cut the monster in two! The smoke also appeared to be blowing away. As it did, Hercules noted the monster appeared more like something someone had built, than a living creature. To be safe, Hercules had hacked it into pieces. Although some creatures could put themselves back together again, Hercules was nearly positive that this was not one of them. In fact, if Hercules had been a betting man, he would have bet it was not a monster at all, at least, not a once living one.
As the smoke continued to clear, Hercules noted something in the distance, something he recognized. It was the home of his good friend Daedalus, the famous inventor. Maybe Daedalus knew something about this so called dragon. He thought about dragging the pieces of the monster with him, but decided he could easily come back for them later if needed. Hercules went in search of his friend. He found Daedalus in his workshop courtyard working on a strange, but somewhat familiar, scary looking device.
"What are you working on, Daedalus?" Hercules asked in a questioning sort of way, although he was pretty sure he was looking at another mechanical dragon.
You look quite fierce in your armor," Daedalus told Hercules admiringly. "Is there a contest somewhere? Where are you headed?"
"It appears I'm headed here," Hercules sighed. His armor was heavy. It had to be to protect him. Just the same, it was very heavy. "First the mad machine, then the temple worm, and now this, whatever it is."
"It's a mechanical scarecrow!" Daedalus gazed off into the distance. "Look at those crows. They're eating all the crops. People can't kill them. Crows are sacred to Apollo as you well know. So .... a scarecrow! A fire breathing scarecrow! The crows will be terrified. If I could only get it working."
"Daedalus, I beg of you. You have to think of an invention that has nothing to do with food because you're wearing me out."
"Growing crops is very important to the Greek people. Didn't you form the Hercules Detective Agency to help all the Greek people? Well, then," Daedalus said, as if he had made a very good point that anyone could understand, even Hercules.
Hercules shook his head. "How about an invention that, I don't know, that blows soap bubbles! You could stand in front of it. Maybe after it covered you in soap bubbles it could squirt water and rinse you off. How about that? That sounds like a really useful invention. Farmers could use it when they came in from the fields to wash off all the dirt and mud. All Greece would thank you, especially the wives and daughters who have to clean up all the dirt and mud their men track into their homes. Invent that."
Daedalus mulled it over. "It's something to think about. But right now, I have to get my mechanical scarecrow working. It's powered by steam and the fire box keeps spitting out flaming chunks that set the surrounding fields on fire. I haven't figured out how to fix that."
"Make it wind up," Hercules suggested. "That gives the farmers control. When the crows descend, they can wind it up. And don't use fire. Just use smoke so the crows only think it's fire."
"Hercules! That's brilliant. That's exactly what I need to do. Whatever made you think of treating a mechanical scarecrow like a windup toy?
Hercules grinned at his good friend. "Dragons," he said.
"But Herc, there are no dragons in Greece."
"There are also no dragon eggs, although you did trick me once into thinking a rock was a dragon egg by giving it a mechanical heart beat." Hercules shook his head. "It was a rotten trick."
Daedalus laughed. "It was Tor's idea."
"Oh right," Hercules flashed him a glare, and then grinned.
"It's the perfect solution, Hercules. Thank you. I'd say I owe you one, but I long ago lost track of who owes who what."
Not the clearest sentence, but Hercules knew exactly what he meant. It had been some time since he had thought of Daedalus as a customer. He had long ago become a friend. Although Daedalus certainly did cause Hercules a great deal of trouble, Hercules was well paid for his trouble by those who were customers, so there was that.
"I have to let the farmers know what's going on. Can I tell them they can have a discount if they buy one of your mechanical scarecrows?" Hercules asked.
"Sure," Daedalus mumbled without paying much attention. His mind had already wandered on to his next invention. A mechanical bubble machine. That just might work!
"What about the pieces? Do you want them back?"
"What pieces?" Daedalus looked up, puzzled.
"I killed your mechanical scarecrow. That one," Hercules pointed. "The pieces are in that field."
Daedalus frowned. He looked over his shoulder. By his face, Hercules knew that whatever he expected to see was not there. "Oh my. It must have taken itself off. I'll send my son to pick up the pieces. No worries," and just that fast, his attention was focused elsewhere. "A mechanical bubble machine," he mumbled. "I wonder." Daedalus did not notice when Hercules shook his head at him, or when Hercules gave a massive sigh, or even when Hercules walked heavily away, his sword in its scabbard clanking softly against his armor.
The farmers were very relieved when Hercules told them what had happened and what would happen quite soon, once Daedalus got his mechanical scarecrow working. "Anyone who wants one can buy one at a discount as an apology for any crop loss they suffered. And you're freely welcome to the pieces I left in the field, although Daedalus did say he would send his son, Icarus, to get them out of your way."
"I hope they're not too expensive, even with a discount," one farmer fussed. "It sounds like it would work, but you know Daedalus."
Rather than respond, Hercules simply shrugged and left the farmers to work out their own deal with the famous inventor.
That evening, Hercules pulled out a new file and named this case The Case of the Dangerous Dragon. He made a notation on the front cover - PAYMENT DUE: WINTER FOOD, and with one last shake of his head, he tucked it away with the other case files from the Hercules Detective Agency.