The Hercules Detective Agency The Case of the Golden Nugget
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 really liked his villa. His home had started as rather a gloomy hut, but things had changed since Hercules had started the Hercules Detective Agency. People paid him in various ways for solving their problems. Some gave him food or clothing. Some gave him plants or fruit trees. Some gave him bricks or wood. Some even gave him furniture. Recently, Aphrodite's husband, the god Hephaestus, the god who had built all the mansions on Mount Olympus, had paid Hercules for his detective skills by adding a new wing! The wing more than doubled the size of his home. The wing had a high ceiling, so high that Hercules could stretch his arms over his head and never reach it.
As well, Hercules had done work on his home himself. His home now had a walled courtyard with lots of different shrubs and trees, which kept it cool in the summer. Outside the courtyard, there was a nearby well, which gave him easy access to drinking water. There were two well designed storage sheds, with room for more if needed. Inside the hut, now a villa sized hut, there were shelves along the walls. There were very nice cooking and baking ovens for preparing foods both inside and outside. The whole place was light and airy and home.
Behind his villa, in a hut of his own, lived one of his best friends, his friend Tor, the Minotaur. They shared the large courtyard and many a meal. Hercules wanted to expand Tor's home as well, but Tor was quite happy with the way things were. Tor liked to stay cozy, at home. Although Hercules did like to curl up in front of his fire in the evening on occasion, sometimes with friends, he was not much of an inside man. Hercules liked to keep busy and he liked to keep busy outside.
There was a small stream that separated Hercules' property from the farmer who lived up the road. There was a stout wooden bridge over this stream. Hercules liked standing and sitting on this bridge, watching the babbling water below, trying to spy fish in the clear water.
One day, when Hercules was looking into the water, something glittery caught his eye. "I wonder what that is?" Hercules mused. "It looks like a gold nugget. I think I am going to have to get wet today."
Hercules waded out into the stream (it really wasn’t very deep) until he reached the area where he had seen the gold. Looking very carefully and moving slowly so as not to disturb it, Hercules reached down and grabbed the gold nugget.
Wading back to shore, Hercules inspected the nugget. It certainly appeared to be gold. This caught Hercules by surprise. He knew that some gold was mined in Greece, but mostly up north by the city-state of Thrace. Finding gold in his stream was in some ways a good thing. Having gold on hand made buying food quite easy. In other ways it was not good. If people thought that there was gold in his stream, they would rush in and try to find some for themselves. They would start mining all along the shores, tearing up the wonderful scenic countryside and dirtying up the clear water of the stream. Hercules did not want that happening to this beautiful stream, so there was only one thing to do. He had to hire the Hercules Detective Agency to find where this gold had come from, which meant he had to hire himself.
Hercules knew the best place to start. The god Hermes was his good friend and half-brother. They shared a father, the might Zeus. Hermes was a very busy god. He had many jobs. Hermes was one of the 12 Olympians, the gods who ruled the ancient Greek magical world. Hermes was the messenger and deal maker between the gods. Hermes was also the god of mining and buried treasure. He had other jobs, too, but right now, it was the mining and buried treasure part that Hercules needed. This gold nugget was not in a mine. It was not buried. But it was most certainly a treasure. Without wasting any time, Hercules set out to visit his little brother, half-brother really, on Mount Olympus.
When Hercules arrived at Mount Olympus, he went to the palace of Hermes. Hermes was not there. Like most days Hermes was out delivering a message for one of the gods. Hercules made himself comfortable and waited for Hermes to return. He thought about visiting Hephaestus, to thank him again for his new wing, but he did not want to risk missing Hermes.
After what seemed like hours but was only a short time later, Hermes popped into his palace. "Why Hercules! What brings you here?”
"I think I need your help, Hermes,” said Hercules. He explained about finding the gold nugget and about his worry for what might occur as a result.
"Here it is” said Hercules passing the nugget to Hermes. “So tell me, is it part of a possible gold mine or maybe lost treasure, since you are the god of both those things?”
Hermes examined the nugget. He looked at it from all sides. He weighed it in his hand. He smelled it and even licked it.
He glanced up at Hercules. "This nugget came out of a stream up near Thrace. I can smell and taste trace elements that make me believe that. It was never part of a treasure trove or mined from a gold mine. How it got in your stream is unknown. I can also tell you Hercules there appears to be something magical about this gold nugget. I need you to show me exactly where you found it.” With a wave of his hand, Hermes delivered both himself and Hercules to Hercules' front door. "I like what you've done with the place," Hermes smiled. "But enough chat. Take me where you found this."
Hercules and Hermes went down to the bridge over the stream. Hercules pointed out the location where he had found the gold nugget.
"It was right about there," Hercules pointed. "Right where those shiny blue stones are." Hercules leaned forward to get a better look. "Hey, wait a minute. Those stones weren’t there this morning. They might be sapphires! I better go grab them."
"Wait!" shouted Hermes, causing Hercules to freeze in place. Hermes waded into the stream and scooped up the rocks. "Yes, these are sapphires, but Hercules, these are also enchanted. Now, how did they get here and who might have put them here?"
"I have no idea," Hercules frowned. "I doubt Hera would have done anything so nice unless it's an evil enchantment, so I really have no idea."
Looking around Hermes soon spotted something. His shoulders relaxed. "Not Hera, no worries. But certainly magical. I just saw a magical water sprite dive under those rocks."
"A water sprite!" Hercules said in amazement. "Are you sure?"
"Yep. It appears that your stream has attracted a water sprite. And she seems to be quite smitten with you. She is trying to woo you to get your attention and affection. She placed the gold there and now she has placed some sapphires there. And she has placed a love spell on them."
"My goodness," Hercules gasped.
"Luckily, you are a half god so the spell didn’t affect you. She meant no harm to you. She only wanted your love and friendship so she could have someone to talk and play with."
Hercules thought for a moment. "Hermes," he said, "I would love to be friends with a water sprite, but I really don’t have the time that she would deserve and need."
"Don't tell me," Hermes told him. "Tell the water sprite." With a wave of his hand, Hermes disappeared, no doubt off to deliver messages or crack a deal between gods. That was his job and he was very good at it. Hermes was glad he could help Hercules solve his problem, if indeed he had helped him solve his problem. Hermes was not sure he had, but he had a very busy day in front of himself. Before very long, Hermes forgot all about Hercules and the water sprite.
Hercules did not forget. He leaned over the stream. "Water sprite," Hercules said gently. His voice was pitying. "Your spell will not work on me. I am a god, well, half-god. Even if it did, or perhaps if worked on another, how do you think that person would feel to know what they are feeling is only a spell? That is not the way to make a friend. Friends are earned."
The sprite swam out from under her rock and gazed up at Hercules woefully. Tears filled her eyes. "I never wished you harm, Hercules. This is a very small stream and I live in it all alone except for some fish and one cranky old turtle. My magic can bring stones to me. But it cannot bring friends. No matter. I will remove the spell at once."
Waving her hands in an intricate pattern and murmuring soft words that Hercules could not hear, the sprite acted. "The spell is ended, " the sprite said miserably. "Will you come and visit me sometimes?" she begged.
Hercules stared at the water sprite. He had seen that motion before, that waving of hands to remove a spell, that murmuring of words that he could not hear. It was just on the tip of his mind. He thought for a moment more, and remembered. The case of the chatterbox! Hercules laughed. “I have the perfect solution. How would you like to make many friends? I have a friend who is a water sprite. She too found herself all alone. But that problem is fixed. She will be glad to introduce you to her many new friends. Being the strongest man in the world has some benefits. And I do need the exercise," he said exactly as he had said once before to another lonely water sprite. "How long can you live outside the water?" Hercules needed to know.
"Not long. Perhaps half a day."
"That's long enough! But if you find yourself short of breath, say something and I'll find a creek to dip you in. There are many creeks between here and there, so don't worry."
"Between here and there where?" the sprite asked, not that she really cared, but she was a tiny bit curious.
Hercules was not paying attention. He flexed his fingers. He stretched his back. He wadded into the stream and picked up the water sprite. "Hang on," he told her. Hercules began to run.
It took two dips along the way, to give the water sprite time to catch her breath, before Hercules arrived at the home of a young woman he knew. Once, she had been the victim of a spell. But all that had been worked out to everyone's satisfaction. Her home was separated from the rest of her village by a tiny babbling brook. Hercules carefully put the water sprite he had carried down, tucked into the edge of the brook.
"Lovely water sprite," he shouted.
"I'm right here, Hercules."
"Not you. I am calling another sprite, one who will soon be your friend."
A young woman rose from the brook. "Is it really you, Hercules? I almost didn't hear you. I was, well, it doesn't matter. I'm so happy to see you." It was then that she noticed the other water sprite, staring at her in amazement. "Don't be afraid. Hercules brought you here for a reason."
"She was just like you. Stuck in a tiny puddle of a stream. I thought perhaps ..."
"Of course! She is so welcome!"
The two sprites babbled away with waving hands and softly uttered words that Hercules could not understand. They turned to Hercules. "Thank you, Hercules," they chimed. They dived into the brook and disappeared.
Hercules felt a bit left out for a minute, then realized how silly he was being.
"Herc," his own first sprite reappeared. "Thank you again for bringing us a new friend. This is so exciting!"
A second head popped up. "Thank you so much!" Hercules could hear the happiness in her voice. "Check your stream. I left you a present!" With a giggle, both sprites disappeared.
"I will," Hercules called out a promise, feeling much better about things, and not left out at all.
By the time he got home, he found Hermes and the Minotaur standing by the stream, staring into the water. What now?
Hermes looked up. "I remembered I forgot to take the golden nugget with me. I have to get it back to Thrace, where it belongs. But look what we missed! A whole pile of nuggets and more sapphires and a rather large ruby. That is one talented sprite. She brought all this here for you." Hermes shook his head in wonder. "I can get the gold home, but the jewels, I have no idea where they came from. We've been calling your sprite, but she won't answer."
"She isn't in there anymore," Hercules smiled. "I found her some friends."
"I hope you can find her again, because you need to get these jewels back where they belong before someone comes looking for them. At least they're not enchanted." With that, Hermes scooped up the golden nuggets and disappeared.
"I think we should keep them," the Minotaur decided.
"Why? We can't spend them. We can't wear them. People would wonder where they came from and we'd be right back where we were this morning, with everyone hunting for jewels in our stream."
"I wasn't here this morning," the Minotaur pointed out.
"Trust me. We can't keep them. We can't even let people know we have them." Hercules sighed. "I'll have to find the water sprite and ask her."
"Ask her tomorrow. I have supper almost ready."
The two good friends scooped up all the jewels they could find and wandered around to their courtyard. They buried the lot by the brick wall they had built.
"We should mark this spot somehow," the Minotaur decided.
"No need. I won't forget," Hercules reassured him.
After a very good supper, Hercules took himself home. He pulled out a file and made some notes. He named this case The Case of the Golden Nugget. Hercules filed the folder away with the other cases files of the Hercules Detective Agency and took himself off to bed.