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

Hercules was getting ready to go into town. He needed to get some food for supper that night.

Just as Hercules was about to leave, Hermes appeared before him. Hercules and Hermes were brothers, half brothers really. They shared the same father, the mighty Zeus, king of all the gods, but had different mothers. Hermes was Zeus's youngest son. Hermes was one of the 12 Olympians, the gods who ruled the magical world. Hermes was usually full of fun. He was very bright. He had great ideas. He was a natural athlete. He had a mischievous grin. He seemed to be able to talk others into just about anything. Both gods and humans liked and trusted Hermes. Their trust was well placed. Hermes could keep a secret. Zeus decided to give Hermes the job of messenger and deal maker of the gods. That would put Hermes in the midst of things all the time, and it would make sure that Hermes was important.

Today, his mischievous grin was conspicuously absent. Hermes looked worried and somewhat uncomfortable asking his big brother for help.

"Hercules," Hermes said. "I need your help. Word has spread about your Hercules Detective Agency, founded to help the Greek people. But I hear you have also helped a couple of the gods. Today, I need your help."

"Come on in. Tell me about it. You know I'll help if I can," Hercules told his little brother earnestly.

Hermes sighed, then said, “My famous winged sandals are missing. I need those sandals. As the messenger of the gods I need to be the fastest and those sandals help me do my job. I don't think I can do it without them. There are so many messages. I always speed to get things done."

"When did your sandals go missing?" asked Hercules, ever practical.

"Sometime last night. When I went to bed, I took them off and put them next to my sleeping mat. When I got up this morning they were gone. I had to put on these old sandals I had from a long time ago."

Hercules thought for a moment. "Leave your old sandals here. I have an idea."

As soon as Hermes had left, Hercules quickly went up to Mount Olympus to talk to Artemis. Artemis was one of Hercules's sisters, one of his half-sisters really. They shared the same father, the mighty Zeus, but had different mothers. Artemis was also Apollo's twin. Although they were twins, they were exact opposites. Her brother, Apollo, could be warm and loving. But Artemis was not like that. She adored her dogs. She loved her twin brother. She loved her Mom. She respected her Dad. She even liked most of her half-siblings. Hercules was one of her favorites. But to others, Artemis was cold and pitiless. Hercules was lucky. He found her at home. Hard to believe but she had caught a cold. That was rare in the mythical world, but it was not surprising that it would be Artemis who found herself sneezing occasionally. Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, and spent most of her time outside, even in the rain and snow.

"Artemis," Hercules said. "I am calling in that favor you owe me. I need to borrow your hunting dogs."

"Of course you can borrow my dogs. But I won't let you call in the favor I owe you for that," she sneezed. "I haven’t been able to take the dogs out for a run the last couple of days and they really need to run. So here's a deal for you - I will let you borrow them, if you will take them for a good, long run. You can call in the favor I owe you some other time."

"It’s a deal," said Hercules. He shot a look at her dogs. They were full of energy, growling and bouncing and not paying much attention to anyone. "Will they obey me?" Hercules asked.

"No," laughed Artemis. "But you can handle them. Take them. They're driving me nuts. I'm going back to bed."

Hercules quickly grabbed the hunting dogs, tucking one under each arm, and returned to his hut. They squirmed and wiggled. They wanted down. They wanted to run. But Hercules held on tightly. He wanted to make sure he got them home so they could help him solve the case of the missing sandals. It was too bad he had not thought to bring Hermes' old sandals with him.

As soon as they reached his home, Hercules had the dogs sniff the old sandals that Hermes had left. They immediately picked up the scent and were off running and barking, appearing to be having a great time. Hercules barely kept up. Across fields and streams, over hills and through forests, the dogs led the way. They approached a villa.

Hercules thought he knew who the villa belonged to. He recognized some of the decorations. The villa belonged to Narcissus. No one was home, but the front door was unlocked. Hercules walked inside. The dogs came with him. Dust and spider webs were everywhere. It did not look as if anyone had lived in the villa for some time. Hercules briefly wondered where the young man had gone, but that was not his problem. His problem was the missing sandals. He had to stay focused. The hunting dogs had gathered around a closet in the sleeping room. Quite sure he knew what he would find, Hercules looked in the closet. There, in the darkest corner, were the fabulous winged sandals.

"Sandals," asked Hercules, leaning down to get a better look. "Why are you hiding in this closet?"

"We are hiding so that Hermes cannot find us."

Hercules shot the sandals a look of surprise. "Why are you hiding from Hermes?"

"We love Hermes. Being part of the team that makes us the messenger of the gods is so cool. But Hercules, we cannot stand the smell of Hermes' feet any longer. We are not going back until Hermes does something about his smelly feet."

"His feet," Hercules echoed, in a puzzled sort of way.

"Put yourself in our place, Hercules. Being strapped to those stinky feet day after day, with no escape or relief. One night we just couldn’t bear that thought anymore and we had to fly away."

"You know Hermes misses you terribly," said Hercules. "He would do anything to protect you."

"We know that," said the sandals. "But we cannot go back to those stinky feet."

Hercules held up a finger. "Let me think," he told the sandals. Hercules thought things over. The sandals had a point. He could not argue that. He thought it over some more, while the dogs settled down at his feet, worn out by their trek. They made the sweetest sniffling sounds. Hercules smiled down at them, then stared at his own feet. Something had occurred to him. One of the practices in ancient Greece was to bathe the feet of visitors in perfume. Hercules and the Minotaur occasionally soaked their own feet in their courtyard. You could not call that being a visitor, not in your own courtyard, but they knew the treatment. It felt good. It smelled good. They enjoyed it. But Hermes never got this treatment since he was always on the go. He was a constant visitor, but only stayed a moment, just long enough to deliver a message from one god to another.

But what if he received a perfume wash at home, as he and the Minotaur did? Hercules brought this idea up with the sandals.

They thought it was a great idea. They had not really liked hiding in a dark closet. They were more than ready to go home.

Hercules picked them up and quickly returned to Mount Olympus. He made his way to Hermes' palace. There, Hercules made a deal with Hermes' servants. They would bathe Hermes feet each evening when he came home in exchange for one future favor from the mighty god, well, half-god, Hercules. They had no idea what they might ask, but it was exciting to have a favor they could use some day.

Hercules then had a talk with Hermes about the perfume wash and about treating his magic sandals better if he wanted them to stay around. Hermes was at first embarrassed, but enjoyed his first perfume wash. He had his sandals back, and soon he had his famous, mischievous grin back as well. He owed Hercules. He knew it. But he did not say a word about deals or favors. That was a bit peculiar. It was not how things were done. But Hercules did not mind. After all, Hermes was his little brother.

Since he was already on Mount Olympus, he swung by and returned the hunting dogs to Artemis. By then, the dogs were so worn out that they immediately curled up by her feet and went to sleep.

"Thank you, Hercules," said Artemis. "I have been so worried about them. I promised myself that we would go hunting again very soon."

"If it's okay with you, I think I'll swing by every day for a while and take them out for a run. I could use the exercise, and you need to get over that cold."

"Herc, really? That would be amazing!"

"My pleasure, infant."

Artemis laughed. "Lucky for you I'm a bit under the weather."

Hercules laughed his booming laugh, and took himself off. He stopped by the marketplace in town to pick up a few things, then went home to cook up some supper and write up his latest case, The Case of the Stinky Sandals. Since it was on his mind, and it had been a while, he prepared an especially fragrant rose perfume wash and set the bowl out in the courtyard to share with his good friend, the Minotaur, after supper.