Hercules Detective Agency Case Files are Copyrighted with the U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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

Hercules was busy fixing his courtyard wall - it seemed to need constant attention - when he saw the pearl divers he had helped in the past. They appeared to be headed his way, and they appeared to be excited about something.

"Hercules," they shouted as soon as they saw him. "You will never believe what happened!"

"Try me," Hercules smiled at the group.

"We found a treasure map!"

"A treasure map?" Hercules stared at the men with surprise.

"On a ship, on a wrecked ship! We were diving off the shoreline of an island where we go sometimes."

"It's a great place to dive for oysters," explained one of the divers.

"And we saw a piece of a ship sticking out from the ocean!" the first diver sent on.

"We knew it was dangerous," explained a third. "But we decided to explore. We were curious, and ..."

"We found this!" the first diver interrupted. He waved a piece of parchment at Hercules. "It was tightly wrapped in a piece of leather in the cabin of the ship."

"We barely got out in time," added another, his eyes huge. "The cabin, the whole ship, began to sink. It was pretty spooky. But we were able to swim away safely."

"I held this aloft as we swam for shore. It helped that it was wrapped in leather," said the first diver.

"When we had a chance to really look at it, we were amazed," said another.

"We think the ship and its occupants, probably pirates, were on their way to find the treasure when they ran into trouble," added the third.

By this time, Hercules had perked up considerably. "Can I see it?"

"Of course!"

Hercules studied the map. It was a drawing of something.

"Why do you think this is a treasure map?" Hercules asked. "Never mind," he answered himself. "Because you found it on a pirate ship!" Hercules looked up. "Did you hunt for it?" he asked the men.

"We haven't figured out the clue. And Poseidon has made the ocean especially calm these past couple of days. We have no idea how long Poseidon will keep his temper in check. You know Poseidon. When he loses his temper, the waves are wild and so are the ocean currents. It's difficult to dive on those days. So we have to take advantage of this wonderful weather."

"Tell him the truth," frowned another diver. "Never mind. I'll tell him. The truth is, Hercules, we are worried we might run into pirates. Or a monster they left guarding their treasure. We talked about hunting for it, but we decided to come to you instead. We were hoping you would do the treasure hunting for us. To pay you, we'll share the treasure."

"So if you're willing," interrupted another diver, "we think half for us and half for you is fair because we understand there might be a great deal of danger involved."

The divers waited hopefully.

"Leave the map with me and I'll see what I can do, but no promises. And don't get your hopes up. There might not even be a treasure. For that matter, it might not have even been a pirate ship."

"Thank you, Hercules," they chimed excitedly. Hercules watched them hurry away, probably eager to get back to the shallows to search for oysters. They were a brave bunch. Collecting oysters to search for the pearls that might be hidden inside sharp pointy shells did not sound like much fun to him. But searching for pirate treasure, now that entirely diffferent!

"Tor!" Hercules shouted. "Want to go treasure hunting?"

Tor came out of his hut and stared at Hercules in surprise. "Herc. You know I can't do that. I try to stay hidden from people so I do not scare them."

The Minotaur was thinking of others, as usual, and all he thought about was the fun he would have treasure hunting. Hercules was a bit ashamed of himself. It was the excitement he supposed. "I wish you could come with me," Hercules said, and meant it.

"Me too. But have fun!"

"At least you can help me solve the clue," Hercules said. He handed the Minotaur the map.

"Hum," puzzled the Minotaur. "It looks like a well, with water running out of it, lots of water, running down a hill towards a village. But I'm probably wrong." Tor handed the map back to Hercules.

Hercules studied the map. It did look like a well, now that Hercules thought about it. Was that water pouring out of it? With water running down the hill towards a village. Could it be a picture of the village with the magical well? He had solved a case there. That would be quite a coincidence. But it was wroth trying. Besides, it was the only clue he had.

"I think you're right, Tor. I think it's a well!"

Holding the map tightly, Hercules almost ran to the village with the magical well. He was that excited. Pirate treasure! This might be the most fun case he had ever had.

"Hercules," said the man watching the well as Hercules ran up to him. "How good to see you!"

"I am on a case," exclaimed Hercules. "This is going to sound rather strange, but could I look inside your well?"

"Sure," the watchman answered, sounding puzzled. "You know, no one uses this well. It's too dangerous. We're worried it might start flowing madly down the hill again and drown the village."

"I know," Hercules nodded. He noticed a scrap of leather the watchman held in his hand. "What's that you're holding?" Hercules asked quickly.

"I just found it. Someone hid it under a rock behind the well. Who would do that?"

Pirates, though Hercules. Pirates might do that!

The watchman unrolled the scrap of leather. Inside was a piece of parchment. "How weird. Someone drew a picture of a hammer. At least, I think it's a hammer, but the hammer is talking. It says: Come to the place we first met." The watchman laughed. "Kids, playing games I suppose."

"May I have it?" asked Hercules, his voice filled with excitement. He knew exactly where he could find a talking hammer! Not too many people could say that!

"Sure. Anything for you, Hercules."

Hercules took the note the watchman handed to him. "Thank you! Thank you very much for your help!"

With that, Hercules was off on a run, holding tightly to two clues.

In no time, Hercules arrived at the blacksmith's shop, the same blacksmith who had asked him to get rid of some enchanted talking tools."

By the time he arrived, he could barely contain his excitement. "Blacksmith, can I look around for a bit. I'm looking for a note." Hercules held up the notes he was holding. "Something like this. Or something wrapped in a scrap of leather."

"I just cleaned the place yesterday. No notes. Just dust and dirt." The blacksmith looked around. "It does look better though, I must say."

Hercules felt his excitement seeping away.

"Come to think of it," the blacksmith added. "An oddly dressed fellow gave me a package a while back to deliver to anyone looking for a note, or a clue, or pirate treasure," he laughed. "He paid me well to hang on to it for a bit."

"A package!" Hercules brightened, his excitement on the rise again. "Do you still have it?"

"I tossed it over there," the blacksmith pointed. "Are you telling me that package is pirate treasure?"

"It's probably just the next clue," Hercules mumbled. He quickly retrieved the package and ripped it open. Inside, he found a package of olives and a bottle of wine. But no words, just the olives and the wine.

Hercules knew immediately what that meant. The pirates must have been following cases of the Hercules Detective Agency, because this clue could only mean one thing.

"Thank you, Blacksmith. I know right where to go!" With that, Hercules sped off.

And so it went all afternoon. Hercules was sent to the village with the missing olive trees. From there, he was sent to the village where the fishermen had eaten Poseidon's favorite tuna. That sent him off to the village where Daedalus lived, who sent him off to the village where Eupiddle, the self proclaimed world's greatest sculptor lived, who sent him on to a the village where he and Tor had trained an Olympic team, who sent him to a village near Hercules' home, where he had helped a barber save his reputation.

At the barber shop, Hercules received the strangest clue of all. There was no picture. The note simply said: The treasure you seek is where you started from.

This clue had Hercules stumped. What did that mean? Was the treasure still on the wrecked pirate ship? The ship that was on the bottom of the ocean? Reaching the ship would not be impossible. He had friends with powers, his uncle Poseidon, Lord of the Sea, for one. Poseidon's young son owed Hercules a favor. He could ask the divers for the location of the island, and take Triton with him to take a look.

Hercules decided since he was so close to home, he'd go home, get a good meal and a good night's rest, and start again in the morning. He set off down the road towards his own villa.

When Hercules got home, everything seemed extra quiet. No birds calling, no dogs barking. Hercules immediately became more alert. Was something wrong?

Hercules cautiously entered his courtyard.

As he did, a loud shout went up. “SURPRISE!” It seemed as if there were a thousand people in his courtyard. People from several different villages were there, representatives from every village he had helped. His friends, Daedalus, Eupiddle, Tor (the Minotaur) and Leto were there. Even a couple of gods were present. Hercules spotted both Hermes and Dionysus (who had apparently brought along a large supply of wine for toasting.) The blacksmith was there, and the barber and the watchman! There were wives, and kids, and neighbors, and there in the corner, the pearl divers stood laughing. There was a pile of fresh baked bread, and all kinds of food, and sweet things to eat, and a whole bunch of people cheering. It was an amazing sight!

His good friend, Tor, came up to him. "Hercules, it is the one year anniversary of the day you started the Hercules Detective Agency. And these," the Minotaur waved about him, "are the people you have helped who have gathered to thank you again."

To say Hercules was shocked would be a complete understatement.

"I don't know what to say," Hercules mumbled. He would be most embarrassed if his eyes teared up. It took every bit of his will power, and it was a very close thing.

His good friend Dionysus, the god of wine and forests, shoved a huge goblet of wine in his hands. "You don't have to say a word, Herc. We have said it for you." Dionysus looked at the crowd. "All together now."

"THANK YOU!" they shouted.

Hercules and his friends had a great party that night, swapping stories and celebrating The Hercules Detective Agency, founded to help the Greek people, Sole Proprietor the Mighty Hercules, who had successfully solved a great many cases (with a great deal of help from his many friends.)

No one friend could have organized this, Hercules realized some time that night. They did it together. Tor had to be in on it of course, as he knew all the cases. The others had helped. It was a wonderful feeling. It was the most wonderful feeling he had felt in a very long time.