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)

I would not want to say that Hercules was run off his feet just yet, but he was very busy. Word had gotten about that the Hercules Detective Agency was open for business. Business had been rather brisk.

Hercules was not at all surprised at the knock on his door. Hercules and the Minotaur had just finished a late supper.

"Herc," shouted his good friend, Icarus. "Open up!"

Hercules opened his door with a smile of welcome. Icarus stopped dead at the sight of the Minotaur sitting by the fire. His eyes widened in astonishment. "He's here," gasped Icarus.

Hercules said quickly, "This is my good friend, Minotaur. Minotaur Icarus. Icarus Minotaur." With introductions out of the way, Hercules asked, "What's up?"

"I can't believe he's here!" Icarus's jaw dropped open. "Everyone on the island is looking for him. They have pitchforks and hammers and bows and arrows. The monster escaped from the maze somehow and the king blames my father."

"I assure you, " the Minotaur huffed. He lowered his horns. "I am not a monster."

Icarus did not know what to say to that and decided not to say anything. Instead, he paced to the far side of the room, putting as much distance as possible between the Minotaur and himself, then turned quickly to face his friend. "Herc, you know Daedalus, my father."

"I certainly do," snarled the Minotaur. "He built my cage. An impenetrable maze of twisted olive trees and sharp pointy brambles. I hate your father." The Minotaur shuttered.

"I'm sorry. I'm really sorry, but that's what he does. He invents things. My father has probably invented more inventions than any other inventor in the entire world. Some even work. That's why I'm here. Herc, you've got to help me! My father is a prisoner. He's being held on the island of Crete against his will!"

"Icarus, come. Sit down. Take a deep breath and tell me what happened."

Icarus dropped into a chair and sat tensely on the edge of it. "It all started when those awful Athenian children came sightseeing on Crete. You know those Athenians. They're always causing trouble. First the children were there. The next day, they had disappeared. Everyone thought they might have wandering into the maze and had been eaten by the horrible monster."

The Minotaur rolled his eyes and snorted.

"Did anyone mention the princess?" questioned Hercules.

"No, why would they? Nobody has seen the princess for a while, but that's normal. She's usually on the other side of the island, staring out to sea, wishing she could get off the island and never return. She's not very fond of Crete. Or her father. Or anyone really."

As Hercules and the Minotaur both knew, the children and the princess were no longer on the island. Hercules had helped them escape. (But that's a story for another day.)

Icarus explained. "My father and I have been prisoners on Crete ever since the children disappeared. The whole island keeps waiting for warships from Athens. So far, it's like they don't know their children are missing. Maybe they haven't noticed yet. Whatever, my father keeps trying to find a way to escape. One day, he noticed birds flying overhead. It gave him an idea for a new invention. My father had me gather all the bird feathers I could find. He glued them together with wax and secretly made two pairs of wings."

"Wings!" exclaimed Hercules. "What a great idea!"

"We were waiting for nightfall to make our escape, when two guards spotted the wings. They grabbed them for themselves. People saw them flapping about, flying overhead. You can imagine what happened. These people jump over bulls for fun." Icarus shuttered. "It was horrible. No patience. Every single one of them insisted on wings immediately. They didn't even help collect feathers. It was all up to me. The worst part was that once they flapped their wings and took to the sky, they could see below them. They could see that the maze was empty. No grave, no carcass, no bones, and most of all, no monster. People panicked. A horrible monster like that, running loose!"

"Hey!" snarled the Minotaur.

"Hush," Hercules told his friend, Minotaur. "Let him talk."

"That my problem." Icarus leaped out of the chair. "I need you to convince the people of Crete that the mon... the Minotaur is dead and help my father and me escape once I go back. I used the only pair of wings my father managed to hide to get here, the last pair of wings that still work, but I have to go back or King Minos will punish my father for my leaving."

"You have only the one working pair?" Hercules questioned carefully.

"Those wings don't last very long. The wax melts and they fall apart. Of course, the people expect my father to simply make more. How many feathers can one man gather?"

Hercules grinned. "Then I have an idea." Hercules studied the Minotaur.

"I do not like that idea. Whatever it is, I won't do it," cautioned the Minotaur.

Hercules laughed. "I wasn't thinking of you."

"Good," growled the Minotaur.

"I was thinking of Pegasus." Pegasus was a magical, flying horse. He was also one of Hercules' closest friends. "His wings are not made of wax. He can fly really high and really fast. You are absolutely positive that you have only one pair of working wings right now?" Hercules asked Icarus again.

"I'm positive. People have tried to make them, but only my father's wings work. He really is the best architect in the world."

Hercules rubbed his hand together. He laughed. "This is going to be so much fun! I know exactly how to solve this. We need to drop the Minotaur into the ocean from a very great height, while everyone on the island is watching. Stop glaring at me, Minotaur."

"Drop me in the ocean? From a very great height? In shark invested waters?" the Minotaur shrieked. "It would kill me."

"Not if we use nets," Hercules reassured him. "I'll have Pegasus lift you up and drop you in the ocean far from shore, behind some high rocks if possible, so people will think you died from the fall or drowned in the ocean. It doesn't really matter."

"Not to you perhaps," the Minotaur snorted.

We're going to need a boat," Hercules realized. "Prince Theseus of Athens has a whole fleet of boats. He owes me a favor."

"I'm not doing this," the Minotaur repeated in a very firm voice.

"And lots of nets," Hercules added. "Strong ones. So we can catch the Minotaur when he falls to his supposed death. I'll get those from Athens, too."

The Minotaur glared Hercules.

"Will you stop worrying. We'll catch you before you ever get near the water. It will be fun! How often do you get to go flying with Pegasus?" Hercules turned to Icarus. "Your job, Icarus, is to get the people looking up at the sky so they can see Pegasus flying away with the Minotaur. You are going to have to sound the alarm that the monster is escaping. They have to see him drop into the ocean from a great height. That way, they'll think he's dead."

"Most of his plans are crazy," the Minotaur told Icarus. "They never work."

"While everyone is watching the Minotaur fall to his supposed death," Hercules continued, "you and your father can swim out to the boat and escape. Make sure you destroy that last pair of wings before you leave. We certainly do not want anyone following us."

"It's brilliant," cried Icarus.

"I AM NOT DOING THIS!" shouted the Minotaur.

But, of course, he did. Hercules had to point out several times how Hercules had risked his life to rescue the Minotaur in the first place. Fortunately for everyone, Hercules' plan worked perfectly.

Hercules made a deal with Pegasus, the magical flying horse, to owe Pegasus one favor.

Theseus, once the prince, now king of Athens, gladly loaned Hercules a boat and nets, provided he got to with him as it sounded like a great deal of fun. Prince Theseus had never met the incredible Pegasus, the flying horse. He was quite excited about the opportunity.

Things went off exactly as planned, even better, as the Minotaur screamed all the way down when Pegasus dropped him from a great height into the nets below. It was most convincing. King Minos was broken hearted, but cheers went up all over Crete as word spread that the horrible monster was dead.

On the boat ride home, Icarus and his father kept thanking Hercules over and over as they sailed back to Greece. Icarus' father, the famous inventor, promised Hercules one future invention in payment for being rescued. Icarus and his father were a bit star struck with the presence of King Theseus, but soon realized he was a great fellow, in spite of being a king. They thanked him over and over, too. They would have gratefully thanked the Minotaur as well, but the Minotaur was pouting at the far end of the boat and refused to talk to anyone.

Hercules called this case "The Very Inventive Rescue" and filed it proudly away with a rapidly growing stack of Case Files from the Hercules Detective Agency.