Greek Myths 4 Kids Presents: CASE FILES
FROM THE HERCULES DETECTIVE AGENCY
CASE FILE: Case of The Temple Worm
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
One fine Greek morning Hercules was returning home from the local market. He had purchased a small bag of walnuts as a treat for himself, and another small bag he was going to give to his friend the Minotaur. Hercules was enjoying the day, the walk home, and the tasty crunchy walnuts. He was also wondering where his next case for the Hercules Detective agency would take him.
Hercules was walking past the local temple to Athena when he felt the earth start to shake. "Earthquake!" Hercules shouted, startled. He heard screaming coming from the temple. Some of the supporting pillars were really starting to shake. They looked as if they were about to collapse.
Seeing a group of worshippers inside the temple, Hercules rushed over. Grabbing as many of the shaking pillars as he could reach, Hercules shouted to the people inside the temple, "Quickly! Get out! This building is about to fall!"
The people ran outside the temple and fell to the ground. When the last person had fled the temple Hercules let go of the weakened pillars and ran outside himself, and just in time. As Hercules left the temple it collapsed.
"Thank you, Hercules," called the priestess of this temple of Athena, with a swell of admiration. "You have saved us!"
As she voiced this who should appear but the goddess Athena herself.
“Brother,” she said. "You saved those who worship me. Ask a favor of me and if it be within my power it will be granted."
"A favor," Hercules nodded slowly. A gift like that was not to be taken lightly. Athena was a powerful goddess. "I know you are the mighty goddess of war, wisdom, and weaving." Hercules stood up straighter. "I don’t really want to go to war right now, and while I am not nearly as wise as you I do pretty good. But weaving, now that is something I can use. Can you have your handmaidens weave a pair of tunics for the Minotaur and me?"
"Consider it done," nodded Athena. "I will get them to you as soon as I can. And I thank you again Hercules. You make me proud."
"You are very welcome, sister of mine," smiled Hercules. And with that Athena was gone.
Hercules made sure everyone, although shaken, was unhurt, then continued on his way home.
When he got there, he found the Minotaur in their courtyard holding a large package.
"Hey Tor," Hercules flashed his grin. "I got you these in the market." He tossed the bag of walnuts to the Minotaur.
"Hey, Hercules," echoed the Minotaur. "Athena stopped by and dropped off this package. She said it was for both of us. Athena said they were magical tunics! I was waiting for you to return before opening the package."
"Magical tunics!" Hercules looked pleased and a bit excited. "Let's take a look."
The two friends ripped open the package. The package contained two beautiful, well-made, masculine tunics.
"They don't look magical," Hercules said, sounding disappointed. "Did she say anything else?"
"She said to be careful with these as the magic will run out. I wonder what their power is," the Minotaur wondered.
"Maybe they're fireproof!" Hercules suggested, getting excited all over again. He grabbed a stick from the fire the Minotaur had built in the courtyard and waved it under the edge of the tunic the Minotaur was holding. The tunic did not catch fire, but it did start to smoke.
"Perhaps they need to get wet to work. It has been raining a lot. Maybe they're waterproof!" suggested the ever practical Minotaur. Since the tunic was still smoking, the Minotaur dumped it into a nearby water barrel. The tunic came out dripping wet. But at least it was no longer smoking.
"Maybe they protect the wearer from stabbing and death!" suggested Hercules. Without a thought for the safety of the Minotaur who was holding the dripping wet tunic, Hercules took out his knife and stabbed at the tunic. He easily created a slit in the material.
The Minotaur and Hercules looked at each other, puzzled. They had tried fire and water and stabbing.
"Tor, put yours on and see what happens," suggested Hercules.
"It's dripping wet. You put on yours."
"You big chicken," smirked Hercules. Hercules put his on. He reached into the pocket and found a handful of walnuts. He emptied his pocket and munched on the walnuts. He reached into the pocket again. Again he felt a small bunch of walnuts.
"Tor! Check your pocket!"
The Minotaur checked the tunic he was holding. He put his hand carefully into the pocket. He pulled out a fistful of walnuts. "Oh my!"
"What wonderful magic," exclaimed Hercules. "What a great travel tunic. You would always have food with you while you travel!"
The Minotaur tried again. He reached into the pocket and pulled out another fistful of walnuts.
Every time the two friends reached into the pocket of their tunics, they found a fistful of tasty walnuts.
After three days of pigging out on crunchy walnuts, while lazing in the courtyard in their new tunics, Hercules reached into his pocket and found it empty. "Tor! I'm out of walnuts. See if you have any!"
The Minotaur stuck his hand in his pocket, but his pocket too was empty.
"Oh well," Hercules sighed. "The magic has run out like Athena said. But at least we have these two really nice tunics!"
"Mine has a knife slit and a burnt hem," the Minotaur said rather grumpily. "You did this damage. This tunic should have been your tunic."
"She's my sister," Hercules laughed. "She would want me to have the best! But you look very nice in yours." Hercules patted Tor's arm in a comforting sort of way.
The Minotaur scowled. "Next time I see her, I'll ask her about that, and we'll see what she says."
"I'm impressed, Tor. Very smart." Hercules gave Tor his widest smile. "You know how Athena gets when people seem ungrateful for her gifts."
Tor paused to consider. "Yes, well, I was only kidding."
Hercules sat up. "Enough lazing around. We need a case for the Hercules Detective Agency. I wish for a new case!" Hercules shouted up at the heavens.
"Herc? Tor? Can I come in?" a voice asked timidly.
"We're around back, in the courtyard," Hercules hollered.
Daedalus, the world's greatest inventor, came through the back gate.
"I need to hire the Hercules Detective Agency," Daedalus said miserably. "I'm in trouble. BIG trouble. You know that earthquake that took down Athena's temple? It wasn't an earthquake. It was my worm."
Both Hercules and Tor stared at Daedalus. "A worm?" Hercules asked in astonishment.
"A mechanical worm. I invented it to loosen the soil to make planting easier. You know how rocky some of the soil is in some of the city-states. It's amazing they can grow anything with that rocky soil. But if you loosen that soil, you could plant trees, like walnut trees," Daedalus added, noticing the many walnut shells strewn about the courtyard. "You know how people love walnuts. And other crops too. But my worm got away from me."
"Is that what took down the temple?" Tor whispered as if someone might hear him besides Hercules and Daedalus.
Daedalus nodded nervously. "Everybody is talking about the earthquake, but I'm pretty sure it was my worm. I don't know where it went. It's a worm. It's underground. How do you find something like that? Athena is going to be so mad at me if she finds out." Daedalus shivered. "Hercules, will you help me?"
"Of course I will," agreed Hercules. "Make yourself at home. I'll be back when I'm back." Hercules nearly danced out the gate. A case! Thank goodness.
Hercules started looking for the worm with a visit to his Uncle Hades, god of the underworld since he lived underground.
"Haven't seen such a wonder, Hercules, but I'll keep an eye out," Hades promised.
"Thank you, Uncle Hades," Hercules said politely with a heavy sigh. He knew his Uncle Hades would forget all about keeping an eye out once Hercules was out of sight. If he needed to, Hercules would check back later.
Hercules went next in search of his Uncle Poseidon, the god of the sea and of earthquakes. No help there either.
He asked Artemis, the goddess of the moon and the hunt for help in tracking. But since it was a machine made of metal, she could not help. Turned out she could only track living things.
Finally, he went up to Mount Olympus to ask Hephaestus if he could find a machine, like a giant mechanical worm. No help there. Hephaestus could make things, but not find things.
It seemed every god was limited to the jobs and powers the mighty Zeus had allowed them to have. Hercules was beginning to think he might not be able to solve this case.
"Hey, Herc!" the god Hephaestus called after him. "Try a magnet. If it's made of iron, which it probably is, a magnet might find it."
"What a great idea! Do you by any chance have a magnet I can borrow?"
"Sure. Several. You don't need to borrow it. I don't use magnets that often. You can keep it. Poke over there." Hephaestus pointed at a rather dark corner. "Mind the spiders," Hephaestus added helpfully.
Hercules headed for the corner, then paused. "It's awfully quiet in here. Where are your talking tools?"
"Ares borrowed them. He's building some kind of war machine." Hephaestus grinned."I may have forgotten to mention they were talking tools."
Hercules threw back his head and laughed. "They won't like him. He'll be rude and obnoxious so they'll get even and rattle and pound and drive him nuts!"
"I know," Hephaestus shrugged with satisfaction. "Serves him right. He didn't actually ask me. He just took them. He does have a sweet side, you know. He can be very loyal."
Hercules rather doubted it, but said, "He's your brother. You would know."
"He's your brother, too."
"Half-brother," Hercules was quick to correct. The truth was, nobody liked Ares much. All Ares cared about was war and bloodshed. "You wouldn't happen to know where Pegasus is right now?" Hercules asked.
"That flying horse? Zeus has him. Unless he's flying about, Pegasus is probably home. Zeus had me build him a palace of a stable."
Which is exactly where Hercules found him. It took Hercules no time at all to convince Peg, his good friend Pegasus, to fly around with a magnet on a string to look for the machine. With Hercules on his back, and the magnet dangling below them, they flew off. They found some old horse shoes and a couple of old nails, but no mechanical worm. Hercules was just about ready to give up when the magnet gave a might pull towards something, something moving!
"It's going to be heavy, Peg. Maybe you should drop me off first and I'll try to get some of the dirt off it so you can lift it out. Then please haul this stupid worm out to sea and let it drop, magnet and all. I'll say thank you now because you won't hear me once you're away."
That is exactly what they did. With a wave of his wings, Pegasus hauled the worm far out to sea, and Hercules headed home.
That evening, Hercules lit a fire and made himself comfortable in the new chair someone had given him. He named this case The Case of the Temple Worm. Feeling at peace with the world and with himself, Hercules tossed the file in the fire and watched it burn. Safer that way, Hercules thought to himself. If Athena ever knew!