Hercules was a hero. One of the greatest ever. He was very strong, extremely brave, and had great hair. Like, seriously great. He could have been in a shampoo commercial, except he lived in Ancient Greece and they didn’t have TV back then. Or shampoo. But you get the idea.
Hercules had to serve the king of Tiryns. I won’t go into why because it’s pretty gruesome. (Hint: he kind of, sort of, accidentally killed a lot of people.) Before he was allowed to go free, the king gave Hercules twelve tasks to complete.
Now, twelve tasks doesn’t seem like that many. But the king was afraid of Hercules (see previous note about Hercules killing people). So instead of giving him jobs like walking the dog or cleaning the toilet, he gave Hercules twelve extremely dangerous jobs to do, like, crazy dangerous, hoping that Hercules would get killed doing them. (Though cleaning the toilet can be very dangerous, especially after your dad’s been in there.)
The king told herc to go kill the savage Nemean Lion. Not only did Hercules kill it, he wore it as a hat! (But only when he was having a bad hair day.)
The king was furious that Hercules had survived (and now had a cool hat), so he thought of an even more dangerous task: Kill the nine-headed Hydra monster that lived in the nearby Swamp of Lerna.
“Righto,” said Hercules. “Piece of cake.”
“Yep,” said his nephew Iolaus, who was driving him to the swamp in his chariot. “Piece of cake. If by ‘cake’ you mean ‘enormous nine-headed, super-fast, super-strong snake with hundreds of razor-sharp teeth dripping with deadly poison.’ That sort of cake?”
“Very funny,” grumbled Hercules. “I wish you’d be a bit more positive.”
“I am positive,” said Iolaus as he pulled the chariot to a stop. “I am positive you are going to get eaten by the Hydra. Well, looks like we’re here”
They had stopped on the edge of a murky pond in the middle of the swamp. Bubbles of swamp gas glooped and popped on its surface. On the other side of the pond was a dark cave. Bones and gigantic snake scales lay scattered about the opening. A low hiss echoed from its black depths and the whole place stunk of rotting flesh and farts. Hercules stared nervously at the gloomy entrance to the Hydra’s lair.
“I’m not going in there!” he squeaked.
“What’s your plan then, hero?” said Iolaus. “Wait out here until it dies of old age?”
“No!” snapped Hercules. “I need to draw it out here, where I’ve got room
Hercules picked a booger from his nose and flicked it away. It landed on Iolaus.
“Ew! Gross! If you’re going to do that, I’m leaving.” huffed Iolaus.
“That’s it!” exclaimed Hercules. “I’ll shoot something down there to make it angry!”
“Boogers?” said Iolaus. “They might gross it out a bit,but —”
“Fire!” shouted Hercules. “I’ll shoot fire arrows down thehole! Snakes hate fire.”
“And lizards,” said Iolaus. “Cos lizards have legs, and the snakes
But Hercules was no longer listening. He grabbed an arrow from his quiver and wrapped the head in cloth soaked with lamp oil. Lighting the arrow with his lantern, he stretched back the string on his mighty bow.
“Here goes nothing,” thought Hercules. ZHOOM! The flaming arrow streaked into the cave. The hissing suddenly stopped.
“Do you think it worked?” he said.
But Iolaus didn’t answer — the ground beneath them had begun to tremble. The hissing was replaced by a ROAR and the cave mouth shook and shivered as something… something HUGE thundered out of the darkness towards them.
“Yep,” gulped Iolaus. “I think it worked.”
END OF PART 1