Heracles was finding it very hard not to hate his father at the moment. Very very very hard.
Gilbert had been knocked out for only ten minutes before Heracles had received another note from his father. Well, his other father, technically his mother right? Heracles frowned and pondered this as he read over the note that had been written on a scrappy looking piece of paper in loopy handwriting.
Hello son. I want to apologize for Alfred's behavior, first for being an idiot and sending you the note on a disgusting hamburger, and second for making Gilbert doing these idiotic tasks. Honestly, I don't like the idea of Alfred's twin brother (whose name escapes me at the moment) dating Gilbert but I realize that putting him through these three tasks are completely and utterly idiotic. Sadly Alfred doesn't see it that way and refuses to budge. So while he was off sulking about you two completing the first task (he isn't very happy you're helping Gilbert) I took it upon myself to write out the next task. Sorry about this but believe me when I say this is one of the lesser evils Alfred wants Gilbert to do.
Your next task is to clean the stable of King Rome within a time limit of two hours.
P.S. Gilbert is not allowed to use his godly powers.
As Heracles read over the last line he felt his heart sink in dread. Everyone knew of King Rome. Oh sure, he was a great leader and all, but his stable were an absolute mess. Thousands of animals were in the huge stable and nobody had cleaned them for years. They had to be one of the most disgusting things ever smelled and Arthur said this was one of the lesser evils Alfred had picked? Heracles groaned and face palmed.
"Oi, kid." Heracles looked up to see Gilbert looking at him through lidded eyes.
"We've got a new task." Heracles held out the note to Gilbert, who took it and read it. By the way Gilbert groaned and laid back down, Heracles guessed he didn't have any ideas about how to clean the stable either.
"It can't be that hard," Heracles suddenly found himself speaking cheerfully, trying to keep Gilbert's spirit up, "I mean, how big can the stable be? The animals still need to be fed, and it never said anything about asking for others to help."
Gilbert grunted, took another look at the note, and shoved it back towards Heracles, who took it and looked over it again. To his shock, he saw a couple of words had been added at the end.
P.P.S You are not allowed to ask others for help.
"First rule of gods kid," Gilbert said, "don't say anything out loud because chances are if we're paying attention, we're gonna hear you."
"Dammit." Heracles cursed and leaned back; trying to think of other ways he and Gilbert could complete the task.
An hour later Heracles was still pondering how to succeed in their task even as Gilbert landed them in the land of King Rome. (Figures all gods have teleportation powers, and it also figures Heracles got stuck with the one who had directional trouble. Also, Hiroki had refused to come along. He had found a particularly warm rock to nap on and was perfectly content to stay out of this adventure.)
"Okay Heracles, go up and tell King Rome what we're gonna do." Gilbert suddenly poked Heracles, breaking him out of his thought process.
"Me? Why don't you go do it?" Heracles hissed.
"I'm a god, duh. I can't just go waltzing in there!"
"Disguise yourself then! I highly doubt you can't do that since you teleported us from Peter's island to Egypt to who knows where and to about a hundred other places!" Heracles glared at Gilbert. It really wasn't crossing his mind that Gilbert was a god after all and probably could have killed Heracles for talking to him like that.
"Don't you want me to help you get Matthew?" Heracles smirked as Gilbert's shoulders hunched in defeat.
"Fine," he grumbled, and with a swish of his hands Gilbert was suddenly no longer there. Instead a small yellow chick stood where the god had been previously standing.
"A baby chick? Really?" Heracles snorted and, gently, picked up the little chick. For a moment he was lost as where to place it, but then just decided on the top of his head would do. That done, Heracles set off for King Rome's palace.
It was hard enough getting to see the King; fortunately not many people were coming and asking the King if they could clean out his stable, so Heracles managed to get a quick audience with the King.
you're offering to clean my stable for free?" King Rome was a kind fellow but even he looked a little doubtful at Heracles's offer.
sire." Heracles added hastily, "It's a task that was set to me and
my bird." Heracles grinned unsurely and shrugged at King Rome's incredulous expression.
"Such a mighty task for a young man and his bird, please tell me your names." King Rome leaned forward, criss-crossing his fingers.
"Ah, I'm Heracles and this is Gil
Gilbird." Heracles made up on the spot.
"Hercules and Gilbird?"
"No, Heracles and Gilbird."
"Ah, I see. Well then, I quite understand tasks set to strengthen yourself! I myself was a young hero once before taking the throne!" King Rome beamed at Heracles. "And you say you want to do this alone with your bird? Alrighty then! I haven't had those stable cleaned in forever! It will be nice to be able to visit my horses without having to hold something over my nose."
"Thank you sire," Heracles waited for a moment before adding, "So
which way to the stable?"
King Rome blinked at him for a moment before letting out a loud laugh that made Heracles jump. "HA! Of course! I am so sorry about that! Let my daughter take you down there. She's the only one in the palace who will go down there willingly anymore. She's such a talented artist, almost as good as me!" King Rome looked at a guard beside him, who nodded at the king before leaving the room.
Heracles only had to wait a few moments before he heard footsteps coming back toward the room. Turning around to politely greet the princess, Heracles suddenly moved back as he realized the little princess was right up in his face scowling at him.
The princess had her father's brown hair; however unlike his chocolate brown eyes the princess had deep amber colored eyes. She was pretty short compared to anyone; Heracles would have assumed she was just young but her amber colored eyes looked at him the sharpness and intelligence of that of a mature adult.
"The guard said you wanted to see me about something father," the princess's voice was calm but held a certain sharpness to it.
"Wy this is Heracles and his noble pet bird, Gilbird! They have taken upon themselves the task of cleaning out the stable. I would like you to take them there and watch over them so they don't give up and leave."
"Very well," Wy turned her back and began walking away. King Rome gestured at Heracles to follow her, smiled, and stage whispered, "That's my girl, doesn't dawdle."
"Why haven't we, like, gotten a say in this yet?" Feliks pouted and flopped down on Toris's lap.
"If I recall, it might be because you almost killed Toris, aru." Yao took a moment to glare at Feliks, who stuck out his tongue.
"Is there anything we need to speak about?" Alessia asked the others. Everyone looked at each other, and shrugged.
"I'm a bit confused about why Alfred would want Gilbert to clean up the stable." Toris mentioned casually. Everyone else made puzzled faces as they thought about it for a moment.
"Was the smell so bad it reached Mount Axis?" Vash suggested idly. Feliks shook his head at this and said, "Like no way! If it was that bad then King Rome would have moved his palace!"
"Well I've got no idea then!" Alessia announced cheerfully.
"Nope, me either."
"Like, I have no clue."
"No idea, aru."
"While we're considering things, what has Sadiq been doing all this time?" Vash asked.
WHOA! Hey guys, that's not supposed to come up yet!
"Mmmm, but we're boooorreeddd." Feliks whined. Nods of agreement ran through the group.
Hey, you guys interrupted the story when you weren't needed. Be glad I'm interrupting now and didn't cut you short earlier.
"Cut us short, aru? What does that me-"
"So this is the stable. Go ahead and clean them up." Wy had said to Heracles, and then left him to go sit on a rock some distance away. Heracles understood why, the smell was so bad and over powering that he wanted to run to the ocean where the air was salty sweet.
For a moment Heracles stood still and let the memories of his parent's house by the ocean wash over him. Gods he missed them. It was only by the insistent pecking from Gilbert that Heracles broke from his reverie and walked closer to the stable, holding his nose.
Heracles stepped up to the stable doors, huge doors now covered with grime but it could easily be seen that once they had been beautiful oak doors. Heracles's mortal father, Berwald, had dealt with furniture. At one time Heracles had thought of taking over Berwald's trade, and helped him the shop a little bit. This had given Heracles a appreciation for the effort that went into making such things. Heracles paused for a moment to admire what he could see of the doors before opening them.
And immediately wishing he had admired the doors longer.
If the smell had been bad before, it was absolutely nauseating now. Heracles could even see the huge piles of poop that lined everything.
Heracles closed the doors behind him, desperately wishing that he could leave them open. But still Heracles turned away and choked out, "Kay Gilbert, you can transform back now."
Gilbert fluttered off of Heracles head, and in an instant where Gilbert/Gilbird had been, now Gilbert the human stood before Heracles.
"Ugh!" Gilbert winced and doubled over as he slapped his hands over his nose, grateful to finally have hands to block a little of the smell. Birds don't exactly have dexterous fingers.
"So how are we going to do this? You take the east area and I take the west?" Heracles eyed the poop piles, trying to size up how quickly it would take them to do this. Remembering the letter, Heracles's heart sank, "Hey Gilbert, when does the two hour timer start?" Gilbert glanced over at Heracles, his eyes showing desperation.
"Shit kid, I think it would start at the exact moment we enter the stable."
Heracles looked at Gilbert, he could see his own thoughts reflected in Gilberts, How the heck are we supposed to do this in two hours?
Gilbert looked around at the surrounding poop piles and let out a tiny groan, "Dammit, even if we did start scooping poop now, where would we put it? I'm pretty sure the king doesn't want us just spreading the poop across his city." Heracles merely nodded in acknowledgement and continued to survey the huge piles of poop.
"Why did you two volunteer for this if you have no idea how to clean it?" Heracles and Gilbert turned around at the slightly snobbish tone of the little princess. She stood in the doorway, glaring at both of them.
Gilbert stepped forward, a little bit of his swagger back, "Hey princess, don't doubt the awesome me and the semi-awesome Heracles. We will figure out how to clean this stable. You know why?" Gilbert went on, "It's for the awesome quest of love! You see I fell in love with a guy and his idiot brother won't let me date him, unawesome I know right? But then we arranged that if I complete three tasks then the idiot brother will let me date the adorably cute Matthew, my awesome boyfriend, and we'll live happily ever after. The end!"
Wy blinked for a moment, a slightly confused look taking over her normally scowling face. But then another moment later the scowl was back and she snorted. "Love? Seriously? Well I guess that's a pretty good excuse." Heracles and Gilbert needed a moment before they realized she had just complimented them. "But honestly if you're going clean this place then you should just use w-ahhhh!" Both Heracles and Gilbert jumped forward, tackling Wy to the ground, preventing her from finishing her sentence.
"Shhh! They'll here you!" Gilbert hissed, pressing his hands against Wy's mouth. Wy glared up at him and suddenly Gilbert let out a loud groan as he fell over. Wy had kicked him in the crotch. Heracles quickly scrambled off of Wy to avoid the same fate.
"What the heck? Idiots!" Wy backed away from them.
"No, we apologize. You see, uh, don't, um
" Heracles couldn't come up with anything to make the situation sound any better. The fact that Gilbert had just been kicked in the crotch and was now lying on the floor moaning would probably not help to encourage Wy to believe he was a god.
Hatred seemed to radiate from Wy as she continued to glare at Heracles. Gulping nervously, Heracles adjusted his toga for a moment to give him some time to think.
"Uh, we're being tailed. By someone with really really good hearing abilities; and if you told them what we should use then we might get in trouble from getting outside help. So, um, maybe you can charade what you were going to suggest?" Heracles gritted his teeth at the lame excuse.
Wy kept her smoldering gaze on Heracles for a few more moments.
"Really. You expect me to believe that." She said. Heracles winced a little bit, but nodded his head in affirmation.
"And you do realize that for attacking me and lying to me I can have to put into jail for the rest of your lives, or have you killed?" Wy continued. Heracles looked down at the ground and nodded shamefully. Something about Wy just screamed ruler; the way she held herself, the way she talked, and the way she could make you feel bad for doing something stupid even if it had been for a (technically) good cause.
Suddenly a loud snort rang through the stable.
Heracles looked up to see Wy giggling. Considering the only faces he had seen on her were in the annoyed category, Heracles was pleasantly surprised to see that Wy looked really pretty when she was laughing.
"I like you guys. You're the first people to ever come here and treat me like that. The only one who ever acts differently to me is my father and he's almost always busy." Wy gave them one last smile before her face lapsed back into the smooth and calm face of a delegate.
Wy nodded a Heracles and then said one word.
Heracles look at her confused for a moment before a sudden bolt of understanding came to his mind. Smiling at Wy, Heracles decided to give her a quick hug before running down to the river. Wy's one word had made Heracles understand what he needed to do, that is, if the naiad would let him.
Wy's one word had been "Wet."
Heracles quickly slipped into the water as he withdrew a golden coin from his pocket ('borrowed' some money from Peter). He tossed the coin into the river and called out "Naiad of the river, please hear my call and come to my aid." (Everyone knew naiads lived in every river, and if you paid them a bit of money they were willing to help you out occasionally) The coin immediately disappeared in a flash of gold and Heracles waited for a couple of minutes.
Sighing, Heracles took out two more coins and repeated the chant. Again the coins disappeared, but this time Heracles only had to wait moments before a very pretty young girl arose from the water.
As she rose up her body was all water, but after she had risen up so she was now waist deep in the water, all the water seemed to run off her as a solid being showed. The naiad had elegant blonde hair twisted into a braid and bright blue eyes. She looked at him behind two pieces of glass that were put in wire and made to sit on the bridge of her nose.
"Hello. May I help you?" She spoke.
"Ah. Hi. I'm Heracles."
The naiad rolled her eyes and said, "I knew that. My brother told me about you. Said you might be in my neighborhood soon and to help you out best I can." Heracles frowned and asked, "If you were supposed to help me, why didn't you speak up sooner?"
The naiad swirled her hands around in the water for a moment before saying, "You never know when the economy will get bad. It's best to collect as much money as I can. Besides, I know what you're going to ask of me and I charged you extra for that." Heracles couldn't help but feel a little sheepish, but grateful.
"So you'll do it then?"
The naiad nodded, "Yea, why not? The smell is awful and nobody comes around anymore but the princess. It's a little lonely." The naiad gave Heracles a small smile, and then ordered him to go fetch his friends so they wouldn't drown.
"What about the animals?"
"They'll be fine. They're a lot sturdier then you humans," was the naiads reply. Heracles just took that without complaint and went back to the stable to fetch Gilbert and Wy. Returning with them, Wy nodded toward the naiad while Gilbert let out a loud laugh.
"What do you know? Its Francis's little sis, or cousin. However your weird family tree works out Monaco." Gilbert smirked at Monaco the naiad. She gave him a glare, but then turned her attention back to the task. Slowly she raised her arms and closed her eyes, letting the powers wash through her.
And with a quick motion she slammed her hands down on the water, and a roaring noise filled the air as the water rose out of the river bank. Wy and Heracles stood awestruck as Gilbert just picked at his nails.
With another motion, Monaco sent the water rushing toward the stable. Heracles could hear the startled noises of the animals and he felt a little bad about scaring them, but they would be okay and anyways their home would be clean.
Heracles watched on as the water swirled through the stable and picked up all the filth and grime. A plus side, since the water had come from the direct power of a naiad it was powerful and scrubbed everything squeaky clean. Heracles winced a bit as he saw the water turn filthy brown and Monaco shudder a bit.
Slowly Monaco brought out the water and lifted it straight over their heads. Heracles and Wy covered their heads, expecting it to come slamming down on them. But the huge mass of water and grime passed over them and over the hill. Monaco let her arms drop and they heard water come crashing down.
"Is that okay?" Wy asked, still looking at the hill.
"Yea, that stuff would have polluted my river. Over that hill is an area that needed water and fertilizer. So I went ahead and dumped it over there." Monaco shrugged.
"Great! Monaco your awesome level just went up!" Gilbert cheered, jumping up and down, but then winced and held his hand over his crotch area.
"Thank you Gilbert. You can thank me by giving my brother a message," Monaco said, "Tell him to stop petting me on the head whenever he comes by. It makes me feel like a child."
Wy had walked both Heracles and Gilbert back up to the castle. Her father, and everyone else, had gone rushing down to the stable when they heard it had been cleaned. Wy stayed behind with Heracles and Gilbert however, because she knew they were going to leave without waiting for everyone to come back.
"So this is goodbye?" she asked looking at both of them.
"Heck no kid! I'll remember this so just send up a message to me of you need anything!" Gilbert ruffled her hair. She gave a little glower before turning to Heracles.
"Thank you. I'm sure if it had been anyone else trying to convince Monaco to help out, she wouldn't have done it." Wy smiled a little bit, "She's stubborn like that. Will only help out certain people she deems alright." Heracles grinned back at Wy, and was startled when she gave him a quick hug.
"Thank you. It might not seem like much, but it is to us and if you ever need anything you know where to find me." Wy stepped back and gave Gilbert a quick hug as well. To Gilbert's credit, he didn't make a snarky comment, instead just ruffling her hair again and muttering, "Thanks."
Wy waved them off as both Gilbert and Heracles began to walk back the way they came, making sure nobody followed them or could see them as they teleported back to Peter's island.
"So when do you think the next task will be given?" Heracles questioned Gilbert as they sat in the clearing. Sunset was beginning to fall (Gilbert got them lost again and Heracles had fallen asleep somewhere in Athens) and Heracles was worried about the next task his father would give.
Gilbert's eyes suddenly snapped up behind Heracles and he smirked grimly.
"Well kid, take a look behind you and I think we'll find out."