Chapter 24

Now, King Eurystheus was determined to profit from one of Herakles' labors. He sent him to steal one of the cows of Geryon that did not bear young, but the more you fed them the bigger they got and when they were a certain size they split in two and became two cows! The only problem was, that their owner was a giant that had three torsos, and in an emergency he could split into three different people. His dog also had this ability and could become two giant, ferocious dogs! Herakles asked Creos where these things came from, as they were here before Zeus and his people arriived.
2 "Every once and a while," Creos answered, "nature makes a mistake. It produces an animal that won't exist for long, but has some strange traits. These cows are one such animal. They developed this odd way of reproducing, which eventually will destroy them, because they are only making copies of themselves, and sooner or later defects will begin to appear in their offspring that will make them unable to reproduce. Their owners picked up this ability by eating the raw flesh of the cows. They became infected with the cows' ability to reproduce. But their genes could not withstand the duplication as well as the cows could, so they have all died off. Their present owner is the last of them left, and he has lost the ability to copy himself. He can only temporarily separate and within a few hours must rebond or he will die."
3 "This is not a good thing, is it?" Herakles remarked. "People that eat these cows could all become like this, couldn't they?"
4 "If the flesh is not properly cooked," Creos agreed. Herakles pondered this. When he reached King Geryon's land the people greeted him warmly. They knew of his mission and supported him. They considered the cows a curse, and wanted to be rid of them because they were aware of what happened if you ate them, and avoided it whenever possible.
5 They helped Herakles lure King Geryon's dog into a trap where Herakles could attack it with his club and destroy it. Even though the dog was in a narrow passage Herakles still had a hard time defeating it. And his left arm was severely bitten. So when its master arrived Herakles had a hard time battling him, as he split into three and kept coming at him from different directions. But one by one Herakles managed to knock the giants unconscious. Then, he had the people bind them and seal each one in a different cave. Their cries of agony through the night horrified everyone! But finally they stopped. In the morning Herakles opened one of the caves. Inside was a black, gooey substance all over the cave's floor. The stench was unbearable! Herakles sealed the cave back up and suggested to the locals that they leave it so!
6 He began to herd the cattle back to Greece. As he was passing through Italy several barbaric tribes joined together and attacked him! Herakles lifted up one of the cows and sped away with it. Behind him the barbarians slaughtered the remaining cows and ate them raw. Herakles watched this with amusement, knowing these people had sealed their own doom.
7 "What is it Creos says?" Herakles muttered, "The price of evil is visited upon every following generation"?"
8 He continued on and presented the cow to King Eurystheus, and warned him that the flesh must be thoroughly cooked. The King was pleased. He thought he now had cattle that could reproduce year around, and the palace would always have an endless supply of fresh meat. However, two years after Herakles brought the cow back it began to prodouce hideous offspring that were twisted and grotesque, and whose flesh was so foul tasting that no one would eat it. The King finally had all the cattle slaughtered and burned. Again he had not profited from Herakles' labors!

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