Long ago, in a world that never was, there lived a man named Son Goku. He was an incredible fighter who had no equal, though one man came close but his is another story. Son Goku was also the son of Yamcha, king of the gods. Because his mother was mortal, the jealous queen of the gods, Bulma, hated him and drove him to do a great evil. To atone for this evil, Son Goku had to perform ten labors for a petty king. This is the story of one of those labors.
* * *
Son Goku smiled cheerfully. "Okay!"
"Go fetch me three of Bulma's golden apples from the Garden of Hesperides," King Pilaf demanded.
"Okay!" Son Goku said cheerfully again. Once again, the courtiers had apoplectic fits at his manners. The Chancellor just sighed and hoped that Son Goku would be leaving this court for good soon.
And so, Son Goku set off to find the Garden of Hesperides. Unfortunately, the only thing that anyone knew about where it lay was that it lay far to the west.
* * *
Three months later, Son Goku was in a strange land. There did not seem to be any people there, but there were plenty of animals, so he did not go hungry. The animals were in such abundance that you could not walk ten feet without tripping over one. The predators hunted fat, juicy prey that never seemed to panic at anyone's approach. The prey ate of luscious green grass and from the pink-leaved trees. In all, it was a wonderful land, and Son Goku told himself that this would be a nice place to live when he got older.
Suddenly, he heard a strange flute playing. Never before had he heard a flute played so highly-pitched. He followed the music, and came to a large tree. Looking up, he saw a man sitting in the branches. Well, at first, Goku thought that he was a man, but no... He was green, with pointed ears and pink spots on his arms. This person wore Arabic looking clothes, and played the flute with the ease of long practice.
Son Goku listened entranced until the person finished playing, and then he said, "Oi, who are you and how do you play the flute so highly pitched?"
The person glanced down at him, "My name is Piccolo, and the flute I play is the piccolo. You are Son Goku?"
"Then let me tell you this, you are seeking the Garden of Hesperides to the far west of the sun, near where Rikuum holds up the sky. Do not pick the apples on Bulma's tree yourself, Son, for they are the apples of immortality and only a god can pick them."
"Thank you, Piccolo!" Son Goku yelled over his shoulder as he ran towards where Piccolo said the Garden was.
* * *
Three months later, after travelling over land and sea, Son Goku arrived at the place where Rikuum held up the sky, and not far away was the Tree of Life with the hundred-headed dragon Ladon watching over it.
Son Goku walked up to Rikuum, "I'll hold up the sky for a while, if you will pick me three apples from that Tree."
"I would do that, but I cannot defeat the dragon Ladon and holding up the sky is far better than dying," Rikuum replied.
Son Goku knew he could kill the dragon, however, so he drew his bo and broke each of Ladon's necks. The nymphs of the garden mourned the passing of their protector quietly.
Son Goku took up the sky on his shoulders, and Rikuum strode over to Bulma's tree and picked three of the golden apples. Then, he looked at Son Goku holding up the sky, and looked at the way Son Goku had come from. He turned and started to stride away to the east.
"Wait," Son Goku called. "If you're going to leave me here, then at least, let me fix my gi to pad my shoulders better."
This seemed reasonable to Rikuum and he held up the sky for Goku. Son Goku picked up the apples in his hands, and strode away to Pilaf's palace.
* * *
"How dare he? That little snot was supposed to give Son an impossible task, but that shouldn't involve stealing from me!" Bulma raged. "I gave Son Goku into his hands to destroy, not to raise up to such glory and honor. How am I supposed to get rid of Son, if he won't die! Wait a minute... Yes, that will do quite nicely. Even if Son does succeed, that little blue snot will be so frightened that I will get adequate revenge for his theft," she smiled nastily at her mirror.
* * *
In the land of pink trees, a man wearing an orange gi with two scars on his face looked down into a pool of water. Above him, sitting in a tree, Piccolo also looked down into the pool.
"So, Yamcha, what labor will Bulma think of next for your son?" Piccolo asked quietly.
"I do not know, and that scares me. She can be incredibly nasty in her revenges," Yamcha spoke quietly as well.
"I know. I've suffered through her before, remember? Why do you think I stay out here, when I could be sitting on one of the twelve thrones of Olympus?"