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This puzzle is part of the ‘Twelve Labours’ series, but can be solved independently. Previous instalments can be found here: Prologue | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05


Hercules looked down at his to-do list and sighed; he always hated getting his hair cut. Stymphalian Beards had only recently set up shop in Athens, a product of the ‘hipster’ movement sweeping his neighbourhood of late. Introducing himself to the barber, Hephaestus, Hercules took a seat as directed and waited his turn in line.

Looking around, Hercules noticed that he was the only person in the room who was clean-shaven - everybody else had a beard (and clearly used some kind of wax on it). Trying not to look too uncomfortable he tuned in to the song playing on the radio (Nelly Furtado) and cast his eyes up at a poster nearby, which showed examples of many of the styles a bearded gentleman might choose:

enter image description here

“You like, yes?” said Hephaestus, spotting him reading. Hercules jumped.

“Er, I guess so, but, um…”

Hephaestus, still gripping a customer’s beard in his hand, leaned towards him. “You are Hercules, no? I suggest you take a good look at that poster while you wait – might give you idea...”

“Okay, but I’m really not-”

“Idea about something I have to give you for your mother...”

Hercules breathed deeply. “Here we go again,” he thought.

TASK: Solve this enigmatic puzzle (entirely contained within the poster) to identify a single word describing something Hephaestus needs to pass on to Hercules’ mother.

All images taken from Wikipedia pages, image credits as follows (numbered from top left): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20). Poster text available in source for copy-paste purposes.
Disclaimer: Inclusion of a person in this quiz does not necessarily imply that the OP endorses their politics, actions or the quality of their movies...

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The first step is to look at:

the conspicuous numbers in each description. Each one has a number from 1 to 26 inside it: convert these to letters, and read in a spiral starting in the bottom left, to get the message "NO ONE FACT CHECKED THIS".

That hints that the next step

involves inaccuracies in the descriptions. With a bit of research, I was able to find seven inaccuracies in the given numbers:
- Robert Pattinson's child modelling career started at age 12, not 6.
- Abe Lincoln was assassinated on the 15th, not the 14th.
- Brad Pitt starred in 12 Years A Slave, not 20 Years A Slave.
- Karl Marx died on the 14th of March, not the 4th.
- Johnny Depp was in 21 Jump Street, not 19 Jump Street.
- Harry Kane is England's player number 9, not number 8.
- Kevin Costner only won 2 Academy awards personally, not three.

There's another hidden message in the puzzle:

The first letters of the 'facts', in the same spiral order, spell SOLVE AND ORDER BY BEARD.

So:

Ordering the seven incorrect people by beard length (Costner - Depp - Pitt - Pattinson - Kane - Lincoln - Marx), and converting their correct numbers to letters, gives the answer BULLION.

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  • $\begingroup$ Perfect (apart from a nitpicky THIS not THESE in your first spoiler)! Well done on the solve! +1 and a(nother!) green checkmark for you... $\endgroup$ – Stiv Nov 14 at 19:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Stiv Fixed, thanks! (And once again, thanks for the great puzzle! I was wondering where this series had gone - I've enjoyed it a lot so far!) $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Nov 14 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks :) I had a family holiday - could only get away with the odd answer! $\endgroup$ – Stiv Nov 14 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ Any known database of beard lengths of famous individuals? $\endgroup$ – Cloudy7 Nov 14 at 22:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Cloudy7 Believe me - I searched high and low for one! $\endgroup$ – Stiv Nov 14 at 22:18

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