After a few hours of driving, Jacquelyn had grown tired of everything. All of the running, hiding, and fighting was beginning to take its toll on her. She said, "I suppose that an explanation is needed."
"Luke captured us," Percy said.
"For shame," said Jacquelyn. "You think you know a guy."
“Indeed,” said Grover.
Just then, the cousin that Jacquelyn hoped to never meet surfaced in the back seat. “Hello, cousin.”
"How can she do this to him?" a man cried out in anger. "She left him standing there."
"That Isabella Braumlein-Crenshaw influenced her, no doubt," snapped a woman. "Her grandmother is doing her a huge disservice by delaying her growing up."
Another man said, "She's just 14 years old; she's not ready for marriage."
"ENOUGH!!!" Olive Harlequin Grantley yelled as the audience quieted down. "I'm sure that Jacquelyn is nothing but a ball of nerves right now, but who isn't?"
"What if she got cold feet and skipped town?" the same woman asked.
"She would, if her friend made her do it," said the man who stood next to Sabrina.
"I knew it!" said Olive. "That little bastard is keeping my cousin from her husband! Well, that and her rightful destiny. I shall not rest until both girls are back here, willing or unwilling!"
Lydia Hartlen, Oliver's nurse, rushed into the room, crying out, "Oliver is gone!" Everyone else gasped. "Not only is he gone, but Olivia and your nephew Tyler are gone as well!"
Olive gasped and said, "But where could they have gone? How could they have escaped? Does Oliver know that he is to marry Jacquelyn?"
"Does she have a lover?" the first man spoke.
"Why yes, in fact she does," said the Hermaphrodite as he came into the room. Everyone gasped in horror as he approached Olive. "I am her lover," he continued, "and in being her lover, I feel that I must put my foot down concerning her nuptials. She belongs to me, if you wish to know."
Olive snarled as she slapped him. "You would dare defile my niece and claim you are her lover? You know not of her family traditions! You have put a huge stain on the house of Isabella Braumlein-Crenshaw, a stain that can never be wiped away! You have endangered the entire cosmos! How could you do this to Jacquelyn?"
"It wasn't like she wasn't willing," the Hermaphrodite laughed.
"She's just a child!" Olive screamed. "Children don't consent to these kinds of things! She is Irina's baby, Isabella's granddaughter! When she finds out what happened to her granddaughter, there will be no country for you to hide from her wrath!"
"I'll have him dealt with," said Luke as he walked into the room. "Family is hard, isn't it? I should know; I myself have several cousins who love to do nothing more than to cause trouble. But as for your niece, however, she should have stayed in Camp Half-Blood and avoided all of this trouble. Now, she's stumbled into something that is way over her head. I wouldn't be surprised if she manages to survive whatever has been inflicted on her."
"I can't believe that your cousin followed us all the way here!" Sabrina cried out as she and the others found themselves walking through the desert. "I mean, how did that happen?"
"Who knows?" said Jacquelyn. "Anyway, we've really gotta get going. I have a strange feeling that if we stop now, we'll be recaptured."
The large group of demigods, spellcaster, satyr, cyclops, and humans continued to trudge their way through the desert. Grover looked up and saw several California condors staring at him. He cried out, "Uh, guys? Can we move a little faster? I'm dying back here!"
"Oh no, what a nightmare!" Clarisse mocked him.
"That's enough, Clarisse!" Annabeth snapped at her. "I've had it up to here with your snide remarks!"
"Look at them," said Ron. "They're just sitting there, staring at us. I wish I knew what they were thinking."
Just then, the birds stared at the kids and began to sing:
Bird: Food, glorious food! / We're anxious to try it.
Bird 2: Three meals a day -- Just the way we like it!
Baby Bird: Just picture a piece of meat -- Baked, fried, or stewed.
All: Oh food, Wonderful food, Fabulous food, Marvelous food, Glorious food.
Jacquelyn: RUN!!! (kids run as the birds continue singing)
All: Food, glorious food!
Bird 3: How's about some fresh fish
Bird 4: Soup made from a goat
3 Birds: Or a hamburger patty!
2 Birds: Why should we waste our lives Doing nothing but brood
All: On food, once again food, Beautiful food, Delicious food, Glorious food!
All: Food, glorious food!
4 Birds: Skin peeled off the dead ones
All: Ripe, ready to eat..
Bird 5: Soon, we'll be the fat ones!
2 Birds: Just thinking of rotting flesh really gets me in the mood --
All : For food, Wonderful food, Marvelous food, Fabulous food, Beautiful food, Delicious food,
Baby Bird: Magical food...
All: Glorious food!!!
At this point, the kids found themselves dangling off a cliff that spanned over a huge lake. The birds had them completely surrounded. Jacquelyn said to Ron, "You just had to know what they were thinking, didn't you?"
Ron was about to respond when the rocks slid off the cliff, sending everyone careening into the lake.
To be continued...