The California Condors took off high into the sky with the demigods, spellcaster, satyr, and Cyclops on their backs. The birds were heading back to New York.
(Cue the song "Resurrection" from the game "Shadow of the Colossus")
Jacquelyn clutched to the neck of the bird she was riding as Sabrina clung to her. She looked down and saw Ron, who was laying in the claws of another bird. He was unconscious.
"RONALD!!!" She screamed in horror as she saw him.
Percy also gasped in horror as he saw his non-Cyclops brother lying in the claws of the condor. The birds flew on, as if they were guided by the wind itself. Within a few moments, everyone found themselves staring at the skyscrapers in New York. The condors landed on top of the Empire State Building and the kids jumped off the birds. The birds then flew away as the kids regrouped.
Jacquelyn rushed to Ron's side and stared at him. She said, "He was stabbed by a scorpion-wasp. I bet that this was the same monster that killed my siblings."
"It was," said Sabrina. "The monster was going to kill me, but Ron saved my life. I was prepared to die, and I should have died a long time ago. I should have died when my family was killed, or when you were out camping with your family. Once again, I put myself before a trueborn child, and that child is now dead."
"Ron's not dead," said Grover. The others stared at him. "He's been poisoned, but he's certainly not dead."
"We need to get back to Camp Half-Blood and quickly," said Clarisse. "Only Chiron can heal this type of injury."
This time, no one argued with Clarisse as they boarded a bus bound for the camp. The bus was filled with passengers who were heading for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When the bus left the stop near the camp, Chiron noticed the kids and rushed to them.
He said, "You kids are lucky you got here in time; most people who are stung by scorpion-wasps usually die within a few hours. Now, let's get that poor boy to the Apollo cabin and then you kids will provide Mr. D and myself an explanation as to why you left the camp."
A few hours later, in Mr. D's office, Chiron said, "I can't believe that boy; I'm going to have a stern word with him when he comes back. I don't understand how he could do something like this."
"Kronos made him do it," said Jacquelyn.
"And everything falls back to Kronos," said Dionysus. "How could we have been so blind?"
"And I know Luke isn't to blame for the incident with the Hermaphrodite," said Jacquelyn. Everyone stared at her. "It was my fault; I should have known that what I did would destroy the wizarding world. I was too blind to see beyond my own lustful desires. Also, the death of the Weasley family was the result of my...dalliance with the Hermaphrodite, which Luke had no hand in. That is all."
She walked away from the office, but Sabrina came to her, saying, "Why did you lie to them?"
"It was my fault, and you know it, Sabrina," said Jacquelyn. "Now I alone must pay the price for my wicked deeds, as you must pay the price for your mother's sins."
"I knew that my time here was up," said Sabrina, "yet once again, I'm still here. I wonder why."
"Maybe God is keeping you alive for a reason," said Magnus as he joined them.
"Who knows?" said Sabrina. They all stood at the tree that defined the premature end of their childhood and the beginning of the complicated road to growing up. Had they stared at the tree for but a second, they would have noticed that the tree had four pairs of eyes staring at them from the roots of the tree.
The next day, Ron was sitting by himself at the Poseidon table. Everyone had cheered for him as he walked by, but they knew nothing of the suffering that he had endured while on his soul-searching journey. None of them knew about the truth about his mother, her tragic life, and her upsetting death. Joanna Puckerman didn't warrant an interesting story, let alone being the mother of Ron Puckerman.
Percy and Tyson came to him, with Percy saying, "Why are you so upset?"
"Look at my life," said Ron. "I've been deceived and lied to. I feel so miserable."
"It's not your fault," said Percy. "None of us knew what your other family was like."
"Jacquelyn did, and she ignored it," said Ron. "She too was blinded by love for my brother Fred. I guess love is only for mortals, as immortal creatures can never experience love." He shook his head again, saying, "And when I thought that Tyson was dead and cried for him instead for my other family, that was a warning sign that I never loved them and they never loved me. I feel so sick, I don't know what to do with myself."
"Maybe some nectar will cheer you up," said Tyson. "And remember this: once a demigod, always a demigod. We are your family now, Ron."
"I hope so," said Ron as he glanced around the camp. Everyone was still talking about how he managed to best Luke and survive various disasters that would kill even the strongest demigod. Jacquelyn had lied about Luke's alliance with the Hermaphrodite and played up her own foolishness in trusting the strange creature and betraying the boy that she loved, which resulted in his death. She's doing it again, Ron thought to himself as he stared at the girl in question, who was sitting next to her sickly cousins. She's lying and covering up other people's misdeeds. I really need to stop her before she covers up for a very evil person.
Very soon, Percy and Grover dragged him towards a huge pine tree. Annabeth was standing there, along with Clarisse. A huge group of demigods were also there. "What's going on here," said Ron to Grover.
"I don't know," said Grover.
Suddenly, the tree opened and four people stepped out. The first girl was dressed in black and had long black hair. The second girl had long red hair and wore a black t-shirt and green camouflage pants. The third girl also had long red hair, but wore a neon pink shirt and pants with pink boots. The boy had long brown hair, and he was wearing wire-framed glasses and dark clothing.
"Oh my good golly gosh!" Sabrina cried out. "Is that who I think it is""
"It is!" Jacquelyn cried out. "It's Sam, Safie, and Angelica! How on earth did they end up over here?"
"I thought they were dead!" Magnus cried out. "How is it that they are still...here?"
"They were with me," said the first girl. They all stared at her.
"And who are you?" Ron said as he stared at the girl.
"My name is Thalia Grace, and I'm the daughter of Zeus," said Thalia.
Everyone gasped in horror and Ron stared at Percy. He stared at Annabeth and Grover. Grover said, "I don't know what happened, but whatever we did, we did the job too well. Now we've got even more problems, and guess who's going to exploit them?"
"Luke," everyone said in a bored tone.
"Exactly," said Grover.
Sabrina said, "I can't believe they came back."
"I can't believe they were in a tree," said Magnus.
"This is so much fun," said Hansel.
"I know, we're going to tell grandma lots of stuff when we get home," said Francis.
"They'll be talking her to death," said Magnus as he watched Jacquelyn try to catch up with three presumed-dead siblings. "I don't even want to see her react to the part where Jacquelyn gets captured by that icky old Hermaphrodite."
"And "that icky old Hermaphrodite" saved her life," said the Hermaphrodite as he approached them. "I protected her from those two awful wizards, yes I did. You two better be nice to be, as you'll be seeing me for a very long time."
"You would dare..." Magnus began his tirade, but Jacquelyn yelled out, "Look who decided to show up here!" They all stared at her. "It's an Evil Faith! And why is he here, I wonder?"
"It's all your fault, you little jinx," Draco Malfoy snapped as he stared at the spellcaster. "You and that Weasley brat conspired to force me to go to your stupid camp and my father was called away. Mother is with him and now I and my friends have to be around your kind!"
"Watch it, Malfoy," Ron said as he approached them. "You're on my turf now, so I'd better show some respect if I were you."
"Ron Weasley," Malfoy spat in the way of greeting. "I knew you were up to no good, and this is why!"
"I"m Ron Puckerman now," said Ron, "so you better watch what you call me!"
"Say what?" Malfoy snapped.
"Yeah," said Ron. "I'm not a Weasley anymore. Thought you'd let everyone know that."
"Oh God," Malfoy snapped at him. "Has this world gone mad? Father tells me that the Dark Lord is now some old man, if you can believe that. And no one has seen that Potter boy or the Granger girl. Plus, everyone's talking about how those stupid weasels got what they deserved. But you...you don't even look like you anymore. Where's the red hair?"
"I cut it off," said Ron.
"Shame," said Malfoy. "I expected more from you. But no matter; I'm still going to push you around every chance that I get."
"No you won't," said Ron. "I'm a demigod now. I won't stand for your crap anymore."
"Really?" said Malfoy.
"You better be nice to him if you want to keep your head," Percy snapped as he approached the rude boy.
"And you are," Malfoy snapped.
"Perseus Jackson, son of Poseidon, a demigod," said Percy.
"Indeed," said Malfoy.
"You're not the new camper, I hope," said Clarisse.
"And who are you?" said Malfoy.
"She's Clarisse La Rue, daughter of Ares, a demigod," said Ron.
"Yeah right," said Malfoy.
"You better be showing some respect," Annabeth snapped at him.
"And you are," Malfoy began.
"Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena, a demigod," said Annabeth.
"How funny," said Malfoy. "I think I know who you are. You're half-bloods, right?"
"Well," said Ron.
"And him," Malfoy pointed to a random demigod, "he's a half-blood?"
"Yes," said Ron. "That's Charles Beckendorf, son of Hephaestus, a demigod."
"Half-blood?" Malfoy was beginning to lose his cool.
"The camp is called Camp Half-Blood," said Ron. "And as such, everyone here is a half-blood."
Malfoy stared at him and yelled, "How many half-bloods are in this place?"
Everyone (with a few exceptions) stood up and yelled out, "Yo!"
Malfoy stared at the group of demigods for a long time. The reality of it all hit him. "I knew it!" he cried out. "I'm surrounded by half-bloods!"
"That's what you get for thinking that you're better than us," said Jacquelyn. "You really ARE an Evil Faith!"
Malfoy found himself whimpering as he was escorted to Hermes Cabin. Ron laughed, saying, "He's so going to lose his patience before the day is out."
"Once an Evil Faith, always an Evil Faith," Jacquelyn said, "and he's never going to change his ways."
"For shame," said Sabrina. "I feel sorry for everyone who has to put up with him."
"Indeed," said Jacquelyn as she stared at Oliver, Olivia, and Tyler. The poor kids were still sick, and Olive would not rest until Jacquelyn was married to her son. Hopefully, her grandmother would put that woman in her place.
But then she had an idea.
She approached the Apollo cabin and mixed up a batch of medicine. She was going to save her cousins from themselves and possibly their mother.
Jacquelyn was just about finished with the batches when Sabrina came to her, saying, "Your grandmother is here to take us home."
"Good," said Jacquelyn. "After that unexpected road trip, I'm really going to need a vacation. No monsters, no demigods, no magic, no wizards and certainly no hermaphrodites! I just want a normal vacation, being surrounded by normal people in a normal setting, like Florida. But I can't have that at all, no thanks to me outing myself as a spellcaster and making a mockery of my entire family. What have I done?"
To that, Sabrina had no answer.
Within a few hours, it was time to say goodbye.
Jacquelyn stood by the door, her things packed and she was looking forward to going home. A few weeks of rest should help her recover from her ordeal.
She nodded as she said her goodbyes to Annabeth, Grover, and Tyson. But it was really Ron who she would miss the most. They had known each other before Hogwarts and had many of the same classes together. Now, Jacquelyn was imagining the difficulties of having to go on without her friends with her.
Suddenly, what she had said to Harry in Disneyland before their duel slapped her across her face.
Ron said, "Don't worry about Hogwarts too much; I'm sure they will understand after you tell them about Joanna."
"I'm not going back to Hogwarts," said Jacquelyn. Ron stared at her. "I can't go back, not after I betrayed the wizarding world to its enemies. I can't imagine that they would be forgiving when the truth about me is revealed. Besides, spellcasters and wizards are mortal enemies, meaning that I'm now an enemy of those who insist on using wizardry. You know the truth about me, and I'll be dead before I set foot back at Hogwarts."
"I know," said Ron. "There's nothing left for us back there; everything is here. Don't go forgetting that, or you'll be regretting it forever."
And with that, they both said goodbye.
As Jacquelyn turned to leave the camp for the summer, Percy caught her, saying, "I'm not letting you go without this."
"Like what?" Jacquelyn scoffed.
"That trick you played on me during that Capture the Flag game," said Percy.
"You mean...this trick?" Jacquelyn replied with a strange look on her face as Percy kissed her. But she had the last laugh when Percy gasped in horror and saw that Jacquelyn had slipped sauerkraut down the front of his pants. "Now go clean yourself up," she said, "because that was just flat-out embarrassing."
"You little minx!" Percy snapped back, but Jacquelyn was already gone. Ron said to him, "She did the same thing to me last year, just before her grandmother whisked her off to Moscow. You better get used to it."
"Indeed," said Percy as he stormed off to change his clothes.
Ron sat at the entrance to the camp, not believing what had happened to him over the summer. He had found out who he was and his true destiny, but he had made new friends and found a new family. But nothing was going to replace the friends and family that were forever lost to him.
He pulled out the book D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Mythology, which started his summer adventure. He also pulled out the diary, the prayer beads, and the POV gun. He would need them in the coming months, when he had to do battle with Luke and his henchmen. He knew that he was not safe as long as they were around.
But what of his family's past, he wondered to himself. Who were the Puckermans? Did they know what happened to Joanna? Who was Joanna Puckerman?
Ronald Puckerman sat up with a look of terror on his face. He knew that the story wasn't over. Far from it.
In fact, the story was only beginning...