Chapter 1: Family Jewel

I stared at the golden-speckled, red jewel. I didn't know what it was, but my grandfather had said it was priceless. I needed something of such value to be able to help my family like I wanted to. My mom had recently lost her job and my parents were floundering to feed four kids and help the fifth pay for college. Being the oldest son in the house it was my responsibility to help, but my grandfather told me to keep this jewel a secret so there must be something special about it. I sighed and put the jewel in my pocket. Grandfather was dead and I need to do something. I guess I'll just have to pawn it. The thought didn't set well with me, but I couldn't find a job. There wasn't anything left for me to do. I got off my bed and grabbing my keys off my ancient desk I headed to my car. It was a beat-up silver Mercedes, but it ran well. I hopped in the driver's seat and off I went. My family and I lived in the richer part of the countryside so even though we had a good 60 acres of land we only lived a 30-minute drive away from the city.

I got to the pawnshop without being delayed and jogged into the shabby-looking building. I quickly glanced around the shop and was surprised to see everything clean. Even the item looked nice, more antique than anything else.

"May I help you," questioned a handsome man. His nametag read James and with his chesnut brown hair tied back in a ponytail, fair skin, and monocles at the tip of his nose he looked like he belonged in the past too.

"I was wondering how much this jewel was worth," I replied, hesitantly pulling it from my pocket. James eyes widened and shock covered his face.

"It's a Chaosfire," whispered James, carefully touching the jewel, "I thought these only existed in legends."

"Chaosfire?" I inquired, raising an eyebrow.

"It's a jewel created by a dragon tear, which is the gold, and blood from a willing human, which is the red," explained James, still staring at the Chaosfire, "dragons rarely cry and humans rarely give of themselves freely. This jewel has so much power. Honestly, I don't think I could pay you enough for the Chaosefire." I tried not to let my disappointment show on my face, but it didn't work very well.

"Well, I think it's worth a million. I can't pay you all that it one shot, but I can pay you about 600 a month." stated James, giving me faint smile.

"Sounds good, but can you do me a favor?" I ask, getting an idea.

"Sure. What's up?" questioned James, looking intrigued.

"I haven't been able to get a job around here and my family will get suspicious if I just randomly hand them cash. Can you send the money every month to parents saying you're an old friend and that my grandfather asked you to send the money every month to help my parents with us?" I inquired, feeling ridiculous for saying such things.

"Sounds like a lot of work to go through, but I'm getting something amazing and you have a good heart so give me all the information and I'll do the best I can," answered James, flashing me a soft smile. I nodded, gave him all the information, and off I went. It was only halfway home that I realized I had no proof of James's and my deal. I prayed that James would keep his part of the deal and returned home feeling a little lighter.

"Hey Roscoe, can you watch Sarah while I drop Brad and Simon off at soccer practice?" asked Mom, popping her head out of the kitchen and giving me her pleading honey brown eyes.

"Fine," I replied, not understanding why as of recently why I was the free babysitter.

"Ahhh, Roscoe is turning out to be such a good little housewife," sneered Brad, smirking at me and I didn't hesitate to give him the finger.

"Boys," warned Mom, sending us both stern looks.

"Can we go now?" questioned Simon, staying out of the argument and I rediscovered why he was my favorite brother. Mom nodded and the three headed to the door. Brad made a face at me before he left and I was tempted to chase after him just to have the satisfaction of breaking his nose. Brad was a prick and we were always fighting. Brad had more muscle, but I was quick enough to run circles around him so more often than not I was the victor when arguments got physical.

"Roscoe! Roscoe!," chanted Sarah, grinning at me in all her five year old glory with Popsicle stains covering her mouth.

"What's up?" I questioned, easily picking her up.

"Can we play a game?" inquired Sarah, looking hopeful.

"Sure. What do you want to play?" I asked, setting her back on the ground.

"Barbies," squealed Sarah, racing to her room before I could protest. I shook my head, but followed her into her room, preparing myself to withstand the torture of entertaining a little sister.

"You get to be Ken," announced Sarah as soon as I sat on her floor and thrust Ken into my hands. I looked at Ken and wrinkled my nose. Why guys would want to look like a muscled airhead was beyond me. Maybe it was to attract girls. I on the other hand will only get enough muscle to make me look fit instead of bulky like so many of the guys my age wanted.

"So Ken, lets go dances," voiced Sarah, moving Barbie from side-to-side as she talked. I couldn't help, but chuckle as I began to make Ken dance. I felt like such a freak.

After a minute of dancing Sarah took Ken from my hands and frowned. "You're not very good at playing Barbies. Let's go outside and play." I nodded without hesitation since I was such a nature freak and always liked to take anyone out there and just walk around. Something about the forest and distant mountains calmed me.

After I made sure Sarah had her shoes on and I pulled on mine we headed outside, walking around the side of the house until we reached the backyard.

"Ready?" I questioned, taking hold of her hand. She nodded and we began slowly walking through the woods. The trees gave use shade from the hot sun and it cooled noticeably once we entered the thick part of the woods.

"Are we going to see any animals?" questioned Sarah, looking up at me and I was amazed at how much she looked like out Mom sometimes with her curly brown hair and honey brown eyes.

"Maybe, but we have to be real quiet," I replied, holding my finger to my lips. Sarah nodded excitedly, clamping her mouth shut tightly, and we simply enjoyed nature's beauty. The silence didn't last more than a few minutes though before she was chattering again and a large shadow passed overhead.

"See Sarah, there's birds somewhere around here," I pointed out, but truthfully I was worried. That shadow was too large to be even a large bird and I had a bad feeling ever since we'd been walking in the forest. I heard nearby tree branches rustle and about jumped out of my skin.

"Hey Sarah, let head back. It's hot and I'm getting tired," I lied, wanting to get away from the tingle that was creeping up my spine.

"But I don't want to," she whined, pouting.

"Not even if I make you a strawberry and chocolate shake with a cherry on top?" I asked, trying to make her leave willingly rather than having to drag her back kicking and screaming.

"Okay," cheered Sarah, immediately brightening and began to run towards the house.

"Fool," whispered someone. I whirled around, but there wasn't even a trace of someone having been behind me. I shook my head, trying to shake away the paranoia, and raced after Sarah.

I felt better once I reached the house and gave a sigh of relief.

"Roscoe! You said you'd make me a shake," called Sarah, standing in the kitchen door with her hands on her hips. I chuckled as I took off my shoes and felt bad for the man that would one day fall for her. She was going to be a handful.

"I'm coming," I assured her, steeping into the kitchen and immediately heading for the freezer.

"Thanks," chirped Sarah and proceeded to watch my every move as I made her shake.

"Here," I voiced, handing her her shake and trying not to get annoyed at her constant staring, "go sit down and drink your shake." She nodded and scurried over to a kitchen seat. I sat down next to her and wondered when I became such a hermit. I use to have lots of friends, but now I had none or at least none that I hung out with outside of school. Maybe it's because I had graduated this year and still didn't know what I wanted to do with my life.

"What's wrong Brother?" asked Sarah, looking at my curiously.

"Nothing," I assured, forcing a smile, "just thinking."

"What does fag mean?" asked Sarah, kicking her legs back and forth. I blinked at the sudden change of subject and frowned. "Who taught you that word?"

"No one," assured Sarah, now looking upset with herself, "That's what Brad called you, but Mommy wouldn't tell me what it meant."

"Don't worry about it," I murmured, mentally planning ways to get back at Brad, "it's a bad word though. You don't say it, okay?"

"But what does it mean?" persisted Sarah, but I only shook my head. She huffed when she realized I wasn't going to tell her and ignored me while she finished her shake. By then Mom was home and I headed to my dad's office. He was the only one that had the internet since we were so low on cash, but he needed it for work.

I reached my dad's office and sat down in the plush leather chair before I connected to the Internet and typed in chaosfire, wondering if James actually knew what he was talking about. The first website had a hand drawn picture of the jewel with the same explanation that James have given me and that was all. The rest of the websites were useless and didn't even mention the jewel. It seemed that James was right about the jewel being a mere legend.

"Roscoe, dinner is ready," called Mom. I clicked off the Internet and headed to the kitchen, wondering what Mom had cooked so quickly.

I smiled when I saw the chicken salad sitting on my plate and turned to Mom. "Had a busy day?"

"Yeah. We got a new client and I've been gathering information all day," replied Mom, tucking a strand of chesnut hair behind her ear and flashing me a tired smile, "I'll make something more filling in tomorrow." I nodded and went back to munching on my salad, half-listening to the conversation.

"Are you planning on doing anything in the next couple of week?" questioned Mom and I immediately became suspicious.

"I'm not sure," I replied carefully.

"I know you've been helping watch Sarah a lot, but your dad has the weekend off and we were hoping to take a little vacation," voiced Mom, looking slightly guilty.

"I'll watch Sarah," I voiced, mentally sighing, but it wasn't like I had anything else to do and Sarah really wasn't a bad kid.

"Thanks Honey," voiced Mom, flashing me a bright smile.

"No problem," I mumbled, finishing my salad and putting my plate in the sink, "I'll be back. I'm going for a walk." Mom nodded and slipping back into my shoes I headed outside.

I looked around the moment I stepped out the door, but there was nothing there. I shifted uneasily and began walking towards the road. Something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what. Everything seemed normal. I began walking down my road, looking from side to side and wondered if maybe I was getting sick and hallucinating. I felt my forehead, but I wasn't running a fever.

"What have you done?" whispered the voice from the forest and I quickly looked around, but there was nothing to see. I shook my head and blamed it on a guilty conscience for going against my grandfather's wishes and selling the chaosfire. I continued to walk; however, trying to clear my head and calm down.

"You broke the treaty," whispered the voice and I felt his breath tickle the back of my neck, but when I turned around there was nothing there. I was starting to get more annoyed now than worried and I wanted whatever it was that was following me to leave me alone.

"You dishonor us with your stupidity. You don't even know who you are," hissed the voice and I lost it.

"If you have such a problem with me then come tell me to my face and tell me what I did that was supposedly so wrong," I shouted, glaring at my surroundings.

"Are you okay Roscoe," questioned Mrs. Cali, our elderly neighbor, and I immediately flushed.

"Yeah. Sorry, just releasing so pent-up anger," I lied, feeling like a complete retard for such a crappy excuse.

"Okay. I hope you feel better," called Mrs. Cali, smiling weakly and shaking her head. I nodded and quickly scurried away.

"Thanks a lot. You made me look insane in front of my neighbor," I muttered to the voice. Apparently, the man was done messing with me because I didn't get a reply and I slowly calmed down.

I returned home just as the sun was setting and headed straight to my room, gathering clothes for a shower. I grabbed a pair of black pajama pants and headed to the shower.

The water was hot when I stepped into the shower and I immediately relaxed. Nothing was a better cure for a bad day than a hot shower. I hummed to myself as I washed and leaned against the wall when suddenly the world tilted. I groaned as my stomach began to flop painfully and quickly got out of the shower. I made it until I got dressed before I lost my dinner and I immediately became a mess. I hated puking. I rested my head against the cool porcelain and waited to figure out if my rebellious stomach had calmed itself or not.

After a few minutes of nothing happening I slowly stood and carefully headed to my room. I lay on my bed, curled up, and wondered what happened. I had been fine a second ago. I didn't know what was going on, but I was hoping I could sleep it off.