Previous: The Harbinger's Tea

Because she hadn't got enough time to reinforce the windows, Noella had to find another way to protect the house from intruders. She had set crystal spikes behind each window in the front room, the sun room, and most windows in the kitchen. But for the window by the sink, where in her vision (she still wasn't sure what to call it), she saw the intruders breaking in, it had to be something better. To discourage unwanted guests, she had dried the sink, put burning coals in it, set grilling bars on it, and on top, a pot of boiling water. She knew in her heart that it would not be enough, yet she hoped against hope that it would work

She took her mother's jade collection, the brass elephants, and the silverware. And With the black recipe box, she carried these items to her room. She locked the doors and waited.

Noella was already half-asleep when she heard the noise downstairs. She recognized it as the sound of metal pot hitting the floor. Then she heard shouting, and cursing. And more shouting and more cursing. She panicked.

If what I fear is justified, tonight, I die in this house. Still! The future is something that can be changed. I won't let that happen." She intended to escape. Carrying only the recipe box, she quietly opened her bedroom door and carefully sneaked out. She learned soo that it was not a very good idea.

"Where do you think you're going, Miss?" Behind her was one of the intruders. He had a knife in his hand. She was really scared now. This was like a bad dream, only, it was real!

Noella tried to run to the stairs, but two of the masked intruders were at the landing. She was trapped. She tried to be calm. They drew nearer, laughing just like in her vision. She had to think of something, fast. "There are pieces of jade in that room. Brass elephants and silverware too. You'll also find a purse inside, there's two hundred dollars in it, and even some jewelry. The candlesticks in the sun room are also made of silver, you can take them. Take them all, just don't hurt me. I swear, I won't report to the police!"

While the man nearest her stood in place, the other men climbed the steps. She had to be strong. Was she not filled with confidence just a few hours earlier? No, she could not break down.

"What's that you're holding?"

Oh God! They noticed the box. I can't let them have this. It's the family heirloom. Then she remembered something connected to the box. Earlier that evening, before supper she held a recipe card in her hand. It was the recipe for Envigorating Dragon Stew. The ingredients in the stew was supposed to make her stronger or braver or something. It was not really the stew that gave her confidence, but a set of rhyming words, very much like a poem or lyrics from a song, printed at the back of the recipe card. She tried to remember. What were the words again?

"I now invoke the Flaming Tower
And call upon the dragon's power!"

It did not make sense, but Noella felt a need to utter those words. Before long her chest felt hot, similar to having a heartburn, only a lot more intense. The burning sensation rose to her throat, sending wave after wave of pain from her windpipe to her nasal cavities, then her face felt hot and her head felt bursting. The sudden pain was so strong, Noella had to scream.

Instead of a shriek, fireballs came shooting from her mouth, hot blazing orbs of flame, like small bright yellow suns the size of golf balls. They flew into the air, in all directions, burning everything that blocked their path. And when the firey speheres hit the three masked men, one by one, they burst into flames, exploded into dust, and finally left a pile of ashes where they once stood.

Next: In The Stranger's Midst

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