There, he found the tidy kitchens where Won was speaking with a maid with dark red hair. Alastair decided against speaking with them. He wasn’t ready to conjure up the energy to talk. He turned away and slipped further and further down the very last hallway that lead directly to the back of the giant tree’s trunk. He walked and walked until he felt as though all of this could not simply be all of the tree. There was no possible or physical way this tree could contain a hallway this long.
The hallway’s lights flickered and dimmed. Each step took the boy into a darker path. He should have gone back, but he didn’t like to give up. Besides, there was a light just up ahead. Alastair charged after the glimmering rainbow of colors, and there at last, was a room. Inside the room was the Elder. The old man was conjuring ten great flames of silver, black, purple, red, green, yellow, orange, maroon, lilac, and periwinkle. He juggled the fiery colors as if he was not concerned about dropping them and lighting this very flammable tree on fire. The old man directed the lights onto a canvas that had been tacked onto the wall. With each brush of the colored flame, the same color was marked onto the canvas. The Elder was painting a picture. A picture that matched those of the murals decorating the palace.
“I thought using up your flames without a familiar makes you burn out,” Alastair heard himself say. If he could have hit himself right then and there, he would have.
“You’re speaking of Tipper and Perceval, yes? It is true that in order to nurture Tipper’s growing powers, I have paired he and Perceval to feed off one another until Tipper can properly use his powers.” The Elder did not miss a beat. He continued to paint, and even with his back to Alastair, the Elder’s full attention was upon the boy. “A am a very, very old man. I am past the point of burning out. I will more likely explode like a star when the time comes.”
“Maybe. Perhaps.” The Elder dropped his hands and all of the lights flickered out. There was a moment of darkness until the torches on the walls blinked into their usual purple existence. “I do tend to be a little over dramatic.” The old man sat on a soft sofa and offered an equally soft chair for the boy to sit with him. Alastair did as the Elder wanted and was greeted with the most comfortable chair in the world. “And so, young man, what brings you to my chamber?”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“Me neither. There’s many roiling within my head.”
“Do you really think we can make it to the Queen?”
“My boy, do not sell yourself short, young man.”
“But, look at you and Tipper! You’re magical. You can command fire and Perceval is a talking fox. How can we, how can us kids do anything that you guys can’t?” What was wrong with him? Why was he telling the Elder everything that was bothering him? The only person who ever heard this much of Alastair’s fears and concerns was his father. Did this mean Alastair trusted the Elder?