"Blood shall be the means of the proving," declared the wheezy voice. "It is through blood we measure the heart..."
Elaine glanced at Mansemat. "So... is that Assur talking?"
"Most likely," said Mansemat. He coughed. "Well... in a sense, anyway. This is probably modeled after his voice, just as the statue of him in the foyer is modeled after his form. Even if it isn't really him standing before us then."
"Right, right, right, not going to dwell on the technicalities," muttered Elaine with a nod. "He sounds a lot... higher-pitched then I imagined," she noted.
Mansemat looked around, and then leaned towards his stepdaughter. "Lots of folks from back then do, I've noticed. It just seems to be how they spoke back then. For some... strange reason." He gave another furtive glance. "It might be the weight, in his case," he whispered.
"The past is always weird," said Elaine. She sighed. "Not that the present is better, mind you, but..."
A great rushing wind filled the chamber, and Armida Cthonique floated down before the pair. "Well, cousin, I see you've also decided to put yourself to the test. To steal all this from me."
Elaine snorted. "That's... kind of ironic, coming from you."
Armida snarled at that. "You du Lacs keep... speaking as if you know anything about this matter. I was born here. My father recognized me as his heir." She pointed at Mansemat. "And then your father stole it all."
Mansemat shut his eyes. "We could play the game of calling each other thieves for hours, if we wished. It would be pointless. You put matters before the Chamber. I have followed your example. And that's how things shall stand."
Armida smiled. "You imagine you understand what this involves. Amusing." She glanced around the room. "Where's your little invisibility charm?"
"My niece went elsewhere," said Mansemat, hand on Murgleys, "with the servants you tried to kill. Including the one who lead me here. And that's all I am going to say on this."
Armida glanced at Elaine contemptuously. "And your little... stepdaughter."
"Refused to leave," answered Elaine. "I've got a magic sword. Figure its worth something in this situation."
Armida shook her head and sighed. "I am going to enjoy... being rid of you all."