Penitent wipes the gore from his blades after cutting down the two remaining brodkil who fled into the manor. As he does, he stops to take in his surroundings, which are as horrific as any demon's lair on Wormwood. Still, such abattoirs sometimes contained survivors, or treasures that could be put to use against other monsters.
In fact, the nearby golden chest contains just such a hoard: Inside, a full-faced helm set with diamond lenses sits atop a cloak so black it seems to devour the light. Next to it is piled a suit of enchanted armor and a strange gray staff of gnarled, alien wood chased with strangely-geometric runes.
Leaving the treasure for the moment, he continues his explorations through the nightmarish palace. Finding a room scrawled all over with the name of Draygis, Penitent kicks open the door. Inside, he finds three women, unconscious and near death. Removing his mask (no sense in waking them, only to have them die of fright), he pulls out the communication device he had been given at the Legion fortress and thumbs the "plastic" crystal button to activate it.
<<Hear me, priest or gnome: There are some wounded captives inside the mansion, in a room marked in blood with the name of the brodkil who died of shame rather than face me. It would be well to bring them back from the brink of death, so that we may question them and learn more of our foes.>>
After assuring himself that the women are unlikely to die in the next few minutes, Penitent rises and looks around the room. His eyes immediately are drawn to the sword hanging above the gouged and bloodstained headboard. White as snow, the blade holds a vein of blood at its heart. Grasping the hilt, he takes it off the wall and feels its weight in his hand. A whisper echoes in his mind as he does: Durendel.
This blade has brought death to many, and will be the doom of many more,
he thinks, before going in search of sheath to hold it. He pulls the note from the hilt and glances at it before stuffing it in a pocket. The tattooed one will be interested, if this Trevor is the one who has despoiled his woman.
Returning outside, he notes Devek's absence then shrugs -- the dead-stalker had survived certain death before, and had shown no reason to doubt he could do it again.
"There are spoils within of great power, and captives who survive in body, if not in spirit."
Leaving it to others to deal with both, he finds a quiet place to sit and clean his weapons, including the new blade. He can't help overhearing when the woman Anjelica mentions another Apok passing through New Del Rio looking for rangers. Had the living planet sent another masked avenger to Earth? And did this unknown agent seek Penitent's daughter, as well, or some other quarry? Curious, and reason to head to the fortress of El Paso without further delay.
Still ... the stench of demons and vampires in New Del Rio was too thick to ignore, especially with the divine elixir stoking a righteous fervor in Penitent's blood. The group's actions seemed to have inspired the citizens to take up arms, rather than die in the dirt, but they were likely to be slaughtered by the vampires and remaining demons if left on their own. Perhaps the tattooed Atlantean or the cat-woman could be persuaded to do some hunting while the others tended to the wounded and dying ...
Ink, as it turned, seemed in no mood for a coordinated vampire hunt, so Penitent left him be, figuring he'd hand over the note from Draygis's bedroom when the Atlantean had more control over his emotions. Vela, the cat-shifter, greeted his idea with excitement, however, and soon the pair were off into the ruins of the city, each trying to outdo the other while slaughtering bloodsuckers.
The next day is a long, joyful blur, as Apok and werejaguar venture into the southern quarter of New Del Rio, dispatching vampires with abandon. No darkened hole or shrouded mansion is safe from the whirring blades and flashing claws of the vengeful crusaders, whose laughter echoes through the city and strikes terror into the hearts of the parasitic undead. Penitent loses count of his own kills somewhere after 550 ... and eventually loses track of Vela after the pair burn down a livestock warehouse that had been used to cage several dozen human chattel.
Continuing the hunt on his own, Penitent takes to the rooftops, trailing his targets through the alleys below as they try to pick off the human hostages released earlier. He found half a dozen of the creatures in a blind alley terrorizing a young girl by tossing the bloody head of her companion between them.
They are a blight, but one that will soon be cleansed,
he thinks as he drops 10 feet to the ground.
The white blade, Durendel, bisects one vampire before he lands. Drawing the soulknife
from the sheathe at his back, Penitent flings the blade at the vampire closest to the girl, burying the blade in its skull to the hilt. He spins, never slowing, as he draws his chainsword and moves among the other vampires like a reaping wind.
Time slows for a moment as he brings justice to the murderous beasts, then his concentration is broken by a scream.
Turning, he expects to see the girl dead, but it is the vampire screaming. Holding Penitent's soulknife
in both hands, the girl twists the blade into the vampire's heart, one knee on its neck as it gnashes broken teeth at her. She stares at Penitent as he walks to her, then clasps a gauntleted hand over her own, and with a prayer summons a shroud of hellfire over the knife's blade. The vampire's screams trail off as it is consumed from within by the holy flame.
The girl stands, defiant, dark hair hanging over one eye as the other blazes with fire as bright as the blade in her hand. Penitent is struck by a memory, his daughter's face set with the same look of defiance, and he knows the time for hunting vampires is at an end. El Paso calls.
He gestures at the blade as he turns away, his thoughts flashing back to his wife's eyes as the soulknife
consumed her soul.
"Use it well, daughter of Del Rio. Be the doom this place deserves,"
he says as he turns and heads back to the governor's mansion, ready to leave these haunted ruins behind.