Entry into the Ice Temple is impossible unless you wield the legendary Ice Staff. The Ice Staff cannot be found, but must be created from the Inferno Rod using a special gem called the Frost Ruby. Frost Ruby's are extremely rare and are only found in the deepest recesses of the planet. Find one and create an Ice Staff to gain access to the Ice Temple.
Snickering as he threw another rock at some hapless soul that was wandering Hell, Zeratul ducked behind a rocky outcrop. He'd been following the soul around all day, chucking things at it then hiding. It was one of his favorite past time. Other demons punished their souls in more extravagant ways, but Lesser Demons such as himself were not powerful to conjure the great torture machines that their ilk were capable of.
Feeling the familiar tug as he was summoned by some greater demon Zeratul was immediately on his guard. The other demons only called him when they were bored with torturing the souls and wanted to entertain themselves at his expense. He resisted the tug only just long enough to take a deep breath.
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Spit back out into the world after Lord Azazel had issued his commands, Zeratul appeared with an audible pop. He was immediately buffeted by the coldest, stiffest wind he'd ever felt. All moisture in the air in his lungs immediately froze forcing him to cough painfully. With the frigid air stabbing at every part of his body the demon set about analyzing his position.
"Lord Azazel said that the temple is somewhere under the ice..." he muttered, his teeth chattering.
The demon had been informed that the entrance to the temple could not be breached by brute force alone. Instead he'd have to locate a Frost Ruby and affix it to the top of the rod his liege lord had entrusted with him. The rubies could only be found at the deepest parts of the crevices in the ice, crevices that could be hundreds of miles deep and might not even be accessible from the surface.
"I need to get underground before I freeze to death, then I can begin my search."
Somewhere, possibly miles beneath the surface, Zeratul could sense significant life forms. There was a fifty-fifty shot that it was a group of meat hungry ice monsters, but he took a chance at the possibility of organized life and teleported to the location. Immediately he landed amongst chaos.
Rather... his arrival incited immediate chaos.
"Who- what-" an alien of indiscernible species gasped, tripping backwards. When his rear-end fell hard against the metallic floor the jolt made his weapon accidentally fire. Slammed by the surprising energy blast, another soldier was thrown backwards through a big security door.
Scrambling back to his feet the first of the soldiers looked at the open doorway and then at his softly humming blaster in horror. For a moment he was stuck there, trying to appreciate the gravity of what had just happened. When the weight of the situation hit him he spun around and leveled his weapon at Zeratul's face.
"You are intruding on Planet Trade Organization property! Put your hands in the air and lie face down on the ground immediately!" the soldier screamed sending spittle all over the demon's face.
Wiping the spit away in disgust, Zeratul frowned at the soldier. "Say it, don't spray it homie," he muttered. "Which is it, hands in the air or face down on the ground?"
Turning beet-red in the face despite his natural blue-hued skin, the alien looked like he was about to fully lose any cool he had left.
"Alright, relax, I'm not resisting," he said as calmly as possible, slowly turning around and placing his hands in the air.
"Don't fuckin move motherfucker!" the soldier continued to rant, fumbling with the energy cuffs hanging from his belt. He finally got them unhooked and slowly sidled forward. "I will blow your head off! I swear! Be still!"
Turned away from the soldier, Zeratul's grin was hidden. As his would-be captor reached for his wrists to cuff him the demon's tail tightened around the alien's ankles, dragging him to the ground with one powerful yank. Spinning around as his target fell Zeratul summoned his spear from its pocket dimension and slammed its butt into the soldier's forehead.
With the soldier knocked completely unconscious Zeratul held his spear at the ready and stared hard at the door. He wasn't sure if the stray energy blast had actually killed the other guard or not.
Expecting enemies to come stringing in through the door one after another, Zeratul stood at the ready, his spear pointed and poised to be thrust at the first intruder. After a few seconds of tension, he relaxed. No one had come through the door and he couldn't hear anyone on the way to do so.
"Looks like he really did pop his own boy," the demon muttered, walking over to the door and glancing out. Lying in the hallway in a puddle of blood was the unconscious soldier's comrade. "You gon have that on them big jobs," he continued with a snicker.
Alone with the captured soldier, Zeratul locked the man in his own energy cuffs and tied his torso to a support column using some a reel of wire lying to the side. His prisoner secured the demon squatted down beside the man and roused him with a few crisp slaps to the face.
"Nap time is over boy-o!" he yelled with glee.
"Huh? Stop! Stop that! Stop hitting me!" the soldier protested back at him. With one more slap for good measure, the demon leaned back, propping himself up with his tail as if the appendage were a tri-pod.
"Okay now bruv, I'm going to need some information out of you. Tell me what I need to know, and you'll be fine. Try to keep what I'm looking for from me, and I'll peel the skin off of your face layer by layer until you bleed out." Though the nature of what he said was very serious, Zeratul said everything with half a grin. He punctuated his last few words by playfully jabbing the man's forehead with his finger.
Eyes growing wide, the soldier stared at him in stunned silence. Suddenly he broke out into a sob. "Please, man, I'll tell you anything! Anything you want to know! I don't even like this job, I was forcibly conscripted when the Planet Trade Organization took over my home planet!"
As the man continued to cry onward to try and make his case Zeratul sat back and watched, barely hiding the signs of the grin trying to spread across his face. He heard all about how the coward hated his superiors and would give up their very sleeping quarters if necessary, and even about how bad the food planet-side was but how the fleet got all kinds of delicacies. Finally, the demon held his hand out and in it, his spear materialized. With the razor-sharp point of the spears black-colored blade section prickling his throat the soldier finally shut up. Tears still rolled down his face but at last, he wasn't talking anymore.
"Look, I don't need your whole life story and frankly you're starting to bore me. Do you know what I like to do when I get bored?" the demon asked, leaning in a little closer so that his hot breath could fall across his prisoner's face. He waited for the man to slowly shake his head before continuing. "I like to peel people's faces off layer by layer until they bleed out."
Gasping, the man fought against his primal urges to start crying out and blabbering on again. "Thank you for getting yourself together. Now, the question that I need to have answered so badly is... do you know where can I find a Frost Ruby?" Smiling sweetly, Zeratul looked completely innocent. Peeling faces was all the rage in hell this time of year.
Blinking, the man slowly turned his gaze towards a box in the corner. Trembling, he nodded towards it. "There's one in that box," he said, his voice hollow and soft.
To Zeratul's surprise there really had been some kind of crystal sealed within a fancy container in the crate. Whether or not it was a Frost Ruby he had no idea, but he considered himself a master at identifying context clues and a fist-sized ruby with veins of blue looked an awful lot like the part of a magical gemstone. "Wow, the real thing, huh?" he said in mock awe, raising his eyebrows at the guard and grinning. "A real beaut. Who'd have thought it'd be so easy?"
Whistling and gazing longingly at the crystal for a few more seconds, the demon really played up the scene. He didn't really have a motivation, he just liked making dishonest conversation.
One of Hell's more subtle tortures.
Clamping the container shut again the demon tossed the box into the air and caught it with his tail with a chuckle. "It's been a real pleasure and uh... I'm sorry about your pal. Do give his family my good wishes," he said with a grave nod. Then thinking better he added "No, maybe that's in bad taste. Did he even have a family? Never mind, could you point me on the way back to the surface?"
The guard stared at him as if surprised. "So, you're going to let me live?"
The demon laughed out in a fashion that was much too loud for the situation before responding. "No no... should I?" he asked, turning grave again with the last two words.
The guard's eyes bulged in their sockets. "No sir, definitely not," he said, fumbling over his own tongue before spitting it out. For the next few seconds, the two men stared at each other blankly before the guard gave and 'ope' and nodded towards the door. "Just head out that door and at the end of the hallway there is an elevator to the surface."
"Thanks man, 'preciate it. Am I uh... gonna run into anyone out there?" he asked with a raised brow. The guard thought for a second before shaking his head quickly. It felt like a genuine response. "Thanks again. Will someone come by soon and find you?" Another nod. "Alright cool. Well, see ya around pal."
As the door closed behind the demon the guard sighed heavily in relief. After a moment he laughed. "I sure hope not," he said, his voice echoing around the empty storeroom.
Racing towards the surface in the elevator he'd found exactly where the guard told him, Zeratul felt satisfied. He held his hand out and in it, a solid rod made entirely of featureless blood-red stone materialized. It was warm to the touch and hummed with power.
"I think Lord Azazel might have underestimated my capabilities... he must think I'm rusty." When the Demon Lord had explained the mission to him it had sounded much more difficult than it turned out to be. "Go to Pefu, find a Frost Ruby, and go into the Ice Temple. Receive amazing ice powers blah blah blah. Yeah, easy peasy m'lord."
When he reached the surface the door of the elevator slid open with a slight hiss. Even from within the elevator car he'd felt the cold growing more intense by the minute. Here on the surface, it was almost cruel. Just like before the very air burned his body. Oh, how he hated the cold.
With a scowl on his face, the demon trudged out onto the ice. He was surprised to see that there wasn't any other structure around him, just a small building coming out of the ground that housed the elevator. Four walls and a roof, nothing fancy. "It really is too cold out here to hang out..." he muttered, cursing himself for agreeing to a mission on a planet of ice.
Walking a short distance from the door, he stopped and glanced around. There wasn't anything in sight. "Here is as good as anywhere I guess, right?" he said, bringing the box clutched in his tail around to his hand. He set it down, open, on the ground and held the staff his Lord had given him out. Touching the tip of the rod to the Frost Ruby, he tensed up and winced in anticipation. Azazel had told him the Temple would rise from the ice shelf wherever he was when he unified the ruby and the staff.
When he didn't hear anything after a few seconds he opened his eyes and frowned; nothing had happened. "Man, is this thing busted or what? I thought he said just to touch the staff to the ruby!" he complained out loud, tossing his free hand into the air. For a moment he thought back to what the Demon Lord had told him, but even then he couldn't think of any steps he'd skipped.
As if on cue, five clearly all-terrain vehicles pulled up in a line. They skidded to a halt to his right. Realizing he was in for trouble, the Demon did the smart thing and waved, smiling. "Hey guys, perfect timing! Maybe you can help me out with a little problem I'm having?" he called in a friendly tone.
Hopping out the ATVs, a whole dozen mean-looking Planet Trade soldiers stared him down. After a very tense second or two, the passenger door on the front vehicle swung open and a woman stepped out. She was tall, and lean, and stood with god-damned perfect posture as she too stared him down.
"Uh... hi," the demon said, his voice a little unsure now. It looked like these guys weren't in for playing games. It was a pity, he'd have to kill them but only because they were going to make him do it.
"Who are you? What is your business here?" the woman, obviously the officer in charge here, barked sternly. She had the air of a soldier that used to be a Drill Sergeant - a real mean one - and missed every second of it.
"Oh, me? I'm just looking for a Frost Ruby," he called back with a shrug. "I thought this was one, but I think the guard down there lied to me. Might have to go back down and peel his face after all..." he said, trailing off as if he'd just had a thought so important he'd forgotten he was having a conversation.
At the mention of the Frost Ruby, the whole group, tense as they were, somehow grew tenser. The woman's lip curled slightly. "I am Commander Ashe, and under my authority, you will be placed under arrest until I am able to ascertain who you work for."
The corners of his lips curling slightly, the demon raised his tail and wiggled the end back and forth. "Nu-uh, Commander. Not only will you be placing me under arrest, but you'll also be telling me where I can find a real Frost Ruby."
Ashe paused and really looked the demon up and down again before allowing herself a slight smile. "Tell you what, creature - there is a real Frost Ruby in the back of my IWR. Get to it and it's yours. Fail, and you're mine," she finally returned, the arrogance behind the smile spilling through the seams.
"Tell me, Commander, do you really want to throw away the lives of your men on such a pointless task? I'm sure your career has been brilliant enough to weather one little mishap with a Frost Ruby. Hand it over and I ain't going to kill all of you."
"Well boys, I'll let you decide. Are we going to let this little imp steal our Frost Ruby just because 'my career can weather it'?" the Commander called to the side, addressing her men in unison.
With a round of nos and, in some cases, very aggressive gurgles, the men made their positions very clear. "Well, that's just a pity. I should have made it clear - I will enjoy killing each and every one of you. Who's first?" the demon responded with a dramatic shrug. Responding almost instantly, the most direct trio of warriors sprinted towards him, their fists drawing back far enough to look like they were aiming to end things with a single blow.
With ease, the demon ducked all three fists and jogged backward. "Really swinging for the fence, eh boys?" he said with a smirk and a nod. "Okay, my turn." Leaping forward he brought the staff down hard on one of the men's heads. Instantly he drew blood, dropping the unfortunate soldier into a bloody heap. With his other hand, Zeratul called his spear back to his side. As it materialized he thrust it forward, the blade sliding effortlessly into another soldier's chest.
With a sickening squelch, the demon's spear slid free, leaving the soldier's body to drop at Zeratul's feet. The third attacker, surprised by the stiff and violent defense, took a half-step back when he should have pressed his attack. He was rewarded with his mistake with a hard uppercut to the chin from the end of his opponent's staff. With a trio of bodies lying at his feet, the demon looked up at the rest of the task force. "Anyone else feeling froggy?" he asked with a toothy grin. "I was just thinking about how I should go frog giggin'."
Vigilant a commander as could be found in the Planet Trade Organization's ranks, Commander Ashe was swift to react to the failure of her men. "Open fire men!" she barked, pulling her energy repeater from her side holster with such speed and grace that Doc Holiday would have blushed. Behind her, the nine men remaining under her command leveled their weapons. Some boasted heavy artillery while others were carrying more versatile weapons. Regardless, Zeratul now found himself staring down an impressive arsenal of gun barrels, each of which had the dull glow of an energy weapon revving up a blast.
"Boogity boogity boogity boys!" the demon roared over the high-pitched whines of the blaster motors. Holding his weapons out before him he began to artfully twirl them end-over-end. Just as the blasters fired in unison the weapons reached such speed that they were able to deflect each of the incoming energy bolts. As the men continued to unleash their best upon him Zeratul began to stride confidently forward, all the while spinning his weapons better than any baton-twirler could ever imagine.
Realizing that things weren't actually going her way, and with the steady encroachment of the enemy, Commander Ashe leaped backward on onto the hood of her Ice World Rover. "Cease fire, it's time to get serious men! All energy quotas are suspended until further notice!" she yelled to her men.
A wave of smiles washed over the task force at the mention of quota suspension. "Boy, you're sure in a heap of trouble now," one of them called from the back. A round of chuckles rose into the air as the soldier began dropping their equipment to the side. Some worked their muscles loose and cracked their knuckles while others just stopped when stripped down to their undershirts and settled their hard stares onto their enemy's face.
"Alrighty boys, let's get physical, shall we?" the demon called with a sneer.
The soldiers were the first to move and even Zeratul would have been forced to admit that they moved like a well-oiled machine. He was clearly dealing with men that had been around the block and seen their fair share of combat. Each attack thrown his way was coupled with three more from each possible angle of escape. If he hadn't been on an entirely different level from the soldiers, the demon might just have been overwhelmed by their combined might.
As it were, though, he found it easy enough to block or redirect everything that came his way. Within the swirling mass of blurred limbs, an onlooker might have thought Zeratul was being soundly defeated. Such was the Chaos of the situation that even the soldiers didn't realize just how futile their efforts were. It took a few seconds of watching with intense scrutiny for even Commander Ashe to see the truth of the matter but just before she could call her men back their enemy went on the offensive.
With staff and spear in hand, Zeratul became a spinning tornado of death. He laid waste to the task force, destroying the opposition with a combination of deep laceration and simple blunt force trauma on an extreme level. It took the demon only a second or two to be revealed as the last man standing. With a slack jaw and wide eyes, Commander Ashe struggled to assess the situation.
"I don't need to kill you," the demon called out, tossing his weapons into the air and allowing the to return to their utility dimension. "You gave me no choice but to kill your men, and believe me I don't mind, but you could still walk away from here. All you gotta do is turn over that Frost Ruby and I'll be on my way. What do ya say?" The demon gave the woman a soft smile and lifted his shoulders as if to say "Whaddya gonna do".
Staring blankly back at him, Commander Ashe presumably contemplated her predicament. She was a proud warrior, and an even more proud officer. She'd never been naturally gifted, but a lifetime of busting ass and dedicating herself to her craft had rewarded her with a dignified position and the respect of her peers.
Actually, it hadn't. Ashe, despite outworking her peers at every step and proving herself countless times to be a gifted leader, had consistently been overlooked for promotion and had spent the majority of her career on shit details. If this hadn't been her truth, she may have handled losing her entire task force differently.
"Let me join you," she finally responded, her jaw tight and her brow furrowed.
A chuckle escaped Zeratul's lips. He couldn't believe what he'd just heard. "I gotta say, I didn't expect that," he replied, looking the woman up and down with satisfaction. "You know what? Sure." Walking towards the woman, he reached out and took her arm in his. She flinched hard and he could feel her shaking under his touch. "I will call for you. Until then, return to your post and continue as if you'd never met me."
When the demon pulled his hands away there was a small trio of black dots on Ashe's forearm, like a tattoo. "Now, you can go," he said with a wave of his hand. Completely turning his attention away from his new underling the demon made his way to the back of the Commander's Ice World Rover and retrieved the container housing the real Frost Ruby.