“Cancel my appointments, Waynesbury,” Alazne said, sweeping out of the office. Waynesbury unconsciously crushed the paper in his hand as he replied in an automatic drawl.
“Sir, we’ve been over this, you have no appointments,” he sighed wearily, but Alazne was already gone, the horrible Elven-looking woman with her. That disrespectful mongrel had been around a lot lately, and Waynesbury feared that she would become a poor influence on his mistress. Not that he didn’t already hate Alazne, but Waynesbury knew that there was always room for things to get worse.
With a heavy sigh and a halfhearted adjustment of his glasses, the heavy secretary walked over to his desk and sat carefully in its fine leather chair. The finances and dealings of the Church of Asmodeus spread out before him. Letting his mind enter the emotionless, tepid state well-known to all accountants, Waynesbury set to work.
Several hours later, Waynesbury hit his first obstacle. A single receipt form, filled out with infuriating exactness, along with the proper forms for requesting a reimbursement, all submitted by Barrister Alazne. Apparently she had seen fit to hire a bounty hunter for ‘church business’. After several minutes of reading the forms, and failing to find any errors, Waynesbury sighed. This was going to require approval from the higher authorities.
The legs of his chair scraping across the fine wooden floor, Waynesbury stood and walked silently from the room, paperwork clutched in his meaty fingers. The labyrinthine halls and turns of the Church of Asmodeus could be impassible to an ordinary visitor, but to a practiced accountant, navigating them was a trifling matter. After several minutes of walking, beads of sweat forming on his pink brow, Waynesbury reached his destination, a very special room with a five-pointed star meticulously engraved into its metal door. Unceremoniously, he pulled the door open, stepped inside, strode to the center of the pentagram that marked the room’s center, and, with a gout of flame and a burst of brimstone, was gone.
The smoke cleared, and Waynesbury found himself in a room very similar to the one he had just left. This one, however, was carved from sooty black stone. The stench of fire and ash filled the air, and, if he listened closely, he could hear the screams of the eternally damned. This was no time to enjoy the pleasant environment, however. Waynesbury gathered his wits, adjusted his glasses, which had begun to fog in the unnatural heat, and stepped out of the room.
Greeting him was a scene almost painfully mundane. A large waiting room extended before him, rows upon rows of uncomfortable chairs occupied by all manner of fiendish creatures. Beyond them, a massive, red-skinned humanoid sat behind a desk designed for someone far smaller, tiny round spectacles supported by his horns and his muscles bulging as he shuffled the papers in front of him. He looked up with an expression of mild annoyance as Waynesbury approached.
“Good afternoon,” Waynesbury said slowly, his tone making clear that he found the afternoon anything but good, “I have a reimbursement request to submit. Infernal Secretary Waynesbury, from the Korvosa branch.”
The massive devil sighed, put down his clipboard, and took the paperwork from Waynesbury’s proffering hand. He flipped through them, seemingly indifferent but casting a critical eye toward any sort of errors that might be present, and finally handed them back. Without hesitation, he scrawled something on the clipboard with one wickedly clawed hand.
“Reimbursement requests must be submitted in person,” he said emotionlessly, “Take a seat and come forward when your name is called.” Waynesbury’s face twisted into a mask of displeasure. He had hoped to simply submit the paperwork and return in time for lunch. Sighing wearily, he shuffled down the rows of seats and lowered himself into the first available one.
An enormous creature with the body of a bloated slug and three disturbingly handsome human faces slumbered in the chair to his right, each head snoring softly in turn. To his left, a tiny crimson imp fidgeted and twitched in its seat, biting its nails as fast as they could grow back, the clippings collecting in a small pile below it. With years of practiced expertise, Waynesbury leaned slightly in the seat, fixed his gaze on the blank wall across from him, and waited.
Minutes passed, then hours. Eventually, Waynesbury unpacked the lunch that he had meticulously prepared for such an occasion, and ate in silence. An eternity passed by, accompanied only by the invasive ticking of the wall clock and the sheer, infinite emptiness of the wall before him.
“Waynesbury?” a voice erupted out of the silence, a ray of light bursting through the clouds of monotony. With a sight, Waynesbury climbed to his feet and walked to the front of the room where a lascivious female devil waited for him, red-framed glasses perched upon her perfect nose. “The Archive Archdevil will see you now.” she said, turning and leading him into an undecorated hallway. Waynesbury scowled. Her voice had a mildly unpleasant nasal hum to it that got under his skin.
The hallways here were almost as labyrinthine as the ones in the Church. Paperwork imps scuttled back and forth, overladen by ridiculous stacks of paper that teetered precariously each time they turned a corner. One of them slammed into Waynesbury’s boot, sheaves flying everywhere in an explosion of forms. The secretary merely spared the concussed imp a sneer before moving on.
The Archive Archdevil had a depressingly ordinary office, his title picked out in block Infernal on the frosted glass window of the door. Waynesbury deigned not to thank the female devil, who left with a mild huff, the clicking sounds of her high heels on the stone floor disappearing into the distance. Checking to make sure he still had all the paperwork in his hands, he knocked once and opened the door.
Inside, a massively corpulent figure reclined in a floating throne, scrolls, papers and quills spinning around it in a maelstrom of paperwork. Tiny, cruel eyes, almost lost within the folds of gray flesh, watched Waynesbury as he approached the archdevil and gave a cursory bow. Without a word being spoken, the reimbursement forms were ripped from his hand and added to the whirlwind of papers, quills dipping in floating inkwells and furiously scratching signatures and remarks upon each sheaf. In an instant, the flurry of activity stopped, and the obese figure glared down at the secretary below him, malevolence gleaming in its tiny hateful eyes. Then, the moment was passed, and with the clinking of metal on metal, exactly fifty gold fell into Waynesbury’s outstretched hand.
Waynesbury bowed again, his arm coming up swiftly to prevent his spectacles from falling off his nose, but the Archdevil had already turned its attention back to the other obligations swirling around it. Pocketing the gold, he turned and left the office. Unsurprisingly, no-one was waiting to guide him out, so he made his own way through the bland halls, silent but for the patter of tiny feet and the occasional scream.
The massive devil outside spared him only a passing glance as he entered the waiting room once again. Huffing a bit from exertion, and tripping once or twice, he finally reached the teleportation pentagram, and exploded in a pillar of fire back into the Church of Asmodeus in Korvosa. Waynesbury had always considered the whole process to be overly theatric.
For the second time that day, he ponderously entered his office, carefully placing the fifty gold in a perfectly white envelope specifically for this purpose. He was about to leave it atop Alazne’s desk, but hesitated for a moment, and wrote a small, polite, but entirely reproachful note to her, which he also included in the envelope. Sinking into his leather chair with a weary sigh, Waynesbury continued with the rest of the paperwork.