He stood in the shadows, watching those gathered in front of the temple ahead. In truth, the shadows were probably unnecessary; those he was watching were far too engrossed with the huge structure before them to notice the common folk passing by. Which was, of course, the reason he chose this place.
For those who were visiting from elsewhere in the Empire, it was a symbol of the power of the Church, even at this far-flung locale. It was, in many ways, the greatest obstacle to them relaxing, an act by which they often tended to be less careful with the contents of their purses. For these, it was best to watch them closely for signs of such relaxation as they left this place, to better time when and how to part them from their coins.
For those visiting from outside the Empire, the structure was even more effective. One could, if watching closely enough, see the varied emotions of intrigue, fear, and horror upon their faces. It was a good place to start, a place to give life to those primal emotions, and build on them to the point where they watched with a thrill for devils on every corner. And where the first group would relax as they moved through the city, these would become hypervigilant, their senses so attuned to external threats that a friendly face looked that much friendlier, and for such a friend the purse strings were that much looser.
Of course, with a mix of visitors present it could be difficult to play both games. Today most of the crowd were of that latter group, and he smiled; this made things easier, not to mention more fun. He waited a few more minutes for the tension to build, the questions to start, the men and women to naturally fall into their little huddles as he studied them. Then, with a sudden burst of speed, he sprinted through their midst, leaping onto a stone planter between them and the Temple, resplendent in his fine clothes, his features accentuated in the manner of the stage performers of the city.
“A marvel, is it not?” he asked, his voice ringing over the crowd. His stage voice was not up to that of the true performers, and the stage upon which he stood would be viewed with scorn by most such men and women. But it was his stage, and this was his show.
“The Temple of Asmodeus; once the domain of the great hero Aroden, now a place of worship of the denizens of Hell!
“I see your fear, I feel your secret excitement at what sights must lie within its darkest depths.” He continued in a loud, rapid stage whisper. After another pause for effect he continued, raising his voice again sharply enough to startle several members of the crowd as he smiled.
“Well fear not! I, Gaian Vespinus, will guide you unerringly through this great city, and show you wonders that make the denizens of Hell seem pedestrian. For this is Kintargo, the beating heart of humanity’s culture; here, even the Devils come to dance!”