The Five Prisoners
Originally, Harrowstone housed only local criminals, but as the prison’s fame spread, other counties and distant lands began paying to have more dangerous criminals housed within this prison’s walls. At the time of the great Harrowstone Fire, the number of particularly violent or dangerous criminals imprisoned within the dungeons below was at an all-time high.
The five most notorious prisoners in Harrowstone at the time of the great fire were Father Charlatan, the Lopper, the Mosswater Marauder, the Piper of Illlmarsh, and the Splatter Man.
You are hereby sentenced to live the remainder of your short life in Harrowstone, which, I hasten to add, is a blessing compared to the extent of your crimes and the suffering of your victims. There you will reside in the misery of your thoughts until such time as you are drawn, hanged, and quartered. May the gods have no mercy on your blighted soul.
—The final sentencing of Vance Saetressle (“The Lopper”) in 4661 ar by Jurisdeclaris Axenris the Third.
Vance Saetressle, aka The Lopper – When the Lopper stalked prey, he would hide in the most unlikely of places, sometimes for days upon end with only a few supplies to keep him going while he waited for the exact right moment to strike. Once his target was alone, the Lopper would emerge to savagely behead his victim with a handaxe.
Hean Feramin, aka The Splatter Man – Professor Feramin was a celebrated scholar of Anthroponomastics (the study of personal names and their origins) at the Quartrefaux Archives in Caliphas. Yet an accidental association with a succubus twisted and warped his study, turning it into an obsession. Feramin became obsessed with the power of a name and how he could use it to terrify and control. Soon enough, his reputation was ruined, he’d lost his tenure, and he’d developed an uncontrollable obsession with an imaginary link between a person’s name and what happens to that name when the person dies. Every few days, he would secretly arrange for his victim to find a letter from her name written in blood, perhaps smeared on a wall or spelled out with carefully arranged entrails. Once he had spelled his victim’s name, he would at last come for her, killing her in a gory mess using a complex trap or series of rigged events meant to look like an accident.
The Piper of Illmarsh, real name unknown – Before he snatched his victims, the Piper taunted his targets with a mournful dirge on his flute. He preferred to paralyze lone victims by dosing their meals with lich dust and then allowed his pet stirges to drink the victims dry of blood. Whether he was an academic who studied stirges too much, or a swamp rat who somehow befriended the strange creatures will never be known. He spoke no word at his capture or trial. He only whistled an unsettling tune over and over until the court ordered him to be silenced.
Ispin Onyxcudegel, aka the Mosswater Marauder – Only 5 years before his hometown of Mosswater was destined to be overrun and ruined by monsters from the nearby river, Ispin Onyxcudgel was a well-liked artisan and a doting husband. When he discovered his wife’s infidelity, he f lew into a jealous rage and struck her dead with his hammer, shattering her skull and his sanity with one murderous blow. Wracked with shame and guilt, Ispin became convinced that if he could rebuild his wife’s skull she would come back to life—but unfortunately, he could not find the last blade-shaped fragment from the murder site. So instead, Ispin became the Mosswater Marauder. Over the course of several weeks, the cunning dwarf stalked and murdered nearly 20 people while searching for just the right skull fragment. He was captured just before murdering the daughter of a visiting nobleman from Varno, and was carted off to Harrowstone that same night.
Sefick Corvin, aka Father Charlatan – Of the five notorious prisoners, only Father Charlatan was not technically a murderer, yet his crimes were so blasphemous that several churches demanded he be punished to the full extent of Ustalavic law. Although he claimed to be an ordained priest of any number of faiths, Father Corvin was in fact a traveling con artist who used faith as a mask and a means to bilk the faithful out of money in payment for false miracles or cures. He became known as Father Charlatan after his scheme was exposed and his Sczarni accomplices murdered a half-dozen city guards in an attempt to make good the group’s escape.