When the outlaw Shan Fang was arrested eighteen months ago, the people of Zhao in the Kuan Ti Territories breathed a deep sigh of relief. The notorious bandit had plagued the countryside for a full decade, gaining a grim reputation as a heartless killer, marauder, and thief.
Shan Fang and his gang of thugs were convicted of no less than fifty murders, but they are suspected of innumerable other acts of barbarism. Unfortunately, the other allegations have never been proven given the lack of witnesses. Shan Fang is notorious for leaving no survivors. In fact it was only thanks to the a witness surviving the notorious Shangsi Festival Massacre that he could be convicted at all. The brave testimony of the lone survivor tells a harrowing tale of brutality and degradation.
When Shan Fang and his minions were caught and convicted, they were sentenced to death. While many of his minions were sentence to die by strangulation or quartering, Shan Fang himself was to die by Lingchi. More widely known as the “Death of a Thousand Cuts,” Lingchi is more torture than execution. It involves the systematic flaying of skin over a long period of time. Each week one more of his minions would be killed while Shan Fang would receive another one of the many wounds that should have ultimately killed him.
The horrible death was thought to be just retribution for the countless people he raped and murdered during his long reign of terror. In this case, the time necessary to carry out the execution made escape possible.
Officials are still trying to piece together the events, but from their preliminary investigation, it appears that one or more of Shan Fang’s compatriots purposely allowed themselves to become captured in order to assist in the breakout. Meanwhile, a number of other individuals infiltrated the prison from the outside, helping to surprise and overwhelm the guards.
The official report states that the breakout started around four o’clock in the morning when several of the inmates managed to escape from their cells. Once out they moved quickly and quietly to the block-house guard, where they overcame and killed him without making a sound. They then freed all the other prisoners within the cell block.
With this accomplished, the murderous crew moved to the solitary confinement block where Shan Fang was being held. The gang was once again able to overcome the guards. Speculation about how quickly and silently the assault took place has led some to believe that magical means may have been used to aid the gang. Indeed, the official report details eye-witness testimony that helps support this speculation.
About thirty minutes after the initial escape a sentry came across the body of the first murdered guard. The sentry raised the alarm, but it was too late. By that time Shan Fang was already out of his cell and on his way to the prison gates.
The sound of the alarm bell also served as the queue for those outside the prison to mount their assault. They brought a wagon loaded with explosives to the prison gate and blew it apart with an ear-shattering explosion. With the main gates down, a dozen or more men stormed the breach and entered the prison with bags of weapons and explosives.
Fires were lit throughout the surrounding town and a multitude of unlikely creatures were found terrorizing the streets and keeping the town guard busy as the escape commenced. Sources have verified that a minotaur, a troll, and a flightless Oni were seen and later killed during the night.
“These are all incredibly dangerous and rare creatures,” explains Yazarah Harroz, the Professor of Xenomorphology at Ada-Kar University. “All are extremely volatile and are known to react violently, particularly when they are cornered. In crowded situations they could cause a lot of damage and chaos in a short amount of time, which was undoubtedly the gang’s intention. Because they are so dangerous, it is likely that they used some form of magic to bring the creatures into the city. Nyisha’s Living Figurines have been used in similar ways in the past.”
Meanwhile, inside the prison, the guards were attempting to restore order, but they soon found that they were being overwhelmed by both the released prisoners as well as those attacking from outside. As more and more prison guards were slaughtered the guards retreated and locked themselves into one of the cell blocks. The move saved many of them, but many more were soon cut down by the vengeful horde.
When the prisoners finally joined up with those that stormed the gates, the prisoners quickly exchanged their shanks and makeshift weapons for the real weapons that the invaders brought with them. Now armed and free of the prison, they turned their bloodlust on the town, burning, looting and slaying indiscriminately as they fled. Shan Fang and his crew rushed to the outskirts of town where additional gang members awaited with horses for the final ride to freedom. Non-gang members were left to fend for themselves. Many of them have already been recaptured or killed in the hours and days since the escape took place.
It has been over a week since the escape, and as of the latest reports Shan Fang has not yet been located. His trail led into the Jiá mountains where he was able to disappear. He has used these mountains as a base during most of his career and it is believed that he has gone to ground in some hidden lair as he recuperates and prepares his next crime.
The people of Zhao are terrified of his vengeance, and have asked for government troops to be sent to help protect them from his wrath. A division of soldiers has been sent to hunt down the gang and bring them to justice, but the area is far too large to guard over a long period of time. In the interim, local officials are collecting money to help revitalize town defenses and hire additional guards. Many are resorting to the Adventurer’s Guild in hopes of securing a formidable enough defensive force to dissuade Shan Fang from attacking their city.
“How can we sleep at night?” a villager, who wishes to remain anonymous, summed up for many of the people of the Zhao province. “A monster is loose and there is no telling where he will attack next. Today we live, but what of tomorrow? When Shan Fang strikes the best you can hope for is a quick death.”