A horrific device only employed by the most black hearted of magic users.
A horrible torture device. Not for the squeamish.
There are a lot of bad people out there. That is why we must torture you: to keep you safe.
Many and varied are the ways of extracting a confession or ending a criminal’s life, and the one usually follows the other.
Magic is a blessing and curse, life and death, birth and undoing, a goal and a way.
A plague has hit the local area.
In humans it affects only the most vulnerable, the children and the very old, and even than it's little more than a summer cold. 24 hours of sniffles and then it's gone, barely noticeable really.
To sheep however it is fatal and the whole economy of the area is in serious trouble. If this keeps up the area could well be facing famine.
Somebody (enter the PCs) must find the rare herbs needed to make a cure.