Bells tolled continually, announcing new deaths.
"I hear that he walks the North these days, strides amongst the Silver Firs of those harsh lands. His followers struggling behind in the frost mist. New ones joining the lines everyday the, drawn to him by some mysterious force."
Elias and Manfred are basically a ventriloquist act. However, the major difference between them and other ventriloquists is that Manfred the Talking Cat is a real cat and not a puppet.
Come hither peasant!
A Vampire hunter.
A sweet old Herbalist with a secret, how old is he really?
A mercenary for hire. If you can handle the foul stench of dead dog, sweat and grease.
When did it all start? He would never know for sure, although he traces it, like a finger on a map following the broad river back to the invisible thread of the beginnings, to one evening early winter.
In the Middle Ages, and even up to the early twentieth century, most of Europe's executioners were related: the Sansons and Deiblers in France, the Pierrepoints in England, etc. The reason for this was that, it generally not being socially acceptable to, well, kill people, executioners and their children could, generally, only marry other executioners or their children.
The parallels with massively inbred, Hapsburg-style dynasties are obvious- imagine a rather clever but politically inept satirist noting this, and being sentenced by the latter to a meeting with the former; even worse, imagine a dynasty of deranged and deformed executioners- think Texas Chaisaw Massacre with government funding.