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.
The accepted mode of getting otherwise unobtainable information is to go visit the cranky old hermit living in the mountains. It's just the sensible thing to do. So, naturally, everyone takes their monthly excursion to the hermit's hovel to consult him on everything, from lock-jaw to lovesickness, necromancers to nasal viruses.
Now, if everyone's always visiting the poor old hermit, there's going to be an enormous queue... "Wellcome to the Hermitt's Hovele, Please Take Ye a Number and Have Ye a Seate" reads the sign outside the packed dwelling.
Imagine the poor hermit, having retreated into the mountains to escape this precise situation...