The swirling snow fell on the soldier's shield,
covering the symbol of Hrothen's Hope.
The swirling snow fell on the dwarf's black beard,
and melted into the darkness.
-opening poem of Hrothen's Curse, a dwarven tale
A secret MLM (pyramid) company that offers eternal life, but in fact it transfers the life forces of its members to those position "above". If you get high enough, (meaning you get enough new members) you start to enjoy the benefits. Maybe a willing sacrifice is much more effective for the transfer. But no one says, that a suddenly unwilling member, threatening to tell the authorities, may not loose it involuntarily... thus start people to vanish, and aged corpses are deposited somewhere safe.