The young mountain sheep came charging up the trail and into the Meadow of the Elders, past the startled Elder-Guards, and stopped, panting and half incoherent. “Relax,” came a deep, amused voice in his mind. “Take a deep breath, and then share your thoughts with us.”
“Yes, Revered One.” He took the deep breath advised, then trotted forward and touched his head to that of the Elder.
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.