An Empire was brought low by the vile astrologer Magnus Magisterius, but that was only the beginning of his evil.
The power of the runes comes with a price, one the apprentice Tamford wasn’t ready to pay
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.