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.
A large river that is continuously covered in a thick layer of fog. There will be either a rope ferry to get across or possibly a boat that is rowed across by worshippers of the water elementals. It is very thick fog to the point where it even muffles voices even at close range and visibility even beyond a foot is almost impossible.