Vlad Taltos is the son of Marishka Merss Taltos, once a witch from the Eastern papermill town of Burz. "Merss" means "pulper".

A single house outside town, with at least three generations of witches, is all that remains of what was once a more prosperous family in Burz, after what Vlad later deduces was either an inter-Coven rivalry or a refusal to join the ruling Coven.

When Vlad shows up in Burz and, as Vlad Merss, asks questions about the Merss family (his own maternal kin), they are all killed within days by the Coven.

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