Once upon a time, in a small kingdom quite far from here, there lived a wealthy landowner and her son. Her husband, and the father of her son, was dead. How and why, she didn't know, only that it had happened on one of his business ventures. His body had been sent back, shattering her hope that it had been a mistake.
As her son grew, she was concerned for his welfare. As much as she loved him very much, she knew that he needed a father. The male servants of the house could only be so much of a role model, after all. Therefore, she married again. To a man of some small standing at court – a Baron. A widower and father of twin boys himself, boys who were just her own son's age.
What she did not know was that she had married a man of black magic, who had killed his wife before her shortly after she gave birth to Damien and Gustavo, his sons.
Her son he bewitched into the form of a half-cat, and forced him to work as one of the servants. His mother was changed into a crow and died soon after the change. Threatening to reveal him to the villagers in his new, monstrous form if he did not behave, Humbert knew that all he could do was find peace where it was available to him – in his dreams.
His stepbrothers were less attractive than their father's magic made them appear. All that black magic took its toll on what had once been fair faces. Certainly, it did nothing for the quality of their souls.
Frequently, the family left the estate for months at a time, leaving Humbert to tend to the duties that should have been theirs, as well as the keeping of the house. It was always to be kept perfectly, in case they returned suddenly and unannounced.
The other servants, who still thought dearly of the boy and his mother, helped him in all that they could, aiding him in the lessons that had been cut off when he had been transformed. Fencing, archery, horse riding, book keeping and of course, reading and writing. Slowly, however, his stepfather removed the servants from the house, cutting costs and adding to his understanding of the dark arts.
Humbert lamented the day his two best friends disappeared, and cried anew when they returned to him, transformed as his mother had been. Toto now had wings, black as jet and a beak as sharp as a knife. Muta was a cat, completely. It was only because he was a half cat himself that Humbert was able to understand them.
His stepfather and brothers rose in court, and left him to tend to his mother's estate, mockingly calling him "Baron" when they visited, since they had now risen above the title.