When someone befriends an animal, s/he obtains the ability to unite their souls together and take on the form of that animal as well as its abilities. S/he also gain some properties of that animal even when they are no keener t transformed, such as resistence to cold or senses. If s/he really wants to s/he can half transforms taking on characteristics of the animal and their normal form
There is an important pair of fraternal twins. Possibly minor dieties, sorcerers, or maybe just an important pair of nobles. One is evil and one is good. The thing is, the one who looks evil at first glance is the good one, and vice versa.