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
The villages around the capital have a strange new disease cropping up. Spread by a fungus (much like ergot poisoning), it causes its victims to be very sensitive to sunlight. Hundreds of peasants are hiding from the sun, only coming out in the darkness to labor in the fields. Unfortunately, rumor makes their behavior sound more sinister and secretive than it really is.