The story begins with the witch inviting a guest into her cottage. Her crow assumes the guest wants the bear spell, so she tells the story of a man who became the demon bear Mor'du. The man had been the eldest of four sons of the wise and much-beloved king of an ancient kingdom, each of whom had his own gift.
Of the younger three, the youngest was wise, the third was compassionate, and the second was just. The king's eldest was strong, but he mistook strength for character. When the king died one autumn, rather than giving the eldest all the inheritance, he divided the kingdom among all of his sons equally, believing their gifts combined would form the pillars on which the peace of an even greater kingdom rested.
However, feeling disgraced and filled with greed and selfishness, the eldest son refused to accept this, proving his claim as the sole heir in front of his brothers by using one of his axes to break his image away from their family stone. His words turned to war, forever changing the kingdom's fate.