Once upon a time, in the hidden heart of France, a handsome young prince lived in a beautiful castle. Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was selfish and unkind. He taxed the village to fill his castle with the most beautiful objects, and his parties with the most beautiful people. Then one night, an unexpected intruder arrived at the castle, seeking shelter from the bitter storm. As a gift, she offered the prince a single rose. Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince turned the woman away. But she warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within. When he dismissed her again, the old woman’s outward appearance melted away, to reveal a most beautiful enchantress. The prince begged her for forgiveness. But it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart. As punishment, she transformed him into a hideous beast, and placed a powerful spell on the castle and all who lived there. As days bled into years, the prince and his servants were forgotten by the world, for the enchantress had erased all memory of them from the minds of the people they loved. But the rose she had offered was truly an enchanted rose. If he could learn to love another and earn their love in return by the time the last petal fall, the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time. As the years passed, he felt into despair and lost all hope. For who could ever learn to love a beast?