A century ago, in the war-torn provinces and city-states which comprise the Southern Plains, a particularly bitter feud erupted between neighbouring cities. Following a vicious series of engagements along the border, the mage Harshak brought the two feuding monarchs together on neutral territory. For two days they argued furiously, until it became clear that irrational fears and boiling resentment made any peaceful resolution impossible.
Using every ounce of his diplomatic skill, Harshak bound the two rulers to keep the peace for a period of one week. At the end of that time, they would meet again, and either a peace would be brokered, or Harshak would leave them to their carnage.
Harshak spent the week crafting the Caps of Judgement, a pair of velvet skull-caps which were imbued with much of his own wisdom and perception. At the end of the time, the two kings met once more, and Harshak beseeched them to put on the caps. They did so, and their thoughts became immediately clear and dispassionate. Stunned by the effect, they talked quietly for an hour, then announced to their armies that the war was over, the minor disagreement had been settled, and the two kingdoms were now joined in an alliance.
The war over, the rulers thanked Harshak and returned to their kingdoms. Harshak, exhausted and weakened by the effort of creating the caps, locked them in an iron casket, knowing that, in that unstable area, their wisdom would be called upon again.
There is a tragic postscript to the story of the caps. Less than a year later, having exhausted himself so utterly in the creation of the caps, Harshak slipped into a delerium and, after a long and painful illness, died.
There are two identical caps, made of midnight blue velvet and embroidered with silver thread. Though they were originally a pair, they have been seperated in the years since Harshak’s death.
When worn, they bring the wearer to a state of perfect calm, magically enhancing the wisdom, logic and perception of the affected mind. At the same time, they completely suppress all emotion, enabling the wearer to view a situation with complete objectivity. So much of Harshak’s spirit was poured into the caps, however, that anyone who wears them is also filled with the mage’s distaste for violence, becoming incapable of taking any aggressive action while the cap is in place.
The caps can also have an unfortunate result. It is said that, a decade after Harshak passed on, one of the caps fell into the hands of a minor noble who was under siege by a powerful rival. In an effort to discover a strategy that would lead him to victory, the noble put on the cap. In a moment of absolute clarity, he realised that the situation was hopeless, and, bereft of the valour, bravery and stubborness that had carried him thus far, he ordered the surrender.
Logic may only carry one so far. At times, the “right” course of action is a wonderful, heroic folly.