This fine garment is made of rich, black velvet, adorned with cut designs and detailed embroidery done in couched gold. Its deep hood shadows the wearer’s face, emphasizing the skin’s pallor. None can doubt that the cloak’s wearer is truly suffering from a season of woe.
Originally, this elegant cloak was worn by the grieving widow of the famous paladin Torner the Fearless, after he died leading a small band that sacrificed themselves to keep a murderous horde from a small village. Many commented on his widow’s persistence, as her mourning stretched on year after year, but none could deny that she did mourning well, with an entire wardrobe of elegant attire, all in shades of funereal black.
Many noble mourners have worn the cloak in the years since Torner’s widow went to join her heroic husband, and it has been frequently noted that those wearing the cloak have been unusually stricken with grief and are prone to dramatic bouts of horrible sorrow.
Why Wear the Cloak, Then?
The cloak’s secret is that, despite the public displays of mourning and the outbursts of grief, the wearer feels a hidden exultation. Touched by the moods of the widow that first wore it, they start to feel that they are somehow purer and more noble that those who grieve less (or less publicly). Perversely, they become filled with pride at their dutiful mourning, a pride that pushes aside most of the sadness or emptiness that they would otherwise have felt. This feeling slowly fades when the cloak is not worn, so the wearers generally desire to wrap themselves in its folds at any opportunity.
The Curse of the Cloak
A handful of the realm’s rumormongers have begun to note another interesting fact: Several of the cloak’s owners have been indirectly responsible for their loved ones’ deaths. Torner the Fearless’ wife was a demanding woman, insistent that he prove his valor and contemptuous of any sign of weakness in her devoted husband. Some accused her of driving him to foolish acts of bravery with her criticism. Other decedents have had similar sad tales, ranging from a nobleman that hanged himself over a hidden dishonor, to a young girl that pined away, refusing to eat because of her ‘unfashionable’ figure.
It is possible that the Cloak preys on the minds of its owners, influencing them to drive their family members into the embrace of death. No one knows for certain, but it is clear that those with reason to feel guilt over the death of their loved one will find that this feeling is completely suppressed while the cloak is worn; clad in the cloak, they will be unburdened by pangs of guilt or conscience.
It is quite an elegant garment; it would be a shame for it to just rot in a wardrobe without being worn…