The Executioner and the Raven

by Dibyasree Nandy

A dainty feather rested upon a balance scale. So light was it that equilibrium was attained with ease, ensuring that neither side would tip in the slightest.


The bloodied blade of the gallows glinted ominously crimson at high noon when the prisoner was carefully manacled by the executioner. A hand on the rope, the executioner stepped back to get a full view of the prisoner’s face.

He was beautiful, yes, ethereal even, the solar orb setting his golden, slightly longer locks blindingly ablaze.

A raven circled overhead. It was rather natural for carrion crows to be present in the vicinity of guillotines. They picked apart corpses and peered straight into the naked souls of criminals. Flapping its wings, a couple of onyx feathers fell from the sky, one settling on the executioner’s shoulder while his arms shook.

This had never happened before.

Those eyes. They changed form ever so swiftly. From a lovely pair of rubies to the drops of dew on a blushing, budding rose at dawn to raging volcanoes from which magma threatened to spill and smoulder all. On the prisoner’s lips was a serene, gentle smile that would haunt him for the rest of his days.

“Why did you do it?”

Another feather gracefully descended. The prisoner replied, “Look behind you.”

A jostling crowd had gathered there to witness the execution.

“They are all united, see?” The prisoner emphasized.

One of the men, quite regal-looking, yelled, “He targeted us from the aristocracy! The nerve!”

Another young man, his garments shabby, hair tousled, refuted hotly, “Justified he was, too. He only murdered the corrupt ones!”

“Silence! Know your place, peasant!”

“He… uh… rescued us all from the slums…” A woman spoke, her tone uncertain.

However, one middle-aged man shrieked, “Sarah, be quiet! And you lot! Are you all insane? Don’t you know what the authorities say about him?”

A poignant cry of the raven was heard.

“He’s right, you know. That man is the most vicious criminal the nation has ever seen!”

Both the nobles and the people from the lower classes began to murmur in agreement.

The executioner turned his head towards the prisoner. “Is this what you desired? A common enemy for them to hate in unison?”

“It was a gamble. I had to take the risk.”

“I see. In any case, it appears as though you were successful.” He then frowned. “Ah, the crows are rather loud today.”

“They can’t wait to have their fill, I suppose.” The prisoner’s smile widened. “Well, what are you waiting for?”

The grating sound of the blade resounded and the mob cheered. The raven took flight, shedding a few more feathers.