There are three salient things that ought to be present in an executioner's body.

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The first… is heritage.

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Professional murderers, or as obsolete Popes would like to call them executioners, weren't chosen randomly from ordinary people in an ordinary crowd.

Special was what they were, even when they're just newborn infants.

The King himself chose the right person, and the right person's job would be inherited to his sons… almost closing the other options that should be available to them. If a man was born from the family where even one judicial executioner existed, than there's no doubt that he'd walk in the very same path. No exceptions… except if he found suicide a better path.

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The second.. is allowance.

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A murder, with whatever excuse complemented the act, is still a murder. An unforgivable sin, executed in an inexplicably immoral way, as it's concerning a man's life. It's a law to punish people who carried that kind of sin.

But the law didn't apply to them executioners.

Some people considered this iniquitous; even a few minors dared to call this privilege blasphemy, for it's unacceptable to allow a man to kill. However, if the Pope himself was the one who permitted it, the most things they could do is shut up and pretend that their mouth is in lack of tongue.

A special baptism was prepared for these special people, and once the holy water got spurted to their bodies, they had the right to behead the others. Holy water.. to create legions of solid grim reapers. The church, was where these creatures came out.

Then, comes the third, and the most prominent..

which is, of course, courage.

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Heir of the Widow

Heir: (n) figurative a person inheriting and continuing the legacy of a predecessor

The widow: (n) a machine with a heavy blade sliding vertically in grooves, used for beheading people.

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At the tender age of seventeen, Aelfric Desfourneaux had sinned more than any other people his age had.

Forty three was the exact number, and when sleep came, there were forty three heads came, too, as if making sure that his sleeps were never silent.

Eyes smarting due to the sunray, and body perspiring because of the sweltering hot weather, he knew he wouldn't able to move a muscle even if he wanted to.

His mask, his black, horrifying mask, wasn't anywhere near him but he felt as though he's wearing it. Covering his whole face except for his eyes, turning him into the exact manifestation of death in the eyes of many.

Obscuring the seventeen year old in the form of a grim reaper.

The market had always been Aelfric's favorite place to hang out before he did his errands. Her mother, usually strict and bursting with pride in every step she took, always turned slightly gentler and gave him a few hours of free times before he did his executions.

And being here was how he spent the oh-so-generous gifts. There's something about this place, despite the smell and its ridiculous din. Something he couldn't place his fingers to fascinated him. Ever since fifteen, Aelfric was in love with the idea of being able to feel catharsis. And this place could provide it to him.

The girl in the fish shop could, too.

Seven months. That's how long he'd been watching her on his free time. He didn't necessarily watch her face, as he knew her beauty wouldn't wither before long long time. In fact, he's especially fascinated with the way she worked.

Two sets of long, slim fingers that were skilled in chopping off fish, and he especially liked it when she had her right eye got slightly narrowed as she maintained her balance, trying to not get her fingers got chopped instead. And then her customer would say 'thank you' and she'd turn red as a 'welcome'.
Aelfric did not think that his fortune would be enough to repay those simple gestures.

He did, however, longed to know her name.

But it was hard. Very hard to put aside everything and just come up to her and say 'hello'. It was hard to overcome his nervousness whenever their eyes accidentally met and he saw her smiling to him. It was hard to let his mother know that he had no interest in marrying his own cousin, and even harder to let her know that he was really interested in this fish girl.

Nevertheless, those were the least things he could think. The hardest past was to tell her where he came from.

"Aelfric!" his brother Charles called him. People often mentioned that Charles was a miniature of himself with his boyish look and dirty blonde hair. Aelfric was taller, but overtime, Charles would shot up and pursue his height, too. The fact that both of them had green eyes didn't help differentiating them, either.

Only one thing came as the huge gap between them.

"It's almost time!" Charles said, his enthusiasm couldn't go unnoticed.

Charles was fond of his job. Very fond, even.

The younger boy saw him watching at the girl and he shook his head, his expression grim. He didn't even need to open his mouth to let Aelfric knew that he's being pathetic. It was nearly impossible for an executioner to marry a girl out from the circle of trust. Most commonly, they marry their own cousins, making their relationship incestuous but still right in the eyes of the Law.

But still… he thought he'd give it a try. Maybe tomorrow he'd feeling really brave and say 'hello' when he buy fish from her.

Giving the girl the last look, he turned around and followed his running brother.

The place was crowded, like the usual. People always liked gore and blood, and the cheapest way to see them was through public execution, where alleged criminals cease to death before them and they could cheer without feeling even a vestige of guilt.

Aelfric stood on the stage, and even so, no one could recognize him, as a mask covered his face, leaving his profile up to their imagination. He flexed his arms. Five years ago they weren't strong enough to swing an ax, but now, through strenuous training and willpower, he could behead an adult twice his age. The new invention of guillotine also made it easier for him to do his job, as he didn't need to deal with messy mutilations or pools of blood anymore. The dead-howls, had been the most waited part of the execution, was now absent, sending home some twisted watchers.

The convict was just a young-man, and yet he had this hostile look adopted on his face as two guards led him to the Widow, Aelfric's loyal friend, and his father's, too. Aelfric could sense Charles' jealousy when he shot him a look as he held on the convict's head, which was trapped in the demi-lunnete for minimal struggle.

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There are three salient things that ought to be present in an executioner's body…

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Face hot as hell as sweat started to make thin cover on his skin; Aelfric readied himself to let the blade down. He shouldn't give the poor lad hopes, as it would result a brutal outcome. He might turn around and got his jaw chopped off, and then Aelfric would have to finish him off with a butcher knife, like the old time. And that.. wasn't a sight he'd like to see despite how enthusiastic Charles was to witness a gruesome death of these sinners.

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The first… is heritage.

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Of course Aelfric had seen the reports of those nasty things this convict had done. And indeed, those things could only be paid off with death. Maybe they gave the reports to him to make him felt less guilty killing him off. Or maybe they just wanted to encourage him to give the man a horrible demise. Either way, in the end, like it or dislike it, he'd kill him. Unless he wanted to lose his job and had his family penniless like it had been after his father's death.

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The second.. is allowance.

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He pulled the string that attached to the blade, before then his ears caught a familiar voice.

"He's my brother!" the girl in the fish shop shouted.

Aelfric doubted it that his ears would send him wrong information. And he glanced sideways to confirm his notion. Her auburn hair and her fair skin stood out in the crowd, and even from this distance, he could see tears mustering on her eye-sockets as she pleaded for him to stop.

Then, comes the third, and the most prominent..

Aelfric steeled his resolution and pulled the string. The blade dropped to the convict's neck, decapitating him completely. His head went to the basket and he grabbed it by the hair with his bare hand. Shuttering his eyes briefly, he showed the bodiless head to the crowd, which cheered on it with such glee.

The girl in the fish shop shook her head as she broke into tears. She shot him a look of pure hatred, before then she stormed off the place.

(Her eyes.. her blue, odium fraught eyes…)

The head of her brother would come to his sleeps starting now. Forty four heads now. But most of all, the look that the girl has thrown him would haunt him the most.

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which is, of course, courage.

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Aelfric never went to the market anymore. Two years later, he married his first cousin and if he.. somehow ended up shopping some fish and happened to catch sight of her blue orbs from the corner of his eye, all he ever did was averting his head quickly.

No hellos. Never.

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The courage to sacrifice everything, the courage to give away the last piece of heaven that you have.
The courage to be less-human than your kind.

.FIN.