The post of Adder has existed unofficially for centuries as a sort of shadow adviser to the queen of the Inasadi. Part assassin, part spy, part sounding board, the post exists to do what the queen cannot be seen to do.
Anajiah is the current holder of the title, picked by her predecessor for her agile mind as well as her beauty and ruthlessness. She and the current queen have come to an understanding, the queen tells her what result she wants and leaves the details of how to achieve that up to Anajiah. Sometimes that means a sharp blade in a dark alley, others, a few soft words and caresses in the night.
Anajiah is loyal, but not blind to the faults of her queen. She is not merely one who says “how high?’ mid air when the queen commands her to jump. She has become a trusted voice, one who will speak her mind, tell her queen the truth when she needs to hear it.
Her queen asked a question, a deceptively simple one. “Are the Hawktribe a threat to me my adder?”
Anajiah was forced to answer truthfully. “I do not know my queen… They may be my grandmother’s people but I know little about them beyond what anyone else might know.”
“Find out.” The queen waved her off and Anajiah returned to her quarters, donning the beaked mask and feathered robes inherited from her father to blend in and walk among them.
Anajiah’s father had talked to her about it, the mistrust engendered by a people who always covered their faces when interacting with others. “It’s hard to trust someone when you can’t see their face,” he said. The rumors spread as more of the Hawktribe were seen around the city. ‘They’re hiding ritual scars’, ‘Leprosy, every one of them’, ‘They have extra mouths’, ‘I heard they had actual beaks’.
Anajiah had walked among the Chosen Ones before, masked and cloaked as they were, the patterns on her mask borrowed from what was left of her father’s things.
Then, she had come to negotiate with the elders, to convince them that the Great City would welcome them in exchange for tribute to the Queen of the Inasadi and they had welcomed her as one of their own, a long lost chick returned to the nest.
Now, the cool night air felt pregnant with malice, as if it were about to burst into violence, but still Anajiah pressed on, determined to do her queen’s bidding.