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Character Study: Hadrian January 13, 2012

Posted by shadowconflict in Art, Characters, Concepts, Information.


Ah, Hadrian.  If I were to describe him in one word, it would have to be mutable.  None of the other characters have undergone quite as dramatic a change as he has.  This alone makes him a very good candidate for such a study.

Hadrian’s initial call into being was nothing more grand than the story needing a rival.  Even the meaning of his name, “dark”, was chosen with this in mind, along with his elemental association.  However, early writings describe a surprisingly different portrait compared to who he is now.

Early Hadrian was obsessively devoted to Braeden.  This meant that he saw all things as potential threats; none were more deserving of this suspicion than those associated with the Light.  He would fulfill the rival role later on, for once he saw Harmony for the first time, he fell for her against his will, and in turn blamed her for tricking both he and Braeden with her feminine wiles.  Outlines indicate he planned on kidnapping her in order to seal her away for all time.  He was doing it as much for himself as for the benefit of the shadow people.  He simply did not know how to handle his love/hate for her.  I always thought Infected by Bad Religion explained Hadrian’s mentality the best.  While I liked this particular dynamic between them, I did not know the best way to approach it without the subplot taking over the main plot.  It, like Hadrian’s obsession with Harmony, was summarily dropped.  But this version of Hadrian was by far the cruelest.

Shadowborn Hadrian was almost non-existent.  He would not come into the story until much, much later.  This exclusion leaves even me uncertain as to how his character progressed.  The only stand out traits were his hatred for the Light, and his displeasure at learning Braeden was alive, thus creating a rival for power.   

Hadrian’s character took on a darker edge in early drafts of The Shadow Conflict.  He harbored incestuous feelings for his mother- something she shared quite happily- but it was purged from his character.  I admit to experimenting with them in this regard; however, I am writing a young adult fantasy, and I didn’t think tossing incest into the mix was the wisest course.


Hadrian's evolving designs, from 2006 to the present.

Hadrian is Braeden’s exact opposite, in looks, personality and clothing.  In early writings, he wore his black hair in a tail at the nape of his neck, had brown eyes, pale skin and favored studded leather in black and dark brown.  Shadowborn Hadrian kept the attire and skin tone, though I cut his hair and changed his eye color from brown to amber.  The Shadow Conflict gives him long hair, very much like Braeden’s was in early stages of his development, as well as a slight beard while keeping the amber eyes and pale skin.

Hadrian's overall look was heavily influenced by Malagant from First Knight.

The one thing that never changed was Hadrian’s physique.  Broader in the shoulders and chest than Braeden, he presents a more imposing figure than his twin despite their being the same height.  He is also more skilled with a blade, and swifter.  Present day Hadrian still enjoys all these perks to his character.


Hadrian’s personality went through as many changes as he did over the years.  Through them all the following remained consistent: his hatred of the Light, the rivalry with Braeden, initially born as a twisted form of love, his ambition, cruelty, selfishness, and underhandedness.  This version of him also idolized Jett.  He wanted to personally see that Jett’s legacy was realized.  Shadowborn Hadrian was younger, and those traits were made all the more apparent by his passionate nature.  He was a spoiled brat who adamantly refused to listen to his elders, or share the title of Shadow tamer with Braeden. 

The Shadow Conflict revealed him to be suave, hypnotic and, when it suits him, deceptively kind.  These are also traits Jett was associated with; the comparisons, welcome at first, have become tiresome now.  While he is not a stunning intellect, neither is he a fool: his cleverness and ability to back his words with action keeps others from questioning his authority.  He knows he is the answer for the shadow people’s ills.  There can be no other as far as he’s concerned.  This has tempered a deep arrogance within him, one that, at times, puts him at odds with his family.


Hadrian has always enjoyed possessing more skill with the shadows than Braeden.  Early drafts reveal an ability I termed ‘shadow elements’, meaning he could assume control of any of the other elements for a limited time and produce a ‘darker’ version of them.  Shadow fire, for example, would inflict ice burns, and shadow wind would make the victim feel as if he were being assaulted by sharp daggers.  This was an ability I originally gave Jett, and which Hadrian inherited, but I did away with the concept.  Hadrian would have become another one dimensional, power crazed villain.  It was a cliche I wanted to avoid.  Hadrian’s abilities in Shadowborn were never described in detail, though I am certain they would have been stronger due to being surrounded by his kin his whole life.

Present-day Hadrian employs quite a vast array of skills, notably the ability to split his shadow into four counterparts.  Each one is armed with a shadow version of the weapon he carries.  Opponents unlucky enough to battle him in this state usually don’t win.  Another of his abilities is the mind taint.  This involves him shrouding a victim (or victims) in his shadow, which opens their minds up to him and enables him to emphasize their fears or drive them mad.  Since the technique is so powerful, it cannot be performed more than once every twelve hours.  Hadrian makes up for this handicap by influencing the shadows in similar fashion to Braeden, only with a wider radius.  While he cannot travel long distances, he is still faster than he is stealthy.

Like Braeden, Hadrian’s shadow acts as his avatar.  Only in the early draft did it have a name: Dark Wind (originality? Are you there? It’s me, Serena).  Its present day incarnation does not have a name.  It serves Hadrian faithfully, be it as a tool or servant.  Very rarely does it separate from him, for through it he has a consistent source of darkness.  This enables him to withstand direct sunlight better than Braeden, though the chance for scarring still exists.  On the other hand, its reluctance to part with him also prevents him from detecting nearby kin.

Another non power related ability he has is his hypnotic aura.  When he walks into a room, women- and men- take notice.  This aura has only convinced his followers that he is Jett reincarnated.


  Hadrian is close to his mother, Sable, for they share the same ambition and goals.  She has made him her champion of their cause, which has inflated an already elevated sense of self-worth.  He does not care for the rest of his family, seeing them only as pawns in the greater game, and definitely has no love for Braeden.  He perceives Braeden as worthless, and undeserving of the rank of Shadow tamer.  He has no care for the other elements, either.  They’re all enemies to him.  Women are his conquests, and he is almost always surrounded by admirers.

In Conclusion

Hadrian is, by all definitions, a villain, a role far better suited to him than romantic rival.  This is not the kind of person you want to meet in a dark alley.  He inspires fear in his enemies, admiration in his allies.  His arrogance is also his weakness, though he would be hard pressed to see it, let alone admit to it.  While there were times when Hadrian eluded and/or frustrated me as a writer, his character is a challenge I have accepted gladly.  While Braeden represents their people’s conflict, Hadrian is all they aspire to be, and will become again.

I hope you have enjoyed this peek into Hadrian’s persona.  I just wish I had more images to go along with it.  Sadly, capturing him on paper sometimes proved as elusive as writing him.  Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to read The Shadow Conflict for more!



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