The recently tailored robes fit, but Hadrian felt a stranger in them.
He’d stared at his reflection for a long time after initially donning the white, examining the boy in the polished silver who was no longer a boy at all, but a man.
Men in Ostium were considered mature enough to vote at the age of fifteen, and to serve in nearly any position of power by the age of seventeen. At eighteen years old, Hadrian was expected to fulfill his role as Senator, and to perform as aptly as his father had.
But Hadrian was not his father.
That much was clear by his appearance alone. Hadrian had contemplated this at length when he’d first put on the official robes, the clothing which all Senators wore to distinguish themselves from the commoners. His were white with green stitching, and fastened above his heart was his family’s sigil—a gleaming, silver serpent coiled around itself.
It may have been the same fabric which had once been draped around his father’s shoulders, but Hadrian Horatius could not have looked more different than Manius Horatius.
Manius had been tall and olive-skinned, a handsome man with smooth, auburn hair, broad shoulders, and a confidence that radiated about him. He was personable and friendly, an excellent speaker. Even those who despised him could not deny that he was charismatic, and probably hated him all the more for it.
Hadrian had inherited none of these traits.
He was nearly as short as his mother, with a thin frame and Lucia’s porcelain skin. His black hair was riddled with cowlicks, causing it to stick up on unevenly and giving one the impression that he had permanently just stepped out of a windstorm.
And all of this, perhaps, could have been tolerable. Hadrian might not have been so concerned with his appearance if the abnormalities ceased there… but then there were his eyes.
One was brown, a normal and benign hue. The other was not.
Hadrian’s right eye was a mixture of mottled colors, golden-orange near the center and a vivid, emerald green along the perimeter. His mother always said they reminded her of sunflowers and clover fields, or marigolds thriving within their foliage.
This iris alone was the single feature Hadrian had inherited from his father.
Excerpt from a continuing story of mine, Only Power.