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Mother, young Emilio had asked, how can father make his chest all glowy and a sword can come out?

Mother had looked at him, pitying, her own hand clutching at the planes of her chest where nothing ever glowed and no weapon apparated anymore; Well, when you love someone very much, you get a shiny sword so you can protect them!

He had laughed, innocent, not understanding, not caring. It had not mattered then.

-/-

Demetrio, Demetrio was so good with a blade no one ever asked, but he had no warp relic to call his own. It had bled away along with Lucio's lifeblood, unwanted and unneeded, missed all the same. The anger he held close to his heart was his blade, diplomacy its sheath.

Sometimes it cut deep into him, and he felt like lashing out, but there was always Lucio's anchoring presence holding him down. He wasn't just fighting by himself anymore; he was fighting for both Lucio and himself, and fighting with all of the Ignauts, dearer to him than family. And he felt closer and closer to Lucio with every passing day now. He could almost feel his happiness at the progress they'd made.

Almost.

-/-

Felix's love was riddled with doubts like Demetrio's bullet-holes, disgust and doubt at himself driving his warp relic sometimes farther, sometimes closer to existence in the physical plane. He didn't know what his love was, he's only sixteen and filial, platonic, romantic, all the words blended into a fine cocktail that nearly knocked him out.

But he'd learned now, not to let it bother him anymore. Maybe his love was right, and maybe it was wrong, but the fact remained that it was true and wonderfully unreciprocated. So he learned, learned to pull out his likewise wonderful gleaming sliver blade in the service of the man he loved.

-/-

Eljuia loved them all with a heart so pure, a love so great that his weapon could not hurt a soul. He loved each and every one in the Ignauts; Demetrio, for the guileless interior hiding behind his tough bravado, Felix, for the purest heart and the sweetest smile, Louise, for everything she had been through and chose not to be-

But he wasn't like the others. He loved everyone, on the surface and in Endra, enemies and allies alike. He could never bring himself to put one life before another, like the rest of the Ignauts had. And so his imperfectly perfect love gave birth to his warp relic, a cloth stronger than steel, stronger than silver, with the power to protect anything and anyone he desired.

-/-

Mischa was seven, eating strawberry cakes with cherries on top when they tore down her door and slit her mother's throat in front of her eyes.

Seven monsters, seven human-shaped beasts to take out a frail woman and her even frailer child. And as they had raised the knife to her mother's throat her little chest lit itself on fire, with everything she had, every drop of love, she poured into one final cry: help.

Seven poisoned darts for seven dead fiends, thrusting into their battered skulls over and over and over and overandoverandoverandover-

-/-

Louise was never enough. Never Zoozian enough for the Zoozians, never human enough for the humans. And she didn't know, to be honest, if she wanted to be enough, if being enough meant casting away a part of herself to be like everyone else.

But her parents loved her all the same, even as injustice rained upon their door and exhaustion drove their breaths out of their bodies, they loved her, and she, a little, dirty thing, loved them back with everything she had. Even as the flimsy door to their grimy residence buckled and blows rained down upon her parents, they shielded her tiny form with their bodies, and she could do nothing but cry, weep, sob, shout-

Her love took form, a draconic blade, so animalistic in form none would ever doubt her Zoozian heritage again, so malevolent that none who hurt the ones she loved would draw breath again.

-/-

Frama remembered little of his life before the king. Hushed whispers had given him cause to believe that his parents had sold him to the king at birth, but he didn't feel anything at it. It was hard to resent someone he had never known, and he had no cause to anyways. Serving the King was his only purpose, and he was happy to be in such a trusted position by his side. Really, sometimes he felt it was too good to be true.

Bound and shackled, bitterly he realized that it had been too good to be true.

-/-

Alzerm's warp relic had been his to summon right from birth, a privilege all royals like himself and his brother had. It had nearly torn him apart with the intensity of power it gained upon evolution after meeting... him. His whole life he'd been taught that surface dwellers were dangerous, to be avoided, bewitching creatures that brought ruin wherever they went. No one had mentioned that they were this beautiful, or this clever, or this alluring.

Delzaine made him uncomfortable, these days. Truly a shame to think that the brother he had once unhesitatingly trusted his back to had grown so thickheaded. Sometimes it made Alzerm feel guilty to ignore the repeated requests of his younger brother, but… he was always there, right at the time Alzerm had those thoughts, ready with some new invention or… something more carnal.

Of course he was right. Together, surface-dweller and Endran, they would give rise to an era never before seen! All of Endra would prosper under their joined rule!

Delzaine's voice sank to the back of his mind, drowned out by other, more distracting sensations.

-/-

Delzaine just did not know for what purpose he even wielded his warp relic anymore. His brother was so captivated by the surface dweller it made his skin crawl, the kingdom was rapidly hurtling to its ruin, and there was still no heir. He did not even want to show up at court since that researcher was sure to be there, and it wasn't even like his brother would miss him. Brother had no eyes for anyone except him anymore…

But Delzaine had noticed: his brother's warp relic had changed after meeting the man. He didn't like it one bit, but he unwillingly found himself understanding. With a physical proof as strong as evolution of one's warp relic, he could only imagine how hard Brother had fallen for the man.

He didn't like it, but somewhere inside, Delzaine was glad he hadn't been the one whom fate chose to bind to the sinister surface-dweller so tightly.

-/-

Emilio, like the two royal brothers before him, was special in being able to summon his warp relic right from birth. Only after meeting Shun did it evolve, the beat of his heart thundering in his ears, the pathetic wails of the boy in front of him only aggravating the pain.

Confusion dulled his senses, doubts popped up like weeds in the lifeless garden of his heart. A boy? A human, a surface dweller? Scandalous. He would have no time even if his warp relic had triggered in response to the noblest of Endran women. For this idiot?

Well, he'd be lying if he said he'd ever thought of women in... those ways any more than he'd thought about men. He'd thought exactly zero about either. And that he wasn't about to let that change.

-/-

Shun, if this had been a game of chess, would most definitely be the queen. Able to go anywhere, anyhow, anytime. And yet his warp relic was triggered by meeting Emilio. If he had been aware of the customs, of the massive subtext behind gaining and losing a warp relic, he would have sought out an explanation, would have confronted Emilio face to face. But he wasn't, and Emilio was content to let his ignorance remain bliss. Until however long it lasted, anyway.