Broken Eternity

For centuries, Kaizo and Griffin have fought in a constant cycle of reincarnation with no end in sight. Kaizo as a hero and Griffin as a villain - figures of legend.

However, one cycle, they wake to find themselves in the wrong roles, unknowing of how they ended up in their positions and lacking memories of their former cycle. Now, they need to find out the truth and the reason behind their sudden swap.

But do they even want to know the truth? And can they ever return to their eternity fighting as hero and villain, or to the normal life they once knew?


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10. Chapter 10

They found Hira and Felica without issue, both finished dealing with their own clones by the time they reunited. The ease came because of the fact the shrine only contained one room – one with a domed roof, made of slate and with stained glass windows of varying shades of grey in a ring at the top of the wall.

“Are you serious?” Griffin asked, scowling. “Couldn’t you wait for us before you fight the penultimate battle?”

They attacked us,” Hira said. “We like living, thank you very much. And why do you say ‘penultimate’ battle?”

“Because, considering the pattern, we’ll get clones of ourselves to deal with.” Griffin flicked open a spell book. “So, you might as well be prepared for them.”

Hira hesitated. “…You do make a good point.”

Griffin smirked. “The Great Griffin is always right.”

Hira scoffed. “Too far. Too far.”

“How’d you beat the clones, anyway?” Kaizo asked.

“Her clone was too precise with her attacks and left herself open.” Felica stuck her finger at Hira. “Mine was too ‘aggressive’, as she puts it.”

An incantation suddenly rang in Griffin’s ears.

And it wasn’t him reciting the spell.

“Watch out!” he yelled.

Blasts of fire shot through the air.

The group dodged – aside from the unfortunate Kaizo, who beat at his silver ponytail, trying to smother the flames licking at his hair.

Shadows swept into the room, and strands of light followed.

A shadow version of Griffin and white mould of Kaizo formed in front of them.

Light Kaizo threw an ivory dagger towards his counterpart, while Shadow Griffin murmured another spell underneath his breath.

Kaizo deflected the flying weapon.

But a lightning bolt from Shadow Griffin pierced his shoulder. Kaizo cried out, fumbling for the projectile, but it dissipated before he could take hold.

Another dagger shot through the air. Hira slashed it into the ground, causing the blade to vanish into sparks of white.

Something shook beneath them.

Griffin didn’t get a chance to react as his counterpart finished the explosion spell.

Thick waves of heat pressed into him, singing his skin and fogging his glasses with smoke. He coughed, trying to recall a spell to help them.

Nothing.

But cycle or no, he was a villain.

A villain capable of victory.

He shouted the incantation for a rain spell. Lashes of water slammed into the explosion’s flames, falling from nowhere, and disappearing as they touched the ground.

He glanced over to his companions as the smoke drifted off.

Kaizo combed ash out of his hair, while Hira brushed the blackness off her dress. Sonnet nocked an arrow, slight markings on her flesh.

Felica spat into her hand and rubbed the saliva into a burn.

“…That’s not going to help.” Aynos swung his backpack forward and rummaged inside the fabric. “You’ll make the wound worse.”

Felica glared. “So, you’re the medic now, huh?”

“Mm-hmm. Yes, I am.”

A glimmer caught Griffin’s eyes.

Daggers swirled in the air, carried by a gale caused by his counterpart’s recitations.

He cursed.

The blades stopped, their tips pointing at Kaizo and Griffin, almost… debating their target.

They charged towards Kaizo, flying on Shadow Griffin’s winds.

Kaizo yelped and ducked. Most of the collection embedded in the cracks of the bricks forming the walls, but three diverted their course and stabbed Kaizo’s back.

They’re targeting Kaizo, Griffin realised, breath hitching in his throat. One at a time. Of course.

How… clever.

“I could use a hand here, Griffi!” Kaizo yelled, forcing himself to his feet. “You’re the hero now! Heroes help!”

“Heroes don’t help villains!”

“Oh, shut up!”

Griffin flicked through his spell book, racking his mind for a way out. His weakness – or, at least, his former weakness – had been his callousness (supposedly). Considering Aynos and Sonnet’s clones, his counterpart would have the one flaw.

The explosion.

The explosion must have hit Kaizo’s counterpart. It was too large not to.

My clone’s not afraid of hitting his allies to take us down.

And Kaizo’s flaw of incompetence means his won’t dodge most of the time.

He stopped on a page, a smirk forming.

Shadow Griffin recited another spell.

The ground shook for a second time.

Hira’s eyes widened. “Another explosion?!”

Griffin yelled out the incantation.

The flames exploded around his shield, setting the two clones of magic alight.

Kaizo staggered to him. “Why couldn’t I get a blow?” he muttered, breaths tight.

Griffin chuckled. “You might get one, rival.”

He dissolved the shields. Their counterparts flickered, fading in and out of existence.

“Ready to end this?” he asked.

Kaizo brandished his dagger. “Never been readier!”

Side by side, hero and villain lunged.

Kaizo’s blade soared through the air towards his clone, while Griffin shot a fireball towards his own.

And as they landed, their replicas vanished into sparks of light and dark, the balance remade.

 

***

 

Griffin didn’t know why he searched in a library for his old nemesis a month after the cycle’s end, but he found himself there despite the fact, scanning through the collection of books with a rucksack over one shoulder containing his own tomes of spells.

Maybe his attachment to books brought him. Or a semi-desire to avoid Kaizo entirely. He didn’t understand his own emotions, at times.

“Ah, Griffi! Found you!”

He whipped around.

Kaizo smirked back at him, tossing his dagger in cycles into the air. “Felica and Aynos are heading off, so we came to tell you.”

As if on cue, the two ‘villains’ came up to their Overlord (the mikros never got a chance to return his title, but he doubted Kaizo would give back his crown).

“I’m going back to the Nightlands,” Felica said. “Home’s home, after all.”

“Travel again,” Aynos said. “Other places to go.”

Kaizo sighed. “To be honest, I don’t want them to go, but I’m not their Overlord anymore. Not now the cycle’s over.”

The hero grinned. “But you’re staying, right? We’ll be buddies. No eternal rivalry to stop us.”

Griffin frowned.

He almost didn’t want to tell his nemesis the truth.

“…Kaizo, I’m going back to the Nightlands.”

Silence.

Kaizo’s jaw dropped. “B-But…!”

“One, it’s my homeland,” Griffin replied, trying to swallow the shakiness in his voice. “Two, why do you care? I’ve killed too many of your friends.”

“But you learn to move on!” Kaizo crossed his arms, pouting. “I’m over them now… there’s no use mourning. Plus, we couldn’t say no, not with the cycle. Right?”

Griffin bit his lip, but nodded.

“See? Come on, I want you to stay…”

Griffin shook his head. “I’m sorry, Kaizo. But my place is there, not here.”

Tears came into Kaizo’s eyes. “Oh… I-I understand.”

“You do know you can still see each other, right?”

The group whipped to Hira, who approached with Sonnet.

“Father announced the end of the cycle,” the princess explained, “so the peace treaty means you can cross the border without issue.”

Kaizo’s face lit up. “Really?!”

Hira chuckled. “Yes, you can. I’m surprised you two are so close, but I’ll take your word for it.”

“But are you sure the cycle’s over?” Sonnet asked.

Kaizo and Griffin glanced at each other.

“…Well, we can’t prove anything unless we went back to the Time Shrine,” Kaizo said. “But my gut tells me everything’s over. And at the very least, I’ll be normal for one cycle.”

Griffin nodded. “I agree with Kaizo. All we can do is trust Goddess Nirvana did as she said, considering we defeated clones of ourselves.”

“And if it’s not over?”

Kaizo shrugged. “Well, we can always try barging into the Time Shrine and demanding the truth again. But hey, where are you two going?”

“I’m ascending to Father’s throne, soon,” Hira replied. “Sonnet will be my retainer.”

The archer laced her hands together. “Yes – Hira’s my best friend, so I’m happy to serve her.”

A bell rang out through the library. Griffin glimpsed darkness descending outside – closing time, he presumed.

“Well, that’s my cue,” he said. “Felica, are you coming with me?”

Felica nodded. “Easier that way.”

Someone threw a pair of arms around his neck. “I’m… kinda glad for this, you know,” Kaizo whispered, his voice only able to be heard by Griffin. “That we swapped. We learnt things we might never have otherwise.”

Griffin smiled. “Perhaps you’re right.”

He patted Kaizo on the back, then headed off with Felica to the entrance. Aynos trotted up to them as well.

“See you!” Kaizo called, waving.

“Farewell, Griffin.” Hira curtseyed.

“Bye!” Sonnet said.

Griffin waved back, and Felica pushed open the door.

Crisp night air blew whipped around him as he headed outside.

“Question,” Aynos said. “We’re all here. If the leadership of the Nightlands was here… who signed the peace treaty Hira mentioned?”

A pause.

“…Huh.” Felica frowned. “That’s funny.”

Griffin shrugged. “Who cares? Leader probably signed. But we would have done the same, no?”

Felica hesitated. “…Sure, whatever you say.”

Griffin sighed.

But the three headed off into the night, soon becoming shadows in the horizon.

And, for the first time since the beginning of the cycles, Griffin finally felt free.

 

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