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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9. Chapter 9

Kaizo never wanted to live out an eternity as a hero.

But, despite his own wishes, he didn’t want anything to happen the world that heralded him as a hero.

Once mowed grass towered over him like trees, now thick stems of silver covered in thorns. Hira tried (and failed) to cut them down with her rapier, while Felica delivered them sharp whacks with her staff to carve out a path.

What did we do? he mused in his thoughts, trying to stop his rapid breathing.

He glanced towards Griffin, who fiddled with his gold-rimmed lenses with his gaze fixed on the ground. Would they reincarnate now, if they died – or did they have to fix the situation Nirvana spoke of first?

A crack echoed as Felica slammed her staff into another trunk of silver grass. Light rushed in the gap.

“Guys.” She stepped out from the forest with no trees. “You might want to see this.”

Kaizo headed over to his second-in-command and gasped.

To the east, the thick strands of grey paled into white towers, while in the west, they darkened to night black. The land ahead of them seemed untouched by the sudden… draining of colour, as did the sky and the sun.

“A ring,” Griffin mumbled, striding up to them. “A circle around the Time Shrine. White in the Daylands, black in the Nightlands.”

“…A magic release.”

Kaizo turned to Hira. “A what?”

Hira folded her arms with a sigh. “Magic is… fickle. It can’t be absorbed. My assumption here is the magic required to reincarnate you two was released, and Goddess Nirvana couldn’t take the power back.”

“And she didn’t tell us this?” Felica scowled.

Hira nodded.

Griffin crouched, staring at the ground. “The… stuff is spreading.”

Five pairs of eyes whipped to him.

“Just the colour, for the moment.” Griffin gestured to a sliver of silver trickling across the plain. “But I guess the grass will lengthen soon. We should go, before it does.”

“Go?” Kaizo raised an eyebrow. “Go where? What if this… stuff covers everywhere?”

Silence.

“We need to find where the magic gathers,” Hira said. “The source, so to speak.”

“And where will that be?” Felica asked.

Hira shrugged.

“Idea.” Aynos pointed in the distance. “Magical pulses. Source, perhaps?”

Kaizo looked in the direction the scientist pointed in. Faint but visible rings thumped out to the south – from his estimates, the middle of the canyon’s bottom end.

Right where Canyon Castle once stood.

“What are you talking about?” Griffin fiddled with his glasses, squinting. “Ugh, stupid vision…”

“Sorry, but we’re not experts on eyesight,” Kaizo said. “Can you teleport us to the canyon?”

Griffin frowned, but brought out one of his tomes and flicked through the pages. “Maybe.”

“Maybe?”

“The magic source might not let me.” Griffin stopped on a section and muttered some nonsensical words.

Nothing happened.

“…No, I can’t. The best I can do is maybe half-way.”

Felica sighed. “Well, if we want to stop whatever the magic does, we should get as close as possible and walk the rest of the way.”

“But my poor feet…!”

No one responded.

Griffin groaned. “Come on, you got blisters too, right?”

Kaizo just sighed.

Griffin scoffed. “Jerks. Fine, let’s go.”

 

***

 

What have we done?

He hadn’t known what to expect from Canyon Castle’s ruins, not with the supposed ‘magic source’ thumping away.

On the other hand, some ideas never crossed his mind – such as the phenomenon of the scene in front of him.

A perfect balance of the Light and Dark Shrines, constructed in a cathedral-like structure, one side raven black and the other stainless white.

“The Shrines,” Griffin breathed. “They merged…”

“It’s logical,” Hira murmured. “Part of your reincarnation cycle, and the symbols of light and darkness. A balance, so to speak.”

“This is no balance,” Sonnet said. “It’s… crazy.”

“Agreed. I speak from the magic’s… um, view. Sort of.”

Sonnet sighed. “That makes no sense.”

“I know. But this doesn’t make sense to begin with.”

“Stop with your philosophical ramblings.” Felica strode forward, tapping her staff into the dirt underneath. “I’m more concerned about how we beat magic.”

“We don’t ‘defeat’ it,” Hira replied. “We subdue it so Goddess Nirvana and absorb the magic and fix this.”

Kaizo bit his lip. From Aynos’s estimates, the ‘decolourisation’ (as he dubbed the silver grass) would be at the northern end of the canyon – if they failed, it could spread.

Could crops survive in that… thing? Food? People?

He swallowed and shoved the thoughts away.

“Same thing,” Felica said. “Defeat, subdue, same job.”

A white arrow whizzed from the shrine towards Felica. She dodged.

Kaizo’s gaze whipped to the source.

Sonnet stood on the roof. Yet, it wasn’t Sonnet – rather, a mould of Sonnet, made of pure light.

The real Sonnet gasped. “W-What?!”

Light Sonnet nocked another two arrows into her ivory bow and fired. Griffin ducked, while Kaizo side-stepped, unsheathing his dagger.

“Can you shoot her?” he asked Sonnet.

Sonnet threaded an arrow into her own wooden bow, gaze trained her other self. “Yes, I think. B-But why does she look like me?!”

“Magic,” Hira said. “Perhaps we need to fight clones of ourselves. It makes sense here, because I can’t reach the light version of you from here.”

Sonnet fired with a nod.

The arrow missed as the clone dodged.

Sonnet sighed. “If I can stop her moving, that is. Otherwise I can’t shoot her.”

Kaizo frowned. “Griffi, paralyse the clone thing.”

“But I’m exhausted as hell, and –”

“JUST DO IT!”

Griffin flinched and pulled out a spell book as the Light Sonnet fired another arrow, which Hira cut in two with her rapier.

“Found one.” Griffin chanted an incantation.

Light Sonnet stopped, flickers of yellow flashing in the air around her.

The real Sonnet fired.

Something smashed the projectile into the ground as Griffin’s spell dissipated.

Kaizo gaped.

A shadowy version of Aynos stood in front of the archer’s clone, metallic shield in hand.

The real Aynos stared. “H-How…?”

“Well, they’re both long-range,” Hira said. “Felica and I will look for a way up to attack.”

Aynos shook his head. “If he has any of my chemicals, he’s deadly. Range is not a concern – I can’t fight up close due to preparations, but the time it would take you to get up there…”

“And the time it takes for you to lecture us!” Felica snapped. “Come on. We’re no help here, Hira. Perhaps we’ll defeat any other clones early.”

Hira sighed. “She makes a good point. Sorry, but there’s nothing we can do.”

The two dodged another pair of arrows from the Light Sonnet, and headed off inside the shrine.

“…We’re screwed,” Griffin said.

“But,” Sonnet said, “Aynos, calling yourself ‘deadly’ makes you sound more like an actual mad scientist.”

Aynos glared. “Sane.”

A flask arced above them.

Sonnet shot the vial. Violet liquid spilled out, but the group avoided the chemicals.

“Poison,” Aynos said. “See? Problem.”

He paused. “…No, idea. Moment.”

Kaizo folded his arms, fingering the hilt of his dagger. “What’s the plan?”

Aynos pointed at the archer clone. “Distract her.”

He waved towards the Shadow Aynos. “Hey! Mad scientist!”

Shadow Aynos spun towards his counterpart, eyes narrowing.

“What in the world are you doing?!” Kaizo demanded.

Aynos sidestepped an arrow from Light Sonnet. “He hates being called a mad scientist just as much as I do.”

Griffin frowned, but gave a slow nod. “Huh… that’s pretty clever. Using your own weakness against the… thing.”

He snapped open his book to another page and recited an incantation.

Bursts of fire shot out from his fingers. Sonnet’s clone dodged, while Aynos’s deflected the blast with his shield.

Griffin scowled.

“You’re a coward!” Aynos yelled. “Crazy and mad! Prove yourself sane and come down here and fight! She won’t believe in you if you act like this!”

Shadow Aynos’s shield shot through the air like a bullet.

A spell from Griffin smashed into the disc. The shield flew backwards and sliced through the shadow.

Aynos’s clone vanished, and Sonnet’s didn’t get the chance to dodge as the makeshift projectile cut her down.

“…Are they gone?” Sonnet asked. “Any more?”

Kaizo shook his head. “Doesn’t look like it. But hey, Aynos… who’s ‘she’?”

“My girlfriend. Strict woman, her. Doesn’t approve of me staying out of fights, but she understands. Mostly.”

Kaizo stared. “You have a girlfriend?”

Aynos flushed red and instead headed off the entrance.

“Well, we should find Hira and Felica,” Sonnet said.

“I have a question.” Griffin paused, folding his arms. “Why didn’t you have to expose your clone’s weakness?”

“Aynos did,” Sonnet answered. “I underestimated him and his prowess, so his actions there caught my light version unprepared.”

Griffin nodded. “Ah, that makes sense.”

“Come on!” Aynos called from ahead.

Kaizo shrugged. “We should go.”

“…Yes.” Sonnet smiled. “We can do this, right? Stop this?”

“Uh-huh.” Kaizo flicked his dagger into the air and caught the hilt. “Let’s go. Final showdown. Sorta.”

Griffin raised an eyebrow. “And if we find clones of Hira and Felica?”

“Stop being nit-picky!”

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