The Complete Kingdom Hearts Timeline - Part 3: Birth of the Heartless
Derrick Bitner
July 25, 2012, 11:42 am

For six years, Kingdom Hearts fans have been waiting for the third game in the series. And now, with six games in total, the plot is a near labyrinthine mess of connections and revelations. It's with that in mind that I have decided to unravel the plot of the entire series for those who may have missed the opportunity to play some of the spin-offs and those who just want a refresher before diving into the new game. Today we explore Part 3 of our ongoing feature.


Aqua and Terra meet up in a barren clearing surrounded by thousands of rusted Keyblades. She wastes no time in asking of Eraqus’s fate, and Terra admits that Xehanort had used him to kill their Master. Aqua says nothing more on the matter, merely stating that if he came to the Keyblade Graveyard with hate and rage in his heart then Xehanort has already won. It's then that Ventus approaches them and explains Xehanort's desire for him and Vanitas to clash. Their fight would forge the “Kye”-blade, a weapon that is capable of plunging all worlds into darkness. Despite their protests, Ventus asks his friends to end his life if it appears that the blade will be created. They reluctantly agree when Xehanort and Vanitas finally appear, confident that the “Kye”-blade would soon be theirs. 


An intense battle breaks out with Terra charging at Xehanort but the Master soon proves that he was hiding much of his power. With a twitch of his finger, he creates a whirling vortex containing a mix of the earth and the long-forgotten Keyblades. Terra struggles to break through but it proves impossible. Yet in the confusion, Ventus had crept up behind Xehanort and attempts to strike. With a mere twist of his body, the Master dodges the attack and catches Ventus in his grasp. As Ventus struggles to free himself, Xehanort uses a Blizzard spell to turn the boy to ice and throws him over a cliff. Aqua rushes to save Ventus from the fall while Xehanort transforms his Keyblade into a ball of dark energy before sending it skyward, breaking apart the thick clouds to reveal Kingdom Hearts. 


This elusive portal is believed to be many things, from the essence of all light to the lair of true darkness to the heart of all worlds. No one is exactly sure, but most believe that it is the aggregate of all hearts. But the true Kingdom Hearts is difficult to summon as it requires a massive amount of hearts in a single place while having a special person open a hidden door. As such, it is likely that this Kingdom Hearts is not the true one. However, Xehanort believes that if he can forge the “Kye”-blade then its power will summon the true Kingdom Hearts.


To further drive Terra toward the darkness, Braig arrives with orders to kill Aqua. He is now sporting an eyepatch and a scar from his earlier battle with Terra but appears no worse for wear. Despite his considerable strength, Braig is defeated by Aqua, and he is forced to slip away before she can finish him. But as Braig leaves, Vanitas appears before her. Terra struggles to return to his friends side but Xehanort blocks him at every turn, making it impossible for him to turn his attention away from the battle at hand. With Ventus still frozen and only able to watch events helplessly, Aqua is forced to face Vanitas alone, but he proves too powerful. As he knocks her out, Ventus's pure fury finally frees him from his frozen prison. He attacks his dark half and is able to emerge victorious, but that proves to be exactly what Xehanort had wanted. Vanitas reveals that with his body disappearing, he and Ventus would merge within one body once again.



His mask dissolves, revealing that he has the same face as an older Sora. Though no one realizes it at the time, the reason for his appearance is because it had been Sora who had merged his heart with Ventus's back when he was comatose on Destiny Islands. Even though Vanitas and Ventus's bodies were apart, they are still connected and Vanitas drew upon Sora's heart to form his face and voice. It’s also unveiled that Vanitas has been the source of all Unversed from the very beginning. Ventus tries to resist the fusion, but he is pinned by an unending horde of Unversed. Despite his efforts, the two sides merge creating a massive burst of energy that sends an enormous burst of light skyward.


Terra and Xehanort break from their battle when they see the pillar. Xehanort is filled with devilish glee for he knows that the “Kye”-blade had been forged. He then uses his Keyblade on himself to release his own heart. Terra is shocked that he would do this until Xehanort's heart forces itself into his body. Despite his resistance, Xehanort quickly takes full control of Terra though the boy hadn't given up completely. His heart reaches out to his discarded armor and forces it to take form. The armor and Terra's body fight one final battle with Xehanort overwhelmed by Terra's strength of heart. He passes out though he still has control over Terra's body.


At the bottom of the cliff, Aqua awakens in Mickey’s arms. He sadly points toward Ventus’s body whose hand clutches the now-forged “Kye”-blade. There is little left of Ventus anymore. His body had been taken over by Vanitas. She desperately struggles to fight against Vanitas, but it isn’t enough. In a final desperate act, she clutches her Wayfinder and remembers the many good times she had shared with her friends and all the people she had met on her journey. As she does, light fills her Keyblade and she brings it down upon the “Kye”-blade. To Vanitas’s amazement, cracks began to form along the evil Keyblade and a torrent of dark energy flows forth. Everything in the immediate area is swallowed by this energy with only Mickey able to barely avoid it. As the energy subsides, Kingdom Hearts vanishes along with Terra's body, leaving only his motionless armor behind.


Inside his own heart, Ventus discovers that the “Kye”-blade was not yet finished and his union with Vanitas is not complete. The sides of darkness and light clash yet again with Ventus seeking to destroy the “Kye”-blade once and for all and Vanitas seeking to complete the merger. However, if the blade is destroyed then Ventus will lose his heart completely. Wanting only to protect his friends, Ventus defeats his dark half without a second thought to the consequences. The “Kye”-blade and Ventus's Keyblade begin to disintegrate while Vanitas’s essence disappears forever. Satisfied that his friends would be safe, Ventus calmly accepts his fate.


In the aftermath of the great battle, Mickey finds Ventus and Aqua’s unconscious bodies in the space between worlds and brings them back to Yen Sid’s tower. When Aqua awakens, she finds Ventus sleeping nearby, but he doesn't respond to her calls. His heart has been fractured once again though this time the boy may sleep for all eternity unless it can somehow be repaired. Yen Sid believes that should his friends believe in their bond then his heart will eventually follow them back to the light. Taking heart in those words, Aqua sets out to find the missing Terra.



Aqua first heads to a world that Ventus unconsciously guides her. She hopes that it is a place that he can sleep safely. It turns out to be the ruins of the Land of Departure. Shocked to see her home in such a state, Aqua takes hold of Master Eraqus’s Keyblade and remembers a lesson he had once taught her. Using his Keyblade, she locks the land away with Ventus safely tucked inside a hidden chamber while resting upon a pure white throne. The Land of Departure transforms into a place known only as Castle Oblivion. Promising to return to him someday with Terra, Aqua goes on the next part of her journey.


She hears Terra’s voice asking her to put an end to him, and she follows it to Radiant Garden. There, she meets the now white-haired Terra who seems to have no memory of his past. He is completely consumed by an immense darkness which declares that Terra’s light has been extinguished. Aqua doesn’t believe him and engages him in battle. She wins this final battle and sees signs that Terra is not truly gone. He fights to regain control, but Xehanort turns his Keyblade on himself in order to expel Terra once and for all. Instead, a pool of darkness spills forth and consumes him. Aqua dives into the darkness to save him but soon realizes that only one of them could return. Sacrificing herself, she sends Terra’s body back to the realm of light with a boost from her armor and Keyblade. As she falls further into the Realm of Darkness, her last thoughts are of Ventus and the promise that she will one day wake him.


Back on Destiny Islands, Sora and Riku are staring at the night sky when Sora realizes that he’s crying for no reason. Riku believes that someone out there may be hurting to such a great degree that it’s calling out to someone for help. Sora wants to know if there’s any way to help this person, and Riku suggests that he may just need to open his heart and listen. Sora does so and his heart connects with Ventus’s for a second time. Until his fractured heart can be restored, the remains of Ventus's heart will rest inside Sora.


Within Radiant Garden, Braig leads a man named Ansem the Wise, the ruler of this world, to a man who had collapsed in the square. They find Aqua’s armor and Keyblade nearby, the only remnants of her existence. Ansem asks the dazed man his name. Delirious, he merely replies, “Xehanort.” Braig flashes a knowing smile at these words though Ansem does not see this reaction. Instead, he decides to take the young man in and care for him. 


Meanwhile, Aqua is utterly exhausted from her travels through the darkness. Strange monsters are constantly attacking and she is losing the will to go on. It is then that two beams of light emerge and take the form of Terra and Ventus’s keyblades. They quickly dispatch the monsters and help Aqua realize that her friends had found her even in the darkness. Somehow she had discovered light in the deepest darkness. Terra has also not been completely lost to the darkness. Deep within himself, he faces the old body of Xehanort. He’s too weak to fight, but just strong enough that he won't completely disappear. Xehanort is confident that he will eventually consume all of Terra, but Terra is just as confident that he’ll be free of the Master someday. Xehanort reminds him of his patience and lets Terra know that his body is merely one of many plans he had laid.



As time passes, the new body of Xehanort becomes one of the apprentices of Ansem the Wise though he has seemingly lost all of his memories. Along with Xehanort, Ansem has five other apprentices: Braig, Dilan, Even, Aeleus, and Ienzo. Together, they all use his vast resources to research the heart and darkness in the hope of protecting Radiant Garden. Eventually Ansem proposes conducting an experiment on the heart and Xehanort volunteers to be the subject. Ever since taking him in, Ansem has been impressed with his intellectual curiosity and and deep wisdom. Ansem still has some reservations though as Xehanort may be too talented, too brilliant in this research.


In order to facilitate the experiments, Ansem constructs a laboratory in the basement of his castle as all of his apprentices become enraptured by the study. However, he soon learns that his apprentices are taking the experiments too far and conducting inhumane research on people’s hearts. The research is immediately ceased and Ansem the Wise seals off the laboratory before sinking into a deep depression due to his initial experimentation on Xehanort. His unease is lifted though at the arrival of King Mickey who, in the passing years, had discovered a new way to travel between worlds. He had named it a Gummi Ship, and it was constructed of fallen meteors. 


Mickey and Ansem the Wise become fast friends and spend countless hours talking about the different worlds. When Mickey learns of the research that Ansem had done, he warns his friend of the possible consequences. Taking his warning to heart, Ansem attempts to destroy his laboratory completely but, to his horror, discovers a series of reports bearing his name that weren't written by him. Instead, they had been penned by Xehanort. Ansem soon learns that Xehanort had convinced all of the apprentices to help him with his unethical experiments. Delving so deep into darkness brings about awful consequences, namely the creation of an entirely new being, the Heartless. They are the physical manifestations of the darkness within people's hearts and behave entirely without emotions. These creatures came in two forms: Purebloods and Emblems. Purebloods are naturally occurring Heartless while Emblems are those created artificially by Xehanort's experimentation.


The darkness has also driven all of the apprentices, save Xehanort, insane and they banish Ansem the Wise to the same Realm of Darkness that Aqua had found herself in. Consumed by the need for vengeance, Ansem discards his stolen name and takes on the mantle of Darkness in Zero, or DiZ. He eventually gains the powers of darkness and uses them to keep an eye on  Xehanort. He learns that the Heartless eventually escaped his former castle and lay waste to Radiant Garden. He also learns of the fate of his former apprentices and the fact that Xehanort  had turned himself into a Heartless though it maintained a human form. Since humans could not hope to control the Heartless, Xehanort had sacrificed his body to gain this power. Xehanort's Heartless takes the name Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, for himself. While he begins formulating a new plan for conquering Kingdom Hearts, DiZ uses his new power over darkness to escape the Realm of Darkness. He takes shelter in an abandoned mansion in a world known as Twilight Town where he plans to watch Xehanort's Heartless while preparing his own plan for revenge.



The story continues tomorrow with the start of a brand new quest, a brand new hero, and the rise of the Disney villains! Be sure to keep up by reading Parts 1 and 2 of the Timeline:


Part 1: The Three Princesses

Part 2: Xehanort's Plan

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