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 6 of our ongoing feature.
Seeing Maleficent's demise, Riku returns and is bemused by the irony of the Heartless using her. All along, they had been slowly eating away at her heart, but she never noticed and paid the price. He beckons them deeper into the castle where Sora finds the unfinished portal and Kairi’s unconscious body. He runs to her, but Riku once again confirms that she lost her heart. Without it, the portal cannot be completed. It’s then that Sora realizes that Riku is not himself anymore. He begs the presence to give Riku back his heart but the being refuses. Instead, he reveals that Kairi’s heart has been inside Sora’s all along, safely tucked away thanks to Aqua’s spell.
The presence possessing Riku finally tells Sora that he is actually Ansem, Seeker of Darkness. He goes to strike Sora and steal Kairi’s heart, but Kairi’s voice alerts him and he blocks the blow. Sora swears to protect her heart and the two engage in a one-on-one duel that he manages to win. As Riku/Ansem reels from his wounds, Sora takes the opportunity to seal the portal which leads to this world's keyhole, but it fails. Without Kairi’s heart the door is still too unstable. Realizing that there is only one choice left to save Kairi, Sora takes the dark Keyblade and turns it on himself with one last smile. Meeting Sora’s heart destroys the Keyblade and returns the princesses stolen hearts back to their bodies at the cost of his own. Kairi tries to go to him, but he disappears into light at her touch. His friends call after him but he’s gone.
It’s at this moment that the true from of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, appears, having overtaken Riku’s body. Donald and Goofy try to protect Kairi as Ansem approaches, but he’s stopped by Riku, who is fighting for control of his own body. He uses the interruption to tell them to run as the Heartless are coming and the three of them take the opportunity. A lone Shadow Heartless watches as they run. It’s similar to the others yet acts differently. It follows after them but never attacks. It’s then that Kairi realizes that this Heartless is actually Sora. More Heartless appear and though Donald and Goofy try to hold them off, they swarm on Kairi. She hugs Sora’s Heartless swearing to protect him. The two are then covered in light as Sora regains his human body and heart. Sora thanks Kairi for saving him before they escape from Hollow Bastion.
Unknown to all of them, it’s at this point that a boy named Roxas and a girl named Naminé are created. What many in the world do not know is that when a person loses their heart to the Heartless, their hearts and bodies separate. The heart becomes the vessel for the Heartless and endlessly seeks more hearts, which create the bigger versions. The empty body then becomes a new monster known as a Nobody. However, only those with strong wills can maintain this form. There is also one other form of Nobody, a form that only comes into being with the strongest of wills. If that occurs then they can retain their human appearance though they still contain no heart. Even though they possess bodies, it’s as if they don’t exist.
Roxas was born because of Sora’s sacrifice and is able to maintain his human form due to Sora’s inherent strong will. However, because Sora was able to quickly return to his human form, Roxas has no memories of his past. Another strange aspect to him is that he doesn’t look like Sora, instead he has taken the form of Ventus, who has been residing within Sora’s heart all this time. He is found in a world known as Twilight Town by another Nobody named Xemnas, leader of a group of humanoid Nobodies called Organization XIII. Xemnas provides Roxas with his name (rearranging the letters in his original name and adding an ‘X’, like all members) and promises to provide him answers to his past if he joins the Organization. Nearly comatose from the ordeal of being created, Roxas agrees.
Naminé is also found by Organization XIII within Castle Oblivion, but she is vastly different from every other Nobody. She was also born when Sora used the dark keyblade to free his and Kairi’s hearts. Rather than just being the leftover body from her human form becoming a Heartless, Naminé was formed from Kairi’s heart and Sora’s body and soul. It is impossible for Kairi to become a Heartless because she is a Princess of Heart and therefore has no darkness within her. Because of this, Naminé also has no memories of her life as Kairi but has been granted extremely unique powers. The Organization has plans for these powers and keeps her locked away in the upper floors of Castle Oblivion.
Switching back to Sora’s struggle against Ansem, the group returns to Traverse Town where they explain to Leon everything that happened. With the portal still open, Heartless have been pouring into Hollow Bastion. Sora knows he needs to return to not only lock the door but save Riku. Before leaving, Sora and Kairi talk, and he vows to get their lost friend back. Kairi is unsure if anything will ever be the same between them, but Sora reminds her that it was her heart’s light that guided him back from the depths of darkness. Kairi begs him to take her along, but Sora can’t risk putting her in danger. He reminds her that their hearts will always be connected no matter where they are. She relents and gives him a star-shaped lucky charm (reminiscent of the Wayfinders that Aqua made for herself, Terra, and Ventus) that he has to give back to her one day. He promises to return to her.
In a world of nothing but darkness, Riku is struggling to hold onto his light. He wants to see Sora and Kairi at least one more time. It’s then that he hears a kind voice that tells him he will rescue him soon. The voice had been trying to talk to him all along, but his heart had been covered by darkness. Now, Riku has conquered the darkness in his heart, but he is too weakened to recover his body. Riku asks what he should do and the voice responds that two keys and two hearts are needed on each side of a certain door in order to close it. The voice believes that they can fulfill these conditions together. Riku is relieved at these words and goes off to meet this voice.
Before making their journey to Hollow Bastion, Sora and his friends discover that Pinocchio and Gepetto were able to safely escape Monstro’s body as well. They’re now living in a temporary house within Traverse Town. Happy that they’re both safe, they arrive in Hollow Bastion and meet up with Beast. He tells them that Belle and the other princesses are still inside of their own will for some unknown purpose. They meet the girls in the castle library. Belle tells them that the darkness within the portal is raging and their hearts are the only thing holding it back. But time is running out as the girls’ strength is waning. They also tell him that Ansem passed through the door with a delighted smile on his face.
In the same room they fought Maleficent’s dragon form, they are approached by a figure in a hooded black cloak. He remarks Sora’s similarity to Roxas though he never says the newly born Nobody’s name. When Sora demands to know what he’s talking about, the figure fires a stream of dark energy at the boy that is just barely deflected. Bemused, the figure (secretly Xemnas) points out that Sora is incomplete and desires to test his power in this state. A fight breaks out that pushes Sora to his limit, but he’s able to survive. However, Xemnas isn’t damaged at all and states that they will doubtlessly meet again. Sora again asks who he is, but Xemnas remains cryptic and states he is merely a shell.
Sora pushes the incident from his mind and reaches the portal. Before he can go through, he discovers that Leon, Yuffie, and Aerith have also come to Hollow Bastion and reveal that it was their childhood home. Though it is a mess now, it and all the other worlds that disappeared should be restored when Ansem is defeated. Taking their words to heart, Sora goes through the portal, finds Hollow Bastion’s keyhole, and locks it. The darkness is now cut off and begins to weaken. Thankful, the princesses of heart tell him that Hollow Bastion is now safe but a deeper darkness is growing elsewhere. This is likely where Ansem has gone. Once he is defeated, not only will the worlds be restored, but all the people of those worlds will be brought back immediately.
The final battle upon him, Sora reaches a point known only as the End of the World. It is a place where fragmented pieces of the other worlds have gathered and been encased in darkness. The Heartless are at their strongest here as it can be considered their home world. They push forward until their way is blocked by Chernabog (from Fantasia’s Night on Bald Mountain). Defeating the demon opens a path deeper into the world until they reach a final door. Opening it, Sora finds himself back on Destiny Islands.
However, as Ansem’s words echo throughout the world, pieces of the island gradually disappear until only the beachfront remains. They find Ansem on the shore, and he explains that it was Riku’s desperation to reach other worlds that opened his heart to darkness. Ansem’s body has completely overshadowed Riku’s by this point, and he exposits that since all things begin and end in darkness then that is the heart’s true desire. Sora denies that idea and claims that though hearts may be weak at times, they all contain a light deep within. A fight begins between the two, but Ansem runs off before Sora can finish him.
Destiny Islands begins to break apart as a massive Heartless appears. Sora is separated from Donald and Goofy and must fight it alone, but he prevails. Not giving the boy a chance to rest, Ansem immediately goes on the attack again. Sora is able to keep up with Xehanort’s Heartless and forces him back once again. Destiny Islands falls away until Sora, Donald, and Goofy are floating in a completely black void. Within this endless abyss is the door to darkness. Behind that door is the heart of all worlds: Kingdom Hearts. Ansem unleashes all of his power and transforms into a massive creature. However, Sora is able to pinpoint Ansem’s weakness in this form and, together with Donald and Goofy, defeat Ansem once and for all.
Dying, Xehanort’s Heartless begs Kingdom Hearts to fill him with the power of supreme darkness. The door to darkness begins to open and dark tendrils begin pouring through. But once again Sora declares that Kingdom Hearts is filled with light. At that moment, the tendrils disappear and Ansem is flooded with light from the source of all hearts. His body is finally destroyed, but the door to darkness remains open. Inside, blocking much of the light that Kingdom Hearts emanates are hordes of giant Heartless that begin to awaken. They have to close the door if the worlds are to be safe again.
But Sora, Donald, and Goofy can’t even make the door budge. All appears lost until Riku appears, back in control of his own body. He swears that together they can close the door though he appears on the opposite side. As Heartless prepare to attack Riku, King Mickey finally appears with a Keyblade in hand. He tells Sora that they have to close the door together, but Sora doesn’t want to trap them on that side. Mickey reassures him that there will always be a door to the light. Riku asks Sora to take care of Kairi as the door closes him in with King Mickey. Then, using their Keyblades in conjunction, Sora and Mickey seal the door to darkness.
The worlds begin to restore themselves themselves immediately, and Sora sees Kairi appear on a section of Destiny Islands. He cannot reach her though as he is pulled back into the land of the abyss. He promises once again to return to her, and she admits that she knows he will. Kairi can’t help but cry as the lights from all worlds begin to reform. It’s then that Destiny Islands returns to its former place and all the residents are restored to their proper homes. Lost in thoughts of Sora, Kairi visits their old secret place and sees the drawing of him giving her a paopu fruit. She then adds to the picture with her giving him one as well.
As the worlds pop back into existence, friends from all over reunite. Cloud returns to Hollow Bastion and meets up with Aerith, Pinocchio is able to become a real boy, and finally Jasmine and Aladdin kiss and become a couple. However, Sora finds himself in an endless green field with Donald and Goofy. They have no idea where they are with the only option to keep walking down the path they're on. Still, they are determined to find Riku and Mickey no matter how long it may take. It’s then that they encounter Pluto, who is holding onto a letter from King Mickey. They give chase with renewed hope of finding their friends again.
With the worlds safe from Xehanort's Heartless, things return to normal for everyone except the Organization. Days have passed and Roxas has gained more cognition since his creation. He is officially brought into the Organization as its 13th member. It is there that he is introduced to the other members of the group. Number 1 is Xemnas, Nobody of Xehanort though his name is derived from the stolen one of Ansem the Wise. He is also the leader of the Organization. Number 2 is Xigbar, Nobody of Braig, who helped Xehanort with his plans for Terra ten years ago. Number 3 is Xaldin, Nobody of Dilan, who was one of Ansem the Wise’s apprentices. Number 4 is Vexen, Nobody of Even and another of Ansem’s apprentices. Number 5 is Lexaeus, Nobody of Aeleus and former apprentice. Number 6 is Zexion, Nobody of Ienzo who was the last of Ansem’s apprentices. Number 7 is Saïx, Nobody of Isa, who Ventus met in Radiant Garden ten years ago. Number 8 is Axel, Nobody of Lea who became friends with Ventus through an impromptu duel. Numbers 9, 10, 11, and 12 are Demyx, Luxord, Marluxia, and Larxene respectively, and no one knows who they were when they were still human. The reason for the ‘X’ in each of their names is actually a sly callback by Xemnas to Xehanort’s goal of creating the “Kye”-blade which was represented by a curved ‘X’.
Roxas learns that Organization XIII’s goal is to call forth Kingdom Hearts and use its power to give them back their hearts. To do that, they hunt down the Heartless and destroy them in order to feed their captured hearts to Kingdom Hearts and draw it to their world. After the meeting, Roxas is called to the Realm of Darkness by Xemnas. Roxas still has no memories of his life as a human or why he is able to wield a Keyblade. Xemnas reveals to him that he met his human form not too long ago, and that they share a resemblance to one another. Roxas still cannot remember his human name until Xemnas tells him of Sora. If Roxas stays with the Organization and uses his Keyblade to harvest the stolen hearts of the Heartless, he will learn his purpose.
Roxas may not understand why he can wield the Keyblade, but it is because of his connection with Sora. Unknown to both him and Sora is the fact that they are incomplete without each other. However this link allows Roxas to experience real human emotions despite lacking a heart, something that no other Nobody can do. A week passes with Roxas still quiet and almost vacant, but Xemnas has called all of them to the meeting room known as the Round Room. It is an important occasion as the 14th member of the Organization, Xion, is introduced. Xion says nothing and doesn’t reveal what’s beneath the cloak, choosing instead to keep secret. The others observe this new recruit with varying degrees of interest, but Roxas finds himself intrigued.
The next day, Roxas is sent on his first mission with Axel acting as his guide. Using portals known as Dark Corridors, they travel to Twilight Town where Axel teaches Roxas mission basics. The two begin to bond as Roxas slowly comes out of his vacant state. To celebrate a job well done, Axel invites Roxas to the top of the giant clock tower in the center of town where they eat sea-salt ice cream. His next mission is with Marluxia who teaches him about combat and the Heartless. Throughout the mission, Marluxia displays a strange fascination with Keyblade and the things that can be done with its power. Roxas still doesn’t quite understand the concept of a heart or why Kingdom Hearts matters, but is thankful to finally have a purpose.
Over the next couple of days he is paired with Zexion, Larxene, Vexen, and Lexaeus. He learns a bit about each of their personalities as well as more about the Organization. All of them note his importance because of his Keyblade, but many view him with contempt for his seemingly slow-witted nature. With his grasp of his duty within the Organization becoming clearer, he is again paired with Axel. They complete the mission and talk about returning to base when three of the kids that live in town run by. There’s two boys, Hayner and Pence, and a young girl named Olette. Roxas is confused by their displays of friendship despite Axel attempts to describe it to him. He then suggests that they grab sea-salt ice cream together because they are friends as well. As they eat the ice cream together on top of the clock tower, Axel suggests they meet up there again after their next mission.
As the days pass, the other Organization members begin recognizing that Roxas has grown competent and less spaced out. He has even created a routine where after each mission, he and Axel watch the sunset in Twilight Town while eating ice cream. They rarely talk but enjoy each other’s company just the same. But after a couple days, Axel informs Roxas that he’s going to gone for a while. He, Marluxia, Larxene, Vexen, Lexaeus, and Zexion are all being sent on a special mission to Castle Oblivion, a secondary castle that belongs to the Organization in the world between worlds. The same castle that used to be the Land of Departure until Aqua hid the sleeping Ventus within it. Axel leaves to prepare while Roxas eats his ice cream alone. However, he finds the word “WINNER” on his popsicle stick. Not sure what it means, he tucks it away to ask Axel later.
Saïx meets Axel on the outer edge of their base with a message from Xemnas. He tells them that they have reason to believe that one or more of the Organization members going to Castle Oblivion intends to betray them. It’s his mission to discover who they are and eliminate them. Saïx leaves Axel and returns to the mission room where Roxas rushes in looking for Axel. Saïx tells him that he’s already left much to Roxas’s disappointment. He wanted to ask what he had won. It would have to wait until Axel’s return.
The story continues tomorrow with Sora's discovery of Castle Oblivion and the beginning of the Organization's true threat. Be sure to keep up by reading Parts 1-5 of the Timeline:
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