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 7 of our ongoing feature.
During all this time, Sora, Donald, and Goofy are still following the same endless path until reaching a crossroad. Since it’s dark, they decide to turn in for the night, but Sora is unable to sleep. He goes back to the crossroad where a figure in the Organization’s cloak suddenly appears before him. He tells Sora that there is something ahead that he needs but will need to lose something dear to him in order to obtain it. The figure disappears and Sora wakes his friends so that they can follow after him. They soon arrive at Castle Oblivion.
Sora enters the castle where he, Donald, Goofy, and Jiminy all remark that they believe that King Mickey and Riku are somewhere in there. They know it can’t be mere coincidence and decide to check out the castle. It’s then that the cloaked figure appears before them. They try to defend themselves, remembering the earlier encounter at Hollow Bastion, with Donald attempting to use his magic but nothing happens. This new figure tells them that as soon as they entered the castle, they forgot every ability and spell that they had learned in the course of their previous adventure. Within Castle Oblivion, to lose is to find and to find is to lose. The figure then samples Sora’s memories and creates a set of playing cards. He gives one to Sora and tells him to use it to continue onward. By using cards marked with locations, they can open the doors within the castle which simultaneously transforms the rooms into those worlds. Taking the card in hand, Sora and his friends use it on the door and walk through.
At the same time, Riku is drifting through the darkness once more but is awoken by a mysterious voice. Riku asks where King Mickey has gone, but the voice says that only he is there. Continuing on, the voice lets on that he’s been watching Riku struggle with the darkness and knows that he was too weak to overcome it. He advises Riku to just go back to sleep since it will be easier on him. Riku rebukes him, and the voice instead presents him a card with a picture of Castle Oblivion. The voice warns him that since he has chosen not to sleep then he will undoubtedly reach a truth that brings little else but pain. Confident that he can overcome this trial, Riku takes the card and appears in the bottom floor of Castle Oblivion’s basement.
As Sora and his friends arrive on the other side of the door, they discover that they're in Traverse Town. Sora wonders how this is possible when the figure in the cloak appears once again to explain that it is merely an illusion culled from his memories. The door read the memories from the card and created Traverse Town based on that data. Cards control every aspect of Castle Oblivion. Not only does traveling from room to room require them, but fighting as well. The figure explains all this to Sora before providing one last bit of information. If Sora cannot master the cards then he will never be able to progress through the castle and discover what he lost. As the cloaked Nobody disappears, Jiminy states his distrust of everything that’s happening. Sora shrugs off his worries, confident that he can handle anything, and the group begins making its way through the recreated Traverse Town.
Riku has also been granted a set of cards with his memories though the deck is much more sparse. He slowly figures out how they work and is surprised to find himself in Maleficent’s castle in Hollow Bastion. Riku believes at first that he actually is in Hollow Bastion and was brought there while he was sleeping. The voice calls to him once again and explains that it is merely an illusion created from his memory. He provides Riku the same explanation of Castle Oblivion that Sora was given. Riku grasps the concept immediately and asks if he’ll be meeting people from his memories as well. The voice responds that ordinarily that would happen but offers no further explanation.
Sora quickly learns that not only are his memories of Traverse Town being recreated, but his memories of the Heartless. He has to fight them off as he travels from room to room and finds he’s having more difficulty since losing all of his magic and abilities. It’s then that Leon appears, telling him that he should be more careful when dealing with the Heartless. Sora is shocked to see him in Castle Oblivion, but Leon has no idea who Sora is. Sora questions how that's possible, and Leon tells him not to worry about it. The strange thing is that he uses Sora’s name even though Sora never provided it. They’re both surprised by this development until Yuffie appears and explains that this must be the strange aura that Aerith was sensing. However, she doesn’t remember Sora either except for his name. All of them are confused, but they set off to meet Aerith in the hope that she can explain what’s happening.
Riku seems to be all alone in the recreation of Hollow Bastion save for the scores of Heartless that come after him. He finds nothing of interest until stumbling upon the room Maleficent had given him when he had first joined her. The voice taunts him that the memory of receiving it must have been nice, but Riku wants to forget his time with the witch. Continuing his jibes, the voice notes how Riku had thrown away his friends, his home, everything, when he was offered the darkness, but at least he got a nice room. Riku’s tone is filled with contempt as he tells the voice to shut up before quickly moving on.
When Sora and Aerith meet, she is unsure of whether to greet a new friend or welcome the return of an old one. It seems the same thing that is affecting Leon and Yuffie is happening to her as well. As they try to figure this out, they learn that they also remember things that they’ve said to Sora. It’s like they know him but have no idea who he is. Aerith suggests that maybe their memories are coming from Sora. They don’t know him, but the memories in his heart are resonating with theirs and creating this familiarity. It’s then that Sora remembers what the cloaked figure said about his memories creating this illusion. Maybe that’s why his friends can’t remember him. Still confused as to why this is happening, he decides to explore the rest of Traverse Town in the hope of finding Riku.
But Riku is far below him, still completely alone. He finally calls out to the voice and asks why he hasn’t met anyone rom his memories. The voice asks in turn if he still wants to see his friends since he had cast them aside before. Riku tries to argue that he absolutely wants to see them again. But the voice reminds him that to reach the outside world from Destiny Islands, he passed through the door to darkness. He accepted darkness and pushed aside everything else he had ever cared about. Riku tells the voice that he also cast aside the darkness that he once accepted. The voice isn’t impressed, telling the boy that he has nothing to show for it and that his heart knows only how to throw things away. That is why he’s alone these halls of memories. His heart is hollow, save for the darkness that he couldn’t quite get rid of. Riku doesn’t believe him, but the voice merely laughs.
While exploring the rest of the recreated town, Sora is attacked by the same large Heartless that he, Donald, and Goofy had first fought together. He defeats it once again but sees no sign of Riku. Returning to the others, he tells them that Riku must be deeper within the castle. They all wish him good luck before leaving him to go through the next door, but Aerith hangs back. She tells him that since Traverse Town is but a figment of Sora’s memory then Yuffie, Leon, and herself must be too. Sora can’t believe this since she’s standing right in front of him, but Aerith knows that her theory is correct because she doesn’t remember the things that she should.
As a final warning, she tells Sora to be wary of his memories. These illusions may try to lead him astray, away from the things that really matter. Sora still doesn’t quite understand, but he promises to remember her words. Donald and Goofy call after him to hurry up and when he turns to respond, Aerith disappears. They ask what he was doing leaving Sora confused as to why they couldn't see him talking to Aerith. But Donald and Goofy say that she had left with the others and he was just standing there by himself. With that encounter, he understands what Aerith meant about illusions before leaving for the second floor.
Meanwhile, Riku finally comes across another person: Maleficent. She explains that she is merely a figment of his memory. Riku sarcastically responds that of all the people he could meet, it had to be her. The witch responds that he can only see others steeped in the same darkness that he was. People like her. Riku knows that he once clung to the darkness she once offered, but he has no intention of returning to it. If all he can see are beings of darkness then he will destroy them one by one. Maleficent responds that he himself should be on that list and Riku agrees. He hates the weak part of him that relied on the darkness. With that declaration, the two battle and Riku emerges victorious.
On the second floor, the cloaked figure approaches Sora again and asks how he enjoyed meeting his memories. Sora asks why he is bothering to show him an illusion. What do they actually want from him? The figure responds that it depends on what he has to give. The two are about to square off when another cloaked figure appears, Axel. He doesn’t bother covering his face with the hood and complains of boredom. The cloaked Organization member relents and allows Axel to handle things.
He immediately challenges Sora to a duel, commanding the Keyblade wielder not to die on him. Sora is able to hold him off despite his power. But Axel doesn't seem fazed at all. Instead he just disappears while leaving behind more location cards for the boy and his friends to use. As Sora picks them up, Axel appears again congratulating him for surviving his test. Before allowing Sora to move on, Axel advises him to follow his memories, trust what he remembers, and seek what he forgets to find someone special. He goes on to say that Sora has forgotten what he forgot and that he has to find the light in the darkness to remember. However, once he recovers these memories, he may not be the same person. Axel then disappears again, leaving Sora and his friends more confused than ever.
As Riku reaches the next floor, the voice asks why he continues to shun the darkness. Riku doesn’t bother answering, knowing that the voice has been listening in the entire time. The voice continues on, stating that darkness is Riku’s weapon and he needs the boy to accept it. Riku asks why and the voice finally reveals itself to be Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and Xehanort's Heartless. Upon seeing him, Riku refuses to give in again and promises to fight him every step of the way. Riku tries to attack him, but he is easily thrown back. Ansem taunts him for his weakness even when he relied on darkness. He commands Riku to submit to him because that darkness is his only choice.
But he’s interrupted by the voice of King Mickey. He reassures Riku that he’s not alone and that the light will never abandon him as long as he believes. Strengthened by Mickey’s words, he and Ansem battle. Riku wins though Ansem is far from finished with him. He gives the boy world cards based on his memories, telling him to travel the worlds so he can finally understand the truth. No matter how long he runs toward the light, he’ll never escape the dark. Riku takes the challenge, confident that he’ll never again submit to the darkness.
Jiminy stops Sora as they continue through the castle. He’s concerned about what Axel said about Sora not being himself anymore. But Sora is confident that he’ll never change no matter what may happen. Jiminy just reminds him to be careful. Goofy then asks if Castle Oblivion reminds them of the other castle they were in. But Donald and Sora are surprised to find that they don’t remember what castle he's talking about. Even Goofy has trouble fully remembering it after a while. They wonder if Goofy is just making it up.
But as they continue to work their way through Castle Oblivion, he’s positive he didn’t make it up. He can't remember all the details though. Only that it was where Sora used a Keyblade to free Kairi’s heart and became a Heartless in the process. Sora remembers that happening but is surprised to learn it took place in a castle. They decide to check Jiminy’s journal and are shocked to discover that every page is now blank. Jiminy knows he didn’t lose the journal but can’t explain what happened to it.
On the upper floors of Castle Oblivion, Larxene and Axel are discussing Sora. She’s surprised by how intrigued Axel is by the Keyblade wielder. She hasn’t decided how impressed she should be though. Axel seems fixated on the fact that despite the fact that Sora became a Heartless, he was still able to hold onto his human feelings. The only other one to manage that feat was Ansem (or rather Xehanort). Larxene realizes that Axel is curious as to what makes Sora’s heart shine with such a brilliant light that it could overcome such a trial. He reminds her that the Organization exists to unlock the secrets of the heart.
Elsewhere, Lexaeus, Zexion, and Vexen are also discussing what’s been happening inside the castle. Zexion complains that the Organization used be the rope that bound them all together, but now it seems to be full of kinks. Vexen is outraged at his implication until Lexaeus tells him to forget it. Zexion has detected two scents within the basement floors of Castle Oblivion. One belonged to a convincing double of Maleficent that is now gone. The other is still a mystery to him though this person has a scent that's extremely similar to Xemnas. Vexen doesn’t believe him, but Zexion’s intuitions are never wrong. Rather than be too hasty, Lexaeus suggest that they wait and see what develops.
Sora and his friends have completed another floor of the castle, but they are still concerned about Jiminy’s journal. Sora wonders if its not just the journal missing things. It seems like their memories are fading as well. It’s as if certain events have completely disappeared. Jiminy then recalls what the hooded figure had said earlier. If they keep ascending the floors in Castle Oblivion then more memories will be lost to them. Sora and Donald wonder if they should turn back for fear of losing all their memories of their friends, but Goofy doesn’t believe that. They may forget events and places but never their friends. The proof is the fact that Sora didn’t forget them when he became a Heartless. Their spirits renewed, they push on to the next floor.
Riku has also been making his way through Castle Oblivion though he has not lost any of his memories. His rooms are still empty save for the beings of darkness. It’s like he can’t escape his mistakes with darkness even creeping into his senses. He's about to give into the sorrow of it all when the voice of King Mickey calls out to him again. The king is only able to send a little of his power to him, but it’s enough to project his image. He asks Riku not to lose hold of himself just because the darkness has a grip on him. There is always light within the darkness no matter how small. The proof is in when they closed the door. Despite the darkness of the Heartless all around them, the light of Kingdom Hearts still shined through. Riku promises to believe in the light while Mickey, in turn, promises to rescue him.
With another floor conquered, the trio of Sora, Donald, and Goofy discuss what memories they may have lost. It’s difficult to say since they’ve already forgotten them. But Sora is happy to know that he still hasn’t forgotten the good luck charm Kairi had given him before his final battle with Xehanort’s Heartless. He knows he’ll never forget her but wonders how she’s doing. Suddenly, he sees an image of Kairi that begins to flicker between her and a similar looking blonde girl. Sora wonders who the girl is before being snapped out of the trance by Donald and Goofy. Unknown to them, this same blonde girl is sadly drawing on a pad in the uppermost floor of Hollow Bastion. Later, Sora wonders again who the blonde girl was. It’s like she’s in his memories, but he can’t place where. He then wonders if it was someone else from his past. Her name is almost on the tip of his tongue, but he is unable to remember it. Frustrated, he continues on through the castle.
In the lower floors of Castle Oblivion, Zexion tells Vexen that he’s identified the scent of the one who smells like Ansem, Riku. Vexen is surprised at the news since it seemed that both Riku and King Mickey were lost on the other side of the Door to Darkness. Zexion believes Riku escaped because of his close ties with the darkness, which would also explain why he was unable to place his scent at first. Vexen is immediately intrigued by the prospect of someone bearing ties to both the Keyblade and the power of darkness. Zexion only wonders why Riku appeared in Castle Oblivion of all places. Vexen waves away any concern since the boy likely followed after Sora. He tells Zexion that Marluxia’s plans for Sora are already progressing. Naminé is already meddling with Sora’s heart. The two don’t seem to trust Marluxia but decide to let him continue on with his plans for now. In the meantime, Zexion and Vexen plan to capture Riku.
The story continues tomorrow as Sora, Donald, and Goofy travel deeper into Castle Oblivion and gradually lose more of their memories. Just what is the Organization's plan for him? Be sure to keep up by reading Parts 1-6 of the Timeline:
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