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 24 of our ongoing feature.
As soon as they arrive in the castle, Mickey runs ahead while Sora and the others are held up by a group of Nobodies. Kairi and Naminé are running to the lower floors of the castle before Saïx cuts them off. He promises that he’ll take her to see Sora, but she backs away. The Nobody asks if she doesn’t want that, but she does. She misses him so much. But if Saïx is around it would ruin their reunion. Saïx says that he would die of laughter at her words if he actually had a heart. But the girls are saved by the arrival of Riku, who cuts through Saïx’s lesser Nobodies. Naminé says that he can take care of the rest as she disappears. He tries to finish Saïx off, but he escapes through a dark portal. He’s about to give chase, but Kairi stops him. Pluto recognizes him as the one to guide him to Kairi and barks excitedly at his feet. Kairi is so relieved to see him and goes to remove his hood, but when she does so she is shocked to find Ansem’s face.
Meanwhile, Sora, Donald, and Goofy are still fighting their way through the castle until they are met by Saïx. He commends Sora for making it this far, but he only demands Kairi’s location. Saïx stays cryptic to him and says that she’s probably catching up with her friend from the darkness. She doesn’t need Sora anymore. Sora doesn’t believe him, but Saïx doesn’t care if he does or not. All that matters is that Organization XIII no longer has a use for Sora. Kingdom Hearts is one final push from being completed. He summons forth hundreds of Heartless, and Sora hesitates to fight as they close in.
Suddenly, he hears the voice of Kairi calling out to him from a nearby balcony. They’re ecstatic to finally see one another again, but Sora is dog-piled by Heartless during his distraction. Kairi leaps from the balcony to go help him but is quickly surrounded as well. She’s saved by Riku, who gives her a Keyblade of her very own. It a final unknown gift from Aqua. When Kairi met the Keyblade master as a child, she had placed her hand on the hilt of her Keyblade. This created an impromptu ceremony that granted Kairi the ability to wield a Keyblade. The young woman vows to fight alongside her friends despite her inexperience. Kairi and Riku jump into the fray as Saïx spies Maleficent and Pete making their way into the castle. The witch commends Pete for finding her such a grand castle. She vows to acquire it for their own purposes, but he’s afraid that it is too close to the darkness for them to properly control the Heartless. Maleficent isn’t afraid though.
Meanwhile, Mickey is tearing through scores of Lesser Nobodies until he finds someone collapsed upon the floor with a device nearby. It’s DiZ, who finally reveals his true identity as Ansem the Wise. He says that it’s good to see his old friend again, but Mickey demands to know why he didn’t come for his help before things got so out of control. Ansem explains that Xehanort was his apprentice and therefore his burden to bear. But revenge was what was mainly on his mind. His apprentices had stolen everything that was once precious to him. Mickey says that he can’t help him with revenge, and Ansem admits that Riku has told him the same thing time and time again. Mickey asks where Riku is now, but Ansem assures him that he’s rejoined his friends. Riku and Mickey had separated sometime after the trials at Castle Oblivion because the boy was still feeling the effects of having Xehanort’s Heartless within his heart. He was suffering, but not to the degree that he would take the form of his invader. Especially since he still acted like Riku down to the very core.
Ansem explains that it is his fault that Riku ended up that way. He had asked Riku to retrieve Roxas for him since it would help Sora awaken from his slumber. Unfortunately, the battle proved too much for him. He lost and was forced to immerse himself in darkness when the battleground was so close to darkness itself. By doing so, he was cursed with his new form and resolved to live in the world of darkness to help his friend. In the end, Riku was the victim of Ansem’s revenge. The shame of what he did to the poor boy had caused him much grief, but he could only laugh to hide that feeling of regret. With that, he tells Mickey that it’s time for him to make amends to all the young people he had used for his own ends. The two continue on with Ansem grabbing the strange device along the way.
Sora is able to finally free himself from the Heartless but is confused when he sees Xehanort’s Heartless and Kairi fighting side by side. Before he can do anything though, Xigbar fires a volley that takes out all the Heartless around him. He calls Sora by both his real name and by Roxas’s name before saying that he’s really caused trouble for the Organization. But even still, Sora doesn’t come close to the heroics of the other Keyblade wielders he had met. With that, it’s finally time to eliminate Sora. But Sora proves to be more powerful than the sniper realizes. Sora demands to know why Xigbar called him Roxas, but he only smiles as his existence fades completely. Donald points out that Kairi and Xehanort’s Heartless appear to be in trouble. It’s something that Ansem and Mickey see as well. Ansem isn’t worried though. As long as Sora and Riku are together, nothing will stop them. He and the King have a different part to play. Mickey wonders if Riku will ever regain his old appearance, but Ansem knows that it won’t be an easy fix. The two walk off as Sora goes to help Kairi.
But they are all running out of time. With each Heartless defeated, Kingdom Hearts is growing closer to completion. Saïx arrives to ask Xemnas if he can end his charade. Xemnas permits him, and Saïx admits that he's been anticipating those words. Sora reaches Kairi and Donald praises her for holding her own against the Heartless. She tells them that when Sora and Riku never came home, she decided to look for them. Sora goes to apologize, but she rushes into his arms for a hug before he can finish. Kairi is relieved to see that he is real as he returns her hug. Xehanort’s Heartless goes to leave through a dark portal, but Sora stops him. He’s surprised to see him again and just thinking about his past actions makes Sora angry, but he has to thank him for saving Kairi. Xehnort's Heartless goes to leave again, but Kairi grabs his arm and begs Riku not to leave. Sora, Donald, and Goofy are shocked at this revelation though Riku denies it. Kairi begs Sora to help her make him stay. He goes to her and she puts his and Riku’s hands together, telling him to close his eyes. When he does, he’s able to clearly sense that it is indeed Riku.
Happiness overwhelms him once he realizes that his friends truly have been reunited. Sora tells Riku that he searched everywhere for him, but Riku didn’t want him to find him. Goofy realizes that it was Riku that helped them all along their journey. Sora wonders why he never let him know he was okay, but Riku was too ashamed to be seen in the form of Xehanort’s Heartless. He had won the battle for his heart, but the form was necessary to win the battles ahead. Sora promises that they’ll finish it soon since he’s still Riku no matter what. Encouraged that all of his friends have been reunited, they head out for the rest of the castle to finally destroy all of Organization XIII.
Ansem and Mickey reach a spot on the outside of the castle where they can clearly see Kingdom Hearts. With the device, Ansem believes that they can reclaim the lost hearts and encode them as data. He’s unsure it it’ll work since hearts are unpredictable, but he feels like it’s their best chance of freeing them. He starts the machine as Sora and the others see a beam heading for the massive heart. Riku explains that it’s the King and Ansem the Wise and that they should hurry to catch up. But before they can go anywhere, Luxord appears and surrounds everyone except Sora with large playing cards. They spin faster and faster around them until the cards separate to reveal that his friends have disappeared. Luxord views battles as little more than games of chance and challenges him in such a way. Cards and dice become deadly weapons as Sora fights to survive Luxord’s games. But he's able to learn Luxord’s tricks and slices through him, cards and all. As Luxord disappears into nothingness, he accuses Roxas of betraying one of his own. Sora insists that his name is Sora as his friends are returned to him. They are all okay and ready to continue the fight.
They are next confronted by Saïx who also insists on calling Sora by Roxas’s name. He reveals his huge weapon, the Claymore, and swings it so hard that they are almost blown back. Riku throws himself in front of Kairi to protect her, but the two are blown outside of a magical barrier in the process. Sora, Donald, and Goofy will have to fight Saïx alone. The fight is incredibly tough as Saïx’s power is overwhelming. Yet, working together, they’re able to direct his attacks back at him and finish him off. As he slowly begins to disappear, Saïx turns to Kingdom Hearts and asks why he wasn’t granted a heart. He is still desperately reaching for the heart of all worlds as he too fades into nothingness.
Sora turns to Riku and asks why the Organization insists on calling him Roxas. Riku tells him that it’s because Roxas is his Nobody. Sora doesn’t believe him until he remembers how he became a Hearltess in Hollow Bastion. Xemnas sought out Roxas because he could wield the Keyblade as well. But Roxas ended up betraying them. Riku says that he fought Roxas to bring Sora back though he wonders if he would have met Sora willingly. Sora wishes he could meet him too, but Riku tells him that Roxas is still there within his heart. Sora clutches his chest as they walk toward the final showdown with the only remaining member of Organization XIII, Xemnas.
Ansem’s device is beginning to shake violently though he can only laugh. Despite years devoted to the study of hearts, it seems he still hasn’t learned a thing. The process of encoding hearts is incalculable, and the denizens of his fake Twilight Town was proof of that. He had developed each person in the town based on the hearts of their real counterparts. Ansem thought he could predict what they would do in that state, but they continually surprised him. It seems like every time he tries to wrap his mind around something that his heart already knows, he fails. He had designed so many plans for Sora while he still slept, but once Sora had awakened, every one of them fell apart. All of his research amounted to nothing compared to that one boy’s heart.
The machine begins to spark and sputter and Ansem tells Mickey to get away. His miscalculation is causing the machine to self-destruct and anything could happen. Sora finally meets up with them along with his friends. Ansem the Wise leaves it up to Sora and apologizes to Roxas before preparing himself to contain the device’s destruction. Before it does, Xemnas arrives to see who was interfering with his Kingdom Hearts. He calls his old master pathetic, but Ansem doesn’t care. He should have seen what a fool Xehanort was years ago, but he failed at that too. Xemnas tells Ansem that he truly is the source of all Heartless since it was his research that inspired him to go further than even Ansem dared. Ansem the Wise only asks what Xehanort was seeking by furthering that research. He erased him from his world only to steal his name and continue the research. Xehanort’s Nobody insists that he discovered what he sought by doing all that and surpassed Ansem in the process. He will create worlds of his own design. But Ansem believes that he only proved how little they both knew. The worlds of Xehanort’s Nobody would be nought but a failure in the end. With that, Ansem the Wise says his final goodbyes as the machine explodes and the former leader of Radiant Garden is bathed in both light and darkness. The hearts that he encoded rain down upon the city below, birthing new Heartless as they touch the ground.
Sora and the others try to stand after the blast only to discover that both Ansem and Xemnas have disappeared. It’s then that Sora realizes that there’s something different about Riku. He has returned to his former appearance. For the first time in a year, Riku is able to see the light without his blindfold. Sora chides him for trying to do so much on his own when he had so many friends that would’ve been willing to help. They see that the castle is being stormed by newly born Heartless. Time is almost up. Xemnas must be defeated soon, or he’ll obtain his goal. As they ascend the final floors of the castle, thousands of Heartless are pouring in and threatening to slow their progress toward Xemnas. However, help comes unexpectedly from Maleficent and Pete. They say they’ll hold of the creatures while the rest take on Xemnas. She explains that she’ll soon have the Heartless and the castle under her control. Sora feels a little bad leaving them behind, but Mickey says that they are doing what their hearts command. They all understand and continue to journey to the top of the Organization’s castle.
They find Xemnas staring forlornly at a ruined Kingdom Hearts. Ansem’s machine has hollowed out the recreated heart and all the hearts are slowly breaking free. Xemnas realizes that he’ll have to start all over again. He asks Sora, Riku, and Mickey to bring him more hearts, but all three refuse and draw their Keyblades. Xemnas asks why they hate the darkness, but Mickey explains that they don’t hate it. He understands that the world is made of light and darkness and neither can exist without the other. Riku takes over and says that they fight the ones who lurk within the darkness even though the darkness itself isn’t inherently evil.
Xemnas begs them not to cast out ones who were turned away from both light and darkness. What choice did they have but to interfere with the worlds if they were to properly exist. But Sora isn’t fooled. His sad act is little more than that, an act. Xemnas congratulates him on seeing through the ruse and calls forth all of his power. Sora is transported to the same spot that Riku and Roxas dueled before though it waves in and out of existence. The only one there with him is Xemnas. With his goal before him, Sora attacks the leader of the Organization head on. The fight is a ferocious one with Xemnas utilizing twin Ethereal Blades, but Sora is able to use all of his skills to come out victorious. Xemnas is sprawled out upon the ground but uses a dark portal to escape. The world of illusion dissipates, and Sora is thrown back to his friends. They come to check if he’s okay as Xemnas floats before the ruined Kingdom Hearts. He vows to feed it as many hearts as it needs. It needs his power just as much as he needs its power. He asks it for the ability to destroy his enemies. The others call out to him to stop, but he’s able to enter Kingdom Hearts. A brilliant white light bursts forth and a gigantic door appears that Mickey says will lead them to Xemnas. The worlds gave them this gift to protect their future. The fate of all worlds depends on this battle.
Sora, Riku, and Mickey use their Keyblades to open the door and all of them walk through. In the short time that he’s been here, Xemnas has already changed things to appear like his castle. He tosses a building at them, and they run back toward the door. The shockwave knocks them to the ground sending Mickey and Kairi back to the other side. Now only Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Riku can stop Xemnas. Together, they’re able to board Xemnas’s massive airship, which is shaped like a dragon, and dismantle it piece by piece. At the top they discover Xemnas sitting upon a throne and covered in armor. He’s able to command all the abilities of the other Organization members and throws everything at Sora’s group. But it’s still not enough. They defeat him once again and eject him from Kingdom Hearts. Xemnas believes he needs more hearts and rage to fuel them to win. Sora tells him that a heart is full of so many more emotions than just anger or hate. Has he really forgotten about those too? But he has, and he disappears without another word.
They celebrate before Sora asks if Riku is coming back home with them. Riku is still worried about how he will face his friends knowing he had given in to the darkness once. But Sora says that he’ll be just fine. It’s then that they feel the entire castle shake. Riku promises to get them out of there with a dark portal, but he’s lost those abilities. It’s Naminé who helps save them one last time. A mirage of her appears and opens a dark portal though only Kairi and Sora can see her. Pluto rushes through it followed soon after by Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. But Sora and Kairi talk to Naminé before entering the portal. She says that she and Sora have met again, just like they promised so long ago though Sora, of course, has no memory of it. But she wasn’t actually talking to Sora. A mirage of Roxas steps out of his body and says to Naminé that she was right. They remember each other completely despite being apart, and Naminé realizes that Nobodies aren’t doomed to fade into darkness like she originally thought. Instead, the two of them were able to reunite with their original selves so now whenever Sora and Kairi are together, they’ll be together too.
Kairi promises that they’ll be together everyday, and Sora shyly agrees. Finally, the two Nobodies merge completely with their originals. Kairi steps through the portal and tells Sora and Riku that it’s time to go home, but it suddenly closes before they can enter. Xemnas massive mechanical dragon has returned and slices through the top floors of the castle. As the piece they’re standing on collapses, Sora and Riku jump onto a nearby hovercraft and follows after it. Using their combined powers, Sora and Riku destroy the flying capabilities of the dragon and crash it into the city below. But that only serves to create a whirlwind of darkness that slowly begins to destroy the World That Never Was. Sora and Riku enter the mechanical creature and face Xemnas’s armored form once again.
Xemans throws the city itself at them but, working together, Sora and Riku are able to beat him down to inner workings of the dragon. Xemnas faces them, perfectly fine, as he wears a black and white version of the Organization’s cloak. No matter what they may do, he will never give up. Light, Dark, and even Nothingness; all are eternal. Sora and Riku agree, but they know that he isn’t eternal. He challenges them to one final duel. The fight is more intense than either of them ever imagined. His speed is immense, and he can summon as many duplicates of his blades as he wants. But together, Sora and Riku are able to counter every one of his attacks, including deflecting hundreds of his blades as they surround them from all sides.
However, things look dire when Riku takes a vicious strike. Sora takes Riku’s Keyblade and uses it in conjunction with his own to deliver a series of devastating strikes against Xemnas. When Riku recovers, they hold a Keyblade together and send a beam of pure light against Xehanort’s Nobody, stunning him. One final strike is all it takes to finish him off for good. He finally disappears into nothingess, but the victory is shortlived as they are surrounded by hundreds of Nobodies. They defeat them all but are completely exhausted from the effort. Lost in a realm of nothingness, they keep walking until seeing a ball of light. It brings them to the shores of the Realm of Darkness, the end of the road.
They talk of old times, and Riku feels that this is a perfect place for him. Sora says that he’s only happy that all of his friends are finally safe. They may be lost here, but at least the waves sound the same as home. Riku admits that he was always jealous of Sora, and how he was able to easily follow his own heart. Sora says that he always wanted to be Riku too. But they realize that having each other as friends was all that really mattered. Suddenly, a message in a bottle washes up on shore. They open it and realize that it’s Kairi’s letter. The one that she had sent when she had regained her memories of Sora. As they read it, a door to light opens in the water and, together, they step through. Sora and Riku land near the shores of Destiny Islands where Kairi calls after them. Sora happily swims toward her, but Goofy, Donald, and Mickey tackle him and Riku in a hug first. Sora finally returns Kairi’s good luck charm and images of Roxas and Namine smile at one another. They’re all home.
In the aftermath of the final battle, the worlds have returned to peace once again. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy return to Disney Castle to be reunited with their loved ones. Hayner takes on Seifer in a Struggle tournament. Pooh and his friends continue to have fun in the Hundred Acre Wood. Mulan and Shang have finally started a relationship. Beast has broken the curse and returned to his human form thanks to Belle. The Olympus Coliseum is rebuilt as Auron moves on. Captain Jack Sparrow, Will, and Elizabeth sail the high seas. Jack Skellington plans the next Halloween with the help of all his friends. Tron continues to monitor his system and even downloads some dance moves. Aladdin and Jasmine ride the skies above Agrabah together on Carpet. Ariel is turned into a human so that she can marry Eric. Nala has Simba’s cub, and it is proudly shown in a restored Pride Lands. The Restoration Committee shares ice cream together fresh from Scrooge McDuck while Aerith awaits Cloud’s return. And finally Sora sees the addition made to the doodle that he and Kairi made of one another. She is now giving him a paopu fruit as well. Touching the picture tenderly, he smiles.
The story continues tomorrow as Jiminy Cricket discovers a secret that just may foretell the return of an old foe. Be sure to keep up by reading Parts 1-24 of the Timeline:
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