Well, no lions or tigers, but there is a bear and a unicorn and a fox and a leopard and a snake and a (couple of) guy(s) with no face. So that’s close enough, no?
This is the second instalment of the affectionately named EWKAKHSFIBLCO, and this time we’ll be getting started with the actual story that the Kingdom Hearts saga’s been telling so far. Having spent the first post laying some groundwork on the way this series’ universe works as a whole, it’s time to get into the beginning of the tale.
This part of the story is concerned with the events of Kingdom Hearts X, Kingdom Hearts Unchained X and Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover. They’re the most recent releases, but the earliest in the chronology.
Our story begins – or, at least, we make our first entry into this world – long, long ago, in a world called Daybreak Town.
In Daybreak Town, there lived a man called the Master of Masters. He was kind of a weird dude. For one thing, he was a wacky eccentric who never seemed to take anything seriously; for another, he always wore a black coat that concealed his face; for the kicker, he had the ability to predict the future. The Master of Masters had six apprentices, one of whom was a bit different from the others. Luxu was the name of the so-called ‘sixth apprentice’, and he too wore one of the black coats that hid everything about his appearance except the rough size and shape of his body. One day – we can probably infer that this day came after Luxu and the other five had spent many years of training and apprenticeship under the Master – the Master sent Luxu away. He gave him two things, a Keyblade and a box which he was never to open, and told him to journey and observe the world and his fellow apprentices as events unfolded. Luxu was to become a Master himself, beginning a chain in which a Master would train an apprentice who would then take their own apprentice and become the Master. This chain was supposed to be unbroken and run infinitely, and the Keyblade given to Luxu would be passed down the links from Master to apprentice for as long as the system was in place.
In fact, the Master of Masters already knew that Luxu would succeed in this mission, because he had seen the future. In the Keyblade he passed to Luxu, he had placed his Gazing Eye, the instrument of his prophecy. Through this Eye, he saw the future of his Keyblade as it passed from Master to apprentice, and the future of the world as it happened around it. This Keyblade would eventually find itself in the hands of a man named Xehanort, who came to discover ways to travel through time. Thus the Master’s Gazing Eye saw all that came to pass in the future, and the Master became a teller of future events.
One of the things that the Master of Masters predicted would occur was a cataclysmic event called the Keyblade War. Believing that this war was unavoidable, the Master bestowed a Book of Prophecies upon each of his five apprentices, which would foretell the events leading up to the war. (Luxu, the sixth, was not given a copy of the Book, because knowledge of future events might lead him to try to change them as the Eye witnessed them.) This would help them to maintain balance in the world as the war loomed, and to enable healing once it was over. Because of this, the five apprentices became known as the Foretellers.
The Master gave each of the Foretellers a particular role to fulfil, so as to best protect the balance of light and dark in the world (or so he said), and then he left. It’s never stated where he went, although since we never see his face the possibility’s there that we might have already encountered him in some other form and not realised who he was. It’s also unclear what his motivation really was, since it appears that his manipulation of his apprentices might actually have caused the Keyblade War, or at any rate not done much to prevent it. Perhaps he simply knew that it was inevitable, or perhaps he decided to help it along.
At any rate, he assigned Ira, who wore a unicorn mask, to lead the five Foretellers once he was gone. Each of the Foretellers had a role in this new structure, supposedly designed to ensure that they would be the most effective leaders they could be. Each of them was also tasked with founding a Union; these Unions – factions aligned with each of the Foretellers and made up of other Keyblade wielders, primarily if not exclusively children – would all be separately endeavouring to gather Lux, a substance of light. By having five Unions all gathering Lux, the balance would be maintained. To ensure that an imbalance didn’t arise, the Master forbade alliances between Unions.
Naturally, this all didn’t go quite to plan. See, each of the Foretellers – indeed, each of the Keyblade wielders from the time – had a sort of companion, a creature called a Chirithy. Each Chirithy was a type of being called a Dream Eater, a class of creature further divided into Spirits and Nightmares. Every Chirithy hanging around was attached to a particular person, and would be in its Spirit form as long as that person’s heart hadn’t fallen to darkness. One day, however, Ira discovered a Nightmare Chirithy, which could only exist if someone’s heart had given in to the darkness.
Ira suspected the other four Foretellers, though they pointed out that it could be any Keyblade wielder in Daybreak Town. This didn’t persuade Ira, who reasoned that it had to belong, if not to one of them, then to someone in one of their Unions, which they were responsible for. The five therefore began to mistrust each other. This was compounded by the fact that the Book of Prophecy given to each of them was missing a page: the page which would have showed them the traitor. Gula, who wore the mask of the fox, was later discovered to have that missing page, because the Master of Masters had entrusted him with discovering who the traitor was.
It’s never actually revealed who the traitor was, if there even was one. Just the suspicion was enough, however, to drive them apart. Aced, who wore a bear mask and was supposed to support Ira as leader, rebelled and formed an alliance with Gula. (Remember that alliances between Unions were forbidden: Gula accepted due to the need to eliminate the traitor, but expressly stated that any alliance was between himself and Aced alone, and their Unions were to be left out of it.) He came to suspect Invi, who wore a snake mask and had been tasked with watching over the Foretellers. Ultimately, they would fight each other, almost to the death. Gula and Ava, the fox-mask wearer whose task was a mystery, were forced to intervene; in the wake of the battle, Gula revealed to the wounded Aced that he held the lost page.
Aced was, kind of understandably, immensely upset that Gula knew about the schism that was to come but allowed it to happen. He was more upset about that betrayal than whatever the actual traitor did, if there ever even was one, and attacked Gula.
Luckily, Ava was around to make sure that Aced couldn’t finish Gula off, which he might well have done otherwise. She helped him escape and hide, while Aced and Ira confronted each other and agreed that neither was the traitor. Ira then went searching for Gula, whom he would have found if not for Ava. Gula informed Ava that he has a plan: everything went pretty much to shit after the Master left, so he’s going to do something so reckless and rule-breaking that the Master will just have to come back: he’s going to summon Kingdom Hearts.
Kingdom Hearts, by the way, was believed to be the source of all the world’s light and could only be unlocked with the original Keyblade: the X-Blade (pronounced the same as Keyblade, since the X is a Greek letter chi). The X-Blade existed from the beginning of the world, and all the Keyblades that came to exist after it were made in its image. Nobody could know what the result of forcing Kingdom Hearts to appear might be, since all would inevitably end up craving its power for their own purposes.
Gula’s plan to force Kingdom Hearts to appear involved collecting as much Lux as possible, an absolutely enormous amount. The other Foretellers noticed that his Union had begun accelerating their efforts to collect Lux, creating an imbalance of power, so they too started accumulating Lux at a much faster rate than before.
What happened after that is… not totally clear. Ava’s mission, however, was revealed in the build-up to Gula’s plan: she was to form a collection of the best and brightest Keyblade wielders from all the different Unions. The other Foretellers noticed that she was starting to interfere, as they saw it, with the wielders under their Unions, which put a certain degree of suspicion on her in the early days of the ‘traitor’ saga, but Aced’s actions seem to have directed attention away from her as a suspect. Ava dubbed the members of her cross-Union assortment of Keyblade wielders her ‘dandelions’.
Like a dandelion’s fibres floating away in the wind, Ava’s dandelions were to be the ones who spread, survived, and rebuilt the world after the Keyblade War. Everyone who stayed and fought would perish, but not her dandelions. They would travel, or hide, but they would live.
It seems apparent that the Keyblade War began in earnest not long after that. Gula’s plan might well have worked, causing Kingdom Hearts to appear and the many wielders of blades forged in the X-Blade’s image to clash over it. Darkness covered the world, and the X-Blade was broken into twenty pieces (seven of pure light and thirteen of pure darkness; this’ll come up later). Kingdom Hearts disappeared into the darkness, as did Daybreak Town. It was only Ava’s dandelions who allowed the worlds to be reborn from the light. They couldn’t reforge the world as it was, but they could create many smaller worlds. One of the worlds left behind was called the Keyblade Graveyard, a ravaged battleground containing endless Keyblades belonging to those who perished in the war. Those who were left became an order of sorts, Keyblade Masters who swore to maintain the balance better than those who came before (though it hasn’t yet been shown whether anyone post-Keyblade War even knows that the Master of Masters and the Foretellers existed). The story seems to have changed over the years, casting the Keyblade as a bringer of both light and death and Kingdom Hearts as a source of dark power.
At any rate, the war was not forgotten.
Next time, we’ll recap some of the things that happened concurrently with the Foretellers’ mishaps, and then we’ll be looking at the post-Keyblade War story beginning in Birth by Sleep.