Last time in the enormous and stupidly complicated story of Kingdom Hearts, we covered the early days of the world before the Keyblade War. In Daybreak Town, the Master of Masters led the Foretellers, then vanished. In his absence, they basically just ballsed everything up. Ava managed to collect together a group of children with light in their hearts, her ‘dandelions’, who would flee the world and survive the war to come. Then the worlds would be able to be rebuilt after the cataclysm from the light in their hearts. Meanwhile, Luxu, the so-called ‘sixth apprentice’, travelled to distant lands with the Master’s Keyblade – containing his Gazing Eye, allowing him to see into the future – and a mysterious box never to be opened.
While all the action in the Foretellers’ camp was unfolding, there were a couple of specific, important children running around with Keyblades in Daybreak Town. One was the player character of Kingdom Hearts X.
In the absence of an official name, since each player names their character themselves, I’ll be referring to this character as simply ‘PC’. Feel free to derive more interesting nicknames from that: ‘Proletariat Crumpet’, maybe. It’s also worth pointing out that for the same reason – there are many players of X, all of whom experience the same events – it’s unclear as to whether PC is actually one child or every single person who’s ever played the game, all of whom end up going through broadly similar situations and becoming dandelions. I’ll be talking as if PC is a single person, if only for convenience, but remember that while PC does her thing (again, no official gender, so I’ll assume female) there are many other player characters, Keyblade wielders, all undertaking the same adventure.
PC, a new Keyblade wielder, joins one of the five Unions created by the Foretellers. Which one isn’t important, although the events of the story do change very slightly depending on PC’s choice. (Specifically, becoming a member of Vulpes – Ava’s Union – causes some slight plot differences because of Ava’s direct involvement in every player character’s storyline, whether they’re in her Union or not.) Having accepted the terms and conditions and signed her life away arbitrarily to one of five mysterious masked people, always a good decision, PC is whisked off to Daybreak Town from… wherever it was she came from, and finds herself instantly overwhelmed by a swarm of Heartless. So that’s a good start. Fortunately, the Foreteller in charge of her Union shows up to save her. He or she leaves her with a little dude called a Chirithy, who’s assigned to help her out.
Chirithy explains the destiny of PC, and the Keyblade wielders in general: use their Keyblade to collect light (in the form of Lux, if you remember last time) and destroy Heartless, preventing them from conquering the worlds and spreading darkness everywhere.
Oh, that’s right. I haven’t explained what a Heartless is. This is a point I’ll need to go into in a bit more detail later on, because the nature of the Heartless becomes a bit more relevant around the time of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. For now, suffice to say that they’re beings of darkness who want to consume hearts: the hearts of people, killing them and causing them to transform into Heartless or other nefarious beings, and the hearts of worlds, thus destroying them and bringing darkness to the cosmos. They’re some of the main enemies encountered across all the games, and they come in lots of shapes and sizes and varying degrees of power.
Anyway, PC proceeds to travel to other worlds, destroying the Heartless there and saving them from the corruption of darkness. It transpires, as Chirithy later explains, that these snippets of other worlds are in fact illusions of the worlds as they’ll be in the future. Remember that the Foretellers were entrusted with a Book of Prophecy each, enabling them to see into the future? They use these books and some mysterious magic to summon instances of future worlds into their own time and space, thus allowing them and the Keyblade wielders in their Unions to travel to places with more Heartless and therefore gain more light and more power. As a consequence of this, the wielders’ powers are enhanced by the spirits of characters from the series’ future in the form of cards or medals.
While all this is going on, PC meets and befriends a couple of wielders from other Unions, named Ephemer and Skuld. They’re inquisitive types; Ephemer wants to investigate a tower in the centre of Daybreak Town, against the wishes of both PC’s Chirithy and his own. The tower is the headquarters of the Foretellers, and there PC encounters and battles Master Ava. She warns PC that the sadness in her heart could lead her to the darkness, which doesn’t really faze PC all that much.
PC and Skuld (Ephemer’s gone missing) continue their missions and encounter new types of Heartless which appear to be Keyblade wielders like them who have fallen to the darkness. There’s also at least one Nightmare version of Chirithy (refer back to Part 2 for a refresher on Chirithy, Nightmares and Spirits). Not so good. Curious and probably more than a little disturbed, PC and Skuld head back to the tower and encounter Ava again. She eventually discloses that the quest PC’s been on has been a test to establish whether PC’s worthy of joining her group of dandelions, Keyblade wielders who’ll be able to resist the darkness and travel far away to restart the world after the Keyblade War. Skuld agrees to become a dandelion, and it turns out that Ephemer’s already signed up and gone onto the Realm of Light himself. PC isn’t so sure: join her friends, or stay and do all she can to protect the world from the war? She stays behind, if just for the time being (Skuld sticks with her for now, too).
As things progress, more and more Keyblade wielders from across and within Unions start fighting each other, trying to claim as much Lux as possible. Suspicion is rife as Unions start to distrust each other, believing that every outsider will just try to steal their Lux. Aced, the grumpy bear one of the Foretellers, starts trying to fortify his Union with as many wielders as possible, leading PC to battle him; Ira, the Foretellers’ leader, shows up to stop the fighting and warns that the Keyblade War is inevitable and will not have a winner. The only person that might have any sort of idea what to do is Gula, a Foreteller who’s gone missing – again, refer back to the last instalment for a catch-up on what Gula, Aced and Ira were getting up to during this time. PC and Skuld (with Chirithy, of course) head off to find Gula.
They manage to track Gula down, but his only suggestion is that the Master of Masters could do something about it. Unfortunately, as we’ll remember, that guy is nowhere to be seen. Ava locates Luxu around this time (an event that wasn’t covered in Back Cover) and fights him. This battle becomes the beginning of the War.
Meanwhile, Skuld returns to her Union; PC encounters the Nightmare Chirithy again, who forces her to fight more of the dark Keyblade wielders-turned-Heartless. PC defeats Nightmare Chirithy and the Heartless, and the Nightmare fades away. Unfortunately, it’s too late; the War’s started.
PC finds herself caught up in the Keyblade War, battling multiple Foretellers. Ultimately, she’s overcome and falls in an area littered with the Keyblades of fallen wielders, the place that comes to be called the Keyblade Graveyard. Aced’s Union, having grown into the mightiest, slaughters the rest of the Unions, and the Keyblade War comes to pass just as foretold.
Except… not quite.
PC wakes up, and is told by Chirithy that everything that’s happened since she turned down Ava’s offer to join the dandelions (the infighting, the war, the death) has been a dream of sorts, to show her the future that awaits if she stays. It’s not much of a future. The two rest together, and what happens to PC after that is unknown.
What is known is that while PC’s waking up, a witch by the name of Maleficent has somehow found her way into the area. (Maleficent will appear again when we come to discuss Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, in which she’s a main antagonist.) Not that surprising that she’s there, since people from the future versions of worlds have been around in illusion form the whole time. Except… Maleficent doesn’t seem like an illusion. It appears that she’s the real Maleficent who causes all kinds of rubbish in the future. And she seems to have a copy of the Book of Prophecies. To top it all off, she seems to be planning to use it for… something not good.
After that, we can assume that the Keyblade War really does happen much as it does in PC’s dream. I’d like to believe that PC goes back and becomes a dandelion, thus surviving and creating new worlds from the light in her heart after the War’s over, but she could just as easily have been killed once the battles started.
After the War, there’s a long period of time in which the worlds rebuild themselves. Keyblade wielders become rarer, a semi-secretive Jedi-like order of protective masters who are both admired and distrusted. After many years, in a world called Destiny Islands, two men who will become powerful Keyblade Masters are born, and become close friends.
Mark Hamill and Leonard Nimoy.
I mean, Eraqus and Xehanort.