Post by xehanort on Jun 9, 2019 19:52:21 GMT -5
How'd you find us?:
Keyblade Master Xehanort
Approx. eighty-five years
- Eraqus was Xehanort's closest childhood friend and academic rival. It's Eraqus who always riled up his competitive spirit, and quashed it just as often. Time has made them distant, however, and more recent events have even set them into opposition, but they have since forgiven each other in the face of their passing. Xehanort isn't sure how Eraqus might view his resurrection, however.
- Ventus was first Xehanort's apprentice, stolen away from Destiny Islands so the Master could nurture his prodigious skills and attunements. Since then, Ventus has since been relinquished to Eraqus' care, and all other interactions have been hostile due to the many disagreements between the three.
- Vanitas is a living enigma, whose current wellbeing is unknown. Xehanort created this sentient Heartless from the dark in Ventus' heart, and in return Vanitas devoted himself as an eager student and servant. Vanitas' inherent ability to create and command an infinite number of familiars, called Unversed, solidified his role as a key player in Xehanort's employ.
- Terra was the ultimate trump card in Xehanort's first schemes, a theme of manipulation that turned them against each other once everything was revealed. Terra's anger was so potent that it allowed him to defy his mortality twice over, thwarting Xehanort each time. It's unknown whether Eraqus' forgiveness may have changed Terra's opinion, though Xehanort doubts it.
- Aqua is the one student of Eraqus who Xehanort could never keep proper tabs on. He didn't may much attention to her before, and that proved to be a critical mistake, resulting in several acts of sabotage that nearly ended his plans in their earliest stages. Xehanort has learned to respect her position as a Keyblade master who could stand up even to Vanitas.
- King Mickey didn't meet Xehanort many times, but every occasion was full of conflict. Mickey has been a loyal component of the Guardians, meaning he has been on a consistently opposed side to Xehanort.
- Sora was the upstart Keyblade wielder who came closest to bringing Xehanort down. Like Mickey, they rarely met, but the few times they stood face-to-face, Xehanort found that the boy's behavior reminded him heavily of Eraqus.
- Joshua appeared to Xehanort in a post-death dream, offering him a chance for resurrection in exchange for wagering something important to him. Though Xehanort succeeded in winning his life back in the Reaper's Game, it was not a decisive victory, and he lost what he wagered in the process. What he bet on this Game is not known publicly, but the loss tends to weigh on his mind.
To those who are affiliated with Sora and the other Keyblade wielders, it's well known just how cunning Xehanort is. Were it not for the Order kept between Worlds, his skill with the Keyblade, magical prowess and endlessly intricate planning skills would probably be legendary. His open mind and limitless thirst for knowledge and justice make him a versatile thinker and terrifying sorcerer. What's more, he has not hesitated to use others' hearts to manipulate them for his own gain, a practice that he is no longer so prolific in, but is no less an expert with. As a pioneer of the dark magics, it's only natural that he be secretive and skeptical, making use of blasphemous, taboo and otherwise uncommon spells to supplement his arsenal. These extreme choices are deemed necessary by Xehanort, who is rarely satisfied without a definite, long-running plan. These tendencies can lead to oversights, however, as his dedication to a long-term procedure can blind him to the more subtle details of a situation. Nonetheless, when his planning doesn't result in success, his heavily disproportionate strength has often compensated. More than anything else, Xehanort's greatest strength is that he always has a backup, so even if his first idea doesn't work, it's almost impossible to truly trip him up.
Xehanort has been skeptical of tradition for many years now. He finds the us-versus-them mentality accepted by most to be misleading, claiming that it encourages blind acceptance and blissful ignorance. His insistence on balance can easily make enemies of most others, and this has taught him to hold his tongue and hide his hand. Only those extremely close to him will have the privilege of knowing what's truly on his mind, but this can serve to turn people away as well. Losing a friend in a "discussion" over his beliefs is an experience he has gotten used to by now.
Left alone among the children of Destiny Islands, Xehanort was but a mild component of the lax atmosphere. That was, until a messenger visited him. The stranger's words never stuck in the boy's mind, but they opened up a hidden magic in him that took him far away from his home. Though quite an ordeal followed this exchange, Xehanort was forced to forget it forever when he was returned to the Islands. All that remained was a change in his Heart. He had forgotten what happened, yes, but he was still aware that something was missing. Something was incomplete. He was incomplete, but what did he lack, and what was this... Key... blade... in his hands? Those questions were the first few of many, and in that moment he was beset with an endless, insatiable curiosity that would follow him for most of his life. The first place it took him was away from the Islands yet again.
Following his Heart and the Keyblade bound to it, Xehanort was able to leave that World entirely, abandoning it in favor of the greater, larger, and far more promising Scala ad Caelum. This network of port cities became a welcoming home for him, as they were full of otherworldly knowledge and other folk who understood the strange Keyblade and its capabilities. Seeking yet more answers to his unlimited well of questions, he soon found himself apprenticed under an unnamed Master who agreed to train both him and other boy, Eraqus, who was less ambitious than Xehanort but had leagues of natural talent. Enthused by the challenge, Xehanort immediately saw this other student as a rival, and it was through their clashes, both physical and mental, that they became very close friends. Their mutual respect grew greater with every conflict that rose between them, though Xehanort eventually began to grow bitter about their relationship. He cared so deeply for the lore of this place, and invested so much in himself, and yet he could never seem to prove himself better than the easygoer who studied with him. Was he doing something wrong? Did he misunderstand his strengths? Whenever he asked the Master, he would always get similar answers, each recital of which felt more shallow than the last. No, this all felt too rehearsed, too official. Once again, he grew suspicious that something was missing, and it was hard for him to care when he and Eraqus matured and were dubbed Masters. He didn't even care much that he'd been passed up for the position of mentor for the next generation of masters. By then, he had grown disillusioned with the Order. And so, he chose to leave once again. The Order's last gift to him was the Gazing Eye, a powerful Keyblade that few wielders could use to its full potential. Xehanort, knowing his road would soon be dangerous and lonely, gladly took the weapon and began training himself to use more obscure, less respected magics.
He soon found it was the dark where he excelled. He had been trained as a defender who was meant to resist and destroy the darkness, and yet it clung to him so lovingly, much unlike how it had been described. True, it was cold and bleak, but those were merely ingredients of the vibrant lives they enjoyed. Every graze of the black magics made him resent the Order further. They taught such a one-sided philosophy, talking of the dark as if it were an enemy, a pest to be exterminated, kicked away without second thought and kept out of their bright, shining World. He, meanwhile, saw the Worlds balanced in light and dark as far superior than the stairway cities of bleach and gold that he was once welcome in. Were the others all fools, blissfully ignorant of their own mistakes, or were they biased? Worse, were they corrupt, so infatuated with the light that they gladly stamped out the darkness that threatened the seats of their cataract-inducing reign? Xehanort refused to accept these conclusions just yet, knowing fully well that he was acting out of just as much bias at the time. He was uninformed, that he knew, so there was only one way he could find the answers he wanted. He read.
Everything he could get his hands on, he read. Every book, scroll, signpost and shifting face of the lunch partners he chatted with, he read through ravenously, devouring as much knowledge as he could. Gone was the time of being taught by the word of an ignorant Master. Now was his chance to become a pioneer in learning about all Worlds, both old and new, and in the years of research and private discipline, what he found was far more shocking than he could have thought.
All of it was a lie. All of it. There was far more history than any of them dared let on, more similarities between light and dark than they could ever muster the courage to admit. They were but two sides to the same coin after all, and each was like a sickness, trying to out-plague the other. All these thoughts and speculation caused Xehanort to withdraw further away from the Order, to the point where he no longer spoke with Eraqus, but this solitude only served to tighten his resolve. Something had to be done to restore the balance of these broken Worlds, and it was starting to look like there was a very specific method of doing precisely that. All the light and dark in the Worlds had come from somewhere, meaning something once existed, some mechanism was used that was capable of creating it. His research took him further into more forbidden tomes, where he found ancient tales of that which the Keyblades had been forged in the image of: The χ-blade. Moreso than any pitiful weapon any Master had held, this would be the centerpiece of his plan, but its origins were shrouded in mystery. The most he could gather on his own was that it was the result of an immense clash between light and dark, and such a clash also had the potential to destroy it. Though his knowledge of light and dark was deep by the standards of most, there was still much to learn if he was to recreate a lost-to-time item like the χ-blade, especially with so little information, but at this point he was desperate for some means to do so.
To this end, he went to the only person he considered trusting with such a plot. His friend, Eraqus, was surely just as concerned about the state of the Worlds, he thought. When he brought his theories into the open, though, he found that to be far from the truth. Not only did Eraqus disagree, but he was appalled by the suggestion. He referred to Xehanort's plan as "risking an apocalypse", and refused to support such a scheme. Xehanort, though disappointed, found it in himself to forgive his friend's offensive tone. After all, how could he expect Eraqus to understand something brought on so rashly? No, it was Xehanort's fault for not easing into the discussion. That wasn't the end of it, though, as Eraqus demanded that he abandon the plan. Refusing him was one thing, but trying to stop him? That was unacceptable. Though it pained him to do so, Xehanort held his composure and fought off Eraqus' arrest. Over the years, Xehanort had perfected his craft, while Eraqus had grown strict and stiff in both his manners, opinions, and technique. The fight was over immediately, and Eraqus was left with permanent scars as a reminder of that futile struggle. The plan was never discussed again between them, and they didn't speak to each other for many years after that.
To say Xehanort was disappointed was a horrendous understatement. It was infuriating, really, but he had begun to savor such feelings of resentment. As an advocate of the dark, they were valuable fuel for him, making his passionate mission more viable with every condescending voice that took root in his head. Eraqus was merely the newest to join the chorus of doubt, and none of it stopped him from thinking out his plan B. And C. And D, in fact. The next few years were filled to the brim with hypothetical courses plotted with every possible contingency in mind. Every. Possible. Contingency. Some may have called him mad, but in his own eyes, Xehanort was a genius. A thorough, observant genius. He had taken note of the unique nature of the Destiny Islands, scouting it as the ideal grounds from which he would eventually pluck an apprentice of his own. Considering the plans he had in store, there just wasn't a way he could go about it alone.
Then, he finally met the boy. Ventus, he called him, a child with a patchwork heart of conflicting sides who seemed to be the perfect fit for what he had in mind. Ventus was such an anomaly that his Heart clashed with itself, forging an original Keyblade without outside conflict. This strange boy was precisely what Xehanort needed, and he didn't hesitate to snatch him away, taking him to the Badlands he had made into his base of operations. There, he trained Ventus from a brutally young age, making use of the tortured warzone as the perfect place to pit the boy against all sorts of wandering spirits and restless souls. However promising Ventus may have been at first, however, Xehanort quickly learned that he didn't have his Master's talent in teaching others. All he knew was brute force and metaphor, and that just wasn't getting anywhere with this one. It was his second major failure, and he was tempted to abandon Ventus in the desert just to be rid of him. Xehanort wouldn't let this keen specimen go so easily, though. He'd get something out of him by the end of this ordeal, even if it wasn't what he hoped for at the start.
With Ventus' most recent failure leaving him wounded, Xehanort acted on his lack of patience and used the boy in a special, impromptu experiment. He had seen things like the Heartless, and he knew the Keyblade was capable of such manipulation, but the Order never taught techniques like that. He was excited to see what may come, and thus he took up the Gazing Eye and pierced Ventus' Heart, pulling half of it away and leaving the pure light behind. The dark took a form much like the child it came from, but this one had been imbued with Xehanort's intent. More importantly, it carried his loyalty to himself, and was the first person Xehanort met in his life who could properly follow a command. That alone was a phenomenal breakthrough. Finally, Xehanort had a co-operator on his side, and one who was willing to learn, no less. Being split off from Ventus' Heart, this creature even inherited a Keyblade of its own, making it on par with any new wielder of the arts. In honor of the boy who had been nearly sacrificed to birth him, Xehanort decided to give him a distinctly similar name: Vanitas.
Xehanort discarded young Ventus without much thought after that, sending him to Eraqus in a gesture of good faith before returning to his research. Vanitas was a fantastic addition to his party, but it wasn't enough. Xehanort was starting to understand just how much ceremony would need to go into creating the χ-blade, and at this point he had begun to feel the years weigh on him. Seeing the youthful strength of Vanitas and the apprentices of Eraqus had put into perspective how old he had gotten. Even if he could finish his mission, would he live long enough to see the lasting effect? He refused to go halfway with this monumental mission he had taken up, but his body would see its limits soon enough, no matter how much his Heart could endure. His plan to forge the χ-blade started to dim with these thoughts of mortality. He couldn't just create a new body for himself... Or could he?
Ventus. That boy held more answers than Xehanort had first thought! The child proved that the Heart could be moved and divided without any lasting harm to the body, and in that same event, Xehanort had gained firsthand experience with forcing a darkened Heart out of a victim. If he could perfect the process in a controlled environment, who was to say he couldn't do the same to preserve himself? The thought was disturbing, even to him, but the implications were tremendously exciting. If his theories proved true, then with a few smart moves he could give himself all the time he could possibly want to discern the secrets of the χ-blade. Better yet, he wouldn't even need much, so he could use that immortality for whatever else he desired. This one revelation opened up so many doors for him, it was a bit overwhelming to think about, and Xehanort knew just what pawns would serve him in this. Eraqus had assembled three apprentices, Ventus included, and Xehanort learned from experience that competition can plant many seeds of dissent in one's Heart.
Eraqus received him well. Xehanort's previous actions must have given the impression he'd moved past his "foolish" ambitions, but the truth was that he'd merely learned not to speak of them in his friend's presence. With this new bond of trust, Xehanort convinced his fellow Master to let him observe the up-and-coming wielders' Mark of Mastery examination, and through that he was able to get a good look at the apprentices in question. Both of the two being tested showed great potential, though one of them, Aqua, was too pure of heart at the time. She was clearly the prodigy, with a refined technique to her methods and a textbook knowledge of all the procedures. It wasn't hard to tell that she was the class favorite, even before Eraqus gave his scoring, and Xehanort couldn't have been more pleased with that. The brighter one light shines, the deeper the shadow it casts, and that was exemplified perfectly by the other student, Terra. Terra was strong and decisive, but no matter how skilled, he would always be the second best when Aqua was in the room, and it was obvious how this bothered him. Xehanort saw the shadows in that Heart and recognized them as similar to his own. Terra probably wouldn't sink as far into it, but he envied Aqua the same way Xehanort had once envied Eraqus. Seeing how he sparred, though, Terra seemed to be far more hasty. He was the kind of person who would draw conclusions, rather than pursue reason, and that was exactly the kind of person Xehanort needed him to be. Jealous, rash, and plagued with doubt. It was the perfect cocktail of turmoil to mark a Heart in need of a third party who could step in and offer some sage advice.
And so, when Terra failed, he went to him. Xehanort consoled him outside of earshot, confessing that he, too, doubted that Eraqus was right in how he taught them. Was the darkness something to be shunned? Of course not! It cannot be destroyed- It can only be channeled. He urged Terra to separate from the teachings and embrace the darkness, no matter how hazardous. He could handle it easy, after all. He was a strong young man with too much promise for his elders to comprehend. Terra took the advice and praise well, and even thanked Xehanort afterward, a gesture so sincere it almost made him feel bad for the people he was manipulating... but not really. With that piece in play, the rest of his turn was already set up.
Under his guidance, Vanitas had become a master at creating his familiars, the Unversed, and was instructed to spread them while Xehanort was attending the exam. Sure enough, a calling bell rang out as the Master left, signalling that there was a crisis to tend to. Vanitas was going along with his tasks quite well, and as the protocols stated, any new master, or failed master-to-be, could be dispatched to maintain the World Order in such a scenario. Terra, with these unfinished teachings fueling his doubt, would soon be outside of Eraqus' care, and the unchecked Worlds were the perfect place to cultivate the darkness in a Heart like his. Vanitas had even done the truly impossible by single-handedly luring the careful Ventus away as well. Both of Xehanort's key pawns were out on the board, far from their Master's control, and Aqua, well, she was just one fledgeling Keyblade Master. She would be no threat at this point. How could she be?
It was hard to keep himself from smiling throughout the whole journey to come. It took so little to nudge the young Keyblade wielders onto the right paths, tempting Terra further into the dark and feeding Ventus' rivalry with Vanitas, something that could possibly create just the clash he needed to construct the χ-blade. He was even able to conscript a mercenary, Braig, as a third party member to help pressure Terra. Though this resulted in Braig losing a bit of his looks, the pay was good enough that he wouldn't dare back out of their deal. It was all too perfect, and even if Eraqus suspected what was going on, the paranoid Master could never leave his precious academy at this point. If he did, he'd be stepping back into Worlds he hadn't touched in years, and right into the jaws of the Unversed. It was all coming down to the truly interesting phase of his new plan, and one he was anticipating for some time now.
It was to be a betrayal far too grand to forgive, on too many levels to rationalize. When he sent Ventus back to Master Eraqus, who had surely spent all this time brooding over what was happening outside of his vision, the reaction was just as he'd hoped. Eraqus tried to take drastic measures to ensure Ventus couldn't be used to forge the χ-blade, attempting to slay the boy in the process, but he didn't have the chance to go through with it. Xehanort had already warned Terra that Eraqus had cracked, and the two were soon locked in battle. The fight was so one-sided, thanks to Terra's newfound strength, that Xehanort had little time at all to enact his next step. Just after the two beat the sense back into each other and nearly let go of their brief outrage, Xehanort stepped in to kill Eraqus himself, thoroughly shocking Terra so that it would be all the more painful when Xehanort revealed that the whole adventure had been a deceptive scheme involving the deaths of everyone involved- Something he confessed with no hesitation now, knowing it would stir a deep fury in Terra's darkened heart. Before Xehanort could see the immediate fruits of his efforts, though, the Land of Departure they stood in was beset with darkness now that its protector had perished. Terra and Xehanort both fled to the Badlands, leaving their home behind.
There, Xehanort wasted no time in setting the stage. With some incantations he'd set up ahead of time in addition to some special spells of his own design, he detonated several earth-shifting quakes that split up the opposing parties into their own smaller conflicts. This was mainly to separate Aqua at first, who he knew Braig was already intercepting as Terra and Ventus rushed to meet him and Vanitas. When they arrived together, Xehanort wasted little time in disabling Ventus and throwing him over the edge of their raised battleground. Vanitas followed suit, trusted with the ever important task of completing that Clash while Xehanort secured their second objective. Meanwhile, the promise of a second Keyblade War brought forward the face of Kingdom Hearts, the origin of Worlds which awaited the χ-blade's conjuring so its wielder, soon to be Xehanort, may claim control.
Terra was predictably upset, all things considered. The darkness in him had grown to become more immense than even Xehanort had intended, and the young man's fury had long since blinded him from the thoughts of self-control. The fight that ensued was so joyously tense. Even with his defenses, Xehanort could feel all the anger in Terra's strikes, and the haste in them was made so apparent by how easy it was for the Master to step around and dodge whenever he chose to do so. It was such a joy to grind Terra's face to the ground and batter him with spells, egging him on as he stalled for time. When Xehanort began to falter, it was already too late. Both of them saw the flash of light he had been waiting for, a burst of magic that hailed a reaction between light and dark. Vanitas had done it! The χ-blade was complete!
It was time for one last act of betrayal. Xehanort, knowing Terra's life was limited by the growing darkness, used his Keyblade to force his Heart from his chest, sending it into the body of the blighted Terra. Terra's heart was so afflicted with the dark, that it was nearly Heartless already, so pushing it aside to make room was no challenge. In that moment, Xehanort found new life in a stolen body, so all that remained was to claim the χ-blade and see his future realized. Terra was still there, in the back of his mind, fighting for control, but soon he let up and gave in to the temptation of sleep. This was not his world anymore, as his will had been exhausted... At least, that was how it seemed.
A binding spell came to be before Xehanort could claim his prize, sealing him in that battlefield. He felt a presence lingering nearby, and for a moment he felt panic, turning to see that Terra's armor, discarded after the possession, had taken up his Keyblade of its own accord. His body submits, his heart succumbs- So why does his mind resist? It was ridiculous, absurd, and all manners of infuriating. Xehanort, indulging in the youthful energy of this new body, didn't hesitate to challenge the ghostly remains of his victim, but he soon found that this was a mistake. He should have dispelled the barrier and tried to escape, because his movements in these unfamiliar limbs were too passionate and sloppy. The ghost was unfeeling and impossible to exhaust after all. In stoking Terra's fury, Xehanort had created a monster that transcended mortality with far more ease than stealing another body, because this ghost didn't need a body. Xehanort was completely outclassed and summarily defeated. Worse, he was utterly humiliated. It was a mercy that the vengeful apparition wasn't intelligent enough to truly destroy him. As consciousness began to fail him, Xehanort reached out with his heart and created the second of what would be many connections that would forever tie him to this plane. With that, he felt his sense leave him.
His beating at the hands of Terra's phantom was too brutal, it seemed, as even when Xehanort awoke once more, his memories quickly began to fail him. Fainting repeatedly, he wandered with less and less awareness of himself until he was found by Aqua, the third student of Eraqus whose name he couldn't quite recall properly anymore. Xehanort lashed out again, this time pulling Terra's muddled heart into it as well, conjuring him as a Heartless who served as his Guardian in the battle to come. With the two of them still bound together and all three fighting against each other, the collective dark grew too deep, and Terra's returning consciousness caused him to rebel against Xehanort's control, sending both of them into the abyss. Both of them surely would have drowned in it, had Aqua not thrown herself to it and sent them back in an act of mercy for her friend. Terra and Xehanort were both subdued once again, and this time the former was sent far deeper into sleep while the latter was robbed of his identity once again. When he awoke a second time, he was found by the authorities of Radiant Garden, the World he had wandered to, and where Braig was employed. He was taken in by the mercenary's employer, Ansem the Wise, and probably should have lived peacefully as a scientific apprentice. However, this was not to be, as the tumultuous hearts inside of him would not stay asleep forever, and Braig's faith to their cause meant he, too, refused to let it be forgotten forever.
Tutoring and therapy from Braig allowed Xehanort to remember himself and regain his motives. Working mostly behind the back of his new master, Ansem, Xehanort used the state-of-the-art equipment in the labs of Radiant Garden to delve deeper into the mysteries of the heart. Braig's account of the clash between Ventus and Vanitas revealed that even this wasn't enough to create the χ-blade. At most, it made a pitiful, half-done replica that was truly little more than a fancy Keyblade with a bit more punch. Even if Xehanort claimed it, he would have yet more work to do, so perhaps it was fortunate that he was left in the position he was now, with these expertly-arranged facilities at his disposal. Things were not all to his liking, though, as he still answered to Ansem, who was growing progressively more concerned about where his own research may take him. Eventually, Ansem declared that the experiments were to be halted completely, apparently having become too reverent of Kingdom Hearts. He stated it was too important, that it "must not be defiled". Xehanort was appalled at the man's lack of spine, but he wasn't worried. Other routes had already opened up to him.
He already had a talent for convincing people, as shown with Terra, and that experience was very helpful to him now. Ansem's other apprentices and personal guard were all unsatisfied for their own reasons, so turning them against their master was even less of a challenge than the Keyblade wielders he'd manipulated before. They banished Ansem from Radiant Garden, sending him to a dark place far from the realm of light. With his discipline no longer holding them back, they continued onward with Xehanort's next plans. He threw them to the dark, soon joining them afterward. According to their theories, doing so deliberately would give them some unique results. Sure enough, that's exactly what happened. Mostly.
They and a few "volunteers" they brought along were divided in two. Their hearts became Heartless, and the bodies they left behind became Nobodies. As he predicted, many of the Nobodies retained consciousness, though only one Heartless, that which came from Xehanort and carried the remnants of Terra's with it, boasted such a result. That Heartless stole Ansem's name, while his Nobody took up the moniker of Xemnas. From there, they split up to accomplish their new tasks. Ansem, alone, first had the duty of completing Xehanort's special side project. Xehanort had theorized that one could travel through time if they were able to lighten their load enough. As one's body weighed so much physically, it was bound to forever stay on the ground, moving forward as the laws of time demanded. The heart, however, had far less weight, and could move freely if it had the knowledge necessary to do so. It required that, the will to move, as well as a specific destination and a method of anchoring itself there. With this, Ansem was able to travel far back to Destiny Islands, where he told the young Xehanort there to keep his heart open. That formed a connection between Young Xehanort and Ansem that would prove essential later. Ansem returned to the present then, where he kept his own heart open as he indulged his own curiosity and split off from Xehanort's intents to live his own life. No further action was needed from him.
Xemnas, meanwhile, had a far more complicated task. As a living Nobody, he immediately replaced his heart, allowing him to feel and live again. However, he did not allow it to grow healthy. He instead locked it inside himself, only drawing on it as was necessary to feel passion for his duty. He gathered the eleven other Nobodies with their new-growing, unfeeling hearts and convinced them that they had none. In doing so, Xemnas was able to 'teach' them that, in order to complete themselves and all other Nobodies, they must construct Kingdom Hearts with hearts stolen from those who dared to live normally in the realm of light. Their young, impressionable minds were easy to lie to, and this nonsense plan sated their want for purpose. Though Xemnas had enough of his own opinions to want to continue regardless of his ulterior motives, his original reason for doing so was purely so their twelve hearts could develop enough to have the integrity for time travel, the mysteries of which had also been communicated to him. At one point, they recruited Roxas, the Nobody originating from a Keyblade wielder who recently fought with Ansem, due to his ability to wield that same Keyblade. This rounded their staff to thirteen, at which point they dubbed themselves Organization XIII. One member, Vexen, was assigned to a special project in which he constructed a method of fabricating artificial bodies, dubbed Replicas, which could carry a heart and fill the role of a living person. This, much like the other tasks given to Ansem and Xemnas, was an essential component of the greater plan. Those in the Organization who were deemed truly trustworthy were told the details of that plan, and were instructed to keep their hearts open. The others, meanwhile, were expendable. This included Roxas, but did not include their fourteenth member, Xion, who had been made using a late-series Replica and a heart manufactured from the memories taken from Sora, the Keyblade wielder who had destroyed Ansem, only to wander into one of the Organization's strongholds. The place was enchanted to allow tampering and theft of those memories, thus allowing Xion's creation.
Though Xion's emotions proved problematic, it wasn't an issue when Roxas came to blows and slew her. Her heart could be remade, as could her body, so time travel wasn't even necessary to preserve her. Roxas, as well as several other untrustworthy members, eventually defected from the organization, but they were also dispatched by both more loyal members and the interference of Sora. The numbers weren't ideal at this point, but with Xemnas and Vexen's ability to create hearts and bodies on top of their perfected time travel which could move any version of a given heart to a chosen time, there was little concern of further defection. They could just choose a previous version of the defector's heart, or remake them completely. So long as they had their future anchor, the plot was invincible.
That plot came to be when Xemnas and the rest of the Organization were defeated by Sora. To that boy, it looked like a victory, but in truth it was just a cleansing of the slate, removing all remaining variables that could interfere later. Destroying Ansem and Xemnas allowed Xehanort to reform, and thus he opened his heart, creating an anchor from himself that allowed his chosen hearts to come forward and inhabit a stock of Replicas, thus creating a new Organization XIII to serve him. Members came and went as he debated and deliberated about who, precisely, he should bring with him, but no matter what roster he constructed, one thing was sure: He'd be one short, and that wouldn't do. Going off his final calculations, assembled between both him and Braig (who had become Xigbar once entering the Organization), they needed thirteen total Clashes to occur for the χ-blade to be completed. Thus, they needed to create thirteen beings of appropriately dark attunement, which they could do by assembling twelve other willing vessels who could then be infected with the dark extracted from his own heart, whether that be the one he currently held or more duplicates brought forward from the past. Doing so would depend on bringing forward Xion, but her disposition was fragile at best. Relying on her would be too much of a risk, so they decided to take a risk. By this point, they were all familiar with Sora. In fact, he was their best candidate in terms of lights to complete their Clash. Considering there were other equivalent Keyblade wielders at this point, though, he was no longer essential. Those other wielders were actively searching for more anyway, so Sora was as expendable as ever, and Xehanort's servants had seen the dark that yet plagued the boy's heart.
Some scouting showed that Sora planned to take a revised examination to evaluate his eligibility for Masterhood, and the Organization took their chance when they saw it, infiltrating the exam. The premise was that Sora and his fellow wielder, Riku, would navigate a fabricated dream world to accomplish some arbitrary objectives. Xehanort applauded how much more spectacle was involved now, but he also saw the flaws, most notably the fact that it was so very easy to change a dream with the use of dark magics. Through this method, they lured Sora into a sleep like death, leaving him perfectly vulnerable to abduction. They took him back to their stronghold and set about summoning a duplicate of Xehanort to possess him as their last member, but there was still a problem. Riku, the other wielder who they had gladly ignored, caught up and assaulted the fort together with allies from Disney, including Mickey, his knight captain Goofy and his court wizard Donald. Though the Organization had an advantage at first, Mickey had an ace up his sleeve, powerful time magic that stopped all of them in place. Being the pioneer of such magic, however, Xehanort's young self who came forward to join the Organization was able to dispel the effect from himself and infiltrate the safe space Mickey had created, knocking him aside and challenging Riku alone. Though Young Xehanort was defeated in that fight, it was another case of biding time. Xehanort came to the present and cast his spell to possess the darkened, sleeping Sora, but another interference prevented the spell from landing. Lea, one of the first Organization's defectors who had since been made whole again, deflected the spell, thus wasting the heart spent in casting it. That version of Xehanort was forced to dissipate, and the rest of the Organization fled, this outing ending in failure. They would have to depend on Xion after all.
Though he wasn't considered trustworthy enough to hold Xehanort's heart, Vexen was kept aboard to remake a body for Xion, after which he was assigned to more mundane tasks out of curiosity. Demyx, a far less significant member, was kept as his assistant, and the two of them were given a great deal of freedom without supervision. Their betrayal was known as inevitable, but it wasn't a concern. Their actions were ignored as the twelve main Organization members focused on more important matters, such as indoctrinating the reincarnated Xion, securing potential lights in case Sora and his Guardians turned out to not be enough, and looking into methods of breeding more Unversed. As Vanitas had been brought into the new Organization, they had the potential to be a more loyal and reliable army as opposed to the Heartless and Nobodies, both of which could be unpredictable at times. When they saw Sora approaching, the Organization retreated to the Keyblade Graveyard to confront them. The first order of business was to execute a few special trials. Xehanort oversaw the first, where they spent the remainder of their now-obsolete army of Heartless and Nobodies whittling down Sora's party. During this fight, most of them pulled further back, leaving only Terra-Xehanort, taken from before Terra's ghost had beaten him, to carry out the second trial. Their army was spent, yes, but there was still a multitude of surplus Heartless that could be taken from the realm of darkness at any time. None were viable for a Clash, but together they would put up more than enough of a fight to test the strength of the lights in Sora's party. When Terra-Xehanort returned from this duty to report to Xehanort, it was confirmed that they were just as potent as necessary. They could begin.
The Organization met the Guardians soon after, and Xehanort created a labyrinth around them so that he could remain safe while his servants sacrificed themselves within. Xemnas was slightly less expendable, instead supervising the Clashes to make sure each went as needed. That, and he was also tasked with subduing and abducting Kairi, one of Sora's fellow Keyblade wielders who apparently held a strong bond with the boy. She would serve well as motivation in case the Guardians decided to leave this fight partway through. None of these so-called 'heroes' could leave behind a damsel in distress. They'd never live it down.
As each Clash completed and the hearts of dark were snuffed out, Xehanort used the release to fashion twelve different Keys separate from his own. Each filled him with another dose of power, another reminder of what would come from the thirteenth Key. Then, as he predicted, Sora tried to trump him. Xehanort was alone, and was the only member of Organization XIII who could throw himself to the dogs that were Sora's Guardians, and that would surely end in his demise if he did. So, either he could doom himself thus, or they could all give up, letting the Keys dissipate and throwing away his many years of planning. Xehanort's ace came into play in that moment, as he still had Kairi. Sora, outraged as he was, wasn't fast enough to stop Xehanort from murdering again, personally adding Kairi to the list of lives lost for his sake. He deflected Sora's clumsy attack afterward, and with his new power he did the same to Riku and even Mickey, whose magics just weren't enough now that Xehanort was so enhanced from their ritual.
Xehanort brought the Keys together, and finally, finally, the χ-blade was complete. He proudly proclaimed that he'd done it, though he felt the weakness of age yet weighing on him. He was tired and weak from all the running and other work, and his voice had even lost most of its force, sounding airy in his ears now without the assertive tone he held in his earlier years. He had so little time left, but that didn't matter now that he was this close. With the χ-blade in hand, he tore into Kingdom Hearts, setting its greatest power into motion: The power to bring the Worlds back together and reform them in a grand blank slate. As things had gone, it was their fate to sink into darkness, but in doing this he was able to refuse that destiny in favor of one of his own making. After so long, it was all finally over. Just then, though, he felt something was amiss, and he turned back to the Guardians only to see a great beam of light heading toward him. He had no time to evade, and so that beam was shot through his chest, putting a spell of its own into place. A great red orb appeared, bursting from his heart and taking hold of him. Xehanort wasn't familiar with its appearance, but he knew what it was. It was a portal. More specifically, it was his portal. A fear he never knew he had was realized. The Guardians deciphered his plan, and now they were using his own tools against him. He was forced into the opening, and was followed shortly after by Sora and two other Guardians he didn't know the name of.
Not everything was out of his control. Though trapped inside his heart, Xehanort had all his connections at his disposal, including those which transcended time. There, in the architecture of his heart that took the shape of his old memories of Scala ad Caelum, he didn't need Replicas to house the hearts he brought forward and melded together into a hive of living weapons. In that place, he and his other selves could be one, and he used this to his advantage as, once again, he quickly set about buying himself time. So long as he could keep the connection intact, he could harass Sora endlessly with his duplicated selves. Unfortunately for him, he knew his power was not infinite. Whenever those imaginary bodies were wounded, it was his mind that needed to put effort into keeping them together and sending them back into battle. It soon turned out to be too much, and so Xehanort had to personally engage with the boy to keep from wearing out his magic with his remote assault. He used his influence liberally, since he had heart to spare now that he wasn't sustaining thirteen others, but it didn't matter how much he set on fire, how many buildings and ports he twisted and broke, or even how long he tried to drown the boy, Sora wouldn't let up. His tenacity was impressive. Inspiring, even, but moreso than anything else it was frustrating. Xehanort had put so much into getting this far. He had lived thirteen lives and ended more, and yet he was being upstaged by a child! Distracted, he faltered, and Sora was nearly able to finish him. Xehanort retreated further inward, giving himself the last amount of time he needed to get the right connection in place.
When Sora caught up, he used that connection to its fullest, pulling the χ-blade and Kingdom Hearts into their prison and meeting the boy again. Instead of trying to bend the environment, he used it to bring out the depths of his own strength, using Kingdom Hearts as a nigh-infinite catalyst for any spell or strike he could fathom. It was liberating to move with such ease and freedom, to strike with such force. It was like he weighed nothing at all. As a heart connected to the nexus of all hearts, he felt invincible, and yet... it just wasn't enough. Why? Why, when he had the expertise, the power, and all the tactics, could Sora still keep up? How did Sora still evade his spells and parry his swings. Why, even when Xehanort manually ripped all the light from the boy's heart, did he still shine so bright? Every movement Xehanort made was so sure, but the effect made them seem pointless in the end.
Xehanort collapsed, not having realized how much he had exerted himself. The χ-blade had fallen from his hands, and he couldn't reach it. He was on the ground, and he couldn't stand again. Sora stopped fighting, too, and Xehanort couldn't tell whether it was because it was a sure victory or if this was a matter of pity. He didn't know which one made him more furious. Just after he was soaring so high, he was now made to grovel under the weight of his own fatigue, barely strong enough now to hold himself up by his hands. Where had all his strength gone..?
Sora spoke up then, telling him it was over, but Xehanort wouldn't give up. He bluffed, insisting that it was too late for the child to stop what was happening, the purge that he'd set in motion. He then made a plea, on the off chance that Sora might understand if he gave a proper explanation of himself and why he was the necessary leader of this world. He stood tall, stating his cause with pride. He might be able to convince the boy, tell him the right of things. Sora could have helped him, but instead he just insisted to Xehanort that destiny was beyond his control, and that a real 'leader' should accept that. Rather than be angered at this response, Xehanort was surprised to find himself amused by it. It mirrored the same thoughts he had heard from someone else a long while ago. It was someone who, in retrospect, he somewhat missed. He couldn't help but remark aloud that Sora reminded himself of this old friend.
It was revealed at that point, though, that Xehanort wasn't the only person biding for time. While he and Sora were locked in their struggle, the other Guardians were counteracting his spell, locking away Kingdom Hearts from his control. Xehanort realized when he saw them enter, understanding now that he should have considered what was going on outside his heart prison. He still had most of his access to Kingdom Hearts, and could probably put up a fight if he tried, but he was outnumbered severely by the Guardians, some of whom were Keyblade wielders he was sure had perished. One such wielder was the first to approach him. Terra, the apprentice he betrayed most brutally, walked up and looked at him with the most piteous expression, one that would have angered him more if he wasn't currently frozen in hesitation. When Terra spoke, that was when Xehanort knew that it wasn't quite Terra who was looking at him. He claimed to have told Xehanort that the light would surprise him, something that was very much out of character for the naive near-Master he knew. No, this was someone else, a sly fox who had cleverly escaped death the same was he had. It was Eraqus.
The heart that had followed along Terra's left to take form, and for the first time in many years he looked his rival- his friend -in the eye. It was maddening to think that even the most basic plot of his was still a complete failure. Eraqus tried to talk him down, but Xehanort raised the χ-blade with a shaking hand and proclaimed that he could still do this, although when Eraqus approached, he just couldn't bring himself to swing. He let his old friend push his hand down, gently disarming him and declaring, "Checkmate."
That word, in that voice, was the last thing needed to sap any and all remaining motivation from him. Even Xehanort wasn't deluded enough to think he had sway in a position like this. It really was checkmate. Xehanort felt himself smiling, albeit bittersweetly He handed the χ-blade over to Sora, admitting that it was a job well done on their part, and surrendered them all to their reunions with their beloved Master Eraqus. Seeing their exchanged goodbyes, thank-yous and apologies, Xehanort decided to skip away from it all. Perhaps he didn't agree with how these Guardians would handle things, but it was clear they were more deserving than someone like him, who had gotten so caught up in the moment so as to practically blind himself. The others may not have been the ideal leaders in his eye, but with so little time left to learn from his mistakes, Xehanort couldn't imagine himself being any better.
His legs nearly failed him, however, and he would have stumbled if not for the intervention of Eraqus, who stepped forward again to support him. Xehanort was surprised, having expected him to remain with the others, but it now looked as if his friend had a mind to follow him. It was reassuring to know that, even after all he'd done, he wouldn't be left alone, and so Xehanort took Eraqus' shoulder for support and they faded away together, both content with having forgiven their past fights and ready to leave that plane for the next. When Eraqus asked if Xehanort was ready to face this fate, he said only one word in response.
...What he didn't know was that this was not the end. His soul would soon be plucked from the aether and brought back into the world of the living as another piece on the board in the cruel Reaper's Game of life.
”Darkness is a beginning, you see, not an end.” -When confronted by Eraqus about his plans to build the χ-blade.
"All worlds begin in darkness, and all so end. The heart is no different." -The core philosophy upon which his many plots were built.
"There is one sky. One destiny." -A reaffirmation of Xehanort's belief, clarifying that, regardless of light and dark, the fundamental rules of the world are still the same.
...When Eraqus asked if Xehanort was ready to face this fate, he said only one word in response: "Yes."
He had been ready. He was fully prepared to accept hit end, so why, with all that said, was he still here? With his temple flush with the dirt, all he could do was clench a fist when he realized where he was- Where he still was. The memories of what had happened flowed back to him in a rush of crushed hope. His defeat, forgiveness, and the relief in the end, and then the new face he saw afterward. The offer he was given. That was the part that hurt most of all.
True, his returning greed for life pushed him to overcome the trials in the end, but he didn't win outright. The struggles had backed him into a proverbial corner, and the cost of error was far higher than he could afford. He was thrown back into the life he didn't truly want, and was cursed to bear the fleeting memory of the mercy that was given to him, a mercy that he had now thrown away. He had not the faintest clue of what they might say when they met again. It was equally difficult to consider just where he was supposed to go, allied or not. What goal did he have, after such a... tumultuous failure like that?
He felt the old stings of doubt and frustration swelling back up in his chest. Did his old cause even matter at this point? It was hard to say if it did, but it was harder to say it didn't. When he pushed the ground away, coming to his feet and standing alone in that empty place, completely alone save for the blades scattered around him, he looked upward and wondered just what he was meant for, if not what he had fought for before. Perhaps this was, in a cruel way, the Worlds' way of reminding him why he was created to begin with. Xehanort took a deep breath, surprised to feel it come and go with more ease than he last recalled. That dryness inside was gone now, replaced with a suspicious font of strength and sureness that seemed out of place in a heart as conflicted as his. That sensation would be the only vote of confidence he had left to his name, and so it would have to be enough. Instinctively, he silently called out to that strength, and he felt the light and dark he carried take form in his hand. Even now, the Keyblade lingered with this old man, although it came off as distant this time, as if the connection wasn't so personal anymore. Nonetheless, he let it hang from his hand, using the other to prop up his hunched back, and like that, he started to walk.
Alma Taschner, Fyursos Shotlox, Altima and Jack Yojimbo.
How'd you find us?:
Garl pulled a duplicate of their heart from the past to apply for this character.