Director Tetsuya Nomura has said that the Dark Seeker Saga is merely the first phase of the series, which will continue afterwards.
Becoming a MasterXehanort, a young man from Destiny Islands, yearns for a way to leave his home for a more adventurous life. His future Heartless comes to him, tasking him with the duty of finding twelve splintered versions of themself through-out time and space and bring them to The World That Never Was on the day his elderly self would be revived. He succeeds in finding eleven candidates and informs Sora, the thirteenth (and unwilling) vessel, that returning to his own time will erase all that he has learned in the future, but his path will be etched in his heart. After failing to complete Organization XIII, Young Xehanort returns to the past and resumes longing for the Outside World again.
Eventually, he manages to do so (by means unknown) and comes to live in the Land of Departure, where he becomes a Keyblade wielder under a Keyblade Master and befriends a fellow apprentice, Eraqus. Xehanort and Eraqus eventually come to see each other as brothers, but their friendship is shattered by their conflicting beliefs in the balance of Light and Darkness. While Eraqus believes Darkness must be destroyed, Xehanort believes Darkness can be controlled with enough training. Xehanort and Eraqus eventually pass the Mark of Mastery examand are deemed Keyblade Masters, but Xehanort, now having learned a lot about Keyblade lore, particularly the events surrounding the famed Χ-Blade and Kingdom Hearts itself, Xehanort sets out on a mission to merge with Kingdom Hearts and remake the universe in his own image, despite the lives it will cost. His first step is to find a vessel to transfer his heart into from his now-aged body, but his apprentice, Ventus, proves to be too frail for this, so he instead decides to use Ventus for the χ-blade by extracting the Darkness from his heart into a separate being, Vanitas. Though Ventus survives the ordeal, Xehanort takes him to Eraqus to be trained in Light. In the process, Xehanort meets Eraqus's two students, Terra and Aqua, and sets his eyes on Terra as his new vessel.
Quest for the X-bladeFour years later, Xehanort begins to manipulate Terra into turning against his friends and loved ones and luring him toward the Darkness. First, he sabotages Terra's Mark of Mastery exam and then stages his own disappearance. Along the way, Xehanort comes into contact with an evil fairy, Maleficent, and tricks her into beginning a quest to gather the Seven Princesses of Heart, maidens with no darkness in their hearts. Once "found" by Terra, Xehanort "guides" Terra in the ways of the darkness, and stages his own kidnapping at the hands of a lackey, Braig, in order to provoke Terra's anger and vulnerability to darkness. Xehanort then makes Braig a vessel for a fragment of his heart to honor his promise of giving him a Keyblade. Along his way, Terra comes across Destiny Islands, where he meets a young boy, Riku, and chooses him as his successor to wield the Keyblade one day. Meanwhile, on Xehanort's orders, Vanitas goads Ventus into chasing after Terra, who Ventus has come to love like a brother, in order to make him stronger for the χ-blade. Through Xehanort's machinations, Eraqus almost ends Ventus but is stopped by Terra, who battles him and injures him, while Xehanort delivers the final blow. With his plans revealed, Xehanort goads Terra to meet him at the site of the Keyblade War, the Keyblade Graveyard, while Ventus and Aqua are instructed to do the same. At the Keyblade Graveyard, after an epic battle, Xehanort finally puts his plans into action. He transfers his heart into Terra's body and becomes Terra-Xehanort, but Terra's Keyblade Armor comes to life as the Lingering Will and defeats Xehanort. Vanitas succeeds in possessing Ventus and creating the X-Blade, but Aqua, aided by fellow Keyblade apprentice, Mickey Mouse, manages to defeat Vanitas and shatter the χ-blade, creating a corridor which scatters everyone present to different locations. Xehanort ends up in the Radiant Garden, but with his memories slowly leaving due to Terra's heart resisting him. Aqua finds him and manages to defeat Xehanort after an intense battle, allowing Terra to gain the upper hand, but Xehanort retaliates by stabbing himself with his own Keyblade and falling into the Realm of Darkness. Aqua sacrifices herself to save Terra-Xehanort, ending up trapped in the Darkness. Xehanort, now with apparent amnesia, is found by Ansem the Wise and taken in as one of his apprentices.
A Heartless and a NobodyA year later, however, Xehanort slowly begins to regain his memories as Master Xehanort. He and Braig successfully manipulate Ansem into experimentng with the heart, which created Heartless as an unexpected side-effect, in order to learn how to make a mind relinquish its sense of self as part of their plan to place fragments of Xehanort's heart amongst eleven other vessels. When Ansem becomes remorseful of the actions they tricked him into taking, they and the other apprentices, Dilan, Even, Aeleus and Ienzo banish him to the Realm of Nothingness and Xehanort steals Ansem's name. Eventually Xehanort completely regains his memories, allowing him to once more weild his Keyblade. He turned on the apprentices, removing their hearts and turning them into Nobodies. When Braig questions him on his motives, Xehanort simply removes his heart next. He then removes his own heart, allowing his Nobody and those of the other apprentices to become the founders of Organization XIII. But knowing full well that over time, the Nobodies will begin to develop hearts and personalities of their own, Xehanort's Heartless, Ansem travels back in time and contacts Xehanort as a young man, granting him the ability to travel through time and begin gathering various incarnations of himself together as a backup plan.
Now split into a Heartless and a Nobody, Xehanort continues his plans in two different directions. As Ansem, he leads an army of Heartless across several worlds in order to swallow as many as possible to find a way to the Door to Darknes in order to recover the true Kingdom Hearts lost during the Keyblade War, while as the Nobody Xemnas, he begins searching for more Nobodies to join Organization XIII.Nine years later, however, Xehanort's plans begin to fall apart due to the intervention of another Keyblade wielder, Sora, who defeats Maleficent and her council of villains, and successfully defeats Ansem at the End of the World. Though Ansem managed to linger on in the heart of Riku, another Keyblade weilder, the youth manages to slay the conciousness of Ansem; however, the very essence of the Heartless remains until Riku is cleansed of it by the explosion of Ansem the Wise's machine. Meanwhile, Xemnas completes his Organization, the thirteenth member being Sora's Nobody, Roxas, who can also wield the Keyblade and use it to gather hearts for an artificial Kingdom Hearts; Roxas was a prime candidate for being converted into a clone of Xehanort due to his original lack of awareness, but over time this characteristic faded. As a backup to ensure a Keyblade wielder loyal to their cause, Xemnas creates a Replica of Sora, Xion, for the purpose of absorbing Roxas and becoming an obedient clone of Sora, but this plan falls apart when Xion develops her own personality and is defeated in battle by Roxas.
However, the members of the Organization begin falling one-by-one at the hands of Sora (or willingly ending their existences as Roxas, and Axel choose to do), leaving the amount of available candidates smaller and smaller. During this time, Xemnas managed to place a fragment of his heart in Saix. When Ansem the Wise's machine exploded, it took a chunk of the artificial Kingdom Hearts with it, leaving Xemnas to start all over again. When the Keyblade weilders refused to get him more hearts, Xemnas fought with the strength of what was left of his Kingdom Hearts, but was defeated by Sora and Riku.
ReturnWith the destruction of both Ansem and Xemnas, it would appear that the madness of Xehanort has been destroyed forever. However, this was soon revealed to have been merely the beginning, as the destruction of the two beings who each held seperate pieces of Master Xehanort's existence (Xemnas was the body and soul while Ansem was the heart) will lead to his rebirth as a complete person. To counter the return of the greatest madman the World has ever known since the Keyblade War, retired Keyblade Master Yen Sid puts Sora and Riku through the Mark of Mastery exam in order to make them strong enough to defeat Xehanort. However, a mysterious youth hinders their journey, often appearing to them in the company of Ansem or Xemnas, much to the shock of Riku and Sora. Sora is eventually sent to The World That Never Was, where Xigbar, the youth, Xemnas and Ansem put him into a deep sleep.
Riku tracks Sora to the Castle That Never Was, where he is confronted by the youth. The young man reveals himself to be Xehanort from the past, given the ability to travel through time by Ansem in order to gather the many versions of Xehanort to attend the revival of Master Xehanort.Upon his revival, the Master admits that he miscalculated his previous attempt to forge the χ-blade with Ventus and Vanitas, but resolves to forge it correctly by pitting his thirteen Seekers of Darkness, composed of himself and his twelve other vessels from across time and space, against the seven Guardians of Light, either the seven princesses of heart or seven Keyblade wielders protecting them. However, as Master Xehanort prepares to place a fragment of his heart inside Sora's body to complete his group, his plans are foiled by reinforcements and he is forced to retreat with his incomplete Organization, promising that they will all meet again at the predestined final battle.
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