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|“||But, darkness did cover the world once, in legend. We know so little about the Keyblade War, only that it was just the beginning. Amidst that crisis, a precious light was found. It is a curious tale and one worth exploring. They say ruin brings about creation. So what, then would another Keyblade War bring? When the darkness falls, will we be found worthy of the precious light the legend speaks of? I must have these answers. The χ-blade needs to be forged and with it, the door to the Keyblade War unlocked.||„|
|~ Master Xehanort describing his long term goal.|
Master Xehanort is the main antagonist of the Dark Seeker Saga, the first phase of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. He is the original incarnation of Xehanort from which Ansem, the Seeker of Darkness, Xemnas and all others spawned. He manipulated almost every event in the series, and devised many backup plans that involve dividing his heart among 13 different beings created from his power and take over the universe.
Master Xehanort was a Keyblade Master, the first master of Ventus, and the creator and master of Vanitas, the original incarnation of Ansem and Xemnas and the future self of Young Xehanort. He served as the main antagonist and final boss of both Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts III and the central antagonist of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, being the true villain who has orchestrated the whole event.
In Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance, he was voiced by the late Leonard Nimoy in the English dubbed version, who also played Sentinel Prime in the Transformers series, and the late Chikao Ōtsuka in the Japanese dubbed version, who also voiced Captain Hook in the same series, Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog and Wario in Japanese commiricials for the Wario games. In Kingdom Hearts III, he was voiced in the English version by the late Rutger Hauer (who also played Wulfgar in Nighthawks, Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Lothos in Buffy the Vampire, John Ryder in The Hitcher, Huntsman in The 10th Kingdom and Patrick Henry Roark in Sin City) in the base game and by Christopher Lloyd (who also played Kruge in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit) in the ReMind DLC and Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory. In the Japanese version by Akio Ōtsuka, who is Chikao Ōtsuka's son and also notably does the role of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Terra-Xehanort, as well as the voice of Marshall D. Teach in the Japanese version of One Piece.
Xehanort grew up on the Destiny Islands. In his youth, he met his future Heartless, Ansem, who gave him the mission of assembling various versions of himself across time. As Young Xehanort, he carried out his duties in the future before returning to his time without his memories. However, his experiences in the future had engraved themselves upon his heart as a desire to leave the islands. He eventually left the islands, and while his name was lost to memory, his feat of leaving the islands would become legend.
Eventually, Xehanort arrived at Scala ad Caelum, where he was trained in the ways of the Keyblade alongside fellow apprentice Eraqus. The two would often play chess between training sessions. Though instructed by his master to wear Keyblade armor to protect his heart from darkness, Xehanort eventually shed his armor, desiring to control the darkness.
Before his Mark of Mastery exam, Xehanort met the Master of Masters, who gave him a black coat. By this point, Xehanort confided in the Master that he had started viewing people more cynically, believing that the worlds were all in chaos and that he would be the one to bring order to them, a notion that the Master seemingly encouraged. When asked by Xehanort, the Master revealed his name to him before bidding him farewell.
Upon becoming a Keyblade Master, Xehanort inherited the ancient No Name Keyblade and was free to explore the worlds while Eraqus became the steward of the Land of Departure. Over countless years of research and travel, Xehanort became obsessed with the events of the Keyblade War. He felt that there was no balance between the light and the darkness, so he planned to recreate the χ-blade to cause a second Keyblade War with hopes to establish balance. By the time he confided his goals to Eraqus, Xehanort had mastered the powers of darkness and used them to scar his former friend in defense.
He attempted to utilize the darkness of a Keyblade wielder named Ventus to recreate the χ-Blade and serve as a host for his heart to prolong his life long enough for his plan to come to fruition. However, Ventus refused to succumb to his darkness and Xehanort is forced to extract the darkness and create Vanitas before leaving a weakened Ven to die on the Destiny Islands.
But, seeing the boy pulling through, Xehanort has Ven sent to be trained by Eraqus so he can become Vanitas' equal in order for their reunion to recreate the χ-blade. By that time, Xehanort found a more ideal host in one of Eraqus' two students: Terra.
Birth by Sleep
While Vanitas traveled the worlds spreading the Unversed to prepare Ventus for their reunion, Xehanort was looking for the Princesses of Heart (seven princesses with hearts of pure light). He managed to find one, Princess Aurora. It was also at that time that he arranged for Maleficent to find the other Princesses of Heart for him.
He also came to Radiant Garden to employ the services of Braig, offering him a Keyblade of his own in return for helping him in getting Terra to embrace his darkness.
Though Braig was scarred as a result of Terra using his darkness, winning the youth's trust as a result, Xehanort threateningly calmed him down before infusing part of his heart into Braig's body. By tricking Terra into defeating Eraqus, Xehanort kills his old friend and casts the entire Land of Departure into darkness before telling Terra to meet him in the Keyblade Graveyard where his plan will be completed.
Managing to separate Terra from the others, with Braig holding them off, Xehanort sends Vanitas to enact his reunion with Ven. Managing to get Terra to unleash his full fury on him before seeing the light marking the restoration of the χ-blade, Xehanort uses his Keyblade to transfer his heart into Terra's body, turning the youth into his vessel Terra-Xehanort.
However, with a new younger body, Xehanort found resistance from Terra through both his Lingering Will and the heart of Terra itself as he attempts to aid Aqua. It was only when Terra-Xehanort attempted to purge Terra's heart that the vessel loses all his memories except the name "Xehanort" which he took.
However, unable to fully rid himself of Terra, Xehanort reveals the series of backup plans he arranged that were ultimately carried by Terra-Xehanort's splinter selves, false Ansem and Xemnas. Even though Sora and his friends foil their schemes, Xehanort had another plan set into motion.
Signs of What's Next
After the defeat of Ansem and Xemnas, Yen Sid explains to King Mickey that those actions actually freed Xehanort's heart from the Heartless Ansem and vanquished Terra-Xehanort's leftover body which had become his Nobody Xemnas, thus both halves' destruction has now lead to the reconstruction of Xehanort's pure and original incarnation: Master Xehanort.
Dream Drop Distance
Having expecting it, Xehanort arranged for his past self to gather every incarnation or vessel of himself together at the World That Never Was to witness Master Xehanort's return while capturing Sora as he and Riku were in the Sleeping Worlds. Eventually, ten Xehanort's, which included his Heartless and Nobody as well as Braig and Isa, were gathered.
When Riku arrives to rescue Sora, who is in the Organization's clutches, King Mickey freezes time to allow Riku to escape. However, Master Xehanort's soul possesses his younger self and duels Riku.
After the battle, Master Xehanort finally revives. Xehanort callously admits he misjudged the χ-blade being recreated with only Ventus and Vanitas, stating that their fate, along with Aqua and Terra's, was all predestined. He further elaborates that his Thirteen Seekers of Darkness, the true Organization XIII, with be able to recreate the χ-blade by clashing with seven lights, the seven wielders of the Keyblade. Though Xehanort attempts to add Sora to his rank to complete the members, Lea's interference ruins it as he and his followers scatter, but he promises that the final battle will come soon.
Kingdom Hearts III
Master Xehanort first appeared in the Keyblade Graveyard with Saix and Xigbar. He recalled the time he was encountered by the Master of Masters 75 years ago without truly knowing who he was. The purpose for their assembly was to discuss who they needed to fill their ranks after failing to make Sora their thirteenth member. He was reminded by Saix that Larxene and Marluxia were searching for the New Seven Hearts while Luxord was looking for the black box under Xigbar's demand. By the time their meeting adjourned, Xehanort recited, "May your heart be your guiding key".
Later on, Master Xehanort approached the Guardians of Light once they arrive at the Keyblade Graveyard for the final showdown. He and his direct incarnations repeat his speech to Eraqus about the χ-blade and the Keyblade War from years ago before summoning thousands of Heartless to attack them.
Master Xehanort appears again later on, this time with the rest of the real Organization XIII by his side. Declaring that the χ-blade would be forged, Xehanort creates a massive labyrinth, the Skein of Severance, keeping most of the key players inside while his Heartless, Nobody, and younger self watching just shortly overhead, with Xehanort himself watching all from a large pillar.
After the other darknesses are defeated, Sora, Riku, and Mickey confront Ansem, Xemnas, and Young Xehanort at the Tower of Endings. Master Xehanort reveals that the battles between light and dark, and the subsequent defeat of those darknesses, created nine keys and is confident that the remaining four needed to forge the χ-blade will be produced by the ensuing battles. Once his final incarnations are defeated, Xehanort begins to entice Sora to battle him for the final clash. Having prepared for every eventuality, Xehanort brings out Kairi, whom Xemnas had kidnapped earlier, and slays her to give Sora motivation. Sora tearfully and angrily attacks Xehanort, creating the thirteenth key. Mickey and Riku attack him as well, but are easily repelled. Xehanort opens Kingdom Hearts and with the thirteen keys, his own Keyblade, No Name, transforms into the χ-blade. Having obtained the χ-blade at long last, Xehanort uses its power to corrupt Kingdom Hearts into darkness.
However, because his younger self had frequently traveled through time, Xehanort himself served as a portal, something the guardians of light use to their advantage. They trap Xehanort within himself, and while the other guardians keep Kingdom Hearts at bay, Sora, Donald, and Goofy go inside the portal to Xehanort's boyhood training grounds of Scala ad Caelum.
Meanwhile, Xehanort caught wind of future Sora seeking the fragments of Kairi's heart in the Breezy Quarter after he crystalized her as insurance for Kingdom Hearts to remain open. He told Sora that he was the one that hid the fragments and that he was missing two. He also noticed that future Sora had abused the power of waking and watched him disappear once the other "him" arrived at the Stairway to the Sky.
There, the trio find that the defeat of the other twelve Organization members created Replica Xehanort's, twisted shells that Xehanort uses to power himself up for the final battle. In his Armored Form, Xehanort battled the trio throughout the city before they shattered his armor. Xehanort teleported up to the top of the tower, wielding the χ-blade as Sora, Donald, and Goofy battled him one last time.
Near the climax of their battle, Xehanort nearly kills Sora during his final attack, but Donald and Goofy managed to bring him back from the brink and unite for one final attack, Trinity Limit, defeating Xehanort and fatally wounding him. However, Xehanort still refuses to give up, stating it is too late to stop Kingdom Hearts, revealing he used it to trigger a purge that would destroy all the worlds and remake them free of darkness, and that he alone would lead the new era. Sora rejects his claims saying it was not his decision to make, and even after the other guardians arrive, Xehanort still holds onto his desires.
But to his own surprise, Terra steps forward saying "There's more to light than meets the eye.", something Eraqus told him in their youth, right as Eraqus appears from Terra, his heart being in Terra the entire time, telling Xehanort to hand over the χ-blade. Xehanort eventually concedes, giving in to his old friend and handing the χ-blade over to Sora. Eraqus and Xehanort then go together to the afterlife, having repaired their fractured friendship in his final moments.
Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ
Master Xehanort appears on a number of attack medals in Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ, especially Magic medals.
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory
Although Master Xehanort himself does not appear in Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory due to having died in Kingdom Hearts III, an apparation of him created from Kairi's memories appears during her search for hints about Sora's location within her own memories of The Final World and reveals to her that he sent her to another world to find a Keyblade wielder when she was a little girl. Kairi, angered at the apparation for everything the real Xehanort did to her and her friends, attempts to strike him down with her Keyblade, but ultimately is no match for the elderly Keyblade Master and is incapacitated. However, before the apparation can finish Kairi off, Sora somehow allows Kairi to manifest his Keyblade to defend herself against his blow, and then temporarily takes Kairi's place in The Final World and fights off the apparation. Before vanishing, the apparation gives Kairi a cryptic hint about Sora's location, leaving her puzzled.
- Both of Xehanort's original English and Japanese voice actors died and were replaced.
- Xehanort's second English voice actor would end up passing away several months after the release of Kingdom Hearts III and being replaced again.
- According to Nomura, Kingdom Hearts III is the last game where Xehanort is the main antagonist, however a data-based version would later appear in Melody of Memory.
- However, he became the protagonist villain in Kingdom Hearts Dark Road, which would cover Xehanort's early years, indicating that while Kingdom Hearts III is indeed the last game where Xehanort is the antagonist, it is not the last game with Xehanort himself.
- Master Xehanort is the overarching and most recurring antagonist in the series so far, as every incarnation of him is the main antagonist in each game in the Dark Seeker Saga except Kingdom Hearts Coded; although one of his incarnations was indirectly responsible for the events that took place in the game, Xehanort himself is the main antagonist in Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts III. Young Xehanort is his teenage self and the central antagonist in Dream Drop Distance. Through his Terra-Xehanort incarnation, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness is his Heartless and the main antagonist in Kingdom Hearts and Xemnas is his Nobody and the main antagonist in Kingdom Hearts II.
- It was mentioned in Kingdom Hearts III by Mickey to Riku that if Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Xemnas had been the Heartless and Nobody of Master Xehanort (and not Terra-Xehanort) then they would be just as old as he is instead of being younger like they had been.
- Tetsuya Nomura deliberately cast the late Leonard Nimoy as Master Xehanort because of his role as Spock from Star Trek and did so opposite Star Wars actor Mark Hamill as Xehanort's rival Eraqus to pit the two franchises against each other.