As we continue to follow the lore of Kingdom Hearts, the next game is Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep. Originally made for the PSP in 2010, and remastered in the Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix collection for the PS3, Kingdom Hearts BBS is the sixth installment from the nine game series. It serves as a game to pad out the lore – and delay the release and development of Kingdom Hearts 3. Diverging from the traditional gameplay, and somewhat mimicking the gameplay progression of Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts BBS has three intertwining scenarios that are playable from three separate characters, each with their own unique style of play. Once the main three scenarios were completed, additional scenarios were included as a reward for players, providing more context for the series as a whole.
So, where do we begin?
Between Kingdom Hearts 𝛘 and Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, nothing is really understood or explained in terms of an official timeline. It has been 100 years since the Keyblade War, since the scattering of the Dandelions, and yet it all begins with one of our new union leaders Ventus. Somehow – and this isn’t fully understood as of publishing this article – Ventus is training under a keyblade master named Master Xehanort. Master Xehanort is wielding the same keyblade that the master of masters gave to Luxu to pass on, in order to create the original book of prophecies. And yet here is Ventus, 100 years into the future, being trained by another keyblade master.
Not only is he being trained, but he is being groomed and manipulated by Master Xehanort, who wished to recreate the Keyblade War, to recreate the 𝛘-blade in order to create Kingdom Hearts. Why does he want to create Kingdom Hearts? He wants to learn what makes a heart, not all the fleshy sinew, but the secrets of the heart. He desires a new world balance, one that isn’t oversaturated with darkness or light, a new world balance similar to the first recreation since the original keyblade war. But this is all an assumption from MAster Xehanort, once Kingdom Hearts is formed again anything could happen. No one knows what might fully occur other than the master of masters, who disappeared 100 years ago. In order to create this 𝛘-blade, Ventus needs to use the darkness in his heart so that Ventus can be perfectly balanced with light and darkness. But Ventus refuses to use the darkness, and almost dies in training because of it. Master Xehanort extracts the darkness in Ventus’ heart and creates an entity from it, Vanitas, and then takes the damaged and fading Ventus to Destiny Islands to live out his last days peacefully. Ventus’ heart drags him to a dream world – Dive to the Heart – where his incomplete station is crafted around him. His station is restored when his heart comes into contact with a young Sora’s heart (remember this name). The two hearts connect, allowing Ventus to live until his heart could mend itself. Back on Destiny Islands, the comatose body of Ventus summons a keyblade, much to the surprise of Master Xehanort. Master Xehanort brings Ventus to the Land of Departure, giving Ventus time to repair his heart.
The Land of Departure is governed by Master Eraqus, and before Ventus arrived, his two apprentices Aqua and Terra. Master Eraqus looks after Ventus and treats him as his own son, allowing Ventus to train alongside Terra and Aqua. The three dream of becoming keyblade masters, passing the Mark of Mastery exam. On the eve of the exam, Aqua gives Terra and Ventus a wayfinder, a charm that keeps the three connected no matter what. Ventus is forbidden from taking part in the Mark of Mastery exam as he isn’t prepared enough for it, but is forced to intervene in the first test as Master Xehanort sabotages it. This sabotage causes the darkness in Terra’s heart to reveal itself, ultimately leading Terra to fail the Mark of Mastery, leaving Aqua as a new keyblade master.
Following this, Master Xehanort disappears, which causes monsters called Unversed – the manifestations of negative emotions – to appear across all worlds. Master Eraqus sends Terra to dispatch of the Unversed, allowing the use of the Lanes Between, and asks Aqua to make sure Terra doesn’t succumb to the darkness. Ventus follows Terra, being taunted by Vanitas, and Master Eraqus requests Aqua brings back Ventus to the Land of Departure.
The Diverging Paths
This is where this particular piece of lore gets convoluted. Because you can play as each separate character, each character will arrive at worlds at different times and do different things each time. Terra never arrives at a world last because he was the first one to head out, and as Ventus is chasing him, Ventus is usually second, leaving Aqua last. Occasionally two characters will be in the same world at the same time but doing different things, so they never really meet. There are occasions where they meet, and those are usually one of the three main events of the story. Because of all this, I’m going to break down each character and each scenario individually.
So Terra is alone on his journey, tasked with finding out what caused the Unversed to exist, and to eliminate them. All the while, there’s this nagging feeling inside of him that the darkness is going to overtake him. Filled with anger and jealousy, he tries to storm ahead and does everything he can in order to complete his task. Even inadvertently helping the villains of the worlds he visits in order to get more information about Master Xehanort. Naturally, this attracts the attention of Ventus and Aqua when they visit the worlds that Terra has been in, and they get increasingly worried for his well being.
Terra briefly encounters Aqua in the Castle of Dreams, where he explains that he believes Master Xehanort is after the seven princesses of heart in order to artificially create Kingdom Hearts .After exploring a few worlds, trying to find Master Xehanort, Terra visits Master Yen Sid and asks about Master Xehanort and Vanitas controlling the Unversed. Master Yen Sid explains they are the same problem. Feeling renewed, Terra hears Master Xehanort calling him to the Keyblade Graveyard. Upon arriving, Master Xehanort tells Terra that he was trying to protect the light by controlling Vanitas, but that he had failed to cage him. Master Xehanort tells Terra that Vanitas might be in Radiant Garden, so Terra goes to find him.
The trio meet in Radiant Garden, after chasing a segment of a large Unversed. After defeating the large unversed, he and Aqua argue over the state of the Unversed and how Master Eraqus betrayed their trust. He then tried to convince Ventus, with the support of Aqua, to go back to the Land of Departure. Ventus refuses, only confident to return when he knows Terra won’t fall to the darkness. Terra continues in Radiant Garden, thinking he can only trust Master Xehanort. Finding Master Xehanort tied up, he is confronted by an accomplice of Master Xehanort, Braig, who claims to have caught Master Xehanort, and wished for a keyblade himself. Unable to fight back, Terra is unsure what to do, until Master Xehanort encourages him to use the darkness to fight Braig. Terra destroys Braig’s eye and scars his cheek, causing Braig to run away. Master Xehanort then gives Terra the title of master, and requests that he trains under him from now on, as Master Eraqus lied to Terra. Master Xehanort then tells Terra to go and defeat Vanitas. Ventus finds Terra as he is about to depart, wanting to go with him. Terra, now aware of Ventus’ origins, tells Ventus that although he can’t take Ventus, he knows that he will be there when he needs him mosts.
After travelling across more worlds, he comes across Destiny Islands. Here he finds a young boy named Riku (remember this name), who Terra believes has great potential to become a keyblade wielder. He performs the Keyblade Inheritance Ceremony, guaranteeing that Riku will one day inherit the Keyblade. After this, Terra finds himself at the Keyblade Graveyard, the remnants of the Keyblade War. Here he finds Master Xehanort, who sends Terra back to the Land of Departure, explaining that Ventus has found out about his origins, and that he is about to be eliminated by Master Eraqus on his return. Terra hurries back to the Land of Departure to prevent this.
Terra walks in on Master Eraqus and Ventus fighting. As Master Eraqus is about to kill Ventus, Terra intervenes, protecting Ventus and taking his place in the fight. When Terra realises his mistake in fighting Eraqus and trusting Master Xehanort, Master Xehanort cruelly kills Master Eraqus in front of Terra. A distraught Terra is told by Master Xehanort to go to the Keyblade Graveyard, and prepare for the final battle, leaving the Land of Departure to sink into the darkness.
Ventus follows Terra into the Lanes Between, but doesn’t catch up to Terra for quite some time. Ventus hears about Terra from the worlds that he visits, hearing that Terra has been doing some unkind things to the people of each world. After freeing one of the seven princesses of heart from Maleficent, she tells Ventus that Terra stole the heart in the first place. Aqua arrives just in time to convince Ventus otherwise. As Ventus leaves this world, he finds Vanitas, and chases him to the Keyblade Graveyard. The two fight, Vanitas nearly killing Ventus until King Mickey saves him. King Mickey shows him a Star Shard, the way King Mickey is travelling across worlds, which then teleports them both to Radiant Garden.
Ventus meets Terra and Aqua at Radiant Garden after chasing a fragment of a large Unversed. Once it is defeated, Ventus is told to return to the Land of Departure, but he refuses, saying he won’t return until he knows that Terra won’t succumb to the darkness. Aqua and Terra continue to bicker, as Terra runs off, Ventus tells Aqua that being a master has got to her head, and he continues to follow Terra in Radiant Garden. When Ventus finds Terra again, he is told that he can’t come along, but he will be there when Terra needs him most. His disappointment only increases when Aqua finds him and orders him to go back to the Land of Departure again, this time for his own safety. As Aqua leaves, Ventus wanders around Radiant Garden a little longer, realising that he doesn’t really understand friendship. Feeling revitalised, Ventus continues his journey to understand what true friendship is.
After finding and recovering King Mickey’s star shard in Neverland, Ventus is whisked away to Master Yen Sid, meeting Donald Duck and Goofy. Master Yen Sid tried to locate King Mickey, and finds he is in great danger. Ventus hurriedly leaves to save him, heading to the Keyblade Graveyard. Once he reaches Mickey, Master Xehanort reveals that Ventus only exists in order to recreate the 𝛘-blade, and that he was never allowed to leave the Land of Departure for that exact reason. Confused, Ventus returns to the Land of Departure to consult Master Eraqus, who turns his keyblade onto his pupil. Ventus loses, and as he is about to be killed, Terra protects him, and teleports him to Destiny Islands. Here. he encounters Vanitas, who taunts him to remember how Master Xehanort broke his heart into two. Forcing Ventus to come to the keyblade graveyard with the threat of the deaths of his friends, Ventus arrives, preparing himself for the final battle.
Master Eraqus tasks Aqua to bring back Ventus safely, and to keep an eye on Terra. Aqua is last to the first few early worlds, but making it just in time to talk to Terra at the Castle of Dreams. Here she is told by Terra that he thinks Master Xehanort is planning something to artificially recreate Kingdom Hearts by using the seven princesses of heart. Terra leaves before Aqua can inquire too much further, and she is left to explore the Castle of Dreams.
A while later, Aqua explores Radiant Garden, and finds a young girl named Kairi, who touched Aqua’s Keyblade in fright. This causes Kairi to undergo the Keyblade Inheritance Ceremony unintentionally. Aqua senses that Kairi will be in danger, so she puts a protective charm onto her, that will make her go to someone that can protect her if she’s ever in danger in the future. As Aqua continues to explore, she encounters a fragment of a large Unversed, which she, Terra and Ventus dispatch together. Aqua and Terra argue, after telling Ventus to go back to the Land of Departure, where Aqua reveals that she is supposed to watch Terra. Feeling insulted, Terra runs off, leaving Ventus to insult Aqua as he runs off to chase Terra. Aqua goes to the town square and encounters Vanitas, who taunts her by inquiring about Ventus. The two fight, Aqua remaining victorious. Vanitas just leaves, saying that she’s the backup plan if Ventus fails.
A few worlds later, Aqua finds Vanitas in Neverland. Vanitas cruelly mocks Aqua, breaking Ventus’ toy keyblade in half. Enraged, Aqua and Vanitas engage again, Aqua remaining victorious, but exhausted. She passes out and reminisces over the last night the three spent together. Once she is recovered, she heads out and finds herself in Destiny Islands. There she finds Riku and Sora, and sensing the strong bond between the two, is reminded of Terra and Ventus. Aqua was about to perform the Keyblade Inheritance Ceremony with Sora, but realised that is will cause the two to constantly argue and fight over who is stronger, so she refrains from doing so (spoilers: that won’t stop them).
As Aqua leaves, she encounters King Mickey floating through the Lanes Between. She takes him back to Master Yen Sid, who tells her of Master Eraqus’ death. She heads to the Keyblade Graveyard to find Terra and Ventus, and to begin the final battle.
The Guardians of Light against the Envoys of Darkness
Before Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep was released, there were a couple of secret videos at the end of Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix. These videos, much like all the secret endings, hinted at a new game which many speculated to be Kingdom Hearts 3. It was actually for the final main scenario of Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, and here it is.
So after this introduction occurs, we’re left with Terra having Master Xehanort’s eyes, becoming possessed by Master Xehanort so that he can see his plan come into fruition. Terra’s mind lingers inside his armour, and defeats Master Xehanort. This leaves Aqua protecting the frozen Ventus, whilst Vanitas tried to fight Aqua. Before Vanitas kills Aqua, Ventus thaws out and protects her, causing Vanitas and Ventus to merge together, throwing the two into another Dive to the Heart, this one called the Soul World. Ventus and Vanitas engage in an all out fight, Ventus hanging on and surviving, emerging victorious yet destroying his heart.
Whilst Ventus and Vanitas are battling inside, Aqua and Mickey are fighting possessed Ventus on the outside. After a long and difficult fight, just as Ventus beats Vanitas on the inside, Aqua shatters the 𝛘-blade, ending Vanitas’ possession and destroying the Unversed. The burst of light scatters everyone across space, other than the lingering will left inside of Terra’s armour. King Mickey saves Aqua and Ventus from space, and delivers then to Master Yen Sid, where she learns that Ventus will not wake up until his heart returns to him. Aqua takes Ventus and returns to the Land of Departure, taking Master Eraqus’ keyblade and activating the defense system, converting the Land of Departure to Castle Oblivion. In a secret chamber, the Chamber of Waking, Aqua leaves Ventus protected, until his heart returns.
Aqua then goes to Radiant Garden, encountering Master Xehanort in Terra’s body. Let’s now call him Terranort for convenience sake. Terranort has lost some of his memories, but attacks Aqua. As Aqua is about to defeat Terranort, Terra retains some control over his body, and attempt to free his heart by turning his keyblade on himself. However, this sends Terranort into the Realm of Darkness. Aqua saves Terranort, giving him her keyblade armour, leaving her to sink into the Realm of Darkness alone. Terranort is then discovered by the ruler of Radiant Garden, Ansem the Wise, and is taken in and protected, becoming his apprentice. Ventus’ broken, wandering heart finds its way to Sora, merging with Sora’s heart.
The Extra Parts
There are extra parts in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, including two side stories of Aqua whilst she’s trapped in the Realm of Darkness, but I’m not going to include them here. I think they fit much better where they come chronologically with the rest of the timeline, because Tetsuya Nomura really just picks and chooses when to randomly add different parts to the lore.
So with that being said, thank you for reading, and I’ll be bringing you the lore of Kingdom Hearts, the actual game Kingdom Hearts, next time.