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All worlds begin in darkness, and all so end. The heart is no different. Darkness sprouts within it, it grows, consumes it. Such is its nature. In the end, every Heart returns to the darkness whence it came! You see, darkness is the Heart's true essence...Ansem, Seeker of Darkness
Darkness is a force parallel to Light, and is also used in the form of attacks in the Kingdom Hearts universe. Darkness has been known to cause the loss of people's hearts if they have delved too deep into it. Slowly suppressed and conquered by darkness's influence, these unfortunate souls become Heartless and, if their Heart is strong enough, leave behind a body that becomes a Nobody.
Those who follow the path of Darkness will usually gain untold power at the expense of something of their former selves. The Realm of Darkness is also one of the three known realms in the Kingdom Hearts universe, along with the Universe of Kingdom Hearts#Realm Betweenm Between, and the Universe of Kingdom Hearts#Real of Lightm of Light.
Though darkness is mostly used by the series's villains and is believed to be pure evil, it is not entirely malevolent; friendly characters are able to use the powers of darkness to some effect, ranging from opening the Corridors of Darkness to projecting dark energy blasts (one of Riku's abilities in Kingdom Hearts II).
Additionally, King Mickey, a heroic character, uses the Kingdom Key D, which originates in the Realm of Darkness. Nonetheless, different characters have different views on darkness; Aqua regards it as nothing but "hate and rage," while Mickey insists that light and darkness are interdependent and cannot exist without one another.
Nearly all beings have darkness in their hearts, but the levels of darkness and light vary from person to person. For instance, Sora has less darkness in his heart than Pete or Maleficent. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however, as all seven of the Princesses of Heart naturally have hearts completely devoid of darkness. As a result of Master Xehanort forcibly removing the darkness from his heart, Ventus's heart is pure light as well.
When Nobodies or Replicas are defeated, they usually fade back into the darkness. It is unknown what it is like at their final destination, or if they retain any consciousness at all.
The Unversed are Darkness made real thanks to Vanitas, a being of pure darkness. It was the plan of Master Xehanort to open the way to Kingdom Hearts and rearrange the order of the worlds by allowing more Darkness to be in balance with the Light, effectively sending all the worlds into the Realm Between. Terra has trouble controlling his Darkness, scarring Braig's face by accident and even succumbing to it to protect his friends from the crazed Keyblade Master. Terra-Xehanort is almost swallowed by the Realm of Darkness, but is saved by Aqua, who takes his place in the Darkness.
In Kingdom Hearts, the roles of light and darkness play very typical roles in the story and game mechanics, with light being a positive aspect, and darkness being a negative one, since the Heartless are the embodiment of Darkness. Most of Sora and company's quest is aimed at closing the Door to Darkness and eliminating Heartless creatures. The entire story seems at first very biased towards the force of Light. However, one important belief about light is that there is always "a light in the deepest darkness".
This plays a role many times in the story, including when Sora opens the Door to Darkness and finds a blinding light inside with King Mickey. Even through all of the bias towards light, the opposed forces are in fact still balanced with a closed Door to Light and a closed Door to Darkness. There are also two Keyblades, one from the Realm of Light, which is used by Sora, and one from the Realm of Darkness, which is used by King Mickey.
The most major story development about light and darkness in the story is Riku's constant struggle throughout the game against the darkness in his heart. He tries to shun the darkness and "Ansem" out of him, but he cannot do it. Because of this, "Ansem" taunts him that darkness is his destiny. Riku finally finds a revelation in himself when he talks with Naminé after Zexion, in the guise of Sora, blinds him with light. Riku finds that darkness is not bad, and he should use it along with light to help defeat his enemies, and give him more power.
This changes Riku, and "Ansem", thinking that Riku has turned to the darkness, mockingly tells him that he was right about Riku's destiny. Riku fights "Ansem" and destroys him. However, "Ansem" still lingers in Riku's heart. Riku later declines Naminé's offer to seal "Ansem" away in Riku's heart. Then, at the end of the story, DiZ asks Riku which path he wishes to take. He decides to take the road to dawn, a path leading from darkness to light.
The Organization makes use of the Corridors of Darkness to travel around to different worlds to collect Hearts. These Hearts are for their Kingdom Hearts that hangs in the empty sky of The World That Never Was. Pete also makes use of the corridors to get from world to world.
Captain Hook's greed for treasure brings out his darkness, which cause Heartless to spawn at places marked on treasure maps Pete tricked him into using. His darkness turns a true treasure into the Ruler of the Sky.
During Roxas's coma, Vexen, Larxene, Lexaeus, Marluxia and Zexion faded into darkness because of the events that transpired at Castle Oblivion; slain by either Sora and Riku or betrayed by Axel and killed by the Riku Replica.
Kingdom Hearts II presented darkness as a power for not only the villains, but the heroes as well. Many of the protagonists of the series such as Riku and Sora use darkness during the game.
Riku, in the form of Ansem, has control over numerous powers of darkness. He is able to cast Dark Firaga, open Corridors of Darkness, and use darkness in finishing moves for his combos. After Riku returns to normal, he can no longer use the Corridors of Darkness, but is able to use Dark Firaga and Dark Shield, among other attacks. The "All's End" attack of the Session Limit involves Riku charging his keyblade with Darkness in equal measure to Sora's Light.
Organization XIII uses the power of darkness to summon the Corridors of Darkness and some of them also use darkness in combat: Luxord, by conjuring an orb of energy, can unleash dark tendrils at Sora that cannot be dodged. Marluxia's Absent Silehoutte is able to use darkness combined with his thorns to create a whirlwind to pull Sora and also create circles of dark thorns. Roxas, despite using the power of light in his boss fight majorly, is able to make use of one darkness attack by throwing his Keyblade and then unleashing a wave of dark power to draw Sora in. Xemnas can trap Sora in an orb of dark energy capable of slowly draining his health and wrap himself in a protective field of dark energy. After Xemnas absorbs the remnants of Kingdom Hearts, his power over darkness increases and he uses it alongside the powers of light, with him not only retaining the ability to cast a draining orb of dark energy, which is somewhat enhanced, but also becoming capable of creating thorns of black energy and surrounding the entire arena of his final battle with darkness as part of his desperation move.
Darkness is even used by Sora in the game. He is able to control darkness in his Anti Form, where he turns into a shadowy silhouette of himself and attacks enemies with darkness. In addition to greatly enhancing his speed and agility, allowing him to unleash devastating barrages of attacks in moments and easily avoid attacks, he can also unleash a burst of darkness and even fire a large barrage of dark magic blasts.
When Sora and the others confront Xemnas, he asks the warriors why they hate darkness. King Mickey replies that they do not really hate it, they are just scared of it. He goes on to say that the world has both light and darkness, and darkness is half of everything. He then says that it makes him wonder why they are scared of the dark. Riku answers that "it's because of what's lurking inside it", meaning Xemnas and the other villains.
A new type of darkness is introduced - dark data.
Multiple types of Heartless and villains were recorded in Jiminy's journal, and came to life once it was digitized into the Datascape; the villains all try to conquer their home worlds by taking advantage of the glitches caused by Namine's hidden message. Upon the destruction of the digital Heartless, their minds roam freely; however, the recording of Sora's Heartless absorbed them and grew stronger, to the point of metamoprhising into a Darkside-like form, and even an Anti-Sora one as well.
New beings of darkness are introduced in the Realm of Sleep; the Dream Eaters. They seek out the Keyholes of the worlds within that realm; some are friendly and seek to help others while the others are evil and seek to destroy.
Frollo uses his darkness to create the Wargoyle and to command the Dream Eaters, believing them to be divine gifts to enforce what he believes to be the law (exterminating all Gypsies) in La Cité des Cloches.
Unlike Riku, who built up an immunity to Darkness, Sora never tried protecting himself and fell into it. However, his heart was saved by Ven's Keyblade Armor; a Nightmare Dream Eater soon possessed it, and it was soon defeated by Riku.
Riku can also use Darkness Defense moves after gaining an amount of 1450 medals in Flick Rush. The moves that can be bought at the shop are Dark Roll, in which Riku turns into a shadow that glides a significant distance away from the enemy and a Dark Barrier, which blocks all incoming attacks. He also has four other moves that he obtains at different parts of the game. When blocking, he can use Counter Aura which he raises his keyblade and sends out a wave around him of darkness, blasting enemies back. Similarly, after being hit by an enemy attack, Riku can use Payback Blast to shoot the nearest enemy with a homing dark projectile from the tip of his keyblade. The other one allows him to teleport behind the enemy before an attack hits you, the third one applys with the second which allows you to unleash a shadow attack combo on them after teleporting.
Master Xehanort reveals that his ultimate plan to forge the X-blade again is to place fragments of his heart into others in order to turn them into Xehanorts, which are needed to form the thirteen hearts of darkness, that shall battle seven hearts of pure light in a near future. However, he only has 12 vessels in his possession, and lacks a thirteenth one to complete the true Organization XIII, so he kidnapped Sora before the Mark of Mastery Exam started.
Darkness continues to be used by both the antagonists and protagonists. Riku is able to use Dark Firaga, Dark Roll and Dark Barrier while Sora has access to the Rage Form, where he calls upon feelings of rage to use the power of darkness, although to a more controlled extent, as he is able to keep a more human form and maintain access to his Keyblade along with the unique effect of regenerating his stamina, combining dark-energy empowered slashes with kicks and scratches. He can also enhance his power in exchange for losing health and eventually after 3 times using it can submerge the area in darkness, surrounding himself with orbs of darkness that generates spikes all over.
The Organization XIII naturally uses darkness. In addition to using Corridors of Darkness, they display the ability to summon and turn others into Heartless which they use to both create Heartless to test Sora and then to unleash the massive Heartless army they used against the Guardians. In addition to Vanitas, Terra-Xehanort, and Ansem keeping their ability to use darkness in battle, Xehanort would also wield the powers of darkness in both his Armored form and with the X-Blade, calling upon darkness to increase the power of his attacks and then to rain down meteors of darkness.
Weapons and special uses of darkness
While darkness is often associated with evil, it can be used for the force of good. If one can accept darkness into themselves without allowing the darkness to consume them, they may wield its powers without succumbing to its influences (as in Riku's situation).
King Mickey's Keyblade, Kingdom Key D, is a Keyblade from the Realm of Darkness, though this does not mean that it is actually affiliated with Darkness; in this case, it means that it is necessary to close world doors from inside the Realm of Darkness.
Darkness is also able to be manipulated into attacks by those with a connection to it. While even lesser Heartless and Nobodies are capable of using it offensively, it is much more powerfully used by the likes of Xemnas, Ansem Seeker of Darkness, Master Xehanort, Terra-Xehanort, Riku and Terra as well as Xion in her transformations. Sora can also slightly manipulate Darkness in Kingdom Hearts II through his Drive Form, Anti Form, in which he reawakens the darkness that was created when he became a Heartless.
Darkness is also been shown to be able to bring back others, shown when Maleficent used the powers of darkness to bring back Oogie Boogie, and Ursula's journal entry states the powers of darkness brought her back.
Darkness can also be used for transportation. Experienced users of Darkness are able to open a Corridor of Darkness to travel between locations with a great degree of speed. However, these are physical corridors of Darkness, and prolonged or repetitive use of this means of travel will often allow Darkness to manifest deeper within a being, leaving them more vulnerable to its negative effects in the long run.
There are many items that have used for protection against darkness. Some of these items are seen as simple things such as the Midnight Anklet and Champion Belt which boost the equipped character's resistance to dark-element attacks, or the Keyblade Armor and Black Coat, which protect the wearer from the darkness between the worlds.
Effects of darkness
Darkness creates and feeds off of primal emotions such as jealousy, revenge, hatred, greed, and fear. In the process, it makes those it affects experience and exhibit these feelings while constantly making those feelings stronger, eventually leading to the affected becoming a Heartless. Darkness can also change the physical appearance of those it affects, up to such extremes as a normal person becoming a Shadow and Riku taking on the form of Ansem, Seeker of Darkness.
Known and notable darkness users
- Master Xehanort
- Young Xehanort
- Ansem, Seeker of Darkness
- Dream Eater
- Ansem the Wise
- Mickey Mouse
- Riku Replica
- Organization XIII
- Oogie Boogie
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