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Issues: More information in general, but remove bits that aren't about the rank; add info about Successor and Seeker
The Keyblade Master who passes the Mark of Mastery exam is given the choice to either travel to many worlds and explore their horizons, or to succeed their mentor and take refuge in their world to protect it from malevolent forces. However, there are also Keyblade Masters who have instead chosen to abuse their powers for their own gain, such as Master Xehanort.
The Master of Masters created Keyblades by studying the χ-blade and learning to extract Keyblades from peoples's hearts. He bestowed Keyblades to his six apprentices: Ava, Ira, Gula, Invi, Aced, and Luxu, who would become Keyblade Masters.
Kingdom Hearts Dark Road
Long before Aqua and Terra's exam, two young men, Eraqus and Xehanort, were both tested for the Mark of Mastery by their Master, Odin. They both passed, but Eraqus was chosen as their Master's successor.
After many years of training, Terra and Aqua were ready to take the Mark of Mastery exam. Aqua passed and was chosen as the successor of Eraqus, but Terra failed because he could not keep the darkness in his heart in check, a trait that Master Eraqus did not see fitting for the title of Master.
Eraqus informed Aqua her new duties as a Keyblade Master, including a "secret" in particular that she should know: as his successor if anything were to happen to him, and the darkness plundered the world, he wants her to take his Keyblade and lock the world away. He informed her that generations of Keyblade Masters have been entrusted with keeping the world safe, because the light and darkness are balanced there, and there are people who might want to abuse such a neutral powered world. Their predecessors devised a "trick" that allows the Keyblade to transform the world, so that all who visit the world will be lost to oblivion, as none would be able to solve its mystery, except for the one who transformed it.
Meanwhile, retired Master Yen Sid had allowed his former apprentice, Mickey, to come back to him for more training. Yen Sid discovered that the worlds were being threatened by creatures that feed off of negativity, which he called the Unversed, and that the Princesses of Heart were in danger from them. Mickey saw this as an opportunity to prove that he is Master material, so he stole his former Master's Star Shard, and left to investigate.
Yen Sid informed Eraqus of the situation and he called forth Terra and Aqua to investigate. He told Terra, that if he performs well on this journey, he might reconsider to make Terra Master, but he must not rely heavily on his darkness. However, Master Xehanort manipulated Terra into succumbing to darkness and possessed him, transforming him into Terra-Xehanort.
Much later, Aqua returns to the Land of Departure with an unconscious, heartless Ventus. She sees that it was completely destroyed by the darkness and finds the fallen Master Eraqus's Keyblade lying in the remains. She brings Ventus into the castle and places him in one of the thrones. Remembering the "trick" the Master told her about, she uses his Keyblade to completely transform the world. She promises Ventus to return with Terra to wake him up and leaves him in the newly-formed Chamber of Waking. As she leaves the castle, she turns to see the new world she created, Castle Oblivion. She then leaves to search for the missing Terra, but following a brutal fight with Terra-Xehanort, Aqua ends up trapped in the Realm of Darkness.
Meanwhile, Mickey passed his exam under Yen Sid and was named a Keyblade Master.
Aware that the destruction of "Ansem" and Xemnas will lead to the reconstruction of Master Xehanort, Yen Sid commands Mickey to summon both Sora and Riku to him, so that they can be tested for the Mark of Mastery in order to become Keyblade Masters themselves and finish Xehanort once and for all.
Sora and Riku undergo Yen Sid's Mark of Mastery exam, but only Riku is named a Keyblade Master after Sora drops into the darkness while Riku is the one who rescues him. Despite failing, Sora congratulates Riku, who is then ordered to bring Kairi before Yen Sid for Keyblade training in order to counter Xehanort's new Organization XIII.
Donald Duck teases Sora for not attaining the rank of a Keyblade Master.
King Mickey and Riku venture forth into the Realm of Darkness to rescue Master Aqua. Unfortunately, she has been tainted by the darkness and transformed into Anti-Aqua. Sora arrives and frees her from the darkness and they all return to the Realm of Light.
Keyblade Masters Riku, King Mickey, Aqua join the seven guardians of light to combat the thirteen seekers of darkness that were gathered by Master Xehanort.
After the death of Master Xehanort in Scala ad Caelum, the No Name Keyblade lands in the Keyblade Graveyard, where it is recovered by Xigbar, the current incarnation of Master Luxu. He proceeds to summon four of the five foretellers, and begins to recount his long tale to them.
Powers and abilities
All Keyblade Masters share the ability to extract the hearts of themselves or others, this is shown when Master Xehanort extracts the hearts of Aurora and himself. They can also extract part of the heart as well; for instance, Xehanort creates Vanitas from the extracted darkness from Ventus's heart; though Vanitas claims he existed already.
Keyblade Masters also have the ability to perform the Bequeathing, a trial in which a person is chosen to inherit the power of the Keyblade by clutching the Keyblade in their hand and allowing it to accept them. This is shown when Terra performs it on Riku, and when it is accidentally performed on Kairi when she grasps Aqua's Keyblade. While not officially a Keyblade Master, Terra is on the level of one and can therefore perform the rite.
In addition to performing the Bequeathing, Masters can conduct the Mark of Mastery exam upon potential Keyblade Masters. Although Yen Sid is a retired Master, he is still able to conduct the exam.
Also, Aqua is able to sense that the ceremony has been performed on Riku, although it is not known whether all Keyblade wielders can sense this, or if it is a Master's ability.
Notes and references
- Weekly Famitsu, pg. 198; Tetsuya Nomura: "The Master knows about its existence. Using the χ-blade as a model, he creates his own Keyblades. Well, by create I don't mean that in the physical sense, such as forging and tempering them, I mean more along the lines of pulling one out from the depths of a heart." Translation via Saken and Goldpanner.
- Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Master Xehanort: "Empty creature from Ventus riven."
- Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind, Vanitas: "I was just hidden deep inside of you, for a really long time. All Xehanort did...was tear me right out of you."
- Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Ultimania, Interviewer: "Why can Kairi use a Keyblade?" / Tetsuya Nomura: "Because she was touched by Aqua's Keyblade. The Keyblade inheritance ceremony is performed with a Keyblade Master touches someone using a Keyblade. When Kairi was running away from the Unversed in Birth by Sleep she grabbed Aqua's Keyblade, which performed the ceremony. That is why she is able to use a Keyblade in Kingdom Hearts II to help Sora." Translation via Lissar.
- Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Ultimania, Interviewer: "The Keyblade succession can only be performed by a Keyblade Master, but we see Terra performing this rite with Riku - does this mean we can consider Terra a Keyblade Master?" / Tetsuya Nomura: "No. Terra was not awarded that title by his Master Eraqus, so no matter how Master Xehanort flatters him he is not a Keyblade Master. But that's just a matter of whether or not he's achieved the official title. Even Eraqus recognised that Terra possessed suitable power to be a Master, which is why he was able to perform the rite for Riku." Translation via krexia.