The Gathering is the secret ending of Kingdom Hearts II; the same scene is known as simply "Gathering" in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. Sunset Horizons is the piece of backing soundtrack used during the video. The term "The Gathering" first appeared in the Deep Dive video.
The video starts with the view of a desert. A semi-transparent Ansem's Report scrolls down the screen where one of them explains a detailed article on the Keyblade. There are a few shots of metal objects lying in the sand. The screen shows a man in armor, Terra standing amidst the desert waste, on the remains of a large construct decorated with various spikes.
He looks to one side and sees another armored figure, Aqua approaching. Terra turns his head again and sees the third figure, Ventus, also approaching. As Aqua and Ventus come closer, Terra walks towards three Keyblades standing alone in the wasteland, as the thing he was standing on dissipates in the same fashion as a dying Nobody. The three Keyblades are Kingdom Key, Way to the Dawn, and Kingdom Key D. Terra takes the Kingdom Key, Ventus takes Way to the Dawn, and Aqua takes Kingdom Key D.
The screen zooms out to show Terra, Ven, and Aqua standing in the center of a field of Keychain-less Keyblades, one of which resembles the Fenrir Keyblade. They stand still for a few moments before something catches their attention and they all look up. A figure, too blurry to make out in the heat, is walking towards the three Keybearers and words appear, briefly, on the screen in this order:
- Master of Keyblade
- The lost two
- Memory of Xehanort
- Keyblade War
- It all began with...
- "Birth by sleep".
- "Master of Keyblade" could refer to Master Xehanort, Master Eraqus, or possibly the Mark of Mastery. It could possibly even refer to Aqua, who becomes a Keyblade Master after passing her Mark of Mastery Exam during Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.
- "The lost two" likely refers to Master Xehanort and Vanitas, or Ventus and Terra
- "Memory of Xehanort" refers to the memories that Xehanort lost when he developed amnesia. Nomura has explained that these are related to the reason that Sora and Roxas can dual-wield, and why Roxas seems to have a heart.
- "Chasers" could refer to Terra, Aqua, and Ven, who are chasing Master Xehanort and Vanitas. It is possible that "Chaser" is a rank, as well, as in the real world, "chaser" refers to one who engraves metal.
- "Keyblade War" refers to an ancient war fought between Keyblade wielders.
- "Birth by Sleep" refers to how everything is "born through sleep". It may refer to the Awakening of new Keyblade masters.
Condition to unlock this scene
- Kingdom Hearts II
- Beginner Mode: Cannot be unlocked
- Standard Mode: Complete Jiminy's Journal
- Proud Mode: Finish the game, unlock Gates in all worlds.
- Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix
- Finish the game on any difficulty
Application to subsequent games
Prior to the release of Final Mix, which featured Birth by sleep, a secret video continuing The Gathering, there was heavy speculation as to the identities of the three armored figures. Once it was released, Nomura revealed the identities of Terra, Ventus, and Aqua, noting that they had a connection to the series' main protagonists and Xehanort, though he refused to specify to avoid spoiling plot points. This scene ultimately occurs in Birth By Sleep ten years before the events of Kingdom Hearts, where it is followed by a vicious battle between the three warriors and Master Xehanort and Vanitas.
The Gathering was conceptual. The actual meeting in the Keyblade Graveyard of Terra, Ventus, and Aqua does not feature the three armored. Nomura has said that they were depicted as such in The Gathering because he did not have final designs worked out for any of them, which is why their faces are hid in armor, and the silhouetted figure of Master Xehanort looks different from what would be his actual design. Additionally, Terra does not stand on a vanishing metal structure, nor do any of the three Keyblade wielders pick up Keyblades associated with Sora, Riku, or Mickey. It is unclear what either of these parts may have been planned to mean. In Birth By Sleep, Terra picks Riku as his successor, Ventus indirectly chooses Sora, and Aqua accidentally picks Kairi. It is thus possible that the appearance of the Kingdom Key, Way to Dawn, and Kingdom Key D was meant to symbolize this succession, though the choice of Mickey is not consistent with Birth by Sleep and the Keyblades are mismatched between the three.
The Keyblades each of them pick up seem to represent there fates at the end of the game. Terra, picks up Kingdom Key, becomes Terra-Xehanort and is left in the Realm of the Light, Aqua, who picks up Kingdom Key D, ends up in the Realm of Darkness, and Ventus body lays dormant in Castle Oblivion which is in the Realm between Light and Darkness, which is represented in the Keyblade he picks up Way to the Dawn