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The Dark Prince (Dark Lord in Japanese) is a major recurring antagonist in the Seiken Densetsu video games series, who appears in Seiken Densetsu 3 as one of the three available final bosses and in its prequel Seiken Densetsu 4 (known in occident as Dawn of Mana) as the central antagonist. He was a human king named Stroud who eventually took over the Underworld of Mavolia (the Mana counterpart of Hell) and became the Archdemon. He seeks to open Mavolia and unleash its evil upon the world of Fa'Diel, in order to rule both worlds as a god.

The King of Evil of Seiken Densetsu 3 and the warlord of Dawn of Mana were confirmed as one and the same. He is based on the Dark Lord from Seiken Densetsu, who becomes his counterpart in the Sword of Mana remake.

History

Stroud was first the monarch of the Ice Kingdom of Lorimar (called the Kingdom of Light in Seiken Densetsu 3), but was unexplainably feared and rejected by all. Demons from Mavolia used it to make an "offer he could not refuse": If he could open the Door to Mavolia, he would become a demon and gain power over the world. Stroud accepted and became a ruthless tyrant, likely corrupted by Mavolia's evil.

Dawn of Mana expands the Dark Prince's backgroud, which was just alluded to in Seiken Densetsu 3. Stroud threw his baby brother Keldric (the game's primary protagonist) at sea to be the sole heir to the throne of Lorimar. However, whether he did so before or after accepting the demons' deal is not explained. Fortunately, Keldric survived and was raised by the Tree Folk, protectors of the Mana Tree (the earthly avatar of the Mana Goddess).

What kind of man Stroud was before the demons' bargain, and especially what he did to earn his subject’s rejection is not known. If he threw Keldric at sea before, it could explain why he was reviled if that got known. It would fit the greedy and selfish nature he displays in the game, and Mavolia's corruption increases the worst aspects of people.

As a villain, he displays in both games a very strong arrogance, self-centeredness and hunger for power, being cruel, hateful, violent and sadistic, stopping at nothing to gain supreme power no matter how many lives he tramples, and displaying no gratitude whatsoever for his faithful servants' work. Dawn of Mana shows him unhinged and vicious, while he has become much more collected, sarcastic and manipulative in Seiken Densetsu 3.

Dawn of Mana

Do you really think I care about what happens to the World?
~ Stroud (to Keldric).

Dawn of Mana is set some time after Stroud stroke his bargain with the demons. The evil king leads his armies looking for the Door to Mavolia, and eventually invades the Island of Illusia, home to the Tree Folk. Mistakenly thinking that he wants to kill the Legendary Beast slumbering under the island, Keldric (nicknamed Keldy) and his childhood friend Ritzia set out to awake it. Keldric gets chosen by the Mana Tree itself and they meet the fairy child Faye, but they end up captured by Lorimar forces.

Stroud reveals that Illusia itself is the Door to Mavolia, and that Ritzia is the key to unlock it. Keldric confronts the tyrant, who got his hands on the fabled Mana Sword, but gets beaten and left for dead, only owing his life to Faye's intervention. Stroud later uses Ritzia to unlock the Door to Mavolia and fuses Ritzia with the soul of the Demon Goddess Medusa (called Anise, the name of her mortal incarnation, by mortals out of fear of her cursed name).

Keldric and Faye later flee Illusia and gather allies to wage war against Lorimar. Alas, the evils of Mavolia have spread all over Fa'Diel, and everyone in contact with a Thanatos Spirit (evil entities spawned by Mavolia) gets corrupted into a demonic version of their former selves called Grimslies.

This happens to Stroud, who remained in control, and is fusing with as many Thanatos Spirits as possible to increase his might. It is revealed when Stroud kills Medusa that he coveted her throne all along, with the ultimate goal of ruling both Mavolia and Fa'Diel.

Keldric manages to kill his demonic brother, but the only way to close the Door to Mavolia and save Fa'Diel is to destroy Medusa, who somehow survived Stroud's attempt on her life. Alas, killing Medusa would spell Ritzia's demise. Heartbroken, Keldric nonetheless confronts the Queen of Mavolia and sets free Ritzia's soul.

Boss Battles

The first battle against Stroud is rather easy. He fights with sword strikes and special attacks, forcing Keldric to keep away, but he can also create two doubles of himself and cast powerful Ice Waves that can turn Keldric into a snowman. Keldric must throw crates and barrels to stun Stroud and attack with Fire-infused strikes and Fire spells.

The second battle takes place after Stroud became a Grimsly. He is much more dangerous, his strikes cause energy explosions of and he blocks attacks. He spams Ice waves, flaming or jumping strikes, but he is slow and his attacks are easy to dodge. Keldric must strike the rubbles towards his brother to stun him and pummel him.

Demon Stroud

Keldric confronts Grim Stroud, turned into a demon

When defeated, Grim Stroud turns into a huge demon and the battle becomes much harder. He is fast, powerful and relentless, he flies and attacks with his claws, dashes, energy blasts, flurries of energy blades, flying energy balls, vortexes of darkness on the ground, and a gigantic array of runes causing a devastating explosion of energy. Keldric must keep away from him and shoot arrows at him to stun him and pummel him. Destroying the flower-like Night Towers standing over the room deals heavy damage and stun him for long.

Between the games' events

Now known as the Dark Prince, Stroud’s dead soul remained in Mavolia and became the new Archdemon, the worshipped ruler of demons and the source of evil in Fa'Diel; Though his rule is openly contested by the Dark Lich and the Dragon Emperor, the other two Great Evils who share his goal to resurrect the God Beasts. As for Lorimar, it became a wasteland enshrouded in an everlasting stormy night, where demons and monsters could dwell freely.

As he could still influence the world, at one point he trapped Shade, the Mana Spirit of Shadow, in a ghost ship guarded by a demonic phantom and released the God Beast sealed in the Mana Stone of Shadow: Zable Fahr, God Beast of Darkness and the most powerful of the eight. Zable Fahr then went on a rampage, destroying entire civilizations and unleashing chaos wherever it went, serving the Dark Prince's interest. But fortunately, the Mana Goddess managed to seal both Zable Fahr and the Dark Prince in Mavolia.

However, some powerful demons still dwelled in the Dark Castle (the former royal residence of Lorimar), protecting the Dark Prince's human remains and waiting for an opportunity to bring him back.

Nineteen years before the events of Seiken Densetsu 3, the Ancient Kingdom of Pedda started invading the world of Fa'Diel, and planting Dark Mirrors in the countries they conquered, corrupting all around. Heroes from Pedda led by a young knight named Roger formed a coalition against their own country, hoping to restore peace.

It appears that the Dark Mirror used by Pedda as a power source were created by Anise, the former Archdemon, who corrupted the Boy King Inath and the Mirage Bishop of Pedda, in order to resurrect and to retake the throne of Mavolia, before taking over Fa'Diel. Anise's dark energy eventually ran wild and killed Inath, while the Dark Queen returned through the possessed Peddan General Cecilia Baxilios. Anise was eventually destroyed once and for all, unfortunately taking Pedda down with her, leaving the Dark Prince still in control of Mavolia. The Dark Prince later used the ruins of the capital city of Pedda to hide the Mana Stone of Shadow.

Seiken Densetsu 3

The days of the Goddess worship are over. It's time for the demons to take their rightful place!
~ the Dark Prince
The Dark Prince (sketch)

A stetch artwork of the Dark Prince

Sometime before the start of the story, Bigieu, the shape-shifting demoness and Jagan the Vampire Lord, gained control of the Dark Castle and the Dark Prince's remains, planning to bring him back. Whether they chose to do it on their own or were in contact with the Dark Prince is not known, but the latter seems more likely as they come from Mavolia and Bigieu does adore the Dark Prince in more ways than one.

Bigieu took a human disguise and came to the thief guild of Nevarl (Navarre in the unofficial translation) under the name of Isabella. She manipulated the Thief Leader Flamekhan, persuading him to create his own kingdom, and to invade the kingdom of Laurent (Rolante in the unofficial translation). She planned to kidnap Elliot, the child prince of Laurent, to make him the Dark Prince's new vessel; and to lift the seal of the Mana Stones so as to release the God Beasts, in competition with the other two Great Evils.

Later, the game's protagonists manage to obtain power from all the Mana Spirits and to enter the Mana Holyland, where the Mana Tree is located. Because the three Great Evils' actions have drained almost all the power of Mana that sustains the world, the Mana Goddess can do nothing to help the protagonists except giving them the fabled Mana Sword. Meanwhile, Bigieu and Jagan have succeeded in bringing back the Dark Prince without sacrificing Prince Elliot, and helped him to get rid of the other two evil factions, eventually unsealling all Mana Stones.

(This only happens if either the Ninja Thief Hawk or the Amazon Princess Lise were choosen as the primary protagonist. Otherwise, the game's final boss will destroy the Dark Prince's remains and prevent his resurrection forever, leaving his followers without anyone to worship.) The Dark Prince sends his followers to the Holyland, where they abduct the protagonists' Fairy guide and use her as an hostage to get the Sword, which they use to release the God Beasts.

Héros contre Prince des Ténèbres

The party confronts the Dark Prince

The party sets out to destroy the God Beasts, but they unknowingly serve the Dark Prince's interests, as he wants them slain to channel their power in the Mana Sword. They later go to the Dark Cave where they fight and destroy Jagan, and enter the Dark Castle where they fight and destroy Bigieu. They then meet the Dark Prince at last. The gloating villain dismisses Bigieu's death as an "acceptable loss" and offers her place to the party, who unsurprisingly refuses. He then absorbs the Mana Sword and its power. Fortunately, the Mana Goddess manages to thwart him with her last strength.

Angered, the Dark Prince teleports to the Mana Holyland, planning to settle his score with the exhausted deity, with the protagonists on its tracks. Unfortunately, they arrive too late and the Dark Prince has just destroyed the Mana Tree. He kills the Fairy and assumes his Archdemon form, standing on the Tree's remains, ready to merge Fa'Diel with Mavolia and rule both as a god, but the party manages to destroy him once and for all.

The Fairy's spirit merges with the Mana Tree’s remains and becomes the Mana Goddess reborn. But the Mana Tree will need a thousand years to grow again and restore the Mana power, meaning the end of an era.

Boss Battle

Archdemon 1

Archdemon (first form)

Hope. A petty emotion that cannot possibly save you! But enough talk... let the killing begin!
~ the Archdemon

The Archdemon is the hardest of the three possible final bosses, he is very powerful, very dangerous and he attacks relentlessly with countless tremendous moves. He is at level 50 and has 53499 life-points. Make sure to have characters over level 50 and plenty of curing, healing and resurrecting items, for he is a truly fearsome foe.

At first you will fight against his first form. He uses attacks from almost every element, depending on the colour he takes: When black he uses Shadow, including the hindering Black Curse, the dreadful Death Spell (which instantly kills a lower level target) and the devastating Hell Cross; attack with Light. When brown he uses Earth (cure when turned to stone) and the damaging Hypercannon; attack with Wind. When greyish dark-blue he uses Wind (cure when silenced) and Air Slash; attack with Earth. When red he uses Fire including Gigaburn; attack with Water. When dark blue he uses Water (cure when turned into snowmen) and Ice Cradle; attack with Fire. When green he uses Moon spells that can reduce your maximum life-points and Spiral Moon; cure when shrunk and use Wood. He can also use Counter Magic, which sends back your spells and deals damage for an undefined length of time.

Infuse your weapons with the magic he is weak against and use the right spells. His first form remains quite open to attacks so harass him without stop, decrease his stats and increase your owns as much as you can. Try not to waste healing items and spells during this stage of the battle, because the worst is yet to come. Beware, spells of his current element will heal him.

Archdemon 2

Archdemon (true form)

When the Archdemon's life-points get halved, he transforms again and become even more formidable. He can now deliver fasts and powerful punches and make huge, unavoidable blades erupt from the ground. He also gains access to new special attacks: Demon Scream (which decreases its target's attack), Demon Breath and the level 1 summon Great Demon. While his new attacks are not very powerful, the Archdemon now deals more damage and is less vulnerable, even to the element he is weak against. He also often casts the spells Power Up and Protect Up on himself, and he mostly strikes all characters with dangerous special attacks. Watch out for his deadliest attack, Catastrophe, which deals crippling damage to the entire party.

Give everything you have and unleash your strongest spells and special techniques. Be careful to heal whenever your character's life-points drop under 200 and to attack him with the right element.

Seiken Densetsu/Sword of Mana

Dark Lord (Shadow Knight)

The Dark Lord in Seiken Densetsu (Final Fantasy Adventures)

The Dark Lord (Shadow Knight in Japanese) is a major villain in the first Mana game, known as Final Fantasy Adventure in Occident. In the Sword of Mana remake, he is named Stroud, as he is in Dawn of Mana. While there are chronological links trying Dawn of Mana, Children of Mana, Heroes of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3, most games were stated by the developers to be part of distinct continuities, making the two villains counterparts.

In the original Seiken Densetsu game and its second remake Adventures of Mana, the Dark Lord is the unambiguously evil monarch of the Glaive Empire. He invades the world of Fa'Diel, slaughters the Mana Clan who can rise against him, enslaves people and forces them to fight in gladiator arena for his entertainment, and seeks to gain supreme power from the Mana Tree to rule the world for eternity.

In Sword of Mana however, the Dark Lord is a much more ambiguous character. Contrary to the other games of the series, demons are portrayed as neutral and the Dark Lord himself is ambitious, dangerous and fearsome, yet courteous, noble and somehow sympathetic. He claims that all wars are violent and that the heroes themselves have blood on their hands, which they do not deny, but claim that they meant no harm even to their enemies.

Dark Lord Stroud

the Dark Lord in Sword of Mana

He is in fact a half-demon half-human hybrid named Stroud, born from Lord Granz and the Demon Queen Medusa (who in this game is not the Archdemon), and the usurper monarch of the Granz Realm. His father took him to the human realm for his mother's memories and life were fading away, in hopes of stopping it. The Dark Lord resents the Mana Clan for shunning monsters and forbidding unions between humans and demons, yet persecutes them in turn. He wants to use the Power of Mana to save his mother and reunite his family by letting demons dwell on the world.

The Dark Lord wiped out the Mana Clan, leaving the heroine the sole survivor, and sent the hero to the gladiator arena after killing his parents. (In Sword of Mana, the hero's parents were nobles of his empire sheltering the heroine. He barged in their home to seize her, killing the hero's parents who tried to reason him and sending the hero the arena.)

The hero meets the Dark Lord again after escaping, but he is effortlessly defeated and left for dead. (In the original, he dismisses the hero as worthless, while in Sword of Mana he offers to make him officer but the hero craves for revenge.) The Dark Lord later abducts the heroine for her magic pendant is the only access to the Mana Sanctuary, where the Mana Tree is located.

It is later revealed that the Dark Lord was betrayed by his right-hand-man, the wizard Julius, to get into the Mana Sanctuary and claim the Mana Power for himself. Julius is revealed to be the prince of the evil Vandole Empire, which was wiped out for trying to invade Fa'Diel, who seeks to restore it and rule the world as a God. (In Sword of Mana, Julius is friend with the Dark Lord. He lets the heroes battle the Dark Lord to see who is right, but succumbs to the evil of his bloodline shortly after, as the Dark Lord was the only one who could soothe his dark impulses.) Fortunately, the protagonists manage to destroy both villains.

  • In the original game, the Dark Lord is powerful, fast and resilient, but not that big a challenge. He faces the hero one-on-one and only strikes with his sword at close range while blocking frontal strikes with his shield, so it is better to keep away and attack from the sides and behind, mostly with dashes. Magic does not work much against him.
  • The Dark Lord fights the same way in Adventures of Mana, but he is faster and more dangerous. He keeps tailing the hero to force him at close range, and can perform energy-infused dashes or fire energy blades.
  • In Sword of Mana, the Dark Lord faces the two heroes. He strikes with his sword and attacks by charging with his sword or by launching three waves of dark energy. His charge can paralyze the heroes and his dark waves cause the Darkness status. The Dark Lord is highly resilient against magic, so do not bother with spells and instead keep harassing him with weapons. If the heroes are of a high enough level, this boss will fall with very few troubles.

Brutal Mario (Hack Game)

Just Like the other two final bosses of Seiken Densetsu 3, the Archdemon was revamped and added into the unofficial, hack computer game Super Kitiku Mario, translated by Brutal Mario. As in the real game, the Archdemon is a highly powerful and dangerous enemy whose attacks depend on his colour.
Archdemon 1 (Brutal Mario)

Mario battling the Archdemon

When red, he hurls fiery energy balls making flames erupt where they land. Mario must get steer clear or jump with the Floating Cloak. When greenish blue, he creates four bouncing watery bubbles that must be dodged repeatedly. When green, he casts a spell that reverses Mario's directions. When brown, he makes rocks fall from the sky. When black, he fires two whirling circles of dark energy balls that are very hard to dodge. Mario must jump crouched between the dark balls.

Mario must grab a block that falls from the sky and use it to strike the Archdemon. When the Boss' life bar is nearly depleted, the rocks he makes rain will stay on the ground for a while, impeding the dodging of other attacks, and one of them will reveal a block when they disappear.

When the Archdemon's life-bar is depleted, he transforms and the battle becomes much harder. He smashes the ground with his arm, and conjures huge blades from the ground. (The blade appears before erupting, giving Mario time to dodge.) Once again his attack depends on his colour.
Archdemon 2 (Brutal Mario)

Mario battling the Archdemon's true form

When red, he hurls fiery energy balls from his fingertips that divide into two on the ground in opposite directions (Mario must dodge and jump over), then he summons two Unicorn Heads that charge at Mario (jump on them to destroy them). When blue, he summons very hard to dodge giant ice pillars in a mere second. If Mario gets caught, he will be frozen and unable to dodge the following attack. When brown he joins hands and fires a circling wave of rocks (dodge only when they come close). When black, he conjures four dark energy balls exploding in a giant pillar of dark energy one after another. Mario must steer clear from the exploding balls or jump on a ball to destroy it. Mario must rebound on the blades and the boss' hands using the Floating Cloak to jump on his head and harm him.