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Mage of the Beginning

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One day you will come to realize that the "Eternity" of which I speak is the only compromise capable of saving all souls!
~ The Mage of the Beginning to Nagi Springfield.

Ialda Baoth, mostly known as the Mage of the Beginning or the Life-Maker, is an unfathomably powerful, god-like archmage who serves as the overarching primary antagonist of the manga Negima! Magister Negi Magi and its sequel UQ Holder. In Negima! she is the supreme leader of the secret society Cosmo Entelecheia and the creator of Fate Averruncus, who was sealed away but resurfaces to oppose the primary protagonist, Negi Springfield. In UQ Holder, The Mage of the Beginning and her Apostles are still around and the primary protagonist, Negi’s clone Tōta Konoe, sets out to put an end to her threat once and for all.

Appearance

Mage of the Beginning's face

The Life-Maker unmasked.

The Mage of the Beginning appears as a menacing figure standing over three meters tall, clad in black robes and capes whose hood conceals her face. Her cape is torn and floats constantly around her, enlarging her silhouette like an array of dark wings. Flashbacks of the Great Mage War show that underneath her hood, she hides a youthful face with long, clear coloured hair worn in plaits that frame the back of her head, and pupiless eyes.

The Life-Maker uses those who kill her as vessels to reincarnate, hence gaining the biological gender, size, aspect and physical characteristics of her hosts. UQ Holder rarely shows her with her hood on and reveals that her aspect during the Great Mage War is her real one, under which she appears without host. She is sometimes depicted with large demonic wings at hip level, in a similar fashion to the highest-ranking demon nobility.

About the Mage of the Beginning

La Magicienne du Commencement

The Mage of the Beginning

Little is known about the Life-Maker's origins and nature. Although the narrative in Negima! remains vague about her gender, UQ Holder establishes her as a female. Yet, since she exists by using both men and women as vessels, gender hardly applies to her anymore. She is often described as a divine being and clearly deserves it. What is sure is that she is not human, that she is over 2600 years old, and that she created the Mundus Magicus (Magical World: an extradimensional world full of legendary creatures set on the planet Mars), hence her titles. Her power is fuelled by the negative karma of all who suffered, and she herself seems bound to all their departed souls.

The Mage of the Beginning is the progenitor of the royal family of Vespertatia, the first kingdom of the Mundus Magicus. As such, she is a distant ancestor of both Negi Springfield, the 10-year-old primary protagonist, and Asuna Kagurazaka, the primary female protagonist. The former being the son of Nagi Springfield, the hero who defeated her during the Great Mage War, and Arika the last queen of Vespertatia; and the latter being eventually revealed to be in fact the Vespertatian "Imperial Princess of Twilight".

The royal family and their descendants inherited from her the White of Mars or Magic of the Ancients: a godly power of creation and destruction, which is among other things the source of Asuna's immensely powerful magic-cancelling abilities, and ironically her only true weakness.

Personality

That is what a human being is. In the end, one can only continue moving forward.
~ The Mage of the Beginning.

The flashbacks show the Life-Maker to be unsympathetic, merciless and bent to fulfil her goals no matter the cost, causing the death of thousands, shooting her foes through her servants, and disposing of traitors without second thought. She also appears to be disdainful, sarcastic and condescending, as she taunted Nagi even when struck by spells; and callously attacked Negi, without the slightest regard for his plan to save the Mundus Magicus.

Yet, she demonstrates a melancholic side, as well as a surprising fondness for mankind. She is seen contemplating over her long existence and is described by Asuna as a "terrible and sorrowful person". Interestingly enough, the Life-Maker seems amused by the prospect of her own defeat, likely because she knows that should she fall, she will rise again. Also, she is particularly gentle and understanding with her servants, amiably conversing with Primum, easing Fate Averruncus' worries about being "flawed", and planning to free them after their duty is fulfilled.

The Life-Maker forbids her servants to kill humans and non-fighters, has all of her and her followers' victims cast into a life of everlasting bliss, and Cosmo Entelecheia's primary purpose is to save the denizens of the Mundus Magicus from its upcoming collapse. But considering all the destruction she caused and her willingness to eradicate everything standing in her way, it is clear that she is twisted and malevolent.

La Magicienne cinglée

A disturbingly unhinged mage.

Not unlike the construct mages she spawned, she is very intelligent, sincere, poised and polite. She bears little ill-will towards the protagonists and seems to genuinely respect them, though she clearly states to be their foe. More importantly, she is very distant, uncaring, nearly emotionless, and ruthless. She often calls out the protagonists' idealism, harshly stating that they cannot truly save the world and that torment cannot be escaped. Also, the rare times she breaks her aloof facade, she becomes disturbingly gleeful. Still, she looks funnily speechless when they reject her gloomy rhetoric, and seems to enjoy opposition.

In UQ Holder, it is explained that she is tormented by everyone's emotions and suffering, plaguing her throughout her millennia-long existence due to her empathic powers. Fate states that she is "broken" and she herself describes her life as "2600 years of despair". This made her very cynical and nihilistic, being completely unable to consider the value of positive emotion, and dismissing happiness as a pointless respite from never-ending suffering. Since she experiences other people's feelings, she is extremely adept in using them against her foes, cruelly toying with their emotions and forcing them to face their worst fears to crush their spirit.

She wants to end all suffering to finally be at peace, probably why she wanted to "save" the population of the Mundus Magicus. But she plans to do so by making everyone in the solar system disappear. In her gloomy point of view, she does a favour to those who she makes disappear, by freeing them of their torment (plus, she likely intends to send them to the everlasting bliss she planned for the Mundus Magicus denizens).

Powers and Abilities

Nagi versus the Life-Maker

Nagi Springfield fighting against the Mage of the Beginning

The Mage of the Beginning is far and away the most powerful character introduced in the series, being way over Nagi Springfield and Jack Rakan, the two mightiest members of the already incredibly powerful Ala Rubra team. Her power is such that everyone for miles around feels its sheer pressure, terrifying even hardened fighters to the point they can barely move, knowing from instinct how deadly she is.

In spite of her nearly absolute power, the Mage of the Beginning is not entirely all-powerful, given that she still had to follow the rules of magic to create the Mundus Magicus and that she needed to perform a ritual involving Asuna’s magic-cancelling power to erase it, implying that she herself cannot use the magic-cancellation or more likely that she cannot use it on a worldwide-scale. However, her might seems to increase the more magic energy she has around, with her follower boasting that nothing was impossible to her in such conditions.

Divine Powers

The Mage of the Beginning was able to create an entire world, with fauna, flora and civilisation, using a planet as a support, where the most skilled mages can only create restricted pocket dimensions. Not to mention the many extremely powerful human-like construct mages whom she gave life to and whom she could resurrect, or the alternate reality she created: the Cosmo Entelecheia (or Eternal Garden), in which everyone lives the happiest possible scenario of their life, based on their past and unfulfilled desires.

She can create Phantasmagorias as well: spiritual planes outside the real world under her complete control, which she can shape and influence as she pleases. She can shape them according to people's past and memories, and create there replicas of people with the exact same personality and powers as the real ones. The Cosmo Entelecheia being most likely the highest form of Phantasmagoria she can create, being inescapable and unfolding on its own like the real world. She can drag people in it, separate them but enabling telepathic contact, or keep them within without making them enter it. She can make them invisible and intangible, as if inside someone's dream, or fully material like in the real world, chose how they look like inside, or even control them.

The Life-Maker can warp reality, likely because of the White of Mars. She channelled this ability into key-shaped staffs called the Codes of the Life-Maker, which she gave to her highest-ranked followers. Their bearers become able to make attacks disappear, to teleport anyone to a defined place, to cast people into the Cosmo Entelecheia and to summon them back under their command, and even to bend time and space. Whether or not she can warp reality in both worlds or only in the worlds she created has yet to be explained, though her Codes of the Life-Maker are able to influence magic and artifacts from outside the Mundus Magicus, hinting the former.

While the Mage of the Beginning's White of Mars is based on the power of Light, she also masters the Black of Venus: a power of Darkness that engulfs everything. This power is the basis of the dreaded vampire sorceress Evangeline McDowell's Magia Erebea (Black Magic): a technique fuelled by negative emotions which enables its user to absorb their own spells, and sometimes the enemy's spells to considerably boost their might. Disciples of the Life-Maker recognize the Black of Venus and the Magia Erebea to be one and the same.

The Mage of the Beginning has a constantly active power of empathy called Resonance, making her feel every emotion of everyone in the world, though she experiences negative emotions more strongly. Yet, she cannot control it or decrease it in any way, to the point that it is described as a "curse".

Finally, she reached the level beyond immortality called Ceaselessness: not only she can live forever, but if someone proved able to kill her, she would eventually return to life through them. Her victor first gains her power of Resonance. The more they struggle, the more control she gains, fully resurrecting when their spirit finally shatters. Killing her merely seals her current host’s doom and condemns her victor to the same fate. While she most often appears under the traits of her current host, she can revert to her original form, or transform into one of her previous hosts, gaining their powers and memories to act exactly like them. As stated before, she can only be destroyed for good by her own White of Mars power, meaning that only one of her descendants can perform such a feat.

Control of Magic

The Mage of the Beginning likely masters all the Elements (the source of most magic and all attack spells) as well as all forms of Magic, and seems to have a limitless knowledge about magical spells, artifacts and people, given all the powers and knowledge she granted to her construct mages. She can create magical techniques beyond human-level, such as the mandala-like multiple barrier which she granted to her followers. Moreover, she can fly at will, appear out of nowhere, and create a physical projection of herself as powerful as she is where she is not physically present, while skilled mages can only create weaker doubles of themselves. Under the right circumstances, she can even create such a projection while being sealed away.

She seems able to foresee the future and the past in some way, as he was apparently aware of her upcoming defeat against Nagi Springfield, and can shape her Phantasmagorias in the likeness of past events. Since her second-in-command mentioned that she does not need her telescope, it can be guessed that she can see far away, where she is not physically present. Since her Phantasmagorias are based on people's memories, she might have access to them or have the power to read thoughts, to speak by telepathy and to enter dreams and minds that other mages displayed, though to a much greater extent.

In a similar fashion to masters of Shadow Magic, who can create shadow and shape it into solid objects like limbs and weapons of variable size, The Mage of the Beginning can create, shape and control darkness at will, though whether this is Shadow Magic or a variation of her Black of Venus power is not known. She uses it to spawn construct-monsters of variable size and might, ranging from normal-sized demonic beings or huge spell-casting ones, to gigantic and powerful fire-breathing dragons, up to terrifying, multi-limbed, palace-dwarfing titans. She can spawn hundreds of thousands of them in a matter of minutes.

Given Cosmo Entelecheia's employ of Demon Lords, it can be guessed that she can summon and command many demons of variable rank and power. Finally, she can animate and control dead corpses, conjuring dozens of skeletons in seconds. Her necromantic powers are described as leagues over that of the already extremely powerful wraith girl Sayoko Minase: who raised a dead boy as a mighty revenant, and unleashed a Zombie Apocalypse that very nearly destroyed humanity.

In battle

While the Life-Maker most often remains motionless when fighting, she proves incredibly fast and strong: being able to catch even incredibly fast foes off-guard, and to lift people from the ground with one hand or send them flying with one punch (though she did the latter under the shape of an obscenely powerful brawler).

She can also move her cape like actual wings or tentacles, and use it for both defensive and offensive purposes. She can make her cape as hard as a shield and surround herself with it to defend from all sorts of attacks. She can also use her cape to swat many people away at once. Worse, she can make the pointy ends of her cape as sharp as blades, delivering barrages of very destructive blows at high speed, overwhelming foes with countless strikes, or unleashing a devastating attack that slashes everything around far outside their normal reach, reducing gigantic buildings to rubbles in a few seconds. Even worse, she can expand her cape as much as she wants; covering wide areas in seconds and unleashing it like a tidal wave.

The archmage can paralyze anyone in the blink of an eye, with apparently no way of countering it. She mostly uses Darkness-themed attacks that can shatter even the mightiest defences: a piercing dark beam that strikes every target in its path nearly at once; many spears of darkness (up to dozens) launched at the same time; a gigantic and devastating wave of dark energy; a gigantic maelstrom of darkness that surrounds her foes; and an immense array of pentagrams that hurls a tremendous onslaught of dark beams at her enemies.

She can also shape darkness as nets of tendrils that bind, constrict and pull apart her foes, or shaping it as points to stab them. Much worse, she can fire darts that bypass protections and make anyone vanish into dust, even immortals with instant regeneration.

Background

Early years

The exact date of the creation of the Mundus Magicus is not known, nor what the Mage of the Beginning did before or since she created it. In the same way, whether she was once sane and led a normal life before being broken by her Resonance power remains unknown, though given that she founded the kingdom of Vespertatia and birthed its first queen Amateru, this is quite likely.

Evangeline Athanasia Katharine McDowell

Evangeline during her rebirth and her heydays

What is sure is that over 600 years before the start of the story, somewhere in Europe, the Life-Maker turned a little girl named Evangeline Athanasia Katharine McDowell into a vampire, in a yet-unexplained experiment linked to Ceaselessness. Centuries later, having become an extremely powerful, day-walking, vampire sorceress feared all around, Evangeline caught up with the archmage and seemingly killed her; only for her to reappear later.

Prior to the story

At some point, the Life-Maker built the secret society Cosmo Entelecheia, knowing that the Mundus Magicus would soon collapse. Cosmo Entelecheia ignited the Great Mage War and attempted to use Asuna's power to erase the Mundus Magicus, only to be nearly wiped out by the Ala Rubra team lead by the legendary Nagi Springfield, allied to the Vespertarian queen Arika. As everything seemed won after Nagi’s victory over Primum Averruncus, the Life-Maker personally entered the fray, piercing Nagi and Primum with a dark beam and nearly wiping out the entire Ala Rubra with a wave of dark energy. Against all odds, she was defeated by Nagi Springfield and his master, the child-like immortal Filius Zect (though Zect mysteriously vanished into dust shortly after the battle).

Filius Zect as the Life-Maker

The Life-Maker as Filius Zect

Everyone believed the Life-Maker to be dead, but she reappeared few years later using the body of none other than Filius Zect as her new vessel. She then gave life to Secundum Averruncus, Septendecim Adad and Nii Atur, and later to Tertium Averruncus (the soon to be called Fate) to rebuild her forces. She ordered her team to walk the Mundus Magicus and to send as many souls as possible to the Cosmo Entelecheia, this time town after town, using the conflicts that still plagued the Mundus Magicus after the war to go undetected.

Ten years before the start of the story, the Ala Rubra confronted Cosmo Entelecheia once more in the city of Istanbul. This time, the Mage of the Beginning was sealed under the roots of the magical World Tree in the campus of Mahora, thanks to Nagi's sacrifice.

Role in Negima!

Mundus Magicus Arc

Ce n'est pas encore terminé !

History repeats itself

The Mage of the Beginning is first seen during flashbacks of the Great Mage War displaying the final battle during which she was seemingly destroyed. Later as Fate Averruncus and the remnants of Cosmo Entelecheia try to repeat what happened twenty years ago, they are thwarted by Negi Springfield and his team, the Ala Alba.

As Fate and Negi are fighting, Fate starts to experience flashbacks of his birth and his first years of duties, back when the Mage of the Beginning was using Filius Zect as a vessel.

After Fate admits defeat and agrees to help Negi in his alternate plan to save the Mundus Magicus, they are both pierced by a dark beam, just like Primum and Nagi before them, and the Life-Maker’s ominous figure appears. Apparently, with both worlds merging and with Cosmo Entelecheia’s hideout (with Asuna's captive) appearing over her prison enabled the Mage to awake, and she created a projection of herself onto the battlefield. The Life-Maker restores every fallen members of Fate’s (former) team and resurrects all her deceased followers, who then prepare to finish off the Ala Alba, starting with Negi and Fate.

Revived Cosmo Entelecheia

Resurrection of a nightmare.

As everything seems doomed, Evangeline McDowell (who has become Negi's teacher) uses the connection between Mahora Academy and the Mundus Magicus to barge in, soon followed by the Dean of Mahora and every surviving member of the Ala Rubra. Evangeline encases them all in everlasting ice with a powerful spell she especially devised for such enemies, but it has no effect on the Life-Maker who enters the fray. She paralyzes Evangeline and Rakan, swats away the Ala Rubra like nothing and grabs Negi by the neck.

Asuna, who has just been freed by all of Negi’s comrades, jumps to the rescue and slices the archmage's projection nearly in half with her Pactio artifact, a huge, demon-banishing Claymore sword. Negi and Asuna then combine their White of Mars power into the Claymore, dispelling her onslaught of dark beams and destroying her projection.

As the Life-Maker’s projection is fading away, it is revealed that she is now using Nagi Springfield himself as her vessel. Nagi briefly regains consciousness and asks his son to come and kill him. Surprisingly, Negi, who spent his entire life yearning to find his father, seems to take the news rather well, and Asuna use the primal Code of the Life-Maker to restore the Mundus Magicus.

Aftermath

Nagi as the Life-Maker

The Life-Maker as Nagi.

The final chapter of the story mentions a tremendous battle which involved everyone in Negi's class, during which the Mage of the Beginning's forces besieged Mahora Academy, the city-like campus where Negi is teaching English. Negi managed to defeat the archmage once and for all, and was able to free Nagi from her control. However, none of this is seen for real, due to the abrupt ending of the manga (caused by a dispute between the author and the editor), and most of the mysteries surrounding the Life-Maker are left unexplained.

Role in UQ Holder

In Flashbacks

The story unfolds 75 years after the end of Negima!. It is set in the previous series' second timeline, in which Asuna Kagurazaka was sealed for over a century to power the process to save the Mundus Magicus. However, the original manga truly ended after Asuna travelled back to her era after awakening. This created a third and final timeline that saw the battle mentioned at the end of the previous series, during which the Mage of the Beginning was defeated for good and Nagi was saved.

Negi's project to terraform Mars and sustain the Mundus Magicus was accomplished, and giant towers leading into space are now serving as bridges between the three worlds. Magic was revealed to the world ten years before the start of the story and has begun to spread, with expensive applications enabling non-magic people who can afford it to spell-cast. Evangeline Mc Dowell has become the founding leader of UQ Holder (Eternity Holder): a group of immortals tasked to protect the population from supernatural threats, and took under her wing the primary protagonist, Tōta Konoe, a clone of Negi whom she turned into a vampire to save his life.

Twenty years before the start of the story, the Mage of the Beginning brought the world to the brink of destruction. A bounty-hunter tried to fight her, only to be overwhelmed by her armies of shadow demons and saved by Negi Springfield and the Ala Alba. Negi then defeated her before she could destroy the Solar System. This caused her very name become taboo, being enough to cause mass panic.

Tōta's training

La Créatrice et ses otages

Negi and Nagi trapped by the Mage of the Beginning

Tōta eventually hears that Negi is registered in the Mahora Martial Art Tournament set to take place soon. Upon seeing his registration form, and identifying his signature, Evangeline triggers a spell meant to react to her, creating a projection of Negi and Nagi trapped in the Mage of the Beginning's grasp. The archmage notices Tōta and smiles in satisfaction. It is clear that Evangeline know much more about it that she lets know, but she refuses to answer Tōta's questions.

After Tōta is nearly killed by Cutlass, a strange girl who calls him "brother", Evangeline’s own master, the Vampire Queen Dana Ananga Jagannatha, takes the protagonists in her castle outside time and space. Dana teaches Tōta to use both the Black of Venus and the White of Mars; while telling him about Evangeline and the Life-Maker.

Eight months later, Evangeline takes Tōta to Amano-Mihashira Academy City, the former Mahora Academy, to meet Negi’s surviving students: The now elderly Ayaka Yukihiro, the robot-girl Chachamaru Karakuri, the ghost girl Sayo Aisaka, the half-demon sniper Mana Tastsumiya (still a teenager and now Dean of Mahora), and the Demon Princess Zazie Rainyday. They tell him that Negi was spotted appearing in space for a few second, and reveal that he disappeared after defeating the Mage of the Beginning and is about to become her new vessel anytime soon.

It appears that Negi would rather die than suffer such a destiny, but that not even killing the Mage for good could save him. It also appears that UQ Holder is at odds with Ala Alba, now led by Fate Averruncus, who claims that Negi can still be saved by Tōta’s power. Tōta later asks his friends for help, in order to find a way to save Negi without having to choose between UQ Holder and Ala Alba.

Negi Reappears

Child. Did you think that this girl has been saved? Did you honestly think that faint hint of a smile meant she had been taken from her hell? If so, then you really have the brain of a fool. Have all your deaths addled your wits, immortal? This girl will never find happiness. Never in all eternity. This is a fact the girl is well aware of.
~ The Mage of the Beginning to Tōta, about Evangeline's centuries of pain

Later, Tōta is attacked by Cutlass once again. Though he fares much better against her after his training, she is soon joined by Negi Springfield himself, possessed by Life-Maker, and many of his comrades thought to have died 20 years ago, now the archmage's Apostles, who claim that they will take Tōta with them. Tōta's team, Evangeline and Fate start fighting the Apostles, but so many unbelievably powerful foes drive them into a corner.

La Créatrice attaque

The Life-Maker appears behind Past Evangeline

Albireo Imma, Nagi’s former comrade, drags Tōta into a vision of the past, in which he appears as an invisible spectator who can speak with Albireo through telepathy. They witness the time during which Negi was training under Evangeline, in which she developed feelings for him. Then, the Evangeline of the past suddenly recognizes Tōta (who previously travelled back to the past and befriended Evangeline at the start of her immortal life).

Suddenly, Albireo pierces Tōta with spears of darkness, while the Mage of the Beginning appears in person. It appears that the vision of the past is in fact one of her Phantasmagorias, within which she can manifest herself in person and deal with Tōta herself. The archmage reveals her real name and gleefully introduces herself as Tōta's enemy, before binding Evangeline with shadowy threads and tearing her apart. As their wounds painfully heal, she berates Tōta for believing that he made her happy, pointing out that she never was and will never be.

Irked, Tōta calls off her nihilistic rant, and he and Evangeline prepare to fight her. Amused, the Life-Maker accepts their challenge but they are absolutely no match for her, and she demonstrates it by effortlessly reducing Evangeline’s immense tower to rubbles. The Mage of the Beginning assumes Nagi’s aspect and conjures a replica of Negi to toy with her feelings and break her resolve, taking profit of it to strike Evangeline with Disintegrating Darts, leaving only her finger.

La Magicienne prête à combattre

The Life-Maker is ready to fight.

Then, she conjures replicas of her Apostles to overwhelm Tōta, before turning the landscape into endless tides of blood and skeletons, dragging Tōta's friends in the Phantasmagoria under her control and making them look like spectres who keep begging for his help. As Tōta is being dragged under the sea of blood, he refuses to give in to the despair that the Life-Maker is inflicting him, but this proves a losing battle. Fortunately, being in the Phantasmagoria enables Asuna of all people to manifest herself through him. She creates a replica of herself who saves Tōta, frees his friends and restores Evangeline.

Asuna uses her own White of Mars power to influence the Phantasmagoria, shaping it like the place where her real self is sealed and keeping the Mage of the Beginning away. She tells Tōta everything about her and devises a plan to fend of Negi and the Apostles, but the Life-Maker barges in. Just as the archmage is about to obliterate them, Asuna destroys the Phantasmagoria. Following her advices, Tōta's team use their special power to counter the abilities of the Apostles, until Negi himself enters the fray. Fate casts a spell of his own to communicate with the real Negi, who tells them about his research and how they could use it. The Apostles end up overwhelming the protagonists, but they held their own long enough for Asuna to manifest in the real world and disappear with them.

Trivia

  • The Life-Maker's title and the "Codes of the Life-Maker" staffs she created to channel her power are a nod to James P. Hogan's science-fiction novel The Code of the Life-Maker. The novel describes Saturn's moon Titan being populated by artificial clones of an alien specy, worshipping a deity they call the Life-Maker. This reflects the Mundus Magicus created by the Mage of the Beginning and populated by supernatural creatures that are in fact "artificial" products of the magical power that sustain their worlds.
  • Ialda Baoth, the Mage of the Beginning's real name only revealed in UQ Holder, is a direct reference to Gnosticism. Yaldabaoth is the imperfect Demiurge who shaped the physical universe (and its flaws), in opposition to the perfect spiritual universe created by God, from which all living beings come and to which they will all return. Such name is strongly symbolic for a deity who created a world bound to disappear.

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