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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 referred to by her titles: the Mage of the Beginning and 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 is 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 also 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 referred to as god-like and clearly matches the description. 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 alternate world full of legendary creatures set on the planet Mars), hence her titles.

The Mage of the Beginning is the progenitor of the royal family of Vespertatia, the kingdom said to be the origin of the Mundus Magicus. As such, she is a distant ancestor of both Negi Springfield, the 10-year-old primary protagonist, who is the son of Nagi Springfield, the hero who defeated her during the Great Mage War, and Arika the last queen of Vespertatia; and Asuna Kagurazaka, the primary female protagonist, 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 Ancient Magic: a godly power of creation and destruction, which is among other things the source of Asuna's immensely powerful magic-cancelling abilities, and ironically the only thing that can destroy her once and for all.

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 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 attacking Negi, without even considering 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 with her servants, telling Fate Averruncus that he would be free to do whatever he wants after he fulfils his duties, and reassuring him when he worries about being "flawed".

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 eternal happiness, 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 poised, collected and polite. She bears little ill-will towards the protagonists and seems to genuinely respect them, though she is more importantly very distant, uncaring, nearly emotionless and ruthless in battle. 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 displays wicked glee and admits being the protagonists’ enemy with disturbing enthusiasm. Still, she looks funnily unfazed 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, which plagued her during her millennia-long existence due to her empathic powers. While it did not drive her to madness it had a lasting impact, Fate even calling her "broken". 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 is willing to end it by extreme means, by making everyone in the solar system disappear. In her gloomy point of view, making people disappear is doing them a favour, by freeing them of their torment. (Plus, she might intend 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. 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, the archmage’s power seems to increase when there is a lot of magical energy concentrated at her disposal.

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 make it appear like a projection of the past or someone else's memories, which she uses to shape it, and create there replicas of people with the exact same personality and powers as the real ones. She can drag people in it, separate them into different settings but enabling telepathic contact, making them invisible and intangible like someone entering someone else's dream, chose how they look like inside, and enter it at will. 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.

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. They enable their bearer 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 which means that not only she can live forever, but that she is to return whenever she gets destroyed. If someone were brave and mighty enough to kill her, they would gain her power of Resonance. The more they struggle, the more she controls them, and when their spirit finally shatters, she returns to life through them. 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 to transform into one of her previous hosts, gaining access to their powers and memories and being able to act exactly like them. She can only be destroyed for good by her own White of Mars power, meaning that only one of her descendants could 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 any type 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 multi-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, though vulnerable to anti-magic, where she is not physically present. Under the right circumstances, she can even create such a projection when being sealed away, while skilled mages can only create weaker doubles of themselves.

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.

Captive de la Magicienne

Evangeline trapped in the Mage of the Beginning 's shadowy bounds

Like some mages, including her construct-followers, master Shadow Magic to create and shape shadow 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 Shadow Magic or a variation of her Black of Venus power is not known. She uses it to bind her foes in inescapable nets of tendrils before constricting them, tearing them apart by pulling from all sides, or shaping them as points to stab them.

She uses it as well 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 bind contracts 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 came very close to destroying all humanity.

In battle

While the Life-Maker very rarely displays it and mostly remains motionless when fighting, she proves incredibly fast and strong: being able to catch even highly 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 a 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 people away like nothing. Worse, she can make the pointy ends of her cape as sharp as blades to strike her foes, and deliver barrage of very destructive blows at high speed. Even worse, she can use it to slash everything around without even needing to touch it, reducing gigantic buildings to rubbles in a few seconds.

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 able to strike every target in its path nearly at once; an onslaught of spears made of darkness of variable extent that strike almost instantaneously, whose size and shape she can change; a devastating giant wave of dark energy; and an immense array of pentagrams that hurls a tremendous onslaught of dark beams at her enemies. She can also fire darts that bypass protections and make their target vanish into dust, be they 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 this world's creation. 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, the Life-Maker turned a noble European 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. 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.

Revived Cosmo Entelecheia

Resurrection of a nightmare

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.

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 encase 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.

Nagi as the Life-Maker

The Life-Maker as Nagi

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, and the combination of anti-magic and the archmage’s weakness is enough to dispel her onslaught of dark beams and to destroy 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

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 campus where Negi is teaching English. Negi managed to defeat the frightful 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 seventy-five years after the end of Negima!. Whether it is set in the previous series' second timeline, in which the Mundus Magicus was saved at the cost Asuna Kagurazaka being sealed for over a century to power the process; instead of the final timeline in which Asuna travelled back to her era and Nagi was freed from the Life-Maker remains unclear though.

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 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.

The Mage of the Beginning is first mentioned in a flashback set twenty years before the start of the story, by a bounty-hunter who fought against her, only to be overwhelmed by the armies of shadow demons she spawned, and saved by Negi Springfield and the Ala Alba. It seems that she was about to unleash a spell that would have destroyed the entire solar system, but little is known about it.

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, who are 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 Tōta and his friends to her castle outside the time-space continuum, to train them. Dana teaches Tōta to use both the White of Mars and the Magia Erebea and to combine them; 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 fully become her vessel anytime soon.

It appears that Negi would rather die than suffering 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, seemingly under the archmage’s control as well. Tōta is joined by his friends, Evangeline and Fate Averruncus start fighting the fallen heroes, but against so many unbelievably powerful foes, this is a losing battle.

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 was in fact a Phantasmagoria under her control, within which she could appear in person and deal with Tōta herself. The archmage reveals her real name and gleefully introduces herself as Tōta's enemy, before tying Evangeline with shadowy threads and tearing her apart. As their wounds painfully heal, she berates Tōta, calling him a fool for believing that he made her happy, pointing out that she never was and will never be.

La Magicienne prête à combattre

The Life-Maker is ready to fight

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 lessen her resolve, taking profit of it to strike Evangeline with Disintegrating Darts, leaving only her finger.

Then, she conjures replicas of her mind-slaves to overwhelm Tōta, before changing the entire landscape into endless tides of blood and skeletons, and surrounding him with spectre-like replicas of his loved ones that keep reminding him of his fears. 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. Then, Asuna appears out of nowhere and dispels the archmage’s magic, saving Tōta and restoring Evangeline.

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 from and to which they will return. Such name is strongly symbolic for a deity who created a world that was bound to disappear.

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