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The Dark Lich is a major recurring villain from the Mana video game series, who appears in Secret of Mana as the primary antagonist, and in Trials of Mana as a potential final boss. He is an incredibly powerful demon warlock, who wants to overthrow the Mana Goddess and rule the world of Fa'Diel. To do so, he always sets out to release an ancient power sealed long ago: the Mana Fortress in the first game and the Benevodons in the second.

Characteristics

Dark Lich is a wraith-like, undead demon warlock and a personification of Dark Magic, who feeds on hatred and destruction. He is one of the Great Evils of Fa'Diel, second only to the current Archdemon whose rule he openly challenges. He comes from the Underworld of Mavolia (the Mana counterpart of Hell) and always acts through a dark wizard with ties to it, who appears as the main villain while he is but a shell.

He was once a warlock from eons before Secret of Mana, who sold his soul to Mavolia for eternal life. His spirit manifests by taking over people, killing them in the process. The more he body-switches, the more his evil grows. His evil might is too much for normal vessels, who subsist on stolen life-force and always end up falling apart. As such he seeks a host from both Light and Darkness who could sustain him forever. However, he cannot manifest for long without a host, and being destroyed under his true form would terminate him once and for all.

Viewing Trials of Mana as a prequel to Secret of Mana makes the Masked Mage the aforementioned warlock, whose demise at the end forced him to switch bodies during the next millennia. The game explains that he became the Dark Lich after using Dark Magic of Life and Death on himself.

Its own prequel Dawn of Mana features Granz the Masked Guru, and the corruptive Thanatos Spirits, obvious references to his vessels. Dark Lich might have been spawned from the Thanatos Spirits, and have modelled his vessels after them and Granz. But while many villains appear in several linked games, the series different continuities blur the lines.

Dark Lich has incredible Dark Powers and control of Evil, Dark Magic and monsters, being able to curse entire regions, to drain life-force, to grant power to servants, to brainwash and corrupt people, and to see and talk everywhere.

He is cold, imposing and callous but formal. Worse, he is cruel, wrathful and power-hungry. He acknowledges his foes' merits, but does not see them as threats, taunts them and is irked by their defiance. He regards death as the true state of perfection that ends all suffering and wants to extinguish all life. He remains in the shadows and acts through proxies, skilfully manipulating foes and allies alike and only acting in person for important tasks, never meeting the heroes until they confront him.

Secret of mana

Every few decades, there is one born in the shadow of Darkness. A human capable of augmenting my power beyond comprehension! Dyluck is one such human! His dark powers were sealed as a child. Now he possesses a foolishly naïve sense of justice. But no matter. With his body I will use the Mana Fortress to rule the world!
~ Thanatos revealing his plan before the final battle.
Thanatos (Secret of Mana)

Original artwork of Thanatos

In Secret of Mana, the hero Randi draws the mythical Sword of Mana from a rock, unknowingly lifting a spell that keeps the monsters from Mavolia at bay. The evil Emperor Vandole seizes profit of it to take control of the monsters, before sending his four generals break the seal on the eight Seeds of the Mana Tree (earthly avatar of the Mana Goddess), causing destruction on their wake.

By breaking the seal, the Emperor plans to release the Mana Fortress: an ancient flying castle and ultimate warship, which was sealed away inside a sunken island. With the Dark Powers he gained by selling his soul to Mavolia and dominion of the Mana Fortress, Vandole could take over Fa'Diel. Randi learns that only the legendary Mana Knight could have drawn out the sword. As such, he sets out to restore the sword's power and stop the Empire.

Thanatos

The heroes confront Thanatos.

Randi and his partners, the girl Primm and the sprite Popoi, defend several nations from the Emperor's generals. One of them, the extremely powerful Mystic Knight Thanatos is draining the citizens of Pandora of their life-energy, turning them into zombie-like slaves to topple the kingdom from within.

The heroes learn about him from the wicked witch Elinee, who captured the royal soldiers sent against her. She teleports their captain, Primm's boyfriend Dyluck, to Thanatos, as he proves too strong for her. They defeat Elinee, who is in fact Thanatos' corrupted pawn, but she lost her powers and cannot help them.

Randi and his friends confront the wizard in the Ruins of Pandora. He pits them against the Demon Wall he created with the stolen life-force, but they destroy it, lifting his spell over the kingdom. He recognizes Randi as the Mana Knight, but teleports away with his hostages unimpressed; leaving the heroes to wonder what he could be after, acting so different from the Emperor's other generals.

Thanatos (Remake)

Artwork of Thanatos in the remake.

Upon confronting Randi and his friends, the imperial general Geshtar states that Thanatos warned the Imperial Court about them. Speaking to a member of the Resistance reveals that Thanatos works apart. It is also said that the Empire used to be peaceful up until fifteen years ago, hinting that something happened…

Thanatos sends a brainwashed Dyluck drain denizens of Northtown, prompting the heroes to storm the Northern Ruins. There, Dyluck drains Primm's energy and sends her to Thanatos, who needs her blood for his magic, but Randi temporarily brings him back to his senses. Randi and Popoi rush to save her, but Thanatos telekinetically knocks them back before paralyzing them. Fortunately, Dyluck transfers power to them and dispels Thanatos' magic. Irked, the evil wizard pits them against a powerful vampire and teleports away with Dyluck once more.

The Emperor breaks the Seeds' seal, but Thanatos's fellow general and accomplice Fanha kill him right after, as they no longer need him. Thanatos reveals that everything was in fact his doing. He was controlling the monsters while manipulating Vandole as a smoke screen, having likely influenced his deal with Mavolia and corrupted him from the start.

Facing Thanatos (remake)

The heroes confront Thanatos in the remake.

Thanatos seals the magic that could fully revive the Mana Sword, and leaves Fanha deal with the party in her immensely powerful demon form. He later makes them fight Geshtar, whom he turned into an undead cyborg, and reactivates the Mana Fortress.

Thanatos waits for the heroes to reach the Mana Tree, and destroys it before their eyes with the Mana Fortress, telepathically taunting them. The dying tree reveals that Randi's father Serin was the previous Mana Knight, who was killed by the Emperor and Thanatos at the start of the war, and uses its last power to restore the Seeds and the Sword.

The protagonists can now storm the Fortress and reach Thanatos, who is about to replace his decaying vessel with Dyluck, the perfect host he needs. Adding Dyluck's sealed power to his own and controlling the Mana Fortress would make him fully unstoppable.

The Dark Lich

The Dark Lich as seen in the game.

Despite Primm wounding him, he possesses Dyluck who bids a tearful farewell and forfeits his life before being assimilated. Without a physical host, the Dark Lich attempts to possess one of his foes, but they end his blight for good. Alas, the Fortress' awoke the Mana Beast, forcing the party to fight it to the death.

The Dark Lich and the Fortress are no more, but so is the Mana Power and with it the sprites, including Popoi. Randi and Primm return to Pandora to usher a new Era of Peace, but Mana will not return until the Mana Tree is restored.

Boss Battle

Ténébro (remake)

Dark Lich in the remake.

Dark Lich is considerably powerful, but easy to defeat if the heroes are strong enough. He has 6666 life-points, he spams very damaging Shadow, Water, Wind and Earth level 8 spells; he causes effects like confuse, shrink, petrify, freeze, paralysis, burn, poison, sleep or transformation to harmless Moogles; and he dispels magic buffs. As such, curing and healing is needed.

Dark Lich is weak to the Light element, so it is advised to cast Light Magic on weapons, and cast the Lucent Beam spell at least at level 6. Still, weapons only work when he is fully materialized. He must not be attacked with Shadow magic for it heals him. When attacked constantly he does not last long.

When he vanishes and phases his flaming hands through the ground, it can knock out the heroes and kill them in seconds so beware. He can be attacked with spells when his head appears, so do it quickly to make him reappear.

Trials of mana

The game is set millennia before Secret of Mana, but whether it is a prequel or a distinct continuity is left to the appreciation of the player.

Before the game events

Belgar (Circle of Mana)

Belgar before his corruption.

Belgar used to be the Oracle of Shadows, one of the two arch-priests overseeing the Holy City of Wendel along with the Priest of Light. He was a benevolent protector who kept Wendel neutral in conflicts, and the father of Heath, the future captain of the city guard.

In the game Heroes of Mana, set nineteen years before the start of the story, he fought in the war against the Ancient Kingdom of Pedda, who had started invading the neighbouring nations. In fact, Inath, the boy king of Pedda, was corrupted by Anise: the avatar of the former Archdemon Medusa, using him to return to power. Belgar served as a playable ally to the heroes and helped them fully destroy Anise, who took Pedda down with her.

One day, an ill little girl could not be saved by normal magic, prompting Belgar to study forbidden Dark Arts to save her. She died too soon but he grew obsessed and searched for a way to resurrect her. Dark forces eventually twisted his body and mind and horribly scarred his face, forcing him to wear a mask. By this time, his increasingly vile experiments made the clergy to reject him, leaving the Priest of Light no choice but to banish him, leaving behind his baby son.

Now irredeemably evil, the newly minted Masked Mage swore to never take off his mask until Wendel was destroyed. He used Dark Magic to make himself undying, eventually becoming the demonic Dark Lich. He seized the Mirage Palace in the ruins of Pedda and transported it to the Jungle of Illusions, eventually becoming one of the Three Great Evils of Fa'Diel, along with the Dragon Lord and the Dark Majesty.

In the game

Do you know how long I've awaited this day? My hatred for humanity has hidden beneath this mask.
~ The Masked Mage
The Masked Mage is the final boss when the Beastman Prince Kevin or the half-elf cleric Charlotte are selected as the main hero. If not, he will be slain by the game's chosen final boss.
Masked Mage (Circle of Mana)

The Masked Mage

He plans to unleash the dreaded Benevodons and to use their power for his own gain, and needs to sacrifice souls, to break the seal on the eight Mana Stones in which they are sealed. To do so, he sends Goremand to the Beast Kingdom of Ferolia, to manipulate the beastmen's resentment against humanity to wage war against Wendel.

Later, Goremand abducts Heath, a young Cleric of Wendel and coincidentally the Masked Mage's son, and brings him to his liege. The evil wizard likely recognizes his son, takes his soul to make him like he is and brainwashes him, turning him into the Tainted Soul: his extremely powerful bodyguard.

With all Mana Stones unsealed, the heroes reach the Mana Sanctuary, where the Mana Tree is located, and gain the fabled Sword of Mana from the Mana Goddess. Then, the Masked Mage kills his two rivals' faction, and sends his agents abduct the characters' Faery guide in exchange for the Sword. They use the Sword to set the Benevodons free, fulfilling the Mage's purpose. The Mage then patiently waits for the heroes to destroy all the Benevodons, channelling their power into the Sword of Mana.

Antagonists

The Masked Mage and Heath.

After destroying the Benevodons, the heroes kill Goremand in the Jungle of Illusions and confront the evil wizard in the Mirage Palace. A very pleased Masked Mage greets the heroes and tells them that the Benevodons' power lies in the Sword, and that he waited for them to absorb it before their very eyes, which would make him mightier than the Goddess herself and would enable him to become the new god of Fa'Diel.

Hopefully, the Goddess manages to hamper this power boost . Irked, the Masked Mage teleports to the Mana Sanctuary to settle his score with the exhausted deity. The heroes manage to defeat Heath, who returns to normal and tells them the Mage's story before dying. The heroes track down their enemy to the Sanctuary, but too late; the Mana Tree is destroyed, the Goddess is dead, and a Dark God is about to rise. The gloating Masked Mage kills the Faerie and reveals his true form, the Dark Lich. He crushes the heroes, but the Faerie's spirit heals them and reveals that Mana subsists through them, giving them a chance.

They ultimately destroy the Dark Lich and the Faerie's spirit fuses with the remnants of the Tree to become the Mana Goddess reborn. Yet the power of Mana will need thousand years to rise again, ending for good the era that the characters knew.

Boss Battle

Foolish mortals! I will destroy any hope you have lingering in your bodies! Face the wrath of your new god!
~ (a seriously irked) Dark Lich.
Dark Lich Battle

Battle against the Dark Lich (original)

The Dark Lich is the easiest of the three available final bosses, yet should by no means be taken lightly. He is a considerably powerful foe at level 50 with 49846 life-points. His attacks are deadly but he takes time to unleash them, leaving himself open. He can cast Strengthen, Protection and Accelerate, and Leaf Sabre which enables him to drain the heroes' magic-points with his claw swipes. He casts the mightiest attacks of the Shadow, Light, Water, Earth and Wood elements; which can poison the heroes or turn them into statues, snowmen or harmless Moogles and must be cured. His most dreadful attacks are Annihilate (which instantly kills targets of lower levels), Ancient Curse (a devastating rain of meteors on every target) and his most powerful spell Death Ecstasy: an even deadlier variation of Ancient.

In a black background, he uses Shadow and is weak to Light. In water he uses Water/Ice and is weak to Fire. In a desert he uses Light and Earth and has no real weakness. Attacking him with his current element only heals him. The heroes must increase their stats and decrease his own as much as possible, especially magic. If Charlotte is in the party as a Bishop of level at least 50, she must spam her Undead Away priest spell as it deals 999 damage on undeads, even the likes of him. If the heroes attack relentlessly and heal as much as needed, he shall perish soon.

Dawn of Mana

Prêtre Masqué

Granz, the Masked Guru.

In this prequel set millennia before Trials of Mana, the Thanatos Spirits spawned by Mavolia to corrupt people into demonic Grimslies and Granz the Masked Guru are references to the Dark Lich.

The evil King Stroud (the future Dark Prince) sets out to open the Door to Mavolia all over Fa'Diel to take over both worlds. The human-looking immortal named Granz was once the lover of Anise, a priestess who became host to the Archdemon Medusa. (Later games retconnect Anise as an alias used by mortals to speak about Medusa without triggering her curse.) He gets turned into a Grimsly by a Thanatos Spirit and is fought and killed by the game's primary protagonist Keldric.

Boss Battle

The battle is very long gradually destroys the tower it takes place in. Keldric must chase his foe all over the tower and use the Wind Devices to reach the upper floors, while avoiding the falling debris when a wall is destroyed. Granz flies around and uses powerful spells: a blast that cause all negative status and a poison mist. When damaged enough, he starts striking at close range with a sword or conjuring devastating meteors.

When Granz surrounds himself with a flaming barrier and casts Fire spells, Keldric must freeze his barrier with an Ice attack and strike to knock him out. When he uses a frozen barrier and casts Ice spells that can turn Keldric into a snowman, use Fire attacks. When Granz conjures Floating Masks that fire dangerous beams, Keldric must destroy them before attacking his foe.

Circle of Mana

Like nearly every character of the Mana series, Thanatos from Secret of Mana and the Masked Mage from Trials of Mana are playable in the card-based role-playing game Circle of Mana, the latter being featured as both his heroic, pre-corruption self from Heroes of Mana, and his demonic, masked persona.

Each character is played as cards, fighting to save the Mana Tree from monsters, and can gain power, equipment and Class Changes.

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius/Final Fantasy Record Keeper

Ténébro (FFBE)

Dark Lich in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius.

The Dark Lich makes a cameo in the spin-off games Final Fantasy Brave Exvius and Final Fantasy Record Keeper, gathering characters from many games to fight iconic monsters.

In the first, Dark Lich is the second-to-last boss of the Mana Mystery mode. He is highly powerful and resists status effects, but easily dispatched by a quick succession of attacks from a team of sufficiently powerful characters. Of course, he resists Dark but is weak to Light. He dispels magic buffs and casts dangerous spells, including Syringe that drains the heroes' life-points, Thunderbolt that strikes all heroes at once, Evil Gate that deals percent damage, and the self-explanatory Sleeping Gas that must be dispelled.

In the second, he is faced in the Mana's Quests, in which he is much more resilient and challenging. He can cause Petrification, Confusion and Sleep; he casts very powerful spells like Earth Glide (all targets), Thunderbolt, Evil Gate and Syringe. He can disappear and phase his flaming hands through the ground, escaping physical attacks and dealing huge damage and sleep effect with his Hand Crush move, but fortunately less lethal than the original.

Brutal Mario (Hack Game)

Mario contre Ténébro

Mario fighting Dark Lich.

The Dark Lich appears as a boss in the unofficial, hack computer game Super Kitiku World (also known as Brutal Mario) in which Mario has to battle several bosses from other game franchises.

The Dark Lich puts up a long and tough battle, divided into several stages determined by the screen's color.

  • Dark Lich conjures alternatively bolts of lightning, and four orange energy balls one after another. When two hats fall from the sky, Mario must grab the block inside one to strike Dark Lich's head.
  • The background turns into a desert and Dark Lich summons an angry-faced sun and several flying flames. The player must dodge until the sun drops the block and strike the boss. The player must beware for the sun starts blasting fiery rays below and Dark Lich's turns into a skull surrounded by circling rocks to prevent Mario from grabbing the block.
  • In water, Mario must dodge the gigantic beam fired by two dragon-like head on each side on the screen and the ice blocks floating. The block appears in one of the bubbles that pops out of the ground.
  • Falling icicles create pits on the ground, with two lightning bolts traveling along the grounds and fireballs erupting from the pits. Mario must grab the block that erupts periodically from the pits.
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