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The Dark Majesty (the Dark Lord in Japanese) is a major recurring villain in the Mana video game series, who appears in Trials of Mana as one of the three possible final bosses and in its prequel Dawn of Mana as the central villain. He was a tyrannical 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 Trials of Mana and the warlord of Dawn of Mana were confirmed as one and the same. He is based on the Dark Lord from the original Final Fantasy Adventure, who becomes his counterpart in its remake Sword of Mana.

History

Stroud was first the monarch of the Ice Kingdom of Lorimar (called the Kingdom of Light in Trials of Mana), but was locked in a dungeon at birth, feared and hated by everyone, due to a prophecy foretelling that he would doom the realm. Medusa, the Archdemon of Mavolia granted him dark powers and would make him her successor if he could open the Door to Mavolia. Stroud then became a ruthless tyrant, destroying the country as foretold and turning the Light Castle into the Dark Castle, infested by demons of all kind.

Dawn of Mana develops his backstory and reveals that after the demons made him escape, Stroud threw his baby brother Keldric (the game's primary protagonist) into the sea to remove all pretenders to the throne. Fortunately, Keldric survived and was raised by the Tree Folk of Illusia Island, the protectors of the Mana Tree (the earthly avatar of the Mana Goddess). Stroud then took the throne and became a ruthless tyrant, overflowing his kingdom with monsters and demonic forces.

Personality

What kind of man Stroud was before the demons' bargain is not known. His right-hand Belladonna states that he was corrupted and had his heart had been "shuttered close". Growing up an outcast prisoner surely made him bitter and resentful of his country, worsened by Mavolia’s influence. Though it is not explained whether he was corrupted by his imprisonment, the demons or both.

Stroud displays in both games a very strong arrogance, self-centeredness, greed and hunger for power. He is cruel, hateful, violent, sadistic, boastful, and taunting. He stops at nothing to gain power no matter how many lives he tramples, and displaying no gratitude whatsoever towards his faithful servants or his benefactors, backstabbing the latter and throwing the former under the bus as soon as it gets convenient. Dawn of Mana shows him unhinged and vicious, while he has become much more collected, sarcastic and manipulative in Trials of Mana.

Dawn of Mana

Stroud

King Stroud of Lorimar

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. He leads his armies in the invasion of Illusia, looking for the Door to Mavolia, and starts slaughtering the Tree Folk and the magic creatures indiscriminately.

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 herself 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 evil king, who stole the fabled Sword of Mana, 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 Medusa (who mortals call Anise, the name of her mortal incarnation, out of fear of her name that curses anyone non-evil who pronounces it).

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 manages to remain in control, and starts 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 battle against a Grimsly-turned Stroud is tougher. He causes energy blasts, blocks attacks, and spams Ice waves and flaming or jumping strikes, but he is slow and easy to avoid. 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 Majesty, 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 Lord, the other two Great Evils who share his goal to resurrect the demonic Benevodons. As for Lorimar, it became a wasteland enshrouded in an everlasting stormy night, where monsters 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 unsealed the Mana Stone of Shadow to release Zable Fahr, Benevodon of Darkness and the most powerful of the eight, who went on to lead monsters and spread untold devastation. Fortunately, the Mana Goddess managed to seal both Zable Fahr and the Dark Majesty in Mavolia.

Nineteen years before the events of Trials of Mana, the Ancient Kingdom of Pedda started invading the world of Fa'Diel, and planting Dark Mirrors in the countries they conquered, corrupting everything 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 Majesty still in control of Mavolia.

Trials of Mana

This is the end of the Goddess of Mana’s reign! Mavolia will rule this world with me as its supreme god!
~ The Dark Majesty

At some point, the Demon Lady Belladonna and the Vampire Lord Malocchio took control of the Dark Castle and took care of the Dark Majesty's remains, planning to bring him back. Whether they did it on their own volition or were in contact with the Dark Majesty is not known, but the latter seems more likely as they come from Mavolia and that Belladonna does adore the Dark Majesty in more ways than one.

Belladonna posed as a witch named Isabella and brainwashed Flamekhan, lord of the Ninja Thieves of Nevarl. She used the ninjas to invade the Wind Kingdom of Laurent, planning to make the child prince Elliot into the Dark Majesty's new vessel. All this to lift the seal of the Mana Stones so as to release the Benevodons, in competition with the other two Great Evils, eventually unsealing all Mana Stones.

Later, the Dark Majesty uses the last of his essence to bring back the Mana Stone of Darkness to the Earthly Planes, hiding it in the ruins of Pedda. The heroes eventually enter the Mana Sanctuary, location of the Mana Tree (the Mana Goddess' earthly avatar). But because the Great Evils' actions have drained most of the Mana Power sustaining the world, the Mana Goddess can do nothing except giving the heroes the fabled Sword of Mana.

If the Dark Majesty is not the final boss, the main villain will destroy his remains to prevent all possibilities of a resurrection, sealing his servants' doom in the process. If the Dark Majesty is the final boss however, he assists his agents from the depths of Mavolia to destroy his rivals and their forces. The Dark Majesty then sends his followers to the Sanctuary, where they abduct the heroes' Faerie guide and use her as a hostage to get the Sword. They then bend it to their will and use it to release the Benevodons.

The heroes set out to destroy the Benevodons, but they unknowingly serve the Dark Majesty's interests, as he wants them slain to channel their power in the Sword of Mana and uses it to resurrect without needing Prince Elliot. The heroes later go to the Dark Cave where they destroy Malocchio, and storm the Dark Castle where they destroy Belladonna. They then meet the Dark Majesty at last.

Héros contre Prince des Ténèbres

The heroes confront the Dark Majesty (original).

The gloating villain dismisses Belladonna’s loss without a care and offers to make the heroes his main enforcers, but they unsurprisingly refuse. He then absorbs the Sword of Mana and its power. Fortunately, the Mana Goddess manages to thwart him with her last strength.

Angered, the Dark Majesty teleports to the Sanctuary to finish off the exhausted deity, with the heroes on its tracks. Alas, they are too late and the Mana Tree is destroyed. The villain kills the Faerie and assumes his Archdemon form, ready to possess Prince Elliot before merging Fa'Diel and Mavolia to rule both as a god. He blasts the heroes but the Faerie's spirit heals them, stating that the Power of Mana still exists through them, giving them a chance.

Although the Archdemon ridicules the Faerie's declaration of hope, the heroes prove her right by destroying him. And the destruction of his true form instead of a mere avatar means that he is gone for good. The Faerie'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).

Ridiculous! You think your illusion of hope can stand up against a newly realised god? Think again!
~ The Archdemon

Far and away the most difficult of the three final bosses, the Archdemon is a very powerful and very dangerous enemy, who attacks relentlessly with many fearsome moves. He is at level 50 and has 53499 life-points. The heroes must be over level 50 and have plenty of curing and resurrecting items, for he is a truly formidable foe.

The element he uses depends on the colour he takes: When black he uses Shadow, like the weakening Dark Curse, Annihilate which instantly kills a lower-level target, and the devastating Southern Slice; 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 Rush; 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 reduces your life-points and casts Moon Spiral; cure when shrunk and use Wood. He can also use Wall, which reflects back your spells and deals damage for quite a while. Weapons should be infused with the magic he is weak against and spells of his current element must be avoided for they heal him. He remains quite open to attacks so it is best to harass him without stop, weaken him and boost the heroes as much as possible. Try not to waste healing items and spells, because the worst is yet to come.

Archdemon 2

Archdemon (true form).

When his life-points get halved, the Archdemon transforms again and battle becomes even harder. He punches, conjures giant blades from the ground, and uses the monster summon Great Demon and the special attacks Fetid Breath and Demon Scream, with the latter weakening the heroes. The Archdemon now deals greater damage and takes less, even when hit with his weakness. He casts Strengthen and Defender on himself, and mostly strikes all heroes with very dangerous special attacks. Watch out for his deadliest attack, Catastrophe, which deals crippling damage to all heroes.

The heroes must unleash their mightiest spells and special techniques and give everything they have. They must be careful to heal whenever their life-points drop under 200 and to attack him with the right element.

Final Fantasy Adventure/Sword of Mana

Dark Lord (Shadow Knight)

The Dark Lord in 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 Trials of Mana, most games were stated by the developers to be part of distinct continuities, making the two villains counterparts.

In the original Final Fantasy Adventure 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 villain fights the same 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. He is highly resistant to magic, so spells are pretty useless and harassing him with weapons is a good tactic. If the heroes are of a high enough level, he will fall with little trouble.

Circle of Mana

Like nearly every character of the Mana series, both the Dark Majesty from Trials of Mana and Dawn of Mana and the Dark Lord from Sword of Mana are playable in the card-based role-playing game Circle of Mana. Each character is played as cards to save the Mana Tree from monsters, and can gain power, equipment and Class Changes.

Brutal Mario (Hack Game)

Just Like the other two final bosses of Trials of Mana, 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.

Trivia

  • For many years, the villain was known as the Dark Prince in the unofficial fan-translation.
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