|“||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, best known as the Mage of the Beginning or the Life-Maker, is an unfathomably powerful, god-like archmage who serves as the overarching main villainess of the manga Negima! Magister Negi Magi and its sequel UQ Holder.
In Negima! she is the leader of Cosmo Entelecheia and the creator of Fate Averruncus, who was sealed away but returns to oppose the hero, Negi Springfield. In UQ Holder, the Mage of the Beginning and her Apostles are still around and the new hero, Negi’s clone Tōta Konoe, sets out to end her threat once and for all.
The Mage of the Beginning is a menacing figure over three meters tall, clad in black robes and capes whose hood conceals her face. Her long, torn cape is constantly floating around her, as an array of dark wings, which she can expand as she pleases.
Flashbacks of the Great Mage War show that her hood hides a youthful face with long, clear coloured hair worn in plaits that frame the back of her head, and pupiless eyes with ripple pattern on her iris.
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 when without a host.
The Life-Maker is sometimes depicted with large demonic-looking wings at hip level, not unlike demon royalty.
The UQ Holder anime depicts her with purplish black robes, no cape, light-blond hair and sickly yellow eyes. She possesses the one who killed her to reincarnate, hence gaining their gender, size and aspect which she can assume as she pleases.
When the Mage of the Beginning unleashes her full might, she seemingly calls upon the suffering and death of millions that fuels her power, described as her "army of vengeful ghosts".
They materialize around her (or around her host), as a nightmarish, massive, four-armed humanoid the size of a building, composed of the amalgamation of millions of skulls, bound in a dark grey, ectoplasm. Each of these skulls has small and creepy red lights coldly gleaming in their eye-sockets; the biggest skulls being gathered where the humanoid's head and chest should be.
The Life-Maker's true form manifests after her host is destroyed, when she is about to reincarnate. She looks like a disturbing and hideously twisted female angel, tall as a skyscraper and quite hard to describe properly.
Her head is covered in a long veil torn at its ends that expands like a cape, which she supports with her middle arms, and five pairs of increasingly larger feathered wings, seemly merging with one another...
She has a monstrous face with a large eye within a serrated mouth; a black sphere inside a hollow belly; six long arms with bandages of sorts below the shoulders, unravelling around her forearms to float away; and shrivelled legs co-jointed into a long bone-like spike, with more bandages unravelling and floating around it.
Finally, she has a crown-like halo forming a broken circle around a vertical rod over her head; lights glowing over her hands and near the tip of her wings, and swirling tendrils of darkness radiating from her.
It must be noted that Ialda Baoth's true form can also manifest under a smaller yet still huge version sporting her normal face, albeit hideously twisted, and still wearing her cape, with eight arms but no wings.
Little is known about the Life-Maker's origins and nature. The Vampire Noble Ba'al explains that she was one a human mage, but she is now described as divine and clearly fits the part. 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.
In fact, the archmage's soul, that of her vessels and the people she assimilated are gathered inside her mental landscape: which looks like an endless ocean of miles-long black tentacles, reminiscent of those she manifests when unleashing her full power, surrounding ruined places, under a dark, night-sky. There, she can speak with her vessels, submitting them to her power until their mind shatters and they become one with her.
How the Mage of the Beginning ascended to godhood is yet unknown. What is sure is that she is over 2600 years old, and that she has created the Mundus Magicus (the Magical World: an extradimensional world full of legendary beings 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 their innumerable departed souls, which seem to influence her.
She 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 hero, and Asuna Kagurazaka, the primary female hero. 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”, heir to the kingdom.
The royal family and their descendants inherited from her the White of Mars, also known as the Magic of the Ancients or the Magic of the Beginning: a godly power of creation sustained by the planet Mars which is the source of Asuna's extremely powerful magic-cancelling abilities, and ironically the Life-Maker's only true weakness.
|“||That is what a human being is. In the end, one can only continue moving forward.||„|
|~ The Mage of the Beginning.|
The Mage of the Beginning is unsympathetic, merciless and bent to fulfil her goals no matter the cost, causing the death of thousands, seizing whatever and whoever she wants, crushing all opposition physically and mentally, shooting foes through her servants, and disposing of traitors without second thought. She also proves disdainful, sarcastic and condescending, taunting Nagi even when struck by spells; and callously attacking 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, whose perseverance she praises. She forbids her servants to kill humans and non-fighters, has all of her and her followers' victims cast into a world of everlasting bliss, and Cosmo Entelecheia's primary purpose is to save the denizens of the Mundus Magicus from its upcoming collapse. Her ultimate goal is to destroy the entire Solar System to send its entire population into the aforementioned world of everlasting bliss.
Also, she is particularly gentle and understanding with her servants, amiably conversing with Primum, easing Fate Averruncus' worries about his perceived flaws, and planning to free them after their duty is fulfilled. But considering all the destruction she caused and her willingness to eradicate everything standing in her way, it is clear that she is self-righteous, twisted and malicious.
Like her construct-mages, the Mage of the Beginning is very sincere, polite, and above all poised and stoic. She is very intelligent, anticipating her foes' actions, devising traps, and planning multi-layered attacks to strike many targets at once.
She is frighteningly good at using her foes' emotions against them, cruelly toying with their feeling and confronting them to their worst fears to crush their spirit.
More importantly, she is scarily distant, uncaring, and nearly emotionless. While she is irked by the heroes, referring to them as "obstinate pests", she harbours little ill-will towards them and even displays genuine respect.
Still, she revels in her role as their archenemy and looks forward to their final fight, yearning to defeat them so they can admit their failure, but seemingly welcoming their challenge. Interestingly enough, the prospect of her defeat, seems to amuse her, likely because she knows it is only temporary.
She often calls out the heroes' idealism, which she regards as a fancy, deluded posturing. She harshly states that they are powerless to truly save the world and that torment can never be escaped. Also, the rare times she breaks her aloof facade, she becomes unhinged and disturbingly gleeful. Still, she looks funnily speechless when they in turn call out her gloomy rhetoric.
UQ Holder reveals that she has been plagued by everyone’s suffering for as long as she lived, due to her empathic powers. Fate states that she has been "broken" and she herself describes her life as "2600 years of despair".
This made her horribly cynical and nihilistic, unable to value positive feelings. She dismisses happiness as a fleeting, pointless respite from never-ending suffering.
Her ultimate desire is to end all suffering to finally be at peace, hence her goal of "saving" everyone alive. In her gloomy point of view, she regards making people disappear as a favour, by freeing them from their torment. (Which to her credit she actually does in a way. But her method is too radical to be a real solution, leaving only stagnation in stasis instead of living, progressing and getting closure for real.)
When fuelled by too much pain and resentment, or under her true form this still remains quite vague, she seems overwhelmed. In that state, all her poise, affable manners and overall personality disappears, leaving place to cold, furious determination, and even rage at the slightest obstacle. She curses anyone who thwarted her and states that the voices of the suffering will not allow any delay, hinting that she can hear them and loses control.
Powers and Abilities
The Mage of the Beginning is far and away the most powerful character introduced in the series, far surpassing 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.
Despite her nearly absolute power, she is not fully omnipotent, 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. In the same way, she needs to gather all the magic in the Solar System if she wants to erase it.
However, her might seems to increase the more magic energy she surrounds herself with, her followers boasting that nothing was impossible to her in such conditions. In addition, she draws power from every tormented soul from all eras, who are linked to her very being.
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 best mages can only create restricted pocket dimensions. Not to mention the many extremely powerful construct-mages she gave life to, whom she can resurrect or summon by her side, or the alternate reality she created: the Cosmo Entelecheia (or Eternal Garden), an alternate reality in which everyone lives their happiest, most perfect possible life, based on their past and unfulfilled desires.
She can create Phantasmagorias as well: spiritual planes outside of time and space under her total control, which she shapes and influences as she pleases, but stop to exist without her magic. She can drag people inside, separate them but enabling telepathic contact, or make them enter it later. There, she can make them invisible and intangible, as if inside someone's dream, or fully material like in the real world, and even control their aspect, or thoughts and actions. She can shape her Phantasmagorias following people's 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.
Even worse, she can infuse her surroundings with her magic power to assimilate them all into her being, gaining complete control of it. She can take over entire planetoids that way, becoming able to continuously spell-cast from many points at once independently from her normal self, to appear instantly everywhere on its surface, and to take from it infinite supplies of magical energy that make her virtually invincible. With it, she can shrug off even powers and techniques mighty enough to affect her normally.
She can even teleport a landscape she assimilated, even beyond dimensions, and cover it with her dark power that she shapes as she pleases. To such a point that she can teleport and move the moons of planets she assimilate wherever she wants instantly, without possibility to see it coming. Worse, she assimilates those she engulfs in her darkness, making them vessels of her essence under her total control, overriding their personality with her own.
The Life-Maker can warp reality, likely because of her White of Mars power. She channelled this ability into the Codes of the Life-Maker: key-shaped staves she gave to her highest-ranked followers. Their bearers become able to make attacks disappear, to teleport many at once, to cast people into the Cosmo Entelecheia and to summon them back under their command, and even to bend time and space to reshape their entire surroundings. Whether 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 and she herself could preserve the thousands of people she brought to Mars from its lethal atmosphere, hinting the former.
In addition to the White of Mars based on the power of Light, she masters the Black of Venus, also known as Magic of the End: a godly power of Darkness sustained by the Planet Venus that can engulf everything. This is the source of the dreaded vampire sorceress Evangeline McDowell’s Magia Erebea (Black Magic): a technique fuelled by negative emotions enabling its user to absorb their own spells or their foes’ to considerably boost their might. Disciples of the Life-Maker recognize them to be one and the same. This might also be the source of abilities to assimilate things and people into herself and to cover a defined place with her aura of darkness.
The Mage of the Beginning has a constantly active, godly power of empathy called Resonance, making her feel every emotion of everyone in the universe, though she experiences negative emotions more strongly. Yet, she cannot control it or stop 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 powerful enough 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, memories and personality to act exactly like they would.
As stated before, 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: first, by cutting her from her magic source with it if she assimilated her surroundings, by defeating her in battle and destroying her heart, which kills her host, and then by striking her true form with a White of Mars powered attack before she possesses her victor, which is virtually impossible.
Under her true form, the Life-Maker's power gets unbound. She is extremely fast and strong, far more than normal, she can distort and elongate her body, assimilate anyone she touches with her attacks, and spread and shape her dark aura virtually without end. When she does, she can cover entire landscapes (if not planets) with her darkness, which she can shape and shape-shift as she pleases: into miles-long tentacles or scythe-shaped appendages, building-dwarfing arms dealing tremendous blows, or sentient demonic serpents of equal size.
Control of Magic
The Life-Maker likely masters all Elements (the source of most attack spells) and every form of Magic, and seems to have a limitless knowledge about magic, artifacts and people, given the power and knowledge she granted to her construct-mages. She can devise spells, such as the one called Manus Jaldae (Ialda's Hand): a highly powerful spell to destroy or seal supernatural beings, that only her descendants can use. She can even create magical techniques beyond human-level, such as the mandala-like multiple barrier which she granted to her followers.
She can fly, appear out of nowhere, create portals of teleportation shifting even planetoids, and create a physical projection of herself as powerful as she is no matter the distance, while the best mages can only create weaker doubles of themselves. Under the right circumstances, she can even create such projections while sealed away.
Since her right-hand-man stated that she does not need her telescope, it can be guessed that she can see where she is not present. She seems able to foresee the past and future, being apparently aware of her upcoming defeat against Nagi Springfield, and shaping her Phantasmagorias following past events. As her Phantasmagorias can reflect people’s memories, she might have access to them, or might know how to read thoughts, to speak by telepathy and to enter dreams and minds, skills displayed by other mages though to a much greater extent.
Similarly to masters of Shadow Magic, able to create shadow and shape it into solid objects of variable size like limbs and weapons, She 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 all size and might, ranging from normal demons, unharmed or wielding weapons, to giant spell-casting ones and gigantic and powerful fire-breathing dragons, up to terrifying, multi-limbed, tentacled, palace-dwarfing titans. Much worse, she can spawn hundreds of thousands of them in a matter of minutes.
Finally, she can animate and control dead corpses, conjuring dozens of skeletons able to harm spirits 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. Given Cosmo Entelecheia's employ of Demon Lords, it can be assumed that she can summon and command many demons of variable rank and power as well.
The Mage of the Beginning rarely needs to move in battle, but displays absurd strength and speed: lifting people with one hand, sending them flying with one punch, and blitzing even incredibly fast foes. (Though she did the latter two by taking the shape of a host that was an obscenely powerful brawler.)
She can also move her cape like actual limbs, and use it for both defensive and offensive purposes. She can use her cape to swat many people away at once in a single flap. She can also make her cape harder than steel and surround herself with it to shield herself from all sorts of attacks. Worse, she can make the pointy ends of her cape into sharp blades, delivering barrages of powerful blows at considerable speed, overwhelming foes with countless strikes, or using a devastating attack slashing everything around her far outside their normal reach, effortlessly reducing gigantic buildings to rubbles in a few seconds. Even worse, she can expand her cape to cover wide areas in seconds and to unleash it like a tidal wave.
The archmage can paralyze anyone in the blink of an eye, with apparently no way of countering it. Worse, she can magically poison people with the dark miasma of the thousands of vengeful ghosts fuelling her power. Her poison drastically weakens its targets, akin to a violent fever, and is extremely difficult to heal, requiring a very long and intensive treatment. It is hinted that only immortals could survive it. Much worse yet, she can fire darts that bypass protections and make anyone vanish into dust, even immortals with instant regeneration.
She can conjure nets of dark tendrils to bind, constrict and pull apart her foes, or points that can pierce anything, unleashing many at once. Her magic attacks can shatter even the mightiest defences: a piercing dark beam striking every target in its path nearly instantly; up to hundreds of spears of darkness hurled at once; a gigantic and devastating wave of dark energy; a gigantic maelstrom of darkness that surrounds her foes; and a yards-wide array of gigantic pentagrams that hurls a tremendous onslaught of dark beams over a very large area.
She can also use an even bigger and mightier variation of the last attack that fire countless gigantic beams towards many targets at once. Though this one fires beams of pure energy instead of darkness. She can fire circular waves of energy continuously overwhelming an entire group. Finally, she devised a spell to blast all enemies in a defined area, even covering an entire planetoid in range.
- 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.
- Agartha, the asteroid that the Mage of the Beginning assimilated is named after a legendary land of riches and plenty with exceptional technological and spiritual advancement located under the surface of Earth, from esoteric teachings. Agartha itself is similar to the land of Shamballa from Buddhist and Hinduist legends, and linked to the New Age theories of the Hollow Earth.