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Villain Overview

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 and the Life-Maker, is an unfathomably powerful, divine 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 founder of Cosmo Entelecheia and creator of Fate Averruncus, who was sealed but returns to oppose the hero Negi Springfield. In UQ Holder, the Mage of the Beginning and her Apostles, led by Ba'al, are still around, and Negi's clone Tōta Konoe must end her threat once and for all.

Appearance

The Mage of the Beginning is a menacing figure over three meters tall, clad in black robes and a cape whose hood conceals her face. Her long, torn cape is constantly floating around her, like a large array of dark wings, which she can expand and reshape at leisure.

Flashbacks of the Great Mage War reveal that her hood hides a beautiful, youthful face with long, blond hair worn in plaits that frame the back of her head, and piercing, icy blue, pupiless eyes with ripple pattern on her irises.

UQ Holder never 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 anime adaptation depicts her with purplish black robes, no cape, light-blond hair and sickly yellow eyes.

The Life-Maker is sometimes depicted with large demonic-looking wings at hip level, not unlike demon royalty. She possesses her killer to reincarnate, gaining their aspect which she can assume whenever she wants.

The Life-Maker unmasked.

When the Mage of the Beginning unleashes her full might, she calls upon the suffering of the millions who died in despair, in fact the source of 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 Mage of the Beginning's army of vengeful ghosts.

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...

The Mage of the Beginning's eldritch true form.

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.

Characteristics

The Mage of the Beginning

Little is known about the Mage of the Beginning's origins and nature. The Vampire Noble Ba'al implies a human origin, but it remains unclear and she is now described as divine, being even referred to as the Goddess of Mercy.

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 all the people she assimilated are gathered inside her mental landscape: appearing as an endless ocean of miles-long black tentacles, reminiscent of those she manifests when unleashing her full power, surrounding ruined places floating among a void, 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 never explained. It might have been after she gained her empathic powers and fused with her army of vengeful ghosts. For her power is fuelled by the negative karma of everyone who suffered, and she herself seems bound to their innumerable departed souls, which seem to influence her. 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.

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 ten-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.

Personality

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 used to be a caring pacifist, always fighting in favor of the downtrodden. But she is now unsympathetic, merciless and unrelenting in her goals, causing the death of thousands, seizing all she wants, wrecking opposition, shooting foes through her vassals and disposing of traitors and useless vassals without second thought. She also proves to be disdainful, sarcastic and condescending, taunting Nagi even when struck by his 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 humanity, whose perseverance she praises. She enjoys observing the world, forbids her servants to kill humans and non-fighters, has all of her and her followers' victims cast into a world of everlasting bliss, with Cosmo Entelecheia's primary purpose being to save the denizens of the Mundus Magicus from its upcoming collapse. Her ultimate goal is to destroy the entire Solar System so as 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 the fanatical devotion she inspires, 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.

A disturbingly unhinged mage.

Like her construct-mages, the Mage of the Beginning is very poised, stoic, polite and sincere. She is very intelligent, correctly deducing and anticipating her foes' and allies' actions, or devising multi-layered attacks, traps and diversions.

She is frighteningly good at using her foes' emotions against them, cruelly toying with their feelings and forcibly exposing them to their worst fears to break their spirit.

More importantly, she is scarily distant, uncaring, and nearly emotionless. While she is irked by her foes' meddling, calling them "obstinate pests", she genuinely respects them and bears them little ill-will, unless her goal is at reach that is.

Still, she revels in her role as their archenemy and looks forward to face them, yearning to shatter them to make them admit that they failed and she was right, 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 dismisses happiness as a fleeting and pointless respite from never-ending suffering. As such, 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, totally unable to value any positive feeling.

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, usually when on the verge of success or defeat, she seems to get overwhelmed by despair. She curses opposition and states that the voices of the suffering will not allow any delay, hinting that she gives in to their resentment and nihilism. In that state, her poise, affable manners and overall personality vanish, leaving nothing but cold, furious determination, and even rage at the slightest obstacle.

Powers and Abilities

It's like someone opened the lid to Hell… And every curse in the entire world is spilling out.
~ Isana Konoe, describing the Mage of the Beginning's aura.

The Mage of the Beginning is far and away the most powerful character in the series, far beyond Nagi Springfield and Jack Rakan, the mightiest of the virtually invincible Ala Rubra team. So much that everyone for miles away can feel the sheer pressure she radiates, petrifying even hardened fighters, knowing instinctively how deadly she is.

However, she is not fully omnipotent, for she needed to follow the rules of magic to create the Mundus Magicus, and later needed Asuna's magic-cancelling power to erase the Mundus Magicus, then had to gather all the magic energy in the Solar System to erase it. Besides, her power cannot reach beyond the Solar System. Whether she herself can use anti-magic on a world-wide scale is unexplained. However, her might increases 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.

Control of Magic

The Life-Maker likely masters all Elements (the source of attack spells) and forms of Magic, and displays apparent limitless knowledge about magic, artifacts and people, given the power and knowledge she granted her construct-mages. She can devise spells, such as the Manus Jaldae (Ialda's Hand): a highly powerful seal against demons or 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, perform telekinesis, conjure objects through runes, appear out of nowhere, create teleportation portals able to shift even planetoids, and send a physical projection of herself as powerful as she is where she wants, even when sealed under the right conditions, while the best mages can only create weaker doubles of themselves.

She can project visions and memories to people. Since her right-hand-man said she does not need her telescope, she likely can see where she is not present. She seems able to foresee the past and future, not being surprised of her upcoming defeat against Nagi Springfield, and shaping her Phantasmagorias following past events. With said Phantasmagorias reflecting people's memories, she might have access to them, and she likely can read thoughts, speak by telepathy and enter dreams and minds as other mages can do, though to a much greater extent.

Just like Shadow Magic can conjure shadow and shape it into solid objects of variable size like limbs and weapons, She can conjure, shape and control darkness at will. Though whether this is magic or her divine darkness power is not known. She can spawn construct-monsters of all size and might, from normal demons, wielding weapons or not, to giant spell-casting ones or gigantic and mighty fire-breathing dragons, up to terrifying, tentacled, multi-limbed, palace-dwarfing titans. Much worse, she can spawn hundreds of thousands of them in less than a minute.

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 beyond that of the already extremely powerful wraith girl Sayoko Minase: who raised a dead boy as a mighty revenant, and very nearly destroyed humanity in a Zombie Apocalypse. Given Cosmo Entelecheia's employ of Demon Lords, it can be guessed that she can summon and command thousands of demons of variable rank and power.

Divine Powers

The Mage of the Beginniing, standing over the ruins of a tower she razed (anime)

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 make limited pocket dimensions. She can even give and take immortality.

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 power into the Codes of the Life-Maker: key-shaped staves she granted to her highest-ranked vassals. They enable their bearer to make attacks disappear, to teleport many people at once, to cast people in the Cosmo Entelecheia and to summon them back under their control, 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 all emotions from everyone in the universe, though she experiences the negative ones with higher intensity. Yet, she is unable to control it or stop it in any way, to the point that it is described as a "curse".

Finally, she reached Ceaselessness, the step above immortality: she is not only eternal but even when killed, she is bound to return through her victor, who gains her power of Resonance. The more they struggle, the more she gains control, resurrecting when their spirit shatters. Killing her only dooms her host, with her victor being the next. While she usually appears as her current host, she can assume her original form, or turn to a previous host, gaining their powers, memories and traits. Under the right circumstances, she can materialize a past host under her control.

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 is unbound. She is enormously faster and stronger than before, she can distort and elongate her body at will, assimilate anyone she strikes, and spread and shape her dark aura virtually without end. This dark aura (called her Black Mud) can spread all over entire landscapes, if not planets. She shapes and shape-shifts it as she pleases: into many miles-long tentacles, scythe-shaped appendages, building-dwarfing arms dealing terrific blows, or equally gigantic sentient demonic serpents.

In battle

The Mage of the Beginning rarely needs to move to fight, but displays ludicrous strength, speed and skill: lifting people with one hand, barging in too fast for her foes to react, and landing precise strikes. Worse, she can assume her vessels' aspect to use their even crazier fighting prowess, sending foes flying with a punch, blitzing fast foes, and perfectly wielding a giant sword in each hand. All her battles wreak untold destruction.

She can move her cape like limbs for defence and offence, swatting away many fighters at once in just a flap, or make it harder than steel to block attacks from all around. Worse, she can use its pointy ends like blades, overwhelming foes with very fast and powerful barrages of many strikes per second. She can divide it into countless ribbon-like threads to bind, constrict and tear apart foes. She can unleash a devastating attack that slashes everything around her even miles away, effortlessly reducing a gigantic building to rubbles in the blink of an eye. Moreover, she can expand her cape to cover wide areas in just a second and to unleash it like a tidal wave.

Nagi Springfield fighting against the Mage of the Beginning.

She can paralyze foes, or crush them on the ground with sheer magic pressure, unless they can break through it. Worse, the dark miasma spread by her vengeful ghosts magically poisons victims at contact. It drastically weakens them akin to a violent fever, requiring a long and and intensive treatment only immortals have a chance to survive.

She can surround herself with levitating pointed slabs of dark crystal of variable size and shape, or conjure a miles-long ornate stone pillar that crushes foe by appearing and can be thrown. She can manifest her power as a gigantic, eldritch entity, surrounding her in a lamprey-like mouth with sharp fangs and miles-wide tentacles, constantly exuding a powerful aura of fear crippling anyone who looks at her.

Worst, she can throw darts that bypass all protections and make anyone they strike vanish into dust, even immortals with instant regeneration.

She can cast her hosts' spells to a city-wide scale, and her magic attacks shatter even the mightiest defences. She unleashes continuous energy waves overwhelming entire groups; a piercing blue beam striking every target on its path near instantly; up to hundreds of spears of darkness of variable size at once; pointed dark tendrils piercing anything; a gigantic and devastating dark energy wave; and a humongous dark maelstrom around her foes. Finally, she causes miles-wide elemental storms, energy explosions dwarfing even nukes, and she devised a spell able to blast every foes in a defined area, be it an entire planetoid.

Her mightiest attack hurls a tremendous onslaught of gigantic beams of darkness or light over a huge area, from a miles-wide array of equally huge energy pentagrams. She can even unleash an even bigger and mightier variation firing countless tremendous beams at many different targets at once, from herself or any place she assimilated.

Trivia

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