The Vandole Empire is a major villainous faction in the World of Mana video game series, always threatening to take over the world of Fa'Diel through abuse of a power source and opposing the chosen wielder of the legendary Sword of Mana. In Final Fantasy Adventures and its remakes, it was an evil empire destroyed long ago for abusing the power of Mana, whose heir Julius Vandole secretly plots to restore. In Secret of Mana and its remake, it is a vast empire seeking to gain control of the ancient Mana Fortress, revealed late to have been Thanatos's pawn all along.
Final Fantasy Adventure
Describing the Empire
Decades before the start of the first game of the series, Emperor Vandole syphoned the power of Mana that sustains Fa'Diel to become invincible and came very close to invading the entire world, if not fully taking over.
Until the fated day when a maiden of the Mana Clan, the guardians of Fa'Diel, sealed away the Mana Tree (the physical incarnation of the Mana Goddess and source of all Mana Power) away from the rest of the world.
Cut from its power source, the empire was toppled by the protectors of the Tree, the mighty Gemma Knights, wielding the Sword of Mana. Knowing that everything was lost, the Emperor hid his baby son in a cave, where he was found by the Dark Lord of the Duchy of Glaive (Granz Realm in Sword of Mana), who took him in and named him Julius.
Role in the Story
The story begins twenty years later, when the Hero (named Duke in adaptations) escapes from slavery in the Dark Lord's arena and sets out to get revenge on the tyrant, who seeks to access the Mana Tree and gain supreme power to dominate the world, helped by Julius who is now his court mage and second-in-command.
But Julius reveals after the Dark Lord's death that he had been using him all along, to gain the Mana power to himself. He forces his way to the Mana Sanctuary and drains the Mana Tree's power, planning to restore the Vandole Empire and dominate Fa’Diel for eternity as a god.
In spite of his newfound might, Julius dies by Duke’s hand, wielding the Sword of Mana, and the new Emperor falls before he could reign, under the very blade that felled his wretched father. Alas, the Heroine (named Elena in adaptations) must sacrifice herself to restore the Tree anew.
The sole representant of the Vandole Empire in the story, he is a highly powerful and manipulative wizard and the real power behind the throne of Glaive, leading most of the field-work for his "liege" so as to better backstab him when his goal draws near.
In Sword of Mana, Julius is hinted to be none other than Emperor Vandole's reincarnation, or even Vandole himself under a new aspect. The heroes who toppled him only recognize him with the magic Moon Mirror that shows people's true self.
They call him Vandole and he seems to address them as if he knows them. The Dark Lord seems able to soothe his worst impulses or at least keep Vandole at bay, which resurfaces after he dies.
Julius has a Shadowy Double that seems to be a reflection of Vandole himself, even worse than Julius himself. Also, after being destroyed, Julius states that he will keep returning as long as Mana exists, a characteristic of Anise herself in later games.
Cut content suggests that Vandole is a vessel to the Echoes of Mavolia, the somehow sentient heart of Mavolia (the Mana counterpart of Hell) and manifestation of Anise's curse that created the realm.
Secret of Mana
Describing the Empire
The Vandole Empire is one of the two mightiest global powers, with the Republic of Tasnica, that became their main obstacle towards word domination when they started to threaten Fa'Diel, around fifteen years before the start of the story. The Emperor seeks the Mana Fortress, an ancient city-sized flying airship of untold might built by corrupted Mana wielders, with which he could take over the entire world.
The game begins when the hero Randi takes the depowered Sword of Mana from a rock, unknowingly lifting a spell keeping the monsters from Mavolia away from Fa'Diel, causing them to run wild and enabling the Empire to take control of them.
As the Empire's regular forces are waging war against Tasnica, its generals lead the monsters against the temples to break the seal of the Mana Seeds, which keeps the Mana Fortress sealed away beneath a sunken island, also starting conspiracies to weaken its enemies from within.
Led by the old Tasnican General Gemma (a nod to the Gemma Knights), Randi sets out to restore the Sword of Mana and use it to topple the Empire, accompanied by the rebellious noble girl Primm and the amnesiac sprite Popoi. Together, they confront the Mystic Knight Thanatos, a powerful but mysterious wizard who is part of Vandole's four formidable vassals, along with Geshtar, Fanha and Sheex.
It is revealed late that Emperor Vandole, Sheex and Fanha sold their souls to Mavolia to gain enormous dark powers and control the monsters, with the generals using some of the mightiest as attack animals or guardians, frequently sending them after the heroes, who keep destroying them.
It is also revealed that Randi is the son of the previous Mana Knight Serin (a friend of Gemma who fought against the Empire at the start of their campaign but was killed by the Emperor and Thanatos), and a Tree Maiden (who later became one with the Mana Tree). Hence why the Sword of Mana chose him. The Empire is finally revealed to have been peaceful for decades before its sudden and unexplained warmongering.
Role in the Story
Randi first learns of the Empire from Gemma and the Priestess of Water Luka, after he destroyed the Mantis Ant monster sent to steal the unsealed Sword of Mana. Randi and his friends destroy more giant monsters attacking settlements, and storm the castle of the wicked witch Elinee, who just captured the soldiers sent after her by the Kingdom of Pandora. Among them Primm’s boyfriend Dyluck.
Elinee teleports Dyluck to Thanatos, who provides her with the magic herbs she can no longer finds anywhere else, but after the hero defeat her pet Spiky Tiger monster, she is revealed to be but a mind-slave whose return to normal broke her power. The heroes later confront Thanatos, noting that he does not act like the other Imperial Generals, but he teleports away after they break his hold on Pandora.
The heroes come to blows with Geshtar at the Water Temple, and later annexes a Tasnican sand ship in the Kakkara Desert. They first meet Emperor Vandole himself after integrating themselves with the Resistance opposing him in his very capital of Northtown.
The Emperor offers parlays with the Resistance and the heroes, only to capture them and send them to be eaten by a Metal Mantis monster that the heroes destroy. Gesthar battles them but falls under their blows, detonating the entire Imperial Castle to take them down with him but they escape on Flammie, the White Dragon of Mana that they befriended earlier.
The final confrontation with the Empire happens shortly after the heroes prevent Sheex from toppling Tasnica from within. Vandole seemingly triumphs after breaking the seal and making the sunken island resurface, later going into the Grand Palace to reach and reactivate the Mana Fortress. As the coalition of all nations led by Tasnica defeats the Empire's regular army, the heroes kill Sheex and catch up with the Emperor... Only to find him dead.
Fanha proudly admits to have killed Vandole, as her real master Thanatos had no longer any use for him. It now becomes clear that the evil wizard was the real power behind the throne and the true mastermind of the plot, using the Empire's resources for his own gain until convenient, exactly like Julius did in the previous game. Fanha is killed in turn in battle against the heroes. But the Empire was toppled only to be replaced by a much direr threat, as Thanatos now controls the Mana Fortress and uses it to destroy the Mana Tree.
The heroes eventually destroy Thanatos, the Mana Fortress, along with the Mana Beast driven mad by the loss of Mana, but at the cost of Dyluck's and Popoi's sacrifices. Randi and Primm return to Pandora to usher a new era of peace, but the Mana Tree will need hundreds of years to grow anew and restore the power of Mana to Fa'Diel.
Trials of Mana
Heroes of Mana