|“||It's my solemn vow... the suffering I've caused will not repeat in the current era. I will be neutral and isolated, a friend or foe to no one. That said... if the current era should give way to a new one... there's a chance I will take on a far more active role. I had hoped you would destroy me before then... Natsu.||„|
|~ Zeref Dragneel to himself about his allegiance.|
Zeref Dragneel (in Japanese: ゼレフ・ドラグニル, Zerefu Doraguniru), more commonly known by his first name Zeref or title Lord Zeref was one of two main antagonists of the manga/anime series Fairy Tail alongside Acnologia. He was considered one of the strongest and most evil Wizards in the series as he possessed incredibly deadly and destructive Magic Power. For such reasons he was also known by the epithet of "The Black Wizard" (in Japanese: 黒魔導士, Kuro Madōshi).
He first appeared as a self-hating reclusive youth who could not control his Powers and was revealed to be the estranged older brother of Natsu Dragneel, illegitimate father of August and the creator of the Etherious, a race of demons that were originally created for the purpose of killing him. He was also the lover of Mavis Vermilion, First Guild Master of the titular organization Fairy Tail.
Zeref was said to have been the darkest Wizard in the history of the Magic World as he mastered the Black Arts of Magic Power and created Demons and other monstrous creatures, most of which continued to wreak havoc in the present. However, the truth behind the Black Wizard was surprisingly far from what had been previously described.
In reality Zeref was a calm-minded man who was sincere, trustworthy, straightforward and optimistic; though over the years he found himself in a conflicted state where he wished to isolate himself from others and have his own life be taken away. He regretted all of the sins he committed and thus wanted to die before he found himself committing more horrid crimes.
Zeref showed concern for others when he warned them not to come near him, knowing they would most likely perish if they did; he once told Mavis he never chose to stay in one place for very long or enter extended contact with living creatures. He was also somewhat emotionally fragile and vulnerable as seen when he believed Mavis somehow died after the two showed love for each other and realized his younger brother Natsu was not ready to eliminate him yet, becoming hysterical and/or breaking down in tears on both occasions. Despite Zeref's overall capability for many evils he was actually a much more tragic character once others personally got to know him; this extended to the point that Mavis tried to cheer him up with her Illusions shortly after meeting him and while Natsu's opinions on his defeat being necessary didn't change at all after learning the truth behind their relationship and Zeref's then-unexplained familiarity with the Dragon Slayer, his brother seemed to genuinely pity him enough to tell him (if rather angrily) exactly how he was wrong when it came to his own views of happiness.
Zeref had a clear-cut disdain for the "cultists who longed for [his] resurrection", viewing them as "a group of desperate fanatics" with unamusement and spite likely due to seeing those followers (in the loosest sense of the word) as a majority of the negative histories and legacies he left behind before deciding to return and held similar regards, if not lower for the vast tales told about him, apparently having kept tabs on the Magic World even while inactive as he was visibly appalled with former student and Fairy Tail's second Guild Master Precht Gaebolg and his new Guild Grimoire Heart for taking the stories about how he had already died and the "Keys" to reawaken him by unlocking his "Seal" very seriously to the point of considering it a holy script, deeming said legends antiquated fiction and calling it all "a lie that an old fool put stock in".
Regardless, Zeref was vindictive and antagonistic as he would punish those he believed or already knew beforehand to be evil, thought of as getting in his way or whose deaths he hoped would serve to his advantage, often hurting and killing others without any real prior incentive and/or knowledge. This was shown when he ruthlessly slaughtered Precht, who had become known as Hades and he correctly thought to have willingly performed or authorized a number of unforgivable and horrific atrocities and mercilessly assaulted Fairy Tail's Guild Master Makarov Dreyar for the sole purpose of getting a rise out of Natsu. As a result of the immortality and agelessness that enabled his extended lifespan Zeref developed a misanthropic loathing for Humanity and its repeated idiosyncrasies of hatred, evil and conflict. When personally confronted by Mavis' Thought Projection he explained his own plans for the world and how he would bring everything as he came to know it crashing down.
His reputations on the continents of Alakitasia and Ishgar differed significantly as Ishgarians thought of him as an aggressively single-minded dictator and tyrant bent on conquest while Alakitasians spoke of him as a benevolently noble and genuinely-caring leader. Yajeel stated Zeref would show either or both sides of himself depending on the situation; the Black Wizard told Makarov that even though his personas from both continents were one and the same he preferred to be the version Ishgar believed in. One of his more defining traits was an uncanny knack for both consciously and unconsciously seducing others into accepting his core ways of thinking, seen in the examples of organizations purely dedicated to serving what they saw as his own will.
Before his descent into many places of darkness Zeref was polite, courteous and formal but also very curious, ambitious and rebellious as seen when he continued dangerous research into the truths behind the existence or absence of life regardless of the consequences his work would've had for himself and the world in the long run; he was rather sentimental and emotionally-attached as well considering the tremendous lengths he went to get back the one thing he cared most about. Upon his conversion Zeref displayed great sorrow for the disasters caused by his presence wherever he went until he buried his emotions under a cold, warped shell that turned into the exterior of the very person he became known as over the course of the following years; he did this again shortly after thinking he lost Mavis by telling himself that falling in love with anyone had been a mistake on his part.
After he was defeated for the first (and only) time by Natsu, Zeref contemplated his actions and looked solemn as Mavis hit him repeatedly for his own acts, expressing that he deserved Mavis's hatred for him. As he finally started to die he showed remorse for his past and wished he could have made amends with his younger brother and everyone else.
Though Zeref appeared to be a young man he was actually just over 400 years old but due to his Cursed immortality he retained a youthful appearance throughout his life. In addition to this he kept the characteristics he had back then, noticeably his short black hair, clean pale skin, big dark eyes and abnormally sharp canines.
In terms of clothing Zeref wore a high-collared red (black in the anime) and tan robe with gold trimmings and black pants nearly identical to the one initially worn by Rogue Cheney with a flowing white toga draped over his left shoulder and black lace boots on his feet. He also had a pendant around his neck where he kept a childhood picture of Natsu and himself. As Emperor Spriggan (in Japanese: 皇帝スプリガン, Kōtei Supurigan), first leader and founder of the Alvarez Empire he donned a regal and formal version of his usual attire consisting of a white toga lined with golden strings and markings at the edges; underneath this he had another black robe with metal-ringed cuffs reminiscent of those sported by Gajeel Redfox. In his younger years before becoming immortal he normally wore a version of his usual outfit consisting of a white robe, blue toga and wooden sandals.
When emotionally unbalanced or unveiling his true Powers Zeref's irises became dark red with concentric black rings around their pupils, giving him a much more frightening appearance.
After undergoing the Transformation following his use of the Lumen Histoire, or Fairy Heart his hair and clothing turned white with intrinsic designs on his robe and radiant silver wings sprouting from his back.
At some point in the distant past, stated to be around 400 years ago Zeref witnessed the deaths of many people in the conflicts of the Magic World of Earth Land. Around this time he also became Cursed and unintentionally took the lives of those around him. Zeref was described as having alighted in ancient lands, mastered Black Magic, given birth to tens of thousands of Demons, Transformed Acnologia into a Dragon and thrown the world into chaos. However, according to Mard Geer Tartaros he reviled himself for becoming immortal, desiring to die and creating the Etherious to kill him with a "Superdemon" stronger than any of the others before it as his masterpiece.
In actuality Zeref was orphaned after Dragons killed his parents and younger brother Natsu which led to him becoming a student at the Mildian Magic Academy where he researched the connections between life, death and Magic Power to revive his brother. After delving deeper into his work despite the warnings of his peers and supervisors, proposing his ideas to the public masses and creating the designs for things such as the R-System and Eclipse Gate he was expelled for breaching the sacred teachings of the God Ankhseram. When his beliefs about Natsu's death persisted he was Cursed by the Power of Ankhseram itself and killed everyone around him with his newfound unwanted Curse of Contradictions. After this, Zeref wished to die and wandered around, creating the Etherious in the hopes they would end his existence but instead turned to reviving his brother, having kept his body preserved thus fulfilling the goals of bringing his brother back and creating something that could and would kill him: E.N.D., or Etherious Natsu Dragneel.
Sometime later, Zeref encountered Igneel and the two became friends with Igneel offering to raise Natsu and teach him Dragon Slayer Magic. Zeref allowed this after Igneel revealed his Dragon comrades' plans of defeating Acnologia which would involve using the Dragon Soul Seal to enter the bodies of five chosen Human Dragon Slayers and traveling with them to the future. Zeref helped the Dragons with this by going through with his plan of building the Eclipse Gate and having Celestial Wizard Anna Heartfilia open the gate in the past and her descendant Layla Heartfilia open it in the future.
Zeref lived for at least 400 years awaiting Natsu's arrival, always holding the belief he would be able to destroy him.
Fairy Tail Zero/Zero arc
In X686 Zeref walked through Hargeon and brushed past a younger Mavis and Precht.
Zeref was found taking a bath in the Western Forest near Magnolia by Mavis after she helped instigate a fight with rogue Wizards that ended in disaster. He was surprised someone would want to leave, noting it was a bad habit of his own and unwillingly used his Magic which robbed the forest of its lifeforce, Mavis quickly recognizing it as Ankhseram Black Magic. Zeref was surprised and commended Mavis' knowledge, telling her not to feel bad for him. He nevertheless felt joy about his conversation with the girl but worried about unwittingly killing her which he never wanted to do to anyone or anything. Mavis then Cast Illusions of wildlife which initially startled Zeref because of his lack of control over his Powers but after Mavis explained to him her own Magic he was happy at the notion and thanked her sincerely. After this Zeref agreed to teach Mavis and her companions Magic, having noted to Precht in particular that he had an affinity for different kinds of Magic. After having taught them Zeref left to seclude himself once more but was happy he made friends, though he acknowledged he would somehow have been responsible for some of the tragedies of the soon-to-be First Master and her future Guildmates.
During the final battle of Magnolia after Yuri Dreyar was affected by the Curse of the Tenrou Orb following the defeat of the future Guild Phantom Lord's predecessor Blue Skull, Mavis planned to use a "Superspell" named Law to destroy the Orb's corrupted energy and free the Treasure Hunter from his Transformation into the wingless skeletal remains of a late Dragon that had been towering over Kardia Cathedral. In spite of her illusory friend Zera's warnings that Zeref stated it would take ten years to master the form of Black Magic, Mavis sought to use it to break the Spell over Yuri; she had a flashback where she requested Zeref teach the kinds of Magic that would allow her to fight as her Illusions were proven to be useless against any caliber of true Wizards. After successfully Casting Law however Mavis soon fell into a coma, the immense strain of Magic Power on her body halting its growth completely.
Ten years later Zeref encountered Mavis in the forests surrounding Magnolia again, where she tearfully thanked him for helping her and her friends; he actually gave her his name this time to which she was shocked that he was the infamous Black Wizard. She told him regardless of the rumors about him, saying she believed they weren't true and he seemed like a much nicer person than everyone made him out to be; Zeref bluntly denied her statements and casually accepted the things people had always said about him, pointing out that Mavis only scratched the surface of who he was. When asking Mavis about the time that had passed since they last saw each other Zeref realized she prematurely used Law despite her promises and after examining her which confirmed it he informed her she had become Cursed and immortal like him due to having made a life- and death-warping decision by Casting the Spell; she refused to believe his claims and ran off in tears, though not before being told that the recent Second Trade War had prevented the full effects of her Curse from manifesting by changing her views on life and death. Mavis would be forced to accept his words when she inadvertently unlocked her Curse and used it to kill a newborn Makarov's mother and Yuri's wife Rita.
A year later he found Mavis alone in another forest very far from her Guild, disheveled and hungry albeit still alive due to her Curse. She begged for him to kill her but he said he couldn't as she was unable to do the same to him and related to her situation by telling how immortality drove him mad and he created the Etherious to kill him but doubted they could really do so. He then told her he was building a place where people wouldn't die from his Curse due to him seeing them as pawns; Zeref stated he was doing it out of enjoyment as it was like a game and could prepare them for war but assured her he detested war and expanding his country wasn't enjoyable either. Mavis noted that Zeref even contradicted himself as he stated he wanted to see his brother again and the world would reject him but his head started to hurt from the thoughts; Mavis promised she wouldn't do the same and they would find a way to break their Curse together. He embraced her having found someone to love after centuries before they shared a kiss which placed Mavis in a comatose state to Zeref's dismay.
He took her seemingly lifeless body to Fairy Tail's Guild hall where he encountered an aged Precht asking if he was alone; after confirming he was the acting Guild Master in Mavis's absence Zeref coldly threw her body down and said nothing could've hurt her anymore. Shocked, Precht grabbed Mavis asking her to wake up but Zeref told him she wouldn't do so ever again and internally berated himself for falling in love; Precht asked him his name which he gave as Zeref but took it back by saying if Mavis was once a fairy he must've been a spriggan. He bade Mavis a good sleep before returning to the place where nobody would die because of his Powers. After this Zeref somehow learned of Mavis's body being preserved in a limbo state inside a Lacrima crystal which created the Lumen Histoire, or Fairy Heart, an Arcane and Eternal Magic he sought to obtain for his own purposes especially since he and Anna discovered a Time Lapse which he Sealed off until he had Fairy Heart to be able to use the Neo Eclipse to reset the world's Time and forever undo the damage he and others in the world had or would've wrought.
At some point his empire staged an invasion of the continent of Ishgar to acquire Fairy Heart that was thwarted about 10 years prior to the present day due to the Magic Council of the time using the Magic Elimination System dubbed Face and the Hypermagic Etherion Cannon as looming threats if hostilities were not desisted immediately. When Zeref learned of the rebels who initiated the attack he presumably had them disposed of and his forces turned away as he could not risk suffering casualties from the Council carrying out their promises and hadn't yet found himself a compelling reason to use Fairy Heart anyway, though he still considered it as a last resort if Natsu failed to destroy him.
Zeref later met Irene Belserion and was amazed at seeing a real Dragon again before realizing she was a Dragonized Human. In a flash he Enchanted her back to her normal form but responded to her elation that she was only a Human physically but still physiologically a Dragon, though she cast off his words; when she joined his country he readily accepted her into the ranks of his ever-growing imperial war machine.
At another point Zeref wandered around some more and encountered a young boy who resembled Mavis (unaware of it being his and Mavis's son who was abandoned earlier by an increasingly-unstable Precht). He decided to make the nameless child another one of his subordinates and gave him the name August after the month he first met Mavis in; he remarked the child oddly reminded him of her but never found out why.
During one of his stays on the continent of Alakitasia he showed a curious younger Invel Yura the pendant he wore that held a picture of himself and Natsu as children, soon drafting him into the Alvarez forces. Eventually Zeref found himself on the secluded Tenrou Island which was ironically also the place of Mavis' birth and false gravesite, hoping to stay completely cut off from humanity.
The Dark Guild Eisenwald gained possession of the flute Lullaby. Their field leader Erigor explained that Lullaby had once been used for casting Death Curses until Zeref remade it as a "Demon flute" capable of killing all who listened to its song. Fortunately a team of Wizards from Fairy Tail ruined their plans and defeated the Demon hidden within the flute leaving it to be taken into custody of the Council now located at Era. The Council later discussed the use of such Powers by Dark Guilds, considering it unacceptable and dangerous.
Galuna Island arc
Gray Fullbuster confronted his childhood friend and fellow Ice Wizard Lyon Vastia who wanted to unfreeze Deliora, the Demon from the Books of Zeref responsible for killing Gray's family including his father and future Dark Guild Wizard Silver Fullbuster and later forcing his and Lyon's teacher Ur to sacrifice herself by using the Ice Magic technique Iced Shell, which not only froze Deliora in its tracks but also turned Ur herself into the ice used to seal the monstrosity away. Unfortunately for this Lyon was robbed of any chance to surpass his late teacher by the effects of her ice and the amount of time Deliora had been trapped in it; this had drained its energy enough that it crumbled almost immediately after being unfrozen by the Moon Drip Spell.
Tower of Heaven arc
Years ago a series of Zeref-worshipping cults led by Grimoire Heart from behind the scenes sought to use his old creation the R-System to revive him, unaware the Black Wizard was still alive; after a younger Erza Scarlet helped defeat the people running the remaining R-System, now the inappropriately-named "Tower of Heaven" a younger Jellal Fernandes took over and resumed all work on it permanently after turning on Erza and fooling the others, including Shô, Millianna and Wally Buchanan into thinking she had betrayed them; it turned out Jellal was manipulated by Ultear Milkovich, who he first thought was the "Spirit" of Zeref and had been in the disguise of "Zalty" on Galuna Island.
Tenrou Island arc
On Tenrou Island, Zeref laid peacefully on the ground. When night descends, he is attacked by a pack of wolves. Their efforts to kill the Black Wizard are in vain as he releases a wave of his Magic, killing not only the wolves but much of the surrounding ecosystem. Zeref then apologized and wallowed in misery, wishing to meet Natsu soon. Later, Carla had a vision and saw that Zeref would somehow be involved in Fairy Tail's S-Class Wizard Promotion Trial. During the trial he ran into Elfman Strauss and Evergreen, warning them to stay away from him as his Magic was beginning to run rampant. However, when it was released Natsu arrived and saved his comrades from the deathly black wave. Zeref was shocked to see Natsu, saying that he had grown but Natsu said he didn't recognize him. When he told the Fairy Tail Wizards he had been expecting Natsu, Natsu misinterpreted the statement as a challenge and rushed towards Zeref, landing a fierce blow to his face. Zeref was unfazed by the punch and stood up, disappointed in Natsu for not being ready to kill him causing him to shed tears of frustration. Zeref then unintentionally released another wave of Magic but Natsu's scarf absorbed the blast, saving the lives of everyone present. Zeref then proceeded to make his escape but Grimoire Heart was alerted to his presence and sought to hunt him down. Zeref later rested next to a tree and claimed that the world continued to reject him before crying once more. Later, Zeref was said to be in a state of slumber. Shortly thereafter, the battle between Fairy Tail and Grimoire Heart officially began causing Zeref to wonder if another war was going to take place.
He then crossed paths with Ultear and commented how sad it was for Grimoire Heart to have angered him. After Zeref asks Ultear if it is power they want, Ultear claims that she wants his entire existence, but Zeref states that he has no intention of assisting them or having anything to do with those in the current era, and that he doesn't want to witness wars or the death of innocent people. Zeref then tells Ultear to stop the attack and leave the island at once, repeating that he was angry and visibly terrifying her with his power. Rustyrose states to Elfman and Evergreen that when they acquire Zeref the current Magic world will end and a new one will begin, a Grand Magic World where those that don't possess Magic Power will suffer and die; the other Grimoire Heart members say similar things. Zeref himself, however, due to seemingly having lost much of the magic power he had and not having control over his powers, is ultimately incapable of triumphing against Ultear even though he nearly killed her and is overpowered by Ultear's final and strongest attack, being warned to not underestimate her as she is the eldest of the Seven Kin of Purgatory. Ultear then says that they have the key which will awaken him; Zeref begs Ultear to stop, but she ignores him and revels in her victory. As Zeref lies unconscious, Ultear holds onto him tightly, stating that he now belongs to her and that he will become the King of the Ultimate Magic World.
While unconscious, he was seen being dragged around by Ultear and later by Meredy, who ended up heading away from the "escape point". While on their way they were chased by a persistent Juvia Lockser, who had received orders from Gray to keep track of Zeref. The trio was later confronted by Zancrow who attacked the two girls and tried to take Zeref back to the airship. At this point Zeref stirred, speaking one thing: the name of Acnologia and he briefly awakened. Zeref and Zancrow then locked eyes and Zeref released a wave of Magic directly at the Grimoire Heart Wizard, instantly killing him and knocking out Meredy and Juvia.
After Zeref Cast the Spell he regained control of himself and apologized to Zancrow for having murdered him, closing his former fellow Black Wizard's eyelids in sorrow. He expressed his relief that Meredy and Juvia survived and walked away. As he did he stated he had no reason to come to the occurring era and that to anyone he was neither an enemy nor ally. Zeref then added that if the current era would end he might awaken once more and wished for Natsu to kill him before that happened.
At the end of the Guild War an enraged Zeref snuck aboard the demolished airship of Grimoire Heart and confronted the remainder of the Seven Kin including their Guild Master Precht, now Master Hades about the horrors they had brought upon the world. While there Zeref expressed his disgust and disdain for their belief of the keys actually having any power to "wake him" as he was never really "asleep to begin with" but rather "wide awake" and the belief he had been was always a series of fake legends created by those who wanted to bring ruin to the world and when Hades pointed out he was weak enough to be overpowered by Ultear, Zeref revealed it was due to how his understanding of the weight of Human life caused his eternally-Cursed body to lose control of his Powers but as of then that was no longer a problem and he could fully control his Magic. He blamed Grimoire Heart for Acnologia's arrival, claiming it would end the current era. He told the group to repent for their unforgivable sins and Cast a Death Pillar on Hades, utterly ignoring any attempts at getting him to answer his questions. The Power of the Spell caused further damage to the airship and slayed Grimoire Heart's Master sending him plummeting into the sea below. Zeref then sensed something and wondered if it was Acnologia. While looking down at Tenrou Island he pondered if it was time for the island's destruction as an enormous winged beast emerged from the clouds.
After Acnologia started destroying Tenrou Island and attacking the Fairy Tail members present Zeref also sensed Wendy Marvell's attempts at communicating with the Dragon. Zeref stated Acnologia saw Humans as little more than insects and added that no dominant being would bother communicating with lesser lifeforms. Zeref realized Mankind would once again be embarking on a long, arduous journey and bade Natsu farewell. As the airship continued to fly onward Zeref witnessed Acnologia seemingly destroying Tenrou Island and shut his eyes, tearfully stating that Natsu's journey had ended.
Grand Magic Games arc
Zeref was stated to still be at large with the Council unsuccessfully trying to track down him and Acnologia. He was later mentioned by Arcadios, who claimed Zeref was the one responsible for turning Acnologia into a Dragon. Arcadios said he was preparing something called the "Eclipse Project" which required Yukino Agria and Lucy Heartfilia's Golden Zodiac Keys; he intended to use Lucy and Yukino's Magic to travel back in time and kill Zeref before he could Transform Acnologia into a Dragon and become immortal, also preventing an alternate future in which Dragons conquered Earth Land and slaughtered most of Humanity. However, due to the efforts of the Rogue Cheney from one to seven years later when he approached Hisui E. Fiore and her father Toma the Eclipse Project instead opened up a gateway to the past when Zeref was first due to become immortal and Dragons still ruled the Magic World allowing the future Rogue to use his Dragon Tamer Magic to control the Dragons coming through the gate after accidentally killing the Lucy Heartfilia hailing from the same time period who had approached Arcadios earlier. Thanks to the research of the present Lucy's Celestial Spirit Crux it turned out the Eclipse Gate was powered using a combination of Zeref's Black Magic and the Magic of Celestial Spirits and their Wizards. Due to the disastrous implications of this turn of events Council member Doranbolt (known as Mest Gryder while in the ranks of Fairy Tail) used his Memory Control Magic to wipe his cohorts' knowledge of the Dragon assault on the Fiore Kingdom's capital of Crocus and later scolded the royal family, telling them to never speak of Eclipse to the public lest they face dethronement.
As Fairy Tail celebrated their victory in the Grand Magic Games after returning to Magnolia, Zeref sat deep in thought in a nearby forest; former Raven Tail Dark Guild member Obra ran up his shoulder. Zeref sensed Mavis behind him and stated that even though he could not see nor hear her he could feel her presence and imagine the look on her face. With a cold, harsh smirk on his own Zeref repeated Mavis' statement they were so close to one another seven years ago and answered that he decided where he was going to die when she asked him about it. Zeref stated he had lived for centuries and seen the rises and falls of different times and cycles of hatred continuing to fuel new evils and conflicts between people but added he was looking forward to the new age that would end all of it.
With his attitude growing more solemn by the minute, Zeref looked down and asked Mavis how many times people repeated mistakes of the past but was told despite their flaws Humanity would continue to live on. Zeref countered this statement by explaining that if Humans continued repeating mistakes then they weren't really living and he was no longer anything Humankind could come to love. Now removing himself from the ground, Zeref told Mavis he reached a conclusion about Humanity: if the world continued to reject him, then he should return the favor; Mavis said Fairy Tail would be its salvation. Bowing his head, the Black Wizard stated to the First Guild Master it would be his own gift to Humanity thereby allowing them to start anew. Zeref said he would not start a war but rather simply a one-sided annihilation which no Human Soul survived, earning him a glare from Mavis who told him that Fairy Tail would stop him and he would be the one destroyed. Eradicating both the forest and presumably Obra with his Magic, Zeref smiled and internally concluded that his and Natsu's final battle was drawing near.
Zeref later appeared at Tartaros' headquarters. As Natsu was cleaning out the Dark Guild's lesser troops his enemies were suddenly stopped in midair and Natsu found himself standing in front of Zeref. The Black Wizard smiled, noting he had expected Natsu to come so far and stated that Tartaros was "[his] library... where all of [his] Books resided". Zeref continued by explaining he didn't establish Tartaros but it was done by the Demons he created, namely their founder and First Guild Master E.N.D. Natsu caught on to the name of the Demon noting it to be the one Igneel wanted to kill but Zeref corrected him stating the Dragon couldn't. Natsu then took out the Heat Blade he was carrying claiming he would defeat E.N.D. and inherit his father's will. However, his attack was deflected by the aura surrounding Zeref which cut the weapon in half. Zeref simply encouraged Natsu but warned him that E.N.D. was indeed the strongest Demon and he too would face the decision of letting the monster live or killing it. The Black Wizard then got ready to leave making Natsu protest. Zeref explained he could not show himself in front of Tartaros as they had already gone through too much trouble to find him; just appearing would be a killjoy. Bidding farewell once more Zeref noted that only Natsu or E.N.D. would be able to destroy him, vanishing shortly afterward.
Some time later he retrieved the Book of E.N.D. right out of Gray's hand while the newly-minted Ice Demon Slayer Wizard and Natsu were arguing about destroying E.N.D., claiming it was something very important to him. Zeref praised Mard Geer for his attempt to revive E.N.D.; when the Underworld King stated he could realize what his master wished for Zeref turned the fallen Demon into a Book of his own and burned it. Zeref then told Natsu he had wanted to finish their fight but couldn't since Acnologia had once again insisted on getting in the way. Before vanishing with the Book of E.N.D. in his hand he warned Natsu that if he could survive the desperate situation he would be given even more despair, the likes of which he had never experienced. Later, in a dark room at an unknown location Zeref remarked that Natsu would have to try and overtake him, though not before calling the Dragon Slayer by the name of "Etherious Natsu Dragneel".
After the fall of all three Dark Guilds that made up the Balam Alliance a Black Magic cult named Avatar filled the power vacuum left behind and made it known that they also worshipped Zeref as if he were the God who Cursed him to begin with. They came up with a "Plan of Purification" they hoped would summon Zeref by wiping out the small city of Malba, which would be full of innocent people (unknown to anyone else Arlock intended to sacrifice his own devout followers after summoning Ikusa-Tsunagi, one of the Yakuma Eighteen War Gods; the townspeople were meant to be marked off as collateral damage). A group of Wizards from the disbanded Fairy Tail, including an undercover Gray managed to almost effortlessly defeat Avatar's troops with Natsu himself personally besting Arlock and his War God in combat. Avatar's members were ultimately left to be taken into custody by a squadron of the latest Council's Rune Knights commanded by Gajeel, Pantherlily and Levy McGarden.
Zeref, with E.N.D.'s Book beside him woke up from a dream about his time in the Mildian Magic Academy and addressed the Book as Natsu, explaining he once had a younger brother who died several years after being born which resulted in him beginning his research into the connections between life, death and Magic. He began to reminisce about his creation of the R-System and Eclipse Gate, both of which ultimately lead to his expulsion from the Academy and obtaining of the Curse of Contradictions from the Mildian deity Ankhseram which killed his fellow students and teachers. Zeref continued to monologue, citing his immortality as key to continuing his research that ultimately led to the creation of the Etherious in the hopes they would be able to end him and the revival of his own dead brother as an Etherious. Zeref then ceased talking with E.N.D.'s Tome, saying he needed to go meet someone.
Zeref traveled some distance ending up in a cave located in a remote mountain range where he greeted a cloaked Human figure sitting on a rock, assuming the Human appearance was his preferred form before sarcastically asking if his severed arm was healing and addressing the man as Acnologia. Zeref was immediately questioned by the Dragon King as to what he wanted and Zeref noted Acnologia craved destruction but caused very little of it, citing he could easily rule the world if he wanted to but did not and calling his motives unclear. Zeref then told Acnologia he would not side with or against him but rather simply kill him along with everyone and everything else and pondered that he had been waiting for someone to give him a true challenge; Zeref said he would be the challenger desired provided he wait patiently for the impending clash between Humanity, Dragonkind and immortals which caused Acnologia to smile.
Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry
Zeref, along with an older Invel and Brandish μ watched a Human Acnologia in the middle of a vast desert landscape. As his subordinates commented on how they would be the first ones to strike down the Black Dragon of the Apocalypse, Zeref once again concluded (out loud this time) that the ultimate showdown between him and Natsu was drawing even closer.
Alvarez Empire arc
Zeref returned to Alvarez after many years of absence, cheered on by his subjects coming out to meet him as he approached an older Makarov and his aide Yajeel, the latter noting his youth as being enviable while the former was visibly shocked by him being the infamous Emperor Spriggan of the Alvarez Empire.
He was greeted by Invel and asked him to gather the rest of the Spriggan 12. As they conversed Dimaria Yesta and Ajeel Ramal appeared with Invel chastising them for the manner in which they spoke to their leader. At that moment an older August walked in asking Zeref about Ragnarok to which Zeref replied Ragnarok was called the Dragon King Festival in Ishgar. Yajeel then entered the palace and greeted the Emperor but backed away as he remembered the effects of Zeref's Curse. He introduced Makarov to him and said he was seeking an audience with Zeref himself. Makarov and Zeref then conversed privately about the Dragon King Festival, Fairy Heart and the Alvarez Empire's origins. When Makarov got angry, Zeref effortlessly rendered him powerless, trapping him in an orb of darkness intent on crushing him to death before noting he was grateful to him, thanking Makarov for raising Natsu and prepared to kill him but at that moment Mest appeared and teleported himself and an injured Makarov away. Through this Zeref learned of Natsu's presence in Alakitasia and smiled.
Zeref is later seen at a meeting with the Spriggan 12 where he stated that the time has finally come to begin the invasion of Ishgar. He proceeded to ask if God Serena had any objections, to which the former Wizard Saint and Emperor of Ishgar dramatically replied he had none. Wall Eehto reproached Zeref for the selfish motive of trying to recover his former lover's body but was told that Fairy Heart was a kind of Magic and nonliving object and Zeref's main motive was the annihilation of Ishgar. Ajeel then said Zeref should leave the mission to him, however Zeref declined and stated he couldn't just leave it to Ajeel alone. Zeref continues and says it has more meaning to go on an all-out offensive with all their armies. Zeref ends by stating that the Dragon King Festival Begins and gives this Spriggan 12 the order to begin advancing their troops. Later, as Zeref marches with his troops towards Magnolia, Invel informs him that the two Spriggan in charge of the first assault, Ajeel and Brandish have both been eliminated. Zeref, still smiling, says that it is to expected and that he would be disappointed if Mavis and her Guild couldn't at least manage to handle such an attack. While Yajeel grieved over his grandson Ajeel's supposed death and Invel remarked that not just one, but two Spriggan Shields were killed Zeref shut them off, telling them that neither Brandish nor Ajeel were actually dead and therein lied the enemy's weaknesses. Eventually Invel made Zeref aware of the fact that Natsu was heading straight for their location causing the Black Wizard to grin in a vicious manner. Zeref watched as the Fire Dragon Slayer took out a portion of his army before warping into the fray himself to face the Fairy Tail Wizard.
As the brothers stared each other down Zeref tells Invel to have the army retreat several kilometers to the west, as he is the only one that can deal with Natsu, something to which Invel complies. He then taunts Natsu very briefly, but expresses shock upon seeing a draconian tattoo on Natsu's right arm; after sensing the Magic Power and heat created from the tattoo Zeref was repeatedly beaten around by Natsu, even having his very Magic burned away by the other Dragneel's fire. Zeref, however, managed to find an opening and the fight momentarily became equal until Zeref learned that the power Natsu had was the finite remainder of Igneel's Magic Power left inside him. Understanding that it came from the dead and such a Power might truly be able to kill him, Zeref thanked those who helped him get to where he was today as Natsu entered Fire Dragon King Mode and unleashed what he hopes to be the final blow.
Zeref ultimately survived the blast, albeit heavily wounded and praises Natsu for having attained the strength to kill him. Before he died Zeref resolved to tell his foe everything and finally said he was Natsu's older brother to the latter's shock. Zeref went on by revealing that Natsu and their parents died 400 years ago during a Dragon attack resulting in Zeref becoming Cursed, creating the Etherious and succeeding in reviving his dead brother as E.N.D. Hearing that Natsu didn't believe anything he was saying by rebutting Zeref's claims with statements he heard elsewhere, Zeref merely replied that Igneel couldn't kill Natsu because he loved him too much and Mard Geer was the one who created Tartaros after finding E.N.D.'s Tome by accident, using the book as a rallying point to unify the Etherious and other like-minded Demons under a common cause though he did cite Natsu as an unintended assistant in the creation of Tartaros. When Natsu still didn't believe it Zeref shot a hole through E.N.D.'s Tome to inflict pain unto Natsu, thus proving their link and his story.
Citing that Natsu was hard to handle initially, Zeref explains that Igneel was an old friend of his and resolved to take Natsu under his wing and teach him Dragon Slayer Magic as well as groom him and use him to travel 400 years to the future (via Eclipse) by hiding inside Natsu's body to recover with enough Ethernano to kill Acnologia. Zeref continued on, revealing that four other pacifistic Dragons contributed to the plan and that five orphans were selected, them being the five Dragon-trained Dragon Slayers and they were all children from 400 years ago who were sent through the Eclipse Gate which was opened by the Celestial Spirit Wizards Anna (of the past) and Layla (of the future). It was then that Zeref told Natsu that July 7, X777 wasn't the day Igneel and the other Dragons disappeared, it was really the day they all arrived in the future. He expressed his sorrow, however at the pain he had to go through while waiting for the 400 years to pass so he could see Natsu again. Zeref was approached for the kill by an irritated Natsu but said that when he died Natsu would most likely die too, for he was still one of his creations. Natsu voiced his lack of care for his death as Zeref remarked it was his only chance to finish everything but the Dragon Slayer was stopped by Happy and whisked back to the Guild. With Natsu gone and Igneel's Power faded Zeref tearfully stated that Natsu lost his one and only chance to kill him and bade his younger sibling yet another farewell.
His brother now gone, Zeref was approached by Invel as his wounds instantly healed and he exclaims that no one can stop him and he has any reason to hesitate. After declaring for Invel to get their troops moving again, he tells his chief of staff to produce him clothes more fitting for an emperor. In his new outfit, Zeref receives a report regarding the standing of their army. Hearing that 5 of the Spriggan 12 have been defeated, Zeref only smirks knowing one of them was Acnologia's doing, before threatening to crush Natsu and Mavis. As he and his army start marching towards Fairy Tail Guild, he soon noticed the change in the quality of the land's Magic and correctly pinpointed the reason for that to be Irene, worried about her intentions.
As light covers all of Fiore, he is shocked about the spell being cast called Universe One, a magic that causes all of Fiore to be reconstructed with the intention to put him near the Fairy Heart, as he explains to Mavis after she finds him sitting in an empty guild hall. He then notes it's been 100 years since they have met like this, however, before their discussion can continue Mavis's body is frozen by Invel. After Zeref expresses his disagreement Invel then decides to control Mavis' mind instead. Zeref then takes her to show her Guild's predicament: His army and the Spriggan 12 themselves, their Emperor wondering if Mavis' comrades can break through. Having noticed the great Magic Power, Zeref points out Larcade to be his trump card against Acnologia and proceeds to ask Irene to take Fairy Heart from Mavis, praising her ability in that kind of Magic. Wondering if Fairy Tail dares to approach this impenetrable battle formation, Zeref promises no tomorrow to his enemies.
As the war rages on Zeref watches Irene attempt to remove Fairy Heart asking how long it will take as he expresses distaste at seeing her in such a state. Irene tells him that if wishes to defeat Acnologia he would need to rid himself of that soft nature to which he agrees and walks before briefly staring at Mavis. He later looks out the window noticing the blizzard caused by Invel.
He soon returns to tell Irene to briefly stop the extraction so he could speak to Mavis one last time though Irene tells him it is a foolish decision he stands by it. However, it turns out this was an illusion created by Mavis's magic as the real Zeref shows up to tell Irene this. It is too late as it Mavis created an illusion of herself as well to escape and Zeref remarks on how proficient she is and orders Irene to go after her which the latter gladly obliges to.
After Makarov's final Casting of Fairy Law eradicated nearly half of his forces, Zeref asked Irene about the status of any remnants and was told that while the Spriggan 12 were unaffected their troops' numbers had been reduced to seventy and eighty percent. Zeref then praised the deceased Makarov for his use of the Spell he taught Mavis so many years ago.
As Zeref sat while being affected by Larcade's Magic he sensed his army was most likely as well and Telepathically contacted Larcade to tell him to stop. He later looked on solemnly as he sensed Larcade's defeat at the hands of Sting Eucliffe.
After Irene's death Zeref noticed another light which indicated the effects of Universe One were wearing off and remarked the world was returning to normal. He remained in the Guild and was approached by Gray who he admitted he was surprised to see as Makarov's grandson Laxus Dreyar or Erza's old friend Jellal were his first guesses and mused an apology to his brother for what would happen.
Zeref and Gray stared each other down as the Black Wizard immediately identified the latter as one of Natsu's closest friends and revealed his knowledge of Gray's tragic past involving Zeref's work. Gray was surprised Zeref knew of him before the latter went on by revealing he also knew of Lucy, Happy, Erza, Wendy and Gajeel as one should always know their enemies.
Zeref was about to be frozen solid by Lost Ice Shell but Natsu arrived and began fighting him. Zeref of course had the upper hand, having far greater experience and Power compared to his younger brother and knocked him away with a kick so powerful as to launch Natsu even though he blocked it, proceeding to mock him for once again lacking the power to even stand toe-to-toe with him and said he had no chance of winning. Zeref then sensed Acnologia again and decided to take things seriously. He steadily dominated Natsu more, with Natsu seemingly failing to land any more blows than he did before until Natsu catches him off-guard.
Zeref then tells Natsu he is experiencing a new emotion which he can't tell is due to his Curse or his own emotion but admits he is enjoying himself. When Natsu is overcome by a sensation, Zeref notices this and is surprised to see it was caused by Larcade who calls out to him. Larcade then tells Zeref that while Natsu is flustered, he should hurry and kill him to be rid of his influence and revels in the chance to kill Natsu but his actions only anger Zeref. Infuriated, Zeref blasts a hole through Larcade telling not to interrupt the fight.
When the wounded Larcade asks why he attacked him while calling him a parent, Zeref coldly stomped on Larcade's wound stating he had no son (not that he knew of, at least) and Larcade was an Etherious who was one of his many attempts at reviving Natsu but since he came out the best he was given the last name "Dragneel" as a reward. Zeref expressed his anger at Larcade for interrupting the fight between him and Natsu as he was finally enjoying himself for real before he calls Larcade a failure and kicks him away. Natsu tells him to stop as Zeref tells him they should restart their fight. Before they could do so, Larcade writhes on the ground in pain still calling Zeref "Father" as the latter tells Larcade that he is nothing but another Demon he created from a Book. He blasts Larcade once more telling him to get out of his sight, as he slowly dies Larcade calls Zeref "father" before he disintegrates. Disgusted by this, Natsu asks Zeref how could do so to his own comrade as Zeref states Larcade wasn't his comrade or child before he receives a punch from Natsu for his actions.
Zeref reflected on his past stating he tried to find happiness but was not allowed to as his Curse forbade it. This caused Natsu to grab him and yell that he was to make his own happiness in order to have a family. He told Zeref if he would claim he didn't have a family any bond they shared was gone before finally acknowledging and referring to Zeref as his older brother. Slightly speechless at Natsu's words, Zeref shrugs it off by remarking on the possibility of their bond to which Natsu states it is emotion as Zeref agrees calling Natsu E.N.D.
The fight continues with Zeref binding Natsu and revealing his goal of using Mavis's power to harness Neo Eclipse to reset time and undo all his actions which would possibly erase the current world. Mavis steps in and gives Zeref a final chance to stop everything. Zeref grabs Mavis and explains to her and Natsu that he needs the power of Fairy Heart to stop Acnologia from destroying the world and to erase his own mistakes. He states that, if he does not have Fairy Heart, Acnologia will bring ruin to Earth while using Zeref and Mavis as immortal chew-toys for eternity. He begins absorbing the power of Fairy Heart from a screaming Mavis and plans to reset the world back to before he was immortal and undo everything he's done to a point where everyone will be much happier in the new timeline.
Before Mavis passes out, she reminds him that this is the world where they met and his victory means that they will never know each other. Zeref agrees and says that it will be his one and only regret in the new world before dropping her to the ground and stating that he has cut off any lingering affection for her. Enraged, Natsu runs to Mavis but Zeref tells him that she is not dead but has lost too much magic and won't be able to stand. Natsu prepares to attack him once again but is stunned by an explosion of light as Zeref finally uses Fairy Heart to become the Wizard of infinite power.
Natsu resumes his fight with the Wizard, yelling that he will destroy him, however, Zeref reminds him that he failed to do it before. Natsu's final attack destroys Zeref's body and obliterates the Guild Hall, and he apologizes to Makarov for destroying it again, but Zeref rewinds time and repairs himself easily, and he ends the fight by punching a hole through Natsu's chest. As he let Natsu fall, he said he needn't apologize to Makarov, who he stated was already dead and bade Natsu farewell.
Zeref opens the Ravines of Time in the door of Fairy Tail and smiles he prepares to leave an unconscious Mavis and a dying Natsu behind once and for all by crossing through the Neo Eclipse door, until Natsu's injuries heal thanks to Lucy rewriting the book of E.N.D. and he takes on a surprised Zeref one final time, this time evenly matching the power of Fairy Heart. Mavis regains consciousness and tries to sit up as she watches the finale unfold.
Eventually, Natsu begins far surpassing Zeref at long last and his arm starts burning up as he delivers one final incredible strike to the White Wizard. Zeref realizes that Natsu is powered by the flames of his own wild emotions for everyone in his Guild family and is sent crashing into the floor.
Zeref tried to stand and realizes that for the first time in his entire existence even though he still had Fairy Heart his body cannot move an inch. He feels disbelief that he may truly be dying and reasons with himself that this doesn't necessarily mean death for him, and he will surely recover in a little while.
However, his hair turned from white to black and Fairy Heart's power presumably left him. Mavis finally stood up and Natsu asked her to do it for him with her agreeing. Natsu said he was tired and wanted to see Happy and the others soon before leaving Zeref with "Later, Big Bro" and walking off.
Zeref was left lying immobile on the floor and says Mavis' name as she walks over and looks down upon him. He expresses his amazement at how he cannot move and actually lost to Natsu but says that it doesn't matter as he will regenerate in a few minutes. Mavis says that she feels both hate and love for him and wanted to erase him from the world but didn't want to. He taught her and her friends Magic and was indirectly responsible for the formation of Fairy Tail; he also caused suffering in everyone and supposedly even got Makarov killed.
Mavis realized that her "death" happened because she didn't believe in the love they shared and it backfired. Now that she did she screamed again that she hated him (he only smiled and agreed she was right to say as much) and wanted him gone but at the same time loved him and wanted to be with him forever. Zeref thanked Mavis for granting him one final understanding - that love could overcome the Curse of Contradictions entirely.
At last she kissed him, he returned it and both finally lost their immortality. A white beam of light absorbed both of them and began to transport them to the afterlife. At first Zeref was upset she was coming with him but realized that it is her wish for them to leave together. With the Ankhseram Curse erased for good, the Black Wizard and first Guild Master of Fairy Tail both disappeared into the light. After Zeref and Mavis disappeared the only thing remaining was Zeref's pendant containing the picture of Natsu and himself.
As a result of his death Natsu seemingly disappeared as well due to their link. Unfortunately, Natsu turned out to still be alive as he, along with the other remaining Dragon Slayers were taken by an empowered Acnologia into the domain of Time while the Dragon's body, separated from his Soul remained in the real world causing havoc but also freeing a weakened Anna and Ichiya Vandalay Kotobuki from the domain.
After the final battle against Acnologia was over Zeref and Mavis reincarnated as regular civilians, a reporter and writer named Arius and Mio attending a celebration party of Lucy's book award while befriending and dating each other, also wanting to get Lucy's autograph at the same time.
Powers and Abilities
- Magic (魔法, Mahō): Despite being known as among the greatest users of this form of combat and other tasks utilized throughout the known universe, true to his namesake Zeref focused on the darker and more taboo aspects of Magic in general, particularly that which manipulated life and death early on in his career.
- Magic Power (魔力, Maryoku): Zeref held extreme Magic Power as he was considered one of the greatest and most notorious Wizards (魔導士, Madōshi) known and feared by many. His Power was so enormous that he could not hold it in at all times, though whether this was always the case remains unknown. Zeref's control over his abilities seemed to come from his emotional state; he stated that when caring about the lives of others or the world around him his Magic became uncontrollable and randomly burst outward usually killing, if not severely injuring all around him but when he no longer cared about anything he gained complete control over his Magic and projected an image of the cold-hearted Zeref spoken of in old stories. Zeref's Magic could be exerted into a purple-or-black aura capable of easily intimidating Grimoire Heart members Ultear, Precht, Rustyrose and Kain Hikaru, all extremely powerful Wizards in their own rights who were able to get potential S-Class Wizard candidates from Fairy Tail on the ropes and even defeat them with relative ease. As a testament to this he was able to fight evenly against Natsu while using the late Igneel's Power and effortlessly overwhelmed Makarov, one of the strongest Wizards from Ishgar and was only prevented from killing him by Mest's interference. According to Jellal the only known Wizard with Power equaling his own was Touka as the White Wizard while it seemed only Acnologia and the Five God Dragons were superior to him.
- Black Arts (黒い魔法, Kuroi Mahō): Zeref was able to master all forms of Black Magic (黒魔術, Kuro Majutsu) at a very early age and brought countless Demons and monsters to life.
- Tower of Heaven (楽園の塔, Rakuen no Tō): Also more appropriately known as the R-System or Resurrection-System, Zeref first sought to use it to bring Natsu back but was forced to abandon the idea at the request of the Academy's faculty due to the requirement of sheer Magic Power and number of Human sacrifices needed to revive any being. Unfortunately, a series of cults secretly commanded by Grimoire Heart worshiping his name took Zeref's off-limits invention and used slave labor to construct more than one with the intent of reviving the Black Wizard, who they were fooled into thinking was deceased at the time; the last one in existence was destroyed in the present day by the efforts of a small group of Fairy Tail Wizards.
- Eclipse (エクリプス, Ekuripusu): This was a device in the form of a giant structure called the Eclipse Gate that utilized Time Magic created by combining Celestial Spirit Magic (星霊魔法, Seirei Mahō) with the Books of Zeref's Black Magic to travel through the Gate to any time period possible, though this also required a large amount of Magic Power to function and could be closed by a surplus of the primary Magic it relied upon; it also forced those who used it to bear an aura of Ethernano (エーテルナノ, Ēterunano) particles identical to those of its creator. It sent Anna and the original Dragon Slayers to the year X777; despite Anna's request for the royal family to destroy it a younger Toma failed to comply and merely kept it hidden away. The one-to-seven year-future's Rogue would have this reinforced with Magic Power-resistant Maginium alloy and activated under a blood-red full moon per Hisui's orders to bring forth an armada of Dragons 10,000 strong from over 400 years in the past to destroy the world and kill Acnologia. However, Lucy and Yukino managed to close the gate using their Celestial Zodiac Spirits after seven Dragons came through and the construct was demolished along with the rest of Rogue's plans by the combined might of Natsu and Atlas Flame after knocking both Motherglare and Rogue himself into it, sending everything that had recently traveled to the present back to their respective timelines. Unfortunately, Eclipse's reactivation would have a devastating effect on the order of nature in Earth Land and ended up warping the physiologies of the major inhabitants of the Celestial Spirit World.
- Ankhseram Black Magic (アンクセラムの黒魔法, Ankuseramu no Kuro Mahō): Also known as the Contradictory Curse (矛盾の呪い, Mujun no Noroi), it was a Black Art that allowed Zeref to kill any living thing he desired. This Magic seemed to be uncontrollable at times causing it to come forth randomly and kill anything within a certain radius. However, when Zeref forgot the value of and no longer cared about life in general he could fully control this Magic. Certain Magic Items could protect people from the effects of Ankhseram's Power such as Natsu's scarf, though it turned this particular object completely black after being absorbed much to the Dragon Slayer's dismay. This Magic also appeared, contrary to other forms of Magic Power unable to be learned as Zeref only gained this Death Magic and possible form of Curse Magic (呪いの魔法, Noroi no Mahō) by upsetting the God Ankhseram (アンクセラム Ankuseramu), who bestowed these Powers upon him due to his making light of the Magic connections between life, death and people in his race to bring his brother back. The only known side effects of this Magic were immortality, the inability to physically age or die and the user normally producing waves of darkness that killed everything around them depending on their feelings.
- Immortality: Approximately 400 years ago Zeref successfully attained immortality which was a byproduct of him being Cursed by the Magic of the God Ankhseram. In addition, he was also physically unaging and undying.
- Accelerated Healing: Owing to his status as an immortal, if Zeref had at least gone a short amount of time with receiving damage occurring in successive intervals his wounds healed without a trace.
- Superhuman Durability: Zeref was extraordinarily physically durable and resilient, partially due to his immortality as he was able to take a direct punch from Natsu and return to his feet completely unfazed. In his altercations with Natsu, none of Natsu's attacks, while damaging him were able to cause him real pain and only when using Igneel's Power was Natsu able to do so. Even then, Natsu needed to put all of his own Power behind himself and Zeref still survived.
- Death Predation (死の捕食, Shi no Hoshoku): Use of this Spell created a dark wave that killed everything in the user's immediate vicinity.
- Death Orb: A Spell that created a dull black sphere which destroyed everything in its path when thrown or directed at a target.
- Death Pillar: Zeref swiped both of his arms in a circular motion until the bottom of his hands met. The hand on top had the index and middle fingers pointing upwards while the other hand had the little and index fingers pointing downwards. While doing this he was surrounded by a dark wind-like aura. This Spell created a huge vertical explosion and its blast radius was seemingly uncontrollable. It was used to kill Precht, then known as Hades.
- Stygian Blast Circle (暗黒爆炎陣, Ankoku Bakuenjin): Zeref gathered flame-like dark matter in a Magic Circle (魔法陣, Mahōjin) projected from his palm and struck his target with an attack.
- Restriction Orb Magic: Zeref was able to use an unknown Black Art to encase an individual in a crushing bubble of raw Black Magic. It was potent enough to render Makarov, one of those recognized as a member of the Ten Wizard Saints on the continent of Ishgar completely helpless.
- Black Tendrils: Zeref was able to emit tendrils of darkness strong enough to keep Natsu at bay for a prolonged period of time.
- Immobilization Magic: A Black Art of Zeref's that allowed him to freeze time for all except those he specifically chose to remain mobile. After Casting this Magic the surrounding area and those affected appeared inverted in color whilst those unaffected remained as they were.
- Law (ロウ, Rō): Although never shown to use it Zeref was the one who taught this supreme type of Black Magic to Mavis in order for her to fight; it was a form of Magic that relied solely on the user's judgement, saving what they believed was good and destroying what they thought was evil. Unfortunately, the imperfect use of this Magic (which became a precursor to the Deterrent Magic Spells Fairy Law (妖精の法律フェアリーロウ, Fearī Rō) and Grimoire Law (グリモアロウ, Gurimoa Rō)) caused Mavis to share Zeref's Curse and virtual immortality; it should be noted the circumstances were due to Mavis's haste in preparation for Casting it at such an early point just after learning it.
- Living Magic (生活魔法, Seikatsu Mahō): Zeref was capable of using this ancient, long-forgotten form of Lost Magic (失われた魔法ロストマジック, Rosuto Majikku) and Forbidden Magic that breathed life into an object. Most, if not all of Zeref's creations were sentient and sought to further his former, as-of-then unknown desires. As he was their creator Zeref could kill any of them apart from E.N.D., who was made specifically to kill him instead. His Demons were said to have come from the Books of Zeref (ゼレフ書, Zerefu Sho), his library of works in Black Magic.
- Etherious (ゼレフ書の悪魔エーテリアス, Ēteriasu): Later called Demons (悪魔, Akuma) from the Books of Zeref, they were the Black Wizard's own creations who possessed an immediate desire to "return" to him, though it was later revealed that upon returning they were to destroy their creator and free him from his personal torment.
- Lullaby (ララバイ, Rarabai): An ironically-named flute that Transformed into a giant Demon at will. Whoever heard Lullaby's song (aside from the Caster) would immediately die. Erigor, supposed leader of the Eisenwald Guild hoped to use it to murder the Legal Guild Masters at one of their meetings. As Kageyama ultimately failed to carry out the mission Lullaby turned into its true Demon form to feast upon the Souls of those present. However, Natsu, Gray and Erza were able to defeat the living flute. It was later confiscated and landed in the Council's possession.
- Deliora (デリオラ, Deriora): Deliora was a monstrous Demon that attacked icy villages in the North, killing many people including Silver and leaving a near-infant Gray orphaned. Deliora was then imprisoned by the Ice Wizard, Ultear's mother and Gray's mentor Ur, though virtually at the cost of her own life due to her use of Iced Shell, a forbidden Ice Magic Spell that turned the Caster themselves into their own ice. Lyon, one of Ur's students and Gray's childhood friend and rival tried to unfreeze it so he could kill the Demon for good and prove himself superior; after years of being imprisoned in Ur's living ice the Demon's life force was greatly reduced, so much in fact that it simply died upon being released.
- Nemesis (裏魔法・天罰, ネメシス, Nemishisu): This Spell created Demons from rubble and could make an entire army with just a few other random materials. It was used by Precht while battling his former Guild Fairy Tail; he learned it from Volume 4, Verse 20 of one of the Books of Zeref.
- E.N.D. (イーエヌディー, Ī Enu Dī) or Etherious Natsu Dragneel (エーテリアス・ナツ・ドラグニル, Ēteriasu Natsu Doraguniru): The strongest of the Demons and true Guild Master of Tartaros, originally his younger brother Natsu whom Zeref resurrected and was said to be able to kill the Black Wizard.
- Tartaros (冥府の門, タルタロス, Tarutarosu): It was said by former Oración Seis member Erik that almost all of the Tartaros Guild's members were solely Demons he created.
- Mard Geer Tartaros (マルド・ギール・タルタロス, Marudo Gīru Tarutarosu): Also known as the Underworld King (冥王, Meiō), he was one of the strongest Demons from the Books of Zeref, leader of the Etherious and co-founder of Tartaros.
- Bloodman (ブラッドマン, Buraddoman): Otherwise known as the Grim Reaper (死神, Shinigami), he was one of the Spriggan 12 who wielded every Curse (呪法, Juhō) and all the Curse Power (呪力, Juryoku) used by other Etherious, specifically the Nine Demon Gates and their leader.
- Larcade Dragneel (ラーケイド・ドラグニル, Rākeido Doraguniru): Another one of the most powerful Demons and member of the Spriggan 12 who was a successful "prototype" of E.N.D. and held Zeref as his father.
- Etherious (ゼレフ書の悪魔エーテリアス, Ēteriasu): Later called Demons (悪魔, Akuma) from the Books of Zeref, they were the Black Wizard's own creations who possessed an immediate desire to "return" to him, though it was later revealed that upon returning they were to destroy their creator and free him from his personal torment.
- Eternal Magic: Fairy Heart (永久魔法 妖精の心臓フェアリーハート, Towa Mahō: Fearī Hāto): Also known as the Lumen Histoire (光の神話ルーメン・イストワール, Rūmen Isutowāru), this was said to be superior to the Three Great Fairy Magics. Originally Mavis's Lacrima-preserved body, the Magic itself was created and stored within her physical form through Precht's countless attempts to revive her and Ankhseram's Curse reacting to each of them. Makarov's estranged son and Raven Tail's founder and first Guild Master Ivan Dreyar sought to obtain it as well; the latter was presumably excommunicated from Fairy Tail for possessing sensitive information that could've disbanded the Guild if leaked.
- Divine Magic Power: Having completely absorbed the source of nearly-unlimited Magic Power, Zeref's own Power had become so immense it completely transcended Human comprehension to the point of instantly elevating it to a divine state and was deemed capable of defeating Acnologia.
- Time Magic (時の魔法, Toki no Mahō): After accessing Fairy Heart's Power Zeref was said to have control over Time itself, shown by reversing the destruction of his body and reforming the debris of a destroyed part of the Fairy Tail Guild hall when attacked by Natsu.
- Neo Eclipse (ネオ・エクリプス, Neo Ekuripusu): With the Power of Fairy Heart and the Space Between Time (時の狭間, Toki no Hazama), Zeref was able to merge both into one to create this Magic. With it he could relive life again, destroying and erasing the current world while a new one replaced it. Neo Eclipse was in the form of a door (walking through it would induce the Magic) as Zeref merged it with Fairy Tail's Guild hall door.
- Teleportation Magic (瞬間移動の魔法, Shunkanidō no Mahō): Zeref was able to use this Magic to disappear into a black orb and reappear elsewhere.
- Fire Magic (火の魔法, Hi no Mahō): Like his brother Zeref was shown to be capable of using this Flame Magic that allowed him to control and manipulate Fire. He used it to burn Mard Geer's Tome.
- Telepathy (念話, Terepashī): Zeref was shown to be capable of using this Magic, contacting Larcade in order to get him to cease his Power.
- Enchantment (付加術, Fukajutsu): Zeref was a very capable Enchanter, being the one who morphed Irene's Dragonized form into the physique of a Human as she, despite being an incredible Enchanter could not do it herself.
- Superhuman Senses: Zeref could sense Acnologia approaching Tenrou Island from quite a fair distance as well as talk to Mavis despite not being able to see or hear her at the time.
- Superhuman Strength: Zeref was strong enough to match an Igneel-powered Natsu blow-for-blow and able to physically overpower him several times during their last fight, kicking him with enough force to send him flying despite his brother blocking the attack and with each of his punches damaging and causing pain to Natsu. While using Fairy Heart he was able to easily pierce Natsu's chest and mortally wound him, only being unable to finish the job due to him being saved by Lucy rewriting the Book of E.N.D.
- Superhuman Speed: Zeref was capable of keeping up with Natsu in Fire Dragon King Mode and easily pacing with and outmaneuvering his brother normally in their final fight, casually parrying any blows and catching him off-guard to land his own share of attacks.
- Hand-to-Hand Combat & Fighting Skills: Zeref proved to be an extremely accomplished hand-to-hand combatant likely due to millenia of existence allowing him to master not just Magic, but all sorts of fighting styles as well. After recovering from witnessing Natsu's Fire Dragon King Mode he was able to go toe-to-toe against his brother despite having been initially battered by him. In their final confrontation Zeref was able to maintain the upper hand for an extended period of time, deflect most of his blows and return them in kind with Natsu allowing himself to be hit at one point to get a strike in before ultimately outfighting Zeref.
- Charismatic Disposition: From his days as an inexperienced youth Zeref had a natural talent for swaying the minds of all but the most solid-willed and righteous or self-assured people, something actually shared with his brother and only expanded with his reputation in the Magic World for over 400 years.
- Teaching & Instruction Capabilities: Zeref was a highly capable Magic instructor, being the one who taught Mavis and Fairy Tail's other founding members Precht, Yuri and Warrod Sequen (the latter three of whom were only Treasure Hunters from the Sylph Labyrinth Guild at the time) how to first wield Magic Power, something made more impressive by the high levels of skill these individuals (or their descendants) demonstrated later in life.
- Leadership Capabilities: As showcased during his tenure as the Alvarez Empire's leader he amassed a large group of devotees whom he all treated as mere pawns so as to not kill them with his Power. Each of his subjects more or less displayed a level of respect for and implicit fear of him when answering directly to his authority, carrying out his orders with almost little-to-no complaints and mostly putting their absolute trust in him, only rarely making the risky choice of attempting to challenge him.
- It is unknown whether or not Zeref had recognized Precht as Hades. However, he already seemed to know enough to call him by his new name shortly before killing him.
- Additionally, the knowledge of someone linked to his past with Mavis (and by extension Natsu) causing bad things to happen in the Magic World could've been the catalyst that spurred Zeref into meeting Grimoire Heart face-to-face.
- As a result of the apathy stemming from his Curse he never truly had the chance to acknowledge anyone, especially Mavis or Natsu as people he cared about. This was especially prominent with his son August, though it should be noted that August willingly took the secret of being Zeref and Mavis' only child to his death. Meanwhile, he always favored Natsu over Larcade causing the latter to be filled with jealousy.