The Many Mysteries of Magus
written by Ybrik Metaknight
with direct quotations from
and contributing discussion by many others
Magus, real name Janus Zeal, from Chrono Trigger is one of the most mysterious characters ever to appear in a game. Everything about him, from his physical appearance and his past to what happens to him after the events of the game and his role in the events of Chrono Cross, evokes questioning. Even the simplest of questions about the Magus is not answered easily, and due to his popularity, the finer points of his life have been debated countless times. If you've forgotten anything about Magus's history as it is revealed in Chrono Trigger, please visit the Encyclopedia Entry for an overview.
I. Magus's Attributes A. From Janus to Magus B. The Doubted Magic Power II. The Lost History A. The Mystic Exploitation B. The Original Fate III. After Chrono Trigger A. The Fate of Magus B. Magus as Guile i. Magus-Guile Theory ii. Serge-Descendant Theory IV. Minor Notes A. Paternity Issue? B. Black Wind Unit
- 1 Magus's Appearance
- 2 The Lost History
- 3 After Chrono Trigger
- 4 Minor Notes
Some of the things that are unknown about Magus have to do with his basic identity. He has blue hair and pointy ears, and is perhaps the most powerful and adept magic user in the history of the world. However, as a child, his ears were not pointy, and at least to the normal citizens of the Kingdom of Zeal, he showed no signs of any magical power whatsoever. While his hair was indeed blue, this is simply derived from his genetics. The pointy ears require some explanation, however.
From Janus to Magus
The first possibility is that Magus somehow made his ears pointy artificially so as to differentiate himself from humans and gain favor with the Mystics. Janus was clearly a fairly intelligent child, and he was also the kind of person who believes he should get what he wants and is spoiled. However, despite all that, he couldn't have been more than 10 years old when the Ocean Palace disaster sent him to 600 AD, and if you suddenly tear a ten-year-old's life away from him, he's going to become very emotionally disturbed. Now, add this to the fact that he was extremely intelligent and powerful magically as a child as well as being spoiled, and you have a disturbed kid who wants revenge and knows how to get it. By the time he had appraised the 600 AD situation, he realized that the Mystics could not only keep him safe but also give him the power and resources he needed to extract revenge on Lavos. Of course, there remains the obvious problem that he is human. Now, if you were an intelligent person with powerful and unchecked dark magic that could be used for disguise at your disposal who found yourself in a world full of people who hate your race but could help you if only you were a different race, what would you do? Since humans were mortal enemies of the Mystics, he probably could not have rose to his station of power with his old appearance, instead opting to artificially alter his look to make it more conducive to his new friends. However, keeping up the image of having pale white skin would be troublesome, as makeup would have to be applied constantly. This leads to another alternative -- that Magus's new body was a result of overexposure to dark magic.
Considering that Magus was raised by Ozzie for years in the dark confines of his lair practicing in the most arcane and darkest arts known, it is not out of the question that Magus's appearance accordingly changed with the experience. The effects might have also been forced upon him by Ozzie, who may have groomed the boy to his liking. In addition to the blue hair, pointy ears, and pale skin, Janus's irises have gone from green as a child to red as grown Magus. This suggests something a little more drastic than some artificial makeover to fit in with the Mystics -- unless they had colored contact lenses, which is doubtful. It is similarly unlikely that he could find a way to elongate his ears so well without the existence of plastic surgery.
The Doubted Magic Power
However, this brings us back to the question, where did these magic powers come from if he showed no potential for magic back in Zeal? The answer is that he probably had no reason to show off and did not ostensibly use his powers in front of others, leading to their simple belief that he was inept. It should be noted that the person who commented on Janus's lack of apparent magical ability was an ordinary citizen. If Janus did indeed have great power all along, it would have been no trouble at all for him to hide his abilities from such a plebeian. None of the more powerful and more important denizens of Zeal, i.e. Queen Zeal, the Gurus, Schala or Dalton, ever say that Janus lacks magical power, or even hint at it. In fact, another ordinary citizen of Zeal says that Melchior told him that Magus had even greater powers than Schala, or even Queen Zeal. While Dalton doesn't seem to fear Janus (he even halfway threatens him), this is most likely due to the fact that Dalton is overconfident in his own abilities; Janus may have blocked his powers from Dalton as well. Given Janus's holier-than-thou attitude in the Terra Cave, he most likely looked down upon all less important than himself; Magus's personality later also reflects this. This personality might give him motivation to hide his powers from others, simply to keep them in the dark.
Another possible explanation for why Janus's magical power (or potential) was never noticed in the Kingdom of Zeal is that he was apparently overshadowed by his older sister, Schala. Schala was in high demand for hers, and the general conception of Zealians was that Janus did not remotely match her power (although one correctly said he was far beyond hers), thus Janus had no to use his. Indeed, both explanations may apply. It could be that, upon seeing how coveted his sister's powers were, Janus hid his powers from the other Zealians in an attempt to avoid a similar status, and no one ever bothered to examine Janus any further because they already had Schala.
The Lost History
Another mystery about Magus has to do with exactly what happened in between the time he arrived in the Middle Ages and the time the party meets him in A.D. 600. The only confirmed facts known are that Ozzie (and perhaps also Slash and Flea) raised him to be the leader of the Mystics, and sometime around A.D. 590 he killed Cyrus and turned Glenn into Frog. He also probably created Retinite, though not for the intent of destroying Fiona's Forest. It is also known that Magus at least had a hand in starting the war. However, we do not know quite why Magus started the war between the Mystics and the human nation of Guardia. Being a human himself, Magus had something of a conflict of interest on his hands. However, even as a child, his general misanthropy was obvious, and growing up in the very anti-human environment of Ozzie's tutelage surely elevated that dislike of all things human. This misanthropy, combined with simply having grown up with the Mystics and identifying with them, may have had a hand in Magus warring against his own people.
The Mystic Exploitation
A more likely theory is that Magus only started the war against Guardia because the Mystics, who had groomed him to be their leader, desired the war. Magus lived most of his life with one singular goal: to exact vengeance against Lavos, who sent him from 12,000 B.C. to A.D. 600 and destroyed his home and family. Schala and Magus probably had a type of mental link, and Magus behaves throughout history as if he wanted revenge on Lavos for killing her. Perhaps he felt she was dead, and in the new timeline, searched since he still felt a presence. The whole time he was in the Middle Ages, Magus likely used the Mystics' knowledge of magic to gain access to Lavos to exact that revenge. Indeed, this was probably the only reason he tolerated their existence. He likely started a war against Guardia in order to keep their trust (and therefore continue using them). It should be noted that there is no evidence of Magus actually participating directly in the war (other than his presence at Cyrus's obtaining the Masamune at Denadoro), so he probably used all his extra time to research summoning Lavos. In order to constantly warrant the full support of Mystics, and thus also have full access to their manpower and magical resources, Magus had to satisfy them, much like states crusading in the medieval era to please the papacy. With these abilities at his command, Magus could facilitate the summoning of Lavos. Magus is of such a clear and sound mind that its totally possible he played the Mystics since childhood.
The Original Fate
Finally, it is not exactly known what happened to Magus in the original, unaltered timeline. It is known from the dialogue of mystics in Medina in A.D. 1000 that he successfully summoned Lavos. After that, Magus seems to have disappeared, and the Mystics lost the war. He was probably killed outright by Lavos at the Lair, and the death of the Mystics' spiritual and wartime leader cost them morale that could not be regained. If you lose to Magus in his castle, he turns around and finishes summoning Lavos, implying that had you not interrupted, he would have succeeded in summoning Lavos fully (rather than performing an incomplete summon which led to the scattering, black Gate). Magus had no chance against Lavos. This is proven when he fights Lavos after having masqueraded as The Prophet in Zeal. So the idea of the Mystics originally losing the war due to Magus's untimely death is a highly valid one. Most likely, Magus attempted to take on Lavos. From the scene in the Ocean Palace, we know that Magus was no match for Lavos's power. Therefore, it can be surmised that he was probably killed by Lavos in the original timeline, since Crono's party was not there to disrupt his spell and send him back to his era of origin. After Magus was killed, the Mystics, bereft of a leader (albeit one that never actually did much for them), lost the war, settled on the island where Ozzie's Fort stood, and founded the town of Medina. Some might disagree, saying that Magus was still sent back to 12,000 B.C. in the original timeline, but this is unlikely.
After Chrono Trigger
The Fate of Magus
One of the deeper mysteries about Magus has to do with what exactly happens to him after the events of Chrono Trigger. The following section appears from the Fates of the Chrono Trigger Team article.
The last unaccounted for hero from Chrono Trigger is Magus. Without speaking a word to the party, he departed at the Moonlight Parade to search for Schala in 12000 B.C., and was last seen flying amid the peaks looking for his dear sister. Chrono Trigger DS reveals that Schala and Lavos, before becoming the prototypical Time Devourer, experienced an intermediary evolutionary stage—the Dream Devourer, capable of feeding on thoughts, memories, and dreams across time. Magus located Schala and tried to free her to no avail. Schala awoke long enough to tell Magus that his attempts were futile, and no power could be used to save her. She admonished him to live out his life in other pursuits before the Dream Devourer would destroy everything. Magus protested but was sent away, and eventually sacrificed his identity in abject frustration over Schala's fatalism and predicament. He awoke in a forest, feeling there was something he should search for, and set out.
One of, if not the most popular player character of Chrono Trigger, Magus had all eyes on him as Chrono Cross neared its release. But before discussing his absence, let us first turn to Radical Dreamers. For those of you who aren't aware of the game, it was a text adventure written as a sidestory / sequel to Chrono Trigger and released on the Satellaview for the Super Famicom (the Japanese Super NES). Magus played a role in this game, which tied up a loose end to Chrono Trigger. Now, if you don't want to be spoiled, skip to the next paragraph. Basically, Radical Dreamers was about Schala; after the Ocean Palace Incident, she was consumed by guilt for letting Zeal be destroyed. The Frozen Flame, which had been used in the Mammon Machine, detected her guilt, unaged her to an infant, and sent her to the modern era for a second life. There, she was found by Lucca and named Kid; meanwhile, an aristocrat named Lynx came to power and wanted Lucca's Chrono Trigger Time Egg. He killed her; Kid ran off to fight him. Magus then came in and saved her from certain death, and looked after her until she became a teenager. He wore a disguise as "Magil," a mysterious magician. Eventually, they met Serge, raided Viper Manor, and Kid learned of her past life as Schala and fled into the night with Magus.
Radical Dreamers lends much to the character of post Chrono Trigger Magus, refining his power, grace, and charm, while maintaining his edge as one of, if not the most powerful magic user alive. When Chrono Cross was arranged for development, Masato Kato revised the Radical Dreamers plot and planned to include Magus as the enigmatic magician Guile. Presumably, Guile would accompany Kid and watch over her, probably with knowledge of her status as Schala's daughter-clone. His concept art depicted him as a dashing, handsome gentleman wearing flashy clothing and a mask to disguise his identity. Magus's younger counterpart, Janus (if your memory is clouded, Janus was Magus as a boy in Zeal) may have played a role in Chrono Cross too, as concept art appeared for him. However, as time wore on and Chrono Cross took shape, Masato Kato decided that it would be too difficult to represent Magus's complex story among the rest of the game. One possible drawback would be that if players felt that Guile were Magus, they'd simply use a party of Serge, Kid, and Guile all the time, neglecting to use any other characters. Also, Magus would react to the game's plot in a different manner than all the other characters, necessitating much planning and special dialogue. Eventually, Magus was cut from the game, and Guile became an independent person -- an enigmatic magician who traveled the world in search of enigma.
The captions read, going from the paragraph blurbs, left to right (bottom left, then top right, then bottom right):
The truth is we made more than 2 major designs for Arf's character, and we though it might be interesting to pursue these transitions. This is a young magic-user version, although his space in time influenced the story of the game to where it may have become a problem. Here is another long haired version, but we put his hair in a ponytail to distinguish him from Karsh.
A big thanks to Ren Cowart for providing a speedy translation. We owe him one!
When Magus was removed from Chrono Cross, his future became a complete mystery once more. Considering that Radical Dreamers is not part of the main Chrono Trigger > Chrono Cross continuity, the last we've seen of Magus is his scene Chrono Trigger DS, where he erased his memories. Where might Magus be during Chrono Cross? Chrono Trigger DS's story easily lends credence to the theory that Guile is Magus, lacking his identity. Intent on finding the "enigma" that he remembered, Magus cleans up his appearance and sets out to search the world in search of anything that might shed light on the mystery (including the Frozen Flame). He finds Serge's party and joins up, eventually accompanying Serge to fight the Time Devourer. Satisfied and perhaps able to reunite with Schala, he thanks Serge and departs.
Assuming that Guile is not Magus, a few notes have to be considered. Firstly, one must consider the nature of what happens in Chrono Cross. Essentially, Serge defeats the Time Devourer, frees Schala, and effectively unifies the dimensions. But at the end of the day, no one remembers what occurred. Going from this conclusion, if Magus were not aware of Project Kid or Belthasar's plans, he would have no earthly idea what happened to Schala or the entire set of events with the Time Devourer. Magus would be completely out of the loop, and unaware of the fate of his sister. This destiny seems harsh and unfitting. Nonetheless, without any supporting facts for either side, the opposite may be true: Magus may have observed the entire adventure. There may yet be some hope for him. At the end of Chrono Cross, Schala / Kid sets out through the eras of time to find someone. Some interpret her lines to mean that she is searching for her brother Magus. However, this is a bit of a stretch, considering Schala calls Serge by name before mentioning that she will look for this person. The full considerations are discussed at the Chrono Cross Resolutions article.
One theory holds that Kid's Astral Amulet is actually Magus's Amulet given to him by Schala in Zeal as a young boy. The Astral Amulet is a mysterious artifact from Zeal possessed by Lucca and given to Kid during her infancy. It consists of a piece of wood tucked in a purple pouch bearing the Zeal crest in gold and black. Now, consider that Cross's backstory was probably fleshed out before they decided to axe Guile's backstory as Magus. Is it perhaps plausible that Magus's amulet is the Astral Amulet, and that Magus, having knowledge of Project Kid or simply of Kid's existence, visited Lucca and gave Kid the amulet for her own safety. This possibility would not only explain the mysterious origins of the Astral Amulet, including its crest bearing the Zeal emblem, but would also neatly link the mysterious item with established Chrono canon. Thematically, it is also interesting to see Magus give the Amulet back to his sister (albeit in a different form). Lucca's speaking to him as the very personal Janus may imply that they became closer friends (and that the letter was written much later after 1004 A.D., which would be likely since she had to have had met Luccia by its writing). This theory could also imply that Magus did know of Project Kid, but simply remained in the shadows and let Belthasar do his work in freeing his sister without personally intervening.
The main issue with this theory is that the two items look nothing alike. For them to be the same item, the assumption that the concept art changed would have to be made. While the appearances of the Hero's Medal and Time Egg were changed between Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, it is difficult to simply write this off as a change itself. Another problem is in that Magus's Amulet is depicted as being worn around his hip, which precludes the possibility of the amulet being a small item that could be concealed on one's person.
Conclusively, Magus's fate remains unknown, as he is never seen in Chrono Cross. However, he is mentioned in Lucca's letter to Kid. Specifically, Lucca notes that Magus might be watching over Kid, and expresses greetings to him in the event that he is reading the letter with her. Sadly, he was nowhere to be found. Interestingly, the developers seemingly stuck an easter egg in that scene. If you watch the floor of Luccia's laboratory, you'll notice that a fourth player character shadow appears when the letter is read (a player character shadow is the black spot that appears under characters as they move about). No one stands above the shadow; it merely appears on the ground during that scene, and cannot be seen in the laboratory at any other time. Some contend that this easter egg is a reference to Magus, whose skills in blending into the shadows at will are discussed in Radical Dreamers.
One temporal question remains unasked: How would Magus get to Crono and Serge's era? It is possible that once Lucca found Kid, she may have told Magus about this, using the Epoch to find him. Magus may have kept the Epoch for his own use after Crono, Marle and Lucca found Crono's mother and cats. It is unlikely that the Epoch was ever actually disassembled. Another likely possibility is that Magus found a way to use his Dark Magic to travel through time. It is known that Magus can use his Shadow magic to create black holes; therefore, we can probably conclude that it's possible that he can use his magic to travel through time as well. Additionally, the gates may not have actually permanently; they likely just became weaker. Finally, Gaspar may have assisted him. Janus is quite possibly the strongest user of magic in the entire world of the Chrono series. It is apparent that he has some control over spacetime, evident in his later spells; namely Black Hole and Dark Matter, that which scientists believe fills the rest of the unseen universe. It is not unlikely that Janus also has the ability to influence and/or control time to an extent.
Magus as Guile
At the end of Chrono Trigger DS, Magus erases his own identity and begins anew with the feeling he must search for something. Is it possible that Guile in Chrono Cross is an amnesiac Magus? Recall this from the GamePro interview:
Masato Kato: To let the cat out of the bag, in the early stages of development, Guile was indeed meant to be Magus. In our original plan, the true identity of Guile was supposed to be Magus after the events in Trigger. (At the end of Trigger, Magus [a.k.a. Janus in Trigger and Magil in Radical Dreamers] disappeared into a Time Gate to go searching for his big sister, Schala, who was lost somewhere in time.) However, as the game's development progressed and we decided to use such a huge number of playable characters, we decided not to make him be Magus. We thought it was impossible to portray the relationship between Magus and Schala adequately in this game. So we changed tracks, made the colors of the Magus character design paler, and turned him into Guile, the magician. In a way, it's a pity, as I really would like to have seen the valiant figure of Magus come to life again.
- Guile is in constant search of enigmas and mysteries, and this fits Magus's desire to find something after he emerges from the Darkness Beyond Time.
- Guile has the following Frozen Flame quote in Chrono Cross. It was probably intended as an in-reference that Guile was at one time planned to be Magus, but now it serves as Guile's denial of his former identity:
Guile: Is this what I have been searching for all this time... No... Stop it! I am no such thing. What good is it... to possess such dark power...?
- Guile's words here also echo the words of Magus in the ending: "no matter how hard I strive—no matter how strong I grow—there is nothing I might do to save you?" Schala also cautions him that no power will be able to save her, and it can be said that Magus possesses a dark power (he uses the Shadow element, and he's also motivated by revenge and personal pain).
- In regards to his changed appearance, it's been argued that Magus can change it, just as he apparently did to command the Mystics and not seem human. steamwolf: Now granted, the age difference can be argued but I'll say this: If David Bowie can be sixty years old and look thirty-four, then a magical demon king who most likely can open up time-traveling portals can be forty and look however the hell he wants. But does anyone wonder if perhaps Magus' form in CT is a disguise? Remember, when he appeared to the Mystics as Janus, they attacked him. It would logically make sense to put on a disguise, use a Scythe, and appear more evil in order to frighten Guardia and keep the Mystics loyal to him. Really, why would magical power alter his physical form? Dalton clearly shows the ability to cast something similar to Dark Matter and he looks the same as ever. Also, Magus has used disguises in the past such as The Prophet. Now this was just a hood with shoulders, but either way he's used a disguise before to benefit himself. Whose to say Magus is nothing more than this? Its not even his real name, and Kato has had Magus go even further and go by Magil in RD.
- Also, Janus originally had green eyes as depicted in the PSX CT's FMVs and CT's official art. Guile has green eyes.
- Being Magus and having his genetic ability for magic explains Guile's status as the rising star of the Magic Guild.
- At the end of Chrono Cross, Guile wishes Serge well and then possibly goes with Schala. The ambiguity of Cross makes it possible that Guile did recognize Schala at the end.
- Except for spellcasting in two directions, Magus is predominantly left-handed. Guile is right-handed, however.
- In Radical Dreamers, Serge describes Magil as being "about 30". Guile is 26.
Magus: Should a part of me somehow even then remain, then perhaps will be the birth of something new-something with greater meaning than all this.
Well, I think that 'a part of me' and 'the birth of something new' imply that some form of Magus will save his sister in the future. If Magus ends up in 600 AD, he shouldn’t be alive by the time Schala was saved (1020 AD, the time of Chrono Cross,) but a descendant of his could. You should already see what my theory is: Serge is a descendant (or maybe some sort of weird reincarnation) of Magus, a newly born part of him so to speak. Schala chooses Serge specifically.
Also, on another note, one of Schala's lines in the ending to Magus is "The strength you wield now cannot defeat me. No, perhaps it is better said that no strength can." This line reminds me of how to get the 'good' ending in Chrono Cross you have to use element colors in a certain order on the Dream Devourer instead of fighting it normally (with 'strength.') This seems like a pretty obvious correlation to me, but it may not have been on purpose.
So, either Magus's descendants became part of Chronopolis and would eventually give birth to Serge, or Magus was deposited in early El Nido from the Darkness Beyond Time and integrated directly into the population that way.
Another supposed mystery is that of Janus's paternity. The lines state:
[Young Man] I heard Schala's powers far exceed those of her mother. Then there's her step-brother, Janus. He's of royal blood, but he doesn't seem to have a speck of magic.
However, this was a translation error. The real line should read:
I hear that even though he has the blood of the Royal Family, he truly does not have any magical power.
Black Wind Unit
One last loose end dangling around the series is the fact that Norris's unit within the Porre army was called the Black Wind. This is significant because Magus has been known to use the term from time to time, even in childhood: Janus says the phrase to the party in Enhasa, he uses the phrase with Schala in Zeal Palace, and Magus says it to your party just before Crono fights him. Also, Black Wind is one of Magil's spells in Radical Dreamers, consisting of many razors flying through the air to dice an opponent. Now, it's remotely possible that Magus may have had some involvement in the Porre military undercover, but this is a long shot at best. A more likely theory is that due to the ferry between Truce and Medina, Porre agents or other officials may have come into contact with Mystic historical literature, and adopted the dark phrase from the famous leader in order to inspire fear in Porre's enemies. The phrase would certainly be in these historical documents about the Mystic war and Magus, as good oratory skills are often a requisite for garnering military support (and, in this case, uniting an entire race against another). Porre has definitely drawn on mythology once before, as it uses a Chimera on its national flag.
And with that, perhaps a good number of the mysteries involving Magus are solved.
Acknowledgments and Thanks
Special Thanks: This article was a massive undertaking, and would not have been possible without the help of many people.
I wish to thank the following people:
Everyone at the OverClocked ReMix forum who participated in the Chrono series discussion threads, from the Master Thread to the various side threads. None of this would have been possible without all of that. Although you're all accredited properly in the article, you're all too numerous to name individually (with the following exceptions).
ZeaLitY: Thank you for all the support you've given, from creating the discussion threads to envisioning and helping to create this site to helping me edit and revise this article. And thanks for including me on the staff for this site.
Ramsus: Thank you for creating this site, and for the support you've given me in my articles thus far.
JustinS1985: Thanks for your support while I was making this article, and for helping with the editing and revision process.
Thanks to Yasunori Mitsuda (original composer, of course), OneUp Studios (for Time & Space), and various artists at OCR for providing the music I listened to while writing this article.
Thanks to Squaresoft for making such an incredible series of games.