- “Unworthy is the rule whose subjects seek the solace of false gods.”
- —Gaius Van Baelsar
Gaius Van Baelsar (ガイウス・ヴァン・バエサル, Gaiusu Wan Baesaru?), also known as The Black Wolf (漆黒の王狼, Shikkoku no Ōrō?, lit. The Sable King of Wolves), is one of the prime antagonists of Final Fantasy XIV, first appearing on the final quest of the main storyline. His rank within the Garlean Empire's army is Imperial Legatus, and he is one of the generals leading the invasion into Eorzea.
Appearance and PersonalityEdit
Gaius is a male Hyur. He wears an intimidating suit of black armor over a long red coat and a horned helmet bearing a skull like visage and gas mask like breathers and a ceruleum cannon attached to the back of his left hand. His main weapon is a gunblade named Heirsbane (No. IX in Japan), said to have spilled the blood of nine aspirants to the crown.
Gaius bears a "might makes right" philosophy, believing it the duty of the strong to shepherd the weak and the ignorant from their weakness or heresy by strength of arms, but despite this Gaius is not without virtues. He is loyal to his majesty the Emperor Solus Zos Galvus and to his trusted lieutenants in the XIVth legion, placing high faith in their capabilities and outrage when they are slighted or defeated; this is particularly noteworthy concerning Rhitahtyn Sas Arvina, as a Roegadyn typically does not rise to such rank and esteem in the Garlean military, but Gaius is clear in his trust and confidence in Rhitahtyn's abilities. Despite his loyalty to his Emperor, Gaius was willing to betray his orders by using the adventurer to dispose of Nael Van Darnus when he felt Project Meteor was going too far, rather than allowing him to conqueror the land.
As one of the generals of the Imperial Army, Gaius served in many campaigns under his Majesty Solus zos Galvus, and through his exemplary leadership, cunning and combat ability, he earned his place as the Emperor's favorite Legatus and the title The Black Wolf. He displayed his loyalty by personally seeing to the slaughter of nine usurpers, a deed which earned his blade the moniker Heirsbane. Due to his years of dedicated service Gaius was charged by the Emperor to dominate the subcontinent of Eorzea and bring it under Garlemald's banner.
Through subterfuge Gaius turned the populace of Ala Mhigo against their king and struck when the defenses of the city state began to crumble at the prospect of civil war, allowing him to capture the city with minimal bloodshed. Gaius earned renown among Eorzea due to his abilities as a commander and his sensibilities as governing administrator by ruling the conquered stronghold as an Imperial Viceroy.
Gaius's conquest drew to a screeching halt after the attack on Silver Tear Falls when the XIVth Airship Fleet came into a conflict with the dragonkin and their leader, the great wyrm Midgardsormr. The conflict took its toll wiping out the fleet and its flagship the Argius and by killing the great dragon; the Empire had broken the magical seal preventing the Primals from being summoned. Unwilling to risk further casualties by angering the Beastribes and their Gods, Gaius and his legion retreated to Ala Mhigo.
Losing the confidence of his liege, the Emperor was swayed by the plans of another Legatus, Nael van Darnus, who sought to destroy Eorzea and the Primals with them by casting the ancient Allagan spell Meteor thereby wiping out the Primals, alliance and the land itself. Although Gaius was appalled by the plan he pledged to aid in Project Meteor.
Gaius's friend Midas nan Garlond began to unravel and become enraptured with the project. Seeing how it was affecting his son, Gaius took it upon himself to raise the young Cid. In a moment of lucidity, Midas told his friend that Cid would never be satisfied with a life of making weapons for the Emperor. Not long afterward Mid was killed in the incident at Bozja Citadel and Cid deserted his post and defected to Eorzea.
Original Legacy StorylineEdit
- “Impressive... As you wish.”
- —Gaius accepting the Circle of Knowing's silent challenge to fight him
When the Ala Mhigan Resistance tries to sneak into Ala Mhigo by stealing an airship on Silvertear Falls, Gaius intercepts the group and kills them. He shoots the adventurer's Path Companion with his gauntlet mounted gun and attempts to kill the adventurer, but Yda, Papalymo, Y'shtola, and Thancred to arrive to stop him. Accepting their silent challenge Gaius forces them on the defensive before ending the fight by signaling an Imperial Dreadnaught to open fire, injuring the adventurer and the four Circle of Knowing members.
1.0 Seventh Umbral EraEdit
- “Oppose Van Darnus and Meteor, if you wish. It is the only hope you have of sparing Eorzea from complete obliteration.”
- —Gaius Van Baelsar
As revealed in one of the Seventh Umbral Era sidequests, via an echo of a Gridanian soldier who eavesdropped a conversation between Gaius and Nael Van Darnus, Gaius saw Nael's plans to cast Meteor upon Eorzea as a senseless act of genocide. When he later attempts to kill the adventurer, Gaius is stopped by Cid and takes his leave after hitting the traitor's arm with a blast of his arm weapon when provoked.
Once the companies discovers the construction of Castrum Novum, the adventurer finds Gaius during his/her investigation on a wrecked Garlean airship in Mor Dhona. The Legatus congratulates his/her skill in defeating his troops and allows the adventurer to leave with some Garlean schematics related to the lunar transmitter—the machine that can control Dalamud—and return it to Cid, as that is the only hope Eorzea has to survive Meteor.
Gaius explains this is no mercy act, and affirms that Garlemand will annihilate the Primals and dominate Eorzea with or without Meteor, but he fears that Dalamud is more than what even the Empire believes it to be, and Nael Van Darnus has his own agenda with Meteor.
After Nael's defeat, Gaius appears during the pilgrimage to awaken The Twelve. He congratulates the adventurer over the victory against the White Raven, and tells the current position of the VIIth legion, as he still hopes Dalamud can be stopped so the Empire may lay claim to Eorzea—not just its remains. As the Battle of Carteneau commences, Gaius watches the events unfold from his airship before being forced to fall back when Bahamut devastates the land.
- “Eorzea, a blighted realm riddled with false gods. Twice now it has eluded the empire's grasp, twisted beyond all reckoning. Rotten nigh to the core. Yet it must be saved.”
- —Gaius Van Baelsar to his subordinates
Having survived the Seventh Umbral Era, Gaius begins to act on his own agenda to conquer Eorzea for himself due to the political strife over the condition of Solus Zos Galvus, coming to Eorzea with personally-obtained reinforcements from the XIVth Legion, including his three Tribuni.
Revealing himself after the party defeats Garuda, the Black Wolf meets face to face with Cid and chides his former protege for forsaking his home and family. Denouncing the wounded Primal, Gaius slays her Ixal followers. In her rage Garuda unleashes her fury on the Amal'ja and Kobald prisoners forcing them to summon Ifrit and Titan so that she may devour their aether to gain even greater strength. Gaius reveals his trump card for dealing with the Primal threat and with it the means to subjugate the subcontinent: The Ultima Weapon, an ancient Allagan war machine unearthed by the power of Lahabrea.
The machina subdues and absorbs the three Primals as Gaius marvels at the weapon's power. Issuing an ultimatum to those who have seen Ultima's might, he urges the Eorzean Alliance to surrender while Cid and Alphinaud can only look upon it in horror.
After the success of Livia Sas Junius's attack on the Waking Sands, the remaining Scions mount a rescue mission. As the party escapes the fortress Gaius reveals the extent of the Empire's power: The Ultima Weapon and the Scions narrowly escape its grasp only by the skill of Cid's piloting.
Expecting a counterattack from the defiant Eorzean Alliance, Gaius sends his protege Rhitahtyn Sas Arvina to defend the Imperial outpost of Cape Westwind, a vital communication sight between the Garlean castrums. Not to be caught unprepared, he tells Nero to finish his maintenance on Ultima Weapon while he retires to his quarters with Livia. With Operation Archon closing in on Castrum Merdianum, Gaius learns of Rhitahtyn's death and becomes enraged and accuses the soldiers of deserting their commanding officer due to his heritage. With the enemy closing in, Gaius dispatches Livia to lead the defense of the Castrum.
With Cid's help the adventurers confront Gaius in the The Praetorium. Once again coming face to face with Cid, Gaius reveals he still carries a affection for the man he raised as his own and offers him a place as his side. Admiring the adventurer's strength, he to offers him regency, the right to rule the conquered Eorzea if he/she but joins him in its subjugation. Unsurprised to be spurned, Gaius unleashes a Magitek Colossus as he retreats to the heart of the fortress.
As the adventurers penetrate the defenses Gaius challenges them as the last line of defense on their quest to destroy Ultima Weapon. Questioning their faith in The Twelve, he denounces the Gods calling them no better then the Beastmen and their Primals, just Eikons that bleed the world dry of the aether that sustains it. Revealing the ideal of the strength of mankind, Gaius declares it is the duty of the strong to shepherd the weak from their ignorance; Eorzea is his by right and challenges them to stop him.
Impressed by their power, Gaius enters the Ultima Weapon, piloting the machine in the ensuing battle. The Warriors of Light aided by the Mothercrystal herself overcome the Ultima Weapon and strip the Primals from it. Baffled, Lahabrea reveals himself and offers to aid Gaius by activating the Heart of Sabik, the core of Ultima's true power. Gaius can only react in horror as the warmachine unleashes a spell whose devastation rivals that of Meteor — Ultima.
In the wake of the spell's destruction, Gaius confronts the party a final time as he curses Lahabrea, intending to finish him off next. In a final clash Lahabrea tries to unleash Ultima on the party while Gaius can only watch and curse the Ascian, but the weapon is destroyed before the spell is completed. Gaius is ejected from the cockpit as the machina is destroyed. As he lies battered and fallen, he uses his last strength to implore the adventurer to hear him out regarding the need for a strong ruler to guide the Eorzean people instead of the dangerous reliance of Primals and The Twelve. Gaius accepts his fate to die in the Praetorium as it self-destructs from the damage caused by Ultima. As the flames consume him Gaius muses to Cid that his conquest ends here in ashes and smoke.
- Futures Perfect (level 46 main storyline quest).
- Two Vans are Better than One (Twin Adder company quest).
- Alive (Maelstrom company quest).
- Don't Hate The Messenger (all versions).
- Living on a Prayer
Being a Garlean Legatus, Gaius is one of the Empire's most accomplished warriors. He is a skilled swordsman and marksman wielding his gunblades dual purpose with brutal efficiency along with his arm cannon, and can fend off multiple skilled opponents simultaneously without allowing them to land a single blow.
After empowering himself Gaius's abilities are boosted giving him blinding speed allowing him to vanish and appear in the blink of an eye, launch cross shaped arcs of energy from his sword and use magic and conjure blue fire to incinerate enemies and encircle his blade.
Gaius is a skilled pilot of machina, personally piloting the ancient Allagan magitek armor known as Ultima Weapon.
Gaius is fought at the end of the game both on foot and piloting Ultima Weapon. Due to the fight with Lahabrea commonly being considered a story formality due to the ease with which he is defeated, Ultima Weapon effectively acts as the main scenario's final boss.
The "Bite of the Black Wolf", an instrumental version of "Rise of the White Raven", is the theme of the first stage of the final battle.
Gaius appears with a fire-elemental card with his official render.
"Gaius" is derived from Greek word Gaia which means "earth". Additionally, "Gaius" is a common Roman given name. It was the first name of many famous Romans throughout history, including Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, and Caligula. "Van" is based on German word von which means "from", and is used to show someone is of noble descent.
- He was known among the community as "Zulvan" since his first appearance, but a post on the company page changed his name.
- Gaius's armor resembles suits worn by the Archadian Judges of Final Fantasy XII, and in particular, Ghis.
- Having voiced Gabranth in Final Fantasy XII, Akio Otsuka jokingly said he thought he was playing a Judge again due to Gaius's similar armor.
- Gaius shares both English and Japanese voice actors with Ansem and Xehanort of the Kingdom Hearts series, though Epcar voiced Ansem only since Kingdom Hearts II.