Clef (クレフ Kurefu) is the chief of all sorcerers in Cephiro, and was formerly Princess Emeraude's attendant. In the first season of the anime, he is turned into stone by Zagato, shortly after being introduced to the three girls in the first episode, but he managed to fight the spell and communicated with them through Mokona. In the manga, he is referred to as Guru Clef, and is not turned into stone. After Princess Emeraude died, he and all the other magicians used their willpower to create a castle to hold all the inhabitants of Cephiro, given that the land was slowly dying and falling apart without a Pillar to pray for peace and prosperity. He leads all of Cephiro until a new Pillar can be found, and also used his magical powers to help the Magic Knights in their numerous battles against those who wished to conquer Cephiro for their own. Though he was easily the most thoughtful, most mysterious magical figure in the series, he was kind-hearted and good-natured, and can be literally selfless when it comes to those he loves and cares for.
He is named after the Mazda Clef.
Clef has the appearance of a handsome, if slightly intimidating, young boy of about eleven years old, with light purple hair, light blue eyes, fair skin, and an aura of mystery and wonder. However, his appearance belied his age, as every individual of Cephiro has the ability to "will" how he/she looks like: he is actually seven-hundred-and-forty-five years old. His usual attire consists of long, elaborate white robes, a headpiece studded with aquamarine gems and a large blue horn at the center, and gold earrings. He carries a humongous staff whose top is carved into a strange animal, and embedded with two large gemstones: the top was blue and the bottom purple. Apparently, Clef projected his magic into reality through the blue gemstone (every time he casts a spell, the gemstone glows brilliantly).
Nothing was revealed about Clef's family and past, but it is very likely that he was of royal or noble blood. He was the wisest and most powerful magician in Cephiro, and personally taught Princess Emeraude, Zagato, Lantis, and Alcyone the art of magic. When Princess Emeraude became the Pillar of Cephiro, he became her personal attendant, appointing Lantis to be her Captain of the Guard, and Zagato to be her High Priest, and helped her in the ruling of the country. At some point, he discovered that she and Zagato had fallen hopelessly in love with each other, but kept silent as he knew that their lives would be in grave danger if this was revealed, given that the Pillar was supposed to spend every waking moment of its existence praying for the peace and prosperity of Cephiro, and untold chaos would break out throughout the land if her thoughts and concentration were disrupted.
Peace and quiet, however, were not meant to last. One day, Princess Emeraude told him that she intended to summon the legendary Magic Knights. Horrified, he tried to dissuade her from doing so, reminding her that she would surely die if she summoned them. Even after she confessed to him her love for Zagato and her guilt over her feelings, he continued his dissuasion desperately, telling her though she was the Pillar, she was first and foremost a person, and that no one would blame her if she wanted to search for her own personal happiness. She simply shook her head, told him that she cannot forgive herself for feelings even if everyone else can, and that she cannot bear the thought of misfortune befalling the country solely because it was no longer her top priority, and transported Clef to the woods in a powerful, blinding shine of light. There, she telepathically told Clef to help and guide the Magic Knights in their long, difficult, and ultimately painful journey, and, at the very end, apologizes to them on her behalf. With tears in his eyes, Clef cried out to Princess Emeraude, pleading with her to change her mind, revealing how deeply fond he was of the sweet, kind, and gentle Princess whom he personally taught and tended to, but received no reply - her mind was made up.
Left with no choice, Clef started to make preparations for the arrival of the Magic Knights. He first went to Master Smith Presea, who was the only one capable of forging the very weapons that the Magic Knights needed, told her what had happened, and provided her with a new home in the Forest of Silence, where she would be well-protected from Zagato and his minions (who will surely be after her), given that no magic could work in the forest. He also enchanted the door of her new house, making it such that only the Magic Knights would have the power to open it, gave her the mischievous, nonsensical rabbit-like creature named Mokona (who was capable of providing food and other necessary supplies through its magical red gem) to be her companion, and instructed her to wait patiently.
When Clef first met the Magic Knights, Umi made a poor impression on him, pulling on his long, flowing robes and rudely telling him that he was in no position to tell them what to do, since he looked so much younger than them. Very annoyed, Clef yelled at her to let him go, and even hit her (painfully) on her head with his humongous sorcerer's staff, commenting exasperatedly: "Really, what was the Princess thinking when she summoned such children?" He proceeded to summon a powerful bolt of lightning to blast to dust a monster that suddenly emerged from the ground. Then, he explained the situation to them in detail, telling them about Cephiro, Princess Emeraude, and Zagato, and that it was their destiny to become the Magic Knights (the only ones capable of saving this land), and that they cannot go back home until they had fulfilled their purpose of being summoning to this world. He was disappointed to hear that they had no magical powers at all (apparently, he had some expectations of the ones chosen to become the Magic Knights), but put aside his own feelings and bestowed upon them the gift of magic; his spell, however, awakened the magic that slumbered deep within them instead (he commented that he tried to choose magic for them, but it seemed like the magic choose them). Hikaru's very genuine eagerness to help this land and learn from him, however, pleased him very much; in fact, he taught her her first spell, Flame Arrow, with a rare smile. But before he could teach her further, he sensed one of Zagato's minions arriving.
At this point, the anime and manga differ in story.
Quickly, he summoned an eagle-like creature, commanded the girls to get on the creature, and sent them off, saying that he will hold the minion off. When Hikaru protested, wanting to help him, Clef replied that they becoming Magic Knights as soon as possible and saving Cephiro was helping him. He also told them that Presea was waiting for them in the Forest of Silence, and they should get weapons from her, and Mokona. The minion turned out to be his former student, Alcyone, who thanked him for giving her such wonderful magic, and proceeded to attack him with a storm of icicles. Unsurprisingly, Clef was able to fend off the ice-based attack with ease and grace, even rebuked her disappointedly for siding with Zagato, abusing the magic he taught her, and becoming a threat to Cephiro. She merely laughed at him, commenting that he was still strict, but that she had no time for idle chatter, summoned a two-headed wolf monster of fire to distract him, and rode away after the Magic Knights, knowing that there was no way she could defeat him. He yelled at her to wait, but had to blast the distracting monster she summoned with lightning. Then, however, he lost himself in a maze his thoughts, thinking that if they fall to Alcyone, there will no chance of them awakening the Rune Gods and saving Cephiro, and he also pondered about the true enemy of the Magic Knights, of which he thinks Alcyone (an accomplished, formidable sorceress in her own right) was nothing compared to. He was so lost in his thoughts that he did not notice Zagato standing on a cliff far behind him, a dark sinister smile on his face as he raised his hand. Suddenly sensing him, Clef turned around, but it was too late: Zagato blasted him with a powerful spell, turning him into a stone statue. Zagato thought that, in his petrified, immobile state, Clef was now unable to help the Magic Knights to ultimately kill the woman he loved with all his heart.
However, it turned out that Zagato had greatly underestimated his former teacher: Clef's magic was such that was able to fight the spell and communicate with the Magic Knights through the gem on Mokona's forehead, teaching Umi and Fuu their first spells respectively, Water Dragon and Winds of Healing. He maintained contact with the Magic Knights through Mokona's gem, providing guidance, advice, and even support and encouragement to them during their long and difficult journey. However, his periods of communication with them became increasingly short and far between, as his strength to fight Zagato's spell on him was gradually diminishing. When he sensed that he could no longer suppress the spell, he decided to tell them the truth, that they were actually summoned to kill Princess Emeraude herself, but before he could say it, the spell took over completely and his image (which Mokona's gem projected) vanished, leaving the girls ignorant of what their true purpose was. When Zagato was killed by the Magic Knights, he was naturally freed of the spell, and even met up with Lafarga.
During the unexpected, final battle between the Magic Knights and Princess Emeraude, he spoke to them telepathically, confessing to them that he knew the truth all along, and that there was no other way: they had to kill the very Princess that summoned them in the first place, for that was the promise of Cephiro, and that unless the current Pillar disappears, a new Pillar cannot be found. He also begged them sadly to grant Princess Emeraude her true wish, knowing well that life no longer had any meaning for her now that her beloved was gone, and that death was the only way she could find peace and forever be with the man she loved.
After Princess Emeraude's death, Clef and all the other magicians used their willpower to create a tall, enormous, snow-white, castle-like structure to hold all the inhabitants of Cephiro, as the land was dying and crumbling apart, without a Pillar to pray for its well-being. Upon sensing that the Magic Knights had, miraculously, come to Cephiro again, he sent his enormous flying fish, Fyula, to once again save them from their fall and bring them to the castle. He greeted the Magic Knights with a sad, sincere apology, begging their forgiveness for concealing the truth and ultimately forcing them to perform the terrible, painful deed of killing Princess Emeraude. However, Umi (who has, by this time, become matured and thoughtful) gently assured him that he was not at fault, and that they did not blame him at all, much to his pleasant, relieved surprise. He was, however, unable to answer their question as to why they were summoned, for all he knew was only a Pillar could summon people from another world. Then, he told them what was going on: three countries (Autozam, Chizeta, and Faren) are moving in to invade Cephiro, having already sent their own task forces here, but their aim is still unknown. However, the current Cephiro has enough trouble itself, as the lack of a Pillar meant that the land had not only lost its beauty and peace, but was also dying and falling apart. He further revealed that one does not need to be from Cephiro to be the Pillar.
Upon learning that they wanted to help Cephiro in any way they can (including fighting off invaders), Clef persuaded a "resurrected Presea" (actually Sierra, posing as her twin sister) to give them back their weapons, and he himself gave them a new armor that has the ability to change back and forth from their Mashin outfit when needed. Later on, he and Umi had a surprisingly frank, warm, and tender conversation: Umi apologized to Clef about how she treated him when they were first summoned, and all she cared about was getting back home. With an extremely kind and understanding smile, Clef replied that it was not her fault, but instead, it was his, since he did not properly aid them to begin with, and even led them to fulfilling the Legend of the Magic Knights without telling them the true meaning. Then, he placed his hand on hers and gently told her to first think about protecting herself, and to use the magic he bestowed upon her and the weapon that Presea made for her for her own self. He concluded by going off to make Umi a sleeping potion, telling her to "drink it and sleep well". Very touched, Umi thanked him. This served to show an end to whatever animosity that once existed between them, and the beginning of their love for each other.
When his former student, Lantis, returned to Cephiro after journeying abroad for a considerable deal of time, Clef did not trust him at first, as his reasons for his wholly unexpected return were unknown. He also regarded him with wary suspicion, partly because there was something different about the student he had remembered, and partly because of how powerful he was (he believed that Lantis' magical powers were strong enough to rival or even surpass those of his older brother, Zagato). However, this suspicion dimmed, little by little, as Lantis proved himself to be harboring no evil or selfish intentions of his own, and gradually cleared when he confessed the true reason for his returning to Cephiro: to destroy the Pillar system, so that the tragic, sorrowful love story of his older brother and Princess Emeraude would not be repeated again. Clef actually agreed with this, as he himself did not want to see history repeat itself, and made up his mind to tell the next candidate for the Pillar about Princess Emeraude's story, even if that would make the candidate give up being Pillar.
Clef used his magic to protect and help the Knights in their numerous battles, but ended up being bedridden from the extreme strain of repeatedly performing incredibly powerful spells. Amidst all this, he also became increasingly curious about the purely evil, yet utterly mysterious witch, Debonair, whose existence and powers were revealed by a drastically changed Alcyone, whom Debonair had rescued from Zagato's castle before it was completely destroyed, and brainwashed her into becoming her faithful servant. He became convinced that it was Debonair, not the three countries invading Cephiro in hopes of conquering the Pillar system, who was the true enemy, but for all his powers and knowledge, he did not know where she was, and was unable to track her down. Hence, the exhausted Clef forced himself to rise, and tried to convince Alcyone to reveal Debonair's whereabouts, knowing that Cephiro would surely die if Debonair was not destroyed, only to be stunned when she flatly told him that with Zagato gone, she no longer if Cephiro lived or died, and that even if her love for him was not reciprocated, she still wanted to die with him, and broke down in tears. Despite the fact that time was running out, Clef could not help but feel sad for his former student as he watched her cry, a testament as to how much he cared for those he knew and loved. He left the task of asking Debonair's whereabouts to Sierra (he probably thought that she might be more suited for the job), and wondered as to whom exactly the new Pillar was, given that the Proof of the Pillar was already changing its shape, ready to accept a new master/mistress.
Later on, he had an unexpected conversation with Eagle and Hikaru, both of whom had proven themselves worthy of becoming the new Pillar, given that they were able to walk back out of the room where the Proof of the Pillar was alive. Eagle assured him that if he could become the Pillar, he would stay in Cephiro to ensure its stability, and he begged Clef to allow engineers from Autozam to analyze the Pillar system, since he had no time for strategies. Clef was stunned and impressed. As he examined him closer, he was able to sense that the Autozam commander was gravely ill, that he had the same aura as his best friend, Lantis - "A truly strong...warrior's aura", and remarked upon his love for his country, which was the sole reason why he was able to control his illness and remain on his feet. He told them that the Proof of the Pillar would soon completely change its shape to best suit the next Pillar, and they would know who the true Pillar was at that time. Then, he asked Hikaru what she would do if she were the chosen one, but we do not get to hear her reply. However, out of the kindness of his heart, he promised Eagle to aid Autozam in rebuilding whether or not Eagle was the Pillar.
He then went to the room where the Proof of the Pillar was, reflected upon how much everyone - including him - loved Cephiro, and decided to help the Magic Knights in their fight in his own way: using all of his magical powers to protect and support the castle. While starting to perform the magic, he made telepathic conversation with Sierra, informing her of his decision. Alarmed, Sierra begged him to stop, breaking down in tears as she did so, as she feared that he - in his weakened state - would die from the tremendous strain of performing his strongest magic. He gently assured her that he will not die, that there had already been too much tears, sadness, and pain on the part of the Magic Knights, and that he will not, on any account, drive them back into tears again. He then told her to keep asking Alcyone for Debonair's whereabouts, and to tell the Magic Knights once she found out.
In the OVA, Clef goes to Earth, rather than the Magic Knights going to Cephiro.
Powers and Abilities
Clef is the most powerful and knowledgeable magician in Cephiro; in fact, he personally taught Princess Emeraude, Zagato, Lantis, and Alcyone the art of magic, and they all bloomed into highly accomplished, incredibly powerful magicians in their own rights.
In the first episode of the first anime season, the audience can already deduce how formidable he was as a magician, with him displaying incredible powers, such as granting people the ability to use magic, summoning and banishing otherworldly spirit creatures, manipulating the element of lightning, conjuring a protective force field, and sensing impending dangers. Also, even after Zagato had turned him into stone, he was able fight the spell and maintain telepathic contact with the Magic Knights throughout their long and difficult journey (by means of the magical red gem on Mokona's forehead), a testament as to how strong his powers truly were.
The second anime season saw Clef's powers explored further. He was able to create a magical sphere through which he and the others could use to observe the Magic Knights in their battles, and consistently demonstrated the ability to read auras (which allowed him to sense intruders in the castle and detect their every movement), and to receive visions of the past and present. He was also shown to be able to manipulate the size of his protective force field, enlarging it to the degree where it shielded the entire castle, and employed a highly dangerous teleportation spell to transport the Magic Knights and their friends back to the castle (to safety) when Debonair was about to attack them. In the final two episodes of the second season, he used all his magical powers to protect and support the castle, enveloping it completely in a strange shower of pure, light magic; though it was not revealed as to what the spell he used was, it was so strong that his headpiece shattered as it took effect. When he stopped casting it, he was completely drained, as evident by his sweat-drenched head.