|“||M-my dream, my wish, my mission… It—it’s all about to come true. Two hundred years, and finally, finally, finally, I think… I’m about to get it. A—a way… to make… people… happy.||”|
Begg Garrott (ベグ・ガロット, Begu Garotto) is an alchemist who became a complete immortal aboard the Advena Avis in 1711. He thus pursues his lifelong dream of inventing a drug capable of granting its users permanent happiness for over two hundred years, continuing to test his various drugs on himself as he did when mortal; however, as his immortal body becomes ever-increasingly tolerant of his drugs over time, he is no longer affected by his creations.
By the late 1930s, Begg has become the Runorata Family's primary apothecary and reunites with Czeslaw Meyer, his former ward, at the end of December 1931. In January 1932, he comes the closest he has ever been to achieving his dream when he encounters Roy Maddock—only to abandon his plan so that Edith can save Roy's life. Three years later in February 1935, per a deal made between Bartolo Runorata and Huey Laforet, Begg manufactures a special 'drug' that Huey intends to use on over seven million New Yorkers; while Begg has misgivings, his dream is cause for him to cooperate. The 1930s ultimately results in Begg giving up on his hopes and centuries-old aspiration.
Bartolo's death in the early 1970s triggers a steep decline in Begg's mental state, and he spends the next few decades under observation at a New Jersey hospital. He is still there as of August 2002, reliving his happier memories without much interaction with the outside world.
Begg has shaggy brown hair, a perpetually unkempt beard, and brown eyes. His face is haggard and gaunt, though he otherwise looks approximately thirty years old.
In the 1700s, Begg keeps his long, dry hair in a ponytail and dresses "like a peddler"; his ensemble in 1710 consists of a red turban and shirt, a white cravat or scarf, a black belt, brown breeches, tall black boots, and a long brown coat. While he no longer wears a turban in the 1930s, he had traded in the brown coat for a long green trench coat and more period-appropriate attire.
Throughout most of Begg's life—up until a certain incident in the twentieth century—Begg devotes his alchemy research to a singular obsession: the creation of a drug that can grant users happiness. Although he hopes refined versions will grant happiness without harming the users, he expects the early versions may kill their users upon granting them pleasure and yet considers that acceptable. His motives, therefore, seem some mix of scientific and altruistic: he has argued that he merely wants to pursue people's natural 'instinct' to 'seek pleasure', and on another occasion called himself an unethical researcher who wants to witness his drug change the world; in the past, however, he has said he would not mind dying in exchange for such a drug's creation. To some extent, he is truly trying to benefit others' lives.
With that said, Begg does not lend his trust easily to his fellow man; in the 1930s, the only people he trusts wholly are Bartolo Runorata and his old Advena Avis companions excluding Szilard Quates. To those he trusts, he does impart great loyalty and kindness; he covers the cost of Czeslaw Meyer's stolen explosives in 1931 to protect him without a second thought, and he demands Gustavo Bagetta leave the Martillo Family alone on Maiza Avaro's behalf. This kindness is not always exclusively for his friends, as seen when he agrees to help Elmer C. Albatross and Sylvie Lumiere in 1711 despite knowing neither well; furthermore, even when he hates Roy Maddock for denying everything about his drug and dreams in 1932, he still desperately wants to save Roy from his fate.
None of this renders Begg particularly noble, for he is not as magnanimous toward mankind as his kindness might lead one to think and he has a tendency to dismiss that which he dislikes or considers inferior while becoming defensive of his own work in the face of criticism. He refuses to take any responsibility for the drug situation plaguing Lotto Valentino in 1705 and otherwise reacts to it with little more than impatient scorn at the townsfolk's poor-quality knockoffs; two centuries later, he quibbles with Maiza's negative framing of his dream and reacts poorly to others' rejection of it.
In general, Begg cares little for formalities and is open in his opinions of others—including if not especially his negative ones. One instance that demonstrates this concurrently with the kindness he has for his companions is the catacomb meeting in 1711, wherein he calls Lord Avaro—his employer—'rotten' in front of Maiza and Gretto Avaro, only to apologize to them once Lebreau Fermet Viralesque reprimands him. His dynamic with Gustavo is particularly contentious, as he harbors neither respect nor fear for his colleague: he affords Gustavo mocking irreverence, scorn, and challenges him at frequent turns. Notably, his interactions with Gustavo have also revealed a rare sense of humor on Begg's part, one that has otherwise not seen much practice.
Begg's distinctively slow, halting manner of speaking in the 1930s is not his natural cadence but is instead a consequence of Begg's frequent self-experimentation in the early 1700s. Most who meet him in the 1930s would be hard-pressed to believe he was ever a talkative man, when in fact he spoke at a rapid-fire pace as a rule back in 1705—though that, too, may have been an effect of his drugs. By 1711, his experimentation has begun taking its toll; his tongue begins inexplicably freezing up, causing his voice to 'stagger' abruptly while he is speaking. Over time, his cadence's pace slows altogether.
(To be revised.)
In 1705, Begg travels from the Meyer workshop to Lotto Valentino to survey the city after an acquaintance told him that imitations of his drug were circulating amongst the populace.
At dawn, he and Aile stand on a hill and gaze upon the smoldering remains of buildings by the harbor. Begg recalls why he came to the city, and remarks that it was insolent for people to sell a crude copy of his "already third rate" drug on the market. Aile asks if Begg's even aware of what he's caused in the city, the question both surprising and agitating his companion..
Begg reveals that he'd prescribed the drugs only under the command of Aile's father, who had ordered the doctors to produce the drug himself. However, Begg believes that Aile's father probably didn't expect that the local commoners would start mass-producing inferior copies of the drugs themselves. He admits that he doesn't really have a full grasp of what's transpired in Lotto Valentino, but he guesses that one of the smoldering harbor buildings was the drug production workshop. By the color of the smoke alone, Begg can perceive just how terrible the copies were.
Aile notes that people looked quite happy on such a 'terrible' drug, and Begg explains that while the drug is pleasurable, it wears one's body down. If the drug gets out of hand, it can mess with the user's head and break them out of their surroundings. He personally doesn't mind dying in exchange for drugs that could make one even happier "than that," but inferior copies that only break the user and everyone else go against his philosophies.
Begg prepares to leave, explaining that his mentor's family has recently passed away in an accident, and that the only survivor is his mentor's grandson: a child named Czeslaw Meyer. The new alchemist in the Meyer workshop, Fermet, is currently taking care of him—but Begg believes that Fermet is too nice to be in charge of educating a child, which is why he intends to return and take care of the situation. Aile watches him leave and wonders if all alchemists are like him.
Many days later, Begg drives a luggage-laden, horse-drawn wagon towards the outskirts of town. He spots the wagon upon spotting a girl called Niki in tattered clothes by the road, holding her arm in the air. Niki asks Begg if she can hitch a ride to the next town, and Begg (finding her open-minded) says he'll do anything he can to help her. When he asks where she is headed, she simply replies that she's going to spend the rest of her life looking for a place to die.
Begg decides not to pry into her personal affairs, and gestures for her to clamber up onto the back of his wagon. He resumes course out of the city and for the Meyer workshop. Niki sleeps the whole wagon ride through, and upon waking at their final destination she resolves to quietly leave. Fermet convinces her to stay, and she agrees to join the workshop and work with him, Begg, and the others.
Two years later, in 1707, Begg, Fermet, and Czes travel to Lotto Valentino once more. Fermet and Czes attend a party at the Avaro Estate without Begg, though they depart the party early along with Maiza Avaro and Jean-Pierre Accardo and head for the Third Library to speak with Dalton Strauss. Begg meets up with the four along the way and takes Czeslaw's hand as they walk to the Library.
Upon arriving, Begg turns to the others and says that it looks like Dalton is "at his usual haunt." He expresses shock that someone as unsociable as Fermet wanted to bring others along on their visit—Maiza, of all people, and the very poet behind Fermet's favorite anthology. Just as Begg leads the others inside, alchemy students Elmer C. Albatross, Huey Laforet, and Monica Campanella leave the building. Elmer addresses Maiza before he and the others leave.
As the group of five make their way through the Library, Begg comforts a terrified Czes by pointing out that if he's already scared of the building, than meeting Dalton might scare him senseless. At the same time, a shadow appears at the end of the corridor, and Czes screams and clutches Begg's leg. The shadow turns out to be Dalton, and he scolds the group for making noise. Dalton surmises that Maiza and Jean must be curious about immortality, and is unfazed by Maiza's hostile attitude toward him. He then warns Begg to cover Czes' eyes, because "it will be too much for a child to see."
Begg covers Czes' eyes, and Dalton uses his prosthetic hook to tear open his own throat, killing him instantly. Out of the four onlookers, Fermet is the only one who doesn't react in the slightest to the grisly scene. After a moment, all the blood rescinds back into the wound. As Dalton completely regenerates, Begg comments that while he'd heard of the rumors, it's another thing entirely to see the regeneration in person. He'd even thought that perhaps he'd overdosed and was hallucinating.
Recovered, Dalton cracks his neck and asks if Maiza and Jean are still curious about immortality. Maiza becomes Dalton's student on the spot.
Around the end of 1709, Begg and Fermet make plans to uproot the Meyer workshop and resettle in a manor in Lotto Valentino, since the battlefront of the War of the Spanish Succession is moving much too close to their current location for their liking—not to mention they have need of Lotto Valentino's libraries. In 1710, Fermet informs Begg that he is taking in the infant of a friend who recently died of an illness (the infant is in fact the son of Huey and Monica).
In 1711, Elmer and Sylvie Lumiere visit the Meyer Manor in Lotto Valentino, and Niki welcomes them inside so Elmer can talk to Begg. Begg reveals to Elmer and Sylvie that he'd already been aware of Sylvie's relationship with Gretto Avaro, but that he remained silent on the subject since Maiza never spoke of it. He hopes that the two of them believe him.
Elmer asks Begg if he can pass along a message to Gretto the next time he visits the Avaro estate. Begg replies that normally he'd advise Elmer to go to Maiza instead, but he supposes Maiza must never be home given how busy he is with making arrangements for the Advena Avis. Begg's rapid-fire speech suddenly slows down and trips over itself as he resolves to act in Maiza's stead, and he apologizes and explains that recently his tongue has been freezing up for some reason—likely due to him experimenting on himself with his own drugs. He asks what Sylvie would like him to tell Gretto, and advises that it be something that will make it easy for Gretto to leave the manor.
The infant starts crying upstairs, and Niki excuses herself to go tend to the baby. Begg explains to Sylvie that the child is supposedly an orphan, and that Niki is taking good care of them. Elmer disappears up the stairs while Begg and Sylvie converse. Fermet and Czes return home.
Over the next ten days, Lotto Valentino is besieged by multiple explosions and arson cases. Begg is on standby to reach Gretto as per Sylvie's request. On the day that the Advena Avis is due to make port in Lotto Valentino, Sylvie returns to the Meyer Manor in search of Gretto, whom she heard had been taken to the workshop of an Avaro-affiliated workshop for burn treatment. Gretto is not at the manor, and Begg directs Sylvie to the Third Library. The same day, a Dormentaire ship said to be carrying Lucrezia de Dormentaire explodes on its way into the harbor. The Dormentaires place the Advena Avis under guard as soon as it makes port.
Several days pass, and Lotto Valentino's fearful residents decide to blame the ship's explosion on the city's alchemists in lieu of searching for the actual culprit. The Avaro Family severs its ties with the alchemists at the Meyer workshop, and those at the Third Library are forced to flee the city through underground waterways and catacombs.
Begg, Fermet, and Czes, along with over twenty other alchemists who have agreed to flee to North America, gather for a meeting in the underground tunnels at the behest of Dalton. Some of the men nervously suggest that it might be best to abandon the transatlantic voyage and instead flee the city while they still can—noting the might of the Dormentaire guards and the fact that none of the alchemists know how to sail. Dalton reveals that they do in fact have three qualified sailors amongst them: Nile, Denkurō Tōgō, and Zank Rowan, all sent by the legendary Majeedah Batutah. The alchemists fall into muttering at Majeedah's name.
Dalton notes that although the Advena Avis was procured by the powerful Mars Family, the alchemists should not expect any further aid from them. As the alchemists barrage Dalton with questions, Maiza slips away from the crowd and approaches Begg, Fermet, and a frightened Czes. Gretto and Sylvie join them; Sylvie offers to go fetch Czes some fruit to eat. Once she takes Czes out of earshot, Begg spits that Lord Avaro is probably desperate to silence Begg and the other alchemists because he was the one who ordered Begg to make drugs—the very same drugs that are responsible for this entire situation.
Fermet chastises Begg for disparaging Maiza's and Gretto's father, and Begg stammers out an apology. It turns out that Maiza and Gretto feel just as hateful toward their father as Begg does. Fermet gives the brothers some advice on how they should handle their emotions toward their father ( for which Maiza is grateful), and announces that he must return to the Meyer workshop to evacuate the workers to a neighboring village that he'd originally intended to send Czes to as well.
Begg grins and says that Czes will only ever follow Fermet—it is almost as if they were brothers or father and son. Fermet replies that he is "not so kind a man that he could be like a father or a brother to Czes," leading Begg and the others to regard him as humble.
The time comes for the alchemists to head for the Advena Avis. Begg pus Czes to sleep with one of his safe concoctions, and carries the sleeping boy upon his back during the trek through the waterways. He and the other alchemists finally arrive at the harbor via a secret trapdoor, only to find the city ablaze. Begg calls for Maiza to move, commenting that there would be no sense for the Advena Avis to leave without him. He proceeds to board the ship, which eventually sets sail with a pursuing Dormentaire warship in tow.
Half an hour passes, during which time the warship closes the distance between them. Victor Talbot bursts out of the freight hold, covered in soot and brandishing a flintlock pistol. He reveals that he stowed away aboard the ship a few days in advance and points his gun at Maiza, ordering him to stop the Advena Avis. Czes remains fast asleep on Begg's back despite the commotion. When Victor peers at the warship through a telescope, he and the others realize that the ship is carrying people they know: Elmer; Huey; and Szilard Quates. The three men are let aboard the Advena Avis, carrying an addendum to the passenger list courtesy of Dalton Strauss. Their names, as well as Victor's name, are on the list.
Begg spends much of the voyage looking after Czes—they explore the ship together, and some of his happiest memories consist of playing hide and seek with the boy during the trip. He is present for the summoning ritual, and drinks the Grand Panacea with the other alchemists.
Once the Advena Avis makes port in North America, most of the surviving passengers flee westward to hide from Szilard. Begg, Fermet, and Czes are among the few who remain in the port town for the first several days, along with Elmer, Huey, and Maiza. The three of them eventually leave the village too, and live together for an unknown amount of time. At some point, Begg stops living with Fermet and Czes.
By the 1930s, Begg has come into the employ of Bartolo Runorata, and is the Runoratas' primary apothecary. Bartolo has given him the ultimate word on the creation and movement of Runorata drugs.
In 1931, Begg writes a letter to Czeslaw and informs him that he is interested in buying Czes' explosives for the Runoratas, an arrangement that Czes agrees to. In early December of the same year, Maiza arranges a meeting with Begg and requests that he stop distributing drugs in Martillo territory. Begg agrees—much to Maiza's relief—and thanks Maiza for not 'eating' him, leading the Maiza to chastise him for even thinking of such a thing. As a result of their meeting, the Martillos create a temporary truce with the Runoratas and friction grows between Begg and Gustavo, the latter of whom is furious at the loss of profit. Most of Begg's and Gustavo's interactions consist of Begg openly looking down upon Gustavo, and scornfully laughing at him.
That month, Begg's main concern is locating a black case which contains his latest drug prototype—one worth a lot of money, The case was stolen in transit by a young druggie, one that the Runoratas eventually identify as Roy Maddock. Begg takes a great interest in Roy—who has unusually strong reactions to drugs—and wants him to test the drug and become his guinea pig. When Begg eventually crosses paths with Roy and his girlfriend Edith, he seizes Edith and holds a gun to her head, threatening to kill her if Roy does not dose himself with the drug (one that may very likely kill him, but one that Begg hopes will bring him joy as he dies).
Roy chooses an alternative and attempts suicide, first injecting himself with the drug and then immediately slitting his wrist—and as blood spurts out of the wound he demands that Begg release Edith. Begg is incredibly shaken, his world upheaved as he finds himself having to decide between two choices he finds anathema: if he lets Edith go, Roy will likely die smiling and totally defeat the purpose of Begg's drug; if he kills Edith, Roy will die without hope or happiness. Neither choice is what he wants, and he sinks into self-denial, filled with intense anger and hatred. Although he doesn't want to forgive Roy, he still wants to help him no matter what.
Internally, he begs an absent Maiza to tell him what to do, and wonders if this is what Maiza meant when he talked about an "impoverishment of the soul" in their earlier meeting. In the next moment, he shoves Edith towards Roy and aims the gun's muzzle at at his own head. To Roy, he says that it's not too late for him to save his life if he goes to the hospital now while Begg regenerates. He warns Roy and Edith to escape quickly, for if things continue like this he will kill the two of them.
With that, he fires.
Later on December 31, Begg meets with Czes in a bypass near a train station. Czes, who has just arrived in New York on the Flying Pussyfoot, asks Begg if he has met with Maiza. Begg nods, positively beaming at seeing Czes again. Czes prepares to tell Begg his bad news, but Begg has already heard. The explosives that Czes smuggled aboard the Flying Pussyfoot were stolen in transit. Czes notes that the explosives can't be made public—they mustn't be allowed to fall into the hands of the police, and worries that he'll be hunted by the Runorata Family for his failure.
Begg smiles a little and shakes his head, informing Czeslaw that he was the one who paid for Czes' explosives in full, and that Bartolo was not involved with the transaction in any way. Czes won't be punished in the slightest. Czes is surprised, and asks for clarification. Begg explains that he had heard about Czes' 'situation' from the information brokers, and that he had wanted to help Czes but couldn't directly give him money. Czes' face twists up with emotion, and he replies that Begg is "such a good person" who "hasn't changed at all."
Begg says that Czes is "too kind," and that ever since he gave up becoming an alchemist all he's had to date is money. He still hasn't found the happiness he's chased after, so all he can do now is just to make Czes smile so brightly like he's doing now. Sorrow flashes across Czes' smiling face, and he tells Begg that "that's plenty enough" and thanks him as the two embrace. Begg strokes Czeslaw's hair, and the boy thanks him for not eating him. Begg cries as well, and warns Czes that if he says something like that again, he will be angry.
In December 1934, Begg accompanies Bartolo, the twins Gabriel and Juliano, and other Runorata bodyguards to Chicago. It is unclear whether Begg is present for Bartolo's interrogation of Nice Holystone at Nebula's headquarters; however, he—alongside the twins and the other bodyguards—are present for Bartolo's interrogation of Rail which takes place the next day in one of Nebula's meeting rooms. Nice is also present.
Bartolo's interrogation focuses on the explosives his men have confiscated from Rail—explosives which are responsible for the recent serial bombings of Elleson Hill. These explosives are the same explosives Czes originally intended to sell to Begg before their theft on the Flying Pussyfoot; as Bartolo explains, it could spell trouble for the Runoratas should the police discover their link to the explosives when investigating the Chicago bombings. Despite Begg's indirect connection to the explosives' origins, he spends the interrogation shivering in a corner rather than participating.
Nebula Chairman Cal Muybridge eventually interrupts the interrogation with Rubik, whom he soon sends out for tea. He unties Rail's bindings and invites him to abandon Huey for Nebula, but Renee Parmedes Branvillier and her researchers enter the meeting room before Rail can respond. Rail immediately reaches for the confiscated bomb pouch, causing an ensuing scuffle which leaves one researcher shot dead and a Runorata bodyguard wounded in one arm, but ultimately manages to retrieve one of the grenades—which Rail then lobs at Renee's group.
The bomb sails past the researchers and explodes in the hallway, which allows Rail and Nice to make their escape. Renee's group takes chase, leaving the Runoratas and Cal—all of whom are unscathed—behind. Bartolo exchanges a few words with Cal before leaving the room; as he does, the shot researcher gets to his feet with no bullet wound to be seen. Begg confirms to Bartolo that the researchers are immortals—he assumes failed ones—after which the researcher bolts from the scene. The Runoratas vacate the building.
In the aftermath of the showdown in Nebula's rooftop garden, Begg, Bartolo, and the twins join Huey outside the building and watch a truck carrying Frank, Sickle, the Poet, and several Shams speed out of Nebula's underground parking lot. Once the truck has departed, Huey remarks on how reticent Begg is despite how long it has been since they last saw each other.
Begg retorts that Huey is a lunatic without Elmer around, something which Huey does not deny, and asks how Huey escaped Alcatraz. Snickering, Huey explains that he had his body torn into pieces which a "flock of his own daughter" carried to Chicago. He then turns his attention to Bartolo; after confiding he intends to carry out his experiment in New York rather than Chicago, he accepts Bartolo's invitation to lunch.
It is unknown whether Begg is among those who dine with Bartolo and Huey; however, the deal Bartolo and Huey eventually negotiate involves Begg's participation in Huey's plans. Per Huey's instructions, Begg is tasked with designed a certain 'drug' for him—something that is not the immortality elixir, but potentially within the same realm.
By February, Begg is once again in New York City and has completed the commissioned 'drug'. On the first night of the party at Ra's Lance, Begg hauls a bag full of glass containers carrying the 'drug' to a certain building—where Huey and Fermet have been conversing—some distance away from the Ra's Lance skyscraper.
As Begg traverses the building's stairs, he curses Huey for "making him" create the unidentified concoction. However, his subsequent apology to an absent Maiza and Czes—apologizing that he is not an 'ethical research' and that he isn't an ethical researcher after all and that he wants to see his drug "change the world"—implies that his involvement in Huey's experiment is not entirely unwilling.
When Bartolo dies sometime around 1972, Begg's mental state deteriorates and he retreats into the safety of his own mind, indifferent and unresponsive to the world around him. By the early 2000s he is in the care of a New Jersey hospital, his medical fees paid for by national charities alongside the acting head of the Genoard Family's general donations to the hospital. For a while, he undergoes drug therapy until the nurses conclude that it has no effect on him. The FBI are aware of his presence at the hospital and have ordered hospital staff to "not care about him."
In August 2002, Czeslaw and Maiza travel to the hospital by car. Czes elects to stay in their vehicle, and Maiza pays Begg a visit alone, sitting next to him in his room and remarking upon how today's drugs are leagues more powerful than anything Begg ever created. After that, he speaks to Begg of many things and calls his name multiple times, but no light ever enters Begg's eyes.
Believing that Begg is beyond saving, Maiza decides it would be more merciful to devour Begg than leave him to wander in eternal darkness. However, after he places his right hand on Begg's forehead, Begg speaks: reaches over to Begg's forehead, believing him to be forever lost to darkness. In the instant before he places his palm on Begg's forehead, Begg speaks: "...Czes, over there...ship's hold...see...take a look...on this ship...to America..."
Aware that Begg is relieving a happy memory, Maiza lowers his hand and promises to visit him again. Before he departs, Begg—his voice suddenly clear—thanks Maiza for not eating him.
Czeslaw Meyer: Czes is the grandson of Begg's alchemy teacher and as such, Begg looks out for him like family in the 1700s. He and Fermet jointly care for Czes once Czes is orphaned; just as Begg cares for Czes like a true guardian, Czes places his trust in him.
Some of Begg's happiest memories are of him and Czeslaw exploring the Advena Avis together, and Czes remains very dear to his heart in the years following their separation. He is openly beaming when he reunites with Czes in New York, something most uncommon to him, and supports Czes as best he can to ensure Czes does not earn the Runoratas' ire.