|“||I told you to move. I need to go find Elmer. I have to go smile for him. I'll smile enough to make up for all the smiling I haven't done. I'm going to do that right in front of him... So move.||”|
–Czes to his captors, 2001 The Children of Bottle/Chapter 4
At some point following their arrival in the American colonies, one of his guardians - Lebreau Fermet Viralesque – tortures him over a long period of time until Czes eventually devours him. With his other guardian Begg Garott having already left the family picture, Czes financially supports himself by selling explosives of his own making.
On the evening of December 30, 1931, Czes smuggles his new explosives prototype aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, intending to sell it to the Runorata Family in New York City - and intending to devour Begg and Maiza Avaro upon his arrival.
During the journey, he is tortured by the Rail Tracer as punishment for threatening the other passengers' lives. When he fails to devour Maiza upon his arrival, Isaac & Miria 'gift' him to Ennis as her new little brother. He proceeds to share an apartment with Ennis and Firo Prochainezo as their roommate.
In the 1970s, Czes and Maiza depart on a decades-long road trip in search of the surviving 1711 immortals, though they briefly return home circa 1980 to attend Firo and Ennis' wedding. By the turn of the millennium they have located Nile and Sylvie, and track down Elmer C. Albatross to a certain village in December 2001.
Maiza and Czes return home to New York in the summer of 2002. That August, Czes accompanies Firo and Ennis on their honeymoon aboard the cruise liner Entrance, which is seajacked by The Mask Makers en route to Japan. When Fermet reveals to Czes that he is alive in Kyoto, Czes is so horrified that all he can do is scream.
He is one of SAMPLE's god candidates.
Appearance EditCzesław appears to be around ten years old, though he is actually over two hundred years of age. His dark brown hair is parted neatly on the left side of his head, and he typically wears casual brown suits.
Czes keeps an unusually long scalpel-like blade attached to a leather band around his arm, hidden under his sleeve. The silver blade is wrapped in cloth so that it does not accidentally cut his skin.
(To be critically reassessed).
As a result of his trauma, Czes does not trust anyone and willingly manipulates others for his own ends. His paranoia lessens a little after he meets Isaac and Miria and reunites with Maiza in 1931, but he remains on his guard more often than not; if one of his greatest fears is the unknown, then the other is that another immortal will devour him and obtain his 'cursed' memories.Czes is emotionally still a child despite his mature thought process. His feelings and reactions to unexpected situations are often as frail and impulsive as those of a young boy - though it may be argued that they are also a result of the trauma he has experienced. He appears to be rather lonely on occasion, and is occasionally unaware or in denial about his true emotional wants and needs.
With his facade of an innocent child conflicting with his years of experience and ruthless cunning, Czesław struggles to find the best in people. He can be rather well-mannered, shy, smart and even quite charming when the situation demands it. He tends to act timid and shy in front of new people (reminiscent of how he was when he was six years old), using his appearance to his advantage.
When he was a young child in the 1700s, he was a sweet boy - totally innocent and shy when confronted by new people.
Czesław comes from a line of alchemists that stretch back at least as far as his grandfather, who was a mentor to Begg Garott and Fermet. He was born around 1701 in or on the outskirts of Lotto Valentino, and was orphaned after his parents died in a carriage accident.
Though Czeslaw does not appear personally, Begg reveals in a conversation to Maiza Avaro that his teacher's grandson was the sole survivor of an accident that took the lives of the boy's parents and grandparents. Czes is subsequently taken into Begg and Fermet's joint custody, and flees Lotto Valentino with them aboard the Advena Avis in 1711.
Over the course of the voyage, Begg keeps Czes entertained by playing hide-and seek and other games with him. Despite Czes' youth, he drinks the Grand Panacea alongside the adults and becomes a complete immortal - thus freezing his physical age at 'ten years' for enternity.
Once they reach the colonies, Fermet and Begg depart the harbor town with Czes in tow. It is unknown when Begg separates from Fermet and Czes, or when exactly Fermet starts torturing Czesław - a pastime he claims to hate, done for the sole purpose of testing the limits of immortality. Though he only uses scientific tools at first, he begins to violently beat Czes and adopt cruder methods with the passing of time.
Eventually Czes finds it within him to devour Fermet, proceeding a session where Fermet pierced his eyes with a fire-hot poker, and thus trades his physical suffering for a new hell of mental anguish. He has already concluded that there is no love in the world - only deception – but his mental agony takes on a new level in experiencing Fermet's joy at his own pain firsthand. Completely paranoid, and terrified at the thought of others witnessing his incompatible memories, he makes it his mission to seek out and preemptively devour other immortals.
By the 1930s, he has started developing explosives for monetary purposes. At some point after November 1930, he receives a letter from Maiza with the news that Szilard Quates has been devoured. Czes immediately writes back and tells Maiza that he will visit him in the wintertime and that he cannot wait to see him again. The two agree that Maiza will meet him at the train station when he arrives; privately, Czeslaw plans to devour him at the moment of their reunion.
Czes also receives another letter from an old friend now based in New York - this one from Begg, who is interested in buying Czes' explosives. He suspects that Begg is involved with the Runorata Family, and is delighted at the prospect of a profitable client (he originally considered selling his prototype to the military, but decided against it since they would realize he was using a pseudonym). They arrange a deal in which Begg will purchase the "Strawberry Ice Pop" prototype for $500,000, and makes plans to meet following Czes' arrival in New York. Like with Maiza, Czes intends to devour Begg when that moment comes.
On the evening of December 30, 1931, he arrives at Chicago's Union Station and heads for the Flying Pussyfoot - accidentally bumping into Jacuzzi Splot while navigating the busy platform. He attempts to skirt past the Young Conductor with no luck, and gives the conductor his real name before finally settling in one of the train's First Class cabins. With his bomb prototypes securely hidden on one of the freight holds, the train sets off for New York's Pennsylvania Station.
Several hours into the journey, Czes' cabinmate Mary invites him to explore the train with her, and he agrees in order to keep up his façade as an innocent child. The two run all the way to the dining car and down its aisle, resulting in Czes accidentally bumping into Jacuzzi Splot once more. Jacuzzi chokes on his food; Czes apologizes - though he is not particularly sorry at all - and Jacuzzi asks if he and Mary are all right in turn.
Mary's mother Natalie Beriam catches up with them at last, and apologizes to Jacuzzi on behalf of her daughter. Jacuzzi apologizes in tandem with Mary, much to the bemusement of his fellow barmates Isaac & Miria and the disdain of Czes; inwardly, he sneers at Jacuzzi for being such a pushover despite his tattoo, and quips that people who rely on their looks will never go anywhere in life.
Next to Jacuzzi, Nice Holystone asks Natalie if she, Mary, and Czes are a family, and Natalie realizes that she and Mary never learned Czes' name. Czes involuntarily introduces himself with his real name - Czeslaw Meyer - and pauses: he had meant to use the false name 'Thomas' rather than his real name, so there must be at least one fellow immortal on board the train.
Hiding his alarm, he explains that he is on his way to New York to see his family. Nice pats Czes' head, remembering him from the platform, and he apologizes for bumping into Jacuzzi then as well. His participation in the conversation is more autopilot than anything else, as he is far more preoccupied with scanning his surroundings; seeing no familiar faces, the frightful possibility occurs to him that his generation of immortals may not be the only immortals in existence. Unnerved, he resolves to seek out and devour the other immortal as soon as possible.
He is shaken out of his thoughts when Isaac loudly observes that if Czes had truly done something wrong to Jacuzzi, he would have been gobbled by the Rail Tracer. At Jacuzzi's confusion, Isaac launches into the legend of the Rail Racer, and Czes listens in as a means of distracting him from his anxiety. Unlike Mary and Jacuzzi, he does not believe Isaac's tale – though he privately acknowledges that if immortals and 'demons' exist, then he has no grounds to call the existence of the Rail Tracer farfetched.
Silently, Czes reasons that if the monster really does eat bad children, then it would presumably hunt him down first since "by the world's standards, [he is] nothing but evil." After all, he is currently on his way to sell a huge load of explosives to the mafia - and innocents are guaranteed to die if the explosives are used in the mafia's disputes. Furthermore, he constantly manipulates people with the persona of a child – sometimes for his inconvenience, other times out of pure misanthropy. He reminds himself that he does not care - he prefers the possibility of eternal solitude to someone else obtaining his cursed memories.
Jacuzzi is terrified enough by Isaac's story that he dashes from the car to seek out the Young Conductor, with Nice chasing after him. Shortly thereafter, the dining car is embroiled in a three-way holdup between three Lemures, Vicky, and Nick. Isaac and Miria make Czes and Mary duck and cover under the counter before they themselves lie on the ground, stick their hands in the air, and freeze.
Nick turns tail when he realizes he has brought a knife to a gunfight, and Vicky manages to kill one Lemur and wound another before being gunned down himself. When his companion Ladd Russo enters the scene, he allows one Lemur to escape and boxes the other to death. The brutal assault leads Czes to think that the White Suits could be potentially useful, and he begins plotting how to win Ladd to his side.
Ladd's friends arrive in search of him, and he informs Natalie that he will fetch for her once he has dealt with the 'Black Suits' first. Tense silence envelops the car once he leaves, but rising fear and anger lead the passengers to demand answers and refunds from the kitchen staff. The worst of the passengers is Turner, whose verbal abuse of the bartender and an assistant cook leads them to forcibly exile him to Second Class.
In the quiet aftermath, Natalie instructs Czes and Mary to find a safe place to hide until their noontime arrival the next day. Czes agrees to protect Mary for her and leads Mary out of the dining car toward Second Class. As Mary is a hindrance to his plans, he mulls over how to best rid himself of her: handing her over to the White Suits or killing her on the spot are both viable options, but he is repulsed by the thought of doing the same thing to Mary the same thing that Fermet did to him.
It is not that Czes has qualms about killing a child - his qualms are with betrayal instead, though he wishes that his memories would cease haunting him all the same. In the end, his solution is to hide Mary in a janitor's closet by a washroom in one of the Second Class cars, telling her to stay put until he returns. Since he does not want to betray her, this is a promise he actually intends to keep.
Czes heads for one of the freight cars (hiding from the white suits along the way by ducking into cabins and washrooms), and upon entering one of the cargo holds he encounters the legless corpse of one of the Lemures. Sucking in a sharp breath, he considers both the White Suits and the unknown immortal as potential culprits - uneasily dismissing the Rail Tracer in the process. It briefly occurs to him that one of the explosives he hid in the car behind this one may have ignited, but if that were the case the entire body would have been destroyed.
Losing interest in the corpse, Czes exits the hold and heads for the conductors' compartment in the hopes of running into Ladd along the way. His hope comes to fruition, when he comes across Ladd in second freight, and he compliments Ladd on his display of strength back in the dining car. Explaining that he has a favor he would like to ask, he leads Ladd into the freight hold for privacy while Ladd's companion Who stands on guard. Inside the hold, Ladd warns him not to act 'cute'; - he (Ladd) is letting Czes live after all, and Czes could very well die depending on the nature of his request.
Without further ado, Czes requests that Ladd murder all the passengers in the dining car on his behalf. At Ladd's genuinely startled expression, he drops his childish persona in favor of a much more calculating demeanor befitting of an adult; smirking, he points out that Ladd that not only will he be compensated for the job, he will be able to murder all the people he wants. Meanwhile, Czes' safety will be assured - though he asks that Ladd not inquire what Czes' definition of 'safe' is.
Ladd observes that Czes is no child, and Czes, pleased, clarifies that 'compensation' in this case means that he will give Ladd two hundred thousand dollars provided he kills _all_ the passengers. Ladd rejects the sum, countering that Czes has failed to take into account all the people he would have to kill to reach the dining car (then again, he says, they had been planning on slaughtering half of the passengers from the start), nor Ladd's own hijacking plan. If his hijacking plan succeeds, he and his friends could potentially reap ten million dollars from the railroad company; what is more, he has no guarantee that Czes will actually pay him his promised reward.
This earns him a round of biting commentary at his own expense, and when he tells Czes to stop narrating his own life, Czes claims that he can actually aid Ladd's negotiations. He explains that he is currently embroiled in his own negotiations with the Runoratas, and offers to put in a good word with them on Ladd's behalf. One of the White Suits nearby expresses doubt that the Runoratas would hide a mass murderer, but Czes waves away his concerns.
Confessing to having smuggled explosives aboard the train (and extra as contingency), Czes suggests that he can set off the extra explosives after Ladd's group has taken care of the 'rabble' in the car. The explosion will force the train to stop, providing a getaway window for the White Suits - who naturally would help Czes transport his cargo in return. He snickers as he imagines the headlines, unaware that his gaze is increasingly resembling Fermet's own.
The sheer confidence and smugness with which Czes details his grand scheme raises Ladd's bloodlust levels to their peak. Leveling the muzzle of his shotgun at Czes' forehead, Ladd declares that Czes misjudged him before blowing Czes' head clear off his neck.
All the White Suits have left by the time Czes regenerates, which he estimates as having taken about twenty seconds to complete since he regained consciousness as soon as he fully regenerated. Recalling how Fermet used to remove his head, throwing it to the floor and walls with bludgeons and knives, he realizes that this is the first time his head has been shot off.
Having written off Ladd as a "useless thug," he is about to leave when Isaac and Miria wail for Jacuzzi to wake up in the adjacent corridor. He hides behind a few cargo crates as they enter the hold; they are surprised to find the room empty, since they overheard a few men talk about murdering someone in this location after turning down that someone's offer. Czes wonders how they came to know so much, but escapes into the corridor before they discover him.
Entering the train's sole Third Class carriage, he passes a few cabins occupied by rope-bound passengers before finally reaching an unoccupied one. Attributing the lack of Lemures in the corridor to the White Suits, he decides to lay low in the cabin and observe how the situation progresses for the time being - it will be easier to make his move if one of the factions eliminates the other entirely. He closes his eyes, intending to rest (but not sleep), only to shoot to his feet at the sound of the door creaking open.
The man who stands in the doorway is coated from head to toe in blood, utterly unrecognizable as the Young Conductor (Claire) Czes had met on the platform. Adopting a childlike tone, Czes asks him if he is one of "Mr. Ladd's friends" - but the man remains silent, slamming the door behind him. Czes, filled with trepidation, introduces himself as Thomas; his fear immediately gives way to relief when the pseudonyms works, and he relaxes. After all, he has nothing to fear from a mere human.
Claire announces that Czes has been a naughty boy, and the use of Czes' real name plunges him into confusion. Disturbed by Claire's eyes, Czes tentatively, questioningly identifies him as the Rail Tracer, pleasing him greatly; he confirms both that he is the Rail Tracer, that he is aware Czes is no true child, and decides that he may as well do the world a favor by ridding it of Czes here and now. Czes shrieks, withdraws the scalpel hidden under his sleeve, and lunges with the intention of slitting Claire's throat.
The self-proclaimed Rail Tracer grabs Czes' arm, seizing the blade with his right hand and Czes' neck with his left, ripping away some of the flesh in the process. Czes moans, blood pouring from his severed carotid artery onto the floor, and he staggers back to collapse under the window. Moments later, his blood peels off Claire's hand and the floor and returns to his body.
While his fatal wound regenerating, he whines "what was that for?" before snickering that Claire had him genuinely scared for a few seconds at best. As he outwardly jeers that he has an immortal body, he privately decides that the Rail Tracer would be a perfect tool for his plan - someone like him would have no trouble murdering all the passengers. Intending to promise him immortality in exchange for a massacre, he pipes, "Hey mister, there's something I want to ask you–" only for Claire to refuse before he can even finish the proposition.
Czes freezes, and openly gapes when Claire clarifies he knew beforehand that Czes would ask him to murder the dining car patrons. Remarking that Czes' immortality is interesting, he hefts the scalpel and buries it into Czes' forehead. In spite of the excruciating pain, Czes manages to cling to consciousness and extricate the scalpel between trembling hands, bragging that even an injury like that is no longer enough to kill him.
Undeterred by Czes' bravado, Claire cracks his neck and reels off several equally horrendous tortures and deaths he could inflict upon Czes, who nonchalantly retorts that the level of pain those actions would bring him is one he is already quite used to. He rattles off a list of the brutal tortures he experienced daily at Fermet's hands, and boldly concludes that nothing Claire can do would match the kind of pain Czes is capable of enduring. Claire dismisses Fermet's tortures as infantile, his counteroffers including shattering Czes' arm bones and carefully stripping the flesh off his limbs. Considering his line of work, it is only natural for him to be familiar with all sorts of ways that one may inflict pain.
His earlier bravado nowhere to be found, Czes emits a silent cry and swings his scalpel in Claire's direction. Claire snatches the scalpel with his teeth and bites off Czes' fingers, spitting the scalpel and lumps of flesh onto the floor while Czes lets out a gurgling scream. Cradling Czes' head in his hands, he declares that what Czes fears above all else is the unknown: as someone who is so used to pain, he is afraid there may yet be a level of pain out in the world he simply has yet to experience.
Upon seeing his own terrified face reflected in Claire's eyes, Czes cannot help but wonder for the briefest of instances whether he is really an adult or a child before he bursts into tears. Claire wipes his tears away, assuring him, "I will grant you a kind of pain you have never known. Until you forget how to come back to life."
The pain that Claire proceeds to inflict upon Czes is unimaginable: he uses the scalpel to chisel away Czes' eye; he slices open Czes' artery and blows air into it - and then does the same with Czes' veins. Most of the torture that follows remains forgotten on Czes' part, as he passes out for most of it, and when he is unable to take any more he attempts to throw himself out of the window. Claire follows after him just in time, and he stops their fall by grabbing the pipes between the wheels – and then holds Czes' limbs against the fast-moving ground beneath them. Czes' legs and right arms are stripped away, but his left arm is spared when a scream from a stowaway clinging to the underside of the train catches Claire's attention.
Claire uses a thin rope to tie Czes to the pipes between the wheels before leaving to deal with the stowaway. Later on, two Lemures happen to spot his 'corpse' when one of them leans out of the window overhead. Ignoring the faint sound of their voices, Czes dazedly wonders if this is his retribution for trying to orchestrate the murders of innocent people, or punishment for the sins of his past - but finally concludes that this must be his punishment for defying the laws of nature and obtaining immortality. Without question, this must be retribution for him murdering one of the immortals' friends.
The increasing din from above finally demands his attention, and he fears it to mean the "red monster" has returned to inflict a second round of agony. He relaxes a little when no further pain comes, those he refuses to open his eyes; near delirious, he entertains the idea that this is all a dream he is having on the Advena Avis – with Szilard's massacre and Fermet's torture nothing but nightmares.
Liquid droplets splash onto his cheek and he fancies them seawater, stubbornly clinging to his fantasy. When he opens his eyes, however, he comes face to face with Isaac – the "strange gunman" from the dining car. Isaac is profoundly relieved to find Czes alive, but Czes is concerned at the bloodied scratch on one of Isaac's hands; the droplets must have been Isaac's blood. He is flummoxed further when Isaac says he is here to save him, unable to understand why Isaac would go so far for a stranger.
The droplets of blood on Czes' face quiver unnaturally, and he is horrified: Isaac must be an immortal, to say nothing of Miria, and he must have come to devour him. When Isaac starts untying him instead, Czes silently condemns his idiocy while simultaneously planning to take advantage of it – until he remembers that his right arm is no longer attached to his body, and thus despairs as Isaac removes the last of the ropes.
Supporting himself with his feet and left arm, and supporting Czes' body with his torso, Isaac reaches out to take hold of Czes' body with his right hand. Czes screams, slapping his hand away with such force that he slips out of Isaac's grasp entirely. As he falls, he grins over the success of his escape – and then, without hesitation, Isaac launches off the train in his direction.
Czes is shocked that Isaac would go to such desperate lengths for his cursed memories, and shuts his eyes as Isaac once again reaches for him with his right hand. Though he shrieks for someone to save him, Isaac's hand does not touch his head. When Miria screams Isaac's name, Czes opens his eyes and finds Isaac holding onto him as best he can as he clings to the train with his left hand.
Every jolt of Isaac's bootspurs causes his fingers to slip further, and although Miria manages to grab his hand, her strength alone is not enough to support all three of them. Now in freefall, both adults immediately embrace Czes between them in order to shield him with their own bodies; at the same time, Isaac attempts to lasso the train with a long rope attached to his belt. He misses, and the trio slam against the ground and rise into the air from the sheer force. Since Czes is shielded between them, he is little affected by the impact. In fact, he is so ensconced he is largely unaware of any of what follows.
The stowaway from before snatches up the lasso from underneath the train, and against all odds, Isaac manages to maintain his grip even as he and Miria are dragged along the ground. When the stowaway reaches their limit and accidentally relinquishes the rope, Claire catches it in the nick of time and hands it off to Donny along with instructions to pull on it as hard as he possibly can. Donny does, his strength so formidable that it lifts the trio up and over to the other side of the train. Isaac and Miria manage to climb onto the roof of the freight car with Czes in tow, and hardly stop for breath before checking to see if Czes is alive.
Their violent shaking of his frame only makes it all the more difficult for him to remain conscious, and they attempt CPR and heart massages on him to no avail. An explosion sounds off from the caboose, followed by a second explosion moments later. Isaac and Miria look over to see a mass of bloodflesh approaching them over the roofs; fearing that it is the Rail Tracer coming to finish its meal, they at first attempt to carry Czes to safety. With the bloodflesh's advancement ever steady, they finally throw themselves over Czes' prone form in a last ditch effort to protect him from harm.
The flesh seeps through the many holes in their defense, and reforms into Czes' legs and right arms. Still barely conscious, Czes has no other option but to conclude that Isaac and Miria know nothing about immortals or immortality (and that Miria's lack of bodily wounds confirms that she is immortal as well). In other words, the couple is completely defenseless with respect to devourment; it would be absurdly simple for him to place his right hand on their heads and devour them.
Though his right hand is whole once more, he cannot help but hesitate in the face of their sincere tears of joy over his recovery. If he were to devour them now and contrast their thoughts against his own, he is certain that he would never be able to forgive himself. He would eternity with a burden more painful than anything the "red monster" could possibly inflict upon him.
Similarly, for all that Miria is overjoyed she cannot help but wonder how and why Czes' limbs returned to him. Isaac confidently explains that the Rail Tracer only gobbles naughty children, and that after it ate Czes it must have realized that he was a good boy all along. Czes rejects Isaac's assumption outright, admitting that he lied to Isaac and everyone else in the dining car: the truth of the matter is that he is only visiting an acquaintance in New York, rather than his family, and for that matter he has never had a family in the first place. Before he can add, "And I never will," Isaac and Miria exclaim that he really is a 'good boy' after all. He lied so that they would not worry about him, when he was the one suffering the most all along.
Isaac thumps his chest and declares that Czes can leave everything to his dear "Uncle Isaac" from now on. Matching Isaac's stoutness with warmth, Miria cups Czes' cheek with her hand and assures him that it is all right for him to smile again; when Isaac takes charge, everything improves. Faced with nothing but overwhelming kindness, Czes' eyes fill with tears.
The trio make their way back to the dining car, where they are relieved to find the Beriams safe and sound. Mary welcomes Czes back with an innocent embrace, at which he asks himself why children are so quick to open their hearts to others; figuring that Isaac and Miria are children in their own way, he finally heaves a sigh of relief. He is so indescribably grateful that he did not kill anyone, and that he did not betray Mary. Even so, he apologizes to Mary regardless.
The Flying Pussyfoot stops once before its final destination in order to switch all the passengers to a different train. Though the stop is scheduled, the two-hour police investigation is not, and when the passengers finally reach Pennsylvania Station at 2:00 PM, December 31, they are two hours late. Czes does not exit the train until Isaac and Miria fetch him, and they present him to Ennis as her new younger brother.
Czes' eyes are only for Maiza, and he silently calls Maiza a fool for not having considered how drastically the years have changed him. Though he actively tries to summon his murderous resolve, he involuntarily calls out Maiza's name instead of devouring him. Maiza pats him on the head using his left hand, and inwardly he protests: how dare Maiza use his left hand; he has never needed Maiza's sympathy; and he tries again to rekindle his resolve only to blurt, "I missed you."
Furious, he tacitly reminds himself that he cannot trust anyone and 'anyone' includes Maiza, who is obviously planning to torture and devour him. He curses himself, curses the red monster and the 'weird' gunman for making him act this way, and all the while laments how lonely he has been. Even as he tries to convince himself to reach out his right hand, he finds himself admitting that all he has ever wanted was to reunite with someone who knew him as the naïve child he used to be. Though he will return to being his "selfish, evil self" come tomorrow, he must never even think about devouring Maiza again.
When Maiza embraces him, he sobs, and sobs, and sobs.
At some point, Czes excuses himself and heads for a bypass outside the train station. He finds Begg waiting for him as planned and asks if he met with Maiza; Begg nods, beaming all the while, and his sheer delight at seeing Czes again only makes him feel all the worse as he prepares to confess that the explosives were stolen in transit. It turns out that Begg has already heard what happened, and he agrees with Czes that the explosives must not 'go public' and fall into the hands of the police.
Czes anxiously asks if the Runorata Family will hunt him down for his failure, and Begg smiles and shakes his head. He reveals that he paid for the explosives out of his own pocket, meaning that Bartolo Runorata was not involved in the transaction and that Czes will not be punished.
Somewhat surprised, Czes why he would do such a thing; Begg explains that once he had learned of Czes' situation from the "information shop," he had immediately wanted to help him; however, as he could not send Czes the money directly, this was his next best solution.
Begg's kindness causes Czes' face to twist with emotion, and he chokes that Begg remains as good a person as ever. When he tries to thank Begg, Begg waves away the gratitude: ever since he gave up being an alchemist, money is the one thing he has to his name. With the happiness Begg once sought still yet to be found, all that he can do is the meantime is try to make Czes smile.A spark of sorrow enters Czes' eyes, and he thanks Begg again. They embrace, and as Begg strokes Czes' hair with his left hand, Czes thanks him once more – this time, for not devouring him. Now weeping, Begg murmurs that he will be angry should Czes ever dare say something like that to him again.
Czeslaw moves in with Firo Prochainezo and Ennis as their roommate following the Flying Pussyfoot, and in January 1932, he is loitering in Alveare when a woman takes a seat next to him. She is Rachel, the stowaway from the Flying Pussyfoot, and as soon as he asks her what the matter is she blurt, "I saw you die on that train." Czes informs Ennis that he will be stepping outside, and sets his honey juice down on the table before heading for the exit. Rachel follows him, and several Martillo Family capos (including Randy and Pezzo) tease him as they walk by.
He stops in an alleyway next to the honey store, and checks to make sure they are alone. Satisfied, he asks if she witnessed his death when he was shot, or when he was ground into the train tracks. At her shocked silence, he introduces himself as 'Thomas', and his relief at her mortality is so immense that he voices it out loud. When he asks if she came to the Alveare by coincidence, she admits that The President of the Daily Days told her where to find him.
Czes supposes that lying to an affiliate of the Daily Days would be useless, and reintroduces himself using his real name. He spends the next thirty minutes explaining to her the nature of immortality; when he finishes, he requests that she continue to treat him like a child. She nods and thanks him for helping her come to a decision about her life.
A man neither of them recognize calls out to them from the end of the alleyway, remarking that he seems to have just missed Firo before asking them when they became friends. Czes asks who he is, and the lack of recognition strikes the man as 'awfully cold'; even if he is no longer covered in blood, Czes surely ought to have recognized the voice of someone who tried to kill him. That being said, he assures Czes that he longer cares about killing him since the train safely reached its destination.
Realizing that the man is the Rail Tracer, Czes screams and bolts. Once he finds Isaac and Miria by the Alveare, he sticks so close to them he is practically hiding in their shadows until they enter the shop on their own. When Rachel finally emerges from the alleyway, Czes tentatively asks if "he" is gone, and lets out an audible sigh of relief when she nods. Grinning, she remarks that immortals apparently are not so different from humans after all; it turns out that they can still experience all sorts of emotions. Czes scowls and disappears into the shop.
That August, Czes plays spectator to Firo's struggles to communicate with Isaac and Miria in the speakeasy. The two have taken a keen interest in Ice Pick Thompson, a serial killer currently terrorizing the local streets, but the strange names they have been rattling off only serve to completely exasperate him. Czes comes to Firo's rescue by identifying the named figures as part of Norse and Japanese mythology, and when he asks if he has helped, Firo shrugs and points out that none of that will help him do his job. He suggests that Cze learn something useful, and Czes answers, "Right. Sorry, big brother."
Firo awkwardly replies that there was no need for Czes to apologize so seriously - but Czes, impish at his expense, only further encourages Isaac and Miria's nonsensical discussion by joining it himself. Eventually, however, Firo is successful in chasing the duo out; watching him stew in silence, Czes asks if he is worried about what Isaac and Miria said - if he is worried that he is not a good person – and assures him that he should not lose any sleep over such things. He has eternity before him, so there is no point in "debating ethics and morality over trifles." Czes proceeds to lecture Firo on how immortals should "reconcile their beliefs with the time they live in," something he was once told by fellow immortal Elmer C. Albatross.
In September, Firo allows Christopher Shaldred, Hong Chi-Mei, and Adele to sleep over at his, Ennis', and Czes' apartment for one night. Czes is present when the three strangers leave the next morning, but briefly stops Firo before he can follow after them to Mist Wall. Firo apologizes for the ruckus they made the night prior and tells Czes to not worry about Ennis' current predicament, but Czes replies that the only thing he is worried about is the truth behind Firo's new companions. He advises Firo to be careful around them, as they give him the same sort of 'vibe' that Ennis does.
Ruffling Czes' hair, Firo asks him how he can possibly compare 'weirdos' like that to someone like Ennis and offers to treat Ennis and Czes to a dinner out once everything is resolved. After Firo departs, Czes mulls over Christopher and the others' true nature some more; though he suspects that they are most likely homunculi, Szilard's death means that they cannot be his. The only other viable alchemist that Czes can think of is Huey Laforet, and a chill runs down his spin.
One day in November, Isaac is arrested and taken away by plainclothes officers in the Alveare. Firo's subsequent arrest in December finds Ennis and Czes in somber solidarity in the Alveare one week later,; Czes asks if Ennis is all right, and advises her not to worry over someone who is immortal – they have all the time in the world to reunite. Ennis smiles and remarks that Czes would know, since it took him over two hundred years to have his reunion with Maiza. Though she intends no offense by it, Czes averts his gaze.
A commotion at the front door interrupts their conversation - a man is arguing with Seina, the honey shop owner. She informs him that the restaurant is not open yet, at which he claims that he has a long history with one of their number – namely, Maiza. The man pushes his way past Seina and into the restaurant, and Czes pales immediately; the man is unmistakably Victor Talbot, an immortal from the Advena Avis.
Victor's face softens a fraction when he spots Czes, and he asks how long it has been since they ask saw each other. Around two hundred and twenty three years, by his reckoning, and though he is nothing but friendly as he takes a seat at Czes and Ennis' table Czes remains on guard and absolutely terrified of his presence.
Poised to flee at a moment's notice, Czes cautiously asks why Victor has come. Victor's answer that he wants to see Maiza is vague at best, but he answers "of course" without hesitation when Czes asks if Victor knew that he (Czes) was here. Czes suppresses a shudder when Victor says "his people" have been watching Czes all this time, and Victor deflects his inquiry as to the people's identities in favor of complaining that Czes should be happy to see him. When Czes is unwilling to drop the question, Victor's smile slips.
Victor says that Czes is not the only one with questions, and the one he asks causes Czes to gasp. What happened to Fermet? He presses Czes relentlessly on this, and when Czes whimpers, he remarks that he hopes he has made it clear that everyone has something they do not want to be asked about. He promises to drop the matter and suggests that Czes do the same about his men, smiling once more where Czes cannot.
Luckily for Czes, Maiza finally arrives and proceeds to occupy Victor's attention for most of the ensuing conversation.
Not long after, harrowing news reports delivered via radio describe Chicago in chaos, embroiled in mass bombings and mass human disappearances. The day following the reports finds Czes a little restless while in the company of Maiza and Ronny Schiatto during a bar visit. Correctly deducing that Czes is worried the bombings might extend to New York, Maiza muses that he doubts New York will be in any real danger – considering how hard its residents are to bother. In Ronny's opinion, whomever taught the locals how to live must have thus lacked a total sense of danger.
Maiza remarks that Elmer fits such a description, but that he was not the first person who came to mind. Ronny asks if he is thinking of Renee, (while Czes privately wonders both how Ronny knows Elmer and who 'Renee' is), and is so absorbed in analyzing Renee's personality that Czes has to call his name twice before he returns to his senses. At Ronny's excuse that he has had too much to drink, Maiza quips that Ronny is drunk on his own words as opposed to wine.
Czes is among those who welcome Firo back to the Alveare in January.
Come February, Randy and Pezzo approach Czes and ask what prank he plans to pull on Firo next. Czes grins and says that he plans to hide Firo's change of clothes the next time he takes a shower. As Firo looks for his clothes, Czes will have Ennis take a fresh set to him. Randy and Pezzo guffaw in approval of the scheme.
Ronny appears in the entrance of the honey shop, and when Czes politely asks him where he has been, responds that he was fixing a mistake in some documents. This strikes Czes as unusual, considering how rare it is for Ronny to make mistakes, and Ronny muses that "anyone can make mistakes" - although he does not want to make any in the near future. Czes asks him what he means, but his reply is so mysterious that Czes can only interpret it as a joke: "Well, even I can't turn back time. I was just hoping nobody will have to die."
When Ennis slips away to covertly follow Jacuzzi, Rail, Ronny, and the rest of Jacuzzi's Gang out of the Alveare, Czes follows and asks her what she is planning to do once he catches up with her. She stutters, Czes raises his voice to clarify that his question was for "both of [them]," and Annie – one of the Alveare's waitresses – pops out of hiding once she realizes the jig is up. Though Czes is unaware that she is one of Hilton's vessels, he does know that she has been acting strange all month.
Annie observes that Firo's casino is up ahead, and asks Ennis what Firo is to her. Suddenly her recent behavior makes sense; all this time, she has had a crush on Firo. As Czes listens to the women talk, he privately smirks at the thought that Annie is trying to start a one-sided rivalry with a "girl so oblivious she [doesn't] even know her own feelings."
Once the trio reaches Firo's casino, Annie encourages Ennis to enter the establishment first. A man dashes between them and into the building during their negotiations, and Annie is so frustrated by Ennis that she exclaims Ennis and Firo "just don't care at all," much to Ennis' bewilderment. Czes interrupts them, pointing out that the man who just entered the casino had a large gun.
Ennis hurries after him, leaving Czes and Annie to wait outside. That Annie is conflicted over whether she should go after Ennis seems clear enough, but what she mutters under her breath is nothing but strange – vessels, water, Czes cannot make heads or tails of it. A smattering of gunfire is soon followed by an exodus of casino patrons, who spill out onto the streets and scatter in all directions. Czes comments that the gunshots will have attracted the police, but Annie disagrees since the police are currently 'busy'.
Before Czes can puzzle out what she means, a newcomer calls out to them and asks if the 'firecracker noise' he heard came from the casino. Czes turns, and stiffens at the sight of Ladd Russo, very much alive and in the company of several men and one woman. With a smile, Ladd remarks that Czes looks familiar; with little time to spare, he wracks his memories for a few seconds at most before shrugging and returning his attention to the casino.
Noticing that Annie is glaring at him, Ladd pauses briefly to acknowledge her before he and his group head downstairs into the casino.
Annie prepares to head inside when the din from the casino finally quiets down, but Czes stops her; as amused as he would be to personally watch Firo suffer 'women troubles,' he would rather he experience those troubles in a safer location.
A girl's voice breaks him out of his reverie. "Oh my goodness, Czes! ...Is that you, Czes?", and Czes turns to find a girl a little older than his physical age standing behind him. She is relieved that she was not mistaken, and Czes finally recognizes her as Mary Beriam, three years older. Still as innocent as ever, Mary asks if Czes was always shorter than her. Sweating, he claims that he is still waiting to have a growth spurt.
Mary expresses her gratitude for Czes' actions back on the Flying Pussyfoot - without the courage he lent her, she may very well have died back them. As she pulls into a tight embrace, he internally frets over the prospect of them becoming friends and the risk that she might discover his immortality.
As he curses his fate for having led him to her, a boy asks Mary if "this [is] the boy" who saved her life on the train. Czes peers over Mary's shoulder to see a young teenager around Mary's age watching them, and the boy adds that he and his friends will go pay Melvi a visit inside the casino. In the meantime, Mary ought to wait for them on the pavement. As the boy and his entourage enter the casino, flanked by identical twin bikers, Czes shivers with the realization that they are likely mafia and wonders what on earth Firo has gotten himself into.
After a couple of minutes, an unfamiliar man exits the casino and frantically flees down the street. Maiza arrives on the scene not long after, and he asks Czes and Annie if they are unharmed. When Annie reports all the gunfire and other sundry noises from the casino interior that they have been privy to, he orders all three of them to leave the area and find shelter before disappearing down the casino stairs.
Mere seconds later, Melvi and Claire ascend the stairs and exit the casino. One look at Claire sends Czes bolting, not even bothering to scream in the process.
The evening of the next day, Czes and Ennis are alone in their apartment when an explosion rocks the flat. Czes is caught up in the blast, and he can only impotently watch as several unknown men arrive to escort Ennis from the premises. Upon regenerating, he races to the Alveare without regard for his tattered clothes; ignoring Maiza and Seina's calls, he dashes straight for Firo (who is on the phone with Melvi) and apologizes over and over again as he explains what has just transpired.
With their apartment no longer livable, Czes temporarily moves in with Maiza but returns home several times over the next few days, enduring brief questioning from the police in the process. While contemplating the destroyed furniture on one such visit, he worries over Ronny's recent absence and can only assume that the capo is working something out in the shadows.
Returning to the matter at hand, Czes grouses that he owes Firo and Ennis for this, and grudgingly acknowledges that he has changed since coming to this city. Then, he finds himself caught off-guard when he is unexpectedly joined by Rail – the distinctly scarred child among the gang members Ennis had followed a few days prior. He says as much, and bluntly asks if Rail is a boy or girl. Rail answers that either will do, as they do not particularly care either way, and they ask whether Czes is a rubbernecker or resident of the ruined apartment.
Czes awkwardly passes himself off as Firo's pseudo-younger brother, and Rail hesitates before asking if he is one 'Czeslaw Meyer'. It turns out that Rail already knows Czes is an immortal, so Czes drops his childish persona to ask if Rail is one of Szilard's people. Rail denies that they are connected to anyone, though they admit that they are Christopher's friend. Soon enough, Rail reveals that they design explosives just like Czes – and they show him a tiny bottle of pink powder that they bought in Hollywood. Czes immediately recognizes it as Strawberry Ice Pop, the prototype he designed back in 1931.
He admits to Rail that he's an alchemist, and that he was the one who made the explosive.
In the 1970s, Czes volunteers to join Maiza on a decades-long road trip around the world – no longer comfortable facing his friends out of fear that he is evil while they are good. Maiza's goal is to track down the surviving immortals from the Advena Avis and inform them of Szilard's demise, a task that proves as daunting as it sounds. They return home briefly circa 1980 to attend Firo and Ennis' wedding, but it is not long before they are off once more.
It takes them considerable amount of time and effort just to find Sylvie and Nile, and they are so bereft of leads on Denkurō that their approach to finding him amounts to "visiting Japan and hoping they stumble across him." This proves a fruitless venture, and Hoping that they will have better luck with Elmer for now, they switch targets. Maiza goes so far as to pay an information broker for any information on Elmer's whereabouts, and he, Czes, Sylvie and Nile eventually travel to a certain European country solely on the broker's advice that Elmer is residing in a village there.
The quartet sets out for the village via automobile on December 23, 2001, navigating through a dense forest with Maiza at the helm, Czes in the passenger seat, Sylvie in the back, and Nile asleep in the trunk. On the way, they speculate about the village and Czes' uneasiness about the forest; Maiza agrees that the forest is strange - the trees are growing impossibly close to one another despite the lack of sunlight to support them.
Their way is soon blocked by a long-collapsed tunnel, which Maiza explains must have been the entrance to the private property ahead of them. Czes is confused - he thought that Elmer was in a village. Maiza clarifies that the village is inside the private property, presses the accelerator, and they rev over the hill and down its steep incline to the other side to Nile's immense discomfort.
After five kilometers or so, the group arrives at the village entrance. They park along the main path and survey the buildings, which seem to be a few centuries out of date, give or take. A lone girl stands in the middle of the road, and the group realizes that villagers are staring at them everywhere they look. Czes suggests that they leave while they can, but Maiza is determined to find Elmer no matter what it takes.
Maiza exits the vehicle to greet a bearded man flanked by men carrying clubs and old early 20th century rifles. The leader notes that Maiza is not the peddler and asks who he is; Czes and Sylvie take the opportunity to exit the automobile as well. The leader - apparently the mayor, Dez Nibiru - strongly dislikes outsiders and asks them to leave, muttering something about a 'demon' before falling silent.
At Maiza's prodding, Dez snarls that there is a monster living in this village - one Elmer C. Albatross - and he insists that they leave posthaste. With the atmosphere growing ugly, Czes scrambles back into the car just in time for Dez to order for the villagers to seize the intruders. A young man next to him fires his rifle; the bullet rips through Maiza's thick pants and heavily grazes his thigh, sending blood everywhere. The blood soon recedes back into Maiza's body; terrified at the presence of another 'demon', one of the men grabs Sylvie with the intention of taking her hostage.
Nile reaches through one of the car windows to drag the man inside the vehicle. The back door bursts open, he sends the man flying, and he leaps onto the vehicle's roof in all his regal glory. His appearance terrifies the villagers further, and the fact that he does not speak their language helps precisely no one.
The confrontation is brought to a halt when 'the messengers' arrive – three extremely similar-looking girls in Santa-like attire, each of them on horseback. One of them informs Dez that the group are "Master Elmer's guests" and that she is supposed to take them to the castle.
Maiza, Sylvie, and Nile pile back into the car, and discuss the girls as they follow them to the castle in question. Czes wonders if the villagers are cultists, a possibility that is too early for anyone to rule out.
When they arrive at the castle and park in its courtyard, Czes observes that its architecture is not that of a north European style. Furthermore, that everything is festooned with Christmas decorations is a sure sign that Elmer is here; in Czes' opinion, "Only Elmer would go to such lengths for something so worthless." Sylvie opens up the trunk and rouses Nile from his nap.
Maiza and Czes enter the great hall, where they hear a low chuckle all around them. The voice threatens them with theatrical lines and dramatic flair, but they immediately identify it as belonging to ELmer. The voice protests, but the speaker drops his hoarseness and speaks normally - he is Elmer after all, and Czes smirks that he has not changed a bit. There is silence for a moment, and then Elmer lets out a surprised shout: "Hold on a second! Is that... Czes... and Maiza?!"
A moment later, a silhouetted figure drops from the ceiling and hits the floor. He scrambles upward and calls for the shutters to be opened. The shutters are opened accordingly - though Czes and Maiza can't see who opened them - the light reveals that the figure is clothed entirely in black with a black eyeholed sack over his head. He pulls off the sack, and Maiza is delighted at the sight of Elmer's smiling face.
The three have a happy reunion, during which Czes and Maiza learn that Elmer truly had no idea they were the village's newcomers. Another ridiculous reunion ensues when they are joined by Sylvie and Nile, and Czes stands to the side as the others laugh. Muttering that Elmer and Sylvie have not changed in the slightest, he bitterly adds, "...Maybe I'm the only one who's changed."
When Elmer calms down, Maiza catches him up on the fate of their fellow 1711 passengers and explains how he has spent the last few decades. It turns out that Elmer knows all about what Denkurō has been up to recently, as he unexpectedly ran into him in Japan back in 1991. Elmer decides that he will laugh, now knowing the trouble that Maiza and the others have gone through for is sake, and he proceeds to forcibly laugh so hard that he chokes on his own stomach acid and collapses.
Czes crouches over Elmer and asks if he is all right, putting a hand to Elmer's cheek. Slowly, he moves his palm to Elmer's forehead, and is dissatisfied when Elmer fails to react in the slightest. When Elmer thanks him, he retreats to brood in silence.
Maiza has plenty of questions he wants to ask Elmer, none of which Elmer is interested in answering at the present time. He escapes the room with a magician's flair, and from an unseen location announces that they will play a game: he will hide from them over the next month while he continues his work: if they catch him, he will tell them everything they want to know as a reward.
A girl enters the room carrying tea. She is not identical to the girls who led them to the castle, but she is dressed the same and physically very, very similar. Czes adopts his child persona and asks what her relation is with Elmer. Her answer is blunt: she is a sacrifice.
That night, Czes climbs up to the roof of the watchtower, using the handholds by the window. There, he finds Elmer reclining on the steep slope of the roof and looking up at the stars. Elmer congratulates him on finding the handholds, and Czes remarks that the castle's design is a hodgepodge of different styles - very odd. He walks carefully towards Elmer, who springs to his feet (despite the slope) and declares that Czes can't catch him. Czes asks where Elmer plans to run.
Czes sits down on the roof and leans back against it, stating that he just wants to talk about something personal. Elmer steps closer, and Czes comments that Elmer still loves high places at night - recalling how the man used to spend every night up in the lookout platform to watch the stars back on the Advena Avis. Elmer is impressed that Czes worked out where he'd be from that alone; he had not expected to be found on the first day.
Elmer asks what Czes wants to talk about, and chastises him for his fake smile. Czes's expression turns mature and sharp, and then to confusion when Elmer asks him why he is suddenly 'acting' like an adult - surely Elmer must have realized his child persona was just that – an act. Elmer had not. He apologizes, admitting that he probably should have thought it strange that Czes was still acting like a child after three hundred years.
Czes quietly responds that Maiza has not once addressed his childish persona in the seventy years the have been together, and Sylvie and Nile appear to have noticed nothing. He asks Elmer what he thinks of Czes and the other immortals, and Elmer replies, "Companions." He then flounders for a better word, finally settling on "in cahoots" to describe their relationship.
Elmer enthuses that Czes should take advantage of his eternal youth and smile like a child should. After all, he can do lots of things that adults cannot, and he can always act like an adult whenever it suits him. If people see a child smile, they will be happy. Czes retorts that he has never understood Elmer's predilection for smiles, and wonders how someone so illogical can be an alchemist.
After Elmer rambles on for a while, Czes finally asks him why he never asked who devoured Szilard. Why did he welcome them so easily when they could have been planning to attack him. Why did he not react when Czes put his hand on Elmer's head. How can he be so blind to danger, and how could he have possibly believed that none of them had changed over the centuries.
Elmer sheepishly admits that he completely forgot that immortals could devour each other. Czeslaw is flabbergasted and accuses him of lying, but Elmer insists that he did not wander the world in order to avoid the other immortals. Even if he had remembered, he would have welcomed them all the same. Czes furiously denies his claim, and Elmer grabs Czes' right hand and presses it against his own forehead. Cold sweat runs down Czes' back, and he wrests his hand away.
Elmer asks if Czes believes him now, and Czes looks away. He asks how Elmer could do something like that, how Maiza, Begg, Sylvie and the others welcomed Czes so sincerely and without fear. How can all the immortals be so open with each other now, and how can they possibly believe that nobody will try to eat the others. Czes launches into a rant about how people are fundamentally evil - a belief that he has admittedly started to doubt as of late. He confesses that he planned to eat Maiza upon their reunion, and that he has met a whole new batch of immortals who are all individually good people.
Without warning, Czes blurts that he devoured Fermet. That had believed everything Fermet told him even as the other immortal tortured him over and over, right up until Fermet tried to devour him. He describes the ensuing 'hell' he endured once he devoured Fermet, stemming from the realization that the person he had trusted most was full of malice...and stemming the torment he endured simply by possessing the memories of his torturer. And so he came to despise the world, and so - he does not understand how everyone is so good to him. It feels as if he is the only "bad person" on Earth.
Elmer says that he envies Czes. He elaborates: if 99.9% of the people in the world are evil, Czes has had the good luck to meet the people from the remaining 1% ever since he boarded that train. Czes in turn envies Elmer's optimism, and asserts that he's the only one out the group who is changing. He's becoming worse and worse, and that makes him so furious he can't stand it.
So saying, he walks over to the handholds and prepares to descend. Elmer points out that if Czes worries so much about being a 'bad person,' then he can just become a good one. He says that Czes didn't change, he just "grew up" and came to see both the good and bad parts of the world. If he really believes that he changed drastically, then he can just change again. Czes asks why it matters to Elmer whether he (Czes) changes or not, and Elmer reminds him that he looks better when he smiles. If Czeslaw ever wants to smile, Elmer will help in anyway he can - as long as he does not have to kill anyone, or die himself.
Czes replies, "Then if I told you to jump off the roof right now, would you? That wouldn't kill you."
With a cry, Elmer jumps off the roof and dies upon impact with the ground. Maiza and the others investigate the noise and are surprised to find Elmer's corpse; removed from the commention, Czes gazes at the stars and mumbles that while he appreciates Elmer's efforts, he still cannot bring himself to smile. He wrestles with the matter of Elmer all throughout the night, wondering how Elmer could have acted the way he did to someone he has not seen in nearly three centuries.
The next day (Christmas Eve), Czes and the others sit at the long dining table in the dining hall. At the head of the table, Elmer is tied up hand and foot in the chair (courtesy of the other immortals). Czeslaw keeps his mouth shut about his and Elmer's conversation on the rooftops, and as the others talk he turns his thoughts back towards the matter of Elmer. He could dismiss Elmer as a simpleton, but in reality he knows that Elmer is "infinitely calculating. He wanted to make people smile [...] with a firm, scheming objective in mind." From his bound position, Elmer encourages Czes to cheer up.
Elmer finally relays the story of his first days in the village to the group, which involved him dying numerous times and eventually culminated in the villagers giving a young girl to him every year as a sacrifice (he'd requested live sacrifices), which is why he now has a troupe of young girls assisting him. The interrogation is cut short when he sets off a smoke canister and dislocates his joints in order to escape the ropes. From somewhere in the ceiling, he calls down to them and assures them that everything will be revealed come February.
On December 26, Czes and Sylvie speak with to Feldt Nibiru, whom they had discovered spying on Sylvie and Fil (the young girl[s]) earlier in the courtyard. During their conversation, Sylvie explains that she and Czes are immortals like Elmer, and are confused when Feldt asks about the "monster" that inhabited the castle before Elmer arrived. At Feldt's curiosity, she recounts the story of how she and Czes became immortal, and why she became an alchemist. At Felt's prompting, she describes the outside world to him.
When night falls, Czes and Sylvie escort Feldt to the castle gate. Feldt wants to tell the villagers all about the immortals, but Czes warns him not to - the villagers might think that they possessed Feldt if he suddenly starts spouting praise about them. After Feldt leaves, Sylvie comments that it is not unlike Czes to give warnings on others' behalfs. Czes brushes her off; in truth, he wants to keep the immortals from accidentally starting a witch hunt. What would happen to Fil? He is weak when it comes to children, and he cannot help but recall Mary from seventy years in the past.
Czes muses that the village is an enclosed space just like that train had been, and he nervously reassures himself that there is no Rail Tracer in the village. He returns to the castle.
Later, he and the others concoct a plan to capture Elmer. He and Sylvie hide under the stairs, while Nile and Maiza hide by a doorway - meanwhile, Fil lies to Elmer and says that his friends are in the drawing room. When Elmer walks through the entrance, Maiza and Nile grab hold of his arms, and Sylvie and Czes emerge from the staircase. Elmer realizes that the immortals have figured out the peculiarity of Fil: Fil is all the same person. All the girls in the castle are controlled by a single consciousness - Fil – a hive-mind homunculus. Maiza explains how they came to this conclusion, and then demands that Elmer finally explain the village to them.
Elmer refuses to budge, affirming once more that he will only reveal all in February. After all, the Peddler arrives in February and he can explain it much better than Elmer can.
Over the next week, and presumably throughout January, Czes spends most of his time reading the books in the castle library.
When February finally arrives, Czes and the others gather at the castle gate at the sound of an engine. There is a colossal snowmobile parked outside the gate. Through the windshield, they can make out the driver - whose face is completely obscured by a facemask, goggles, and helmet. Elmer introduces him as the peddler. Waving at the man, he asks him to give "them" (the immortals) a ride on his way back.
The peddler turns the snowmobile around and roars down the mountain road. Elmer informs them that the peddler will be back in an hour, and he disappears back into the castle. When the peddler returns, Maiza, Elmer, and one of Fil's vessels climb into the snowmobile truck's storage container. They leave the premises.
Night falls with Maiza and Elmer having yet to return, and Czes remarks on their lateness to Fil when he joins her by the castle gates. He enquires as to what is happening on their end, but she does not answer; instead, her expression becomes terribly frightened, and she starts to cry. Czes assures her that "everything's going to be all right," though he doesn not understand what is going on.
Before she can answer him, a villager approaches Czes from behind and swings a heavy club down onto his head, knocking him out. A moment later, he does the same to Fil. When Czes regains consciousness, he finds that his arms are bound and that he is lying on the floor of an unknown location. People whisper around him; he elects to keep his eyes mostly shut and squints as discreetly as he can at his surroundings – as far as he can tell, he is in the hall of a house. From the warmth and crackling sound there must be a lit fireplace behind him.
Two other bound people are one the floor beside him, and he recognizes them as two of the five Fil - the one who'd been with Czes by the gate, and the other one who had been in the village. The villagers notice that Czes has woken up, and one of them viciously kicks Czes in the side. One of them accuses Czes and the girls of a botched attempt to poison the well, and of murdering Mayor Dez when he tried to stop them. Czes has no idea what he is talking about. The villager kicks Fil in her stomach - but she remains unconscious. Czes instinctively shouts at the man to stop, and regrets it immediately.
The man kicks Czes several times more as punishment for the outburst. Adopting his childish persona, Czes asks why the men kidnapped him if he only learned about the so-called poison after bringing Czes and the Fils to the house. The villager sneers and says that they know Czes is three hundred years old, so he may as well stop playing pretend. Czes sighs, assuming that Feldt must have blabbed to the townsfolk after all.
He drops the act as ordered, and the man tries to play it off - though it is clear that he is shaken by the dramatic personality shift. Czes asks who kidnapped them and why, and the man replies that Czes looked like the weakest of the 'monsters' and was thus the ideal hostage to use against them. Czes points out that he is immortal (so hostage tactics really only get them so far) and the man counters that they can drag him to the smithy, mix him into a vat of molten steel and then pour him into the well. Czes shrinks back at that, wondering if he would be able to return to his original form after being mixed into a block of solidified steel.
The man pulls out a pair of pliers, reminding Czes that he should still be able to feel pain. Czes' face twists in fear, and he again asks whose plan this was with the expectation that the answer will be Dez. Instead, the man attributes the plan to Feldt; shocked, Czes curses himself for idiotically believing in Feldt after a mere day's worth of conversation, and for believing him right up until this very second. had believed in him right up until just now.
Czes sighs at how soft he has become, and out loud he admits that he really should have seen this coming. Of course, this doesn not begin to compare to some of the betrayals he's experienced in the past. He automatically reverts to talking like a child (despite the fact that his mind is colder than ever) and his 'innocent' voice he divulges that it had been so long since someone betrayed him he almost forgot what it felt like.
Meeting the man's eyes, he concludes that the villagers are nothing like Fermet. Recalling Fermet's actions and comparing them to the villagers' actions, he concludes that he feels no fear towards these "cowards," and that their eyes possess the same fear that he saw in Fermet's eyes right before he murdered him. Czes cackles at this revelation, spluttering that they are all the same – Fermet, the villagers, everyone. As he forces himself to his feet, he declares that Elmer was right: he has been living in a blessed world all this time, completely ignorant of how lucky he has been. He's been throwing away the opportunity for a happy life all this time.
With that said, Czes flings himself backwards into the roaring fireplace. Once the fire burns away the ropes, he stands, wreathed in flame and smoke. Half of his clothes have crumbled to ash, and the rest are "burning merrily" on his limbs. A good portion of the flesh on his face melts away, and he makes sure that the villagers get a good long look at how the flesh slides back up into place.
Paying the agony no heed, he emerges from the fireplace and orders the leading man to move. The man lets out a pathetic shriek as he flees, and Czes uses his scalpel to cut the ropes binding the Fils on the floor. Despite the fact that parts of his flesh are still on fire, he smirks and orders the villagers to move – he has to see Elmer. Ripping the remnants of his clothes from his body, he announces that he has to go show Elmer the smile on his face; he has to make up for all the happiness he has missed until now.
He tosses the burning clothes in the direction of the clustered villagers, concentrating on not collapsing from the pain as he urges the girls to escape with him. The three of them exit the building; in the doorway, they are forced to stop at the crowd of villagers blocking their way - some of them armed with rifles. As he ponders what to do next, he hears Nile roar out his name.
Barging through the villagers on horseback, Niles dismounts as soon as he reaches the house. Czes cheers Nile's name despite himself, and Nile, enraged, swears merciless vengeance on those who would dare set his companions alight. Czes realizes that Nile thinks the villagers tried to burn him to death, but Nile hurls himself into the throng of villagers before Czes can correct him. A villager buries his hoe in Nile's body; Nile grabs the hoe and prepares to swing it down upon the villager in turn.
Czes shouts for him to stop before he commits murder, but it is only the honk of a car horn that gives Nile pause. The villagers turn to look at the source of the noise and immediately scatter in panic as the peddler's truck barrels towards them. Nile stands his ground, and raises his hand in greeting – only the truck does not stop, and instead plows into him head on. The impact throws Nile back, and he lands next to Czes in a bloodied heap. As the blood reverses, Nile springs to his feet and shakes Maiza by his collar for his reckless driving. From inside the trunk, Elmer (with two other Fils inside) calls for them to get moving; once everyone is situated in the truck, Maiza speeds away from the scene at top speeds.
Eventually the truck runs out of gas, and the group are forced to walk up the mountain pass. Without his clothing, Czes passes out from the cold just about instantly, and Nile carries his body on his back for the rest of the trek. Once they reach the castle gates, they try to talk Fil down from of giving herself up to the villagers. One of the Fils starts shuddering, and reports ill news: a monster has stolen away Miss Sylvie. Furious, Nile chucks Czes' comatose body at Maiza and charges into the castle with Elmer.
Czes soon wakes up as his body warms, and Fil's report that Feldt is attacking Nile and Elmer, sends him and Maiza hurrying to the graveyard. There, they find Feldt has taken on the form of crimson flesh, smashing their friends' bodies against the ground over and over. It is unclear how much of the ensuing commotion Czes witnesses.
When a week passes, Elmer throws Fil's 'water' into the village well. Once the villagers drink the tainted water, they experience Fil's memories and the abuse they inflicted upon her firsthand.
Czes and Elmer travel to the laboratory of Bilt Quates (the peddler) outside the forest. There, Czes remarks that he never expected Elmer to have such a vindictive streak. Elmer explains that he believes this is a fitting punishment for the villagers - they realize the brunt of their crimes, but they cannot beg Fil for her pardon. Teasingly, he asks Czes when he will smile for him - he heard that Czes was shouting something along those lines back when he escaped from the villagers. Czes gapes at him, and then curses Fil for snitching. Flushing, he adamantly refuses to smile in front of Elmer for the rest of his life.
Czes and the immortals stay at Bilt's laboratory for the next half year, working towards a solution to ensure that homunculi can survive outside the forest. When their research is concluded, Maiza decides that he plans on briefly returning home to New York before resuming his search for Denkurō, and Czes elects to join him. Elmer, Nile, and Sylvie decide to head to Japan first thing, with Nile and Sylvie looking forward to reuniting with Denkurō.
(Chronology of 2002-A and 2002-B to be added).
On the Advena Avis Czeslaw drank the Grand Panacea and obtained true immortality, meaning he cannot age, get sick, be injured, or die via conventional means.
It can be assumed that due to the constant torture Czes has received over the years, he is a quick healer - though the rate of his regenerative abilities is currently unmeasurable. It is telling that his blood was able to catch up with him on a speeding train. He also has a fairly high tolerance for pain, considering all that he has been through (an acid bath, red-hot pokers....to name a few methods).
Czes is highly intelligent, and talented in the art of manipulation. Quick-witted and surprisingly charismatic when the need arises, he nearly convinces Ladd Russo to go along with his scheme aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, and the vast majority of the time is able to pass himself off as a perfectly believable boy of ten.
Though not as well-versed as his relatives or Begg Garott in alchemy, Czes is an alchemist by trade and specializes in explosives; he is the creator of Strawberry Ice Pop (the explosives that Jacuzzi's gang stole from the Flying Pussyfoot) and continues his alchemical pursuits for years.
Lebreau Fermet Viralesque - Fermet was an alchemic student of Czesław's grandfather, and served as his guardian after his father died in an accident when Czes was six years old. Fermet acted as a kind and concerned guardian to Czes in the ensuing years, often expressing concern for Czes' welfare. Czes trusted Fermet in turn, and trusted in his intentions even as Fermet tortured him with his own hands. The trust was only broken one he absorbed Fermet's memories, and he has had incredible trust issues ever since. The trauma he experienced at Fermet's hands affects him to the present day, and he is utterly horrified to see Fermet in 2002.
Maiza Avaro - Maiza first met Czes in 1707, at a party hosted at the Avaro manor. Though the two rarely interacted, Maiza was concerned for Czesław's safety before and after boarding the Advena Avis. Czes' plans to devour him in 1931 are thrown for a loop when he experiences Isaac and Miria's trust in him, and he ends up bursting into sobs when Maiza unconditionally forgives him. Maiza is one of the very few people that Czesław genuinely trusts, and the two are good friends.
Ennis - Realizing that neither have any family, Isaac and Miria present Czeslaw to Ennis as their "souvenir" from California after disembarking the Flying Pussyfoot. Czes serves as her 'little brother', living with her and Firo in their apartment, and the two are comfortable viewing each other as genuine siblings.
Mary Beriam - The two first meet on the Flying Pussyfoot and were playing together in the dining car. When Ladd's White Suits and the Lemures hijack the train, Czes made his escape with Mary at her mother's request. He soon abandons her in a closet, considering her a hindrance, but is sincere in his promise to return to her as he cannot abide betrayal. He is genuinely relieved when she proves to be safe.
The two unexpectedly encounter each other over two years later in 1935, and Mary comments that she has matured while Czes has remained the same. Czes admits to himself that he is glad she survived, and feels guilty over his mental attitude towards her in 1931.
Claire Stanfield - Czes has been terrified of Claire ever since the Flying Pussyfoot incident, fleeing from him every time they encounter each other. He is wary of Claire's great-grandchildren Claudia and Charon Walken in turn, as Claudia's personality greatly resembles that of her great-grandfather.
- His first name: Czesław (Pronounced in Polish as: Chess-wahf), contains the Slavic elements 'czes' (meaning 'honor') – and 'slav' (meaning 'glory'). His last name "Meyer" on the other hand comes from the middle high German word "meiger," meaning high or superior, used often for landlords.
- Czes has used the names "Thomas" and "Benjamin" (the latter in the dub) as false names.
- He uses Thomas because it is the first name of Thomas Edison, the famous inventor who died in 1931, and thus a name he would not accidentally forget en route to New York.
- Czes is 'well-versed' in Japanese as of 2002. He has apparently been to Japan many times in the past (it is his fifth visit to Kyoto at the end of the 2002 arc), which we are to infer is the reason for his fluency.
- The cargo Czes hides aboard the Flying Pussyfoot was packed in the following manner: half of it was in a special container in powder form, and the other half was processed into dynamite and ceramic grenades. He called the explosives "Strawberry Ice Pop" according to 1935-C: The Grateful Bet.