Baroquism Syndrome Volume 2


  • "Grotesque I"
  • "Grotesque II"
  • "Grotesque III"
  • "Special Hunter"
  • Translator’s Notes

Baroquism Syndrome

Scenario/Editor: Kazunari Yonemitsu
Author: Mariko Shimizu

Volume 2: Grotesque

"Grotesque I"

    65 days since the Suzume incident.
    61 days of nonstop rain.
    It seemed unusual for the time of year, but nobody remembered what normal weather was like anymore.
    Returning to my office in the tedious rain, I found a girl I didn’t know sitting in my chair.
    “What the hell are you doing?”
    The girl startled and froze, but made no attempt to escape as I approached. I caught hold of her arm with my left hand, while my right checked the state of the computer she had been fiddling around with.
    “That hurts. Let me go. I didn’t break anything!”
    “If you have broken anything, I’ll make you hurt even worse.”
    However, my programs and files appeared to be intact. The girl was peeling my hand off of her arm, one finger at a time.
    “Told you. I didn’t do anything wrong, see?”
    “Don’t get smart with me. Entering a person’s office without permission is a crime. What were you planning to do here?”
    “... treasure hunt.”
    “There’s no point in acting all Baroque with me. I’m very accustomed to them, seeing as they’re my business.”
    “I know. You’re Kitsune Kanazawa, a Baroque Salesman. I’m Ruby Watanabe, a professional drifter.”
    She was so stupid that I lost any motivation to be angry.
    Ruby was a strangely unbalanced girl.
    She was short, with delicate hands and feet like those of a child. Despite this, her figure was feminine and her manner of speaking subdued.
    One might say that she could pass for any age between 12 and 22.
    “I really am on a treasure hunt. But my treasure is an image file of a monster.”
    The unusually large whites of Ruby’s eyes stared at me, as if to gauge my reaction.
“Have you heard the rumors going around lately? That the perpetrator behind all those recent Splatter Killings isn’t a human, but actually a monster?”
    The word “monster” struck a chord immediately, but I feigned ignorance as I responded.
    “Probably just a bunch of layabout drifters like you spreading rumors for fun.”
    “But the rumors are probably kinda true, at least the parts about how nobody knows what the killer is. Everyone tells me different things. Some say the monster looks like a squid, others say it’s like a giant tire, or that its internal organs are stuck to the outside of its body. Some even say there are a whole bunch of monsters.”
    “Yeah, sure.”
    “Only there’s no proof because anyone who’s gotten a good look at it dies. But they say there’s a guy in a Baroque Shop that’s got a picture of a monster.”
    “Where did you hear a rumor like that?”
    “That one just sprung up out of nowhere.”
    So who was it? Not even Suzume should know about it, since I took a copy of that data while he was unconscious.
    “Kitsune, do you remember a Baroque kid named Meg Hasegawa? You composed a cute Baroque for her about how she was a princess in a previous life. That kid was my friend. So when I heard rumors about a Baroque Shop, I immediately thought of you.”
    “Oh, I see.”
    So out of all the Baroque Shops out there, it was just a coincidence that Ruby came to mine… probably.
    “Is Meg doing well as a princess?”
    “No. She became a victim of the Splatter Killings.”
    “... I, uh… I see…”
    The ‘Splatter Killings’ Ruby spoke of were bizarre murder cases that had been rapidly increasing in number these days. From bodies that had been diagonally bisected to corpses with chunks of flesh bitten out of them, all of the victims were discovered in horrific states. These incidents were distinct from the so-called Baroque Murders, because the forces applied to the bodies were seemingly beyond the limits of human strength...
    “Meg was killed by a monster.”
    “I see. Sorry about Meg, but that nonsense is either the product of a Baroque or some old comic book story.”
    In any case, I had no obligation to keep playing along with Ruby.
    “I’m telling you the truth. Here, look!”
    Without warning, Ruby unbuttoned her shirt. Pulling her shoulders free, she turned her back to me while crossing both hands to cover her breasts. The white of her slender back was tinged blue.
    Two wounds had recently been carved into her back. Just below either shoulder blade ran a long and narrow scar which made it appear as if the flesh had been gouged out of her back.
    If angels existed, wouldn’t these be the type of scars they’d have after their wings were ripped off?
    “I was right next to Meg when she was killed. All of a sudden I was attacked from behind, and then I was out cold…”
    I was at a loss for words.
    “Hey, Kitsune. There really is a monster, isn’t there?! You have a picture of it, don’t you? Please tell me, Kitsune!”
    Ruby’s back was trembling.

Volume 2: Grotesque

"Grotesque II"

    “Kitsune, why do you want to go out of your way to visit a place where people get killed?”
    The outskirts of the city center were dark and deserted at night.
    The rain pelting her bare feet, Ruby avoided puddles by hopping along as she walked.
    “I thought you said the police had already cordoned off the area so it should be safe, right?”
    “Aren’t you scared though? It might be haunted, this is District Zero we’re talking about.”
    “I don’t believe in ghosts, and anyway, I’ve already been to District Zero a few times.”
    “You never know…”
    Ruby eyed me suspiciously from under her twirling umbrella.
    - I don’t have the image file you’re looking for, but I have seen data on something called a “Grotesque.” Ruby, if you can show me where the incident occured, I could provide you with more information in the future.
    Considering that I hadn’t believed a word Ruby had said to me up until that point, it was only natural that she grew suspicious when I unexpectedly came out with something like that.
    In truth, half of my story was a lie. I did have an image file of the Grotesque. Suzume had hacked his way into that particular secret…
    It only registered as an “object” the first time I saw it, something neither human nor animal.
    If I followed along with the three words Fumi had left me - “Sense Sphere”, “Angel”, “Grotesque” - then that thing matched up exactly with Grotesque.
    And Ruby, standing right in front of me, had encountered it despite not actually having seen it.
    “Oh, I get it. My back was so sexy that you had a change of heart, right?”
    “Shut your mouth.”
    I shoved Ruby into a puddle.
    “How meaaan. My shoes sure got soaked, didn’t they. Buy me new ones.”
    On the back of this petite girl, who was currently kicking up a fuss somewhere below my shoulder, were scars that had definitely been left there by the Grotesque.
    The scars, which looked like the result of tearing an angel’s wings off, felt about as real to me as Fumi’s words had.
    “Really, I don’t think there’s any point in coming out here.”
    But just maybe there was some detail that I, having seen the image file of the Grotesque, could make sense of, something that would otherwise go unnoticed in a police investigation. But to be honest, I didn’t know why I wanted to confirm the existence of the Grotesque so badly.
    There was a blinking red signal light around the corner.
    When someone walks through the sensor, an audio recording automatically plays.
    “Warning. Public safety is extremely poor beyond this point and it is very unsafe for women or minors to walk alone. Additionally, please refrain from entering during nighttime hours.”
    Past this point lay the rows of abandoned buildings which made up District Zero. The municipality had given the district a safety rating of zero and called upon citizens to protect themselves against the frequent crimes which occurred in the area.
    Ruby and I continued down the darkening road.
    After traversing a number of similar looking alleyways, Ruby finally entered a small building.
    “Come on.”
    We immediately came to a staircase leading down into a cellar. At the bottom of the narrow stairs, barely wide enough to fit a single person, lay an iron door coated in rust. Ruby put all of her weight into turning the handle of the heavy door.
    “This is…”
    “We used to play here often. It looks like it was some kind of store once, but I don’t think it belongs to anyone these days.”
    Sure enough, there was something resembling a black countertop to the left of the entrance, the space behind it packed with an assortment of upended pedestal tables and damaged chairs. A broken glass bottle lay in the corner of the deserted floor and on the wall hung a new painting that somebody had brought in. The fluorescent lights made little pinging sounds as they flickered.
    If that were all there was to the room, then it would have been an ordinary enough hangout for sullen brats - except that the counter, floor, and walls were all coated in reddish-black blood.
    “This is where Meg and three others died.”
    Ruby gazed expressionlessly at the wall as she began to speak.
    “In here, the Baroque were cooler than normal girls like me. The Baroque never cared what people thought about them. It wasn’t just Meg, lots of other Baroque came to hang out here. That painting was also done by a Baroque kid. It’s nice.”
    Over half of it was obscured by the blood, but it appeared to be a boring abstract painting.
    “What’s so great about this picture?”
    “The artist claimed that it wasn’t a painting, but actually a psychic photograph of the universal truth.”
    I looked down with a sigh.
    That was when my eyes fell upon a small, light brown lump resting where the wall met the floor. Its surface was coated in delicate bubbles which made it resemble some praying mantis eggs I had once seen.
    Why would there be praying mantis eggs in a place like this?
    However, Ruby carried on speaking without any regard for me. “Talking with the Baroque was fascinating, you know? If you reacted the wrong way, there was a serious risk that you could be killed. It was so intense.”
    Looking closer, I could see more of the things scattered across the countertop and floor.
    “... on that day, we were all just talking about the Splatter Killings. And then all of a sudden I heard this foul scream like ‘gurghgyaa’ and I turned to look but something slammed into my back and sent me flying.”
    “Ruby, what are these praying mantis egg things?”
    “I don’t know… At first, I thought I had been punched in the back. But soon these thudding waves of pain came over me and then I was out like a light.”
    Ruby laid down on the floor face-first.
    “When I came to, my face was all sticky… and it smelled real weird… There was a tower standing next to me that looked like a work of art, but the tower had hair and fingers stuck into it… I could tell they were Meg’s fingers by the color of her nail polish… It tore Meg into pieces and then piled them up into the shape of a tower…”
    That’s funny. There were those brown foamy lumps again, clinging to places that had been vacant just moments ago… They were multiplying.
    “But don’t you think it’s strange? I was facing the door right before I got hit in the back. No one came in. There were only five girls in here, and none of us had the strength to turn Meg into artwork. Except for me, the other three girls all had their throats slit and they died…”
    I began to regret having come here.
    “I don’t think that’s something a human is capable of, right?”
    If they weren’t human, then they could have gotten in here undetected, and then hide in plain sight, and then...
    “Let’s go. We’ve got to get out of here, Ruby!”
    Ruby seemed bewildered for a moment, but quickly nodded when she saw my expression.
    I shuddered as I reached for the door.
    The door handle was coated in tightly packed mantis eggs. Their light brown surface was wrinkled like the skin of an old man and coated with foam, countless holes in which seemed as if they could begin birthing translucent larvae at any moment.
    Even the gaps between the door and the wall had become filled in.
    Ruby’s hand tightly gripped the back of my raincoat.
    “I remembered. The monster rumor I heard that day… it said that the monster is like a restless spirit because it’s called to wherever people are talking about it. I wonder if that’s true.”
    “Then stop talking.”
    A large clump of foam plopped down at my feet. I threw my shoulder into the door.
    At that instant, something large fell from the ceiling and landed on top of me-
    I dodged backward at the last moment, coming to a stop next to Ruby. The thing was blocking the doorway. An inverted triangular clump of flesh to which light brown foam clung like grime, its head sunken into what would have been the shoulder on a human. Two languid arms hung from it, the fingers ending in sharp, bird-like talons.
    It was silent, yet ominous and maddening through its mere presence.
    This was the Grotesque…
    I was certain that its two hollow eyes, side-by-side, watched me from within the hollow recess occupied by its head.

Volume 2: Grotesque

"Grotesque III"

    I had a gun inside my raincoat. Even though I owned a firearm, I had never fired one.
    The Grotesque stood before me.
    With its head sunken into its shoulder, the creature appeared as if it were holding its own severed head to its chest. It towered over me.
    I stared into those eyes, which gave off the impression of a skull’s empty sockets, for what felt like an eternity. But as they often say, it lasted only for a moment.
    Ruby, unable to hold her breath out of fear any longer, cleared her throat. Taking that as a signal, the Grotesque raked its claws forward, each one the length of a human hand. Upon contact with tender flesh, they would instantly sink deep - certain to gouge eyes from the head or guts from the abdomen.
    I ducked for cover, throwing open my coat and drawing my gun.
    I aimed a single shot at the base of its arm, which it appeared to be swinging around using centrifugal force. The shock of the recoil on my shoulders wasn’t as bad as I had been expecting, but my spine still went numb and I stumbled backward.
    “That hurts!”
    I had apparently stepped on Ruby’s foot. No screams at the sight of the Grotesque’s claws, and yet here she was protesting this injustice I had just committed against her.
    Through some fluke, I had managed to land a direct hit. The Grotesque shrieked what sounded like ‘GIRURU’. It was unlikely that this was a particularly powerful gun, but the creature’s arm fell from its shoulder with a plop.
    Had I done it?
    That turned out to be wishful thinking. The surface of the Grotesque’s body began to swell with a bubbling sound as if it were boiling from within, before its entire body collapsed into that foam which so resembled mantis eggs. The foam enveloped the fallen arm before once again reforming the Grotesque’s body.
    “What’s with this thing…”
    Was this creature amorphous? Only the claws were hard, while the rest of the body appeared to be as soft as mincemeat.
    The Grotesque was drawing closer little by little. It seemed wary of the gun and kept its distance. The Grotesque’s insectoid legs appeared to be awfully weak in comparison to its developed upper body, and they scraped along the floor as they dragged behind the creature.
    What should I do…?
    “Stop it! Get away!”
    “You idiot!”
    By the time I seized Ruby’s upraised arm, it was already too late. Ruby had thrown her only weapon, a knife I had lent her, at the Grotesque. The knife lodged deep within its abdomen. Only the knife’s grip was still visible, and yet the Grotesque drew even closer, undeterred. Did it not feel pain? It was impossible to read any kind of emotion from those hollow eyes. I couldn’t even tell if it meant to do us harm. And I found that terrifying.
    Being hacked apart by the mad claws of something with no regard for what it’s doing is a far more painful and miserable death than being killed by someone with an actual grudge.
    The Grotesque gave a faint ‘GIRU’ while moving its shoulder slightly. Coming closer. I pulled Ruby to safety, heading deeper into the store while squeezing the trigger twice more. One shot went in entirely the wrong direction, but the other took a chunk out of the Grotesque’s body. Momentarily disintegrating, the Grotesque again regenerated with methodical precision. Meanwhile, Ruby and I got behind the counter.
    Into a crevice between an aged kitchen sink and the piled up tables and chairs.
    “How the hell is being jammed in here supposed to help us?!”
    “Did you see anywhere else to run to?”
    “But… KYAAA!”
    The claws came spearing down from above. They were filthy, the color of nicotine stains. I quickly used one of the pedestal tables as a shield. There was a dull thud as the Grotesque’s claws scraped across the table. Bits of resin rained down as it was stripped from the table top. On every second or third attack, a table would break. My arms were also going numb from supporting the table legs. There was no escape now.
    The next time we faced those claws, Ruby and I were done for…
    “That’s enough!”
    Ruby abruptly stood, not with a scream but with a shout of anger.
    “You want to kill me?! Then get on with it already!”
    “Stop it Ruby, you really will die!”
    “Whatever. Either way, I-”
    I couldn’t make out what she said next. Ruby had jumped onto the counter. Her movement was surprisingly nimble. But the Grotesque showed no mercy and aimed the next swipe of its claws at Ruby’s delicate neck.
    I emptied the rest of the clip.
    One shot ricocheted off of the Grotesque’s claws. A fatal blow was narrowly diverted, but blood seeped out of Ruby’s clothes where she had been cut.
    Ruby fell to her knees on the spot. The Grotesque had taken hardly any damage. We were beaten. Miserable, I closed my eyes.
    At that moment, I could hear the Grotesque making a choked groaning, just as we began to be pelted by water pouring from the ceiling.
    “What the hell?!”
    I couldn’t open my eyes far enough to see clearly due to the violent intensity of the water, but it smelled of rusted iron. Perhaps one of my bullets had ricocheted off of a sprinkler or something in the ceiling, causing an old water pipe to rupture.
    The Grotesque was crumbling and dissolving into a sticky mass where it stood. Parts of its body slid away across the floor as they became small chunks of foam. The claws on both hands struggled in vain, attempting to scrape themselves back together.
    The amorphous Grotesque was water soluble.
    I quickly jumped out from behind the counter, took a pale and trembling Ruby into my arms, kicked the door open, and ran back upstairs to the exit.
    It was raining outside. Even if the Grotesque regenerated, it wouldn’t be able to come after us with everything being wet like this.
    Ruby insisted that she could stand, and so we walked side by side through the ruined city. A strange ‘BUWOOHN BUWOOHN’ could be heard from far off.
    “What’s that noise?
    “I don’t know. It’s been happening recently when I take nighttime walks around District Zero.”
    “Anyway, that went smoothly just now, didn’t it? You know, with me being the decoy while you did the attacking.”
    “You were trying to be a decoy?”
    I couldn’t think of it as anything other than her giving into despair.
    “Doesn’t matter, it all worked out in the end. But Kitsune, you’re such an awful shot. What were you going to do if you hit me?
    “...I was thinking I’d apologize.”
    If she was capable of saying such hateful things, then her wounds must not be that serious. But we’d soon catch a cold if we kept wandering around in the rain like this.
    I would return to the office. There I could lend Ruby some dry clothes and send her on her way. After that, I’d pull up that image file as there was something I had to figure out.
    The appearances of the Grotesque that had appeared in the shop and the Grotesque in the image file were completely different. Similar to what Ruby had said earlier, there was more than one Grotesque - possibly several. If that was true, then there were probably other people besides us who had survived encounters with Grotesques. Could the information Suzume obtained in secret less than 70 days ago have already spread to the point where it could no longer be covered up?
    “Kitsune, there’s something on the hem of your coat.”
    I looked down and saw some light brown foam, the size of my little finger, sticking to my coat. A scrap of that Grotesque’s tissue.
    I wordlessly plucked it off and threw it away. That foam which so resembled a mantis egg instantly dissolved in the water and disappeared, but the chills that ran down my spine would not.
    I suddenly quickened my pace. Ruby hurried to catch up while favoring the wounds on her arm and chest.
    The ‘BUWOOHN, BUWOOHN’ sound drew closer.
    With only a few dozen meters left before we could leave District Zero, something vague appeared in our path. It was dark and the distant streetlights only illuminated its misshapen silhouette, but I knew.
    It was a Grotesque.
    The sense of malice here was palpable, far more intense than that of the amorphous foam.
    My hand reflexively went to the lining of my coat, but there were no more bullets left in my gun.

Volume 2: Grotesque

"Special Hunter"

    It could be briefly described as a gigantic newborn baby. It had a large head and the distended belly of a frog. The eyes were puffy and only opened halfway, as if they had been split in half laterally. Tears of blood trickled and flowed from those eyes. Under a squashed nose sat a small, egg-shaped mouth, bloody bubbles frothing around the edges.
    It gripped a blade the length of its head in its disproportionately small hands. No, was it that the fingertips themselves were transforming into a blade?
    The infant Grotesque approached us, head swaying as if it were drunk.
    Ruby recoiled, her already small frame shrinking in on itself even further. We had nothing left to fight with.
    “Get out of here Ruby.”
    We had no choice but to flee back into the depths of District Zero. The infant pursued me with a speed I wouldn’t have thought possible on such stunted and bowed legs.
    “Can’t go on… I’m hurt.”
    Before we could go much further, Ruby sank to the pavement.
    “How severe is it?!”
    Ruby neither answered nor moved. Perhaps it was fear rather than pain that had pushed us to our breaking point.
    The Grotesque was nearly on top of us.
    That ‘BUWOOHN, BUWOOHN’ could still be heard from somewhere. Was another Grotesque making that sound? No matter how far we ran, would we ever be able to escape the city of the Grotesques?
    “Owaa”, the Grotesque mewed like a kitten as it raised the heavy-looking blade. I was reminded of a Grim Reaper wielding a sickle. And whenever the Reaper’s sickle comes down, you can be sure that someone is about to be dragged into hell -
    There was a resounding crack as a gunshot sounded in the rain.
    The Grotesque’s half-lidded eyes snapped open. They were pure white and without iris. Gurgling and emitting a stream of bloody bubbles, the Grotesque slammed backwards into the asphalt.
    “What the…”
    Ruby, who had seemingly already resigned herself to her fate, slowly opened her eyes. She alternated between looking at the abruptly collapsed Grotesque and then at me. I shook my head.
    “Did I make it in time?! Is everybody okay?”
    A man carrying a white light was approaching from the same direction the Grotesque had appeared from.
    He was tall, broad-shouldered with long legs. He came closer until I could see his face, which had a charming amiability in spite of his body type. And it was with that amiable face that he, without changing his expression, began to shoot the supine Grotesque repeatedly.
    In the head, neck, chest, and abdomen.
    “I wonder if that’ll be enough. Good thing this guy’s not bulletproof, huh?”
    He smiled at us while manually adjusting his portable searchlight, which had become too intense at this distance. This was the first of the Special Hunters I encountered, a member of the Grotesque Kill Team. His name was Task Takada.
    “So, you’re not with the police, are you?”
    “I guess you could say we’re closer to the military than the police. Or maybe mercenaries. You know, like in those old films? Aren’t they cool?”
    Task was a simple-minded young man. He answered my questions while we waited for his comrades to arrive.
    “If you’re a mercenary, then are you sponsored by the government?”
    “It seems like it, but nothing’s official at the moment. They’re going to make a formal announcement once these (Task kicked the Grotesque’s carcass) have been studied a bit more.”
    “What the hell kind of thing is this?”
    I asked this question carefully. I wanted to maintain the illusion that we had been attacked purely by chance.
    “The higher ups are calling them Grotesques.”
    Task had replied with “Grotesques” so easily.
    “We’ve been told that it’s dangerous to leave them be, so we’re to kill instantly on sight and completely extinguish all signs of life. Some of these guys are bulletproof, so we’ve learned a few new tricks like burning them to death.”
    “... is that all you’ve got to go on?”
    “What else would I need to know?”
    It seemed Task didn’t have any more interest in the matter than that. He was like a boy who was into airsoft and casually chose a part-time job doing Grotesque extermination over working in fast food.
    - and his organization probably didn’t have a problem with that either. A mercenary doesn’t need motive, only skill.
    “Aren’t you cold?” Task called out to Ruby.
    She answered with a slight nod of her head. Come to think of it, she had been weirdly quiet for a while now. Task had administered first aid to our injuries, and for the time being, I felt like my fear of the Grotesques was growing fainter.
    At that moment, I clearly heard that ‘BUWOOHN, BUWOOHN’ sound approaching us. As I stiffened involuntarily, Task smiled.
    “It’s all right. That’s just a signal from base. Sometimes it’s used as a Grotesque detection alarm, but it seems different this time.”
    Task used his light to signal to the other side of the alley. Before long, two cars came to a stop. Several men got out and came running towards us. Some of them were carrying tools I had never seen before, like gigantic versions of a blender’s blade.
    “Time of disposal, 0:44 a.m.” Task reported to one of the men.
    “With only a gun?”
    This man seemed to be the commander of this sector.
    “Yes, sir.”
    “Inadequate. I believe you were told to completely extinguish all signs of life.”
    The leader signaled to his comrades using his fingertips. The men surrounded the Grotesque carcass.
    “Do it.”
    There was a whine and shrill buzzing as the gigantic blender blades rotated. Others unsheathed the knives slung on their hips.
    The blood sprayed over the heads of the men.
    The Grim Reaper, in the form of a gigantic baby, was hacked into scattered lumps of flesh.
    “By the way, you have Basic ID don’t you?” the man in charge asked us.
    “As I understand it, neither police officers nor tax inspectors can ask to see your ID unless they present theirs first,” I replied.
    “My apologies.”
    The man presented me with a card containing a green strip. A Special Civil Servant - it was the first time I had seen that green insignia in person, the symbol which granted someone even more authority than a police officer. That gave legitimacy to these ragtag Special Hunters. That also meant that the threat posed by the Grotesques was serious.
    Ruby and I silently showed our cards to the man (due to the nature of my business, I carried a fake ID for just this kind of occasion).
    “Thank you.”
    The man slipped his card into a magnetic holder.
    “Please forgive me, but we ask for your cooperation in keeping this matter quiet in order to prevent panic from spreading amongst the public.”
    Rather than wasting energy trying to cover this up, they check the IDs of any Grotesque eyewitnesses and monitor their movements from then on. That seemed likely.
    “Naturally, we guarantee your safety. In addition, we will immediately delete your file once our organization is officially recognized and has succeeded in exterminating these things through appropriate means.”
    That seemed fishy. I shrugged.
    “The metallic parts can’t be disassembled.”
    The leader turned at the sound of the Hunter’s voice.
    “That’s fine. We’ll run them through the electromagnetic grinder back at Headquarters.”
    The Hunters, their whole bodies dyed red with blood, returned to methodically reducing the Grotesque into a mountain of meat.
    Task pulled the Grotesque’s sharp teeth from its lower jaw one by one, before casting them aside.
    “Uaah uaah,” Ruby sobbed from somewhere behind me.
    “You’re not going to throw up, are you?”
    Ruby shook her head.
    “I feel sorry for it… the monster…”
    Ruby’s tears spilled forth in rivulets. Her back shook with muffled sobs as she pressed her face into the back of my coat, all for the sake of the Grotesque that had clearly been trying to kill us just a short while ago.

Translator’s Notes
  • The original Japanese script uses kanji that can be read in two ways: either the more judgemental sounding “igyou” (strange or suspicious looking) or the more clinical “ikei” (something with an atypical appearance). In the west, we use the term "Grotesque" when trying to convey the same thing, as it’s a word with multiple connotations depending on context and perception. Meanwhile, the official Atlus localization uses “Meta-Being” which outright misses the dual-interpretation by making up a brand new fantasy term. It's a matter of opinion, but I also personally think that "Meta-Being" sounds like the kind of embarrassing, pseudo-sophisticated name you'd find in a Saturday morning cartoon.

  • As this story was written and serialized before the original Sega Saturn release of Baroque, it includes some designs and concepts that were either cut or modified by the time of the game’s release. The first Grotesque encountered, for instance, is an apparently cut design we don’t get to see in-game, but the Playstation visual novel adaptation “Baroque Syndrome” changes it into one of the (visually similar) Liar Grotesques. Unexpectedly, the gigantic infant creature is retained in the visual novel. This design is partially depicted in Eisaku Kito’s concept model for Baroque’s protagonist, in which Koriel #12 is shown standing atop the head of its corpse.