The Bahutha is a cult which centralizes demonic manipulation and ideals of spiritual descension. The Bahutha serves Atar: an Elder Demon, also known as an Old God, who has otherwise been forgotten by history. The word "bahutha" is translated to mean "chaos," and the people of the Bahutha are called Bahut.
Their teachings are taken from the words of the Watchman, a partial incarnation of Atar. The Bahutha are united not only by practice, but by their shared heritage, given that Atar is their prehistoric progenitor. Though this demonic heritage is extremely diluted, the people of the Bahutha are able to use it to their advantage, and it is what allows many of their rituals to be possible.
The Bahutha is scarce in allies due to its inherently destructive culture, hence they are very secretive. Even still, their presence is known by certain covens, fairies, and demons.
The Bahutha was created during the dawn of civilization, when demons first began to take note of humanity. One such demon, Atar, realized the potential in dealing with humans and grew immensely in power, along with three others: Asag, Uzuk, and Lama. This contact with humans transformed the demons from benign Lux into Mud Beasts. These four initial Mud Beasts are known as Old Gods by the modern Bahutha, and Elder Demons by Lux witches.
During this period, Atar bred with many of his human followers, creating the first Bahut children. The first fairies also emerged as a result of human-demon breeding, under different conditions.
The four Old Gods grew with so much evil as to warp reality around them, causing mass delirium in humans and animals alike. Atar became so focused on the achievement of power and worship as to consume the three other Old Gods, sparing their eyes so that they could be turned into relics. Eventually, Atar's power became too much to contain in the corporeal dimension: his sphere of madness encompassed the nation he had built around him, causing his kin to become useless as servants, and his physical body to wither. In order to contain this effect, he commanded his Bahutha to encase him in a massive dome-like temple called the Abscess. The tradition of human sacrifice also began as a result of this effort to provide Atar with vessels to help contain his power. In the Abscess, Atar could no longer communicate with his kin, and so he separated part of his consciousness and possessed one of his children, resulting in the first Watchman.
The modern Bahutha now uses their ties to Atar in order to augment themselves with demonic abilities and manipulate demons for the purpose of thaumaturgy. Since their power is leeched from Atar as he lives, service to Atar is largely selfish for less devout Bahut people. Certain sects of the Bahutha live outside of all modern society, while others are assimilated into metropolitan society.
Despite the sheer size of the Abscess, Atar's growth in power continued and the temple was never intended to hold him forever. Concerns about the looming threat of Atar soon breaking free are the primary motivation for Coyote to seek the eyes of the Old Gods during the events of Dead in Desert Bleak.
Practices & Beliefs
Bahut practices fall into three categories: for the sake of Atar, for the sake of the community, and for the sake of one's self.
Atar receives his power from ceremonious worship, as he is a demon of pride in all but name. So that he does not become overwhelmed with power, human and animal bodies are constantly sacrificed for assimilation into Atar's corporeal form. The Abscess is built in such a way that, once Atar is unable to contain himself within it, he will finally have enough power to satisfy his pride, and will go on an apocalyptic rampage. This is the end goal for devout Bahuts, as the world left over will be one of "fantastic madness-" madness being a state that Atar's kin inherently crave.
The creation of a new Watchman occurs every three centuries, around the time in which a vessel would become completely sapped of life-force. Since Atar is normally too powerful to be contained in any capacity, when a Watchman nears death, Atar will choose from the Bahutha's pregnant and command them to relinquish their baby. This is because the assimilation of Atar's consciousness into a vessel must begin prenatally. A regular human body would reject the possession completely, but an unborn baby may be corrupted in the womb and born as an abomination suited for the task.
The Bahutha believes in putting one's self before the needs of others, with the overall good of the Bahutha being the only thing more important. This belief leads to atrocities such as cannibalism, murder and torture being enacted for the sake of a successful ritual, or simply for personal gain. Infighting within the Bahutha often leads to deadly consequences due to this proclivity towards violence, as well as a strict adherence towards "quelling any growing cancers" within Bahut society.
A common ritual among the Bahutha is demonic manifestation, in which a demon is summoned into the physical realm for a specific purpose, i.e. to extract relics from its body, manipulate it for a favor, or to create a Hollow person. Most Bahuts are unable to work with any sort of demon other than Mud Beasts, unless they are Yunen- a Bahut witch.
The Bahutha uses its own people for the sake of rituals so often that there is seldom a member who has not endured abuse by the hands of their kin. Many Bahut women are integrated into the Yunen collective as children, a position which requires they be blinded, have their tongue removed, and dedicate their lives towards prayer. If a Bahut person leans towards misbehaviour, they will be forced to undergo a ritual to be turned into a Hollow (see below), which has an overwhelming rate of fatality; however, if successful, they are assumed to have been saved by the grace of Atar. Generally, the ironclad hierarchy of the Bahutha results in many gross abuses of power.
Sickness, whether physical or mental, has been known to the Bahutha to open a subject to demonic influence. This is also true for injury, hence the torture associated with demonic rituals. The physical bodies of Mud Beasts in particular have a resemblance to vermiform bugs or crustaceans, and so the Bahutha reveres such creatures. Those with Bahut blood tend to attract bugs, and some even have the ability to command them, to an extent.
Within the Bahutha, spouses are chosen by the Grand Apostles. Couplings are kept within the Bahutha so as to keep the bloodline pure and so that the Bahut people are less likely to be swayed away from their service to Atar. However, adultery is not frowned upon, so long as any resulting child is terminated.
One specialty unique to the Bahutha is the creation of Hollow people, or simply Hollows. Because of their partially demonic heritage, there is a chance for a Bahut person to adapt to the presence of a demon within their body and retain their autonomy, as opposed to becoming possessed. This procedure also conjoins the soul of the subject with that of the demon, allowing for the resulting Hollow person to channel demonic power through their own body on-demand. This ability is extremely useful, as traditional methods of demon summoning are both resource heavy and time consuming. However, most who undergo the ritual to become a Hollow do not succeed, merely dying or becoming possessed instead. The ritual itself is incredibly agonizing as well, requiring mutilation and torture of the subject until they have reached a state of apotheosis.
Walker Madison is a known Hollow. Hollows cannot be created with any other classification of demon other than a Mud Beast, since any other type is too far removed from human consciousness to be compatible.
Grand Abbess - Chosen by Atar himself, the Grand Abbesses care for the Watchman and see to matters of grave importance. They are blinded, so as to not be driven mad by the sight of the Watchman.
Grand Apostle - Those who go through incredible lengths for the sake of Atar are sometimes granted this position. They issue orders on behalf of the Grand Abbesses, teach the ways of the Bahutha to its youth, and work to see that the devotion of Bahut individuals is not obstructed.
Master - Those who are born with what the Bahutha values as "extraordinary gifts," including major deformities, illnesses, and psychoses. They are exploited for their supposed insight into the demonic realm, as well as their high success rate when communicating with demons.
Hollow - Highly valuable due to their rarity, Hollows are a demon and human within the same body. The demon lies dormant while the human has full control over their own body, plus the immaterial ability of the demon.
Kether - Hollow people who underwent the conjoinment ritual out of respect, rather than as a punishment. They are trusted with duties of high significance, respective to their individual abilities.
Yunen - A Bahut witch. About a quarter of the women in the Bahutha are turned into Yunen. The only instances in which they are let outside of a temple is to help carry out rituals. They are kept in a perpetual state of illness and have had their eyes and tongues removed. Yunen are often caretakers for Masters.
Children are raised in cavernous temples up until the age of 13, at which point they will be given a chance to perform duties in the outside world. Depending on their childhood, some Bahuts never leave the temple they were born in.
Bahut temples are bore into mountains or underground. Throughout the millenia and as a result of the construction of the Abscess, the Bahutha has an impressive collective knowledge when it comes to cavernous architecture. While there is no electricity in these temples, they are typically well-lit with adequate ventilation. Bahut temples have remained undiscovered by outsiders in recent history due to their strategic placement and the instinctive revulsion that non-demonic beings have to their presence.
Every Bahut temple has a dome-shaped worship hall in which rituals are conducted and a stone altar is located. These rituals are centralized in order to weaken the borders between the corporeal and the demonic realms in these locations. Some ancient worship halls are completely infested with evil energy, to the point that strange, fleshy growths and scabs of rust infest their walls. These demonic pustules are mysterious in nature, but could possibly be a glimpse into what the terrain of the demonic plain is made from.
Due to the minute presence of Atar's blood within them, Bahut people are resistant to demonic control, while possessing a talent for invoking Mud Beasts and augmenting themselves with demonic abilities. They are able to withstand the company of mind-altering demons to a much greater extent than normal. The auras of Bahuts are extremely large and bright, hence they instill discomfort into all that meet them, especially animals, fairies, or those who are spiritually sensitive.
Bahut people are plagued by a desire for madness and chaos.
The Bahutha has developed its own script, legible only by demons and its own people. To other humans, this script appears as illegible scribbles, but it is instilled with a spiritual meaning that can be inferred by a qualified reader.
Certain Lux covens have been known to make deals and exchange information with the Bahutha.
The first Bahuts, being direct children of Atar, were fairies. The presence of Atar's blood in the modern Bahutha is very diluted, though, so they are essentially human.
If the power of Atar ever begins to disappear in the bloodline, a male from the Bahutha's population will be chosen to drink a vial of the god's blood and be responsible for creating as many children as possible. One of these extremely rare vials is stolen and ingested by Walker at the beginning of Dead in Desert Bleak.