Baku

I want to adopt a cute pet in your world. What is it and how do I look after one?

The benevolent baku are celestial creatures that feed on dark spirits and nightmares. They float in the Ethereal Plane adjacent to the Material near mortal settlements. They are especially attracted to children and innocents, protecting them from evil fey and aswang that come to feed on their purity. They have become more common in the Kirinal Concordance Zone where the influx of minor creepy-crawlies from the Kirinal Pit create a rich feeding ground for hungry baku.

The baku are shy, usually staying hidden in the Ethereal from the mortals they protect. When someone catches a glance of them, they appear as brightly colored chimeras, a mix of elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, and oxen. Young baku are the size of cats, while elder baku can grow up to 9 feet tall at the shoulder.

Childhood Companions

Every child in the Zone that goes through the Celebration of Children ritual is assigned a young baku by the Heavenly Council of Ki-rins. The baku and the child grow up together with the baku serving as the child's unseen protector and constant companion.

Children with magical or spiritual gifts can become aware of that their "imaginary friend" is actually real and actively defending them from bad things. Especially good children can coax their baku out of the ethereal when no one else is around. The baku enter the Prime to play with their friend and cuddle with them at night.

"Mama! My friend wants a piece of candy too!"

"Stop being greedy, my love! Your baku eats bad dreams, not candy!"

— Every child to every mother.

Spirited Away

The friendly baku operated in happy anonymity for a hundred years in the Zone until an especially bad Shatter when the Far Realm manifested in the Pit. Soul eating monsters invaded the world and parents throughout the Zone panicked when they realized that their every child had disappeared in their sleep.

Once the Far Realm faded away at dawn the next day, the sleeping children all reappeared in their beds. Unaware that their baku had pulled them into the ethereal to protect them from the monsters that threatened them.

Everything Grows Up

As every child grows up, their bakus grow up too. The day finally comes when the child is strong enough to not need their baku anymore. Usually, the baku slips off unnoticed, also ready to live its own life. But those children who've formed an unusually strong connection to their baku have it harder. Their friend appears to them when they time comes and they say their goodbyes through tears.

Baku
Celestial spirits sent by the Heavens to protect the dreams of innocents and children. They dwell in the Ethereal, usually hidden from those they protect.


Cover image: by Amy Winters-Voss

Comments

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29 Dec, 2020 20:16

What a delightful and tender version of the baku! <3

Author of the upcoming book Rise: Liminal Chronicles |
29 Dec, 2020 21:56

Thank you for your beautiful art!

Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
29 Dec, 2020 20:41

So, so cool! I especially love the inclusion of the quote and the mother's response "Stop being greedy, my love! Your baku eats bad dreams, not candy!"

29 Dec, 2020 21:59

Thank you!

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
30 Dec, 2020 15:29

Awww I love this version of the baku! <3 What a great companion for children.

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
30 Dec, 2020 16:53

Thanks! I was trying to lean into a benevolent spirit after usually focusing so hard on nasty beasties.

Grandmaster Teyvill
Andrew Belenkiy
31 Dec, 2020 11:11

Thank you! Now when I think of the capital of Azerbaijan, it's far better to remember this magnificent creature than its namesake of a town xD

31 Dec, 2020 14:50

Lol, I think it's a case of convergent linguistics! I definitely stole this from Japanese folklore1

6 Jan, 2021 20:33

Oooh I really love these creatures, and the art is so sweet too! I would've loved one of those as a kid. I especially like the Spirited Away sections, its a really nice touch.

sending good vibes <3 - Author of Interarcanum and Shakiraverse
6 Jan, 2021 22:22

Thank you! I liked that bit too!

Sage SailingOcelot
Sailing Ocelot
10 Jan, 2021 03:28

This is a very sweet article... I love the Spirited Away reference, and how some children are acutely aware of their special Baku. It's sad they have to say goodbye :(

~~~~~~~~ SailingOcelot
10 Jan, 2021 14:57

That's just part of growing up in the Zone! I do love how the little details just pop up as I'm writing.