The first historical references to the Khlysty were found in the writings of the Old Believers, a Christian community that resisted the 17th century reforms of the Russian State Church. The Old Believers condemned the Khlysty as heretics, and warnings about them can be found in letters dating from around the 1670s. The Khlysty renounced priesthood, holy books and veneration of the saints. They believed in a possibility of direct communication with the spirits and of its embodiment in living people. Each of their leaders was a “living god”, and each congregation had its own “mother” appointed by the overall leader of the sect. Furthermore, they believed that the spirit of foresight could descend upon any one of them during the state of ecstasy which they attained during the ritual of radenye.
The Khylsty were originally associated with the Atharim, but by the late 19th century, political threats in Russia were replacing the threat of monsters. The gift of seeing was always part of the Khylsty, but in this time, their greatest seer was the prophet and monk, Rasputin.
In 1916, Rasputin’s mystical abilities gave him the foresight to see his coming assassination. He made arrangements for the Khylsty to be sent underground so they would survive the coming revolution. When the time came, they fled to the deepest parts of the ancient Moscow undercity, settling into the caves deep in the earth. There, they remained for 150 years.
The descendants of Rasputin carried his gift of foresight. Each of them came to be known as the “Eye” of the Khylsty, a title to represent their foresight. The Eyes began to document their journey and survival in cave drawings, a temple within their caves known as The Sacred where fresh water flowed. They prophesied that the reborn Rasputin would return to them in the future and lead their remaining numbers back to the surface.
As the generations passed, the Khylsty formed their own holy rites and rituals to protect their numbers, their resources, and their hierarchies. They are ruled by the current prophet, a woman known as The Eye. Other ranks include the Hand of the Khylsty, who manages the temple and serves the Eye.
The current Eye of the Khylsty is Valeriya, who is a descendant of Rasputin, and foresaw their coming savior, Armande Nicodemus, and drew his portrait on the cave. When Armande fled the surface to escape fires and monsters, the Khylsty found him and nursed his wounds. As she foresaw, he led the Khylsty back to the surface for the first time in more than a century.
The Khylsty speak old Russian and follow an ascetic, bastardized form of orthodoxy. They know nothing of technology, indeed, they have not even seen blue sky.