|Goals:||Sacrifice lives to Hunger|
In the mid-to-late 1800s, various elite in New York City bequeathed portions of their personal fortunes to the establishment of public libraries for the people of the city- which, at the time, consisted only of Manhattan. The Astor Library was created in 1854 in accordance with the last will and testament of real estate mogul Jacob Astor. The Lenox Library was created in 1877 in accordance with the wishes of scholar and curio collector James Lenox. Politician Samuel Tilden earmarked the bulk of his personal wealth to the creation of a library upon his death in 1886, though it sat untouched in a trust until 1895 when his lawyer, John Bigelow, was able to convince the financially struggling Astor and Lenox Libraries to merge into one unified library along with Tilden’s money. After a generous grant by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, the New York City Public Library was established.
In 1911, the main branch of the NYPL was opened, located on 5th Avenue between 40th and 42nd, on the site of the former Croton Reservoir. The board of trustees wanted the main branch of the new library system to be an impressive sight, so millions of dollars were allocated to employing the best architects, designers, engineers, sculptors, and artists. Among the more noteworthy decorative flourishes added to the building were a pair of lions “guarding” its front entrance. Originally called Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after founders Jacob Astor and James Lenox, the pair of heavy marble statues eventually had their names changed to Lady Astor and Lord Lenox, and finally Patience and Fortitude- qualities Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression of the 1930s.
Over the next few decades, the New York Public Library system would become one of the premier library systems not only in the United States, but in the world. At the turn of the 21st century, the library owned nearly 53 million items, a volume surpassed only by the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., and the British Library, the national library system of the United Kingdom.
The main branch of the New York Public Library system was targeted by the Chinese during the Great War, being deemed a target of strategic value due to the valuables it contained inside and because of its cultural significance to the people of the United States. Because the building was nowhere near as tall as the many other skyscrapers in Midtown, it was shielded somewhat from the onslaught. The warhead allocated by the People’s Liberation Army to destroying the NYPL’s main branch struck other buildings, either through sheer accident or because of the chaos of the crumbling buildings around it, buildings that formed the Concrete Jungle.
In 2260, Eric Dalton lost everything that he worked his entire life to gain. A man of limited means, he worked his entire life in scrap yards and rubble piles to support his wife, and eventually, his young daughter. A resident of Libeteria’s Battery Park colony, Dalton lost his wife and family when Bob’s Wreckers attacked the settlement in the wake of their attack on the New York Stockyard. In shock, having lost everything he worked his entire life for, Dalton snapped. Instead of rebuilding his life, as most survivors of the Battery Park raid did, he simply walked to the walls of the settlement, scaled them, and wandered alone uptown, through the Hive and into the Concrete Jungle.
Dalton next reappeared in 2264, a very different man. Appearing at the wall of his former home along with three other men, he kidnapped a scrap collector and brought him to a derelict parking garage located somewhere north. There, he sacrificed the man on an altar built beneath the gaze of one of the New York Public Library lions. How the stone statue wound up in a parking garage, or how long it had been there, is unknown. Based on the fact that the altar seemed well used, stained with the blood of many victims, the lion had been there, and was being used for dark deeds, for years.
Calling the lion “Hunger”, Dalton has grown his small group of serial killers, and those that travel through the Concrete Jungle known that they run the risk of encountering the cultists any time they travel through the dark alleys and streets of the area.
According to Eric Dalton, Hunger has a power and sentience of its own. It demands blood sacrifices, and in exchange, it bestows those that appease it with power and protection. Only a handful of cultists actually believe this, as most have a better grasp on reality than the leader of the group. Such individuals stay with the cult primarily for two reasons: protection- as living in the Concrete Jungle alone is a very dangerous proposition- or to satisfy their own bloodlust.
Culture & Practices
Hunger Cultists are generally opportunistic hunters. They stalk their victims, and only strike when they know they will be able to blindside and quickly overpower their prey. They use only use blunt weapons or knives, as their main goal is to incapacitate and kidnap their victim, to transport them back to their lair.
Victims are ritualistically killed upon the altar of their god. Eric Dalton almost always carries out these rituals, though acolytes new to the organization are expected to kill their first sacrifice in order to gain entrance into the cult. They are first drugged, bound, and placed on the altar of Hunger. Using a ritual blade, a non-fatal wound is made on the victim, usually in the abdomen. Cultists dip their fingers into the wound, and use the victims’ blood to paint the letter ‘H’ on their foreheads. After the leader of the ritual chants prayers and supplications to their god, he plunges the ritual dagger into the chest of the victim and cuts out their heart, removing the organ and placing it on the snout of the marble lion.
Hunger cultists, by the standards of any civilized society, are serial killers, murderers, and psychopaths. The cultists do not have any long-standing alliances with other groups that operate in the area, and very few would lower themselves to work with such serial killers. Likewise, no civilized nation in the area would stand to knowingly allow the cult to exist within their borders. The Federal Republic of Libeteria, the New York Stockyard, and Penn Sanctuary all have bounties on the cultists, though because of the clandestine nature of the group, the bounty is more for symbolic reasons. In the thirty or so years that the cult has operated, there has not been a single prosecution.