I'm so glad that people are liking my take on Arthur and the pagan mask! I just cant believe that some things in RDR 2 don't have much going on other than Arthur seeing it and sketching it or taking it.

Pairing: None

Rating: T

Red Dead Redemption 2 belongs to Rockstar Games.

"Who's there?"

Arthur huffed and willed the whispers in his mind to calm down at the sound of John Marston's voice, making the shadows nip at his heels in retaliation but otherwise following Arthur's commands. "It's me! Ya dumbass!" he hollered as he rode into camp with the pagan mask attached firmly to the side of his horse's saddle. The empty hole sockets seemed to bore right into John's eyes as Arthur passed by the younger outlaw, though Arthur paid no mind to the worried look on John's face. Instead he had focused on hitching Magnolia and heading over to his tent to put the mask up on a nail, to hang next to some of his prized possessions.

The mask was eerily beautiful as the day began to turn to night and the blinding rays of the sun finally seemed to die out, letting Arthur feel peaceful in the shadows. He shrugged off his rifles and put his sidearms down onto the table next to his cot. The Whispers silent as they seemed to reach out through the shadows and get a feel for the gang that Arthur was a part of.

Most ignoble creatures that you seemed to attach yourself to my dear, we do not see the need in keeping lazy mortals around; their only use if for nourishment.

Arthur frowned, Well maybe Uncle or Bill or Swanson weren't the most hardworking but they were still family.

No, we are your family. We are all that you need.

The Whispers caressed his mind happily, They are your followers, your acolytes; they are the ones that are supposed to serve you and pray to you. Understand that we are not going to go against your wishes and not eat them until they are deemed disloyal to you.

Arthur shook his head and let the Whispers quieten once more, he was family to the gang. They didn't need to kneel to him, to pray to him, but everyone else? They were free game, everyone else needed to know that Arthur wasn't someone to be fucked with. But some quiet part of Arthur's mind told him that maybe this was wrong, they were supposed to be like Robin Hoods. Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, they were supposed to be benevolent not malevolent.

He snorted in derision and the shadows at his feet curled around his legs in hazy tendrils, and that part of his brain was silenced. Screaming in agony and about how this wasn't right! The shadows stilled and the Whispers asked to go see the so called person in charge; Dutch van der Linde would like to know what came of their meal. When he exited his tent, Arthur smiled gently at the sight of little Jack smacking a stick against a crate.

What a tasty little morsel, not enough to be filling but sweet enough to count as desert.

No, Jack was off limit, he was just a child and Arthur would not let him get hurt.

Ahhh, you care for this boy and his parents, we will leave them alone. They will be the first of your followers.

Suddenly, the loud snap of a branch under his feet snapped Arthur awake and he wondered why he wasn't being silent. But Jack looked up and the little boy gave him a huge smile, "Hi Uncle Arthur! What ya doin'?" The child was quick to scramble to his feet and run up to Arthur like an eager little puppy, finding his place in Arthur's shadows like he always belonged their. An action which made the Whispers pleased and the shadows from Arthur's surge outwards to carefully stroke the plump flesh of Jack Marston's cheek.

The young boy giggled, "That tickles Uncle Arthur! Stop!"

The outlaw turned deity smiled softly as he scratched at his beard, "Sorry Jackie, what was you saying?" The shadows retreated a bit but still lingered around Jack in a smoky haze.

"I was askin' what you were doin'!"

"Awww, not much Jack, just came back from trying to get Micah from jail, but it uhh - it didn't end to well," he said as a small red glint appeared in his eye.

Jack stared up at him for a second before the same glint appeared in his eyes for a second before fading, "Well that's okay! I never really liked him, he was really mean." And the young boy gave Arthur's leg a quick hug before darting off to find his mother, and Arthur smiled as he began his walk across camp to Dutch's tent. Some of the other members of the gang like Tilly and Pearson had come up to chatter a bit before the Whispers practically demanded to see where the power in the camp lay.

And they were clawing at the surface of his mind in anger as they spotted Dutch Van der Linde hard at work, reading a damned book in his tent.

Arthur hissed in agony as the sharp jaws of the Whispers tried to tear through his mind and brain, and at his pain the Whispers receded into his shadows. They murmured apologies to Arthur and licked the wounds of his mind, pushing the parts of Arthur that were crying in pain into a quiet submission. The Whispers didn't see what power could lie within such a useless, lazy human and they bayed for blood and gore. But Arthur shook his head and thought to the Whispers, about how Dutch had given him purpose and how if not for him then Arthur would have died in his teenage years.

The Whispers merely licked at his feet and ankles from his shadows and settled into a restless ease, allowing Arthur to approach Dutch without interfering for now. Though he could tell that small tendril had snaked out from him to wrap lightly around Dutch's ankle to feel for a pulse, or rather to wait for his pulse to speed up with a lie.

"Dutch!" Arthur called out as he waved a hand in front of the gang leader to get his attention, "Dutch! I'm back!"

The black haired man looked up with a frosty glare, "How nice of you to finally join us Arthur. It's been a while son."

Arthur tensed, recognizing that tone of voice and would have prepared himself for a talking to if the Whispers didn't comfort him with tranquil caresses. With the cold love from the Whispers, Arthur locked that part of his head that feared Dutch's disappointment and instead returned the look. For a moment it seemed that Dutch was surprised to see Arthur taking a stand against him, before the cold glare he had ignited into a fiery rage.

"Yeah, been away too long try'na find Micah and lookin' into leads for us, shootin' up half a town so Micah can get his damn guns, then watchin' Micah get shot for his troubles! So yeah, I'm glad to be back home Dutch, would you rather me dead like that damn fool!?" Arthur damned near roared with the strength of the Whispers behind his voice. A wicked part of Arthur smirked in pleasure seeing fear in Dutch's eyes; oh, the other million voices of the Whispers didn't even join him this time and it seemed that mere mortals still nearly piss themselves when coming into contact with even a fraction of the power Arthur now held in his hands.

That fear lasted for a second before it died down to a grudging acceptance, "I heard from Lenny about the article they wrote about what happened in Strawberry, it's a shame what happened to Micah. I can't help but to feel that we keep losing parts of out family and there is nothing I can do to stop it."

Arthur's eyes gleamed a brilliant ruby red as he stared at Dutch, and it took a mere second before that red gleam appeared in Dutch's eyes as well, "I know Dutch, it's been hard on all of us, but trust me when I say I will find a way to get us all to the West. Exactly like ya said, all we gots is each other, so please. Don't worry about a thing Dutch, I'll take care of us. All I need is for you to trust me."

His voice took on the weight of millions of tones and voices, an age old accent twisting his own Southern accent to sound like a sweet melody dripping like venom from a snake's fang. Dutch swayed under the wave of his persuasion, and leaned heavily against some crates near his cot.

"Of course I trust you son."

Both men blinked and the red was gone from their eyes as if there was never anything there to begin with. The shadows creeped around Dutch's ankle and dug in with a quiet rumble, blood dripped from the wound and a jagged sigil that resembled the symbol drawn in his clearing was left behind. "I'm glad to see that we are on the same page then Dutch Van der Linde, we can't wait to see what will be our next move. Of course you will consult us with your plans before anything happens, or else."

Dutch couldn't even cry out with pain as the brand was dug into his skin, but he looked up at Arthur as the shadows coalesced around his form like fluttering black curtain, "Or else what Arthur?"

Arthur smiled with too many teeth, "Or else you get to join Micah."

He left with footsteps that never made a sound and Dutch noticed how he stuck to the edges of camp near the trees, or how he seemed to have more shadows than just his own. Oh, Dutch understood in the days later that what he talked to wasn't just Arthur, no it had Arthur's voice but it wasn't him. If he even thought about talking against Arthur or tried to even plan a heist or a move without Arthur's input then the brand on his ankle would burn and bleed shadows.

It was better to keep a semblance of power instead of losing it all together.

Though in the mean time Arthur seemed to flow throughout the camp, his shadows digging into the skins of his new followers and his mind was crying out about how this wasn't the freedom that he had believed in. Though the tainted part of his mind gleefully rejoiced that his followers would know who they belonged to, but the kinder part of him knew that the Whispers could tell him where his acolytes where at all time or if they were in danger. Then the Whispers swallowed up that last part of his pesky mind that rejected them and set out once more to greet the Gang turned acolytes.

When he reached little Jack Marston once more at dinner, he held the young boy in his lap and let the shadows crawl around him. Arthur and the Whispers agreed that he was too young to brand like the others, so Arthur picked him up and brought him over to his tent to show him the mask.

"Ya see that mask Jack, that there mask is what gives me power, but to give me strength all ya need to do is pray to us boy. Call out to us before you sleep at night and the Shadows will keep ya and yer Mama safe," Arthur smiled down at the four year old as he balanced him to stand on his bed and get a closer look at the mask.

Jack bounced on the bed lightly as his fingers ran over the smooth bone and Arthur found those phantom touches on his own flesh and blood face.

"Where'd ya find it Uncle Arthur?" Jack asked as he picked it up from the side of the wagon where it was pinned up.

The Whispers surged forward and their voice mixed in with Arthur's, "Arthur Morgan never found us child, we found him lost in the light and brought him home to the cooling shadows. We are finally coming home after generations of being lost."

The little boy scrunched up his nose, "Wasn't it lonely then being away from home for that long?"

Both Arthur and the Whispers paused, "Child, we are older than time, we don't know what it is like to be lonely, we revel in torment and bath in the blood of our sacrifice. We have only ever had followers, we have no need of friends nor family since we are not human."

"Well that's dumb! Mama says everyone needs a family and friends! I'll be your friend!" Jack giggled as the Shadows lifted him up and away from the mask for Arthur to pick from the air and cuddle close. Before they could answer Jack, they could hear the calling of Jack's parents.

Arthur let the Shadows curl again into his own form as he turned to some of the only people to not be turned in followers; of the Van der Linde Gang only Swanson, Karen, Bill, Abigail, John, and Strauss were not branded with his mark. Because some were not worthy of being in his presence, or they were not in camp at the moment. But in the case of Abigail Roberts and John Marston, it was because they were simply too observant to be marked so discreetly. As well as the fact that Arthur thought highly of them, so the pagan deity decided to give them the choice of joining them.

The Whispers curled around Arthur's mind even further, Well its not as if they can refuse us, for their child will grow to be one of our most devout.

The cowboy turned and hitched Jack further up his torso to get a good hold on him as both Abigail and John came up together. "Jack! There you are boy! Leave your Uncle Arthur alone, he's just got back from his travels and you got to go to bed young man," Abigail scolded as she came up to take Jack from Arthur's hold, "I'm sorry Arthur, you must be tired after that mess in Strawberry."

Abigail smiled at him as he relinquished Jack tenderly, but he shook his head, "Nah, the boy's fine Abigail, but when you and John have got time I've got a lead in Valentine that I thought I could follow up with y'all."

While John had been quiet the entire time he spoke up finally, "You know Abigail ain't do that kinda stuff no more, and who would watch after the boy?"

"I meant more of a lead of a piece of land in the area, I'm more intimidating than most of us. But, you- you and Abby look like a young couple waiting to start their lives, banks are more willing to lend to two younguns like you than an old bastard like me."

Or rather, they hated the thought of having to venture out and converse with other mortals as if they were in any way equal to them. But John and Abigail, they were more than mere acolytes; they were worthy of being disciples.

Abigail and John looked at each other in confusion, "Whaddya mean Arthur? We ain't anywhere near close to getting land after what happened in Blackwater!"

A red tint in his eyes caught on the roaring campfire that the rest of his followers were sitting at.

"Don't worry y'all, leave it to me, after all I got a plan."

Oh yes, they did have a plan, and when they got the land that Arthur wanted then he could plan for a temple to be erected for him. After all, they deserved it, and in the mean time while they were in Valentine he could convert his disciples with their own marks.

But he would worry about that when the time comes, so Arthur bid the Marstons goodnight and climbed into bed. The Shadows reached out and closed the tent off from the outside world and from there they covered Arthur in a tangle of black tendrils and wisps of shadow.

Arthur fell into the void and the Whispers and Shadows caught him.

Okay as I write this I might have lead myself into expanding this slightly soooo lets see how it goes.

Ragehappy Mavin Fan