This is just a little disturbing piece that ended up having more depth than I thought it would. ^~ By the way, for those of you know don't know, black lilies are flowers supposedly symbolizing "lies" in some fashion. *grinz* If you will, please tell me what you think of this story!

"Black Lilies"
by: Rosalyn Angel

Scrape... scrape... scrape...

Mindless scratching along the wall, a clatter of metal clanking together lightly, clicking. Bluish gray bolts and joints forged together to create a mockery of a hand, running along the peeling wall, leaving little curls of paint falling off in its wake.

He took his metal hand, feeling the tug of machinery inside his artificial arms whenever he moved them, and waved it around in a circular motion, screws always clanking. Fingers replaced with cruel claws rested down by his lean side as he walked away from the wall, banishing it unworthy for the present time of his gaze and touch.

"Sydney?" his friend called out to him. "What are you--"

"Hush," Sydney said, wanting to brush a shoulder-length, pale blonde hair away from his face, but was wary that his claws might cut him. "I am thinking."

His friend, tall and dark, stood rigid and straight, afraid that he had ruined Sydney's pondering.

Sydney shook his head, closing haunted, brown eyes that adorned the face with the sharp nose and thin lips. His black boots clunked against the dirty ground as he paced, the long ebony cloth tied to his waist like a cape flowing behind him. He raised up a metal hand again, pausing with his back turned to his friend.

"Tell me, Hardin. What do you believe in?" he asked.

Hardin's angular face twisted into a deep frown. "What do you mean, Sydney? I believe in Mullenkamp's order."

Sydney whipped around, a disappointed quirk in his one-sided smile. He spread his arms in front of himself as if welcoming something, showing the bare chest and stomach (for he could not wear a shirt or armor on his upper body; his arms hindered getting the attire on), not quite muscular but not quite scrawny.

"You evaded my question, Hardin," he said. "Let's try again. What do you believe in?"

Hardin pursed his lips together, the dry air of the crumbling shelter they had taken refuge in beginning to choke him. Or maybe it was Sydney's words that reached out and strangled him so.

"The Dark's power. Your power, Sydney."

Sydney nodded, his blonde hair brushing against his collarbone briefly when he bowed his head. He turned his bare back to Hardin again, the tattoo of a celtic design resembling some sort of key moving with the muscles as he began to pace again. The silver ringlets tightly attached to his black pants jingled with each step, as did the metal with each movement.

"Now, Hardin. Are you positive in that 'belief?' Would you follow me continuously? Even if it meant your very own death?"

Hardin swallowed a lump in his throat. Sydney often went to these talks, as if he was always trying to figure out people's inner workings. But his motions, even though directed at someone else, always seemed to be meant for himself. As if it were not Hardin he was interrogating, but his own mind.

"You know that's true, Sydney. I've sworn allegiance with the Mullenkamp cult - and you. Your power to see into people's souls. It's overwhelming."

"And how do you know that I don't simply stare those beliefs into you, Hardin?" Sydney said, voice lower and putting empathize onto the name, making sure his follower and friend was paying close attention to his lecture. "How do you know I don't do that with my... overwhelming power?"

"Because I know you would not deceive me, Sydney."

"I see..." Sydney trailed off, languidly walking to the white wall and putting his forehead - with his hand next to it - onto the surface. His eyes closed, thinking as he curled up the claws, scraping the paint away as the hand transformed into a fist.

"And what of that belief, Hardin? I would not betray you? Hide something from you? How can you be sure of yourself, when I can implant a thought into your head by simply looking and speaking to you?"

Hardin figdeted nervously. This was a test of Sydney's, he knew, of his loyalty. Passing it should be easy for him. Passing it without breaking down was the hard part.

"I just trust you, Sydney. I just do."

Sydney smiled an eerie, creeping smile, opening the ghostly eyes and staring at no particular thing. He raised the hand that was not on the wall and waved it in a circle as he had done before.

"Come over here, Hardin. Take a gander at my hand. It is mechanical, is it not?"

Feeling like an obedient canine, Hardin hesitantly walked over, the only sounds being his heavy breathing and footsteps. He looked upon the bluish gray hand with the sharp fingers, the screws and joints there too, as he had done before.

"Yes, Sydney. Completely mechanical."

"I gave my limbs to the gods I believed in so much," Sydney said, rolling over to lean back on the wall as Hardin took a step away. The blonde arched his neck up, eyes looking at the high ceiling. His adam's apple moved, signaling he was breathing hard, but he made not a sound except for his voice, flowing from one syllable to the next.

"I willingly ripped a blade through my shoulder for the gods I believed were there, Hardin. In return, they gave me these..." Sydney said, raising the heavy arms up, the metal glinting in the dark room from the light through the smudged window. "These do not serve a purpose as much as yours do. Hardin, when you wiggle your fingers, can you feel them?"

Gazing at the shadowed face with skin almost as light as the wall, Hardin answered simply, "Yes."

"Then bless them. Bless them when you can scratch an inch without cutting yourself, when you can pick up a small object and use it without fumbling, when you can feel them... Will you, Hardin? Do you believe me?"

Hardin nodded, not able to pry his dull eyes away from the frowning face pointed at the ceiling. "Yes, Sydney. Your word to me is truth."

"Then why aren't you listening to me, Hardin?" Sydney queried, craning his head back to look straight at the other man. "Why don't you believe me when I say I could be implanting everything into your head?"

Hardin paused. He searched for the right words to pass the test, something that could intelligently counter Sydney's words, but found none, only having his mouth opened then closed, leaving Sydney to smirk.

"Beliefs are a double-sided coin, Hardin. How much faith can you put into them? Yes, they can give you reasons for doing, for being, but for how long? You think you truly believe, Hardin, but why do you not answer me quickly enough? Humans, we think we believe, but sooner or later we begin to regret things. If we regret believing, then did we ever truly believe in the first place?"

Sydney closed his eyes again, a faint smile still gracing his lips.

"What is believing, Hardin? What are beliefs?"

Hardin looked down at the ground, shaking his head. "I... I don't know, Sydney."

"Do you believe me, Hardin?"

This time, he received no answer.