As Roy, Elan, and Belkar began an argument about shivving people (Roy relying on his knowledge of combat, Belkar on his knowledge of murder, and Elan on his rather brief stint in prison), Haley sat bored in her cell with V. The elf was pacing back and forth, muttering quietly about "inconceivable" this and "impossible magic" that.
"Copper piece for your thoughts?" Haley asked, snickering a little as V tripped and nearly face planted mid-stride. Evidently the mighty wizard had forgotton about the rogue.
"Ah, ah, miss Starshine, I had forgotten you were here." Vaarsuvius explained, obviously embarrassed.
"Don't sweat it, V. Unnoticed is how we rogues like it. So, I'll ask again, copper piece for your thoughts?" Haley flashed the elf a winning smile. She could be quite flirtatious when she wanted to, and right now she was bored and more than a little lonely. V had never reacted to her before, but, she had nothing else to do at present.
"I hardly see how a meager copper piece could help with our current predicament, nor any other for that matter." Vaarsuivius sniffed matter-of-factly.
Haley rolled her eyes. "It's one of those human figures of speech you hate so much. It means I've noticed you're thinking very hard, and I'm interested in hearing what you're thinking about." She swung her legs as she talked, dangling them a few inches off the ground as she sat on her bunk.
Vaarsuvius's face crinkled briefly at the mention of a much hated human turn of phrase, which only made Haley grin internally. Getting under V's skin was easy if you knew which buttons to push. And she did. The elf wavered for a moment, seemingly torn between explaining whatever had been on that massive mind, or ranting about the stupidity of human figures of speech. The former won out. "You see, miss Starshine, I am attempting to discern how that doddering idiot Entresi managed to create a curse of such massive complexity."
Haley tapped a finger to the side of her head, thinking. "Well, after Roy put about three feet of steel in him, he did have enough breath left to mumble his 'dying curse'. And he pointed kind of vaguely-"
"Well, one assumes he was aiming for Roy, but the massive blood loss coupled with his own inferior hand-eye coordination caused his finger to waver-"
"-And point at you." Haley finished. "Yeah, I remember."
"Precisely. however, Durkon and I scanned both Roy and myself for harmful magics and discovered none. As an extra precaution, we subjected ourselves to multiple targetted dispelings to make absolutely sure. However, his curse remained." The wiard let out an unhappy sigh. "And I just cannot figure out how. Or rather, I can, but how he managed to pass it on to a person who was miles away and, to the best of my knowledge, he had never met, astounds me."
Haley took her hands away from her face and began drumming her fingers on her bunk. She often fidgetted when she was thinking hard, a bad habit that she was glad Roy never picked up on in their poker games. "Back up a moment there, V." She said. "You know how Entresi got that curse past all your detections and dispels?"
"Well, I assume I do." V said a little haughtily. "It is difficult, but I believe not beyond the scope of Entresi's abilities, marginal though they were. I think he created a curse that would lay dormant until a specific trigger was met. It would only give off the faintest magical signal, and would be virtually impossible to dispel. However, the part I cannot fathom is how he transfered it to that baron's spawn-"
"-whatever. The point is, he made a curse that somehow found its way to that noblewoman, and was triggered by the action of the person he actually cast the curse on. The sheer mechanics of it are mindblowing!" The elf railed, throwing up a pair of delicate hands. "I have calculated, to the best of my ability, the ranges and effects involved in such a casting and have concluded it would require powerful epic magic! It is far beyond that wretch's ability and I can't! figure! it out!" Vaarsuvius ended with a wail, which momentarily silenced the argument in the other cell. It quickly resumed, however.
The pace of Haley's drumming fingers quickened. She smelled a rat. "You know, V, what if that big light show was all just a trick?"
The elf raised one eyebrow. "What are you suggesting?"
"What if this was a bait and switch? Entresi makes out like he cursed the first person you kissed, when in reality, it's you who was cursed all along. Everyone's efforts focus on Casey, and meanwhile, the actual recipient of the curse, you, is none the wiser." Haley finished triumphantly.
Vaarsuvius blinked twice in rapid succession. "Yes, yes! That explains everything! The so called 'hidden' curse is within the realm of Entresi's talents, as I previously mentioned. A simple illusion triggered at the same time as the curse, and he fools all of us. It's so simple!" The elf grinned a little manically before suddenly deflating. "But… but, how can I test this hypothesis without access to the proper magic? I am without my spellbooks or the proper spells, which leaves me exactly where I was."
Haley grinned impishly. "I've got an easy way to test the theory. Vaarsuvius, I want you to kiss me."
Dead silence radiated from the adjacent cell.
"I-I beg your pardon, miss Starshine?" Vaarsuvius stammered.
"I want you to kiss me. It doesn't matter where. Just do it."
"I can suggest a few places!" Belkar called from the next room.
"Shut up, Belkar!" Haley and Roy said at the exact same time.
"Haley?" A voice called hesitantly from the other cell. "It's Elan, your boyfriend. Now, I've done hard time before, and I know it changes a man, and I guess it changes a girl too. But I just want you to know that these feelings you're having are just the result of your long isolation, and that I don't think you should give in to your urges."
"I… that's sweet of you, Elan, really." Haley replied. "However, I'm just doing this to help V figure out Entresi's curse."
"Oh, I guess that's okay then."
"Oh sure, she says that now, but when she's tongue-deep in the elf's mouth, she'll think differently." Belkar growled.
"Aye, you would know, ye deranged little halfwit." Durkon muttered, the first he'd spoken since their imprisonment.
"Durkon!" Vaarsuvius shouted, aghast, as the rest of the order began to voice questions.
"I mean, nah, forget I said anythin'. Tis for V to tell, not me."
The elf placed delicate fingers against aching temples and began to rub slowly. "I do not wish to deal with this particular bit of drama at present. Miss Starshine, if you would come here?"
"Not the best proposal I've ever heard, but I'll accept nonetheless." Haley said with a wink. The humor was apparently lost on the elf, who just blinked confusedly in response. She rolled her eyes as she hopped off the bunk, leaning her face in and presenting a cheek to Vaarsuvius who, after a moment's hesitation, gave it a delicate peck.
There was no insane laughter or glowing smoke this time, for which Haley was thankful. However, there was a change. As a rogue, she was well trained in using her body as a tool, if not a weapon. She knew her exact height and weight, she knew how far she could jump, how high she could climb, how fast she could run, and every other bit of information about herself that had kept her alive all these years. So when her body began to change, she knew about it.
She felt as her center of gravity shifted as more of her weight became distributed in the upper areas of her body. She felt an uncomfortable tightness in her dress as her shoulders expanded, and an odd looseness as her hips melted. Worst of all was the sudden and great discomfort in her lacy undergarments. "Ahem. Oh my. Wow." She gasped, slightly disoriented. She was almost disappointed to find that her voice had barely dropped. She sounded nearly like she normally did. "This'll take some getting used to."
Vaarsuvius looked the former girl up and down. "Did it work?" The elf asked.
"You don't know?" Haley replied. "Come on, my dress is nearly bursting across the shoulders, my hips are gone, and my voice is deeper, to name a few things."
"So…?" Vaarsuvius ventured.
"Of course it worked!" Haley thundered. "Oh, wow, did I really get angry that fast? This'll really take some getting used to."
"So Haley, you're a man now?" Belkar yelled.
"More of a man than you'll ever be. Of course, in that respect, nothing has changed since we've met, has it?" Haley shot back.
"WHAT?!" Belkar snarled ferally. The elf and the rogue heard a series of metalic thuds as he threw himself against his bars. "I'll rip your freakin' face off you snarky son of a bitch! You don't even have hotness to hold me back anymore, so don't think I won't!" A moment later, his hands appeared, clawing at the wall between their cells and wriggling at the bars.
Haley leaned in close to Vaarsuvius. "You know what you have to do now, right? Kiss his hand while he's clawing like that. It'll be good for a laugh."
"Miss Starshine, I have always enjoyed your particular way of thinking." Vaarsuvius replied by way of agreement. As V crept to the front of the cell, a second pair of hands appeared, grappling with Belkar's.
"Belkar, knock it off!" Roy barked, prying at the ornery halfling's hands. "I've got a size bonus to grapple checks, stop - oof! my ribs! - stop resisting!"
"Bite me, Roy. I'm gonna claw my way over there and kick Haley's newly male ass!" Belkar ranted. "Show her who the bigger man is!"
Vaarsuvius bent in close to the flailing pairs of hands, trying to plant a kiss on Belkar's small pale ones without touching Roy's large dark ones. Of course, just as the elf leaned in, Belkar managed to swat one of Roy's hands directly onto the elf's mouth. There was an audible *smeck* as the hand came away from the elf's lips, followed by a sudden cry of horror from Roy.
After the wordless shriek, silence reigned over both cells for a few fleeting moments. Finally, Elan spoke up. "Roy has boobies." He stated matter of factly.
"N-no!" A feminine voice that could only belong to Roy wailed. "Not again! Not again!"
"Hey hot stuff!" Belkar suddenly growled lecherously. "Couldn't get enough of the Belkster, could you? Don't know what you did with Roy or that gorgeous mop of blond tresses, but I'm willing to let it slide. Gimme some sugar, baby!"
"Oh gods, no!" Roy cried. "Belkar you horny little idiot, it's me, Roy! It's always been me! Keep your filthy hands off me!"
Surprisingly, Belkar started laughing. A hearty, joyful laughter that seemed to fill the entire dungeon. "Oh yeah, I knew that all along. I was just screwing with you. Your face is freakin' priceless!"
What followed was a sound of inarticulate rage from Roy, followed by the clang of a body - presumably Belkar's - striking the bars of the cell at high speed. It didn't stop the halfling from laughing. Soon, Durkon was laughing as well. Then Elan. Next Haley caught it, and even Vaarsuvius began to chuckle. Last and almost grudgingly, the newly female Roy began to giggle, the sound of which sent the group into even greater gales of laughter. For more than a minute, the group laughed. At their situation, at their screwed up world. But mostly they just laughed.
When the laughter finally died down, Durkon cleared his throat. "Wait lads. If Vaarsuvius c'n do tha' curse thing, don't tha' mean we're naw in n' antimagic cell?"
In the silence that followed, a pin drop would have seemed defeaning. "Sonofabitch." Roy groaned. "Are we really so stupid that nobody checked? Vaarsuvius?"
"Light." The elf replied, touching a random pebble, which instantly began to shed a magical glow. "My magic seems to be functioning normally, Roy. It appears we have been vastly underestimated."
Haley could almost hear the wolfish smile in Roy's next words. "Okay gang, new plan. We're busting the hell out of here. Someone give me an idea as to how."