(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized lactose intolerance.)
It wasn’t that long ago that Belkar and Vaarsuvius hated each other probably more than any other two members of the Order of the Stick. And by “it wasn’t that long ago”, I mean “back when V’s domination of Yukyuk started“.
It’s one thing for them to suddenly be chumming it out like pals; quite another for this not to be a result of Belkar’s character development. If anything, Vaarsuvius is the one who seems to be backsliding on his own character development and showing decidedly amoral tendencies when the opportunity presents itself.
While I could chalk this up to bad writing, exacerbated by Rich’s pledge to post a strip every day until the pledge drive ends, I prefer to look at it three ways. One, what movement in morality Belkar may be undergoing is still decidedly cat-centered (this particular kobold gag comes in defense of his cat) and doesn’t necessarily indicate a shift in alignment. Anyone hoping for Belkar to become a goody-two-shoes before his death is likely to be sorely disappointed, though I still think what happened in the gladiatorial arena will ultimately prove to be the start of some sort of change in him. Two, this may be as much of a reflection of V’s character development as a contradiction, as he’s allowing himself to be the conduit for someone else’s revenge. As with Belkar, his alignment hasn’t changed, but maybe how that alignment expresses itself has.
Which brings me to the third angle: Belkar and Vaarsuvius were never all that different to begin with. They are quite likely to be the only two non-Good members of the Order of the Stick, though Haley seems to have flirted with it. Both have shown their priorities to be to use their abilities and the situations they get into for personal gain, and both have been willing to do whatever it takes to get there, V more competently. Perhaps each of them saw a little bit of themselves reflected in the other, and utterly hated them for it. But all it ever needed to take was a slight shift in each of their viewpoints, a recognition of their teammates’ skills and how their own skills fit into that bigger picture, for them to become close, if somewhat warped, pals.
The flip side of that recognition, of course, is that when the OOTS is whole and not blindsided, at the moment they may be, more than at any other point in the comic, a force to be reckoned with.