The day Rose Lalonde and Terezi Pyrope met.
The woman is garbed in the robes of a sorceress. She maintains her stance and holds wands at the ready. They exude unknown power, glowing and wafting like heavy fog.
The dragon is perched upon its pile, scaly body rippling with sinew, teeth in countless jagged rows. Gold glitters; pinpoints of red catch the light in shards of ruby.
“Well,” she says, “this is awkward.”
The dragon’s tongue flicks out, tasting the air.
“I’ll say,” the dragon responds, voice harsh and gravelly.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t be here for this,” the sorceress continues.
“Don’t they all,” the dragon says.
“I don’t suppose you would be willing to just die quietly?” the sorceress asks.
“I don’t suppose you are?” the dragon returns.
“Then we are at a stalemate,” the sorceress says.
“I could, of course, simply obliterate you,” the sorceress says.
“If you could, you’d be filling your sacks with ill-begotten loot already,” the dragon points out. “But all you’ve been doing for the past two hours is standing there, waiting for me to expose my underbelly.”
“Ah. You noticed that, did you?” the sorceress says mildly.
“I admire your endurance. I would have thought you’d need to pee or something by now.”
“No, I always do my business before entering a lair of any description. I was given some good advice once.” The sorceress gives the dragon a sidelong look. “I would have thought you’d make a move to eat me or something by now.”
“I am feeling a bit peckish,” the dragon concedes. Its face is stuck into a perpetual grin, but the sorceress can also hear it in its voice now.
It does not move from its position on top of the hoard, and does not expose any of its vulnerable underbelly, but it does pick up a mouthful of the sparkling gold and rubies. There is a sound like a roaring furnace from its gullet, and long strings of melted gold drip out between its fangs.
“I think my legs are getting a bit tired,” the sorceress says, and sits down cross-legged on the floor. She holds her wands upright the whole time she is in motion, and does not take her eyes off the dragon.
There is a persistent dripping coming from far away, echoing through the caves. In the utter silence, it is the only thing that can be heard, even over the dragon’s breathing.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Once the sorceress starts noticing it, she can’t really stop.
“My god, how can you stand that?” she bursts out.
“I have to,” the dragon replies ruefully. “I can’t seem to find the time to fix it because people keep coming to steal my hoard.”
The sorceress winces.
“My profound apologies,” she says. “If it had been my choice, I would have already absconded with my body weight in gold and left you to your chores.”
The dragon tilts its head down as to give the sorceress a withering and unamused stare.
“What’s your name?” the dragon asks.
“Rose,” the sorceress replies, taken by surprise.
“Rose. My name’s Terezi.”
“I didn’t ask.”
“I know you didn’t. Very rude of you. But I needed to know your name, because I have something very important to tell you.”
“And that would be?”
“Are you paying attention?”
“Rose,” the dragon says gravely, “shut up.”
The sorceress sniffs, offended.
“There’s no need to be churlish…” she mutters.
“I always thought sorcerers were all old human men with long face fur,” Terezi remarks.
“You’re thinking of wizards.”
“What’s the difference?”
“The difference is that a wizard would be upbraiding you right now for showing them the discourtesy of not keeling over dead the moment they laid eyes on you.”
“I see. Whereas you are… doing what exactly right now?”
“Reassessing the life choices that have led up to this moment.”
“Ah! Were they terrible ones?”
“They could have been better,” Rose admits.
“How long are you going to be staying?” Terezi asks.
“Ah, have I started stinking up the place? Hasn’t even been three days yet,” Rose replies, straightening up.
“Oh god, please don’t tell me you’re planning to stay three days,” Terezi moans. “I have things to do!”
“What things?” Rose asks, looking dubious.
“Things! Important things! Important dragon things!” Terezi says, more than a little defensive.
“If you must know, I was going to go sack the estate of that baron on the next hill over.”
“Really? What a stunning coincidence. After I was finished here, I was going to do the exact same thing!”
They both fall silent, except for maybe the sound of their mental gears turning towards the same conclusion.
“I have,” Terezi says after a long pause, “a possibly brilliant idea.”