Somewhere at the end of a universe, there is a bar.
In this bar is a pretty brunette staring intently at a laptop, humming idly to herself and occasionally scribbling on an attached tablet.
"Depression here means something other than feeling sad," James clarifies.
"Wow. That sounds..."
Like he would rather die, he doesn't say but his narrator helpfully provides.
"I'm sure narrative convenience will bend to your will," James says wryly, and just as he does there's a roar in the distance.
"Thank you, Pedro!" she says to the sky. "Okay, uh." She pauses as she realizes she hasn't actually planned out what she's going to say to Vlast. Uh. Okay, it'll be fine, probably. Right? Right. Ignore the growing nervousness.
Is Vlast, uh, looking particularly hostile? She'll be fine regardless, but it kind of puts a wrinkle in her attempt to sell him on being Dragon King of the Underworld if his opener is trying to find out if she's edible. Um. It'll be fine. Really. Trust in the narrative convenience.
James side eyes Aestrix. "It's just a dragon."
"You are misunderstanding the reasoning for my sudden onset of nerves, James. A dragon is as physically threatening to me as anything else here, which is to say, it isn't. Psychologically, on the other hand, aaaaaa I'm about to have to explain something really complicated to someone I don't know super well, aaaaaaaaa social anxiety." She coughs. "I'll deal, it just feels like it'd be disingenuous to not display my actual emotions."
"- ah. How much are you planning on telling him?"
And presently a dragon the size of a horse, brown-black leathery skin covered with green crystals here and there, quickly approaches them. It roars once more, then dives towards them and lands a few feet in front of them, raising quite a lot of dust as it does so. It stands on its hind legs, extending its wings to the sides, their span twice as large as he is, and looks straight at Aestrix.
"Who are you," it growls, a deep raspy voice mixing with since rather inhuman sounds produced by the rocks inside its body, "and what is this power I sense in you?"
"Aestrix, hi," she says, powering through her social anxiety, "and it's this thing," she brings out the little bubble, "that I got from ganking an Elder Dragon, do you maybe want to eat it, become all powerful, and keep the world from breaking apart?" Pause. "That was an actual question, if you decide not to I'll find someone else, this is not a 'do this or the world ends' sort of thing."
"Yessir." She clears her throat. "Okay so, uh." She considers how best to word this. "From my perspective, you're fictional? And I have done the equivalent of running off with someone else's manuscript, and now I'm scribbling self indulgent fanfiction in the empty pages after everything that's already been written. I had nothing to do with the way your world was built and nothing to do with any strife that you or anyone else in this world has experienced. So I would like to fix this big insane world as quickly as possible, save all the people in it, kill and replace the Elder Dragons, probably resurrect Glint and Snaff and prevent general world-suck and - and stuff. Details pending but mission straightforward."
"Prove it," he says immediately.
"Okay." She summons two chairs, one for herself, and one for James, and she sits down in hers. "So your name is Vlast, you're Glint's son, the bards named you 'Gleam' without asking you of your opinion of the matter because the bards are jerks. You were raised by exalted, who mostly didn't know how to treat you as a person instead of a duty to Glint and the future of the world. They summarily didn't really do a great job, and thought that keeping a dragon locked in a tiny city shaped cage would be a good idea. For some reason. You hate this, and also them, but you overall agree with the premise, even if you are personally so sick of the duty that's bound you since you hatched that you'd much rather just go fly off into the desert to not be bothered by anyone, ever. But you don't. Because you refuse to turn away from responsibilities that large and important." Pause. "Honestly you really got shafted, for your entire life, it really sucks, I'm sorry man, I want to fix it. Is there anything you'd like me to do to prove my author-hood?"
(He takes the seat.)
Vlast takes a few seconds to think about it. "Give me that magic," he eventually settles on.
He eats it.
He roars, then jumps into the air and flies towards the sun.
It takes a few minutes, which Aestrix herself will never experience, what with the fourth wall separating her from everything happening here. Still, Vlast's still visible form in the sky starts growing. There's a light show accompanying it but with the glare of the desert sun most of it is lost to witnesses. The really noticeable changes are the dragon steadily getting larger than a building and then larger still while his body assimilates all the power.