The Red Woman
From http://strannik01.livejournal.com/166540.html: "a world-weary sorceress meets a dragon who arrives with a very peculiar proposition."
From fail-fandomanon.dreamwidth.org: "Mayrat, a witch both respected and feared, is visited by a dragon who can turn into a girl. The dragon offers a bargain that will bring them treasure and power; Mayrat agrees."
In her ninety-fifth summer, Mayrat af-Qash met the dragon.
The Red Woman is a fairly direct prequel to The White Palace, and takes place several thousand years before the events of the latter.
Much, much more tenuously, The Red Woman takes place in the same universe as Bright Mouths, though several thousand more years have passed between the two.
Way back when I was writing The White Palace, I became very fond of two characters that weren't even in the story at all: Abias ar-Dal, Fard's immediate predecessor, and Mayrat af-Qash, the woman who'd first held the job. Fard learns to deal with his circumstances largely with the help of the legacies they left him, and so to think about those legacies, I also had to think about who they'd both been.
So when this SSBB theme came up and I was searching for ideas about what to write, I came back to the story Mim tells Fard and Nonna at the start of the third part: the very fairy-tale-ized version of history, come down through three thousand years of speculation, about Mayrat and the dragon. It had fire, it had earth, and it even had a little wind -- perfect. And it had two ladies, because I'd been clear to specify that the dragon in question was a lady dragon, and it operated in a world where I'd already established that dragons could, under some circumstances, look like people.
Of course, I then took on this challenge while still trying to move into a new house and work on my dissertation, and then it became 23,000 words long, because I am an idiot.
At any rate: If you've read The White Palace before, I don't know if you recognized any names, but many of the circumstances and universe mechanics may have seemed familiar to you. If you haven't, then I'm slightly sorry I spoiled a fairly late-story reveal for you, even though it's one you can definitely put together on your own beforehand. And maybe you should go read it, because I'm still proud of it.
Also, all the art credit and thrown bouquets go to eluneth for the lovely art she did here, with an extra helping of thank-you for how when I originally hit her up for the project, I told her outright I had no idea what I was going to write, but would she draw for it anyway? She gave me a blind assurance that she would, and as luck would have it, I wrote something that played into many of her stylistic strengths. Such gorgeousness!