Ah... would have loved to write a critique on this!
Such a great piece of art.
I'll give you a short version, though it indeed deserves a long one as has rightfully been done given the exquisite result you've offered us.
I would have gone completely opposite the comments I've read. And what you have written in your answer to the critique.
To me this is no stale mate. True, that impression comes off at first. But then, one wonders as to the true meaning of the title "one more time"...
Her back isn't bent enough to convey resignation. No groveling here. She isn't mesmerized either. Her body isn't slack or tensed. Paused.
It doesn't express fear either, or it would be more tensed and upright. She has obviously quite enough height available to meet the dragon's gaze but chooses instead to bend slightly, with confidence. Her stance is that of one addressing an issue. A difficult one maybe, but a manageable one.
Her wings are folded, but not placated or flat. They do not express anything but simplicity of stance.
What do we have opposing or amending that: her hand and arms, her gaze, the speech she obviously delivers and of course the setting, the title and the dragon, or more appropriately the drooling beast.
But most of these are at best purely interpretative. No real information available here, save neutral ones.
Let's take a random look.
The setting is stark and contrasted. But what do you expect from a cave and a shaft of light? Neutral.
Secondary interests, namely the butterflies, are neutral at best or positive. They do not seem otherwise affected by any of this, and what's more their sheer presence is rather a testimony to the peacefulness of the setting if anything else. Neutral.
The Girl. Unfathomable. Take a look at her without the setting or her Nemesis. What do you see? And she's totally unscathed. No past action in this picture. The only troubling aspect of her posture is her left arm which is strangely invisible.
Three possibilities: it's hurt (it doesn't bleed, but may be broken yet she doesn't display any expression of pain) and she nurses it; she is shielding her breasts (but if so in a purely academic way since nothing in the picture qualifies sexually and the beast looks her in the eye); or she holds it in a defensive posture (crossing her breast instead of covering it, and a close examination accredits this in my opinion, but is her hand on her heart?). I hold the last hypothesis for relevant. Neutral mostly, but the keystone. Everything hinges on it and we have no real clue but a nagging feeling that something may be amiss or that at least we're missing something.
So we obviously look closer at The beast. Yes it drools and looks beastly and impressive, but that's the essence of its character. Nothing to see here. The capital feature is where and how it looks. It is intent and listening to what is said and to who talks to it. What could be said? Think about it. What could be said that had any interest (and it obviously does) for a creature that could easily swallow whole its prey if that's what the Girl (yes I know it's not a girl proper) is AND knowing that it cannot talk itself which seems obvious from the long tong lolling out.
The scene changes completely at that point. So much so, that one is inclined to look for additional clues.
The skull. Yes. But what the Hell is it doing there? It's obviously an add on. The classical stance would be to have a claw on it, but the one we see rests well above and behind. This also alters the perception of the scene and the Beast. Why would it bend itself in such a convoluted way to address (or listen more appropriately) to a prey?
So we go back to a perception of stance and discourse, partaking even. This is so true, it is probably why you had to add the skull (I'm well aware my commentating neck is sticking way out waiting for the blow lol), as if you knew all the plotting wasn't enough of a giveaway. In a sense, it's almost as if having succeeded so well preserving the suspense, you had to tip your hand extra to make sure we didn't miss the obvious conclusion.
But as for most exceptional works, yours has escaped its creator and taken a life of itself. Independent of your own volition.
Being the positive and sensitive one, I immediately though this was a plea:
"One more time!"
"Please let's play one more round before I'm off"...
"I know you're exhausted (stop drooling on my knee like that) but you're so big and strong... please..."
Oops! Just looked back and realized I let the keys fly on the board... well. Wasn't a short version after all!