"Well now, my girl. Do you have any idea at all just what it is you've gone and done, tonight?"
The words are hard, but from your mouth just now they're only a playful tease, and the girl's ears only twitch once. That, and a tiny smile curves her lips, trembling as if afraid to show itself—like her, it is, that way.
"I—" She coughs, clears her throat. "Sir, I was on the quarterdeck, looking off the starboard quarter, and saw the thing down there with the gaff in its flank, and...and..." Her eyes skitter up to yours, bounce away—is that rising color in her ears? Harder to tell at night, but—yes! The girl is blushing! And well she might, for aught you saw and smelled of her while she was below, and that story tells itself. Oh, yes; she's hardly the first you've known with a taste for the strange, that way. And such a taste!—the thing barely touched her and had her soaking her thighs.
Lovely eager as she was then, she's choking on the words now, ears bright red almost glowing in the dark—fighting every ounce of a New Albain upbringing to try to get it out. But the girl's fought hard enough tonight, and you lay a finger across her lips to ease her.
"No, then. Well, Emeline, let me tell you what you've gone and done, tonight." A little edge in it—this one squares up to a fright, you've seen; a touch of that might help settle her now, and does. "You've risked the life of one of my crew, is what you've gone and done, and those lives aren't yours to chance with. They are mine—even yours. You owe me seven years, remember? And how would I have had them, do you think, if you got yourself killed tonight?—and with just a little over three months toward your debt."
Yes, there it is in her eyes. Before it can settle in, though, you go on. "And I should be very sore with you about that. But I'm not, my girl. Would you like to know why?" And you stop, and wait for her to nod—and then just cock a brow, and make her say "Yes, sir."
"Well, then. Let Lu give you a drink of water, and I'll tell you why that is." And Lu moves to do just that, handling the skin while you gently shift the girl, still supporting the weight her muscles won't want to right now, so she can take the spout—and take it she does, sucking thirsty as a babe, and something in the work of her jaw and muzzle gives you a moment's need to shift your hips. But pleasant as the thought may be, it's not the time for that.
"You've never seen a beast like that, I'll warrant. They don't come close to shore, not alive—rare enough they even come near the surface; mostly they stay deep.
"They're tough, too. Hard as anything to kill. You just can't do it, not with shot or shell or blade or bullet—just sinks in, they don't notice it at all. Only one thing that'll hurt them, and that's a harpoon like the one you saw tonight. Mark that sight well, my girl—you'll never see the like of it again; it's a wonder the thing wasn't dead the instant it was hit, and anyway a dart like that's a rare prize indeed. I've never even seen one before."
Emi reaches weakly up, pinches the skin just back of the spout so she can swallow and pull her lips away to say, "But—why, Captain? Why would anyone want to kill it? It didn't hurt the ship—it could've torn us into matchwood, and didn't so much as spring a board...back home we had to keep them scared, or they'd have overrun us, but this—why would anyone? It's so gentle..."
Something in her voice just then—weak and rough with the strain before, but still. Is that what longing sounds like, when she wears it? And aught as if she weren't just speaking of the Bitch—but what sense would that make?
"Why take a whale, my girl? Parts of them, they're worth a mint—enough to do as we like for a year, except we're not a big enough ship or enough hands for the job. We'd never get the thing up on deck where we could carve it down, and even if we did it'd swamp us."
Odd to see such a look on the girl's face at that—it arrests her, holds her back from taking the spout again, and her ears aren't red now or even pink but deathly pale. "But Captain! They can't—it's not—" She chokes, sputters—retches suddenly, snatching her head aside so's not to splatter you or Lu but only the boards with the water she drank far too fast. That, and—horror? The thing was gentle with her, sure. But a New Albain woods scout, horrified at the thought of killing a monster?
Shamefaced in the wake of the spasm, Emi wipes her muzzle with the back of one paw, still looking away. "I'm s-sorry, Captain. Excuse me..."