Well. If we're being honest, modesty was never really going to be the plan. Quen might be pushing that aspect sooner than you might've chosen, but not imprudently. If the creature is somehow not so docile with new tension on the harpoon as it seems now, who could blame it? And why waste as good a set of fine rags as yours on such a foolish chance? Even if your plan (and to call it a "plan" is generous) works, it's always awkward having to ask for a new set of clothes when a beast proves too impatient for your delicate style of removal. Even without the part where you're walking around naked for few days everyone always wants to know just how you lost the old ones. Yes, better a few minutes of awkwardness in front of these two than however many days the captain lets you stew with all the crew as witness.

As you consider, you realize Quen is right, however much you'd rather she were not. You likely will ruin your outfit, if you do not leave it on the deck and descend in the altogether. But this is hard.

After all, was it not precisely the dissimulation of modesty which was so vital to your protection, back in your days as a most impermissible sort of wood scout? Certainly in those days your clothes saw a deal of violence—as did your person; you took many blows you might have chosen not to, some of which left scars you will wear forever, by way of camouflage for those more—intimate—engagements you so favored and sought. Who after all would imagine, when you struggled back from patrol, clad only in rags and beat half to a pulp, that you had sustained such injuries in any other pursuit save nobly defending your townfellows? To simply expose yourself in this fashion, for what you can see in Quen's eyes—and even, perhaps, in Lu's—is in no small part the satisfaction of others, feels like a failure of that dissimulation of yours. And the last such failure led you to be dragged naked through the town, to be bound and horsewhipped in the public square before the eyes of everyone you'd ever known. So, yes, it is hard.

But not, you find, impossible—and hard though it be, you have been here long enough to know that deliberate nudity is not, here aboard the Reaver Bitch, of such terrible import as in the place you left behind. So it is with some dignity, and not only with fear, that you disrobe. And for all your trepidation, the night breeze does feel wonderful, dancing through your naked fur—perhaps your goosebumps are not only because your body remembers the lash too well.

It is that dignity, too, which enables you not to cover yourself with your hands—though the impulse is there, you know you would look foolish. But it doesn't quite suffice to let you meet your watchmates' eyes, save with tiny sidewise glances half hidden by your hair. Quen's smile is no more genuine than ever, you feel, but there is a change in her eyes—what it portends, you cannot say, but it does nothing to quell your mistrust of her. Lu, though—well. Perhaps you are only imagining that in her expression which suggests she may find aught of appeal in the sight of you, bare as the day you were whelped. But perhaps you are not, too.

Quen takes a step toward the rail, making to lower the bosun's chair over the rail. "Best we were about it, then. First watch in a couple of hours, and we'll be some time at this; wouldn't you rather we be done before anyone stirs about to start asking questions?" And again, damn it, she's right. "Go on—climb in, and we'll lower away. And quietly!" she hisses. "You know whose cabin you'll be bumping against, if you do. And you can guess what she'll do to you, if you wake her now."

While Quen's telling you these things, Lu steps close, leaning into you a little as she loops the free end of the heavy line around your middle—and leaning into you a lot, muzzle pressed sidewise against your solar plexus, as she hitches the line just above the base of your tail: an unexpected hug, with the lightest of bondage. Certainly, you think, she could have stepped behind you to do this, or bade you turn? But in any case, once done, she gives back half a step and reaches to her belt, coming up with a sheath knife and a marlinspike, both of which she passes to you. "Just in case," she says; her voice is surprisingly low for one so small as she, and rather lovely in its mellifluity. "Good luck."

And there is nothing now left to do, here on the quarterdeck. It's time to ride a rope down to the great strange beast below.