Nik's gaze failed to hide his awe and shock. A glacial city! Atlantis made of Ice! Back in his homeworld, he heard rumours about how the lost city of the ocean would occasionally emerge and bring opportunities to the fortunate ones... but since he never laid his eyes upon such an astonishing city, he could only compare the Northern Tribe to the Atlantis.
A city carved within a gigantic glacier, making a way for the continuously pouring waterfall that filled the gaps within the glacier and separated the city into four distinct parts. Even though any person could use a boat, since the gap wasn't that big, the separation and the connecting palace was symbolic to the tribe.
Four tribes warred against each other before finally unifying, creating a threshold threatening enough to attract the Fire Nation's attention and even stronger to keep them at bay.
The palace made of cold ice shimmered beautifully, reflecting the early sun's rays while almost glowing in multiple-colours.
Of course, Nik wasn't privy to their history. Taking a comfortable spot right next to Karna, he simply listened to everything she had to offer. History, local thoughts and a few conjectures.
"This city is amazing..."
Aside from the cold, it was every bit as perfect. Beautiful, clean and peaceful. At least, on the surface. No matter how beautiful is the city, since the tribe was happy enough to keep up with their symbolic separation through the river channels separating them, Nik held no delusions that there won't be any inner clashes.
After all, the city was well protected by the thick glacial war that even the Fire Nation would have to use its capital forces to breakthrough. So, without any outside pressure, the friction within the four distinct factions must have continued since a long time ago.
"Aunt Karna, when did you start your waterbending training?"
Nik questioned as Karna carefully guided the water of the channel to move the boat towards the Palace as a bitter smile emerged on her lips.
"Waterbending? This is not waterbending. To master the water, that is the essence of waterbending.
I can merely direct it. In fact..."
She heaved a depressed sigh as she shook her head while lowering her eyes, her gaze dim, unlike the fresh and bright expression with which she greeted Nik.
"Don't mind the small stuff, Aunt. It's still pretty amazing."
He chuckled and nudged her, making her look up and grin.
"Yeah, I guess you are right."
Karna slowly crouched while waving both of her hands forward, miraculously, targeting a small area of water below the boat to move forward before her eyes twinkled and her arms moved a bit quicker, crouching low before kicking up as roaring waves soon escalated the boat, bringing the duo towards the unifying palace at a greater speed.
Seeing such a sight, Nik's eyes grew brighter.
He whistled while enjoying Karna's healthy chuckle as cold and refreshing wind flew past his face, making his skin a bit cold as an unnatural flush took over his cheeks, the tip of his nose softened after a moment as his eyes grew watery due to the mixture of extreme cold and Karna's speed.
But he enjoyed every single moment before the water came to a sudden stop while Karna's face paled. Her grin fell into a distraught grimace while she looked at Nik apologetically, only to find a beautiful glow touching his eyes as he kept looking forward even when the boat came to an unnatural stop.
'Well... at least he enjoyed it.'
"What do you think you are doing, Karna?"
A deep and husky voice managed to reach Karna and Nik, who finally snapped out of his dazed stupor and looked back at Karna, without giving the irritated voice any thoughts.
"That was amazing, Aunt."
Karna and Nik, both, felt a moment of weightlessness as the water beneath the base of their boat plunged into the stream, making the boat fall on the river and rocking the passengers harshly.
Karna lost her footing and fell on her butt, hurting her ankle simultaneously while Nik simply felt his butt rise from his seat before he, too, lost his balance and felt his body moving forward, face planted down!
"I ask you once again, Karna. Just what do you think you are doing under the Whale-Horse tribe."
Rubbing his nose, Nik slowly crawled up, his gaze falling upon an old, balding man with thin beard and moustache. Pale blue eyes gazing at the middle-aged, yet, youthful woman coldly as tendrils of water revolved around his body.
Karna visibly shivered as she bit her lips, endured her burning ankle and slowly stood up to face the newcomer and immediately bowed with an impassive expression.
"I am sorry, father. I lost my cool."
"It's master Pakku."
The old man grunted while Karna remained silent.
"Next time you even as much as try to waterbend, I'll skin you with my own hands. Have I made myself clear?"
Then, Pakku's face turned towards Nik while gazing at his face calmly.
"And you... you aren't a pure tribe member... better keep yourself in check."
Snorting coldly, Pakku turned his heels and walked away before Karna couldn't hold it any longer and slumped on the boat, her eyes and expression filled with pain as she gazed at her aching left ankle.
The sound attracted Nik's attention and he immediately moved forward and slowly knelt near her feet.
"Did you hurt yourself?"
He looked up and asked softly. Even though he felt that there was something else going on, he didn't have the heart to ask out after gazing at Karna's expression.
"It's fine. Just a moment."
Karna smiled appreciatively before controlling a blob of water from the river as and letting the water glow over her left ankle as she took a deep breath.
"It's alright, Nik. I am fine."
Gazing at the clothed ankle, Nik nodded before helping her up as she let out a relieved sigh.
This chapter was supposed to go on for another thousand words, but my condition doesn't allow me to write today. I am way too sick and my head hurts when I look at the screen.
I apologise for my weakness, sigh.