"Woah... what's up with your leg? Trying to play mecha?"
Nik immediately wondered out loud as a blushing Karna slowly stepped into his igloo, her right leg normal, but her left calf and foot covered in a case of ice, squarish.
"What's... a mecha?"
All her embarrassment on how Nik would actually react to her situation was wiped away with the curiosity ignited to learn a new word. A chance to enhance her vocabulary.
"Mecha... let's not go down that road. Didn't you say that you are all healed up?"
Nik muttered while crouching down and poking the case of ice. Since her calf was also covered, she couldn't wear her usual baggy overcoat. Instead, she wore heavy robes that reached her thighs before her legs were covered in black tights.
Maybe, tights are universally available in the multiverse, disregarding the condition of the world?
And this new outfit gave Nik a chance to finally see her exposed short hair, kind of tomboyish, pair of healthy and thick thighs, although, Nik reckoned that he would need to touch them before assessing their quality, but he felt that they would definitely transfer a relishing feeling.
Feeling a bit weirded out by his stare at her legs, Karna took a step back and glared at Nik before she landed a knuckle on the top of his head.
"Hey, have you forgotten how to respect your"
The moment her knuckle landed, she felt pain transferring through her knuckles to her forearm and then her brain.
"That hairstyle really suits you, Aunt Karna."
Nik smiled as Karna decided to take it easy, rowing the boat alongside Nik using wooden pedals instead of waterbending.
"Flattery won't get you anywhere."
Karna huffed as she still felt a sting from her left hand. "Hardhead..." she muttered as her cheeks inflated into a pout before looking sideways.
"Anyway, where are we going?"
Nik asked out as he kept his gaze on the unblemished city that was starting to get all bustly with many tribe members waking up. In fact, Nik even saw the old man named Pakku, Karna's father, teaching waterbending to a group of young students, all boys, but he didn't enquire much after observing the sour look on her face, finally compelling Nik to praise her hairstyle.
Not that it was a lie. Her mature body, now that Nik had laid his eyes upon, really looking tantalizing when combined with her short, unkempt-like black hair. Unlike many 'gentle' ladies with long hair and kind expression, Nik was kind of enjoying the rebellious anomaly that Karna was.
In his new homeworld, she could be easily classified as going through her rebellious phase. Just that she was a middle-aged woman with her goals already set and a bodacious to boot.
"We... well, the Chieftain didn't want me to get back up this early, but I kind of insisted that I lead you to your 'reward'."
"The Chieftain isn't wrong. You should rest."
"I don't need rest."
Karna insisted harshly.
"You do, Aunt Karna."
Nik shrugged when he was glared at. By now, he was slowly getting a hang on Karna's personality and behaviour. Well, it was quite basic, but a girl, in this case, a woman, would only grow so rebellious if her wishes are not fulfilled even partially.
It didn't take a psychiatrist to understand that Karna really wished to learn waterbending. After all, the beautiful grin she kept hidden only leaked to her lips while performing martial kicks while raising a huge tidal wave.
But her encounter with her father spoke much about her upbringing, and the general patriarchal society this Northern Tribe was all about.
Women forced to be turned demure, submissive and to be pushed around. Well, even though the situation wasn't that 'abusive', it was a fact that women didn't hold much status, except for the leader of the Cat-Seal users, the Amazonian warrior with muscles so extreme that Rick would get immediately infatuated by her existence.
"We are here."
Karna hinted Nik to stop rowing the left pedal before she looked at the boat in front of them with a complicated look on her face.
If the Amazonian woman had the highest status as a woman, then the white-haired lady with a slender build could be considered to be only second to the beastmaster.
Even Nik turned his back to find a small boat with only one, silver-haired lady standing with a calm expression on her face. Blue eyes, extremely uncommon in the tribe and a beautiful face. Once again, the damnable hide-robes hid most of her body, but Nik didn't seem to mind that too much. In this world filled with war, it is extremely unlikely to find an unhealthy person, save for orphans and war-torned old men and women.
"We are here, you say?"
Nik whispered lightly while looking back at Karna, who nodded with a sigh.
"Yeah. Part of the reason I wished to bring you here is to meet the Princess of the Tribe with my own eyes. I'll brief you about the situation after you return.
I'll wait here to take you back."
"Are you some kind of... escort?"
Nik asked with a twitch of his lips.
Tilting her head, Karna looked at Nik with a puzzled expression.
"You didn't know? I was appointed to take care of you until you become a contributing member of the tribe."
Meanwhile, the lady simply raised her hands, causing her boat to move forward on its own as she gazed at Karna for a moment, due to Karna trailing the lady's move with rapt attention, then gazed at Nik before a soft, calming voice rang out of her throat.
"Please step on. I shall be taking you forward."
"She's a half spirit."
It didn't even take a moment before Nik heard Pavka's voice within his mind, startling him for a moment.
Nik frowned and connecting her through his skill, receiving her affirmation.
"As rude as it was to leave me, I could easily find you. Either way, this woman... she feels like a spirit, but she is definitely a human."
Pavka continued, though Nik didn't have visual on her, he could feel that Pavka's eyes were focused on the lady.
"Then... you are not showing yourself because..."
Pavka's voice ran once again within his mind.
"Yes, it is highly likely she can see my appearance."
Just like that, the woman simply waved her hands before the boat soon left the outskirts of the city, moving closer to the giant waterfall that filled the separating rivers of the tribe.
Finally, the woman looked back at Nik and spoke once again.
"Please follow me to meet with the guardian spirits."
A warm welcome to Joseph V and mondayslife to Rick's Apprenticeship aka the patron family.
Anyone who wishes to support my novel can join the family and also connect me with discord.