The Great Lake was pretty interesting, Eochaidh reflected on himself as he listened to an elk talk.
At first glance, the elk was just a large, if ageing elk, but looking into the eyes of the elk directly revealed ageless wisdom and sharpened intellect, which would be uncanny for most people.
For others like Eochaidh, however, it was just a regular interaction with a Nature Spirit. It was a welcome coincidence that the Nature Spirits of the New World had few differences from those he was familiar with, and apparently, the elk was familiar with those close to nature, just like he was.
"Nature reacts warmly to your presence, while Fae and Elemental are common guests of you...but yet, your aura is paradoxically...foreign. It's familiar but ultimately different. A reflection of what could have been. If I were to guess, you come from the Land Above?"
The voice of the elk spirit was akin to grass blown by a breeze. Eochaidh scratched his beard before responding.
"Indeed! I'm sure it was quite obvious, after all, there have been plenty of us in the region lately, has there not?
The elk nodded slowly.
"The skies beyond have been replaced with a foreign one. More people than usual, with that strange aura to boot. Typical behaviour of those hailing from civilization, though with simultaneously more caution and lack of awareness than expected. If simple inference wasn't enough, all it took was listening in on a single conversation for them to confirm it themselves."
"Fair enough. What do you think of us so far?"
The elk scoffed.
"Probing question. But also a sincerely curious one, so I'll indulge your curiosity. I profess to be curious about what will change, but it would be foolish to be optimistic. I find it unlikely that your kind will just stay in the skies, after all."
That caused a chuckle to bubble up Eochaidh's throat.
"Very astute and very true. Plans to explore, exploit and expand are already underway, and as per usual, there's no spotting them. Though this time it's out of necessity rather than greed, since...well, surely you've heard of the exact circumstances we are in from the camps you've listened to?"
The elk sighed and said no more, not even throwing a barbed remark. The topic of conversation seemed to snuff out any desire for continued talk.
Quickly, Eochaidh became worried that he had made a mistake and bowed his head.
"Sorry for that."
"No need. Brutish as you might be in conversation, your heart is in the right place."
"...Thanks, I guess?"
Eochaidh had stumbled on a dying bull elk near a large boulder, next to a dead brown bear. His affinity to nature had compelled him to help out the survivor of the brawl. While healing the elk was more difficult than expected, the elk spirit had shown up at the nick of time and helped to heal the elk.
"That being said...what's up with that claw wound? It was festering at astonishingly fast speeds..."
"Worry not about that. It is irrelevant to your people for the time being."
Eochaidh shrugged, dropping the topic. There was no need to pry, especially in the affairs of spirits. They had their own means to resolve their own issues.
After some more idle questions about the surrounding area, the elk spirit suddenly looked into the distance behind them, their eyes crinkling, before turning back to Eochaidh
"While conservation has been pleasant, it is unfortunate that I still have to attend to other things. I'll have to take leave now."
Eochaidh failed to suppress a frown but quickly reeled it in. He had been hoping to ask more about the surroundings and this world from the perspective of a native nature spirit, but there was no need to be upset about it.
"Well, it would be rude of me to take up more of your time. Well wishes....er, care to share your courtesy name?"
Courtesy names were important for certain spirits, as their true names possessed great metaphysical power. It still alluded to their nature, so rarely did spirits introduce themselves to mortals. He didn't know if that concept applied here, but it was good to be cautious.
"...I suppose you've earned it. My courtesy name is Mairenn. Mayhaps we will meet again."
As Mairenn finished, a strong wind suddenly blew in the direction of Eochaidh's face. His eyes blinked as a cloud of dandelions floated in front of his face from seemingly nowhere.
Did dandelions even grow in this part of the woods?
Within the span of that singular blink, Mairenn was nowhere to be seen.
After reflexively checking his surroundings, Eochaidh confirmed that the elk spirit had left.
"Well, that was something, I guess I should head...is that?"
In the place of the elk was a glint from the ground. With Eochaidh's vision, he could see that it was a pendant.
After a moment of deliberation, Eochaidh moved towards it at a careful pace.
"I suppose this is a gift of some sort?"
Mumbling to himself, he crouched, picking up the pendant. Inspecting it in his palm and turning it over with his fingers, he took stock of the pendant's features.
The most obvious ones were the amethyst wrapped in wire, and feathers of some kind. He could sense ambient mana flow into the pendant, cycle within the gem, then course through his body through his hand.
His ample experience with herbalism and magic told him that the magic flowing into his body fortified his constitution, making one more resilient to toxicants and intoxicants. The effect was minor, however.
"Strange gift...It feels foreign, so it should be something from this world, but it doesn't feel like it meshes with the flow of mana in this world as well as it should..."
Thinking on it, Eochaidh shrugged. This would be interesting to report to the guild.