Rayven en Neri'Va Forbidden fruit part 2

3. Memories of the dark

As requested Neri’Va waited with going back to the forest after Quintra had set until the red moon Ghor had passed. It was common knowledge that when the red moon was at the sky more Ghor corruption was present. Ghor minions would be bolstered by the red moon’s presence as they would feel their powers more clearly.

Neri’Va sighed as she looked out the window of her small room during the night. Denday was dark, another consequence of the devastating battle between Quintra and Denday years ago.

At first Denday’s light Neri’Va packed another basket and made her way to the forest after Quintra had set. She took her lantern and went to search for the well, the meeting place she had suggested to Rayven. When she found it she carefully placed her lantern on the well’s wall and looked around.

‘Couldn’t leave without your precious light I see.’ A sarcastic voice sounded not far away.

‘Rayven? I needed the lantern else I wouldn’t be able to find my way here.’ Neri’Va explained.

‘You do know that a lantern will only light a small portion for you, effectively blinding you for everything outside of its light right?’ Rayven answered: ‘Kind of like… the faith you chose.’

‘Where are you Rayven? I can’t seem to find you?’ Neri’Va just said as she took a couple of steps back from the well and her lantern to look around.

‘I am where your light won’t reach.’ Rayven answered with a slight chuckle.

Neri’Va narrowed her eyes as she looked around. She noticed the well’s roof casting a shadow on the tree behind it with some of its branches growing over the well. Against the base of the tree the high elf could just barely make out the silhouette of the night dweller. She could more clearly see her softly glowing dark blue eyes.

‘There you are.’ Neri’Va said and she softly smiled: ‘You surrounded by dark, me standing in the light, yet both here. I… brought some more things.’

The high elf took her new basket and put it down at the base of the tree Rayven was sitting in: ‘I hope the things in the other basket were to your liking.’

‘Is there cheese in there?’ Rayven asked: ‘Not for me, but the little ones emptied your last basket that same night.’

Neri’Va beamed: ‘Yes there is more cheese in there. I am so glad to hear that!’

‘I bet you are.’ Rayven dryly mumbled.

‘I… hope all of you were safe… during Denday’s dark?’ Neri’Va hesitantly asked.

‘We were.’ Rayven answered and there seemed to be a silence for a little while before she spoke again: ‘Thank you for your concern.’

‘It must be hard… especially in the days of Denday’s dark.’ Neri’Va continued: ‘With the red moon above us.’

‘It is a bitter reminder of our loss.’ Rayven said: ‘And yet another thing Light worshippers try to pin on us as if we also cause an increase in Ghor attacks.’

‘That is nonsense.’ Neri’Va said: ‘Denday has nothing to do with Ghor, you’d hope everyone would know that by now. If anything the night has become more dangerous because Denday herself isn’t on Eonil anymore.’

‘That was kind of the point though, wasn’t it.’ Rayven said: ‘Get rid of our goddess so she couldn’t empower us anymore. And all because of jealousy. The facing of the blue moon is just a bitter reminder of that.’

Neri’Va lowered her eyes, staring at the ground for a moment: ‘Denday wasn’t just empowering her followers… She was also protecting everyone from Ghor attacks during the night. That night when… Quintra banished her sister SHE made the night more dangerous, not Denday or her followers.’

‘Careful novice priestess of Light, or you might get smited.’ Rayven chuckled.

‘Quintra will not punish me for speaking truth.’ Neri’Va said.

‘Probably not, but her followers might.’ Rayven mumbled.

‘Were you already a Paladin of Denday… you know… then?’ Neri’Va carefully asked.

‘During the war? When we lost our goddess and were hunted down and slaughtered by the Light zealots?’ Rayven asked, her voice clearly dark and angry still: ‘Not in the beginning no.’

Neri’Va was very young when it happened, but she still remembered when Denday had no facing, when the whole blue moon was full and shone brightly each night. Until that one night when Quintra banished her sister to the blue moon and destroyed half of the moon during that fight. The whole of Eonil was covered in dust clouds for days after that one dreadful night. It took days for the sky to clear up to show the damage that was caused, half of the blue moon, everything that was visible during the attack of Quintra on her sister had lost it’s glow. And slowly the facings began and with the facing and the banishing of Denday from Eonil the increase of Ghor activity at night. But this was years ago, yet not so long that people don’t recall the time before that.

‘What was it like?’ Neri’Va hesitantly asked: ‘You don’t have to answer if you don’t want too.’

‘That night it was dark,’ Rayven spoke after a short silence: ‘I had a bad feeling about the situation but my mentor assured me that we were strong. Our goddess herself had joined the fight and tonight we would be victorious. Fools they were, all of them. They didn’t listen to the concerns of a Paladin in training because what could she possibly know? Clearly her faith in Denday was lacking. With our goddess at our side we were invincible, they said. If only they knew.’

From her spot in the tree Rayven shook her head and remained silent for a while before she continued: ‘And we were, we were winning. Never had I felt so powerful before or since. The blue moon shone brightly, we were empowered to the max. Everything seemed to go in our favor, until the Light goddess herself showed up.’

Rayven took a small breather again as she sighed: ‘As Quintra attacked Denday some fools stepped in to try and protect their goddess. My mentor was among them. He got a full hit from a Light blast. It was a miracle he wasn’t killed on the spot.’

Neri’Va looked at the dark figure in the tree as she was talking and remained silent, just listening with an increasingly sad expression on her face.

‘Denday was clearly horrified by the fact that her followers were suffering by attacks meant for her and so she took to the sky.’ Rayven continued: ‘Rising above the battlefield with the blue moon behind her she looked both majestic and powerful, it was like she was drawing energy from the moon itself. Yet I still couldn’t shake that feeling that something terrible was about to happen. I crawled to my mentor and tried and get him to safety. But he just pressed his horn in my hand.’

Rayven took a breather again: ‘I should have been more thoughtful of your warning, he said as he took his sigil and pressed it in my other hand. You were right Rayven… You… are a Paladin of Denday now… It is your duty to protect our followers… lead them to safety…’

The night dweller slightly shook her head: ‘And then he died. I got up and blew the horn trying to rally my people to me, but there was to much chaos. Those few that did hear me came, there was little I could do for others. I could only hope they would see us leave and follow. So I made my way to a nearby forest blowing the horn, rallying as many as I could. When I was at the tree line I turned around briefly to look over the battlefield.’

A moment of silence followed before Rayven continued: ‘Quintra had assembled something in her hand and empowered it with her Light. I remember screaming to Denday but even if she heard me at all it was to late. A blinding flash of light shot from the goddess of Light directly to her sister and launched her towards the blue moon.

The blast had such force that every follower of Denday that was close to Quintra was instantly vaporized. The rest of us were launched in the air and those that were standing on the edge of the forest like I was were thrown on the ground. It felt like being thorn in half, like your heart was being ripped from your body and dragged behind the blinding blast of Light heading straight towards the blue moon. Yet your body was pushed to the ground at the same time, unable to move.

Eonil shook to her core seconds after the moon was hit and darkness spread within seconds. I called for Denday to give me strength but she couldn’t answer. I felt completely drained. The wounds that I got during the battle suddenly seemed ten times worse then they were before.’

Rayven stopped talking again and clenched her fist: ‘My sight was blurry and my ears were ringing. Around me I heard crying and screaming and desperate pleads for help. But above that all, the shouts of victory from the Light zealots and there leaders calling for the slaughter of all followers of Denday. We had just lost our goddess and now this battlefield had turned into a massacre. Somehow I found the strength to get up and blow the horn. We fled into the forest, those of us who could still walk that is and hadn’t given up. The rest were being slaughtered without mercy. From the grand army we had gathered the night before only a handful of people survived the night after.’

‘That is… just dreadful… I’m so sorry.’ Neri’Va softly said as the night dwellers story seemed to have come to an end.

‘It’s in the past,’ Rayven answered: ‘It’s not like you can change what happened.’

‘I can’t.’ Neri’Va said: ‘But I will do what I can to make it better for followers of Denday. Quintra has declared peace.’

‘So sorry if I do not take your word for it Neri’Va.’ Rayven replied: ‘I think some of your faith have yet to receive that bit of news. Or perhaps they have suddenly gone deaf. How convenient for them?’

‘I understand what you mean, but Quintra is trying to do better.’ Neri’Va said: ‘And I am her Novice priestess who is trying to follow her example. That should at least count for something?’

‘It does Neri’Va. Like it does that you are not standing here defending what she did. But you better go now. Come back another night. I will look out for you.’ Rayven said: ‘And don’t forget more cheese! And for Denday’s sake… at least try and learn how to use an actual weapon. That lantern of yours is nothing but trouble!’

‘Alright Rayven. Thank you for telling me.’ Neri’Va replied: ‘And I… I will try to learn how to use a weapon… I will.’

‘Don’t try, just do it!’ Rayven strictly said.

‘I… I will try.’ Neri’Va repeated: ‘Stay safe, okay?’

‘You too… novice priestess of Quintra.’ Rayven softly said as she saw Neri’Va take her lantern and walk away: ‘Walk in the Light always.’

2. An unlikely friendship

Rayven en Neri'Va Forbidden fruit part 2

2. An unlikely friendship

Neri’Va took her basket and filled it up with fruit, a bottle of milk, cheese and freshly baked bread. She grabbed a lantern and went out the door, leaving the small town to walk across the field towards the forest. The high elf kept checking if someone might be able to see her going into the forest but there was nobody. For a moment she looked at Quintra who was about to set and mumbled: ‘Goddess wish me luck.’

She went into the forest and carefully wandered around for a little while. As the sun set and Denday appeared at the horizon it became darker in the forest. Night was about to start.

Neri’Va took her lantern and lit the candle inside so she could better see where she was going. It was a few days after her last visit to the forest when she needed to pick Denday berries. The weather was gloomy and it was cloudy today. She held her lantern high as she tried to look around the forest.

‘Hello? Are you here? I… I just want to talk to you?’ Neri’Va said as she wandered deeper into the forest. Maybe it was foolish of her, just wandering around in hopes that the night dweller would somehow be around. It was a very large forest after all. She could be anywhere.

The high elf wandered further and happened upon a small clearing, there was a well there, it was partly overgrown with ivy and a large tree grew near it with branches nearly hanging over it. The wooden tiles of the well’s roof were painted blue but the color had become faded.

‘Put that light out, Light worshipper.’ A familiar voice growled: ‘Do you have a dead wish or something?’

Neri’Va blinked as she turned around, there was no one there: ‘Well no, but without it I cannot see anything.’

‘With it you are drawing Ghor knows what here.’ The voice said, clearly agitated. Yet she remained concealed from view.

‘You can come out. I won’t hurt you, you know.’ Neri’Va said with her soft and gentle voice. She looked around her but clearly she was talking to the forest as she couldn’t see or hear the night dweller anywhere.

The concealed elf scoffed: ‘You? Hurt me? Right… Just because you are a Light worshipper and I am a follower of the night doesn’t mean you are so much stronger then me.’

‘I never said that I was.’ Neri’Va answered: ‘I have no desire to hurt you or to make you feel unsafe in any way. I wanted to thank you for saving me the other day. That was very kind of you.’

‘I am not kind.’ The voice answered.

Neri’Va chuckled softly before she took her basket and placed it on the ground in front of her next to the well. She took a couple of steps back: ‘I brought this for you.’

‘A gift basket? Seriously?’ The woman answered with a clearly dry voice.

‘Everybody likes gift baskets, surely that also counts for night dwellers. But if you don’t want it then some animals in the forest are free to take it.’ Neri’Va said looking around with a soft smile on her face.

‘It might be poisonous to them.’ The night dweller answered.

‘I would never do that! But maybe you should just take it then?’ Neri’Va said: ‘You clearly know a lot more about this forest and it’s inhabitants then I do.’

She looked around for a moment as she noticed some movement and the sound of bristling leaves behind her. There was nothing there but when she turned around again she could see the figure of the large dark elf appearing on the other side of the small clearing.

The night dweller stepped away from the tree line and more into sight. She sighed and seemed to roll her eyes: ‘Put that light out!’

‘Does it hurt your sensitive eyes? I’m so sorry…’ Neri’Va said as she quickly blew out the candle in the lantern. She had heard tales of followers of Denday having such sensitive eyes that they could see clearly in the dark,  but this gift made it so light would hurt their eyes. She should have thought of that and been more considerate.

‘It doesn’t, but it attracts creatures that will think you are the gift basket.’ The night dweller answered before she walked to the gift basket and knelt down to take it.

Neri’Va blinked a couple of times and looked genuinely surprised at the dark skinned elf:

‘It would? I… didn’t know such creatures exist.’

‘Are you really that naïve?’ The night dweller answered as she looked up at the high elf and seemed to eye her up and down.

Neri’Va just stood there and looked back at the dark skinned muscular and tall elf as she rose to her full length again: ‘Am I?’

‘You seem pretty naïve to me.’ The night dweller said as she slowly stepped closer to Neri’Va: ‘Wandering alone into the forest… to known followers of Denday territory, unarmed… dressed in light clothes… with only a gift basket.’

Neri’Va remained where she was as the night dweller approached her. She looked at the dark skinned elf and her slightly glowing dark blue eyes, her short dark blue hair and the deep purple skin: ‘I didn’t want you to feel threatened.’

The night dweller scoffed and seemed to roll her eyes again as she looked straight back into Neri’Va her bright purple eyes. She stopped when she was very close to the light skinned high elf, slightly towering over the tall and slender elf as she looked down on her: ‘You don’t threaten me.’

The dark skinned elf slowly rose her hand and gently took Neri’Va her braided platinum blonde hair in her hand. The contrast in color made it almost look as if her hair was eliminating: ‘I could kill you with one hand, while holding your silly gift basket in the other. Why have you come back?’

‘I want to get to know you.’ Neri’Va answered, her voice showing little sign of fear as she just let the night dweller slide her braid through her hand: ‘I want to know more about how you live here in the forest. I want to help and learn… about Denday.’

‘We don’t need the help of a Light worshipper.’ The night dweller growled as she suddenly took a step back and looked agitated again.

‘We? So there is more of you?’ Neri’Va asked: ‘And you are their protector? Like a warrior?’

‘I am no warrior.’ The dark skinned elf answered.

‘A Paladin then, looking out for her people?’ Neri’Va asked with a soft smile on her face: ‘If they need… anything… I just want to help… just because I am a novice priestess of Quintra doesn’t mean that I am against Denday or wish her followers harm. The war is over.’

‘Tell that to the countless innocent followers of Denday that are being slaughtered every day still!’ The night dweller scowled at Neri’Va.

‘I know… and it’s horrible. I wish I could prevent that but I can’t.’ Neri’Va said: ‘I am doing what I can here.’

The dark skinned elf remained silent for a moment clenching her fist as she looked down on the gift basket in her other hand. She slowly exhaled and shook her head before she looked at Neri’Va with her dark blue glowing eyes: ‘What does it take to make you leave?’

‘I have so many questions.’ Neri’Va said before she stopped and seemed to think for a while. She looked back at the night dweller with an understanding and compassionate look before she softly smiled: ‘But I’ll leave tonight if you tell me your name.’

The dark skinned elf gave Neri’Va an unamused look and stared silently at her for a short while before she sighed: ‘Rayven.’

Neri’Va her smile became slightly bigger: ‘Pleased to meet you, Rayven. My name is…’

‘Neri’Va, I know. Now go away!’ Rayven said with a strict voice: ‘Or better yet. I’ll escort you out of the forest. We wouldn’t want you to get lost and eaten or killed.’

Rayven just grabbed Neri’Va by her arm and started to drag the high elf through the forest.

‘It is very kind of you to be concerned with my safety.’ Neri’Va said as she did her best to keep up with Rayven as she walked through the forest.

‘I don’t want your quant little town to come burn down our forest or rush in with their pitchforks to come kill us all because their novice priestess has gone missing. Because if she does it’s obviously because us Denday scum killed her!’ The night dweller said as she rolled her eyes yet again.

‘They wouldn’t do that.’ Neri’Va said.

‘Well excuse me if I don’t take your word for it.’ Rayven answered as they reached the edge of the forest: ‘I’d ask you to not come back.  But something tells me you will not listen anyways.’

‘I want to get to know you and help those you are protecting.’ Neri’Va answered: ‘And I want to know more about Denday, the night dwellers and her other followers. I have so many questions.’

‘Just for Denday’s sake stay out of the forest the coming days. Denday’s dark will be upon us thanks to your OH so amazing and gentle goddess of Light, just as the red moon wanders over us. A lantern will not protect you from Ghor’s creatures.’ Rayven said as she shook her head before looking strictly at Neri’Va.

‘At first Denday light then, same place as we were just now?’ Neri’Va said with a smile: ‘Leave a note under a black rock if you need anything. I will check it daily when Quintra is shining brightly.’

‘Light alone will not protect you from Ghor, novice priestess.’ Rayven said: ‘Now off you go!’

‘I will keep that in mind, Rayven.’ Neri’Va said as she stepped out of the forest. She turned around because she wanted to say goodbye, but the dark skinned elf had already vanished. The high elf sighed and headed back home.

<1. Denday Berries – 3. Memories of the dark>

1. Denday Berries

The evening breeze blew gently this day as the sun Quintra slowly made her way towards the horizon. Soon it would be sunset and slowly the colors of the day started getting more and more blues in them. On the opposite side of Eonil Denday would soon rise to the horizon. The blue moon would be bright tonight as she would be full again.

A young adult high elf slipped out of the temple of Quintra and made her way to the forest. Her skin was pale, her platinum blonde hair tied into a side braid that loosely hang over her shoulder , her clothes were of light colors as was normal for a novice priestess of Quintra, the goddess of light. The slender yet elegant young woman crossed the fields before she looked behind her for a moment. No one was there so no one would notice her slipping away into the forest.

Darkness fell over Eonil as Neri’Va made her way deeper into the forest. She had a small basket with her and her eyes were fixed on the ground. The young elf had been warned to not go into the forest, especially not after dark. Yet here she was. Denday shone her soft blue light over the forest just enough that you could see where you were going.

Neri’Va knelt down at the base of a tree and looked at a small plant carrying white berries. Carefully she picked one of the berries and held it up to the blue moon. The berry started to faintly glow with a soft blue hue and the elf smiled. Denday berries, exactly what she was looking for. You could best pick them at night when Denday shone brightly, otherwise it would be hard to see if you picked the right ones.

There was a ruffle of leaves swiftly followed by a snapping sound of a twig. Neri’Va was startled by the sounds and looked behind her. There was no one there. She took a deep breath, it was probably just a small forest creature waking to the light of Denday. Quickly Neri’Va picked some of the berries before she rose up again. These weren’t nearly enough, she needed to find more so she ventured deeper into the forest searching for more Denday berries.

‘Go back now!’ Someone suddenly scowled. It sounded like a deeper yet female voice: ‘You are not welcome here!’

Neri’Va flinched and turned around. She scanned her surroundings but couldn’t see anyone. After taking a deep breath she spoke with a soft and gentle voice: ‘I mean no harm, I only need to pick some Denday berries.’

‘Denday berries are not for you, light worshipper! Go home to your light temple!’ The voice scowled again.

‘Please…’ Neri’Va said: ‘Someone has been poisoned, I can make anti-venom to help him, to heal him. I just need a few more berries.’

Neri’Va looked around but still couldn’t see anyone and so she carefully walked on until she found another bush of Denday berries and started picking them.

In front of her a pair of eliminating dark blue eyes appeared as the threatening voice growled: ‘Go away! You shouldn’t be here!’

The young high elf flinched again and scurried backwards: ‘I… I’m going now.’

Another scowl could be heard as Neri’Va got up and looked around. She had no idea where she was, but she quickly started moving in the opposite direction of those glowing blue eyes. Her heart was raising, but at least she found what she came for. Now she just wanted to go home as fast as possible.

The bushes behind her ruffled and Neri’Va glanced in that direction. She could hear a low growling sound and make out small huffs of black smoke. Neri’Va her eyes went big and she quickly turned around and started running through the forest blindly.

The sound of running paws followed her and a type of beastly snarl followed close to her left side. Neri’Va suddenly found herself running to a small clearing. There was grass and some bushes of Denday Berries grew scattered along a steep mountain side. She couldn’t climb at all so it was a clear dead end for her.

The high elf turned around to see a creature entering the clearing. Once it might have been a wolf, but it’s body was long since twisted and deformed. It’s eyes glowing red, with the clear corruption of Ghor showing. Black smoke was coming from its fur. The creature lowered its head threateningly and stepped closer to Neri’Va, ready to pounce.

Not thinking of any better to do, the scared high elf threw her basket with Denday Berries towards the corrupted wolf in the hopes of scaring it away or something. The creature kept its eyes focused on Neri’Va and seemed totally unimpressed by this action.

Behind the creature another person suddenly ran into the clearing. She scowled and rushed towards the creature with a raised sword in her hand. She moved so fast that it was hard for Neri’Va to make out if she was dressed in black or had dark skin.

The novice priestess of Quintra pressed herself against the mountain side as the creature and her savior battled in the clearing in front of her. The creature rammed itself into the other person and send her flying to the side, hitting the wall hard. Neri’Va flinched as she looked worried at her savior.

The wolflike creature then turned around and faced the high elf once more. Neri’Va cowered against the stone wall sinking down to make herself as small as she could. She prayed to Quintra to protect her, knowing full well she was no match for this creature of Ghor.

With its head low, the red glowing eyes stared at the cowering elf. It’s low growling could be heard as it started running towards Neri’Va. As it took a jump to try and pounce the high elf when it was suddenly hit by a rock.

‘Come on, you useless sack of smoke!’ The other person scowled: ‘Did you really think I was defeated so easily.’

The creature growled and pounced at its attacker instead of Neri’Va. As its teeth sank into the woman’s arm she ran her sword deep through the creatures gut. Both scowled in pain and agony as the woman threw the creature on the ground and slashed at it with her sword again and again. She slashed one more time to make sure it was really dead before she turned to the high elf cowering against the wall.

Neri’Va looked at her savior as she moved closer. Her skin was dark purple, her short and dark blue hair framed her face wildly. Her dark blue eyes were somewhat illuminating as they coldly eyed the pale high elf up and down.

Clearly she was a night dweller, a follower of Denday goddess of the dark. The goddess Denday herself was banished to the blue moon named after her a few years ago. For a while all followers of Denday were hunted down and killed. Those that remained had retreated to the darkness of the forest or lurked in caves. At least that was what Neri’Va was told. This was the first time she actually saw a night dweller.

The dark elf knelt down in front of Neri’Va who looked at her with big, scared eyes. Clearly this was the same person that scowled at her to go away. Did she follow her here? Why did she even come to her rescue? Neri’Va was told night dwellers were Denday zealots, that would kill her on first sight. Clearly they were wrong.

The night dweller slowly reached out her hand to Neri’Va as if she was offering to help her get up.

‘You cannot be here!’ The dark skinned elf sternly said, yet her tone was less threatening then it was before: ‘Come, you need to get out of here. Are you hurt?’

Neri’Va just stared at the night dweller, her mouth half open but no sound coming out. Her eyes slowly wandered the body of the dark skinned elf. She was clearly muscular and strong. A warrior? Maybe a paladin?

‘Have you lost your ability to speak?’ She grumbled as she looked at Neri’Va, her hand still held out for the high elf to grab it.

‘I…’ Neri’Va stuttered when suddenly her eyes fell on the woman’s left arm. She was wounded there because the wolf had bitten her: ‘You’re hurt! Let me help you, I… am a healer.’

Neri’Va reached out with her hand to the night dweller’s wounded arm, but before she could even do anything the woman grabbed her hand firmly and pulled it away.

‘Don’t touch me.’ The night dweller scowled: ‘I don’t need your help, light worshipper!’

The woman had a firm grip on her wrist, she held it tightly but not tight enough to hurt her. She rose up and pulled Neri’Va with her. Neri’Va wasn’t small for high elf, but this woman was even larger then she was. When Neri’Va was standing on her own the dark skinned elf let go of her wrist to pick up her sword.

For a moment the night dweller looked around before she picked up Neri’Va her basket and put the berries back in that had fallen out.

Neri’Va was just standing there hesitantly looking at the dark skinned elf. For a moment she thought she wouldn’t get her basket back but then the other woman pushed it into her hands.

‘Let’s go.’ She just said: ‘Move it!’

The night dweller gestured to the forest and Neri’Va started walking, following her instructions until she could see the edge of the forest.

‘Of you go!’ The dark skinned elf said as she gestured to the edge of the forest.

Neri’Va slowly walked on but turned around before she left the forest: ‘Thank you for saving me. If you hadn’t shown up… I would most certainly be dead.’

‘I couldn’t let that Ghor corrupted sack of bones life.’ The night dweller answered as she again gestured to the edge of the forest: ‘Now leave, go back to your little town.’

‘I am Neri’Va by the way.’ Neri’Va said but the dark skinned elf just shrugged her shoulders and turned around. A few moments later she had vanished into the forest.

2. An unlikely friendship