~*Year 16 after Penthesilea's arrival*~
Nothing is able to put an end to the course of time, least of all the fleeting will of humans. Thus, the following suns brought about unforeseen blows of fate.
Completely unexpected, messengers were sent from the royal palace of Arythion to break the news to the appalled leaders of the area that high king Evandros had died in his sleep.
Evandros, the rock of the Council. The headstone of peace. The man who had made the nobles work together instead of intriguing against each other. With his death, a hole was torn into the unity of the leaders.
The certainty sunk in without mercy while they stood around the tall pyre and thick smoke carried the great king's spirit toward the sky, toward the fathomless realms of the everlasting gods who would judge his soul and gift it with immortality if they found it worthy.
Of course they would, but nobody could fill in the gap he had left behind among the living. Least of all Alexander who, although having grown into a respectable young man, was so different from his sublime father.
Only suns to come would tell if he could succeed in the enormous tasks that had been left to him.
Sorrow ripped into their hearts easily and those who had once been the firebrands suddenly felt expectations weigh heavily on them. In spite of the quarrels of their past, Penthesilea knew she could count on Serkon and her fellow queen. After all the trouble the king and her had gone through to experience friendship again, their bond was stronger than anything they could ever face.
Unless a despiteous deity decided otherwise.
It was all too present who was missing in their midst, especially later as they stood in the great festive hall and their new fellow ruler struggled for words in the traditional speech.
Evandros would have known the right things to say, the appropriate thanks to make, the best compliments to drop to yield hope and make the nobles soak his every word in.
Alexander did nothing of those.
“I- I am deeply honored by each one of you who came to pay their last respects to my father. He… he was a good king and ruled wisely. I hope to reach part of his wisdom one day, too.”
Tears shone in his eyes while he spoke. His mother sitting behind him at the queen’s place of honor couldn’t provide any help or comfort, all the more because she was sorrow-stricken herself, sunk into the chair that would soon be taken by her son’s future wife, the real queen.
She had lost far more than only her husband.
“I-” Wide-eyed, Alexander stared into space past the older rulers who he was supposed to lead now.
They saw his distress. His vulnerability and insecurity. And silently, they asked each other how life would continue with him as the highest-ranked of them.
Finally, someone took pity. Boras stepped up, sensing that the young man wouldn’t be able to bring his speech to a decent ending.
“I did know your father well, Alexander,” he said with his eyes as glassy as the young man's ones.
“For all my life, the gods have blessed me with the privilege to call him my lord and friend. Never would I have expected that he would enter afterlife before me. But friends,” he addressed the bystanders, “Evandros was not only a just king like his son claims.”
He squeezed Alexander’s shoulder slightly. “He did not only possess determination of the mind and a body strong enough to defeat the plague at a tender age. No, he was also a caring husband and father not only to his children, but his people as well. Let this be how we will keep him in our memory, and let this be in what you follow his lead.”
With steady hands, he took two fine glasses a slave handed to him and passed one of them over to Alexander who took it with trembling fingers.
“Let us raise our cups to Evandros of Arythion who has gone to be with the gods!,” Boras initiated the vow.
“To my beloved father and king,” Alexander repeated and the kings and queens lifted their arms and pledged allegiance and loyalty to their new high king.
Almost at the same time, choosing a mate at last meant pain of the heart for Io as well. Long ago, her choice had fallen to Iasion of Borathion whom she had favored ever since.
However, the Goddess showed no mercy to the gentle soul even though all sacrifices had been offered as required. When the day had come for the provider to bear her child, she was given a son.
Thus, it hit her even harder to be forbidden to spend time alone with Iasion ever again.
But holding her firstborn in her arms, cuddling and nursing him while knowing he would lead the life of a low slave made the kind woman sick.
For her provider and best friend's sake, Penthesilea decided that it would be best to give the boy away to a slave hold before he reached adulthood and thus spare his mother much suffering.
But her decison brought about pain on its own. Desperately, Iasion requested permission to raise his son so he wouldn't have to be an unfree servant for his entire life, separated from those who loved him and grow up at a place bare of hope.
In vain. The laws were strict when it came to tribal sons and their fate so all his pleas went unheard. Both parents had known well which risks they had taken with mating. And as he became too importunate, Penthesilea reminded him of the fact that the boy was already lucky - a son of royal blood would have to be sacrificed before his twentieth summer.
For weeks and moons, Io seemed to exist rather than live, mourning over a child who wasn't even dead but lost to her nonetheless.
The provider’s sore heart dragged the whole tribe into sadness and sympathy and in some torturing nights, Penthesilea sincerely wondered why men could cause so much misery when they were nothing but slaves.
Now that the sad part of the chapter is over, please let me shamelessly gush over the gorgeous celebration hall the amazing WiggleyTuff has built for the Arythions! :P You can find it here.
It's incredible how much time and love she's put into it! Thank you so much for your priceless work!
Poses by Draecia, wyattssims, flowerssimfactory, Atashi77, MrsRacooney, iplaysims4, sim-plyreality (here and here) and Rinvalee
This chapter has an extra screenshot in the gallery