Before we start, please note that the dates refer to Haimon's age and that all of those happenings take place before Penthesilea's assault on him - so he is and stays dead, sadly :(
Please don't hesitate to ask your questions if they haven't been answered yet at the end. Some of them will no doubt appear in the next chapter but it's always possible that you come up with entirely new ones. ;) I wouldn't put anything past you!
Also, it is rather easy to guess but mamaidh means mom a nd Mo Mhàtair ‘Great Mother’.
And last but certainly not least, congratulations to SpectresValkyrie from the Sims forums to be the first to take notice of Mystery Woman calling Haimon Aéd. You have been right, dear! :o
The afternoon before, Age 40 ~ Year 18 after Penthesilea’s arrival
For the blink of an eye, everything was drowned out. The laughing, bickering, tears of tired children resisting to eat what their exhausted parents tried to feed them.
Everything. Hushed by the display of pure joy from a small woman flinging her arms around a stranger’s neck.
“Ye’re here,” she sobbed, brimming over with a myriad of flashing sensations.
“Ye’re here!” With steely grip, she leeched on to him while crying against his chest. “And ye're alive, thank the Great Mother!”
They stood silent. All the rude warriors, shameless barmaids, snooty merchants and ordinary people, locals and travelers likewise as she wept her heart out.
And then there was that familiar voice above her head. Still so familiar after all those suns… Warm and hesitant, cautious even, but beginning to understand.
“Agneis, is… is that you?”
Yes, she wanted to scream, more than anything else and yet her voice failed her in that very moment. Yes, it’s me, her mind yelled at him, shook him so he would wake up and see, don’ ye recognize me? It’s me! While in truth, her arms just held on, held on and the never-ending stream of tears kept flowing.
And ye haven’t.
“Gods, look at you! You’re a woman now!”
Finally, there was a light squeeze at her back. Strong arms closed around her and his face pressed against her hair.
She held on.
One of the bystanders began to clap. Others joined in, slowly at first. Then, the applause swelled, became a storm, sweeping her sense of time and reality away into a pleasant dream.
And still, she held on forcefully and would never let go again.
19 Years before, Age 21, Beginning of Spring ~ Half a year before Penthesilea’s arrival
“Come, Aéd, mamaidh has brought me some food for us.” Charily, Agneis tugged at the redhead’s shirt.
As much as it took to divert his gaze from the merriment around the tavern tables, food was almost certain to lead to success. And it fulfilled its purpose just fine once more.
“Has she palm read enough people for today?”
“Aéd. You know she doesn’ do that.”
“But she comes close enough. So, when you’ll be wise woman one day, will you palm read?,” he dug deeper while dropping onto the bottom beneath a tree.
Agneis’ cute mouth distorted to a pout. “No. I wouldn’t.”
“What a shame. You could foretell my future.” He burst out laughing at her huffy face. “Gods, just teasing! Don’t take everything serious.”
“Why do ye always make it sound serious, then…,” Agneis defended herself weakly and turned away as she felt her cheeks begin to glow. “We’re only midwives and healers, we have nothing in common with sibyls.”
“Apart from the herbs and painted face, of course,” the young man to her side remarked sarcastically. “Alright.”
“It’s good for business.” She stared past him. Still, his blue eyes prickled at her skin even while they didn't rest on her.
“Alright,” she whispered but was glad for the distraction, a distraction that occupied him enough for her to catch a few glimpses of him without it being awkward. They didn’t come to spend even nearly as much time during the past summers as they had as children.
After all, he was taking over his father’s work and she herself helping and learning from her mother as much as possible. But when they were together, she enjoyed watching him eat – and secretly imagining to cook for him every day.
Oh Mo Mhàtair no, she was blushing again. How convenient that he was still busy with the food.
After the meal they settled in the shade of the tree, back to back with full stomach and perfectly satisfied. Sleepily, Agneis closed her eyes and almost on themselves, her thoughts slid into a pleasant daydream.
“Do you know her?,” Aéd's deep voice suddenly broke the silence and shooed the sweet pictures away. Reluctantly, she sat up.
“Whom?” She followed his gaze. “Cailín?”
Of course. The chief’s dark-haired, much sought-after older daughter. “Of course I do. Who doesn’t?” His question was… disappointing.
“Can you make contact?”
“What?,” The mere mention of the unspeakable offended her already. “No!”
“Please?” His begging look was suitable to make her cry and go weak in the knees both at the same time.
“I… I don’ know her well enough. Besides, the chief would never allow either of us near her.”
Snorting with contempt, Aéd turned toward the two brown-haired sisters again. “Of course. How could he ever let us forget that our fathers are damn strangers and enemies.”
“It certainly doesn’ help that ye have a reputation regarding women…,” Agneis remarked shyly. So mamaidh had said and she was right most of the time.
“Pha! Is it my fault that they’re into me?”
Unfortunately, that was true in some way. There was that one daughter of one of the warriors, infamous for luring men into her arms despite – or in defiance? - of her strict upbringing. The last spring, a short-lived affair of hers with Aéd had been revealed and he had only avoided punishment by the skin of his teeth – and thanks to Agneis' mother’s advocacy, without him ever coming to learn of it. And yet, the two redheads had been the main topic of gossip around the fires in the village’s hearths throughout the entire next winter.
“Ye- you could stop cursing in your father’s tongue,” Agneis suggested then in a clumsy attempt to change the subject.
“And reward them for treating him in a way that he doesn’t dare to show up on a simple feast?” Again, he snorted. “No, they shall know what they’re doing to that old man.”
“At least he’s still alive,” she whispered and lowered her head. For the first time in a while, his gaze turned toward her and her alone, looked her over carefully.
“Yeah, he’s probably lucky in that regard.” Another thought hit him all of a sudden. “Can you imagine he wants us to marry? Me and you?”
“Yes, that- wouldn’t you like to?”
“Mo Mhàtair, are you kidding? You’re only a girl!” It was as if he’d slapped her in the face. An internal pain too strong to endure.
“Seriously, even if we’d ever marry I wouldn’t want to be just ‘the midwife’s husband’.”
A sudden feeling of sickness overwhelmed her. “Neither of us has many options,” she mumbled silently.
From the other side of the courtyard, harp music began to sound. Tormented, Agneis looked up. Maybe a quick dance could drive the sickness away? Or, maybe, make Aéd forget the other women when only he was close enough to her?
“Do ye wanna- do you want to dance?”
“Nah. Would make it look too much as if we were something.” He had already made himself comfortable against the rough bark.
But she wouldn’t give up so easily.
“Oh please. I’d like to and who else would? We could pretend. Just to make Cailín jealous. Please. It’ll surely work.”
If for pity or because he really believed her – pretend they did and masterfully so as they joined the round dance, outsiders among their own people. Despite of that, bless their mothers who had seen to their children master the traditional dances in order to fit in at least in this matter.
Swinging and spinning in the same rhythm as the other couples, it was all too easy to give in to the tempting imagination once more.
Only one more summer, Agneis told herself all over again like so many times before, only one summer and it will be my sixteenth and I’ll be a woman at last. Then, he will notice me.
And, she added reassuringly, they won’t let him marry anyone else anyway.
19 Years before, Age 21, Beginning of Spring ~ Half a year before Penthesilea’s arrival
“Gun robh mhàthair leatsa, may the Great Mother be with you!”
Aéd looked up at the unfamiliar voice and saw a young woman standing in front of him.
“Agus còmhla ribh, and with you,” he returned the greeting. The chief’s younger daughter. Cailìn’s sister, what was her name again? Gods, within a winter’s time she had grown into a young woman of refreshing natural beauty.
“Your sheep are so cute,” she said and blushed. “I really like them, but athair does not let me near them.”
“Well, your father would seek to kill me but he isn’t here... So come sit.” He patted at the soil at his side and after only a few moments she followed the invitation, inefficiently arranging her long skirt and keeping awkwardly quiet afterward. Her gaze was locked on the sheep in almost childish amazement.
“So, Ionait.” Thank the gods that he had remembered the name after all. “I’m Aéd and those,” he made a wide gesture, “are my father’s sheep.”
“I know,” she whispered and blushed again. “Your name, I mean. Can- can I touch them or do they not like that?”
She was sweet. Her evident innocence awakened his protective instinct. And she had sought his company to begin with although she had no idea how to deal with a man.
After that first afternoon, he was convinced he wouldn’t see her again, at least from so close. But she returned. Occasionally, one day, another one, they piled up and before both of them knew, spring was gone and the delicate bud of a friendship had sprouted... and maybe even more.
There were way too many poses to list them all. If you are interested in a particular one, please feel free to message me either on the Sims forums or on tumblr
This chapter has extra screenshots in the gallery
Each breath burning her throat, Penthesilea raced along the path.
Its roughness didn’t trouble her the least, all the more though her long skirt. All too soon, she realized that that sort of clothing was made for staying at home, covering legs and ankles chastely. Not so much for a chase. It entwined around her legs, robbed her of the usual moving space. Prevented her from reaching a less exhausting, steady pace.
A quick look over the shoulder affirmed her suspicion. The pursuers caught up incessantly. Hastily, she gathered up the dress and cursed foolish Serkon’s idea who had never been forced to bear the disadvantages of womens’ long clothing.
“Stad! Stop!,” a deep voice hollered in her back, “Stad!”
Three warriors were enough to overpower even the best fighter, even more so when they were better equipped anyway. Keeping to run was risky, but staying mere suicide.
Curses and orders took turns to be thrown her way. She didn’t listen to any of them, concentrated on her feet instead. Tried to maintain a regular breath.
Then, suddenly, the most dreaded sound of all mixed with the others.
Dull hammering, approaching fast. Chill horror ran through her veins.
A horse’s hooves. Almost panicking, she scanned the surroundings for a safe way into the woods but the same image presented itself everywhere: dense bushes, brushwood, stones and roots setting traps for the unwary. Rough terrain, making bushwacking impossible.
Undoubtedly, the Westerners would be much faster in the woods they lived in anyway. And without a skirt.
Another glance back. Although the sound swoll, the horse still wasn’t to be seen. But the other warriors came closer and closer.
In the end, she already knew they left her no choice.
Not if she did not intend to die with her back pierced by a spear. Heart in the mouth, spluttered snatches of a prayer escaped her lips as she begged the Goddess for a safe return to her two young daughters and expecting provider.
Then, she stopped.
And turned around.
Centered all her attention on the three men who meanwhile slowed down themselves.
Her hand didn’t shake any more as she drew the bloodstained dagger for the second time that day.
While her muscles tensed in expectation of the fight, a sudden calmness embraced her. Her opponents might outnumber her but still, face-to-face fight was well-known territory, was what she excelled in.
Watching the pursuers approach, her subconscious mind already alarmed her. The others would wait for the mounted reinforcement’s arrival. They would try to keep her occupied and vulnerable toward the horseman’s quick and powerful attacks.
If she was lucky, he only had a short-range weapon.
And after that... nothing but fight. Fight for her life, for seeing her daughters again. For long days on the drill ground. For careless evenings in Serkon’s palace. For never-ending debates and heated discussions in the Council.
For everything that was close to her heart.
The Westerners had arrived and lined up threateningly, barring her way back. Only moments separated them from chaos.
Louder hammering, increasing until it claimed all the space between the trees.
A giant, brown head appeared in the bend, followed by flying legs and a massive body.
At the same time, the warriors began to make their assault with a terrifying war cry.
Penthesilea ducked the first blow, another one, parried the last and held on with grit teeth while the sword creaked nastily while sliding over the shorter blade.
She held them at bay. Tried to. But even the shoddiest sword still had a wider range than a dagger. They didn’t even take a true stab at disabling her. No doubt that they aimed at catching her alive, questioning her about the dead in front of their village. And as long as none of them made a severe mistake, the Amazon was left with trying to avoid their weapons.
Until she would tire.
For them, it was indeed that easy.
The first warrior sneaked behind her back while she was occupied with his two comrades. There, he led a half-hearted attack. They had surrounded her already, advancing from three sides now.
Had her situation allowed any distraction, she would have sent another prayer to the immortals. To any of them.
Instead, one of the men in the corner of her eye backed off slightly. As the first confusion had left, Penthesilea barely had the time any more to jump aside. And still, the air pushed aside by his sword let the short hair at her neck stand on end. So close, so close...
Breaking the shock with both hands, her mind noticed two things at the same time. For one, that she was outside of the warriors’ circle and secondly, that the horseman let his mare turn several steps away.
Wasting not a single moment with thinking, her raw hand grasped the dagger more tightly.
And she ran.
Toward the horse that had finished the turn.
It was driven onward.
The horseman swung his weapon back to receive the approaching enemy. In the last moment, Penthesilea stopped and sidestepped him.
She managed to get to him from behind since the distance had been far too short for him to gain full speed. While he counterbalanced the power of the strike that had hit nothing but air, Penthesilea pulled at his arm with all her strength.
Held back by the additional weight, the horse came to a stop before knocking her off the feet. With a thud, the Westerner plummeted onto the hard soil.
It had been felt ages since her training but once learnt, horseback riding was something one didn’t forget.
Swinging her leg over the animal was as natural as turning it while fighting off the angered warriors.
In the end, she could barely grasp that she was about to escape. The horse was nervous, bewildered by the unfamiliar woman at its back but still carried her out of the pursuers’ reach.
An arrow whizzed past her head as she almost believed herself safe. She dared a last glance back. An archer had finally arrived at the site and fired the last shot at her while his countrymen cursed and blamed each other.
He wouldn’t be a danger for her any more.
And yet something in his face, his entire demeanor was familiar to her.
Maybe it was the hatred openly displayed in his posture.
It wasn’t but until the sun had set and twilight enveloped the alien world around her that Penthesilea brought the mare to a stop. Knees shaking, it was everything that she managed to arrive at the bottom safely before sinking against an old tree.
Following a sudden urge, she curled up, finally left defenseless against the freshly welling tears.
She sat there for a long, long time until darkness had taken over.
Poses by neutralsupply, beverlyallitsims (here and here), MrsRacooney, simquin, Natalia Auditore (here and here), maretabuniketa and aoihana2510
Extra credit to Severinka for the horses and beverlyallitsims for the saddle