One afternoon, Penthesilea woke from a nap by a painful tugging in her underbelly. It was without doubt stronger than usual. She needed a moment to realize what was going on.
“It seems you want to see the world now, my dear.” Caring, she put her hand on her belly. “Io!” Instead of the young woman, two blond heads turned around from behind the door.
“Are you alright, my lady?”
“Call for my provider. The baby is about to be born. And do not dare to peek in here again before it has arrived! Go somewhere else on the compound.”
“Yes, my lady.” They turned back and little time later, Io entered the room.
“It’s time, my creator, isn’t it?”
“High time,” the queen groaned.
“We’ll need water. I’ll go for it.”
“No,” Penthesilea stopped her hastily, “send Haimon. Stay with me.” She never would have admitted it but she was afraid. Very much. Sure, her mother had prepared the princesses for childbirth. But now that the day had finally come, she felt unable to bear it. A woman dying in childbed wasn't uncommon, neither was a dying child. It was a strange experience since she didn't fear being heavily wounded or even killed in a fight. And although she felt the divine sparkle of the moment, her mortal self won. What would she have given for a mother to advise her now!
Haimon was not helping either. He was utmost nervous and certainly not pleased at the thought that there would be a child soon. Fortunately, Io kept calm and kind. As the only one.
When the slave returned, an amused smile entered the provider's face but the daughter of Thestia couldn't laugh for all the miserable she felt.
“Are you sure this will suffice, Haimon? We’ll need more water. Much more.”
In that very moment, he looked as bewildered and lost as a scolded child, nothing at all the passionate man Penthesilea was used to. However, he made up for his failure immediately so she allowed him to retreat into his basement room. Also because she couldn't stand him sneaking around any longer.
She didn't bother Io to lock him up as usual. He wouldn't dare to come upstairs anyway.
“Thank you.” Stepping up to her provider, the queen put her in an embrace. The most important thing in those moments was that there was a friend at her side while she got through this.
“This is what I’m made for. What delights me. To help others,” Io gently whispered into the other woman's ear.
“You should walk around. That will speed the birth up.”
“I can still do that later. Let's sit down first. What would you name her?” Somehow Penthesilea had to keep her wandering mind occupied to distract heryself.
“Are you sure it's a girl?”
“It must be because otherwise, I would be very upset going through all this and being left without an heiress in the end.”
It was intended to be a joke but she realized that she really meant it.
Oh Goddess, please! Let it be a girl so I do not have to do this another time! And to prevent even more trouble with Serkon and the council.
According to everything she remembered it wasn't a pleasant conversation even though it was not for the lack of Io trying. Led by pain, the queen's mind drifted off all too easily to what she was experiencing the next day and two nights.
Io didn't leave her side even once. She walked around with her creator and suggested many names just to cheer her up.
Telemache, “far-fighter” because Penthesilea had come from far away and was descended from a line of warriors. Lyka, but the queen didn't want to name her firstborn daughter after a wolf. Dora. Gift. No way fit for a strong heiress. Andromeda, “ruler of men”. Penthesilea was quite sure Io knew that Evandros wouldn't be pleased with it when she almost giggled while speaking. In any case, her suggestions succeeded to encourage the mother-to-be.
Right when the pain was becoming even stronger during a short break, she hit it.
“How about Hippolyta?”
She who frees the horses. A strong name, a famous one. One of Penthesilea's ancestors had borne it. And she liked the idea of finding freedom at last. Maybe this child would provide it.
They hadn't found much sleep the following night when the queen felt the end of her suffering was near. She tried to breathe the pain away, reminding herself there were still two men lurking around somewhere in front of her house although they hadn't ventured a single gaze in. Io was close behind her, as always.
Everything she could think of afterward was the child she held in her arms. Soft. Warm. So tiny that she was almost afraid to hurt her.
My daughter. The night around them seemed to glow and rejoice at the sight of the little heiress as Penthesilea watched her in awe, admiring her perfection. She had known Serkon was the right one. For this night, she would vehemently refuse to think of the other potential father. She wanted to be unconditionally happy for once. Finally, the Goddess had turned to her again, blessing her with reconciliation with the council and the most precious gift she had ever given to womankind.
Grateful, the queen looked up to the sky. The stars were already disappearing, making way for the sun to rise soon.
“Thank you, protector of my childhood,” the young woman whispered as glad as never before in her life.
In the morning, a message was sent to the members of the Council of Nobles that queen Penthesilea had given birth to her firstborn daughter.
Pose by Sandysims