It is time...Welcome back to the third and final installment of The Sign of the Moon AU. Btw, if you are new, I'd strongly suggest reading The Sign of the Moon REDUX and The Dance of the Stars (soon to be redux'd as well) first. This is truly gonna be an epic, and I'm getting this started because this will be a long fic (about 30 chapters), and chocked full of great adventures with familiar faces. Aside from Starco vs, this is going to be a main focus. Enjoy.
Far, far away in the magical land of Mewni, crowds of eager visitors gathered in the narrow streets around the Butterfly castle, the seat of power in the dimension. Usually, the small town was quiet, especially in the summer when the scorching sun and muggy heat kept its Monster and Mewman inhabitants inside. But today was different. A festive mood hung in the air, generated by millions of beings patronizing restaurants, buying souvenirs, and snapping pictures. They whirled around with the frenzy of honeybees near a hive. One might say everybody in the dimension was in this one spot, for once, it wasn't an exaggeration. Mewmans, Monsters, humans from the joined city of New Echo Creek, demons, Pony Heads, Pigeons, Waterfolk, Spiderbites, and more formed the crowds and coexisted in a harmony not possible a generation ago. They came by cars and trains, mule carts and horseback, and by foot even, to witness the historic event that would soon unfold. For on this day—the third of Dartuk—in the sixteenth year of the reign of Queen Star Butterfly the Underestimated and her king, Marco Diaz-Butterfly the Just, the new princess was turning fourteen years old. As mandated by tradition, she would receive the magic wand and begin training to become the next queen.
High above the celebration, a pair of watchful, brown eyes scanned the gathering with a sense of foreboding. Why does it have to be today? Princess Andromeda Diaz-Butterfly, the queen's firstborn daughter and heir, sighed as she leaned against the railing of the observatory on the tallest tower. The heavy breeze ruffled her royal blue princess dress and her long, dark blonde hair, bringing in a myriad of scents: the sweetness of corn, the bitterness of asphalt, and the mustiness of sweat. Gross, the princess wrinkled her nose. Being half-Mewman had its advantages but an enhanced sense of smell was not one of them. Even in her private sanctuary, the impending weight of the day intruded through odor.
It was insane to think her mother invited the entire universe to her birthday, and it was even more insane that they showed up. Yet here they were to celebrate the offspring of their beloved leader with the same fervor of teens at a boy band concert. Just thinking about the amount of expectation hovering around the princess was terrifying. How could she live up to the expectation around her? It almost seemed a sin to think that anyone could diminish the bright, blazing supernova that was Star Butterfly. At fourteen, she slew Toffee after first being killed by him and brought an end to the Fritz. At fifteen, she defeated Eclipsa, Meteora, and Mina, fulfilled a major prophecy, and became queen after her mother's death. And at nineteen—nineteen!—she united the Mewmans and Monsters and formed a resistance army to rescue Mewni from Globgor, the Mad King, all while raising two children with her literal soulmate. In short, Star had to be the most badass warrior-queen in all of Mewnian history. She is Mewni. Who dared thread in her gigantic footsteps?
Yet the whole universe expected Andromeda to do so. One day, she would be crowned Queen Andromeda and would bear the task of running the kingdom and carrying on the now-coveted Butterfly family name. I think I'm going to be sick, the princess swayed as the world spun for a moment. She wanted to ditch the crown and dress and run far away from everything. Maybe she'd retreat into the Forest of Certain Death with a few books and her short sword. No one would find her there.
"Are you sure about that?" asked a welcoming voice in her head. "Mom and Dad know to look for you there, and of course, I'm your twin."
Her brother, Orion, joined her, and the bond grew fuzzy with warmth. "True," she admitted through their private connection. "I guess I can't pull an Eclipsa on this."
She appreciated his company and the mental bond between them. It was a side effect of their parents' bond, which was knitted together by the mysterious Blood Moon. Orion and Andromeda could speak to each other without speaking and sense each other's emotions, although thankfully, their version of the Blood Moon bond was limited. The telepathy and ability to know each other's feelings was restricted by distance and willpower. If either of them didn't want to talk, it shut firmly. However, they didn't need a mystical bond to know each other—they shared a womb, after all.
But age started to amplify their physical differences as it tends to with fraternal twins. Andromeda favored their father with his dark eyes and thick, expressive eyebrows even though she had her mother's Mewman strength. On the other side, Orion was truly Star's son. His hair lightened with age, turning blonder and less red. It earned him the nickname "Rye" among family and friends. His one stamp from the Diaz side of the family trees were his deep green eyes, which he inherited from his abuela, Angie.
"And if you run away, you'll miss an opportunity to look fancy with me," Orion wriggled his thinner eyebrows.
She flashed him a wide smile, connecting the blue stars on her cheeks. The royal stylists loved to coordinate their outfits. Andromeda's dress started out royal blue on the bodice—the official color of the crown princess—and darkened into a deep midnight blue on the skirt. Sparkly rhinestone beads formed the stars around the outline of a Blood Moon. The dress was pretty—Andromeda had to admit that much. As for her brother, he wore a navy prince suit with long coattails and gleaming brass buttons. He also had a small field of stars on the cuffs of his sleeves with Blood Moon cufflinks. It was weird seeing Orion look so put together and with his unruly, scruffy hair slicked back.
"You know matching your sibling isn't as cute when you're older," she said.
He nodded, "Yeah…not so much now,"
"I miss the simpler days."
Orion frowned, speaking aloud when the bond weakened, "It's your birthday, Andie, not your funeral. Lighten up."
"It's the death of my old self, Rye," her cheekmarks flashed briefly. "Everything is changing too fast. I was thirteen yesterday—I can't imagine being queen."
"At least you get to imagine being important to Mewni. The kingdom doesn't care I was born, y' know."
His words hurt. As much as Andromeda hated the spotlight, her twin didn't receive any attention from the public aside from birthday wishes from the family and a promise from Star that they'd do something special after the Wand Ceremony. Only the firstborn daughter of a Butterfly queen inherited the throne and the wand—not any of her other children. Not even her twin son born with magic ability.
The pinkish-red suns on Orion's cheeks pulsed dimly, and Andromeda reached out to ruffle his hair, "You always be cool to me."
"Yes. I mean, we are wombmates for life."
"Forever and ever," he smiled. The clock tolled in the distance, and judging by the number of rings, it was eleven o'clock. One hour to the inevitable. Orion jabbed her playfully, "You know, we have some time to kill…"
"Absolutely not!" She knew what he was thinking even without tapping into the bond.
"But it's our favorite activity."
"You mean your favorite, Rye," the princess crossed her arms. "I refuse to get on a wild warnicorn with you!"
"You mean unicorn," he rolled his eyes. "Didn't you listen to Mom when she pointed out the difference between them?"
It had to do with size—Andromeda suddenly remembered. Warnicorns, the mounts of the queen and the Kingsguard, were bigger and stockier with thick legs and feathering around their hooves. Unicorns were different—smaller, slighter, and wilder.
The princess replied, "Maybe I did…isn't Sir Runs-A-Lot a warnicorn?"
"He's both, Andie. Don't be disrespectful."
She rolled her eyes, "Anyways, I'm not going."
"Please…?" Orion switched to another tactic—his "woobie eyes." They worked on Star all the time, but Andromeda usually resisted them. Usually. Today, the mischief glinting in his eyes eroded her resolve. Dammit! "Fine," she relented. "But…but, I better not fall or get my dress dirty."
He grinned at his victory, "Don't sweat it, sis. I got you."
"I wanna come too!" A third voice piped in, and the teens looked down into a pair of sparkling blue eyes gazing up at them.
"Jupiter, get out!" They shouted at the youngest member of the Diaz-Butterfly family.
The young princess was five years old. Their parents always wanted another child, but they were too busy rebuilding Mewni after the war to try again for nine years. While Andromeda and Orion favored one parent over the other, Jupiter was a good blend of both of them. She had Star's eyes and Marco's dark brown hair, which she wore shoulder-length and often in pigtails. The lavender ringed-planet cheekmarks inspired her name as well as a cultural misunderstanding. In the Earth Dimension, Jupiter is the largest planet, but Star assumed the gas planet was the Queen of Planets. Regardless, the name stuck.
"I wanna go too!" Jupiter puffed out her cheeks. "I'm tired of being cooped up in the castle."
"You're not coming, Jupe," Andromeda put her foot down. "This is big kid stuff!"
"I'm telling Mommy!" The girl hollered in indignation.
Orion smirked, "Go ahead. She'll let us do it."
"Then I'll tell Daddy."
Both teens froze, "Oh no."
King Marco was the most influential and inspiration king in Mewnian history. Period. He rose to prominence from utter obscurity like the sun rising from the darkness. His list of achievements was just as amazing as his wife's. He was her guide on Earth, her personal squire, the general of her armies, and her prince before becoming king. As Star's partner, he stood up for Monster rights and against the royals who were bent on keeping them apart because he wasn't born a prince. To finally prove his worth once-and-for-all, he killed Globgor and saved Mewni. On top of that, he used to bring Andromeda to this spot every day to watch the sunrise until she turned ten. It was their thing—he had a special activity with each other his children. How could she disappoint him?
"What do we do?" Orion panicked.
"I got it," Andromeda nodded to him, then said to their little sister, "Hey, Jupiter, how about we play another game of Royal Secrets."
"Royal what?" questioned Orion.
"It's a sister thing," she winked.
Jupiter caught on quickly, "If I go downstairs and keep quiet, what will I get?"
"A trip to the Mosh Pit," Andromeda promised, figuring the five-year-old would forget in a day.
Jupiter squealed with joy and pranced around the balcony, "I'm going clubbing!"
Her sister grabbed her arm and put a finger to her lips, "Shh…remember the bargain, sis."
"I will!" She raced out away.
Orion raised an eyebrow, "You're good."
"I told ya, it's a sister thing. You wouldn't get it."
"Man, I wish I had a little brother."
"Don't we have unicorns to ride?"
"Oh, right. Let's go!"
They snuck downstairs, past the guards at their posts and the visitors on tour led by the castle staff. They were too busy marveling at royal portraits and artifacts from the war to notice the teens slipping through. As they grew closer to their impromptu adventure, Andromeda's grin grew wider and wider. This could be fun. If she had to say goodbye to her old life, why not do it in style? Suddenly, a shadow loomed over them, "What are you two doing?"
"Aunt Higgs!" They jumped as the Captain of the Kingsguard glared at them. Of course, she'd be the one to find them. Her piercing green eyes saw everything that happened on castle grounds. Everything.
"Uhh…we were just stepping out to get air," the prince tried to speak normally.
The redhead narrowed her eyes and shook her head, "Honestly, Orion, if you're going to be disobedient then here—" She tossed him Marco's dimensional scissors. "—Do it right. I swear you're as daft as your father."
"Thanks?" He watched the knight walk away. "Do you think she still likes Dad?" he asked Andromeda.
"Wouldn't be surprised, but it doesn't matter," she shrugged.
After the awkwardness of the moment passed, Orion opened a portal to the Forest of Certain Death. Peace settled on Andromeda the second she stepped into the Mewnian wilderness. Her senses took in the serenity of freedom: there were no walls or fences or hopeful visitors caging her in. The tangle of trees, vines, and brush stretched endlessly around her for many miles in all directions, interrupted only by deer paths, meadows, and streams. She stepped out of her blue boots and let her toes root themselves into the rain-cooled earth. The squishiness was oddly pleasant. When she opened her mouth, she tasted the bounty of the forest so vividly that she could picture every bird flying overhead, every deer passing through, and every leaf fluttering in the wind. The mustiness and earthiness of it all remaindered her of a pint of ale, and she drank freely until a giddy laugh ruptured from her in shaky gasps.
"Need a moment with nature?" Orion tapped her shoulder.
"Oh, shut up," she scowled when he ruined her happiness.
He shrugged, "I mean we can stay out here all day and smell the roses, but you were the one who wanted to return to the castle on time."
Why does he always have to be right? She grumbled but obediently followed her brother into the forest. They meandered along thin paths carved through the undergrowth in silence, keeping all senses focused on finding their prey. He's doing this all wrong, Andromeda bit her lip as she watched her sibling bumble through noisy bracken and snag the leg of his pants on thorns. His form was off—a real hunter kept low to the ground and light on their feet. Plus, they weren't even following a unicorn trail. The tracks depicted the splayed hooves of red deer—likely hinds, judging by the size—not the neat, equine hooves of a speedy unicorn. Should I point this out? She didn't want to sound like a know-it-all when her brother really wanted to treat her on their birthday, so she kept quiet and trusted Orion's instincts. Maybe his blind luck would lead them to a herd.
Sure enough, it did. About a mile into the quest, they stumbled upon a large herd of ten mares guarded by a roan stallion. Three spindly, new foals, chased each other around the roots of a great oak tree, tripping on the roots while their parents grazed in the small clearing. The mare closest to them was larger than the others but no less graceful and delicate on her hooves. She was as black as the night sky and bore a twisty, gray horn on her head. Every now and then, her nostrils quivered in a low whinny, and the others replied in kind. She's like their queen, Andromeda marveled at how the mare commanded her herd-mates, leading them from one clump of grass to the other. What a perfect animal to ride on her fourteenth birthday.
"Well, go on," Orion nudged her.
"Yeah, it's your day."
"But I've never—" the words snagged on the bond as Andromeda noticed the mare flare her nostrils in alarm. She scented them. It was now or never. Gathering her courage, the princess sprung out of the brush and landed onto the startled mare's back. Now, came the hard part. Andromeda clung to unicorn's slippery mane for dear life as she bucked around the clearing. Every movement of the panicked animal lurched the princess around like a ragdoll—forward when she slammed on her fore-hooves and backward with each rear. The sharp points of the mare's spine dug into Andromeda's thighs. "Come on!" She gritted her teeth from the pain. "I'm not trying to hurt you, Smokey!"
Suddenly, the mare stopped rebelling and stood still, giving Andromeda enough time to catch her breath. I'm alive! I did it! She cheered. She caught her first unicorn on her own! Star would be so proud to see her lessons finally paid off, though her daughter won the battle in a different way. She gave the mare a name, figuring that a herd queen would react to respect over brute strength. "I love your herd, Queen Smokey," Andromeda praised with a pat to the unicorn's sweaty neck. "I hope you don't mind my trespass."
Smokey snorted and bobbed her head in response.
The prince crawled out of the bushes and marveled, "That was amazing! Mom's gonna freak when she finds out you tamed a queen mare."
"Mom! Orion, we forgot about the ceremony!"
The shadows had changed with the ascent of the sun, and the teens saw it was past noon already. What kind of future queen showed up late to her own wand ceremony? I'm such a screw-up!
"Well, we have two ways to deal with this, Andie," Orion counted on his fingers. "One, we freak out, or two—" he hopped on Smokey's back, "—We roll with it. Smokey, ha!"
His rough kick spurred the mare in the direction of home. Why couldn't we just use the scissors?! The Mewnian countryside bled into shades of brown and green as the forest became foothills, and foothills gave way to civilization. Smokey never slowed her gallop—not even when they reached the town full of unsuspecting tourists.
"Look, it's the prince and princess!" A demon pointed, and the tourists turned to snap pictures, only to be met by a half-ton, black blur charging their way.
"Move! Get outta the way!" Andromeda tried to dissuade her fans from coming any closer lest they get trampled.
Meanwhile, Smokey barreled through several concession stands and food carts, spilling an array of merchandise and food on the cobblestone streets. A few baby strollers rolled in the way, but the mare leapt over them with ease. At least someone has sense on our journey, Andromeda glared at Orion, "Rye, we gotta stop this, or someone will get hurt!"
"What are you talking about?" He replied nonchalantly. "Smokey's doing a great job not killing people, and we're almost there."
The Butterfly castle grew larger on the horizon until it swallowed the unicorn and her royal passengers, whole. Without breaking a stride, Smokey burst through the gates, scattering the knights on duty and continued into the castle. "Hey, guys! Hi, Darrion!" Orion waved at the squires, who poked their heads out of the bushes.
Can this get any worse? The princess ducked her head.
Skidding on the slick floor, Smokey raced into the throne room, and the guests turned around in horror at the wild animal in their midst. Many of them dove out of the way and screamed, but Grandpa River laughed. "Look at my grandchildren go!" He smiled through his bushy blond and gray beard. "Carrying on the family legacy!"
If she lived that long. Andromeda imaged the gleaming marble floor rushing towards her head if Smokey crashed into the thrones. Would she scream when she saw her face, blued by the reflection, grew larger in the squared tiles, or would she stoically meet death like a brave warrior? They'd call her Andromeda the Floored, and Glossaryck would create a lame poem describing her equally lame death captured by the cameras and multitude of eyes behind her. She shut her eyes and prayed for a miracle….
"Andie, we did it!" She heard her brother cheer, and she tentatively opened her eyes. Somehow, the agile mare managed to stop inches away from their father, who stood in front of Star and Jupiter to shield them.
Stupid idiot! Andromeda itched to thump Orion on the head for the stump but remained composed instead, sliding off the unicorn and smoothing down her dress. They were alive and in the throne room—she'd give him that much. But her desire to live diminished when she saw the massive crowd stare at her. Sweat rolled down her back when she saw Prince Lucitor wave from the front row.
"Did you have fun, sweetie?" A gentle laugh from her mother lightened Andromeda's mood, and she quickly forgot her anger and embarrassment. Here I am, the princess sought her mother's Earth-blue, and she was instantly small again. She remembered nestling in her mother's arms while she rocked her and Orion to sleep. They used to cling to her flowing, golden hair, which blazed like sun fire in the light. She could hear the queen sing to her in High Mewnian about magical things: stories of the past queen, the Blood Moon, and her own adventures with their father. While Star was many things to many people, her most important role was being a mother to her children.
Andromeda let a smile form on her lips, "Until Rye drove the warnicorn into a crowd…"
Orion puffed out his cheeks, "We had to get here on time."
"We could have used the scissors!" She shot back.
"I like my dramatic entrances."
The siblings were so busy arguing over the best mode of travel that Andromeda almost missed the Passing of the Wand Ceremony. In a flash of light, the wand's form split into two when Star and Marco grabbed it. On the right was the Butterfly form used by her mother. Despite its looks, the princess knew her mother killed Toffee with it in one blast. On the other side took the form of a pointy, teal ship's wheel or compass—her father's wand form. I wonder what it'll turn into when I touch it, Andromeda thought of endless possibilities as she reached out and grabbed the handle.
Another flash filled the castle as the wand chose a new shape for its new wielder in front of all of Mewni. When the princess's brown eyes opened again, it took a few moments to realize that the wand had turned into a silver sword hilt with a slightly longer-than-normal grip. Whoa, she studied it intently. According to the books in the castle library, it was rare for a wand to take the form of a weapon. The only other queen before her who had a sword-wand was Queen Solaria, but she was also a twisted, warmongering soul. I hope this isn't a bad sign, Andromeda wrinkled her nose but returned to beholding her wand. The black dragon leather made the grip extremely pleasant to hold. It ended right about the pommel, which was shaped into a crescent Blood Moon and made of Underworld ruby. Above it all, red butterfly wings—edged with white—formed a protective cross guard to protect her hand. Does it have a blade? The princess flicked the hilt, and it unleashed a blade of blue flame.
"Nice!" She gave it a few swings. The wand also had a steel longsword blade. Runes covered the length, and they said in ancient Mewnian: Sting like a Butterfly.
"I think the wand chose a great form for you," Marco placed a hand on her shoulder. Andromeda thought of the mornings they spent watching the sunrise over Mewni, and the intense orange touching his crescent moon cheekmarks. Just watching them glint red like the Blood Moon made it hard for Andromeda to realize that he was only a human. The Butterflys snarkily brought up the fact during the annual Butterfly-Johansen-Diaz dinner, but her mother's tales and the regal air around him transformed him into something more. And since Andromeda looked like him, then Marco had to be a badass too.
Suddenly, a surprised shout from Orion summoned everyone's attention. He had a wand too—the first time in a thousand years of Butterfly monarchy that a prince inherited anything along with his twin sister. In the prince's hand, the wand had a more classic appearance. It had black bat wings on the side of a dark-blue bell, and a spike, framed by a pair of devil horns, sat on top. The face bore a teal X that separated four small red moons and had a greenish star in the middle—a contrast to Andromeda's yellow crystal.
"We both get wands?!" They exclaimed in unison. And we have matching wand chargers!
"I guess so?" Star and Marco exchanged a glance. "Happy Birthday to both of you and may all of Mewni welcome her new crown princess and crown prince!"
Andromeda hardly heard the cheering for she busied herself with what spell she should cast first. Coldness stung her veins, flooding her body with courage and determination. Let's make it a good one! She shivered yet gripped her wand, "Narwhal Blast!" A fat narwhal flopped around on the ground surrounded by rainbow goo. I did it! She beamed. Star grinned ear-to-ear at the sight of one of her children using one of her signature spells.
"Excellent job, Andie," Star squealed. "My first narwhal came out sickly and deformed. I think I tried too hard."
Orion rolled up his sleeves, "Easy stuff, Andie, anyone can Narwhal Blast."
Sure, she narrowed her eyes at him, "Then you do better."
"With pleasure…Warnicorn Blast!" The prince roared and summoned a herd of tiny unicorns. They whinnied and raced around the room, colliding with chairs, walls, and people's legs.
"No, no, no, it's Warnicorn Stampede," she corrected.
"Well, excuse me, princess," he rolled his eyes.
"If you actually paid attention, brother, you'd know."
"Warnicorn Blast sounds better, sis."
"No, it doesn't! Watch…" Andromeda started the proper dance steps to cast the complicated spell, but it came out wrong. Instead of a majestic herd of galloping, battle-ready warnicorns, she got a squishy mess of fat unicorns. That's not it, she tried again over and over. Meanwhile, Orion tried to blast bolts of pink magic to test out his wand.
He huffed, "Do they have to be pink? Where's my signature flaming rainbow spell?"
"Rye, sweetie," Star tried to help. "Remember what I told you about casting spells?"
"Just say words!" He beamed and squared his stance, "MAGICAL RAINBOW DEATH RAY!"
A burst of rainbows shot out of the wand and lit a section of the castle on fire. Knights rushed to the scene, and people ran. "Oops," the prince hid the wand behind his back and sheepishly grinned.
"Why the hell would you add the words 'death ray' to your spell?!" Andromeda slapped her face with her hand.
"Because I am the son of Star Butterfly!" He boasted.
Before the twins could argue further, a pair of burly arms wrapped around both of them and lifted them off the ground. "Wow! Just look at mis sobrinos," Uncle Marco Jr. gently shook them. "Ready to burn down the dimension with their old uncle."
Although named for his kingly older brother, the younger Marco was nothing like him. The teen was broad, tall, and covered in thick, red hair like a shaggy Johansen bull. In fact, his classmates at Echo Creek Academy called him El Toro Rojo—the red bull—both as a term of endearment and derision. His black leather jacket smelled of cheap cologne, sweat from the gym, and exhaust from his motorcycle—the one his parents didn't know about. The one featured in his stories of football, girls, and street races.
"Gracias, tio," Andromeda squirmed out of his hug.
He set them both down, then asked Andromeda, "Do you think you can fix my grades? I need to make the cut for the team this fall."
"Please? I'll take you and Orion out for drinks and pay."
"I think we can work something out," she whispered, noticing his father—her Abuelo Rafael—watching with suspicion. Their grandmother was busy taking pictures for the family album.
"This is why I love you too," he patted her back.
"What about me, Uncle Marco?" Jupiter wrapped herself around one of his tree-trunk legs.
"And of course, you too, Jupiter," he lifted her on his shoulder. "You're all my favorite."
"I think I smell teens up to no good," commented their Uncle Tom.
Orion smirked as his other "uncle" ruffled his hair, "You know we are."
"I expect nothing less from Starship's children," the demon king flicked his tail.
"You know they're also my children too," Marco added. "So that should mean they're model citizens of Mewni."
"Ah c'mon, we caused a lot of mischief too when we were younger," Uncle Tom snickered. "We fought and went on adventures. You stole my ex-girlfriend."
"I didn't necessarily mean to steal Star from you."
"Sure…and I'm the King of the Underworld—oh, wait." They continued to playfully argue while aunts Kelly, Pony Head, Jackie, and Janna gave their congratulations.
"Remember, if you need pointers on demon magic, you can always ask me," Aunt Janna winked. "I can teach all kinds of witchy things your Dad doesn't want you to know."
Aunt Jackie shook her head, then turned to the twins, "By the way, Darrion took a picture of you two on the warnicorn, so I knew you guys were going to make a dramatic entrance."
"Thanks for not ratting on us," Orion said.
"Of course," she nodded. "I mean who am I to judge? I taught my son how to skateboard at a year-old." She smiled at her wife, their Aunt Chloe, and their son when they joined her side.
Suddenly, something darted from behind Aunt Janna. It was Persephone, the second Lucitor child. "Wanna look for ghosts in the castle, Jupiter?" She asked while lashing her purple tail.
The young Butterfly princess climbed off her uncle's shoulders and raced after the seven-year-old. Lucitors are so weird, Andromeda shook her head at the young princesses. In a twisted reality where Tom was her father and not Marco, she imagined herself looking kinda like Persephone with red eyes, dark pink hair, and human skin. Wait, if Lucitor Number two is here…that means…
"Hey, Andie!" A new voice startled her while she was deep and thought, and Andromeda squeaked.
"Dante, you jerkface!" she flailed her arms. "You scared the corn outta me!"
"Got 'em," Orion fist-bumped his bro. "Told ya she's easy to scare." Oh, how she wanted to kick them both. Especially Dante. He was the worst. His Lucitor red eyes glowed in triumph and matching tail flicked like a snake's tongue. Stupid demon, Andromeda folded her arms. Quarter-demon, to be precise. The human in him was itself evident in the brown skin and black hair he inherited from Janna. Otherwise, he favored Tom with his pointy ears and handsome, smoldering eyes…
"Are you okay, Andie?" the demon prince poked her. "By the way, I think your wand is cool. Strong and practical—just like you."
"Oh?" She blushed. "You like strong and practical princesses, demon boy?"
His cheeks turned slightly red, and he said nothing. Orion threw his arms around both of them, "Can't wait to go on even cooler adventures. Oh, Andie, where's Mom and Dad? They were just here a second ago."
Star wiped the sweat off her brow as she hurried down the back hallway of the castle. Finally, the queen had the space to breathe. She loved her people—she really did—but not when they were cooped up in the throne room on a ninety-degree day. Honestly, she forgot how stuffy the throne room could be since she rarely used the space these days. Star prided herself on being an active queen. The whole of Mewni was her office and place of governance now. For the first time ever, her subjects could say that they had a queen who dwelt among them. Except for a few occasions where she met with the Kingsguard, Star's Commission, or the royals, the queen spent her days on the move: riding on quests, meeting with the common-folk, protecting the realm, and visiting other kingdoms. Just a few days ago, she returned from a visit to the newly-formed Musty Mountain kingdom after having an audience with their queen, Eclipsa, for a progress report. I'll have to go back soon, the new ruler's physical absence from the Wand Ceremony was explained by how much the kingdom needed her. Maybe this time, Star would bring the kids since Andromeda and Orion needed to learn how to rule in her place one day.
Just thinking of how grown up her precious twins were put a smile on her face. It was hard to believe how much time had passed since their birth. They were crying, small bundles fourteen years ago, taking their first breaths in her arms. Now, look at them—the future of Mewni. One day, she would leave everything to them and ride off into retirement. Ugh, I'm already thinking of the r-word, her nose wrinkled in disgust. Thirty-two-year-olds shouldn't be considering retirement. She was still young and hip—or she'd like to think so. Though she still maintained her Dancing Queen status at the clubs, worry crept in her mind. What if she peaked too soon? What if the glory days of battle and being an amazing warrior-queen were behind her forever? What if I'm already done…? Star shuddered as she leaned against the unicorn window.
"Star? Are you alright?"
She lifted her eyes to see that Marco, her dutiful king and husband, had followed her both to check up on her and to escape the crowd. The heat had flattened his scruffy brown hair, plastering the long bangs to his forehead over his eyebrows. "You look like a wet hound, my king," she snickered through the bond.
"You could've birthed our children in a cooler month," he slicked back his wet hair. To further cool off, he unbuttoned his suit jacket to air out his sweaty, white dress shirt. He chose the royal blue suit instead of his usual black Blood Moon one in hopes that the lighter color would keep him cool. Obviously, his wishful thinking didn't work, but his wife didn't mind. She loved experiencing him through her nostrils as well as her eyes.
He eyed her, "That's a weird way to put it, dear."
But could he blame her? He was still adorable with the thin beard on his chin and the abs she knew the shirt concealed. That gives me an idea…She grabbed a fist full of his clothes and brought him in for a passionate kiss. "Easy, Star," he moaned slightly. "We're in public."
"Then why don't we take this to our room," she murmured softly.
Marco pulled back and studied her questioningly, "What's on your mind?"
"Oh, Marco," she leaned against his chest. "You know, the twins are basically adults under Mewnian law…"
"Yeah, but they're still fourteen."
Work with me here, she sighed but tried again, "And we're still young…"
Even after decades of the Blood Moon bond and being each other's best friend and soulmate, Marco was still denser than a black hole in a fruitcake inside a brick house. I need to help him out, Star stood on her tiptoes to kiss his neck a few times. "Marco," she laughed when his face turned red. "I was thinking we should try for another—"
"Star Butterfly! What on Mewni are you doing?!"
Groaning, the couple parted as the sound of a cane tapping against the floor echoed in the hall as a shriveled, old lady slowly shuffled towards them at the pace of a snail. Etheria Butterfly managed to stubbornly cling to life after all these years probably because Death was too afraid to take her. Even though her voice had decayed to a hoarse whisper, her tongue only grew sharper with age. With each step, the deep wrinkles etched into her jowls jiggled. Somewhere under them, her star cheekmarks were smothered by fat and skin.
Etheria saw the couple and indignation further folded her face until her eyes seemed to disappear, "Your mongrel children ruined the Wand Ceremony!"
"They aren't mongrels!" Marco snapped protectively. "And we're aren't doing things traditionally anymore."
She tapped her cane against his leg, "Who gave the King of Mewni a tongue?"
"I did!" Star snarled. "Marco's won the right to be my equal a million times over."
The elder huffed, "This kingdom is going to the Underworld in an oxcart! Mixed marriages, Monster rights, cleaving our world with Earth—all these abominations are ruining the purity of Mewni! Think of the children."
You mean all these changes have made Mewni better and freer, Star rolled her eyes. Most of her constituents loved the changes. Culture flourished from peaceful contact with others—not from isolation or controlling others by force. Without her changes, Mewmans would still be dying from simple diseases, Monsters would be oppressed, and humans would still rely on stinky fossil fuels. Even many of the Butterflys and Lucitors who had been against Star had come around. All except the old guard spearheaded by Etheria. "I'm not gracing that with a response," Star glanced at Marco.
"What if someone gets hurt by those beasts casting spells?" Etheria objected to keep the conversation going.
"Then they should've moved out of the way," Star replied sharply. "Thank you for your concern but Marco and I know how to raise our kids." Now shut your trap and get the fuck out of here, she added with her narrowed eyes.
Seeing the queen meant business, Etheria waddled down the hall, leaving Star and Marco alone. "She has to die one day."
"True," Marco agreed. "I hope that day comes soon. Now, what were you saying?"
"Oh yeah," Star shot him a smile and gave him another kiss. "Marco, my love, I really want another—"
"Mommy! Daddy! Rye hit me with a narwhal!" Jupiter stomped in their direction.
"Duty calls," Star and Marco parted and turned to their daughter, who was about to cry.
Marco picked her up, "What's wrong, my little princess?"
Right as she was about to unload her tale of woe, Orion raced into the hall to defend himself. "It wasn't intentional," he argued. "I couldn't control the spell."
"It still hurt my feelings!" Jupiter shrieked.
"Feelings heal, Jupiter! Grow up!"
"You're such a meanie!"
"And you're such a—"
"Jupiter and Orion Diaz-Butterfly, that is enough!" Star used her "mom voice" and watched the kids suddenly fall silent. Their fear softened the frustration on her brow, and she exhaled slowly to assure her children and herself that all was well. Of course, she still loved them, though, sometimes, their whining and fighting grew annoying. Arguing never solved problems.
Once calm returned to the royals, Star said, "Look, Jupiter, I doubt your brother meant to hurt you in any way—right?"
Her son nodded, "It was an honest mistake, Jupe. I'm sorry."
"And Jupiter," she continued. "I think you overreacted. You're not really hurt, are you?"
"I'm not," Jupiter confessed. "I'm sorry, Orion."
"Of course, you aren't," Star kissed her forehead, which made her laugh. "It takes a lot to bring us Butterfly women down."
Marco passed her to her mother and rested a hand on Orion's shoulder, "I know it's hard being the oldest—"
"Second oldest, Dad," he corrected playfully.
Marco sighed, ruffling his golden hair, "I was close. Anyways, I know it's hard having younger siblings who blame you for everything, but being a prince means learning to take the higher road."
"I know, I know. I gotta be responsible."
"You know your Abuela still blames me for breaking the Venetian vase in her house."
"Really? I thought Uncle Marco did that?"
"Oh, he definitely did, but I took the fall because it wasn't worth continuing to fight with him."
"Being the older sibling is rough, huh?" Orion smiled gently.
"It gets easier with time, I think," Marco's voice trailed away when Marco Jr. and Andromeda entered the hall. "Well, now that we're all here," he announced. "I think we should celebrate the twins' birthday and their new wands."
"Are we going on an adventure?" Andromeda asked excitedly.
Star grinned, "Of course, we are. There's no better way to break in some new magic than to beat up something." The kids cheered when she summoned a portal with a snap of her fingers.
"Where are we going, Mom?" Orion tried to peer into the dimensional rift in front of them.
"I'd know if I had my scissors, Rye," Marco said and raised his eyebrows at his son.
The prince grumbled and handed the scissors back to their rightful owner, "Aunt Higgs gave them to me."
"I'm not even going to wonder how she got them," Marco said to Star.
Before they stepped into the portal, Andromeda hung back and thought for a second, "Shouldn't we change out of our fancy clothes?"
"I wouldn't worry about it," the queen shrugged. "Sir Lavabo can clean anything."
"If you say so."
"We don't need play clothes!" Jupiter jabbed her sister. "I've got my Bug Squishers on." She lifted the hem of her dress to show off the camo combat boots Aunt Janna gave her for her birthday. With them, Jupiter claimed she could do anything.
"Can I come?" asked Marco Jr.
"Did you text Mom and Dad?" Marco reminded him. "I'm tired of getting phone calls about you sneaking out without their permission."
"Don't sweat it, hermano," he leaned against Marco, who was a few inches shorter. "You know I'm a good kid…most of the time." When the king frowned, he changed his response, "Sometimes."
"He can come," Star said. "Now, let's get going! Adventure awaits!" She picked a place full of food, intrigue, and enough challenge to get the twins practicing their magic. While they would receive formal training from Glossaryck soon enough, why not get them started on the basics now?
The kids cheered as they stepped through the portal, but once they reached the other side they stopped abruptly. "Uh…Mom," Andromeda broke the silence. "Where are we?"
"Welcome to the Sandwich Dimension!" She spread her arms wide in front of the gray, foggy dimension. Marco groaned in the background once he realized where they were. That's right—she chose this place.
"Then where are the sandwiches?" Marco Jr. stuck his hands in his pockets.
"Out there!" Star remained enthusiastic.
"Out in what?" Orion complained bitterly. "I see nothing besides fog and weird trees."
"And the air is wet and gross!" Andromeda wrung moisture from her locks. "It's making my hair frizzy."
C'mon, guys, Star tried to remain optimistic while her teens whined about everything they could see: the frogs, the wet ground, the lack of food. And while the Sandwich Dimension was surely a boring, lame dimension on the surface, she brought the twins here for a reason. They were going to learn a valuable lesson related to magic. She tuned them out and opened her mouth slightly to take in the smells from the water-laden air. Teasing through the soggy layers, she noticed the inviting scents of bread, mayo, and spicy olives. Bingo, she smirked. She didn't worry about her children—they'd catch on.
When they still complained, Star said, "Keep an open mind. See with something other than your eyes."
Orion frowned, "Are you teaching us through dumb riddles like Glossaryck?"
"Oh please. What I said was pretty straightforward."
"Yeah, Rye," Jupiter started hopping in the puddles on the ground, soaking her dress with muddy water. "This place is fun!"
"I still don't get it," he folded his arms.
Andromeda remained quiet for a moment longer, "Actually, Rye, I think I get it. There is something more to this place. I smell food—like edible food—up ahead."
"Praise the Stump!" Marco Jr. cheered. "I'm so hungry, I could eat a—"
Suddenly, a thundering roar disturbed the quietness of the dimension, shaking the black trees and corky ground. Birds took flight into the mist, and frogs leapt for cover in the leaf litter. Jupiter stopped played and hid behind her father's legs. "It's okay," he comforted her. "I'm here."
"And so is trouble," Andromeda added. "I sensed its coming. Where the food is, danger is also."
Marco Jr. shuddered, "I was down with finding food, but I dunno…niece. I don't wanna work for it."
"So, what—a little danger? That's what I live for," boasted Orion as he grabbed his and. "I'm not afraid of anything. I'm a magical prince and the son of the king and queen of Mewni. Nothing can stop me!"
"You sure about that?" Marco raised an eyebrow. "There's nothing wrong with trying to be safe and smart about things."
"Safe and smart? Ha! Danger is my middle name, Dad!"
You don't have one, Star shook her head at her bold son, who marched valiantly towards a pillar.
Marco glanced at her, "He's so your son."
"There's a lot of you in there too," she said.
Star led the rest of the family behind Orion, and they climbed up the side of the pillar. Jupiter snagged a ride on her shoulders, so she wouldn't fall behind. She begged her mother to tell her why she chose this dimension, but Star declined. She had to keep the surprise a secret. "I'll tell you tonight for a bedtime story," she promised.
"Okay," she relented.
They reached the top and found a massive den under the tangled roots of a great black tree. Marco drew his sword and Star passed Jupiter to Marco Jr. so she could stand alongside her husband. Magic glowed around her fists. "I have a feeling the roar came from there," Andromeda kept her eyes on the gloom ahead and willed her steel blade into existence.
"Yep," Star nodded. "We need to be careful because—"
Orion huffed, "I don't need warnings! I was born with a battle cry on my lips and determination in my heart! I go boldly!"
"Orion, no!" Marco raced after him as the prince charged into the den.
Star braced herself for an oncoming attack, "Marco and Orion are alright, but everyone, get ready! Marco Jr., watch Jupiter."
"On it!" the teen shuffled his younger niece on his shoulders and grabbed a stout stick. He found a smaller one to pass to Jupiter, "You're my battle partner."
Silence hung in the air, and Star grew worried when she detected neither sign of her husband and son. But they were alive—the bond told her so. C'mon, she gritted her teeth, Let's get on with it! She wanted the wait to end, and the fight to finally begin. Finally, she heard the beast roar again and two sets of footsteps slamming against the floor of the cave. Orion and Marco sprinted towards them with an olive-green creature barreling after them. Here we go, Star raised her hand, "Double Rainbow Fist Punch!"
A pair of colorful fists whizzed past the king and prince and nailed the beast in the face, knocking it backwards to give them time to get away. Steam billowed from the multitude of pipes jutting out of its back. "I…told you not to go in there," Marco reprimanded his son as he caught his breath.
"I thought there was just a fridge full of sandwiches in there," Orion wheezed. Andromeda stared in his eyes, likely saying something to him through their bond.
"Everyone's alive so it's no biggie," Star said. "Now, kids, first magic lesson: you gotta learn how to be quick with it. Yes, you can do powerful spells with elaborate words, but that doesn't mean a thing in combat. It's all about being quick and landing attacks." The sandwich monster shook off the attack and prepared to charge again. Let's cut to the chase, Star readied herself. "Just say words. Remember that. Just say words, and the magic will come. Like this—" she let the beast rush her and unleashed the first spell she could think of, "Explosive Heart Tornado Storm!"
A swirl of pink hearts swept the beast and exploded in midair to slam it on the ground. The twins marveled at her power. "I get it!" Orion eagerly joined her side. "How about…Electric Butterfly Attack!"
When the beast leapt, the glowing wings of yellow butterflies shocked its wet hide. "Nice shot!" Marco smiled. "Now, it's my turn." He summoned magic to his blade and hurled it at the beast and watched it slice clean through one of its pipes then return to him.
"Whoa!" Orion's eyes grew large at the red magic around his father's sword and fists.
He smirked, "There's no right or wrong way to cast spells, and it depends on your caster type."
"I've never heard of that."
"I'll tell you later."
The three Butterflys rushed into battle against the beast with Marco Jr. and Jupiter provided backup with their sticks. Color burst to life in the gray dimension, and the clanging of swords, splintering of sticks, and exploding of spells rang in the air. Star smiled when another of her attacks landed where she wanted. Most mothers would never dream of involving their children on dangerous quests, but the queen wasn't a normal mother. The Diaz-Butterfly clan preferred to do things differently. She noticed someone was missing from the magic fight. Andromeda joined in with physical attacks of her blade, but Star wanted her to give magic a try.
"Andie!" she encouraged her. "Lemme see what that sword's made of!"
The princess retrieved her blade from the beast's leg, "I can't think of anything."
"Don't think; just do," Star shouted. "Just say words. I believe in you, Andie."
By now, the beast was exhausted, and one well-targeted blast could end the battle. Andromeda tried to argue with her mother, but the creature turned its glowing eyes on her. Marco drew his sword to attack, but Star held him back. "I wanna see what she does," she said. Between the twins, Andromeda was the warrior even though Orion was the spell caster. She was as strong as Solaria. If she channeled that into her spells, then Andromeda would have power that rivaled most queens.
The princess retracted her blade and held up her hilt, "Winter Frost Blades!" Icy spikes rose from the ground in front of her and impaled the beast. Its body deflated like a balloon, scattering sandwiches everywhere until it became small and scurried back into the den.
"Whoa…" Andromeda shook. "I had no idea I could do that."
"I did," Star gave her a hug. "I never doubted you for a second. C'mere, Rye, you did great too." She embraced them both. "Mewni is in great hands with you two. I couldn't have two worthier successors."
"I'm going to help Mewni too!" Jupiter took Star's hand.
"Of course," she smiled. "Nice stick work, Jupiter. And you too, Marco Jr."
"Noted," he said then reached for a sandwich. "Mmm, these are tasty."
His older brother shook his head and turned to his children, "I hope you had a good birthday."
"The best," replied Andromeda. "It was better than last year."
"We don't talk about it," said Marco. "Now, let's eat, and maybe we can catch that Mackie Hand double-feature in New Echo Creek!"
They gathered an armful of sandwiches each and headed home. The new age of Mewni had begun.