Author's Notes: Hello everyone! I guess I should begin by saying that this story is a bit of an experiment, being written in the third person. I guess the first thing I should say is if you have never completed Awakening and care about spoilers, this is most definitely not the story for you. If you have never completed Awakening and do care about spoilers, probably best to read on the storyline of the game before reading here, because it bases itself heavily upon what-if scenarios.

Ever since I completed Awakening, I have always toyed with the thought of what would happen if the ending was taken where Chrom lands the final blow on Grima and the fell dragon was put back to sleep. Everyone seems so happy that the dragon is gone and confident the next generation can take down the dragon again, and so I wanted to address that in this story. The next generation to combat Grima and what are they going to do when the challenge arises.

Spellbinding Radiance fans, don't worry. The next chapter is coming, but it's kinda on my computer that I had to get repaired and I don't remember half of the stuff I wrote, so… yeah.

Without further ado, I present to you: Mark of a Hero

Chapter One:

Change

"Sir Darwyn, may I inquire as to where your attention has been focused upon for the past minute?"

A stern knight with a broadsword in one hand looked at the young man standing in front of him. The young man, Prince Darwyn of the small nation of Havenlyn, stood with rapt attention at the tree behind the knight standing before him.

"Sir Darwyn?"

There was still no response from the young man. Apparently, the young charge's attention was elsewhere, namely upon the tree behind the knight. The two had moved their training session outdoors in the effort that fresh air and sunshine would do well for the prince's lack of enthusiasm in learning all that was required of him.

"Sir Bowman, may I inquire what you think of that tree behind you?"

He hesitated for a moment, suspicious of the prince's sudden question. However, the knight, Bowman, turned to the tree behind him to placate his prince's inquiry. It was indeed a rather beautiful tree and one that he had not noticed when he picked the spot in the castle courtyard. It was a large willow tree, intricately elegant in how its branches flowed from the top to the ground.

"I win, Bowman. May we please proceed to a more interesting lesson?"

Bowman turned slowly while he turned his head to see that Darwyn had quickly closed the distance between them and had a rapier pointed at his armor in a spot that was guaranteed to pierce.

"My lord, you are well aware of your role and responsibility as the next ruler of this nation, do you not?"

"Yes, yes, wield the legendary blade Falchion so that I can succeed where the past two legendary kings of the past have failed and find a way to destroy the fell dragon when it returns. Bowman, I know the gist of the story and my role. The role my father took when he became king and the role my grandfather took before my father. It is the role of every leader of this nation since the halidom of Ylisse fell and our nation was just a colony to the ambitions of that one mage conqueror, whatever his name was, and his Shadowmage Empire."

"My lord Darwyn, this is no joking matter. History always has a way of repeating itself and we must be prepared for whatever may come. Our sword training lesson is over, then, and we shall return to history."

"Bowman, wait, I am sorry and you are right; let us not go back inside, please?"

"Then recite for me as many historical stories as you can, to prove you know the history of our continent, the conflicts that occurred, and how their victory was achieved."

"Very well. Grand-grand-grand-grand-grand-grand… well, I actually do not know how many generations ago, but my ancestor, the hero-king Chrom, struck down the fell dragon Grima with his sword, putting the dragon back to its slumber. How the dragon was summoned, how it was defeated, and many other details of that point in history had been purposefully covered up in an attempt to prevent anyone from resurrecting the fell dragon so that it may never visit its horrors upon this world again."

"Very good, my lord. However, you forgot the part where he attained his victory."

"His victory was assured because of how ridiculous his hair looks."

"Prince Darwyn!"

"Bowman, have you seen how he looks in the paintings in the palace? He could have had it changed before they painted that portrait of him. Now the girl that was standing with him in that one picture in the foyer is a real beauty."

"The girl? You mean the young lady who has her own portrait in the Atrium?"

"Yes, that one."

"That was his most trusted advisor, Lady Lucina. Her origins were unknown, but she bore a striking resemblance to Chrom's daughter, both in name and in appearance. Legends say she was instrumental in Grima's defeat and that Chrom named his daughter after her, although details were lost when Shadowmage defeated Ylisse and destroyed the great library."

"Estella is more like Prince Chrom and I could be like Lady Lucina," Darwyn randomly said.

"I beg your pardon, my lord?"

"My older sister is the fighter and I'm the tactical mind."

"Where does that leave Princess Hannah, my lord?"

"My younger sister could be the next ruler of the land after she stops playing in the sandbox."

"I heard that big bro! I'm only a year younger than you, you know."

A young lady wearing a simple dress and holding a healing staff made her way over, her hair as blue as Darwyn's, although it was held up in a ponytail. Princess Hannah was known for her ladylike charm and graceful demeanor to the general public and everything else to those who knew her personally.

"That makes you the baby sister."

"It makes me a younger sister. I am an adult, for your information!"

"You rarely seem to act like it."

"I do too! I am the pristine figure of ladylike maturity!"

"Tell me that when you stop snorting while laughing and snoring in your sleep."

Clash! Before anyone had any time to react, Darwyn was sprawled upon the ground and holding his head in pain. Bowman allowed himself a slight smile. Perhaps that would inflict some sense upon the boy.

"You shouldn't address a lady in such a way, spreading such distastefully abhorrent rumors about her."

"You're no lady, that's for sure," Darwyn said sullenly from the ground. Bowman quickly stepped between the two knowing well that without his interference, Darwyn's well-being was in jeopardy.

"Prince Darwyn and Princess Hannah, may we continue this another time?"

"Naturally we can, Bowman the Brave. I will win then as well. I always do," she said with a huge smile before walking off and twirling her staff with skill and grace. She made a quick toss into the air and twirled around once before catching it in front of her, never losing the spin's momentum. Bowman silently praised her skill with using the healing implement in a fashion it was never designed for.

"It's not fair," Darwyn said from the ground.

"If I may ask, my lord, what is not fair?" Bowman asked.

"My sisters completely outclass me. All I want to do is continue painting portraits of the beautiful scenery while they learn combat skills, and yet Falchion has chosen me as the next ruler. It is not fair. Why would it have chosen me? I just do not understand!"

"There's more to you than you realize, Prince Darwyn. You could become a great leader one day. Do not forget the Tellian lore of Queen Elincia and how she led her nation against the forces of the demi-goddess Ashera."

"She had help from General Ike. Are you my General Ike? Or will you be Seth if I become Princess Eirika? Will you be Marcus if I am Marquess Eliwood? Maybe you could be Jeigan if I am to be like my ancestor, King Marth?"

"I can be what you need me to be, my lord. I am your faithful and obedient servant."

"I don't want to be cooped in this palace anymore. I want to know the world. Why should I be coddled and protected? Is it because I am weak?"

"It is because you are the chosen one to wield Falchion."

"King Chrom led the Shepherds across the land when he was merely a prince and was the chosen one. It seemed no one had a problem with him roaming across the lands!"

"They lived in different times, my lord."

"The only thing different about those times and now is that you have someone as weak as me who is going to eventually wield Falchion and take the mantle of king. I have no intention of being king. I have no intention of wanting to fight. My rapier here will suffice! I am good enough for myself, and that's all that matters."

"Yet, the fate of our nation…?"

"Bowman, I have two sisters perpetually more powerful and skilled than I am. If the fate of the world were to rest on my shoulders, it will be a sad day for it spells out their deaths. If that were to pass, I would be useless regardless of how well-trained I am."

"Prince Darwyn, please have more confidence in yourself. You let current circumstances cloud your judgment and perception of your potential."

"Perhaps, Bowman… perhaps you are right. What is our next lesson?"

"In light of this new insight into your viewpoint, my lord, I feel we should take today off. You need to rest and I must ponder how we are to continue your training and growth."

"Thank you, sir Bowman… the bravest knight in all of Havenlyn. Tales of your exploits across the land have been sung countless times in countless taverns by countless bards," Darwyn said, repeating what he had heard of the person in charge of him.

"I merely do my job in serving you and your family," Bowman stated.

"Much appreciated, sir," Darwyn replied.

"Go rest, young master. You have a long day of training tomorrow if you want to catch up to your sisters."

"Oh, Bowman, by the way, when you get back to your room, sorry for the mess if you trigger the trap."

"What do you mean?"

"If you open the door, a bag of flour will fall on you. Your room is doomed for sure, but I felt at least I could save you."

Silence.

"Well, if that is all, sir Bowman, I will be in my room to rest."

Silence from the knight as Darwyn ran off to go back to his room. Only a week before he turned twenty years old and the palace was planning a huge celebration. Security was thin for the moment as staff was pulled in preparing the castle to decorate it. Still, he knew it was not fair. How could he be held to the standards of the hero kings before him? He was nothing like them and he knew it.

He sat in his room pondering a few of these things when he shrugged his shoulders and changed into some commoner's clothes. He put on a hood to hide most of his appearance and changed into an older, very worn pair of footwear. It was time for one of his increasingly rare runs through the town as what he hoped would be an inconspicuous citizen of the town. If the people in charge weren't going to let him associate with his subjects, then he'll take it into his own hands.

Darwyn slunk through the castle, exhibiting stealth that neither of his sisters could ever hope to accomplish. It was one of the only skills he had that they did not and he prided himself over it. He stood in front of a well-woven ancient tapestry hanging before him, admiring its decoration. At least, that was what he was hoping he looked like he was doing. In reality, he was checking around to make sure no one was near. When he was sure of himself, he carefully moved the tapestry to reveal a door. With a quick jiggle of the handle, Darwyn allowed himself a nimble entry into the passageway, careful to slide the tapestry back into place before closing the door behind him.

He grabbed a torch from the wall that he left on his last trip into town and whispered a quick word. Immediately the torch sprang to life, admiring the dancing flames that he had created. Score a second point that he had over his sisters that neither they nor Bowman knew about, albeit a skill that he had very little training or ability in. The less they knew of his hidden abilities, the better. It still wasn't enough to allow him to correctly wield Falchion or learn the ancient style of combat associated with the sword, but those skills proved invaluable in eluding the castle security when he returned late.

As he ran down the hallway that had a slight downward grade to it, he pondered what Bowman had said earlier. Did he really have hidden abilities that Falchion could sense? It didn't seem that way. They had to call a cleric over his last attempt learning how to wield the sword, lest he bled to death.

At last he finally reached the end of the hallway and was met with a stream of water under the castle with a stone walkway on either side. He glanced inside the river to see bits and pieces of chopped vegetables floating down the river as waste from the kitchen. He followed the stream of water, crossing over other streams as it merged with it until it formed into a larger river. The path continued until it reached an iron grate, meant to prevent someone from entering the waste system. He was thankful for this safe journey through the waste since rats of enormous size sometimes confronted him.

Taking a deep breath and steeling his resolve, Darwyn jumped into the rushing river and swam under the bars. This method of escape doubled as it allowed him to acquire a unique stench that masked his normally pristine scent as a royal. He quickly surfaced on the other side of the bars, squeezed what he could of his clothes, and made his way to the hustle and bustle of the town.

His first stop was traditional of his visits outside the palace. It was of a little restaurant that had traditionally sat by the palace for countless generations and featured food that was as timeless as it was tasty. He walked to the restaurant doors and opened it to find that the place was emptier than it usually was. Although peculiar, he brushed it aside as people in the town preparing for his birthday.

"Hello stranger! Fancy you coming in here after a swim," the person at the front said in cordial greeting. He came here so often after coming out of the river that he was easily recognizable by the staff by his damp clothes and rapier. He rarely removed his hood entirely, although he had been known to put it back enough to show his eyes to the staff on previous occasions.

"The usual table, please," he replied cordially.

"Naturally, sir!" the lady said with a huge smile. He didn't recognize her at all. She must be new to this place, and yet she already knew of his peculiarities.

"What will it be today for your appetizer? Will it be the spicy chicken bites or the cream cheese pretzel or something else?"

"I think I'll have the jalepeno cheese bites and the spicy chicken bites," he said with a smile.

"Ah, great choices sir! What would you like for your meal?"

"I think I'll try something new. Despite the fact your restaurant chain is famous for originating this ancient meal, I do not believe I have ever had the pleasure of having your signature dish."

"I do not believe you have either, sir."

"Then it is settled. I would like to have one dokko, please. I would like to customize mine and have a glazed donut in a soft shell with ground beef, tomato, lettuce, and a blend of mozzarella and cheddar. For my side, I would like your Signature Rider Salad."

"Understood sir!" she said with a smile. "May I inquire as to the menu change?"

"I think your cute smile caught my attention. How could I patronize your workplace and never try your timeless signature dish?"

"Oh, I do my best, sir! I hope you enjoy your meal!" she said, accentuating her smile in the hope her customer would leave her with a nice tip. As she returned to the kitchen, he faintly heard her say "He finally ordered one!"

His two appetizers came out along with the salad. It was his favorite salad after all, named after the role of another famous general of the Tellius lore he learned. It was lettuce, sliced tomatoes, grape tomatoes, bacon bits, mushrooms, egg, artichoke hearts, avocado, and olives. Darwyn smiled guiltily to himself. That general who created this salad must have been quite eccentric in his or her life if this salad reflected their personality, and yet Darwyn loved every element of it.

As he ate his appetizers in relative silence, he began thinking about his life as compared to his two sisters. His older sister was a warrior at heart, dressed in full plate mail whenever she engaged in combat and wielding a fearsome two-handed sword that most typical men would've dropped or accidentally dropped at the first swing. His younger sister was a master of speed and versatility, although she specialized in wielding a sword and a dagger. She definitely wasn't stealthy and had been known to defy the laws of life and knock things over from across the room.

He soon finished his appetizers and none too soon, for his meal had come out. It was a simple meal, but it had been a popular dish for many centuries. No one knew the origin of this culinary treat, but it has been treasured for at least as long as the kingdoms could remember.

When he finally finished his meal, he left his payment and tip and headed out the door. Nothing was more refreshing than a wonderful meal to complement an anonymous day in the town. He had barely made it five paces into the town, though, when he was quicky yanked into an alleyway by a few thugs. Normally, this wouldn't have been a problem, except these people were smart enough to snatch his rapier at the same time.

"Unhand me, you foolish brigands!" he managed to let out before being gagged and bound. He gave a pleading glance down the alleyway toward the town, but no one seemed to notice the drama that was unfolding in this very alleyway. Quickly, Darwyn's hood was removed and he silently thanked the gods that the abductors didn't recognize him. He was soon shoved into a sack and tossed onto a cart.

"Bossman, we got another one."

"Good, good! A few more and we can line 'em up to sell to those Shadowmage nobles. They always pay well for servants."

"Bossman, this one came with this weird looking weapon."

"Keep it. We could fetch a pretty penny for this as well."

Darwyn struggled for a few minutes, but his arms and legs were bound behind his body and he ended up ceasing his struggles. It was not long before he felt another body being thrown on top of his and he began to wonder how many bodies were thrown on top of his. He paused for a second before reflecting on his situation.

What was going on? Why was he in this situation? How could he get home? The more he thought about it, the more hopeless the situation became.

A few more bodies were thrown on top of his before the cart finally started to move. He felt the cart start to jolt a bit more irregularly and he realized with a panic that it was leaving the roads of the town and entering the dirt roads outside the castle walls. Time seemed to stretch for eternity before the cart seemed to slow down.

"Bossman, there's a few people blocking our path up ahead on the road."

"Blast! Highway brigands. Trying to steal the coin that we worked hard to earn ourselves! Prepare to fight if necessary!"

The cart slowed to a stop as the rustle of metal and cloth moved around.

"Hold, traveler. What do you have in these sacks?"

"Potatoes."

"Are you aware there has been a rash of abductions lately from the capital city?"

"I had heard of it, yes."

Darwyn had to admire the fact that a leader of a bunch of kidnapping thugs could sound so educated, but the feeling was short-lived. Now was not such time to admire the person in charge of his kidnapping.

"Regular potatoes or sweet potatoes?"

"Both. Ain't a farmer's worth his spit if he can't grow a variety of vegetables to sell. Ain't that right, boys?"

A disunified murmer of what seemed to be assent rippled around Darwin, although the apprehension that each person had was apparent even through the sack cloth.

"Well, our humble group has been looking for potatoes and have had bad luck in finding a good vendor that would sell us the vegetables. We would be willing to pay a pretty good amount of coin for decent potatoes. So, if you don't mind, I would like to inspect what you have."

"I… I'm afraid I can't. See, these are all the bad potatoes."

"All the bad potatoes? Why, my friend, your cart is almost full. How many did you sell?"

"We, um, sold none. Yeah, there were too many, um, bad potatoes."

Darwyn heard a rustling right in front of him and did the logical thing. He started wiggling as much as possible.

"Why, it seems you have an animal in one of these sacks. Here, let me set it free."

Before there could be any protest, the cloth to Darwyn's sack was opened and Darwyn saw daylight and the face of a man wearing a cavalier hat and a mask covering his eyes. Before anyone could react, Darwyn was pulled out of the sack and cut loose from his bonds

"Why, this is the oddest looking potato I have seen in my life!" the man exclaimed while holding Darwyn. Darwyn took a quick look around and saw a sack hanging from one of the horses where his rapier was sticking out of.

"To arms!" the boss shouted. Quickly Darwyn ran to his rapier and pulled it out, swishing it through the air, before dashing back to his rescuer and getting into stance.

"Sir, I cannot thank you enough for the good will and fortune you have befallen me."

"You can thank me after we kill these greedy, slimy bastards!"

"Allow me to assist you."

"Go ahead and rain hell upon those that kidnapped you. I'll give you that right."

The battle soon started and it was clear that the people who saved Darwyn were definitely a group of people who worked well together. The brigands stood no chance as they were cut down one by one in systematic fashion. The lumbering brigands swung their axes wildly and Darwyn executed every maneuver he could, just as he was taught. He couldn't, however, bring himself to land the final blow on any of the enemies.

The battle soon wore down and Darwyn looked at all the dead bodies around him. This was life in the outside world? No wonder the palace wanted to keep him locked up. Yet, how was he to accurately rule this land if he could not experience what the world was like for himself? He looked at his saviors and was surprised to see there was only five of them.

"Say, traveler, I have never seen anyone execute such skill with a rapier before. You look like you came straight out from the textbook. What's your name?"

Darwyn paused for a moment. No need to give them his real name. He didn't want to go back to the palace. Not yet. Not until he learned what this world could throw at him.

"Charles."

"Well, Chuck, you're more than welcome to join us."

"Oh, well, um, many thanks, sir! You all have my gratitude for saving me."

"Yeah, yeah, pull that stick outta yer ass, kid. Ya got a long way to go to be one of us!" the axe wielder said.

"Jacob, cut the attitude and help us free these poor kidnapped people!"

The group freed each of the kidnapped victims one by one, each one of them expressing their thanks before retrieving their goods and heading back to the castle walls. Darwyn managed to pull one out and opened it himself. He let out a gasp as he saw who it was.

"Y-you!"

The leader of the group quickly pulled the girl out. With graceful skill, he cut her bindings and gag. It was the young waitress from the restaurant that had just served Darwyn. She gave a fearful look before setting her eyes upon Darwyn.

"EEEEEE! MY HERO!" she exclaimed in an ear-piercing shriek as she jumped onto Darwyn.

"Ahhh!" he cried out before the both of them stumbled and fell to the ground.

"Hey, Chuck. You know her?" the leader asked Darwyn.

"N-no, she was just my waitress at the restaurant before I got kidnapped," he said.

"If she shrieked like that before she was kidnapped, she probably would've saved us the hassle of taking down these bastards," the axe wielder, Jacob, said with heavily sarcasm.

"Well, lady, you're free to go."

"I want to join you guys too!"

"Oh no. No, no, no, no!" Jacob said

"Why not?" the young lady pouted.

"Well, miss screamer, the only girls I like screaming are the ones I—"

"Jacob."

"Look, she will only hold us back. What can she do?"

"I can heal and you, mister arrogant, don't have a healer in your group," she said pointedly to Jacob.

"We don't need a healer. We'd only be defending your beautiful, yet frail body. What're you going to do? Break a nail and heal it?"

"Say that to my face!" she said with a pout. Jacob walked over to her and stood right in front of her.

"I said, we don't need no dainty, delicate flowers in—"

He never got to finish the sentence as she dealt a powerful punch straight to his face. A cracking sound could be heard as he fell to the ground, cradling his nose.

"I think you broke my nose!" he shouted out.

"Oh, but you don't need a healer, right?" she said with a gloating smile. Quickly her demeanor changed as she faced the leader. "Please can I come? Pleeeaaassseee? I promise I can help!"

"Uh, sure, what's your name?"

"Tabitha, but you can call me Tabby!" she said with a slight giggle.

A small moan of "biiiitttccchhhh" came from the ground as Jacob held his nose. He was rewarded with a small kick to the side.

"Oh, suck it up, big muscly man! I'm just a frail girl after all, right?"

Darwyn rubbed the back of his head. This was who he was going to be traveling with on his learning journey? Well, it beat traveling alone in these dangerous roads.

This journey already had an interesting start.