The Tales of the Red Lion II
The Death of the Red Lion
Merrick had more people with him than he expected. The Lions of Doma were a small strike force but now Merrick found himself leading a small army. After surveying the bandit encampment, a plan was devised on the attack. Under the cover of darkness, they moved out. Merrick led the frontline, initiating the surprised full-frontal assault. As they drew out the main forces of the encampment, two more Maelstrom teams flanked from the sides of the encampment. As expected, the full force of the bandits did not join the initial fray. As the initial assault and flanked assault forces wore down and defeated their enemies, a second wave of bandits rushed the field. Merrick and his men were starting to show fatigue but held their own. A flare shot up from the middle of the battlefield. A horn could be heard in the distance behind them as the remaining Maelstrom forces entered the battle atop armored Chocobos. As the initial assault forces made a slow retreat, making way for the Chocobo riders, Merrick stayed in the middle of the fracas. The Red Lion of Doma fell bandits left and right to his large glowing sword. To provide better coverage, Merrick dropped his sword and shield and drew his silver two-handed axe. He continued to mow down enemy forces, long enough to give his men time to fully retreat. It was now up to the Chocobo riders to finish the job. The bandits, though, were smarter than expected. A volley of arrows rained overhead, felling both Maelstrom soldiers and Chocobo riders. Merrick instinctually lifted his shield arm... which now held no shield. Arrows littered his left forearm, shoulder, and chest. The force of impact was enough to stagger him. As he stumbled back, Merrick felt two things from behind; the hot sear of a sword slash across his right hamstring and a deep follow-up slash across his back. The Warrior fell to his knees. Blood filled his vision as the sounds of the rush and roar of blood filled his ears. Merrick pulled himself up, sheathed his axe and picked up his sword and shield from the ground. This was the last clear thought that he had before the red rage fully took over. When Merrick awoke, he was exhausted, shivering, and couldn’t move. The Red Lion was in a large tent, but strapped down to a bed with thick leather restraints. Merrick fought with his restraints until a healer from his own assault force appeared and calmed him down. It was explained to him that the bandit camp had been cleared and the Maelstrom forces had suffered minimal losses. It was further explained that due to his berserker rage, he was strapped down after he had collapsed from exhaustion and blood loss on the battlefield. Once deemed as not being a threat, Merrick was unstrapped from his bed but he still found it hard to move. He had taken more damage than he realized... or remembered. Atop of his own Chocobo, Merrick was in massive pain the entire ride back to Limsa Lominsa. Once back at the Maelstrom headquarters, upon giving his final report of the battle operation, the Highlander collapsed. A week later, he awoke in a Maelstrom infirmary. It was then when Merrick learned of the actual severity of his injuries. If Merrick didn’t have the city of Limsa Lominsa’s best healers providing him care, he would have surely died. He was alive but likely never able to be the adventurer he once was. It didn’t matter what he was being paid or other rewards granted, Merrick was going to have to retire from adventuring whether he liked it or not. In all essence, the Red Lion of Doma was dead. Upon arrival back to the Veteran’s Home, Merrick sought no one. Gwendolyn was likely already settling into the new house in The Mist that was provided by the Maelstrom. He retired to the empty barracks room of the Veterans Home and collapsed on his old cot. The Red Lion of Doma was no more. His legacy would live on in tales and song, but it didn’t matter to him. The dead legacy of his family name remained, a legacy that he turned his back on hastily in his youth. Merrick couldn’t even return to his home. There was no home that remained... only here.