The Tales of the Red Lion III
When Merrick returned from Doma, he wandered Eorzea, adventuring and trying to become the hero that he wanted to be in his youth. In reality, he was running away from his demons and the atrocities that were committed for the sake of revolution. He wandered from tavern to tavern and adventurer guild to adventurer guild. Alcohol made him a happy boisterous person. It detached himself from everything that he believed he was. It made him feel larger than life, like the hero he dreamed of being.
He was lucky to have a friend like Chewix. Of course the Goblin didn’t mind driving Merrick around or dragging him to bed when he had too much to drink. Chewix owed Merrick a blood debt. If it wasn’t for the Highlander, Chewix would still be an amateur chemist enslaved by an underground criminal organization. Likely though, the Goblin would be long dead if it wasn’t for Merrick, who at that time was a boy who refused to let go of his name. It was the first time that Merrick felt the red rage, broke his bindings, and killed his captors with his bare hands. It was the near deadly beating being delivered unto Chewix that drove the boy into a state of madness, into a berserker rage for the first time. Merrick had managed to stop the beating, but he wasn’t in time to fully save Chewix. The goblin’s larynx was badly damaged and his tongue was partially cut off, leaving him only able to speak in low mumbled tones from that point on. Chewix thought the berserker child was going to kill him too... but Merrick had managed to snap out of the red rage. Covered in blood, the boy of barely 15 years of age helped the near-dead goblin, first by replacing his mask and then by sneaking him out and seeking immediate medical attention for him.
From that point on, the two were nearly inseparable. “Nearly” is the keyword in the statement. One day, Merrick decided to join a group of freedom fighters destined to sail to Doma. Their mission was to infiltrate its borders under the cover of night and fight for the liberation of Doma. The small band eventually became known as the Lions of Doma. All Chewix knew was that one day, Merrick left and never came back.
Years later, as the Scions fueled the flames of rebellion and led the attack in Doma against Garlemald, Chewix lent his Chemist expertise to the effort. He joined with a group of healers sent to provide aide and support. In Doma is where he learned where Merrick had been the entire time. Their reunion was emotional. Chewix never thought he’d see the Highlander again
When the war was over, the two left Doma and traveled back home. Merrick tried to return home but found that a tragic accident killed more than half of his family members. The surviving members wanted nothing to do with him and shunned him for abandoning them and their family legacy.
This takes us back to the wandering and ultimately to now. In a tavern is where Merrick found Gwendolyn. She was starved for life outside what she knew. On a whim, she ran off with him and Chewix. A year later, they found themselves in Limsa Lominsa. Merrick was very fond and protective of Gwendolyn. Her and Merrick developed a unique friendship throughout their travels. She was someone that didn’t know him or the details of his past. She only knew him as the bawdy, boisterous, and brash Hero that he tried so desperately to be. She wasn’t a damsel in distress to him. She had been his key to starting his life over. He had strived to be the hero that Gwendolyn saw him as.
Now, forcibly retired from adventuring, he wasn’t feeling nearly as boisterous, loud, or... happy. He was exhausted. It was effort on his part to keep his demons contained. It had been over a year since the red rage had erupted from within him... until recently.
Merrick had never felt so lonely as he did the night he returned from his final mission, a favor conducted for the Maelstrom, a mission that left him with crippling injuries. He didn’t know what he was anymore.
Not far from the mansion, a small house stood in The Mist, where inside, Gwendolyn likely slept and waited for the Red Lion of Doma to return “home.” Merrick couldn’t face her. He felt like a mere shadow of what he was. But what he was, was any of that ever really real?
The retired soldier sat at a nearby dock, watching the waves crash along the beach. It was the middle of the night. An occasional adventurer could be heard walking along to check the near-by Market Board but otherwise he sat there alone.
Later, the light padding of feet could be heard behind him. Chewix sat next to the old hero, patted his shoulder, and said nothing. It was like he almost knew. Merrick broke down. He held his face in his hands as his shoulders heaved from his sobs. Years... decades of pent-up pain streamed out of his eyes.
“Chewix here now. Chewix take care,” were the only words spoken between them that night, uttered in low mumbled familiar tones.