At the age of ten, in 885, Merril (pronounced 'mâr·ĭl) ran away from home to join a traveling circus, in which he learned to perform a number of different acts, though he mainly served as an apprentice to an illusionist named Ivur. It was during this time that Merril developed his natural tendency toward showmanship and theatricality. The circus included performers who had joined from various villages, but the core group originated in Shipsister, which they always considered to be the first and lost stop in their regular circuit. The other villages they would visit, in order, were Tonad, Plist, Monab, Ship, and First Village, before winding up once again in Shipsister. The entire travel time for the circuit would be about a month, plus a week spent performing in each village, and another month of downtime in Shipsister before starting the next circuit. Altogether, a circuit would take about three months. When they started the second circuit after Merril had joined, and they returned for the first time to Tonad, he invited his family to see the circus perform, and he spent as much time as he could visiting with them when not performing shows.
After returning to Shipsister at the end of his second circuit with the circus, Merril asked his master if it might be possible to add Sorret to the circuit. However, Ivur informed him that the village was not an ideal place for illusionists to perform, considering how accustomed the people there were to seeing real magic. Merill didn't find the answer entirely satisfactory, considering there were other acts in the circus besides illusion, and also considering there were other circuses which employed Sorreters rather than illusionists. In any event, he very much wished he could see the village for himself. After a couple of years with the circus, Merril quit to join a traveling theatre troupe in Shipsister, which was well known for performing the plays of Moto. While Moto's work was more widely popular in other villages, it enjoyed a certain illicit appeal for certain people in Sorret, considering the playwright's notoriety there. And so, Merril finally got his chance to see the village, albeit mostly a seedier, "underground" area of the village, which reminded him somewhat of his home village of Tonad.
In 888, after a year of traveling with the acting troupe (whose own circuit was the same as that of the circus Merril had previously worked for, aside from the inclusion of Sorret), he decided to quit, and remain in Sorret to begin studying real magic, at the age of 13. He was apprenticed to Cirna Mastera, who took an interest in him at first because, like her, he was one of the rare few to attempt becoming a Sorreter in spite of coming from a village other than Sorret (Cirna was originally from Monab). Because of the master-student relationship he had with Cirna, she introduced him to then-Grand Sorreter Coman, who had been her own master. Coman said that Merril reminded him somewhat of his former master, Errol, who'd had a similarly curious and fun-loving personality, which had led him to take up a number of interesting hobbies throughout his life. This comparison led Cirna to take an even stronger liking to her apprentice, because Errol (who had died before she was born) had actually been partially responsible for her parents falling in love and getting married. She had always wished she could have met Errol, but now she began to think knowing Merril was perhaps the next best thing. Possibly even better, as training him was like completing a kind of circle which Errol had begun.
Throughout the nine years of his apprenticeship, Merril often visited Finnegan's, the club where his former acting troupe continued to perform whenever they were in town; though of course there would sometimes be new members of the troupe who had joined since he quit, while some of those he had worked with later quit, themselves. He made a number of friends while attending these performances, many of whom were not the most upstanding members of society. Though most of these new friends were non-magic users, some were Sorreters he already knew from Sorret Magic Academy. It is also during his apprenticeship, according to rumors which would only surface years later, that Merril supposedly somehow secretly befriended an elf named Silas Des'Caina. Whether there is any truth to this is uncertain, though it began to seem more plausible after certain revelations concerning the connection between Durell Turner and Demos Royal became public in 912. In any event, details of Merril's alleged friendship with Silas are unknown.
Merril graduated to adept status in 897, at the age of 22. The next year, during the 898 Pilgrimage to Monab, The Order made certain details of The Plan known to attendees from other villages, most notably Sorret. These attendees included both Cirna and Durell, who were in favor of the Plan, as well as then-Grand Sorreter Drag, who was opposed to it. Both Durell and Cirna began secretly (and separately) gathering allies in support of the Plan, and Merril was of course one of those who sided with his former master. For the time being, it was unclear exactly when or in what capacity Bishop Kizin and his fellow planners would call on Sorreters to assist in the implementation of the Plan, so Cirna and her allies merely waited. In 899, the Order began secretly encouraging gangs from various villages to unite, organize, increase their activities. One Sorreter, Merv, suggested to Durell that he should assign Sorreters to work with gangs. (There were, as it happened, any number of Sorreters who had ganglike tendencies, but Drag worked to ensure that as long as he was Grand Sorreter, no Sorreters would join a gang in his village. This made certain Sorreters amenable to the idea of leaving Sorret.) Merril himself was friends with some of the Sorreters who were among Durell's followers (including Nicolai), a few of whom he knew from Finnegan's.
However, as a follower of Cirna, Merril was not among the Sorreters Durell assigned to join gangs. But in 900, Bishop Kizin and Arch-bishop Talak officially appointed Durell the leader of the pro-Plan Sorreters, and Cirna was forced to merge her followers with Durell's. Merill was initially sent to his home village of Tonad, where he spent some time visiting with his family. He also met with InterGang's don in the village, Larami, though they soon discovered a mutual dislike for each other; besides which, he found her chief Sorreter, Dustin, rather dull. And so, he decided to look into joining another gang, but there was no LandOrder presence in the village, nor did it look like there was likely to be one anytime soon. He certainly had no interest in joining the only other remotely tenable gang in Tonad, Ass-Kickers Unlimited. And so, he returned to Sorret and resumed his studies, reaching master-adept level in 902.
Not long after that, he was visited by an old friend, Azura Blue, who had been the chief Sorreter of LandOrder's Plist branch for the last few years. One of the Sorreters in her department, Nicolai, had just quit the gang, and informed her that Merril was thinking of leaving Sorret, presumably for a reason that was somehow connected to the reason Nicolai himself was quitting. She invited Merril to join her department in Plist, and he agreed to give it a try. Two years later, in 904, Xander Breakhead successfully established a new LandOrder branch in Tonad, which Don Chieftain, LandOrder's don in Plist, sent a number of spies and Sorreters to join. Merril was among these; though he had enjoyed working with Azura and the rest of the department in Plist, he was grateful for his chief's recommendation to their don that he would make a fine chief Sorreter, himself. And indeed, don Breakhead has had nothing but good things to say about his chief Sorreter, in the years since then.
In 904, when the surname law was passed, Merril chose the name "RD." This is short for "Razzle Dazzle," a reference to his innate showmanship, which his mastery of real magic only served to enhance beyond the levels he displayed during his time with either the circus or the acting troupe. However, he did think such a name would be perhaps a bit too showy, which is why he used the abbreviation RD as his official surname. It's unknown what his family chose for a surname, nor whether Merill has remained on good terms with them since joining a gang.
In 912, Merril is known to have served as LandOrder's negotiator with Silas Des'Caina, offering him a position as the gang's chief sorcerer in Woodstockade, if he would defect from InterGang (which he had joined in 904).