In the last days of Zantium, a son was born into the wealthy noble house of Roland. He was sent away to school to learn how to become a mage, as was the long-standing tradition in a family which could trace its lineage back to Peredur himself. Despite his privileged life, Marcus scorned his family's materialism and resented magic, which he initially had great difficulty with. In school he was bound to his first paladin, Rhys Sioned, although the two didn't really get along.
Eventually he met Lygia Agravain, the eldest daughter of the disgraced Agravain family. He was immediately smitten with her, but his parents urged him not to marry her as her family clearly had an agenda. Despite his parents' reluctance and her family's blatant greed, he pursued her without conditions or reservations.
During their courtship, the young couple attended a festival held at the Agravains' estate. In the midst of the celebration, while they were dancing, the police barged in. Lygia's younger sister, Livia, was arrested and banished from Zantium for practicing witchcraft. Her family was publicly humiliated by the scandal and began pressuring Marcus and Lygia to marry as soon as possible in an effort to restore their standing. They were wed the following autumn, settled in the capital city of Kynaston, and had one child, Marena.
Marcus continued to struggle with magic, finding enchanted objects difficult to use. During the invasion of Zantium by the Iskirrans, he attempted to help in the fight but was frequently held back by his superiors. Not long after, his entire troop was eradicated by the invaders, and Marcus had to flee for his life. He rode to his home and the family managed to escape on board a boat leaving Kynaston, accompanied by Rhys. As they sailed away, the city was burned and consumed before their very eyes.
They wandered through various lands for three years, encountering hatred and animosity virtually everywhere they went. Rhys protected them from harm until he was killed during a fight. This incident convinced them to settle in the city of Amarna. There, they lived uncomfortably with Livia and her ward, Ardath Dastagir, in a magic shop run by Livia. During this time, Marcus found work as an "antique salesman" who collected magical artifacts. He also befriended Watchman Dimiter Yen, the priest at the Zantine chapel in Amarna, and continued to train vigorously with magic, eventually involving Marena in these studies.
While living in the magic shop, Marcus and Lygia were in constant conflict with Livia, whose private activities and practices they found repugnant. Like his wife, he initially opposed Marena's marriage to Ardath, believing the boy was a bad influence on her. He reluctantly gave them his blessing after learning the truth about the young protege's origins.
Both Livia and Lygia died during a plague epidemic that hit the city. Marcus managed to leave before things got worse, and he urged Marena and Ardath to do the same. However, Marena became trapped behind a quarantine wall during their escape, and was presumed dead. Marcus subsequently lost contact with Ardath.
For the next several years Marcus lived in a house he built due north of Oasis. He developed a reputation as a skilled mage and was occasionally approached by the locals for magical aid, but most people feared and loathed him. After encountering Rowan Renard, Marcus agreed to train him as his new paladin.