Initially planning to become a monk, he grew disillusioned with the Temple after witnessing the depths of their corruption. He was one of the early followers of Dagda Vormund, but ultimately played a major role in the prophet's downfall. After the disbanding of the Cult of Vormund, Rowan traveled to Amarna to seek out the last of the paladins.
Rowan is about six feet tall, with a slim, slight build. He has light brown hair and hazel eyes. While he is not especially handsome, he is good-looking.
Rowan is an eager young man who hasn't had much success in life. An avid reader, he first wanted to become a scholarly monk, but his disillusionment with the Temple caused him to completely give up on that dream. He then tried his hand at being an artist, but his hopes and aspirations faded as he realized he lacked the visionary capabilities and talents of his master.
He underestimates himself ruthlessly, often unconsciously undermining his own efforts with his lack of confidence and fear of making a mistake. While he isn't a cynic, he tends to be skeptical and can easily grow doubtful and disenchanted with ideas and people. He relies on gut instinct when making decisions and judgments, sometimes at the expense of rationality. If something doesn't feel right to him, he will not only want to avoid it, he'll want to do something about it. As a result, his actions are often reckless and spur-of-the-moment.
In his desire for perfection, his worldview tends to be overly simplistic. At the same time, he is acutely aware of the flaws inherent in a narrative-based outlook. His society revolves around flimsy established narratives, which most people don't bother challenging. Rowan wants to break free from the false narrative, but he fails to realize that in so doing he will have to find a new narrative to replace it, as narratives are necessary to understand the world. In other words, he has to have an opinion, even if it turns out to be the wrong opinion.
His legalistic approach to religion has caused him to struggle with his faith. Deep down he has a fighting spirit and a strong sense of right and wrong, which would be very well-suited to being a knight. However, he lives in a time after the age of chivalry, when such personas are looked down on with disdain and/or mocked as outdated.
Rowan was born in the year 143, during the reign of King Letholdus the Third. He was the third child of Milo and Hester Renard, being preceded by his brother Roy and sister Rhonda. The family lived on a farm a couple miles south of Bodai. At some point Milo abandoned them, and Hester began working as a midwife to support the family.
As a child, Rowan was bookish and shy. He read a great deal, particularly history tomes, which he borrowed from a traveling library. When he was younger he was close to Roy, but as Roy was several years older they gradually drifted apart. His relationship with his sister Rhonda was far more strained due to their clashing personalities - Rhonda was outspoken and blunt, while Rowan was introverted and sensitive. Their philosophies and beliefs were equally polarizing. Rhonda grew to be a staunch atheist, while Rowan was a closeted theist.
By the time Rowan came of age, his beliefs were nebulous and uncertain. He developed a desire to join the clergy and become a monk. Despite his convictions, he was uncomfortable discussing his dreams with his peers because of the social stigma associated with religion and the clergy. The rest of his family, including his mother and brother, were surprised by his interest in religion but were otherwise indifferent.
Upon turning eighteen, Rowan enrolled in seminary school. Over the course of his study, however, he became much more aware of the corruption in the Temple, as well as the lack of a source document for the Holy Books. He gradually lost faith in the institution, and within a year he had begun to seriously consider dropping out. The only thing keeping him there was his fascination with the master sculptor Mayer Amano, who created sculptures and monuments for the Temple's cathedrals.
Cult of Vormund
Dagda Vormund arrived in Bodai in late spring of 164. Rowan encountered the prophet while he was preaching in the town square. Intrigued, he stopped to listen. Soon he began secretly attending Vormund's sermons and collecting the various reading materials his followers handed out, including a copy of Vormund's new Mandorlin translation.
One day in midsummer, Rowan was called to the minister's office. His copy of the Mandorlin had been discovered in his quarters. However, the Guardian Balthasar Krezt had become involved in the case and took over in place of the minister. Rather than punishing Rowan, Balthasar offered him a deal. In exchange for spying on Vormund, Balthasar would not only drop all charges against Rowan, he would reward him with anything he desired. Rowan agreed to the deal, becoming a Temple Inquisitor.
The next day, Rowan arrived at the town square to hear Vormund preach. Rather than giving a sermon, Vormund abruptly left without explanation. Confused, Rowan approached two of the prophet's followers, Clara Richter and Drusus Rolfe, wanting to know what was going on. They explained that he had gone to assist one of his followers at the hospital. Shortly after, the city police arrived and declared Vormund and his followers had been banished from Bodai for disturbing the peace. Rowan witnessed the guards disregarding the hospital doctor's warnings and forcibly removing Melissa Zosimus, who was in labor, along with the rest of Vormund's disciples. Rowan sympathized with the cult's plight and offered to take them to Hester.
However, they were unable to reach Hester in time. Rowan facilitated the birth of Melissa's daughter Laura on the side of the road. They then rushed both mother and child to Hester, but Melissa hemorrhaged and died later that night. Melissa's husband, Gavin, blamed Rowan for her death.
Rowan was infuriated by the tragedy but didn't think the Temple had anything to do with it; rather, he saw it as a sign of government corruption. Disregarding his family's protests and the ambivalence of the cultists, he set out with them for Arza Kell, their sanctuary and main base of operations. Along the way, he diverted suspicion from the cult by making conversation; the locals were more inclined to believe him, with his familiar accent and affectations, than the odd bunch of foreigners the cult consisted of.
The Caverns of Arza Kell
In conversation with Vormund Rowan revealed his frustrations with the people around him, his feelings of being alone in his views, his confusion and uncertainty of who and what to believe, and his strained relationship with the concept of religion itself. Vormund gave Rowan new insights in return and cited "self-loathing" as the root of his unhappiness. Rowan refused to return to his old life, determined to learn as much as he could about Vormund in order to report back to Balthasar.
Rowan became friends with Drusus and Clara. Through them, he learned more about the origins of the cult. In particular, he kept hearing about "the dreamwalker", or Kemet, a mysterious Exekian who had helped Vormund translate the Mandorlin. Determined to meet Kemet, he searched the caverns for him but was unable to locate any trace of the Exekian.
Sent on a supply trip with Gavin, Rowan attempted to reconcile with him. In the process, he saw a newspaper report detailing the impending death of Gavin's mother. This prompted Gavin to travel to Tyr in order to be with his mother in her last days, leaving Laura in the care of Kemet.
Rowan accidentally caught a glimpse of Kemet as he dreamwalked with Vormund. He then asked Clara about it, and learned that Vormund's cognitive state had been in decline ever since he started sleepwalking.
After having recurring dreams about the Ferdia, Rowan finally met Kemet in a dream. The Exekian revealed he had been testing Rowan, and now knew the true reason Rowan had joined them. Rowan defended himself, claiming the Temple just wanted to know whether or not Vormund was dangerous. Kemet told Rowan the story of his life, and Rowan became sympathetic toward him. He promised not to reveal the location of the cult's hideout in order to protect Kemet. In exchange, Kemet vowed not to reveal what he knew to the others.
Trip to Hiberia
Rowan traveled with Vormund, Drusus, and Ethan to the city of Hiberia, following instructions delivered to the prophet in a vision. There they found many of their friends had either been eliminated, driven underground, or had betrayed them. The horrors they witnessed began to wear on Rowan, who questioned Vormund's worthiness as a leader and considered going home. After Ethan was attacked and drugged by Selca Ducani and Jade Athanasi pleaded with them to leave, the group suffered from fear that they were being watched by the forces of the corrupt Guardian Neil Lars. Like the others, Rowan put his faith in Vormund and stayed with him in spite of the danger.
Shortly before they were due to arrive in Tyr, however, Sophie was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Drusus was convinced Ethan had murdered her, claiming he had killed before. The revelation of Ethan's true identity and the fact that both Vormund and Drusus knew all along who he really was crushed Rowan's trust in them. He decided to report them to the police.
Rowan managed to get to the Rhinehart police and led them back to the cult's camp. To his horror, the police opened fire on Vormund's followers who tried to escape, killing Kirk Callow as he was running away with Vincent in his arms, shooting Drusus, and beating Vormund. In exchange for his role in their arrest, Rowan was allowed to take Vincent and leave without conditions.
Rowan raced to Tyr, where he met with Gavin Zosimus. To his disappointment, Gavin revealed that while he had inherited his mother's fortune, the king had blocked him from becoming the new Lord of Tyr due to his connection to Vormund, giving the position to his cousin Lucan instead. Gavin used most of his inheritance to find the others, learning that Ethan had been killed, Drusus was imprisoned, and Vormund was due to be put on trial by the Temple. Rowan and Gavin attended the heresy trial, where they learned the true identity of Selca Ducani, the Temple's Grand Inquisitor.
After Vormund was pronounced dead of a heart attack, Rowan followed Gavin back to Arza Kell. They found the caverns deserted, indicating that either the others had been taken captive or had fled. They decided it was best to remove the original manuscript of the Mandorlin, which was hidden in Kemet's quarters. However, they were followed to the caves by a disguised Selca, who forced them to hand over the manuscript and destroyed it. Rowan attacked Selca in an effort to protect Kemet and Clara, and was badly burned by witchfire.
Gavin tended to Rowan's wounds, and Kemet and Clara returned Laura to Gavin. That night, Kemet once again visited Rowan in dreams. He advised Rowan, who had vowed to kill Selca, to seek out the last of the paladins, who know the art of witchhunting.
Rowan returned to Balthasar, who congratulated him for eradicating the cult. When asked what he wanted as a reward, Rowan asked for his copy of the Mandorlin. Balthasar reluctantly complied, warning Rowan that he was now in possession of illegal contraband. Rowan left the country immediately after, sailing to Norev.
Arriving in the city of Amarna, Rowan sought out the last of the paladins. He eventually encountered Watchman Dimiter Yen, an Iskirran paladin-turned-priest who managed a chapel in the city. Dimiter directed him to his friend Marcus, a Zantine refugee and paladin.
Rowan went into the desert in search of Marcus, eventually finding him working among the settlers. He convinced Marcus to teach him the art of witchhunting. The two made regular trips to the city to visit Dimiter, who also contributed to Rowan's training.
Adventures in Amarna
During their travels, Rowan had a chance encounter with Marena, Marcus' daughter, who had been presumed dead in a plague outbreak years earlier. It soon became apparent Marena was suffering from memory loss, and the circumstances surrounding her survival were murky.
Marena left with Ardath Dastagir, and Marcus was forced to let his daughter go - but he sent Rowan to follow them. When Marena and Ardath were captured by Queen Philomena, Rowan was able to report back to his master what had happened, and the two set out to rescue them.
While Marena was released, Ardath was put on trial, having been accused of murdering King Luther. His name was cleared when Selca Ducani confessed to the crime. Rowan, who had not forgotten his vow to kill Selca, believed the warlock had been hanged - but he later discovered that he faked his death and escaped once again.
At the masquerade ball, Rowan was tasked with guarding the chamber in which Watchman Dimiter Yen was performing his ritual. Selca used a secret passage to bypass Rowan, and he killed Dimiter as revenge for him having removed all Selca's magic powers. Rowan felt guilty about what had happened. Disobeying his master's orders to guard them as they astral-projected into the Arcane Realm, Rowan instead went after Selca on his own, determined to avenge Dimiter.
He found Selca fighting Cyrus Spyridon, who had just killed the resurrected King Luther. Rowan stopped their fight, told Cyrus to take Philomena and run, then began dueling Selca. Though the warlock had lost all his powers, he was still a vicious swordsman and didn't fight fair. Finally, Selca was distracted by the arrival of Marena and Ardath, who intervened in the battle. Rowan was able to run Selca through with his sword, killing him.
Rowan learned from Marena and Ardath that Marcus had sacrificed himself to save them. They gave him the mystical dagger which Marcus had bequeathed him before his death. With both his teachers dead, Rowan's training had come to an end.
During the Fifth Exekian War, he left to provide aid to the Exekians. They did not trust him at first, but his friendship with Kemet provided him a route into their ranks. He commanded a small human detachment, which consisted of mostly hired mercenaries along with a few devout Vormundists. While stationed at the fortress of Heliobas, he was reunited with Laura and assisted in the birth of her first child.
After the war, he was declared an enemy of the state and banished from Apicarta. Years later, he would return under a new identity, that of Sir Leonard Gorrister, a knight who never removed his helmet. He became the bodyguard of John Stirling, helping him and Prince Tobias escape during the chaos that ensued after Richard's death. They fled to Kataru, where Leonard once again came into contact with his old flame Mara. Before they could rekindle their relationship, Mara betrayed them to Logan Brynner.
The group became separated after they were captured by selkie pirates, only reuniting after they washed ashore in Exekia. Discovering that Eleanor, Tobias' mother, had been captured by the Clan while trying to find Kemet, they attempted to rescue her.