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 study Zantine Akhenism. He hasn't been seen nor heard from since.
Rowan is about six feet tall, with a slim, slight build. He has mousy blond 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 and feels its loss keenly.
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 left 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 seventeen, 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 dropped out.
Rather than returning home, he took a job in Bodai as an apprentice to the master sculptor Mayer Amano, whom he had met through the seminary. While Rowan enjoyed his work and was encouraged by Mayer to pursue a career as an artist, he didn't think of himself as talented or even especially capable.
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 actively 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 late summer, Rowan arrived at the town square to hear Vormund preach. Vormund abruptly left in the middle of the sermon 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. 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, seeing it as a sign of government corruption. Disregarding his apprenticeship, 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 introducing them as distant relatives of his; 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 from Vormund.
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 attempted to sketch the creature. He became frustrated when he was unable to execute his ideas and destroyed the incomplete drawing. Kemet, who had been watching him, suddenly appeared and asked him why he had done this. Rowan could not answer, but was standoffish to the Exekian, demanding to know more about him, Vormund, and the Mandorlin. Kemet told him the story of his life. With his questions answered, Rowan was more inclined to believe the validity of the Mandorlin, though he wouldn't be completely convinced until he saw the original manuscript for himself.
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 Neil Lars. Like the others, Rowan fell victim to this paranoia and began seriously considering leaving the cult while they were on their way to Tyr. He conspired with Drusus' sister Sophie, who had long wanted to leave the cult, to abandon the others and head back to Bodai.
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. Upon telling his story to the constable, he realized they had been watching Vormund for quite some time under orders from the Temple. As Rowan led them back to the cult's camp, he became nervous and had second thoughts. 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, giving the position to his cousin Lucan instead. Gavin and Rowan attempted to reason with Lucan, who was eager to get the matter over and done with. Ignoring their counsel, he gave Vormund over to the Temple to be put on trial for heresy. Rowan and Gavin attended the heresy trial, where they learned the true identity of Selca Ducani, the Temple 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.
While camping nearby, Gavin had a dream sent by Kemet, revealing they were alive and escaping to the south. Gavin realized he couldn't bring Laura back to Tyr, as the situation was too dangerous. He offered to escort Rowan wherever he wanted to go. Rowan debated returning to Bodai, but ultimately decided to leave the country and go to Amarna, where he hoped to study Zantine Akhenism.
By 167, Rowan had encountered Watchman Dimiter Yen, a half-Zantine, half-Iskirran paladin turned priest who managed a cathedral in the Zantine enclave in Amarna. Dimiter directed him to his friend Lygia, a mage descended from Peredur who lived in a remote house in Norev.
Rowan went into the desert in search of Lygia, eventually finding her working among the settlers. He convinced Lygia to mold him into a paladin, and pledged his service to the mage.
During their travels, Lygia had a chance encounter with Marena, her daughter, whom she had presumed dead in a plague outbreak years earlier. Rowan was drawn into the situation as it became apparent Marena was suffering from memory loss, and the circumstances surrounding her survival were murky.