He was one of the early followers of Dagda Vormund, but played a role in the prophet's downfall.
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, and Rowan a closeted theist.
By the time Rowan came of age, his spirituality was nebulous and uncertain. All his life he'd sensed a presence which was difficult to describe, but he gradually came to believe it was the god Akhen. Despite his convictions, he was uncomfortable discussing his beliefs with his peers because of the stigma associated with religion and his sister's aggressive intellectualism. The rest of his family, including his mother and brother, were surprised by his interest in religion, but were otherwise indifferent. Hester at one point suggested he join the clergy, but Rowan was adamantly against such a choice, as he had heard stories of the Temple's corruption.
Upon turning seventeen, Rowan jumped at the chance to move to Bodai and become the apprentice of the master sculptor Mayer Amano. He enjoyed his work and was encouraged by Mayer to pursue a career as a sculptor.
Rowan and the New Religion
Dagda Vormund arrived in Bodai in the 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.When Rhonda learned of her brother's interest in the prophet during a visit, she became concerned he was being mislead. Her attempts to deter Rowan's interest in the "cult" backfired, and only succeeded in angering Rowan, who dismissed her concerns as nosy, overprotective, and controlling.The next day, Rhonda followed him to a sermon and attempted to refute Vormund by publicly discrediting his work, much to Rowan's chagrin. Vormund defended himself, but left soon after without giving a sermon.
Confused, Rowan nonetheless introduced himself to two of the prophet's followers, Sophia Richter and Drusus Rolfe. They agreed to arrange a meeting between him and Vormund, wherein Rowan intended to apologize for his sister's behavior, and to ask for advice in several spiritual matters. However, the city police arrived on the scene not long after and declared Vormund and his followers to be banished from Bodai. Rowan witnessed the guards disregarding Dr. Kovak'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 suffered from hemorrhaging and died later that night.
Rowan was infuriated by the tragedy. 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.
Upon reaching Arza Kell, Rowan's motivations became more clear. In conversation with Vormund he 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 into himself in return, citing "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. In reality, what he desired was a kind of enlightenment, which Vormund couldn't truly grant him.
Rowan became friends with Drusus and Sophia. Through them, he learned more about the origins of the cult. In particular, he kept hearing about a mysterious individual who had helped Vormund translate the Mandorlin from Old Exekian. This person was married to Sophia, but their identity had to be kept a secret. Gradually he discovered Sophia's husband was Kemet, an Exekian with the power to dreamwalk. This revelation disturbed him, and he was unable to fully accept it.