Rowan is a weak and cowardly boy, scorned and dismissed by most of the people of Rin. When the stream that runs through their village dries up, the adults of Rin ask the Wise Woman Sheba for advice, for they plan to venture into the Mountain to discover the source of the problem and bring back the stream's water. Out of spite, and to teach them a lesson, Sheba provides a map which can only be read while Rowan is holding it--thus forcing Rowan to join the expedition up into the Mountain.
Despite being terrified of the Mountain and timid due to being surrounded by adults who he fears and is usually teased by, Rowan manages to persevere as well as he can and becomes one of the last two people who remain to reach the top of the Mountain (the other being Strong Jonn). During this journey Rowan becomes more confident in himself and less timid and afraid. He refuses to return to Rin with Marlie when Jonn begs him to, and does not give up hope near the Mountain peak when Jonn does, instead fuelling Jonn's hope and helping him survive to confront the Dragon and return to Rin. In the Dragon's cave Rowan is the one who realises the reason behind the stream drying-up, and uses his skills as a bukshah keeper to calm the dragon and wrench the bone out of its mouth to end its pain. This causes the stream to be restored and Jonn and Rowan are carried back to Rin in its waters.
After this adventure Rowan becomes a hero of the village and is no longer teased and viewed as useless and a weakling.