I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but this chapter forms a mini-triad of its own. It shows all three characters in their traditional rotation. It’s something fun I decided to, playing with my own format. The idea was to give an unconscious sense of urgency to the reader by giving them a whole triad compacted into one chapter. I don’t expect anyone to pick up on it–actually, I don’t want them to. For it to work right, the reader will be paying so much attention to the text that they don’t consciously notice the speed up. However, I hope that it will make them read faster and faster as the book progresses.
I’ve only mentioned Gragdets a couple of places. Hrathen never thinks much about them, since he doesn’t consider them part of the traditional Derethi structure. In truth, they aren’t–but they do have authority over a Gyorn in their own small sphere. I don’t think that the reader needs to understand the entire social structure of the religion, however. Hrathen understands what is happening, and knows that he should probably let himself be under Dilaf’s authority. That should be enough for most readers.
And, yes, Dilaf always had bones that were deformed. That’s why I mention that they’re not terribly disfiguring–they would be quite easy to hide under robes. And I often pointed out in the book that Dilaf was wearing his enveloping robes.
Hopefully, these moments–Dilaf’s unleasing–have been building for you through the entire book. By now, you should have realized that Dilaf was always the main villain of the story. He’s the one with true hatred, and true instability. Hrathen is an antagonist, but he’s no villain. Dilaf, however, has been built-up as someone who can do some truly terrible things. Now he’s unleashed, and he has an army of demonic monks at his control.
And yes, we’ll get to more about how Dilaf was able to imitate an Arelene later.