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WMG / The Gods Are Bastards

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8-5: Toby is unable to create a staff...
...due to a loss of personal identity from Gabe taking care of himself.

...due to guilt and fear towards the use of light caused by the killing of demons with light during the hellgate crisis. See 8-25

Hanging Plot Threads

What was the trap Elilial referenced in her meeting with Darling?
The plot of the Emperor; Darling didn't hear about it because it was sealed by the throne.
To avoid the loss of their culture and independence, Puna Dara will...
...become an entire nation devoted to Eserion, so they can claim their freeing of slaves and other acts as parts of their worship.
What is the role of Arachne?
Arachne's role is maintaining the asymmetry in the Circle of Interaction.
The Black Wreath's agenda is to...
Build legitimacy for Elilial's eventual prince. The plot with the archdemons in human guise and the stacking of the newspapers and the interview all increase Wreath sympathies. The goal is to spread the truth of Elilial's banishment to everyone simultaneously and get around the automatic smiting.
The Hand of Esarion
As of Chapter 11, the commenters all seem to think it's Principia. But Principia is just the best of the
traditional thieves/con-artists, and the point of the new round of Hands is to pick up new characteristics. I'm guessing it's Bishop Darling himself (who, furthermore, already has access to divine light). Darling is the one who's breaking new ground in all directions....