Chessboards are familiar metaphors in storytelling. Usually they signify either some battle of wits between two genius master strategists or the hand of one eeeevil genius master strategist manipulating events in ways that no one else can even clearly perceive, much less prevent.

Now that we’d assembled our team, knocked down their most powerful opponents to date, and hinted at such manipulations with the early appearance of the Heads of Houses, it would have been a natural time for us to introduce a larger threat. Erica, who knew what our plans for the next few chapters were, fed into this expectation by highlighting five white pawns in her layout. Are our white-hat-wearing heroes mere pawns in the plans of some dark-shrouded king?

This was kind of a double bluff, because you’d find out the answer was “yes” eventually, but not before you’d see this chessboard used by a few characters whom no one would label geniuses.