These six digits have some relevance to Guilded Age, though they’re less about telling you what you don’t know than about echoing the core of what you do know. (Spoiler: someone figured it out in the original comments.) You might’ve expected this detail to be my idea, what with all the puzzle design I toy with, but this one was definitely John.

Phil and I had two plot ideas for this chapter, one of which was fleshed out from a barely-developed set of notes that ended with “He loses his seat,” and one of which we briefly believed ourselves capable of jamming into the edges of Chapter 24. Both of them are given a lot more room to breathe here than we expected when we conceived them. I think they’re better that way and it certainly made them both a lot more fun to do. They don’t have all that much in common with each other, but there’s a bit of yin and yang to them, tonally: one of them is an inarguably grim development leavened by some black humor, and the other is almost a sitcom plot but still addresses some obvious issues of race, class, prejudice, and power.

And I guess they’re both about secret rooms where the powerful do their business, and the lengths that evil men will go to in order to keep interlopers out of such rooms. So this little MacGuffin here is probably the best cover we could have come up with.