The king sat on his throne in the holy city at the center of the world, his mind burdened with the deep wisdom of beasts, moon and stars, ancient scrolls and distant revelations. A migraine ate away at his head when they brought the two women before him. They had both given birth to babies, but one night, one infant had perished, and one of the women had switched the dead child with the living one belonging to the other mother. The counselors, magicians, conspirators and men of law looked hard at the king. One day, the king sighed, all of this will be the blink of an eye, a fistful of sand. All of tomorrow’s scholars are worse assassins, usurpers and conspirators than any of us hope to be, merciless in a way that only a distant future world, a world of death, can be. All of tomorrow’s scholars may remember me, but they will not remember this hour or day. It will become for them a symbol, a proverb, a parable, and nothing more. They will call it an invention of chroniclers, daydreamers and fanatic scribes. In their dimension, the child, the mothers, you and I—none of it exists. And if it does exist, it only exists as a cipher amongst millions of ciphers. It is mere algebra for the damned. What can only exist as algebra must be treated accordingly. One must satisfy both sides of the equation. Therefore, I command that you divide this nonexistent child with a sword.