In Atlantis, two beautiful twin sisters were born; Lydia and Lyla. Those two sisters were identical in every way, and they loved each other. They were born to a noble family who ruled over a small town in the center of the continent. Though not wanting any necessity, the girls had few luxuries and learned the value of hard work and decency. They were educated in the manner of mages and of craftsmen, learning how to be useful in all ways of life. When they were still young, the girls made a vow to never leave each other’s side. With their combined powers, they would make their home the best place to live in Atlantis. Filled with purpose, the girls felt Atlantis’ divine favour but mistook it for invincibility.
When they came of age, the girls were sent to the greatest university in Atlantis. There they were taught how the universe worked. Their minds were expanded, their hearts opened. In the halls and classrooms, they found friends would stand by them the rest of their lives.
A tour was held to take students to the edge of Atlantis. On the coast, they would study beauty and art. Every one of the students found such a beautiful connection with the universe there on that coast. It was there that many found a deep communion with Atlantis.
Lydia felt small when she understood her role as a part of Atlantis. She felt deep gratitude and love for all the other members of Atlantis. All other people and ideas made the home she loved function the way she was familiar with. Her participation in the body of Atlantis was important for her life and the lives of others. Indeed, she felt awe and responsibility for her world.
Lyla, by contrast, felt empowered by her role as a part of Atlantis. She realized that being a member of Atlantis gave her great powers. The people and ideas that were the bedrock of Atlantis were robust. She understood that she had the power to improve her home. Indeed, she felt a duty to make the world a better place.
Putting their different understandings together, the girls knew they could make their home a beautiful place. During their time at school, they had learned that Atlantis’ water supply was coming from the continent’s aquifers and that many of them were drying up. Together, they believed they could develop a new way of gathering water and pioneer it in their hometown. Once the rest of Atlantis saw their success, surely the continent would transition to a sustainable water system.
Together with some friends, Lyla and Lydia went for a walk along the seawall protecting a harbour. Everyone there felt excited about their futures. Feeling young and alive, the girls were enjoying the best moments of their lives.
In the spur of the moment, the girls decided they wanted to jump off the seawall. Both were enjoying the wonderful day. They told their friends that they wanted to do the stunt, but all of them said no. It wasn’t enough to dissuade the girls, however. They were swept up in the attitude that they should live their lives to the fullest and directed that attitude, dangerously, toward jumping off the seawall. The splashing waters were dark and unknown, there could be a thousand-foot drop or rocks just beneath the surface. There was a little ladder nearby which, the girls reasoned, they could climb up after jumping. It was a dangerous stunt, but the girls imagined they could do it.
Together, they approached the edge of the wall and prepared to jump.
But Lydia stopped for a moment and considered. There was so much of the future to enjoy, and so many things to do. She reasoned that foregoing this one adventure ensured her enjoyment of many more. It was too dangerous to try, and she settled down. At the last moment, she allowed fear into her heart to whisper its wisdom. As her sister jumped, she stayed on the wall.
Lyla had not allowed fear into her heart. She had not allowed herself to consider the future she was jeopardizing. In that one gleeful moment, Lyla felt invincible. Atlantis favoured her. She believed it would protect her because it needed her.
Lydia and her friends watched as Lyla fell to her death. She broke her legs and drowned.
The loss was felt deeply by Lydia. She returned home early without completing her studies. For years she felt broken and alone, without the twin she had spent every waking hour with for so much of her life. Eventually, her parents aged and passed away, leaving her with their domain.
She decided to honour her sister by being a good leader. Together they would have easily been great, but Lydia tried to be great even still. She led her town into prosperity and honoured her sister with a monument and a song.
But Lydia was not Lyla. She could not, single-handedly, do what they could have done together. Without Lyla’s vision of changing the world, Lydia relied on the established means of water production. She was a responsible leader who did not waste a drop, but such virtue cannot fix a faulty system on its own.
After a golden age, every citizen of Lydia’s domain was educated, well-fed, and happy. But such prosperity would not last. Hearing of Lydia’s leadership, people moved to her town to start a new life. Soon the town was a city and used more water every day. One day it all ran dry. Underfoot the land began to wither and crack. The parched soil stopped producing food. Hills held up by thirsty trees began to fall as the roots became brittle.
Amidst the ruins of her beloved home, Lydia thought of her sister. She had done her best to honour her, but despite wisdom and virtue, her domain had fallen apart. She thought back to the dreams Lyla had of transforming how they gathered water and realized no virtue could replace her sister.
Lydia became a wanderer, leaving the ruins of her home behind. Slowly she journeyed towards the coast where her sister died. On her journey, she saw the ground crack and falter underneath her. She saw Atlantis suffer under the weight of its own beauty.
Standing upon the seawall that had tempted her sister, Lydia felt not invincibility, but mortality. In those moments, the final drop of water was mined and the continent began to sink. As Atlantis as it fell into its slumber, Lydia wailed:
Can humanity escape our flesh through your divine will oh god? I wish for lost youth How I yearn for its temptations and illusions So that I might have followed my love or held her back And avoided life without her Perhaps invincibility is a curse to those who believe it And a curse to those who do not