The Tynesi merchants, who traded everything from the silver rice of Timru and perfume leaves from Simrandu to chips of ivory off the Keld’s temples, had a term for a particular sort of improvidence: to throw money, time, or strength into seeing to completion a bargain they had already got the worse end of. It’s all After-Bad, they’d say.Has Aniver thrown so much of himself away After-Bad that he has nothing left for his last great spell, returning Nurathaipolis and her sister cities to their proper place in time? At what cost? Can Semira help him without losing herself, too?
A useful phrase. Aniver vaguely remembered his clearheaded pleasure at first learning it.
That pleasure blossoming within his soul had been sacrificed to fuel a magelight to chase away Semira’s nightmares as they approached the edge of the world. It hadn’t meant much to him, had not made up more than a candlelight’s worth of his being, but Aniver was down to the dregs of his power now. And he was draining those dregs, perhaps After-Bad, but he didn’t think they would do much good where he was going.
You'll have to read to find out, but I will say writing the ending of this one had me tearing up more than once. Maybe because I'm sentimental, maybe because the Palisades Library (where my friend got me in Tuesday evenings for weekly writing parties) was very dry, who can say?
Also, [slight spoiler follows] for those of you curious to see how a Grace with six wings might look, this gorgeous piece by Rebecca Yanovska might help provide an idea. I didn't see it until I was into the editing process, but when I did I had that feeling of recognition.
I'm very grateful to Scott Andrews at Beneath Ceaseless Skies for publishing the Curse-Strewn World stories, and of course to all of you for reading along with them!
While "The Grace of Turning Back" brings Aniver and Semira's stories to a conclusion, it isn't necessarily the last we'll ever see of them. Two prequel pieces are in my drafts notebook--"The Queen of Yesterday," referenced in "The Storms in Arisbat," has an interesting tale to tell, and of course there's the story of how Aniver and Semira met in the first place on The Glass-Clear Sea.
I can't promise I'll be able to smuggle a secondary-world version of the Sunk Cost Fallacy into those, but I'll surely have fun trying.