2019 April 23: Okay, this might seem insane, but I changed the ending back. Mostly. Jaydin and Nayomi survive. But I kept the change that they trigger the explosion themselves instead of baiting Taliv.
My main reason for doing this was that I realized my point about the sequel potential was completely backward. If I ever write another story in this universe, which I want to, it'll be decades before anyone from this land is powerful enough to travel to the Voren homeland. So switching to the little boy and the old woman as the new protagonists would have been awful. I'd be introducing new characters at the end of this book, then skipping decades before their story started. I'd be a tremendous hypocrite, lol. Jaydin and Nayomi on the other hand wouldn't have to be POV for the next book. It'd be a decent possibility to follow their children, and then I think the offscreen romance thing wouldn't be as big of a problem. I also have thought before about how parents are under/poorly represented in fiction and while I made some effort in that area with Thale and Lucy in this story, I still want to try writing one where the protagonist has good parents. And none of this is to say the little boy and the old woman Mitilda met can't be involved. But I think it's better for them as characters if I don't show them at the end of this book telegraphing that they're the heroes of the next one before I radically change them.
2019 April 22: Hell yes! I finally changed the ending! Jaydin and Nayomi die in the end; the epilogue now follows the boy Mitilda recruited and the woman she met in prison.
I'd actually been wanting to do this for months, but I was having so much difficulty finding a good way to fit in the necessary foreshadowing (I've edited Yildirim's recounting of his story in chapter 8); and the edits had to be made all at once. But I finally got around to it.
I want to explain a bit about my reasons for doing this. Besides it being obviously more believable this way (why would Taliv make the same mistake that got her crippled for life before when she already has this fight in the bag?), and besides how I've written before about how we need more tragedies, I was very concerned about the sequel. If there was to be a story following Jaydin and Nayomi decades later I would have a problem: they would be a couple. There's no way they wouldn't be after this. But I think it would be very upsetting to a lot of readers to have the main characters develop a romantic relationship and have kids completely offscreen between books. There's also the issue that Jaydin and Nayomi didn't have any arc left. It's possible I could have made something happen but bleh. I didn't really like either character anyway. And that makes me think readers probably liked them even less.
There was also a lot of more minor edits, including the scene where Mitilda kills her first guard; she now blocks the blade with a rock instead of a bare forearm and only receiving a minor cut.
2019 March 10: Enormous change. I completely redid the fuels of the magic system in light of the radical changes to my own philosophy. I'm a lot happier with this, and a lot less worried that it will sound insane to an average reader. While I was at it I also decided that only energy magic has virtue/personality fuels. The miscellaneous powers don't.
2019 Febuary 11: Added an exchange between Jaydin and Rebeka in Jaydin's third story in chapter 9, where they discuss why waiting is so hard when they have it so good.
2019 January 27: More edits to chapter 10 to make Jaydin get a lot more emotional when he talks to the boy Mitilda recruited. I also added a line after Zerik dies where Nayomi reflects on the possibility of him being redeemed if things had gone differently.
2019 January 21: Edited chapters 2 and 10 to make Jaydin more affected by the loss of Hobart/Leuis. I decided it was a really big flaw how he seemed totally detached from his friends being arrested or killed. I also edited chapter 10 so that Jaydin and Nayomi don't bury their fallen comrades before liberating the cities, as I realized that doing that made them enormous hypocrites when they chastise Mitilda for wasting mana torturing Nemesis.
2019 January 6: Made it so Mitilda doesn't apologize for her decision to force the others to launch the revolution prematurely.
2019 January 5: Edited Katherine's dialogue in chapter 6 where she explains how recent acts of virtue fuel a good person's magic to make her virtue model sound less obviously copy-pasted from Protagonism (what, do you expect me to use a virtue model I believe is false?). I was already taking some steps to avoid this with renaming Piety and Mysticism to Ambition and Reverence, and leaving out explicit mention of Uncontainability as a subvirtue, etc, but I decided it was still too much. The description of "Reverence" was too weird, too hard for the audience to get behind as a virtue. I've removed any mention of the beauty of nature. I've also given Katherine a brief comment intuitively defending the idea of slouching being immoral in some circumstances; hopefully it doesn't sound too much like she's talking to the reader instead of Jaydin and Alistair. Update: I also decided to rename Stolidity to Rationality.
2018 December 13: Removed any mention at all of the eight-virtue model by Zerik in chapter 9. I only put it in there in the first place because I wanted to make it clear that Mitilda and Leuis knew about that, but I decided it's not necessary.
2018 October 25: Edited the scene where Katherine teaches the new recruits about neon, so that when Jaydin asks what would happen if someone left an orb of it unattended, she says it fizzles out eventually, instead of leaving it a mystery to the reader for the rest of the book.
2018 October 23: Some word choice/sentence flow edits to chapter 11, and also in the scene where Jaydin escapes the hideout after killing a Voren with the ceiling, changed the order of events slightly so that Yildirim blows the hole in the wall to distract the Voren before Jaydin flies past them. It's a lot more believable that way.
2018 October 18: Changed Mitilda's last line in chapter 2 from "You and Jaydin will be braver someday" (which is too condescending considering what just happened) to "Give yourself some credit. You were a good person, and I knew it.".
2018 October 3: Some editing for conciseness in the first scene of chapter 2, and also so that Mitilda doesn't say she'll owe Jaydin a favor if the guards punish him.
2018 September 8: Holy shit! I finished it! I'd still like to do some editing before I really move on, but this is a huge milestone for me.
2018 August 29: Changed Tajiv's name to Taliv.
2018 August 27: Adjusted the dialogue where Zerik tells Mitilda and Leuis about the virtue fuels for magic so it doesn't sound quite so much like I'm dogmatically forcing my virtue model on the reader.
2018 August 22: A lot of minor editing and fixed a plothole I realized: in the chapter 10 argument, Mitilda raised a point that Yildirim was close to dying of age, but that doesn't work because they learned about life extension magic from Zerik.
2018 August 9: Added a line of dialogue in chapter 10 where Zerik tells the heroes that if they had've just ditched their consciences they wouldn't have had to die, and removed breaking of the fourth wall in chapter 5.
2018 August 8: Added some dialogue in chapter 6 where Katherine explicitly mentions the use of destruction magic to cut through things, and - booyah - added Chapter 10.
2018 August 3: Edited chapter 4 so that Mitilda and Gabriel and Nayomi don't keep their plan secret from their parents until they get back.
2018 July 24: Changed the second question Jaydin asks the guard in chapter 2 from whether he suspects the king is lying (which doesn't make a lot of sense because the guard would probably just lie) to whether they ever showed him magic. Also adjusted the scenes that reference it.
2018 July 23: Edited chapter 3.
2018 July 19: A lot of editing in the first two chapters. I'm also starting work on a major formatting improvement.
2018 June 29: Added a line in chapter 9, Jaydin's story #3 where David explains that if you travel far past the pillars, you run into dangerous storms.
2018 June 21: Reduced the time it takes for Katherine to make it to the seventh pillar in chapter 7.
2018 June 18: Added chapter 9, removed the power of blocking from the magic system, made it more clear that the Sentinels' hideout is in the center pillar, added some dialogue in Chapter 6 where Yildirim explains where the rivers on the 7th pillar come from, and a couple of minor edits to word choice & such.