I continue to enjoy these characters and your writing about them! I am happy that they seem to be happy at the end of the story, but it feels to me as if they didn't earn their happiness (from a narrative perspective) as much as they earned their happiness at the end of "Water" (which I reread this morning before reading "Mana"), and I am trying to understand why I think this.
After reflecting a little, here is my first guess at why.
all the spoilers
Both "Water" and "Mana" have "contrived" plots and especially endings, in that they both rely on coincidences/confluences that would be unlikely in "real life" within the universe the story takes place in. In Water, off the top of my head: Niomah runs into Sanuar/Ens just after being fired, Sanuar can arrange the housekeeping job for Niomah, Niomah leaves the ghetto at the right time to see Sanuar and Ens, Sanuar has the potential of being a late-onset mage, Niomah and Sanuar have the correct different in age to realize that potential. In Mana, again off the top of my head but in no particular order: Kizi is "whatever she is" in such a way that she's accepting of the whole situation, Sanuar knows someone appropriate to set Kizi up with at the end of the story, Kizi owns property such that she can set Niomah up with a job, Sanuar learns about mana spots and uses them such that he can thwart Absam and does that thwarting at precisely the right time that he can rescue Niomah from Hesh, Niomah can set up Sanuar with Arnysh.
So why did the contrivances bother me in Mana but not (as much) in Water? In both cases almost everything (Sanuar's birthday, mana spots, Absam as a pure mana specialist, Tasnan's existence and desire for marriage) is carefully set up in advance. So the problem I'm having isn't with narrative structure, it's with suspension of disbelief. I *think* what's happening is that my brain is okay with arranging *events* to fit the narrative (Sanuar/Ens/Niomah's coincidental meetings, etc.), but it's less okay with arranging *people* to do so. So Niomah being able to activate Sanuar feels like good plotting, but Kizi feels like a character whose major traits were determined to enable the particular ending of Mana. Again, I can totally understand how that *also* counts as good plotting, but for some reason I'm reacting negatively to it when I didn't to, say, the date of Niomah's birthday.
I'd be curious to see if others had the same reaction.
I was quite concerned about this, more with Mana than Water, and while my patches seemed to work for some people they evidently weren't a panacea. I'm not sure how to apply your feedback but maybe I'll be able to figure out what to do with it in the future.
FWIW, I liked it a lot, but I have been suffering from critical fluff deficiency lately complete with Doctors giving me squinty eyes and me carefully counting Daily Recommended Fluff Percentages on the sides of boxes of cereal.
I think if it hadn't been drastically past my bedtime when I was trying to say things about Mana, I might have come to the conclusion that it wanted to be a bigger story than it was. It seems like a lot of the structural issues people are seeing could have been fixed by having more space for things to happen in, so that all the highly convenient details can be spread out among more characters and interspersed with more neutral and inconvenient details. But I don't know if that's a thing you actually want to do.