Banished to a flooding planet with an enslaved race ready to revolt, she struggles to survive & decide which side she’s on. #PitProm #SF #F
Hykala, after recklessly challenging her higher-ranked flying partner to a maneuver resulting in serious injuries, is banished to her planet’s harsh surface for a year, her wings locked tight. Never having stepped foot on the surface and ill-prepared for its unforgiving challenges of unknown creatures and biannual flooding, she struggles to enmesh herself in the culture of the wingless Dawk, the surface dwellers she’s only known as household servants. She just wants to survive her year and get back to flying, but the Dawk have other plans.
Mothe, (2nd POV) who lost her wings fifty years previously and now lives as a Dawk, becomes Hykala’s friend and mentor. When whispers of a Dawk revolution rumble across the land, Mothe entangles Hykala in the Dawk’s long-term plans for freedom.
At the end of her year’s adventures, Hykala must decide to either stay and help her new friends or return home. If she stays and becomes fully accepted by the Dawk, she must give up flying forever. But if she returns to the skies, she’ll abandon her new friends to the vengeance of her own race.
TO KISS THE SKY AGAIN, complete at 94,000 words, is a dual POV, Sci-Fi/Fantasy story which will attract readers who love the world-building and rich storytelling of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series and the adventures of Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings books.
I honed my writing skills as an attorney, winning my cases by writing clients’ stories to make them come alive for a judge. When I retired, I started a non-fiction publishing company where I published two of my own books along with over twenty-five books from other authors. In my spare time, I capture and band migrating raptors and I still dream of being able to fly.
~ Candace Davenport
First Ten Pages:
Cradled by wind and sunlight, Hykala spun through the sky, a mirror to her partner’s flight. The air whistled through blue feathers, sounding a harmonic note to balance the wind-song created with each stroke of Sarwa’s violet wings. Faint shouts of approval for the beauty of their sky dance echoed from the observers scattered across the pale sky, above the wispy clouds. As the two approached their last maneuver of a full spin and back flip, flashes of color merged, separated, and merged again, ending their Doubles Sky Dance with a flourish.
Wings cupping the air beneath her, Hykala floated on her back and yelled at Sarwa, “What the hell was that? You bumped into me on that final flip.”
Sarwa hovered at her side, his wings brushing air across her face with each slow, steady beat. A small frown creased his brown face. “You cut it too close. But we recovered. I doubt anyone even saw the contact.” With a huge grin he added, “Come on. We were brilliant. No other pair came close.”
She and Sarwa never made mistakes in competitions, and for Hykala, anything less than perfection was not acceptable. Although Sarwa was probably right and no one noticed, it still rankled. She slammed her fist into her palm, wanting to take back the last five minutes and do it again, but instead, she took Sarwa’s hand and they flew to the King’s landing pad.
Despite being visitors to these cliff dwellings, raucous cheers erupted for Aardee’s top Sky Dancers as they lightly set down on the crescent-shaped entrance platform to the huge hall carved into the mountainside high above the surface. With their unusual mix of her blue and his violet wings, for years both Hykala and Sarwa had been the pair to beat in any Doubles Sky Dance event.
After the silence of the dance and the whisper of their wind-song, the inside commotion heightened Hykala’s sense of annoyance as they strode across the stone floor, their shimmering flight suits matching the color of their wings. Observers trailed behind them, awe and amazement reflected in their eyes while others touched them as they passed—a story for their children.
Hykala had to shout amid the noise that ricocheted off the cavern walls. “Let’s hope the judges didn’t see your bump, but I think we’re good.” Wings tucked tight to her back and twitching with excitement, she squeezed Sarwa’s hand as they walked toward the awards podium.
Sarwa frowned as he grabbed Hykala’s long braid wrapped in a blue rawhide tie and flicked her face with the tip. “Hey. I’m not taking any responsibility. You got too close.” But then he smiled and bowed, arms outstretched. “We had an amazing flight. We’ll win… as always.”
A constant stream of observers and competitors approached to congratulate them, but all Hykala wanted was for the five officials, their heads bent over score sheets spread across a table, to acknowledge they’d received another gold. Her stomach growled with the smells wafting throughout the vast cavern from the awards feast set out on tables to celebrate the announcement of the final winners. Never good at waiting, she shifted from foot to foot on the hard rock floor—she wanted her gold so she could go eat.
“Stop fidgeting,” Sarwa said. “Go get our other medals while we’re waiting.”
Hykala cut through the crowd to the corner where they’d cached their winning stash. When she pinned the small stars on her flight suit, they sent reflections of golden light onto the cavern’s rocky walls. She brought back Sarwa’s stars and helped pin them onto the front of his flight suit to become a glittering counterpart. Patting his broad chest, muscles hard from years of flying, she announced with a smile, “Now we’re ready.”
As if Hykala’s words had moved along the officials, the head of the Inhikiod Games stood, his long gray hair unbound and tucked behind his ears. He held up his hands for silence. “Thank you everyone for attending this year’s Inhikiod Games between Hapira and Taimana cliffs. Weren’t these Games exciting?” A roar of approval rocked the room. The official gazed out over the crowd and paused, smiling.
Hykala groaned and whispered, “Come on. Come on.”
“Now for the moment we’ve been waiting for—the results from the last event of this year’s Games.” The official looked down at his notes, “The Doubles Sky Dance!”
Hykala gripped Sarwa’s hand so hard he flinched. The room hushed and held a collective breath.
“This was the closest event of the entire Games and a very tough decision.” The official shuffled his papers. “The gold medals go to… Tanela and Setinne!”
A strange hush settled over the crowd and everyone turned to stare at Hykala and Sarwa. The long silence turned into raucous cheers from the Bora Family as their winning pair of indigo-winged fliers screamed and raised their arms, fists clenched.
With his sleeves dropping to his elbows to reveal indigo wing tattoos circling his forearms, the official again held up his hands for quiet. “Before you cheer for the winners and watch their award ceremony, please accept the Bora Family’s thanks to everyone involved in these Games. The lead switched back and forth several times over the past few days, but with the golds awarded to Tanela and Setinne, I’m happy to announce the winner of this year’s Inhikiod Games is the Bora Family!”
Hykala shook her head, her eyes wide enough to match the chasm of Sarwa’s gaping mouth. Shock and disbelief spasmed across her face in waves. “No. They’ve made a mistake. Noooo.” Impervious to the surrounding cheers, Hykala couldn’t remember the last time they’d lost a Doubles Sky Dance—or even an individual race—let alone an entire Games. “This can’t be. This is wrong.” They were the best Doubles Sky Dance team on Aardee and should have won.
She spun around at a tap on her shoulder. The head official motioned Sarwa and her toward a quieter corner.
“You both were brilliant, as always, and I wanted you to know how difficult the decision was in your Sky Dance. The judges split, and I had to cast the deciding vote. While Tanela and Setinne’s dance may not have been as spectacular as yours, they had no errors. That brief contact in your final flip was my deciding factor. I’m sorry.” He smiled, patted both their shoulders, and left before either Hykala or Sarwa could recover enough to respond.
Hykala looked at the retreating official’s indigo wings tucked to his back and grabbed Sarwa’s arm. “He’s an Indigo, just like Tanela and Setinne!” She shook Sarwa’s arm until he swatted at her hand. “That kusog broke the tie and awarded the gold to his own caste.” Her final words ended in a wail.
“Free skies, Hykala. Calm down,” Sarwa said, prying at her grip.
“We were cheated. They got the gold because they’re Indigos, not because they’re better than us. We shouldn’t have lost.”
It was hard to hear anything through the Bora Family jubilation that reverberated throughout the cavern. Sarwa grabbed both Hykala’s shoulders. Turning her so she faced him, he gave her a shake. “Hykala! Our wings won’t turn color because we lost.” After a quick hug he added, “Come on. We should go pick up our silvers. We don’t want to be considered poor sports.”
“I don’t give a flying kuso what people think of me. I don’t want a silver. It’s our gold. We’re the best.”
“Apparently not, since we didn’t win.”
“Since they cheated us out of a win, you mean—that and your bump.”
“Maybe cheated, but I say again, not my fault.” Sarwa shook his head, his eyes flashing. “But no matter who is responsible, there is nothing we can do about it, no matter how brilliant our routine. Now, come on.” He pulled at Hykala’s arm to move her toward the awards podium.
As they waited to receive their silver, most of Hykala and Sarwa’s own Kipaji Family came up and told them they’d been cheated. Hykala struggled to keep a pleasant face as the officials pinned the gold stars on Tanela and Setinne but, inflamed by others from their home, Hykala’s mood worsened. She never lost at anything.
As they left the awards platform with one silver star marring the perfection of their otherwise golden chests, Sarwa looked down at Hykala. “It’s done. Let’s go eat and drown our sorrows. I’m starving.”
She gave him a disgruntled smile. “I suppose I can accept condolences even with my mouth full.” She took his hand and looked up at him. “But we have to do something about our ending so that bump doesn’t happen again.”
Before she could continue, Sarwa squeezed her hand. “Don’t you dare blame me again. But you’re the dance genius. Do what you need to do but don’t make it even harder than it is already. Those last flips are difficult enough. Come on.”
The air thrummed with Inhikiod of all wing colors mingling and laughing as they passed by the extensive table spreads scattered around the large cavern. Smells of roasted meats permeated the air making Hykala’s mouth water. As they maneuvered to get into line, a Dawk, one of the planet’s indigenous, wingless race, bumped into Hykala.
“Hey, careful,” Hykala snapped.
The Dawk ran her hand through her close-cropped hair sported by all Dawk and lowered her eyes. “I’m sorry, Miss.”
“Yeah, well, no damage done. Go on.” She flipped her hand at the Dawk. After a questioning look from Sarwa, Hykala grimaced. “Shut up. I’m in no mood.”
“You don’t have to take it out on that poor Dawk. It’s a wonder we don’t have more accidents, as crowded as it is in here.”
Before Hykala could respond, Sarwa held up his hands. “And don’t take it out on me either.” He gave Hykala a mock frown which turned into one of the dazzling smiles she loved.
With a disgusted look, Hykala shook her head. “You’d be sorry if I ever did. You’re just lucky I’m so nice to you.”
Sarwa only harrumphed.
As Hykala and Sarwa moved along a line, two Bora Yellows in front of them looked over their shoulders and laughed. Hykala grabbed Sarwa’s arm, whispering. “They’re laughing at me.”
“Let it go. You don’t know what they’re talking about and who cares?”
“I care. I don’t like to lose. In fact, I don’t like others talking about me and losing in the same breath.” She made a rude gesture at the backs of the Yellows who continued to laugh and overfill their plates with food. “I hate these Boras. It’ll be nice to get home where everyone appreciates us.”
Hykala looked sideways at Sarwa and gave him a sly smile. “Lucky for me since I’m a lowly Blue and not such a high-ranking Violet, I only have to race against them and not deal with them officially.” Violets were the next rank below the Magenta of the King and Hykala was glad she was born with blue wings. As the lowest Royal rank, she had the Royal perks but few of the responsibilities that saddled Sarwa. “No matter. I enjoy beating them at any time… which makes this loss even more galling.”
One of the Yellows, with a full glass in one hand and a plate in the other, tripped and would have landed face-first in the food had Sarwa not caught him.
Sarwa steadied the Yellow, smiled, and patted his shoulder. “Careful now, friend. Had too much fermented juice this afternoon?”
The Yellow stammered through slurred words, “Celebrating, but thank you, Violet sir.” The Yellow straightened and showed them his glass. “But I didn’t spill a drop!” Although the Yellow showed the proper deference to one higher-ranked, his tone made Hykala frown.
Sarwa released the swaying Yellow. “Well, you should hold off on any more drinking,”
The Yellow smirked and raised his glass high. “But I’m celebrating our magnificent win.” He stretched for more food from the serving Dawk, stumbled and tipped the overflowing plate onto the floor and his drink down his front.
With his face as red as the spill on his yellow flight suit, he reached across the table and slapped the Dawk across the face. “Clumsy idiot. How stupid can you be? If you can’t do something as uncomplicated as placing food on my plate, then you should work the mines.”
The Dawk jerked and raised his hand. Another Dawk standing next to him grabbed his arm and spoke furiously into his ear.
Hykala made a move toward the Yellow but Sarwa had a firm grip on her shoulder. He whispered, “Not our problem.”
The Yellow stared at the Dawk and took a stance with his hands in front of his face. “Come on, then. You want a fight? Come on.” His friend also raised his hands and, side-by-side, they swayed together as if in their own doubles dance.
The Dawk, his friend still desperately whispering in his ear, bowed his head. He mumbled, his voice a mixture of anger and fear. “No sir. I’m sorry I spilled your plate.”
Her jaw clenched and eyes blazing, Hykala grabbed the Yellow’s arm, spun him around and spoke in her Royal voice. “You, Yellow. Stop it right now.”
“But you saw what happened. That stupid Dawk made me spill my drink.” The Yellow wiped his front with his hand. “He deserved my slap—more, in fact.”
“You shouldn’t hit your Dawk for any reason,” Hykala replied. “We don’t back home. Now, behave yourself.”
The Yellow grumbled an apology to Hykala, glared at the Dawk and grabbed another plate. He glanced back as he continued to wipe juice off his front. “You’re not in your home, Dawk-lover,” he mumbled. He moved off with his friend, leaving the embittered Dawk to clean up his mess.
Hykala sputtered, her frustration over their loss now focused on the Yellow. She made a move to confront him but Sarwa again put his hand on her shoulder. “Forget it. That Yellow’s not worth any more of our time.”
“You heard what he called me.”
“We’re not home so we can’t get involved with how they treat their Dawk. Stop making a fuss and move. You’re holding up the line.”
Resigned, Hykala grabbed a plate. When it was her turn for the Dawk to serve her, she smiled and said, “Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t your fault.”
The Dawk remained silent and sullen, the fading impression of a handprint on his pale skin a stark reminder of what had happened. Hykala shrugged and followed Sarwa off to the side to eat and receive condolences for their loss.
When the large cavern had emptied and mostly service Dawk remained to clean up after the celebration, Sarwa stood and pulled Hykala to her feet. She tucked a few strands of wayward hair behind her ears and rubbed her face with her hands, a pale face more handsome than pretty. Filled with freckles, a broad forehead, and a strong jaw, she was unremarkable except for her golden red hair. Winning a competition didn’t require beauty, so Hykala had never cared what she looked like. She found her own beauty in her flying.
“I know that look. What’s going on in that red head of yours?” Sarwa asked. “Nothing good, I imagine.”
Hykala grinned at Sarwa. “I’ve an idea about how to make the routine even better, and,” she added, “to make sure you don’t bump into me again.” Before Sarwa could respond, she held up her hands. “I’m already planning an exciting new way to finish our routine. If it works out, it’ll take our dance to another level.” Sarwa was not good with change, so she’d always tweaked their routine and introduced even minor changes slowly. But with the day’s loss, she wanted a major shift with a different ending.
A group of blue-winged fliers came up to Hykala. One asked, “Ready to leave? We’ve a long flight home.”
Hykala waved at them and said, “I’ll be with you in a minute.” She gave Sarwa a long hug then grabbed his hands. “Thanks for everything.” She cleared her throat, eyes darting around before settling on Sarwa. “I know I don’t say this enough, but you’re my best friend and I love you for who you are.”
As she jumped off the ledge to join the other Blues, Hykala yelled over her shoulder at Sarwa, “See you later. Safe flying!”
It was almost a week later, after many long, tedious practice sessions, that Sarwa knocked on Hykala’s front door for yet another attempt at perfecting the recent changes to their routine. After giving Sarwa a quick hug, Hykala announced, “Today’s the day we finally master those final flips.”
Sarwa snorted. “We won’t perfect anything this morning, especially where we’re flying.” But a quick smile took the sting out of his disgruntled response.
“We will. I can feel it.” Hykala slipped out of her house and joined him to make their way to Giant’s Hall, the vast indoor mountain cavern where the Inhikiod learned to fly. Because it was raining, they’d practice inside that day. Inhikiod could fly in the rain but it wasn’t pleasant—wet feathers made for heavy flying. Since they had a choice, they chose to stay dry.
It had taken longer than Hykala expected to polish her envisioned changes in their routine. Happy with the result, she’d shown them to Sarwa and, at first, he had liked the idea, until he’d tried and found them harder than they looked.
After many frustrating days of getting close but never perfecting the final moves, he’d complained to Hykala, “I love your idea, but I’m bigger and stronger than you. I’m not so compact and… flighty, which makes a difference in being able to make those turns.”
She’d scoffed. “Of course you can do them. Try again.” He had tried over and over, but the last part still gave him trouble. Now Hykala wanted to try the maneuvers indoors, thinking maybe a change in space would affect how he approached the troublesome turns.
As they walked together along the stone corridor, the violet wing tattoos circling Sarwa’s forearms reflected the light from the okuu lamps lining the walls. Hykala ran a finger over her own blue tattoos and smiled up at Sarwa. “Have faith. I know you’ll get it today.”
Sarwa only scowled in response.
Welcome to the final round of pitches!
Agents and Publishers,