Book One; The Fall of Gadaie Series
Christina Leigh Pritchard
Genre: Fantasy Intermediate/YA
Number of pages: 429
Word Count: 93,000
Cover Artist: Mohamed Zakzouk
From the author of the C I N Series, comes an epic fantasy world filled with nothing but constant action and adventure. A new world, new life forms, and another twisted and complex story from author Christina Leigh Pritchard!
Mary wants to kill them. But, someone stands in her way...
Tahmi has nightmares of an old man in a sailor's suit, dropping her off, on her doorstep. When she tells her parents about him they look sick. Could her dream have some truth to it? Is that old man the reason they won't allow her in the woods behind their house?
What are they hiding from her? Who is she?
TAHMI, she's just an ordinary girl, right?
Lark’s End, is the first of eight books in the epic fantasy series The Fall of Gadaie. For extras, (characters, illustrations, book trailers, maps) please visit the blog dedicated to the series: www.gadaie.com
BONUS MATERIAL INCLUDED AFTER STORY (kindle version only)
66+ illustrated photos created by Omaik Digital Art
Several children and animals sit in cramped cages. To Father, they are merely test subjects but to Mary they’re her family and friends.
“Mary,” Alex whispered. He sat in the cell next to hers. “What’re ya reading?”
She didn’t respond. Her eyes stayed glued to the pages of The Wizard of Oz. She inched forward reading each word with passion and excitement. Her skin was pale and her eyes a light blue unlike the eyes of her brothers and sisters. Everyone else had glowing green eyes. Maybe from the chemicals their father injected into them, maybe from the changes their bodies were experiencing. She liked the fact that her eyes were normal. It meant she was safe from father. He didn’t experiment on her as much. She was a dud according to him; unchangeable.
“Mary,” Alex said again. “Read to me please. I’m scared. Father says today is gonna be my day. He says he’s going to really change me this time.”
She looked up. Alex was a few years older, maybe ten with sandy brown hair. His eyes used to be brown as mud but that was before father took him into the back room.
“I’ll read to you,” Mary decided, turning the pages back to the beginning. “How is it I know how to read and you can’t?”
“I never went to school for very long.” He answered.
“I’ve never gone to school.”
“Well, I remember some words like that sign up above the door it says ‘exit’. That’s what I’d like to do. Escape through the exit.”
“Do you want to escape with me, Alex?”
“Mary, if I could get out of here then I’d never come back, never ever.”
“Who would I play with then?” She frowned. “I hope you never escape.”
“I don’t care.”
“Just read something to me, Mary.”
“What if we both were able to escape?” She leaned her forehead against the bars, intertwining her fingers with the metal. “Would you stay with me forever then?”
“I dunno,” Alex yawned. “I want to hear something, to keep my mind off what father has planned for me. Tell me about that world of yours.”
“The only way to get into Gadaie is across the golden bridge.” She closed her eyes. “You have to swim through Merworld where the merloonies live.”
“The what?” Alex scratched his head. “What’s a merloonie?”
“Remember that Peter Pan book I read you; the one with the mermaids?” Mary grinned. “Well, the Merloonies are similar to those mermaids. They’re half fish half loonie.”
“What’s a loonie?”
“My very own people or subjects I guess. They love me and will do anything I ask of them. I love them too.”
“So now you’re a queen?” Alex laughed. “Oh Mary, you’ve got some imagination.”
“I wish they were real.” Mary admitted. She lay down on the cement bench. It cooled her cheek. He patted her on the shoulder through the bars.
“I wish it was real too. Then I would run away with you and I’d live in that Funhouse Zone you told me about.”
Mary sat up. “Would you live in one of my mushroom homes?”
“Sure, why not?” Alex grinned. “I think taking a rollercoaster to each home is kinda a cool way to get around.”
“I know!” Mary giggled, “And last week I decided there should be a place called Candy Lane like that game they advertised in the back of The Neverending Story.”
“I wish Father would let us play games.” He sighed. “That would help pass the time.”
“I like reading.”
“Well, I guess if I knew how I would read too.”
“I don’t think father would let you read. He says he has plans for you.”
Alex walked away to the other end of his cell. “I don’t want to talk about what Father has planned for me.”
“Stop all the noise.” Lily growled. She sat in a rusted cage across the aisle between two wolves and an orangutan. Aquariums filled with mice ran on wheels up above Lily’s head. She brushed her hands through her blonde hair, “Mary, go to sleep. Put those silly books down and stop dreaming. Life’s not a fairytale.”
“Okay, Mother.” Mary lay back and stared at the grey wall. Water seeped through a tiny crack. It dripped down, splattering against her forehead. How could anything, even water, want to enter this place? “Mom,” she called, “Did you love him?”
Lily hid her face in between her knees. “No.” Who would?
“Nor did I love her.” Father stomped into the lab, his white cloak flapping. “You were supposed to be my prodigy. But Mary, you’re just a dud; a useless financial expense to me. If you don’t produce results soon I’ll have to eliminate you.”
Mary’s heart pounded. Would he really kill her; his own flesh and blood?
Lily jumped, stretching her hands outside the bars. “I’ll kill you if you try to hurt my daughter!”
“You could never hurt me. I’m your father—your creator.”
“I’d love to kill you.” Lily growled. “It would make me very happy.”
Father stood in front of Lily’s cell with his hands on his hips. “That’s the spirit. The angrier you become the more you change. I can’t wait to see the final results.”
“Leave her alone!” Mary screamed. “I hate you!” Her small face smashed against the bars and her fingers gripped firmly around them.
“Relax child,” Father rolled his eyes, “Alex is who I’m working on today.” He unlocked the cell and grabbed the boy by the arm.
“No, I don’t want to go!” Alex cried. “Let me go. Stop. Lily, make him stop.”
Lily covered her face and sobbed. “I’m so sorry Alex.” What could she do? She was trapped in a cell like everyone else.
“Mom,” Mary’s lip quivered, “Why don’t you stop father? You’re the oldest.”
“I’m only eighteen.” Lily rocked back and forth. Every time father experimented on one of them she was who they called to for help. Was it her fault?
“No!” Mary wiped her eyes. She watched Father drag Alex away into the dark. The other children cried too. A dozen of them begged Father to release Alex.
Father set the young boy on a metal table. He held him down with leather hand and leg cuffs. “Father, please!” Alex jerked about. “It hurts, the changes always hurt.”
He held a long needle in his hand. Father flicked the instrument and a light green liquid seeped out. Alex thrashed about, his heart pounding. “No!”
Father jabbed the needle into Alex’s ten year old hip. “This batch will work. Alex, you will be amazing!”
“Let him go!”
“Alex is the perfect test subject. His DNA is easy to alter. He adapts best to changes. He’s nearly perfect in every way.” Father frowned when his eyes set on Lily. “Lily, I always thought so much of you. But, that child you gave me is not working out. I’m afraid I’ll have to trash her.”
“You will not!” Lily twitched. Her body convulsed. She stood on her knees and rested against her palms. What was happening to her?
“What’s happening to my mom?” Mary cried. She recoiled into the corner of her cell.
Lily’s skin ripped. Long legs protruded out of her hip bone and shoulders. A thorax burst its way through her back. She screamed. “What’s happening to me?”
Mary covered her ears, “MOMMY!” She rocked back and forth, “Mom, not my mom. Don’t die, don’t die.”
“It’s happening!” Father exclaimed. He hurried over to Lily’s cage. “The experiment worked. My girl is changing! They thought I was mad. MAD!? But, I knew all along that I could do it. If this one works then all of my experiments will work.” He turned into Mary’s direction and pointed at the little girl. “That means you get to live.”
About the Author:
Christina Leigh Pritchard was born and raised in South Florida. Her first stories were written at the age of nine in $0.15 wide ruled spiral notebooks (which were supposed to be used for class) ;o)~ and in the various diaries she kept. Stories she wrote from age nine to twelve fill about four storage boxes!
Since she's upgraded to a computer, she's completed over fifty books and still going strong. Her genres include dark fantasy, young adult, drama, suspense, historical romance, multicultural, comedy, poetry and many more.
Her main aspirations in life are: her dog, Teacup; the beach, writing and well, writing! The author says, "I breathe novels.”