Ep 5: Beyond the Fence

hanks Scarlet_Axie for the narration!

Dreams came and went, blurring the lines between reality and the ethereal and often meshing into one another. A tall man came into the hut at one point in the night, picked up several Axies, then left. In another scene, he saw himself on his mother’s back as she ran for the fences.

The owner shouted while chasing after her. When she reached the gates, she whispered something to him then raised him over the gates. Before she could let him go, the dream ended. 

The morning bells tolled, interrupting his dreams. Beside him, Nightshade rubbed her eyes while she rose from her mat and stretched. 

‘Do you remember your mother?’ he said. 

She shook her head and blinked her heavy eyelids. ‘Huh?’ she said. ‘What did you say?’

All the Plants shuffled to the doors outside, causing a jam at the exit. Poysenberry and Nightshade lingered at the back as the line eased from its congestion. 

‘What’d you ask?’

‘Oh, nothing,’ he said, hitting his head with his paw. ‘Still a little dreamy.’ 

After some time, the Plants cleared from the exit, making it easier for the rest to exit single file. Both Poysenberry and Nightshade emerged from the hut into the misty air. It was an odd day. Poysenberry had never seen such a low mist covering the Savannah plains. 

Before leaving the ramp, he tapped his paw several times on the sands just to make sure everything was safe. Meanwhile, Nightshade hopped down from the side to the ground and carried on through the mist toward the cluster of fallen tribal shields and overturned wooden barrels.

Nightshade busied herself prying through the barrels and shields extracting SLP into her tiny phials while Poysenberry shuffled through the sands toward the barrels. They both worked in silence collecting their daily quotas. Several times Poysenberry tried to speak up and break the ice, but found himself at a loss for words.

Part of him wondered if she’d heard what he said earlier or if perhaps she had seen him and Yaki the night before. He cringed as the images of her patting his shell returned to his mind. With a grimace on his face, he turned around and saw Nightshade watching him from behind a fallen barrel.

‘You know what an Axie egg looks like?’ she said. 

His mouth parted but he only mumbled something incoherent.

She moved around the barrel to get closer to him, still preoccupying herself with her collections.

‘I’m not sure,’ he said.

Nightshade filled another vial and then another. ‘Do you know what an incubator is?’ 

‘I’ve heard that word before, but. . . ?’ 

‘When Axies breed in the wild, they lay eggs afterwards, most often on soft patches of grass, or in safe banks along the shores. Some keep their eggs high in trees while others dig holes to keep them safe inside. But you don’t ever see an Axie in the wild use an incubator do you?’ 

He itched at his lotus ear. ‘I’ve never been outside the farm.’ He continued to scratch his ear, more from nervous energy than any real discomfort.

‘I’m sure you haven’t,’ she said. ‘In fact if I had to guess, I’d say you were likely put in one of those incubators when you were an egg.’ 

‘Is that a bad thing?’ 

‘Nothing in this world is either purely good or bad,’ she said. ‘But I’ll tell you something. Under natural circumstances, Axies aren’t hatched in five days. Nor are they morphed into adults within hours of their emergence.’ 

Poysenberry stood confused. He had no idea why she was telling him this. Not a single clue what this had to do with their daily toils either. 

After a while, she moved on from the wooden barrels and toward a trash heap of old potted plants and dead flowers. He cautiously went to join her. 

‘Have I upset you?’ 

‘Nobody remembers their mothers anymore,’ she said. ‘All those eggs are snatched from under us as soon as they land, and like that, tossed into incubators and stripped from their parents.’

Nightshade then kicked a lone pot that was apart from the pile, launching it up into the air and back to the ground, causing it to shatter. She then stormed off in another direction towards the cactus patch near the edge of the fences. 

He nearly lost sight of her in the mist. And for a second, he considered leaving her alone. To stop following her like a lost Beast and give her some space. Then he felt guilt rising in his chest. What if he was the one who pissed her off? 

Poysenberry scurried toward the cactus patch to catch up with her before she disappeared. He saw her move behind a large cactus with pink flowers sprouting from its head. He hurried over and looked around the cactus only to find her sitting on the ground. 

‘Have I offended you?’

But as soon as he said it, he regretted it. Because he saw Nightshade crying, looking off into the mist. 

‘Oh, no,’ he said. ‘Nightshade. . . I’m sorry.’ 

She brushed the tears away from her eyes then shook her head. 

‘Was it something I said?’ 

She wouldn’t look at him. Her eyes were fixed into the misty clouds hovering over the ground. 

‘Most Axies wouldn’t know their mothers if they were standing right in front of them,’ she said.

Poysenberry exclaimed and put his paw over his mouth. 

‘No,’ she said. ‘You’re not my child.’ 


‘But my own babies wouldn’t be any different from you,’ she said. ‘If I were to meet them and tell them they are my children, do you think they’d know? Or feel anything for me?’ 

He opened his mouth to say something. 

‘It’s sweet that you even think of your mother,’ she whispered. ‘And heartbreaking at the same time. Because now my biggest fear has come to stare me in the face.’ 

Poysenberry sat down beside her. 

‘That maybe there are lonely children of mine out there, thinking I’ve abandoned them too.’ 

She wiped another tear falling from her face and tried to laugh. Poysenberry scooted nearer to her. She let out a heavy sigh. 

‘I remember my mother,’ he said. ‘Or at least I think I do.’ 

Nightshade side-glanced him. 

‘She had the ability to heal people, by controlling the air.’ 

The mist began to fade as a ray of sunlight cut through it, shining upon the cactus patch. 

‘Maybe your children remember you too,’ he said. ‘And what if one day you ran into them and the both of you just stopped to stare at each other, not knowing why you both seem familiar to each other.’ 

The sun brightened, dispelling the mist. 

‘Axies aren’t supposed to stay on farms their whole lives,’ she said. ‘We’re meant to be outside these gates. Exploring the lands which we were born from.’ 

‘I feel that way deep inside.’

She looked him in the eye. 

‘In fact I’ve always felt that way.’   

Nightshade put her paw onto his cheek. ‘We can’t sit here talking all day long.’ Then she dropped her paw and stood up. 

‘But you have been out there before?’  

‘We’ve chatted enough for one day,’ she said. ‘We have a quota to meet.’

‘Why won’t anyone tell me about the outside? I mean, it’s as if there’s some great secret you’re all trying keep.’ 

She laughed.

‘What’s so funny?’ 

‘Being in the farm is a safe place,’ she said. ‘As long as you do your part and earn your keep, then you don’t have much of anything to worry about here. The owner will bring you food. Keep you sheltered. And protected from the dangers out there.’ 

‘I’m not scared anymore.’ 

‘Then you’re foolish,’ she said. ‘Because the world outside these fences aren’t what they used to be. Things have changed and not for the better.’ 

‘So you have been outside?’

Nightshade lowered her head. ‘Even if I had,’ she said, ‘what difference would it make?’

He couldn’t give her an answer.


Poysenberry remained in place, feeling like an idiot as she started walking again. He wanted to say more. But all his thoughts choked inside his mind. 

She went to a nearby cactus and extracted some SLP.

‘Because I’m going to leave this place one day,’ he said. ‘And the more I know before I escape, the better off I’ll be.’ 

Nightshade looked up into the sky, shaking her head. ‘Do you know how many Axies I’ve spoken to in my life that’ve told me that exact same thing?’

‘But I mean it.’ 

‘So you do,’ she said. ‘But let’s say you somehow escape. Fine. Then what? Where are you going to go? What are you planning to do?’ 

Poysenberry scrunched up his face while he thought about her questions.

‘I’ve never met an Axie that’s taken the plunge without a solid reason behind their actions. Otherwise, it’s lofty dreams and idle chatter.’

Her words sank in as he sat among the cactuses. They hit him hard in gut, making him feel like a flake. What reasons did he need other than wanting a better life? Wanting to escape to find his mother. To find out for himself if the Mystic realms really existed or not?

Nightshade was hidden by the large cactuses, probably still busy harvesting her SLP. He wanted to say these things to her. To tell her his dream from the night prior. To tell her how jealous he got whenever he saw Axies roaming free outside or tagging alongside a nice traveller.

Illustrated by @gypzophi

A sudden impulse came over him. He hopped up and walked over to the tallest cactus in the patch. Then without thinking, he started to climb it, using the long-dense prickles to pull himself upward. When he reached the top, he sat down and gazed out over the fence into the open Savannah. 

His eyes widened at the sight. There were partially destroyed ruins scattered across the lands. A giant river running parallel to their farm that he’d never known existed. And beyond that, mountains that seemed to be lush with greenery. 

His heart ticked in his chest. The scenery was overwhelming. He couldn’t believe such a vast place was only separated by flimsy wooden boards. As he squinted, he spotted a couple of wild Axies moving across the land scurrying away from the few Toadies hopping along the plains. 

For the first time in his life, he felt unbounded by his schedule. Unbounded by the walls his owner had put up between him and the unexplored world of Lunacia. His entire life, he had done nothing more than searching the grounds for SLP. And all the while the world had been waiting for him on the other side.

To be continued…