CHAPTER 1:

AN AIR OF DREAD

The balance has been broken, the once peaceful forest now echoes with the sounds of horror. A feeling of dread lingers in the wind, the ground shakes and groans with anger. Man’s unyielding greed to possess and dominate all things has cracked the veil between the Metaverse and the real world. Dark astral projections of man’s greed came pouring into the land, latching on to every living creature they can find.

In the distant mountains, black smoke can be seen rising, slowly choking out the sun. The volcano spitting out ash on the skeletal remains of nearby forests. All semblance of life has disappeared in the surrounding areas. The once fertile soil has now been reduced to thick mud with footsteps of creatures trampling all over it day and night. Mines deep in the mountains have been pillaged, stripped of precious gems and ores. All that remains is the incessant clanging of metal, ringing endlessly across the wasteland. The strange winds now carry the sounds of destruction over the scorched earth, engulfing the forests of Gili with dread. All who live in the surrounding forest of the Metaverse anxiously keep watch, wary of the looming threat just beyond their borders.

Under the glimmer of the mid-afternoon sun, Renata squints her eyes as she adjusts her vision to the surrounding light. She stretches out her limbs and arms to relieve the stiffness as she "projects" out of her tree. Residual magical energy still floating in the air around her as she slowly materializes. Unlike the first trees, she cannot merge her soul and animate her tree. This type of power has been reserved for the Genesis Trees only. Renata is a Tree Soul, a young one at that. Tree Souls have the mystical ability to take on humanoid forms, allowing them to care for the forest and its creatures such as the Elemental Beasts. Lately, the beasts have been behaving... strangely. They've always been mischievous little things with their glowing blue bellies, but this is different from their usual routine. They have been growing uneasy, their energy throbbing and pulsing stronger than usual. Could this have something to do with the darkness that hangs over the horizon? Perhaps a natural defense mechanism? Their appetites have also been changing and growing. They have shifted from eating their usual blend of weeds and shrubs, seeming to prefer a diet of different magical plants now which is causing them to change form.

"Perhaps Serpil will know more. That is if she ever decides to wake up."

As soon as Renata's humanoid form fully stabilizes she begins her daily routine of watering the trees and feeding them nutrient NFTs. Thanks to the forest ghosts, she can simply trade some $MTREE tokens for the valuable NFTs that the trees need to flourish. These seasonal $MTREE tokens are a curious phenomenon. Produced by the trees, they seem to have no use in the MetaTrees ecosystem, and yet, the forest ghosts are completely enchanted by them and regard them as quite valuable. So strange... In fact, as soon as the trees started producing $MTREE tokens, the dormant ghosts suddenly awoke, offering their services to any Tree Soul that would accept them. Forest Ghosts, for the most part, are neutral beings of ethereal energy. Tiny in stature and peaceful in demeanor entities despite their ghoulish appearance. Legend says that they can travel between the veil of the Metaverse and the world beyond. Some believe that the Forest Ghosts are simply hosts of a greater, benevolent power, sent to protect the land in times of need.

Thinking about it now... Perhaps the appearance of these monsters has something to do with the $MTREE tokens.

On another part of the island, a young Tree Soul called Hannah struggles to materialize from her tree. Her avatar is not yet fully formed which explains her half-human, half-tree-like appearance. Hard tree cork bark covers most of her body from head to toe and dull crystals protrude from her skull. In time, as she ages, she'll gain more and more knowledge, her powers will mature and she'll learn how to control the mystical elements of the MetaTrees world.

"Patience," she whispers to herself, "but is there time?".

The mushroom network has been abuzz lately, vibrating throughout the forest floor with ominous warnings from all directions. Treading lightly on the crisp grass, she meanders up the side of a hill, making her way to the peak. She gazes out to where the black smoke drowns out the light. She holds out her hand and a speck of gray ash floats down onto the palm of her hand and disappears.