In spring of year 11, 7 helpers arrived. Among them was an elf named Denningsley, a botanist. He brought seedlings with him, he would need a greenhouse. We had been hesitant to build one. Felecta, back in Smallville, raised seedlings in a greenhouse and got a very good trade value from the riverboat merchants, seedlings were in demand. Here, however, almost every boatman that came to call already had seedlings. We did not know if they would take anymore in trade. We took the chance and built a greenhouse near the trading posts. Denningsley said his seedlings were for magically colored impossible trees, he would plant Santa's favorite reds and greens. We were impressed with the vibrant colors. He said he would plant some of the other colors over by the new clay pit for us to see.
The riverboat merchants accepted our seedling worth 8 trade units each. We soon had the bricks and roof tiles we needed to construct our own brickyard. We traded seedlings and dalers for cabbage seeds and planted them in spring of year 13. We had a good harvest that year except for the apples. The harvest was started a month early but produced our smallest harvest yet, nowhere near an apple a day for 75 townspeople.
In April of year 14 the brickyard was complete and construction began on another bridge across the river. The leaves opened on the impossible trees and they were such pretty colors and really brightened up the clay pit area. That month 5 helpers arrived and we needed laborers and another builder for land clearing and new construction across the river. Even with the extra laborers, wild foods and other resources were not being collected. In October Allington the miner was killed by a cave in, one of the new laborers took his place. The cave in triggered the beginning of our downfall.
In spring of year 15, cabbage and potatoes were already planted in the new fields before the boat merchant arrived with barley seeds. We finally would have grain. He also had pear and walnut seeds, we hoped to have enough seedling to trade for at least one of them before he had to leave. We failed to notice our shortage of tools until it was too late. Our trader, Haskellyn, who had been working at both trading posts, felt responsible for what was to happen because there were tools sitting in the trading post for years. Haskellyn got the tools out and to the workers as soon as he could but the damage to our production had already been done, and the boat left before we could trade for pear or walnut seeds.
The harvest was a poor one even with the new fields. The new barn and several houses were complete. It was a cold snowy winter, Oliver the fisherman appreciated the covering built over his trout fishing spot. With new tools hunting and fishing improved but our food reserve was critically low in spring of year 16. To make matters worse, Waver and I discovered our 19 year old son, Rosendon, was living with the 49 year old woman and 2 children. We assumed the youngest was our first grandchild.
It was a child who was the first to die of starvation. We traded for food when a food merchant came to port, but it was not enough. We lost 2 students, 2 miners, the smelter, a farmer, and our botanist. A child was the last to die of starvation in August of year 17. Our small cemetery was full of simple white crosses, our town full of mourners. We were short of food and workers. We needed help.