Still, though, morale was low in Ironlabors. The lack of food was an ever-present problem, but there were other issues, too. The cramped dining room. The fact that every dwarf shares a room with the rest of the fort. The fact that every dwarf sleeps not ten paces away from the din of industry. The lack of a well (I'm working on that, though, promise!). It was only a matter of time before someone snapped.
Minkot Teshkadlimul, called Pricegolds, the jeweler of Datanerith, just couldn't handle the stress. She snapped and threw a tantrum.
Fortunately, she, like my four year old sister, quickly learned that tantrums don't accomplish much, and then calmed down without incident. But I was fortunate - tantrums can be downright deadly in Dwarf Fortress. One dwarf throws a tantrum and hits another unhappy dwarf, or destroys something valuable, or does something causing another dwarf to throw a tantrum, etc, etc. This is called a tantrum spiral, and I've lost many forts to such a phenomenon. Lucky for me that Minkot calmed down, but it was still a sign that things were bad. I needed to make some changes.
Thank Armok for the merchants of Kastolvutok!
Kastolvutok, the nearby Dwarven civilization, had heard legends of Datanerith's exploits, and a merchant caravan decided to make the voyage to my part of the world for a little trading. One of my dwarves, named Mistem, had some skill in intimidation, comedy, and as a judge of character, so she seemed like the best choice to be broker. I hastily gathered up all my chrysoprase, built a ramshackle trading depot, and called Mistem away from her party to do a little trading.
"Right there's a great place to meet up with emissaries of the Dwarven Queen of Kastolvutok! Right there between the pasture and the refuse pile."
So my earlier googling about chrysoprase failed to tell me everything about the gem. Including, for example, the fact that it's literally worth less than fucking lumber. Still, though, Minkot was so proud of her work, and I didn't want her to get all pouty again, so I traded all I had for some cheese, meat, and mushrooms. Food! Finally, precious sustenance! It's not an end to this fort's troubles, but it's a start. At least nobody's eating rats for the next few months.