Chapter 1

It was on another beautiful morning in the Smurf Village when Empath awakened, fresh from another night of sound sleep and aware of the fact that a whole two months had passed since he left Psychelia for good and since Gargamel has last set foot in the forest.
It was nice for him to step out and see the village back the way it looked before the evil human wizard nearly destroyed it. Frankly, it was better to step out and see everyone getting ready for the day ahead at their own pace than it was in Psychelia. Over there, everybody had to follow a routine set for them by the Psyche Master, which had to be followed to the letter and allowed for no deviation or brief recreation. Laziness and leisure had no place in Psychelia, so he remembered his instructors saying.
Empath passed by Lazy on his way to wherever the day would take him. He made no move to wake him up. He just smiled at the oversleeping Smurf. Be fortunate your life was never lived in Psychelia, my fellow Lazy, Empath bade him silently.
"Smurf o' the morning to you, my fellow Empath," Tapper greeted as Empath met him and Duncan McSmurf at the breakfast line. "Ready to smurf your day with a nice hearty breakfast?"
"This smurf can't wait to see what's on the menu for today, Tapper," Empath said. "Eating nutrient paste in Psychelia was sufficent, but it sure lacks the variety of home-cooked meals in the Smurf Village."
"You should have smurfed here a few years ago when Greedy had smurfed us his big pancake breakfast, laddie," Duncan said. "Why, the pancakes were so light that they were just smurfing in the air, and so were we after we had smurfed them."
"Aye, it surely wasn't how I wanted to be smurfing up to heaven, I'm telling you," Tapper said, rolling his eyes at the thought.
"A good thing that Clumsy and Lazy hadn't smurfed those pancakes, or else we would have been smurfing around forever for who knows how long," Duncan said. "Of course, it didn't help that Gargamel was smurfing around after us, but then Clumsy's pancakes had us smurfing back to the ground and out of harm's way."
Empath laughed. "If only this smurf was here around the time when this was happening, this smurf might have had a hand in keeping you safe from Gargamel and who knows what."
"You were smurfly missed, I can tell you that," Tapper said. "But even if you weren't here, I still have faith that the Almighty will protect us and smurf us under the shelter of His wings long enough so that all the Smurfs can witness the truth of His existence and the power of His might and salvation."
Duncan chuckled. "If that's what you want to believe, Tapper, then so be it. I'm more apt to believe that it's the spirits of the McSmurf clan smurfing over us and keeping us safe."
"This smurf wouldn't know exactly what to believe as for what divine being is in control as our protector," Empath said. "Just as long as this smurf isn't forced into worshiping somebody that this smurf feels is too restrictive about our lives, then this smurf will be happy."
"There's nothing restrictive about smurfing your life in the Almighty, Empath, just as long as you're willing to trust and obey, for there's no other way that will be truly satisfying to live," Tapper said. "He just watches over you like a good shepherd, to keep you in all your ways, and in His everlasting arms He shall smurf you up, that you won't smurf your foot upon a stone."
"I'd say to let the laddie smurf enough time to enjoy his freedom before he makes any decision of who or what he wants to devote his spirit life to, Tapper," Duncan said.
"Thanks for the support, Duncan," Empath said. "This smurf couldn't agree with you more."
"Just know that I'll be praying for you and the entire village, my fellow Empath, that it may become your desire to know the Almighty and to smurf after Him with all your heart," Tapper said. "In the meantime, I'm going to be busy this morning in my distillery, smurfing the sarsaparilla ale ready for my customers."
"Have you ever tried brewing other kinds of ale besides sarsaparilla ale?" Empath asked.
"Only a few times have I tried smurfing that barley ale, which is similar to what the humans drink in their villages, but alas, there are only a few Smurfs here who would want to smurf such a tasteless ale like that," Tapper answered. "I still have bottles of that ale that I couldn't even smurf away on the hottest day of the year."
"I'd rather be smurfing that stuff than the filth that humans call ale, which tastes really nasty, like something that smurfs out the other end of a horse," Duncan added. "I can smurf why our good friends Johan and Peewit prefer wine over ale."
Empath cringed at the description. "This smurf will surely remember that whenever this smurf ever visits a human tavern for anything, Duncan."
Tapper laughed. "That's one thing you won't have to worry about when it smurfs to my ales, Empath. They will always be clean and tasteful...well, except for the barley ale...and you'll never have to think about their origin, as colorful as Duncan's description of human ale may be."
"Maybe later on this smurf may help you empty the stock of tasteless ale that you have, just to enjoy something that isn't sweet after a day's worth of meals, Tapper," Empath said.
"I'll be happy to smurf you a bottle when the tavern's open," Tapper said. "How about you, my fellow Duncan?"
Duncan snorted. "Too bland for me. I'll stick with a real Smurfsman's drink, thank you very much."
"Ah, well, to each his own, as I would say," Tapper sighed as he, Duncan, and Empath got their breakfasts and settled down to enjoy the meal.

After he had his breakfast, Empath began his rounds as the assistant counselor, observing everything going on and offering meager assistance to whoever asked for it. For the most part, everything was just going along smurfily which to Empath meant that it was too peaceful for him. A small part of him lived for a bit of excitement, which he knew was not what a true Psyche would crave for.
He came by Smurfette's house and saw her busy at work on her house, with Papa Smurf already there holding the ladder for her. "Salutations, Papa Smurf and Smurfette," Empath greeted. "This smurf didn't expect to see the both of you here!"
"Well, I needed somebody to help me smurf up the holes in my roof because it's been starting to leak in my bedroom," Smurfette answered, "and Papa Smurf just happened to be here right after breakfast to hold the ladder for me!"
"It's no real problem at all, Smurfette," Papa Smurf called. "There wasn't much else for me to smurf today in my lab!"
"How's it going down there, anyway?" Smurfette asked.
Empath noticed that Papa Smurf was looking up at Smurfette in a rather offensive manner when he answered her. "Oh, just smurfing fine!" he chuckled.
"Just hold on for a minute more, Papa Smurf!" she called down.
"No need to rush, Smurfette! I can smurf here all day!" Papa Smurf replied.
Empath frowned as he continued to observe Papa Smurf. He sensed that the leader's eyes got wider as he saw Smurfette from behind, and his mouth was constantly gaping open. What's going on with you, Papa Smurf, he wondered.
"Okay, Papa Smurf, I'm done," Smurfette announced. "I'm starting my way down the ladder!" She slowly descended carrying the pail of mortar and an old spatula she used for the caulking in one hand when the next rung her foot landed on broke, and she found herself falling, crying for help.
"Don't worry, Smurfette...I've got you!" Papa Smurf responded as he quickly caught her in his arms.
"Gee, thanks, Papa Smurf," Smurfette calmly answered after she let out a sigh of relief. "I really appreciated your help this morning!"
"It was my pleasure, Smurfette," Papa Smurf said, though he looked as if he didn't want this moment to end.
"Uh...Papa Smurf," she gently reminded, "You can let go of me now!"
"Oh...sorry, Smurfette," Papa Smurf humbly responded, as he allowed Smurfette to be back on her feet. He tried to maintain as friendly a smile as he watched her go into her house to remove her work apron, but he knew Empath was watching him like a hawk. He felt like a Smurfling whose hand had been found sneaking into a cookie jar or someplace rather unmentionable.
"This smurf would like to talk to you, Papa Smurf," Empath finally said as he and Papa Smurf started to walk a little distance away from Smurfette's house. "This smurf is becoming a little concerned about you."
"Oh?" Papa Smurf wondered. "What is it about me that you need to concern yoursmurf about?"
"The way you've been acting around Smurfette," Empath answered. "This smurf has noticed that you've been staring at her in what Brainy would call a lasmurfious manner, and then when she fell and you caught her, you held her in your arms for a bit too long!"
"Empath, Empath, Empath!" Papa Smurf chided. "You're probably smurfing into things that just aren't smurfening! All that's going on is just me helping Smurfette out."
"This smurf can tell there is more to it than just that, Papa Smurf," Empath persisted. "This smurf can sense feelings in you that are similar to that of my fellow Smurfs a sense of pleasure whenever you're around Smurfette, and a sense of deprival whenever you're not around her. If this smurf didn't know any better, this smurf could say you're having an amorous infatuation with Smurfette!"
Papa Smurf could feel himself getting red in the face from the embarrassment of having to hear Empath say exactly what he was feeling. And he certainly didn't like it.
"WELL, I DON'T NEED YOU CONSMURFLY READING MY MIND OUT TO ME LIKE THAT!" he shouted angrily at Empath. "WHY DON'T YOU JUST LEAVE MY THOUGHTS ALONE?"
Empath hardly felt hurt by Papa Smurf's sudden flash of anger. But he did sense that he might have overstepped his boundaries when sensing somebody's feelings.
"This smurf apologizes for intruding upon your thoughts, Papa Smurf," Empath said. "It was not this smurf's intention to violate your privacy in any way."
Papa Smurf snorted in disbelief at that before he went off.
Smurfette joined Empath as he watched Papa Smurf walk off. "What was that all about, Empath?" she asked. "Sounds like you just smurfed a nerve in Papa Smurf!"
"This smurf wishes to know exactly that," Empath replied, shaking his head. "He's certainly not been behaving like himself lately!"
"Well, I do appreciate him helping me out in the past few days," Smurfette sighed, "though I can't undersmurf why he's been smurfing around me. Is he that afraid that I can't smurf things for mysmurf nowadays?"
"All this smurf's been noticing is that he has been staring up at you with some rather...personal thoughts on his mind," Empath answered as he and Smurfette started walking together. "This smurf doesn't try to invade someone's private thoughts without good reason, but this smurf had to know why."
"Hey, Empath, want to smurf the latest news on Papa Smurf's whereabouts?" Editor asked as the two of them passed by his newsstand, where he passed out the daily Smurf Village Voice to whoever would read it.
"What is it to you that you want the village to know about me and Papa Smurf?" Smurfette snarled, already offended that some other Smurf would take such interest in spreading around personal information.
"Well, it's no secret, Smurfette," Editor sheepishly answered. "Nosey and I have been smurfing the scoop on what he's been smurfing with himself, and it seems that Papa Smurf's got some sort of big crush on you! Last night, he asked Vanity for a floral arrangement that he wanted to smurf to somebody, and we just figured they were probably for you. Two days before, he's borrowed from fresh clay from Sculptor, and Brainy thinks he's been seeing Papa Smurf smurfing a bust of you in his off-hours. In any case, he's certainly got you on his mind lately, and it's probably because Cupid's been smurfing his love arrows on him."
"This smurf would rather settle for facts instead of just hearsay and speculation, if it's all the same to you, Editor," Empath objected mildly.
"Go peddle your unsmurfy laundry to someone else and smurf out of my affairs!" Smurfette remarked with a bit more hostility in her voice as they walked off.
When they were alone again, Smurfette asked, "Do you think it's true what they're saying, Empath that Papa Smurf is in love with me like all the other Smurfs?"
Empath rolled his eyes skyward, repulsed at the thought. "This smurf doesn't know, Smurfette, though the thought of it makes me worried for you as well as for this smurf!"
Smurfette giggled. "Gee, Empath, it sounds to me like you're jealous of Papa Smurf!"
Empath looked at her. "Me? This smurf...jealous? Of PAPA SMURF?"
"I can already smurf the green in your face right now, Empath," Smurfette continued.
"What does this smurf need to feel so jealous about, Smurfette?" Empath asked, like he was the one being interrogated here. "Papa Smurf is 547 years old! Besides, he's already had a wife years ago and he's the village leader and father figure to all the other Smurfs here, including you and this smurf. It just wouldn't be right for him to have those kind of...feelings for you like he's just one of the other Smurfs! He's just too old for you!"
Smurfette laughed at that, which made Empath feel even more defensive. "What is so funny about that, Smurfette?" he asked.
"The reaction on your face, Empath, is what's so funny," Smurfette replied, trying to settle down from her laugh. "You really think that I would smurf those same types of feelings for Papa Smurf as I do for all the other Smurfs and you. Truthfully, though, I do care for Papa Smurf, but I care for him only because he's like a father to me. I wouldn't smurf anything to him that would hurt him or any other Smurf. And by the way, I do think that you are jealous!"
Empath settled down when he realized that Smurfette was just kidding around with him about the jealousy bit. "This smurf never thought I would have to deal with the feeling that this smurf was competing against Papa Smurf for the affections of a female Smurf!" he said. "Sometimes this smurf wishes that life among the Smurfs wasn't getting so...complicated."
"Yoo-hoo, Empath!" another Smurf called out. Empath saw Vanity approaching him carrying his hand mirror in one hand and an atomizer in another. "I think I have smurfed the perfect solution for attracting the one real love in my life mysmurf, that is!"
Empath found this to be somewhat amusing. "You're seriously believing that wearing a new type of cologne will help you stay attracted to yourself, Vanity?"
"Oh, it isn't just any type of cologne, Empath," Vanity told him. "It's smurfed with the pheromones of the birds, bees, and flowers, a true all-natural solution. Just one smurf of this and the object of your desire will be smurfing at your feet at an instant. Oh, I just can't wait to try this on myself!"
Smurfette rolled her eyes in total disbelief. "Oh, Vanity, you can't seriously believe that stuff will work!"
"Vanity, this smurf isn't saying your intentions were bad or anything," Empath said, "but this smurf just doesn't think that wearing a powerful new cologne will make you any more attractive to yourself than you already are. If anything, it's more likely to make you too attractive to everyone else. Personally, this smurf thinks you are perfect enough for yourself just the way you are."
Vanity looked at Empath as if he had never heard any Smurf tell him something that honest about him before. "Do you really think I am that perfect without needing this pheromone cologne, Empath?"
"If this smurf was you, this smurf wouldn't try changing anything about yourself that you already know and love," Empath replied honestly.
Vanity felt so taken by Empath's sensitivity, he gave his atomizer a second look. "You know, Empath, maybe you are right. Maybe I am perfect the way I am." He looked at himself in his mirror and found that Empath was being truthful about him. "Oh, the sheer ecstasy of knowing how perfect you are without having to improve on it! Thanks, Empath...I know just what to do with this pheromone cologne now!" he said excitedly.
"This smurf is honored to help you out, Vanity," Empath responded with a smile as he watched Vanity walk quickly away in another direction, constantly kissing his reflection.
Smurfette laughed at that. She never thought Vanity would ever not need anything to make himself look better than he already is to himself.
"What some Smurfs wouldn't do for the object of their affections, Smurfette!" Empath exclaimed as he rubbed his chin, still amused from dealing with Vanity's dilemma.
Smurfette just noticed Empath rubbing his chin. "Gee, Empath, you not only sounded like Papa Smurf at that moment, you also acted like him!" she mentioned.
Empath didn't realize this until he found what his hand was doing on his face. "Well, Smurfette, this smurf does admire Papa Smurf. It's just unfortunate that this smurf doesn't have his beard," he remarked. He briefly thought about how he would look wearing a beard and then pushed away that thought, realizing he wouldn't be able to grow his first set of whiskers for another 150 years.
"You know, Empath, I still think you're jealous of Papa Smurf," Smurfette jested.
"Well, maybe this smurf is just a little..." Empath said sheepishly.