Chapter 13

Gargamel was at his wit's end, and looking through the last book in his castle's library, still not able to find what he was looking for. Scruple was busy picking up the pile of books that his master had carelessly discarded, also looking through them in case Gargamel had missed anything, while Azrael slept on a pillow in a corner.
"I just don't understand this at all," Gargamel said, closing the last book he read through in disgust. "There's no wizard who's more well-studied in the ways of those wretched blue creatures than I am, who's even been to their village and lived among them for who knows how long. So why can't I figure out anything about that Smurf who all by himself steals Papa Smurf from our hands and flies around and makes things fly in our faces?"
"Maybe all those years of failing to capture them had finally caught up with you, master," Scruple answered mischievously. "I heard you weren't the best student to have ever came from the sorceror's guild, so here you are stuck in this ranshack castle with no money, no luck..."
"And no respect from a vagabond child who's also a failure as an apprentice," Gargamel snarled. "If it weren't for me, you'd be on the streets right now as a filthy beggar. But if you don't respect the fact that I'm your master, that's where you'll be when I finally turn those Smurfs into gold!"
"If you finally turn the Smurfs into gold, Gargamel," Scruple shot back. "You still have to capture them, which you still couldn't do even with your eyes closed."
"My plans and schemes were flawless," Gargamel muttered. "It's just that for something with a small brain, Papa Smurf was always ingenious enough to figure a way out of them. He didn't even try this time, and still he got away from me. If it weren't for that flying Smurf with that yellow star on his forehead, I'd have the whole village in my cauldron by now!"
"Wait a bit, Gargamel," Scruple said, who just finished looking through another book before putting it away when he just remember something he read. "Did you say that Smurf had a yellow star on his forehead?"
Gargamel glared daggers at Scruple. "In case you weren't paying any attention, I did say that!" he shouted. "Don't you dare interrupt me when I'm miserable!"
"Well, take a sorry-looking glimpse at this before you start making things fly around in here!" Scruple said, showing him the middle pages of a book he pulled off a shelf.
Gargamel snatched the book from Scruple's hands and read the section in it. His eyes opened when he found that, in the ancient human text it was translated in, the section was about the legend of Smurf birthmarks, particularly the yellow star mark.
"'He who is smurfed with the mark of the stars is truly blessed by the stars, for it is this smurf who will possess abilities beyond all imagining, beyond the five known senses...abilities that only the strong of minds can harness,'" he read aloud. "Hmmm... beyond the five known senses...?" He scratched his bald head as he pondered about its meaning.
"Five known senses?" Scruple said, also pondering. Then it came to him. "That must mean the sixth sense...the ability to move things with your mind and such!"
Gargamel looked at him with a sudden flash of understanding. "That's it, Scruple!" he exclaimed, accidentally stepping on Azrael's tail and instantly awakening him with a painful yowl. "For a dullard like you, you can be brilliant sometimes! That Smurf has telekinetic powers, and judging from how fast he responded to rescuing his beloved leader, he must also be telepathic. That's how he managed to escape from our grasp with Papa Smurf and left us tripping over ourselves!"
"Okay, so now we know," Scruple stated, already sounding unimpressed. "That doesn't tell us how we can counteract that kind of power, Gargamel!"
"Actually, my know-nothing neophyte, I do know of a way," Gargamel replied, confident with his newfound knowledge. "From what I remembered of my years in the sorceror's guild, some wizard did mention that certain nonhuman telepaths and telekinetics are actually vulnerable to the effects of mystical energies, especially those wielded by human hands."
"Oh, I see it now!" Scruple exclaimed, this time being amazed. "Magic powers can cancel out mind powers...at least those minds that are not human. But how do we test this theory out on that flying Smurf?"
"We are not going to test out anything on that Smurf, Scruple," Gargamel bravely stated. "It is I, Gargamel, who will have that privilege. Tonight is the final phase of the full moon, which means that the Great Book Of Spells will awaken to give me anything I ask of from it. And tonight, I will ask that book for exactly what I want...the ultimate Smurf-smashing power that will allow me to take care of that beastly blue buzzboy and his disgusting hedonistic hive in one swift stroke. I have waited too long and have worked too hard to make this one dream of mine come true. Now at long last, I will have my revenge against the Smurfs...they will pay as my ticket out of this forest forever!"
The walls of the castle echoed Gargamel's loud lustful laughter throughout the forest as he allowed himself the luxury of a victory cry.

Jokey was waiting behind one of the houses on the outskirts of the village for Empath to pass by on his return. He was wearing a theatrical costume made in the image of Gargamel, with long stilted arms and a horrid-looking head carved from a well-preserved pumpkin shell. Through the eyeholes cut into the patched robe of the costume, Jokey watched until he saw both Empath and Smurfette walking toward him. He carefully and quietly lifted the costume's arms in anticipation.
Smurfette was telling Empath about the various weird schemes that Gargamel had used in his vain attempts to capture the Smurfs. "One time, Gargamel turned himself into a baby Smurf, and I still can't smurf over how...uh, how much he was unlike the real Baby Smurf, who came to our village a year later. And I thought that all babies looked so adorable, but Gargamel was smurftainly not one of them!"
"This smurf could only imagine," Empath said, trying to maintain his composure between a few stifled laughs.
Smurfette let out a sigh as she found herself all laughed out. "In any case, I'm glad I haven't seen that insmurferable wizard in over a year now," she remarked. "I guess he must have finally learned his lesson from all those years of torturing us that it's not nice to smurf on somebody smaller than yourself!"
"But you don't seem so relieved about that, Smurfette," Empath noted. "This smurf can guess that you're still frightened by his presence in the forest."
"It's probably more than any Smurf can ask for," Smurfette groaned, "and I'm not expecting you to smurf the job, but I just wish somebody would have the courage to smurf that evil Gargamel far away from us once and for all."
At that moment, Jokey stepped out from behind the house in his Gargamel costume, suddenly appearing in front of Empath and Smurfette. "I have you now, my pretty...and your wretched little blue friend, too!" he cackled, doing a perfect imitation of Gargamel's voice for added effect.
Smurfette screamed, but Empath just stood there calmly. "Salutations, Jokey Smurf. Interesting costume...it's very accurate in its detail of the person himself!"
Smurfette looked like she was ready to tear through Jokey's costume and strangle him when she found out who really scared her. "Jokey Smurf, that wasn't very funny at all!" she fumed.
"At least I know you'd still smurf for the same joke every time, Smurfette!" Jokey chuckled as he removed himself from his costume. "So, Empath, was that scary enough for you or what?"
"This smurf was never scared by your costume, Jokey," Empath answered, "but honestly, this smurf would most likely believe that the real Gargamel is more frightening than your costumed presentation of him."
"Now that is a joke, Empath," Jokey snickered in disbelief. "You are more scared of the real Gargamel? Aw, smurf real...I bet you can smurf that old wizard with one hand tied behind your smurf. I think Gargamel would be more scared of you if he ever smurfed into you in the forest!"
Before Empath could say anything about his first encounter with Gargamel, Sculptor Smurf had approached them, wiping the sweat from his brow, interrupting. "We're all set with the surprise we wanted to show Empath, Jokey!"
"Surprise? What's going on?" Empath asked.
"Jokey, this better not be something up your smurf..." Smurfette started to say.
"Relax, Smurfette...it's something you've always wanted, too!" Jokey cut her off as he took a blindfold and wrapped it around Empath's eyes. "Just don't smurf anything until we get there." To Empath, he whispered, "Don't worry...you won't regret it!"
Then he and Sculptor led Smurfette and the blindfolded Empath to a place on the outskirts of the village, where Smurfette saw most of her fellow Smurfs waiting there silently at the ready. Somehow, Smurfette had the feeling that she wasn't going to like what kind of surprise they were planning for Empath.
When they got there, Jokey pulled the blindfold off Empath, who looked around and found himself surrounded by his fellow adult Smurfs, all shouting:
"LONG LIVE THE LUCKIEST SMURF!"
Then Empath saw something above and behind the crowd of Smurfs and was stunned by what he saw. He saw it only in Papa Smurf's memories, but it was now that he saw it as it actually existed.
"It's the statue of this smurf!" Empath exclaimed, wide-eyed in wonder as he stared at it. The statue did look exactly as it did in Papa Smurf's recollections; standing tall and attentive, his eyes looking toward the sky, mirroring his obedient expressiveness in the presence of the Psyche Master, his mouth a slight frown.
"It's amazing how accurate in detail this statue is," Empath commented, examining it from every angle. Then he noticed something about it that he didn't recognize.
"Whose idea was this to put a red flowing cape on this smurf's statue?" he asked his fellow Smurfs. "Was it Papa Smurf's idea?"
"No...that was our idea, Empath," Tailor answered, stepping forward. "But he always wanted us to prepare for the moment you would smurf back to us for good, when you have the power to smurf us free."
"Set you free?" Empath asked. "From whom?"
"From Gargamel!" every Smurf answered in unison.
"Papa Smurf always knew before any of us did that you had a special purpose for smurfing in the village amongst us normal Smurfs," Poet announced, sounding like a preacher, holding his harp as if it were a bible. "Now it is time for you, my blue brother, to fulfill that destiny and smurf that human monster back where he smurfed from."
"Are you all out of your smurfs?" Smurfette addressed the crowd. "This is Empath we're talking about, a Smurf like the rest of you!"
"Empath is not just a Smurf," Jokey responded. "He's the one that old wizard could never smurf a finger on. He could smurf Gargamel on a one-way trip to the moon without breaking a sweat. I bet even nothing can harm him!"
"Wait a minute!" Empath shouted. "You mean...you want this smurf to actually hurt Gargamel? This...this can't be...can't be right. I mean, we are Smurfs. We're not supposed to hurt other beings in this forest, or even ourselves. Even Papa Smurf believes that..."
"We're never going to be free of Gargamel, Empath, if we keep smurfing what Papa Smurf says!" Tuffy, a hot-headed Smurf, said adamantly. "Papa Smurf's an old fool who still doesn't smurf it in his thick head that Gargamel will never change his ways, no matter how many times he smurfs otherwise. All that he's ever done to protect us from him only gives him another chance to smurf us in for good!"
"That's where you come in, Empath," Reporter Smurf, the voice of the village with a nose for news, added eagerly. "All you have to smurf is give that Gargamel back the hurting he's been smurfing us over the years, force him to leave, and presto! The forest is safe, we are safe, you'll be a legend, and Papa Smurf can smurf his head off without ever needing to know what you smurfed."
"Aye, just think of the rewards, Empath!" Miner Smurf, who spoke with a Scottish burr, joined in, giving him a sly wink. "Surely I see you've smurfed your eye on Smurfette, eh? Well, all you have to do is get rid of Gargamel and you can have the pretty lass...just like that!"
"How dare you!" Smurfette shouted, slapping Miner's face for making such a comment like that.
"Please, my fellow Smurfs...I do not want any part of this..." Empath protested in desperation.
"You have to do this, Empath. It's what you've been destined to do!"
"A true-blue Smurf like you would never say no to this opportunity!"
"Every Smurf's been waiting for you to do this!"
Its time to fulfill your destiny, Empath!
"GET RID OF GARGAMEL!!!"
Empath found himself mobbed by his fellow Smurfs, who were too busy prodding and badgering him to even listen to his protests. He and Smurfette were trapped in the center, unable to escape the crowd.
Finally, Empath couldn't take it anymore. He let out an anguished scream, and as he did he looked straight at the statue of himself and threw a punch into the air in that direction. His minds-eye amplified his punch, turning it into a shock wave.
Suddenly the statue exploded into thousands of small pieces of rubble. Every Smurf who was around Empath heard the explosion, and those unfortunate to be standing around the statue felt it as well, though no Smurf was seriously hurt. The others had stopped shouting and just looked at Empath with expressions of shock and disgust.
"Is this all that I am to you Smurfs?" Empath yelled at his fellow Smurfs, now that he got their undivided attention. "Just some statue to be worshipped whenever any of you feel like it? Just a stone idol with no life or any feelings? Just some thing you can use for your own selfish whims? That's how I felt about the Psyches when I was living among them, only nobody worshipped me. All those years I've visited the Smurf Village, I thought you people were different, that you people actually cared about others who were like or even unlike yourselves. But now I see that all any of you really care about is your own selves...even that half-naked, ape-faced pervert that you call a leader...your father!"
Smurfette just watched Empath, a bit fearfully.
"The Psyche Master was right about the one thing he told me," Empath continued, his anger still not fully vented. "YOU SMURFS ARE NOTHING BUT A GROUP OF BACKWARD BLUE-SKINNED SAVAGES...and what's worse, I happen to be born as one of you! If this is what it truly means to be a Smurf, then I don't wish to belong to your pathetic kind anymore!"
With that, Empath tore off all his clothes from his body and ripped them to shreds. All the other Smurfs just watched, open-mouthed and appalled by what they saw Empath do.
"You Smurfs want somebody to save you?" he finished. "Go smurf yourselves off a cliff and save yourselves, because you're all smurfing helpless!"
"Well, well, well...look at what we smurf here!" another voice broke in. Hefty approached Empath, wearing a nasty smile on his face. "I guess the star-faced showoff really wants to show himsmurf off in all his glory. Say, Empath, how was Smurfette out there in the forest? Did she let you kiss her...or does she not kiss freaks?" He bellowed with laughter as his own remark.
Empath merely stepped toward Hefty and, with a single burst of psychic power, knocked him hard to the ground. He didn't get up.
"Shut up, you savage!" Empath snarled.
Then he ran away from the crowd.
Smurfette also felt that she had enough of what she saw. "I just hope you Smurfs are all happy with yoursmurfs now that you've totally disgraced Empath with this display of yours!" she spat at them before she followed Empath, who was way ahead of her.

Papa Smurf, who still had the bruise on his face from his last talk with Empath, saw Empath and Smurfette passing by him as he approached the crowd gathered around Empath's statue. He saw the broken statue, the torn clothes, and the stunned looks of the crowd.
"Great Smurfs of Fire!" Papa Smurf exclaimed as he approached. "What in smurf happened here?"
"Empath happened here, Papa Smurf," Handy Smurf answered. "We tried to get him to do smurfthing for us, but he got all upset, said some unsmurfy words about us, tore up his new suit, smashed his statue, and knocked Hefty to the smurf cold."
"I see," Papa Smurf replied, barely hinting a suspicion. "So this had nothing to do with you Smurfs wanting to make Empath into a hero, is that correct?"
"What do you mean, Papa Smurf?" Jokey asked.
"It means that I'm very disappointed with all of you," Papa Smurf said angrily. "You think I would be so foolish as to not ever notice all of you gathering around here, acting like Empath is some sort of god? Is this what I taught you?"
The others were stupefied. "But you said that someday Empath will return to us and we will be smurfed free," Tuffy insisted.
"What I meant at the time I said that," Papa explained, still angry, "was that we would be free from worrying about him being away from us. I don't know how any of you smurfed it to mean something else, but I will tell you one thing -- if I see even a single Smurf making anything of Empath into a shrine of worship, I will personally destroy it with my own smurfs! Is that understood?"
For a moment, nobody answered. "Y-y-y-yes, Papa Smurf," one of them said fearfully.
"Good," Papa Smurf barked. "Now I want you to clean up this mess and leave this park alone!"
As his little Smurfs rushed to obey, Papa picked up Empath's torn suit and walked away with it. He was angry, but now he was also feeling increasingly hollow. It was like losing Empath all over again.

Smurfette finally reached Empath's house, where she heard him screaming and throwing things around inside. A window broke as an object from within was flung hard through it.
Smurfette stayed her distance, but she could still feel his rage and anger through the walls. It was worse than any anger she felt from herself, or from any other Smurf. She wanted to reach inside and help him, comfort him, do anything to make his anger go away. But somehow she felt that Empath would see her like every other Smurf now, and that made her afraid for herself.
She couldn't enter his house, but she couldn't leave him, either.
"Empath, please!" she whispered. "We're not all like that!"

Empath's mind and body were no longer in control. His anger, his hate, his despair had taken over. His mind now saw every Smurf like a Psyche, like everyone in his life who wanted to control him. His hands found and tore through everything, as if they were also part of those who were controlling him. He was overcome with madness, and he had no way of escaping it. His life had become in every way like being in Psychelia, and he had enough of it.
Finally, his angry energy was exhausted, and Empath found himself slumped against a wall, his house a wreck, his mind numb with a sorrow that was engulfing and isolating him. He was sobbing.
Everybody was abandoning him again.