Papa Smurf examined Empath as best as he could, but he could find nothing physically wrong with him. Even opening Empath's eyelids didn't help, for he still continued to sleep as if nothing in the world could ever wake him up.
"What was smurfing on in Empath's house last night?" Papa Smurf asked Dreamy and Hefty after he finished his examination.
"Nothing, Papa Smurf, really," Hefty answered honestly. "We just smurfed our slumber party with Tapper and Jokey, smurfed up as late as we could, fell asleep, and when we finally smurfed up in the morning, Empath just kept on sleeping and we couldn't awaken him."
"Smurfs like he was caught inside whatever it was he was dreaming about," Dreamy suggested.
Just then, they heard Empath speak, though it sounded as if another voice was overlapping Empath's own and drowning his out. "This Psyche cannot live for too long outside the collective
consciousness of the Psyches. You must return Empath Psyche to Psychelia immediately or his body will cease to function thereafter."
Papa Smurf gasped. "That sounds very much like the Psyche Master speaking through Empath."
"That's the voice I remember smurfing the other night, Papa Smurf, when Empath smurfed that nightmare," Dreamy pointed out. "But that voice smurfed like it was only smurfing from Empath's house, not anywhere else."
"Dreamy, how could you know about that?" Hefty asked suspiciously. "You don't happen to smurf one of those 'third eyes' like Empath's smurfed."
"No, Hefty, but I do have this," Dreamy answered, producing a small ring of metal with a silken net and a bright blue jewel in its center. Papa Smurf took this object from Dreamy and looked at it.
"Great Smurfs, Dreamy, that's the Heart of Sominess, the legendary tool of dream travelers and interpreters," Papa Smurf realized. "How did you get your smurfs on it?"
"My Mama Smurf always smurfed it in the family, Papa Smurf," Dreamy replied. "She says that it protects whoever smurfs with this from all the bad dreams in the world, and that you can smurf into whoever's dream you want to smurf in. Lazy didn't want this, so she smurfed it to me instead. Do you want me to smurf in there to get Empath?"
"No, Dreamy," Papa Smurf answered. "Empath is my responsibility. Whatever's smurfed Empath in his dreams, I might as well be the one to smurf him out of it."
Dreamy looked reluctantly at the Heart of Sominess before he handed it to Papa Smurf. "Okay, then, just lie back and smurf the Heart with both hands and let yoursmurf drift off to sleep," Dreamy instructed. "When you are asleep, think of Empath and then you'll be wherever he is in his dream. Me and Hefty will smurf over the both of you while you are asleep."
Papa Smurf nodded. "You both are very brave Smurfs."
They cleared off two of Papa Smurf’s work tables, and then after positioning them next to each other, they placed Papa Smurf on one and Empath on the other. Papa Smurf held the Heart of Sominess in both hands as he laid back on the table and closed his eyes. The jeweled center glowed as Papa Smurf began to relax.
Please let me smurf wherever Empath is in his dream, Papa Smurf thought as his mind drifted off into sleep.
And no sooner did Papa Smurf drift off did he find himself in the middle of the Smurf Village, surrounded by all his little Smurfs who were all calling out to him, wanting him to do something with them, asking for his undivided attention. Papa Smurf looked around over the heads of his little Smurfs, seeing Empath off in the distance, dressed in his Psychelian bodysuit with the silver wrist and ankle cuffs.
"Empath!" Papa Smurf called out. "Here I am, inside your dream."
"This one can't stay in the village with you, Papa Smurf," Empath responded, sounding as emotionless as he did the first day they had met together in Psychelia after 70 years of being apart. "This one must go back to Psychelia and become part of the collective consciousness again in order to live."
"Empath, you are not a Psyche!" Papa Smurf protested, speaking loudly above the voices of his little Smurfs surrounding him. "And it isn't the Psyche Master who's smurfing you back to Psychelia. There's a dream spirit inside of you who's trying to smurf you away from the waking world, smurfing advantage of your memories."
Empath didn't respond to Papa Smurf. He walked away from the center of the village.
Papa Smurf had to follow Empath wherever he was going in the dream world, but his little Smurfs were blocking him, grabbing him, pleading with him, doing anything to prevent him from following. "You are not my little Smurfs!" he finally said to them. "If you really are, you would listen to me and obey what I smurf to you."
Then suddenly, the other Smurfs vanished from his sight, freeing Papa Smurf to follow Empath. He was already at the outskirts of the village, ready to enter the forest when Papa Smurf finally caught up with him.
No sooner did he pass the mushroom houses on the outskirts, however, did Papa Smurf see something else ahead of him besides the forest. It was the domain of Psychelia, with the gleaming spire of the Psyche Master's temple in the center. Posted outside the walls of Psychelia were the
same guards as those he encountered years ago on his first visit, brandishing the same crystal-tipped energy spears,
keeping unwanted visitors out.
"Who dares to enter the domain of Psychelia?" one of the guards asked as they both pointed their spears at Papa Smurf as he approached.
"The Psyche Master has commanded me to smurf an audience with him in his chambers," Papa Smurf answered, trying to sound convincing.
"The Psyche Master does not hold audiences to outsiders!" the other guard barked. "You are to depart here freely and immediately, or you will be forced on your way."
"I refuse to leave until the Psyche Master allows me entry," Papa Smurf demanded, folding his arms in front of his chest to show he meant business.
The guards decided to show Papa Smurf they were serious about him leaving as well. They blasted Papa Smurf with a powerful bolt of energy that knocked him on his back.
Back in the waking world, Dreamy and Hefty watched as Papa Smurf's sleeping body jolted on the table, reacting as if somebody had struck him with an energy source.
"What's smurfing on?" Hefty asked, worried.
"The dream spirit is trying to stop Papa Smurf from smurfing the source of Empath's nightmare," Dreamy answered, feeling uncertain himself. "A good thing it isn't trying to kill Papa Smurf, or else neither of them would be able to return to us."
Inside the dream world, Papa Smurf was recovering from the energy blast when the Psychelian guards grabbed him and tried to drag him away from the domain.
"Let go of me, you dream spirits!" he commanded. "I don't know who you are, but I know you're not Psyches and this isn't Psychelia. This is only a dream, and you're not going to stop me from reaching Empath!"
By a sudden force of will, Papa Smurf wrestled himself free of the guards' grasp. They chased after him, firing bolts of energy from their spears as Papa Smurf entered Psychelia.
"Stop the intruder who has entered Psychelia," the voice of the Psyche Master boomed over the entire domain. "Do not let him reach my sacred temple!"
Papa Smurf saw various Psyches approaching him from every direction ahead of him, trying to block his way to the Psyche Master's temple. As fast as they were in trying to stop Papa Smurf, he slipped right through them and proceeded toward the temple entrance, which seemed to have been sealed off, preventing Papa Smurf from trying to enter.
"I command these doors to be opened!" Papa Smurf announced as he saw the guards from outside the domain approaching him real fast. Suddenly, the doors vanished from Papa Smurf's sight, and he quickly entered, leaving the other Psyches outside.
Ahead of him, inside the temple, the pillar of rainbow light that was the Psyche Master sat in the middle, and right next to it, a figure that looked very much like Empath as an infant. This scene looked all too familiar to Papa Smurf...it was the memory of Empath having his own memory being erased by the Psyche Master when he was left behind in Psychelia as a baby.
"Welcome, Papa Smurf," the Psyche Master greeted in a tone that sounded more malicious than authoritative. "You're just in time to witness the transference of one life in this temple for another. Your child is going to be part of the collective consciousness of the Psyches forever, no longer remembering anything about being a Smurf!"
Papa Smurf watched in horror as the baby Empath was surrounded in a sphere of energy that made him cry in painful anguish.
"Whoever you are in this dream world, I know that you are not the Psyche Master, for he and I have an agreement with each other," Papa Smurf said. "What you're doing to Empath is only an illusion to smurf the real truth away from everyone else. Show yoursmurf as who you truly are, or are you afraid of being smurfed by anybody?"
"Very good, Papa Smurf," the Psyche Master replied. "I figured you would be able to see through this masquerade of a dream. I'd be more than happy to reveal who I really am to you...someone you should have recognized so many years ago!"
Papa Smurf watched as the pillar of rainbow light vanished, to reveal a very different being that made Papa Smurf's eyes open wide in disbelief. "No...it can't be...!"
"Yes, I am," the being smirked. "Morphio, the dream master, the very one you imprisoned in this dream world so many years ago."
“I had no choice but to smurf you here, Morphio,” Papa Smurf insisted. “You were trying to smurf over the village back when I was 246, smurfing my fellow Smurfs into smurfwalking zombies when you smurfed open that portal between my world and the dream world. I had to resmurf that portal in on itsmurf to prevent that world from crossing over into ours and destroying everything!”
“Yes…and in the process, Papa Smurf, you caused that portal to suck me in,” Morphio hissed. “It happened so fast, you left my body outside this realm to become dust that you could easily sweep away, as if I myself was nothing but dust. But my spirit has lived in this realm, watching you in the waking world, plotting, planning, and waiting for a way that I can return to the world you took me from. Now, thanks to you, I have a way to finally come back into the waking world…and a body that I can inhabit!”
“You plan to smurf over Empath’s body?” Papa Smurf asked fearfully. “You’re going to smurf my only true son in here, disguising yoursmurf as the Psyche Master, just so you can exchange his spirit for yours in his body?!?”
“Interesting form of revenge, isn’t it?” Morphio replied, smiling wickedly. “Actually, I didn’t quite expect you to be able to enter the dream world like you did from the outside. I would have settled for something a bit more sneaky…like me already being inside the body of your most loyal and trustworthy wayward son and then, when you have least expected it, reopen the portal to strip you of your body and send you permanently in here, where you and your son could watch helplessly as I take over your entire village from the outside!”
“Well, Morphio, it’s been an interesting visit, but I don’t think either me or Empath will be smurfing here much longer,” Papa Smurf boldly stated. “If you kindly don’t mind, I’ll be smurfing Empath to wake up so that we can smurf our way out of here.”
“I’m sorry, Papa Smurf, but I do mind you leaving!” Morphio retorted. “And if you think you’re going to be taking Empath anywhere…granted that this infant in distress you see here is the real Empath…I believe he might want to have a say in where he wants to go!”
As Papa Smurf tried to walk over to where the infant Empath was located, still bathed in painful bursts of energy, still crying and oblivious, another physical form emerged right in his path. It was the physical form of Empath, 90 years older and looking very defiant.
“Empath…it’s me, Papa Smurf!” the older Smurf tried to say.
“This one is not going with you to the Smurf Village anymore, Papa Smurf,” the older Empath replied, his voice as hard as a rock. “This one is staying here with the Psyche Master to become a true Psyche, not some backward-minded savage being like you!”
Papa Smurf was shocked to hear now what he used to hear coming from Empath’s mouth years ago when he first brought Empath home to the Smurf Village. “No…this isn’t you, Empath,” he told the older version. “This place isn’t Psychelia, and the one who’s smurfing you here isn’t the Psyche Master. He’s an old nemesis of mine named Morphio, who somehow used his power to smurf you here into his world to make you believe you were being smurfed back to Psychelia, that you can’t survive outside of Psychelia without this ‘collective consciousness’ you smurf about. He is tricking you, Empath…trying to smurf into your fear of being alone and powerless. But you’re not alone…all your fellow Smurfs, they love you and they need you to smurf back home with them for awhile. Please, I smurf of you to see what I’m smurfing you is the truth, and you must no longer listen to this false voice that smurfs that he is the Psyche Master.”
Suddenly, the older version of Empath placed his hands around Papa Smurf's neck and started to squeeze hard. Papa Smurf found himself choking to death.
"You see, Papa Smurf, there is no way you can convince Empath that where he really is isn't where he thinks he is," Morphio gloated. "The Empath that once controlled his own body is trapped here for all eternity, and this pawn that I have created will destroy you both here and in the waking world. Once he succeeds, the old Empath will be no more, and then I can re-enter the waking world using him as the vessel for my soul."
Back in the waking world, Dreamy and Hefty watched fearfully as Empath's hands automatically found their way around Papa Smurf's neck and was now squeezing hard, trying to choke Papa Smurf to death in his sleep. Hefty grabbed Empath's hands and tried prying them loose, but his grip was too strong for Hefty to break. "Dreamy, smurf something...anything to help me out!" Hefty grunted.
Dreamy could only think of one way to help. "Empath, don't let this dream spirit smurf control of you," he spoke into Empath's ear, hoping that he would listen in his unconscious state. "He's trying to destroy you from within, but you are much stronger than he is. Believe what I'm smurfing you and see for yoursmurf who he truly is."