Morphio laughed as he watched Papa Smurf vainly struggle for life and breath in the grip of this false Empath's hands. It was in the middle of this
struggle in the dream world when the infant version of Empath suddenly heard a voice, almost imperceptible yet booming louder than that of Morphio's false voice of the Psyche Master, reaching his ears.
The infant opened his eyes and recognized it immediately. It was Dreamy.
And as soon as he recognized that voice and what it was saying, the painful bursts of energy that enveloped him had vanished. Empath then saw Morphio watching and laughing as Empath's own 90-year-old form was trying to choke Papa Smurf in this world.
He looked straight at his older self and said, "No! Let go of Papa Smurf right now."
The older Empath somehow felt compelled to listen to the real Empath's voice and loosened his grip around Papa Smurf's neck, allowing him to breathe.
Morphio was surprised to see his pawn responding now to the infant instead of to him. "No, Empath...you must listen to the will of the Psyche Master," he commanded, his voice reverberating darkly. "You must destroy Papa Smurf!"
"No," the infant Empath reacted, countering Morphio's booming voice with his quieter voice. "Let go of Papa Smurf and pay no heed to this false voice calling to you."
Papa Smurf helplessly watched as the older form of Empath was caught in a verbal tug-of-war between the voice of Morphio, demanding him to destroy Papa Smurf, and the voice of his infant self, persisting in his releasing Papa Smurf from his clutches. His neck felt the hands grasping tight and then releasing, tightening and then loosening. Papa Smurf wasn't sure how long this war of wills could continue on for, but he knew he himself wasn't going to last long.
"Empath," Papa Smurf gasped as he struggled for words between this alternating pressure around his neck, "whatever...happens...to me...I...still...love...you...!"
"DESTROY HIM!" Morphio thundered, making the entire structure in the dream world shake.
The older Empath stopped as he heard Papa Smurf admit his love for him. His hands loosened and then fell away completely. "Papa Smurf..." he finally said, after all that time of silence. "Papa Smurf...this smurf knows where this smurf really is now!"
Papa Smurf exhaled in relief. "I knew somehow you would smurf your way through this illusion to see that this is all just a dream, Empath."
"This smurf must apologize for hurting you, Papa Smurf, even if it was only ‘just a dream'," Empath continued, feeling remorseful in his state of helplessness.
"You have nothing you should smurf sorry for, Empath," Papa Smurf consoled. "You were not in control of yoursmurf in here. Morphio smurfed that control away from you when he smurfed you into this world in your dreams."
"This smurf can hear Dreamy and Hefty and the other Smurf calling out to us," Empath reported. "They are telling us to awaken."
"Well, let's not keep the other Smurfs waiting, shall we?" Papa Smurf responded. He took Empath by the hand and they both headed for the entrance of the temple.
"Where do you think you two are going?" Morphio asked, not pleased to see how things were turning against him. "You're still in my world, and if you think you can get out of this dream this easily...let's see you try getting past these!"
Suddenly the temple area was full of all sorts of hideous creatures, shadowy beings with the same glowing fiery eyes Empath had seen on the Psychelian Guard Elite. They all surrounded Papa Smurf and Empath and blended themselves into a thick vaporous substance that neither of them could penetrate. Morphio laughed as the two Smurfs kept fruitlessly trying to penetrate the thick cloud the hideous creatures had created.
"Empath...this is your dream world!" Papa Smurf shouted. "These creatures can be smurfed away by a force of will just as easily as I have smurfed away those that Morphio had sent to keep me from smurfing in here!"
Empath had only begun to realize that. He stared eye-to-eye with one of the creatures surrounding him and Papa Smurf in the thick cloud. "This smurf commands you to be gone from this dream!" he spoke. And instantly, the creature screeched as he vanished into nothingness.
"Yes...you're doing it, Empath!" Papa Smurf cheered as he watched Empath make all the hideous creatures vanish one by one, all with a simple command, until the cloud surrounding them had vanished, bringing them back to face Morphio.
"You no longer control this smurf in my dreams, Morphio," Empath boldly stated. "This smurf bids you and your demons to go back into the mist that you came from." He then took Papa Smurf's hand again and headed for the entrance of the temple, which was starting to fade out of existence.
"This isn't over yet between us, Papa Smurf," he railed, speaking loud enough for the both of them to hear. "You may have helped Empath conquer my control over him in this world, but all those other Smurfs that you call ‘your little Smurfs' I can still prey upon in their sleep...and someday, when you least expect it, I will begin again, starting with the weakest minds of those who sleep. Then my power will grow from within as I take every single Smurf's spirit from the waking world into this world...and when I have captured them all, I will use their power to destroy you and take over your body to use as my vessel when I return into the waking world! That day will be coming, Papa Smurf...and even Empath will not be able to stop me...you just wait...!"
The booming voice of Morphio began to fade along with the dream world as Papa Smurf and Empath walked onward into the waiting blackness, paying him no attention.
Back in the real world, Dreamy and Hefty watched as both Empath and Papa Smurf opened their eyes and saw each other lying on the tables. They both sat upright and hugged each other, glad to be awake and alive in the Smurf Village again.
"Welcome back from your nightmare, Empath," Dreamy greeted him, happy to see the both of them.
"This smurf appreciates your efforts, Dreamy...this smurf would still be there in that false version of Psychelia if it wasn't for you calling out to me," Empath replied.
"Just to let you know that we smurfed you from trying to squeeze the smurfing life out of Papa Smurf while you were gone," Hefty reminded Empath.
"This smurf knows about it, Hefty," Empath said. "Morphio, the being who was masquerading himself as the Psyche Master, took control of this smurf's body while this smurf was being held hostage by his convincing replica of Psychelia inside this smurf's own dream. Fortunately, there was a portion of this smurf's self...the part that was still an innocent Smurf...that could hear the voice of another Smurf calling out from this world to awaken me from within and to see that the replica was just an illusion. But in any case, this smurf appreciates your effort in preventing this smurf's body from being used by Morphio to destroy Papa Smurf's in this world."
Hefty looked at Empath with mock disbelief. "Is this really true, Empath?" he asked. "You're actually thanking me for saving your smurf this time?!? Now there's a first time for you right there!"
"This smurf would give you my gratitude, Hefty, no matter how many times you come to this smurf's rescue," Empath answered, ignoring Hefty's verbal jab.
"Don't be such a smarty Smurf, Hefty," Dreamy snapped, not appreciating the sarcasm. "I smurf that you and Brainy can compete for smurfing the biggest head in the village, because you can be so full of yoursmurf sometimes."
"Come, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said, interrupting
both Dreamy and Hefty. "Let's join the other Smurfs for breakfast and the
smurf of a brand new day." He lead them and Empath out of his
laboratory and out into the bright sunlight of the morning.
Empath was joined by Tapper and Duncan at the breakfast table. "Blessed smurfs of Eire, thank the Almighty that you're awake and in the land of the smurfing, my friend," Tapper said.
"You've got us all worried there, laddie," Duncan said. "So how did you manage to overcome the dream monster that smurfed you?"
"It was Dreamy's voice that reached out to this smurf when this smurf was under the power of Morphio's dream spell, Duncan," Empath answered. "This smurf realized that he was inside of a dream and that this smurf could control what happened in that dream, so this smurf took control and conquered the dream spirit that had assumed control over this smurf."
"What did I tell you?" Duncan said. "You haven't forgotten the lesson that I smurfed you yesterday about smurfing a weak spot in your opponent."
"I'm not sure that it was the same kind of battle that you want to smurf with a sword, my fellow Duncan, but at least I'm glad that Empath smurfed the strength to find his way out of that predicament," Tapper said.
"Indeed it was a very different battle, Tapper," Empath said. "This smurf isn't used to fighting battles that happen during this smurf's resting period, but at least this smurf now knows how to fight them and to be at peace with this smurf's own self."
"Don't forget that you can always smurf to the Almighty to help fight your battles, whether they are in the land of the smurfing or in any other, my friend," Tapper said.
From that day on, Empath no longer had any worries about sleeping in his own Smurf house by himself. He found out that he could return into the dream world by his own power and examine everything in it as if he were awake in the real world, but he could find no trace of Morphio or his demons anywhere. That gave Empath a peace of mind he could live with.
He spent the remainder of that year fixing up his house, the way he thought it should look. Since he started taking lessons in art and sculpting as well as freelance writing from Painter, Sculptor, and Poet, Empath made his house into a work of art. He removed his bed completely and replaced it with a blanket of soft moss over hay. He made dressers that looked like the trunks of trees, and planted flowers and bushes to give his house a look that was more at home out in the forest. The room upstairs he had made into a studio, all brightly lit and open-spaced. When Empath was finished with the decorating, he invited a few Smurfs at a time inside to see for themselves...and they were astounded by the personal look Empath had given to his own living space. Even Papa Smurf had to admit that Empath truly had a unique talent for interior decorating that expressed the true Smurf within himself.
When his yearly visit was over, Empath again made his goodbyes to all his fellow Smurfs, who gathered around the north end of the village to watch Empath take off on a stork flying back to Psychelia. "Thank you for giving this smurf one of the most wonderful presents you could give this smurf, Papa Smurf," Empath said as he hugged the Smurf leader. "It had made this smurf feel...more at home...like one of you! It's too bad this smurf can't take this kind of present back with me to Psychelia."
Papa Smurf nodded, understanding what Empath meant. "Well, that is also part of what makes the gift of smurfing your very own house in the Smurf Village to smurf home to very special. No matter where you smurf in this world or how long you will smurf away from here, there is nothing you will appreciate more than believing that the special little place that makes you feel consmurfable will be there for you when you return. Most importantly, remember that your home will always be where your heart is."
"This smurf's heart has found where home is for this smurf," Empath replied. "It is right here with you, Papa Smurf, and with all of this smurf's fellow Smurfs." He then hopped onto the stork and flew away.