Chapter 6

Empath's personal journal, September 13.
Every Smurf who thought that what happened with Smurfette on the previous night's performance with Vladimir Smurfula was nothing more than a stage act are now wondering where Smurfette is right at this moment. It seems as if the euphoria that every Smurf was feeling about Smurfstock was starting to diminish somewhat, but for this smurf, it had already completely worn off. This smurf has tried to keep the other Smurfs from knowing too much about what's been going on with Smurfette since it would not help if the entire village was overcome with fear and too many questions that this smurf does not have an answer for. Meanwhile, Papa Smurf is searching for what hopefully may be the answer.

During the early half of the next day, Papa Smurf spent it in the Smurf house of archives, searching through its books on various Smurf culture, history, and folklore. He had to find just what it is that he heard about that reminded him of this Vladimir Smurfula and what he did to Smurfette those two nights. He eventually found his answer in a book about vampires.
"Vampires are undead night creatures that live for the taste of blood from another living being," he read aloud to Empath in his laboratory. "They smurf the life force of others to sustain their own deceased forms whose souls have been poisoned by hate and destroyed by the taste of another's blood. They cannot live in the light because its power can smurf through their decayed flesh and destroy them from within. But while they live, they can possess great physical power and can smurf themselves into other nightly creatures, such as bats."
"That explains what Vladimir was able to do, Papa Smurf," Empath commented, recalling his current encounter. "But this smurf can only wonder how this Vladimir Smurfula became a vampire, and why he is after Smurfette."
"Here is where it smurfs really interesting, Empath," Papa Smurf replied, now opening another book he found in the archives. "Lord Vladimir Smurfula was the last Smurf in the line of royalty that existed in this forest for three thousand years. He was smurfed to be king, ready to rule after his liege had smurfed away, when he met a commoner by the name of Elismurfetta. Her own Papa Smurf forbade her to have anything to do with Vladimir, but she smurfed away from the village to secretly meet with him from time to time because she was entranced by his gift for smurfing beautiful music."
Papa Smurf showed Empath a picture of this Elismurfetta, and Empath was stunned by the fact that, despite the differences in dress and hairstyle, this legendary female Smurf had the uncanny resemblance to Smurfette. It now made sense to Empath why this Vladimir Smurfula would mistake Smurfette for his long-lost beloved.
"One day," Papa Smurf continued from his reading, "Elismurfetta left the village to meet with Vladimir in private, but she had not smurfed up either at the royal family's castle nor anywhere else in the forest. Both Vladimir and the villagers waited for her to smurf up again, but she never returned. Over time, the villagers began to suspect that Vladimir had smurfthing to do with her disappearance, and her own Papa Smurf confronted him in the castle, accusing him of smurfing the worst with his daughter. Vladimir himself believed Elismurfetta's father was responsible and had her smurfed away, but the accusation made by her Papa Smurf made things worse. Out of anger, Vladimir killed Elismurfetta's father and in a dark nightly ritual smurfed a cup of his blood so that the prince could live to find his beloved again and avenge her disappearance. The villagers, who now saw Vladimir as a threat who feasted upon their lives night after night, smurfed it upon themselves to end his reign of terror, smurfing him up inside a coffin that was to remain buried in an unknown location away from his castle. This coffin was sealed with a warning for any Smurf not to respond to the dark lord's invitation to be smurfed to the village at any cost."
"A coffin," Empath remarked, suddenly remembering something. "Papa Smurf, this smurf remembered seeing Handy and Miner bringing one into the village about two days ago, when this Vladimir Smurfula showed up here during the first performance. That must have been the coffin that Vladimir was resting in."
Papa Smurf had a sinking feeling that was the truth. "We might as well go smurf around Handy's cellar to find out for oursmurfs, Empath."

Handy looked shocked as if he didn't even know what he had brought into the village when Empath and Papa Smurf asked about the coffin he and Miner had stored in the basement.
"Next time you or Miner smurf something in those mines that looks like it doesn't belong in there, or that it does, you smurf me first," Papa Smurf scolded, not pleased by what Handy had done.
"You mean that princely Smurf inside that coffin was after Smurfette?" Handy asked, even more baffled. "And he was a vampire all along?"
"That's exactly what this Lord Vladimir is, Handy, and he believes that Smurfette is his long-lost beloved Elismurfetta from many years ago," Empath replied, more concerned for Smurfette than angry at Handy or Miner. "Vladimir was counting that some gullible Smurfs would ignore the warning symbol on the coffin and invite him into the village where he would hope to find Elismurfetta or some female Smurf in her form."
"Would you please smurf us where the coffin is, Handy?" Papa Smurf demanded.
"Okay, okay, Papa Smurf, I will smurf you where we smurfed it," Handy answered. He led Empath and Papa Smurf down into the basement where the three of them saw the casket had been opened and nobody was inside it.
Empath closed the lid of the casket and saw the ancient Smurf symbol marking on it in red, along with the inscriptions: "Doom smurfs for thee who will allow the dark Smurf entry into the village," he read aloud.
After a more thorough examination of the casket with his minds-eye, Empath concluded, "This must be where Vladimir was laid to rest inside, Papa Smurf. The coffin's contents are exactly 1,198 years old and well-preserved, plus this smurf could sense some decay that must have come from his undead body."
"So where would this Vladimir Smurfula be right now with Smurfette?" Handy asked, curious to know more about this Smurf who was a vampire.
"Right now, I would smurf that they are resting at Castle Smurfenstein, the place where Vladimir had lived before he had smurfed into a vampire," Papa Smurf answered. "If that's the case, they would only awaken after sundown and then around midnight Vladimir would smurf the final bite on Smurfette's neck that would forever transsmurf her into a vampiress."
"So how do we fight this vampire and prevent Smurfette from turning into one, Papa Smurf?" Empath asked.
"According to the legends, only one living being in a lifetime is fated to destroy a vampire, one who can sense the coldness of a vampire's unsmurfy touch," Papa Smurf answered. "I believe that smurf may be you, Empath, since you mentioned to me how it felt when Vladimir smurfed your hand. Anyway, the legends also smurf of things that vampire hunters have smurfed to keep vampires from attacking, such as ancient sacred symbols, sacred purified water, the aroma of garlic, and wooden stakes smurfed from the heart of an oak tree. However, the only thing that can destroy a vampire completely is exposure to direct sunlight."
Empath couldn't believe what he was hearing from Papa Smurf -- the part that he was fated to destroy a vampire. He shook his head in distress.
"This smurf can't do it, Papa Smurf. This smurf promised you years ago that this smurf would not kill a living soul even when it is dying."
"You needn't worry about 'killing' vampires, Empath," Papa Smurf said to him. "The part of Vladimir that once had the soul of a Smurf is now dead, and all that's left of him is the body kept alive by dark unsmurfy forces. All you have to smurf is to prevent Smurfette's soul from being destroyed by this being and smurf an end to his reign of terror by destroying his body."
Empath still felt uneasy by what he was compelled to do. But he knew that Smurfette's life and soul were now on the line, and Empath wouldn't know if he could live with himself knowing that he allowed Smurfette to be destroyed by Vladimir.
In the end, though, Empath knew the decision was up to him.

Brainy was surprised to hear Empath's request.
"You mean, you want me to smurf the announcements for the last night's performances in your place?" he asked Empath. "What's smurfing on that's so important for you to smurf out on Smurfstock like that? You were supposed to smurf a musical number tonight, anyway."
"This smurf knows, Brainy, but right now this smurf must handle an emergency situation that only this smurf can deal with, one which may cost Smurfette her life at the hands of a vampire if he is not stopped," Empath answered frankly. "This smurf is counting on you to make sure no other Smurf knows what had happened to Smurfette."
"Trust me, Empath, I know this is the time when my lips are definitely smurfed," Brainy answered, trying to sound honest. "No other Smurf ever needs to know that Smurfette has been smurfed off by an unsmurfy vampire andů!"
"Just promise me!" Empath sternly demanded, not wishing for Brainy to go on and on.
Brainy looked at Empath and immediately understood how serious it was. "Of course, Empath!" he managed to say.

Through the rest of the day, Empath prepared himself by getting the necessary things for keeping vampires at bay. From the heart of the Great Oak Tree in the forest, Empath extracted enough wood for making several pointed arrows with which he could use Archer's bow. From the Pool of Souls, a sacred underground aquifer that was located underneath the Great Oak Tree, Empath collected enough sacred water to carry with him in Tracker's water bladder. And from the food storage silo in the center of the village, Empath gathered some small ripe garlic buds. Though Greedy was planning to use them for garlic bread on the night he was going to make spaghetti, Empath felt it was necessary to sacrifice them for something other than giving certain Smurfs a bad case of garlic breath.
Tapper and Duncan watched as their friend was making the preparations. "I feel like I should be smurfing with you into that vampire's castle to rescue Smurfette, laddie," Duncan said. "I don't think that you would smurf a chance going in there alone."
"This smurf appreciates the sentiment, Duncan, but if this smurf is the only one who's fated to slay a vampire, then this smurf can't risk putting your life in danger just for the sake of rescuing Smurfette," Empath said.
"That only makes me jealous of you, Empath, that you get to be the one who will smurf a vampire," Duncan said. "Just remember everything that I have smurfed you about fighting, and I'm sure that you'll be able to smurf your way and the lassie's to safety."
"I'll be praying for you, my fellow Empath, that the Almighty shall guide and protect you as you smurf through the gates of that infernal place to rescue Smurfette," Tapper said.
"This smurf has a feeling that your prayers are going to be essential to the success of this mission, Tapper," Empath said. "It feels just like this smurf is going straight into the bowels of Hades itself."
"I wouldn't want to imagine the horrors of smurfing into such a place without the protection of the Almighty, but you'll have my prayers, and so will Smurfette," Tapper said as he placed a hand on Empath's shoulder to show his support.

By sundown, Empath was almost ready for his rescuing Smurfette from Lord Vladimir Smurfula. He had put on his flying cape for the occasion and some protective leather arm braces when he was summoned back into Papa Smurf's laboratory again.
"You will need this as your sacred symbol, Empath," Papa Smurf said to him as he handed Empath a silver medallion. Empath noticed that the medallion bore the image of the Smurf head symbol he saw in various places in the village.
"This smurf doesn't see how this can be used as a sacred symbol," Empath said, shaking his head.
Papa Smurf then closed Empath's hands on the medallion itself. "Listen!"
As Empath listened, he heard what sounded like a church choir of many happy voices all singing the same song in his head: La, la, la la la la, sing the song of Smurf, la, la, la la la la,...
Empath was astounded. "The smurfsong!" he exclaimed. "It's more than just some song made up for Smurfs to sing...it's part of what being a Smurf is all along!"
Papa Smurf smiled. "As long as you believe in what being a Smurf is and what it means to you, the song will never leave you. It is as sacred as the symbol itself, for as long as you hold it, it will always protect you from beings such as vampires. You may want to smurf that very song when you come face to face with Vladimir and Smurfette, for it may be the only thing powerful enough to smurf through his entrancing music."
Empath held his hand over the medallion to fill his mind and his heart with the music again.
He now felt like he was a part of that music, and it was now a part of him.
"This smurf will not forget that, Papa Smurf," Empath declared as he started on his way. "This smurf will make sure this would be the last time anyone ever hears Vladimir's symphony of the night!"
"Just be careful!" Papa Smurf called out to him.
"This smurf will," Empath answered back. As he left the village around sunset, he could still hear the smurfsong in his head, and now he started singing it with the same happy feeling that he felt from the medallion.
La, la, la la la la, sing a song of Smurf,...