It was an ordinary day about two months after Polaris Psyche had left Psychelia and was living among the Smurfs. Empath had no pressing matters to attend to that morning except that he promised to help Century train with the use of the quarterstaff. There was just one problem, though -- all of Empath's clothes were dirty except for a single white hat and pants, and Empath felt a little embarrassed just going out in a hat and pants.
The one thing he needed to do was to drop off his clothes at Tidy's laundry shop, where the clothes cleaner would make sure that all his suits came back nice and clean. But Empath still felt embarrassed just stepping out in only a hat and pants.
He decided that he would get a bathrobe to wear for now and then he would see if Tailor could make him a shirt that he would wear just so other Smurfs wouldn't see how naked he looked -- or rather, felt like he looked.
He didn't get much far past his door, though, when he ran into two Smurfs who were passing by his door -- Brainy and Jokey. "Salutations, fellow Smurfs," Empath hastily greeted them.
"Say, Empath, what's with the bathrobe over your clothes?" Jokey asked, rather amused by Empath's appearance. "Planning to smurf a shower in them?"
"It's pretty obvious, Jokey, that Empath has barely any clothes left to wear, and that he must make do with whatever's on hand, no matter how embarrassing it may be to him that he has to wear only a hat and pants," Brainy said.
"I think Empath's more embarrassed that Smurfette's going to smurf at him all day in just his hats and pants," Jokey said, laughing.
"I honestly don't know what Smurfette sees in Empath physically that she doesn't see in any other Smurf, Jokey," Brainy said. "It's not like we smurf any different physically from each other...at least, not that much, with Empath's smurfmark and Hefty's tattoos."
"Well, this smurf would love to stay and talk with you about this smurf's current style of dress," Empath said, "but this smurf must really get this pile of clothes over to Tidy Smurf for him to wash."
"Me and Jokey were on our way to the Ford of the Merry Smurfer out in the Smurf Forest to smurf some cattail stalks for Papa Smurf, anyway," Brainy explained.
"Not sure why he would smurf me with you, of all Smurfs, unless it's just so to watch you make a smurf of yourself," Jokey said.
"Smurf at it this way, Jokey Smurf," Brainy said. "If you hadn't bothered smurfing me one of your surprises when Papa Smurf was smurfing for volunteers, you wouldn't have been chosen. Besides, when Papa Smurf speaks, you should always listen, because Papa Smurf is always right, and besides you should always smurf what Papa Smurf says to smurf..."
"Yeah, sure, whatever you smurf, Brainy," Jokey said, eager to get himself going to spare his ears and Empath's from Brainy's endless rambling. "We'll smurf you later, Empath."
And after Brainy and Jokey went off toward the forest, Empath headed over to Tidy Smurf's shop, where he sees that particular Smurf in his bright white clothes sweeping away all the dust and dirt from the front of his door, whistling the Smurf song.
"Salutations, fellow Tidy," Empath greeted as he set the basket of dirty clothes before Tidy.
"Well, Empath, it smurfs like you've been too busy with your duties as the assistant counselor to smurf any time to drop off your clothes for their routine smurfing," Tidy commented. "You should let me smurf them up while you're busy so that you wouldn't have to smurf this!"
"This smurf knows how willing you are to do it for your fellow Smurfs, Tidy," Empath said. "But for now, this smurf just wants to make sure the clothes will get done as soon as possible so that this smurf doesn't get stuck wearing...only this!"
"Oh, my, I hate to be in your smurfs right now, Empath!" Tidy said. "I know that smurfing you in only a hat and pants makes your skin tone smurf a bit of red, which must make you smurf so uncomfortable."
"It's not just that, Tidy," Empath said. "It's also that this smurf has gotten so used to wearing the new star-patterned suit that wearing an ordinary white suit now makes this smurf look so...well, ordinary."
"I never smurf wearing white as being ordinary, Empath...I smurf it as looking radiant and dazzling, like how everybody's clothes look when I'm finished smurfing them," Tidy said. "Anyway, I'll do my best to smurf them back to you by the end of the day, but you may have to wait until tomorrow."
"Oh," Empath said, sounding a bit crestfallen. "Well, this smurf is certain that you will give it your best efforts."
"Oh, there you are, Empath," a familiar voice spoke from behind him. "I was smurfing all over for you, hoping you haven't forgotten our training together."
Empath turned to see that it was Century, who was already carrying his quarterstaff.
"This smurf hasn't forgotten, Century," Empath said. "It's just that this smurf had to take care of this smurf's laundry, and right now this smurf has nothing else to wear except this white hat and pants."
"Well, why not just smurf with me out to the River Smurf in that old thing?" Century suggested. "It's not like you're going to impress me with anything except how you smurf with a quarterstaff now that I have smurfed more practice."
Empath sighed. "This smurf isn't going to break my promise to you, Century. Even if this smurf will end up looking like mercury in a thermometer when the day is through, this smurf will see how far you've come in your training regardless."
"Oh, thank you, Empath," Century said. "Even though I have to admit that you always smurfed better in a white hat and pants."
Empath frowned as he looked skyward. "Hopefully this will be the last time you'll ever see this smurf in them."
The two of them found a log that was crossing the River Smurf that they could do their sparring on. Empath knew that Century was able to fight on stable surfaces, so now he needed to see how he was able to handle maintaining his balance while fighting.
Empath and Century respectfully bowed to each other before they commenced. Empath made the first swing, which Century blocked, and then they both alternated offensive and defensive attacks, which their opponent expertly avoided or blocked.
"You're getting pretty good at this, Century," Empath said.
"I smurfed from very good teachers, Empath," Century said. "Of course, Duncan McSmurf taught me some things about how to surprise your enemies when fighting with them."
"You think you'll be able to surprise this smurf?" Empath asked.
"It will be interesting to find out," Century said.
Then after a few more attacks, Century did a looping jump over Empath's head, landing right behind him. Before Empath could turn around to counter him, Century struck him right behind the head, knocking him off the log and sending him falling into the river, hitting his head on a rock.
"Empath!" Century cried out as he watched his friend being carried downstream. He followed along the river until he came across a ford where he could pull Empath out of the water. He dragged him onto the shore and saw that Empath was unconscious. "Empath, please wake up and smurf me that you're all right!" he shouted, slapping his friend in the face to see if he would awaken.
Then he heard the sound of a carriage coming down the road toward their location. Century realized that humans were coming and tried to drag Empath quickly to cover, but unfortunately didn't get very far before they came into view. It was a tall balding man and a short man wearing a cowl riding on the wagon pulled by a donkey, with the small man holding a cage with a mouse inside it. They were both talking about something important, but whatever it was, Century couldn't risk being seen by them. He quickly ducked into the bushes near the road and kept his eye on Empath as they came closer.
"That's the last time we will ever do a snake-charming act, Simon," the taller man said in an angry tone. "Now we're down to this stupid mouse that doesn't seem to do anything."
"He's only intimidated by people looking at him," the short man said, looking at the mouse. And then he looked forward and saw something in the road that caught his attention. "Stanley! Look out!"
Stanley pulled on the donkey's reins to bring him to a halt. "What is it this time, Simon?" he asked impatiently.
"I don't know, Stanley," Simon said as they both got off the wagon to look. Simon picked up what appeared to be a little blue man wearing a white hat and pants and examined him carefully. "It looks like an elf, judging by its size. Can I keep it?"
Stanley sighed. "Oh, very well. But we're not staying around here. If it is an elf, there may be others lurking nearby, and I don't want to deal with them anymore than I want to deal with that Vincent Devereaux."
"Yeah, that money-grubbing scoundrel," Simon said in agreement. "Serves him right that he should lose his position as a landlord."
Century watched as they both got back onto the wagon with Empath, with Simon placing Empath in the same cage as the mouse. As brave as he was in comparison to his twin brother Vanity, Century didn't want to risk being captured along with Empath by humans, even as capable a fighter as he is.
"Heavens to Smurfatroid," Century said to himself. "I must smurf back to the village and tell Papa Smurf about this."